Algae as people food?

When maintaining the delightful snails, Potamopyrgus antipodarum, in captivity (say in the lab, prior to infecting them with all sorts of trematodes), we feed them a micro algae called spirulina.

You might have heard of it. It has become popular in super food drinks and smoothies. If you see a green smoothy, it likely has this little micro algae. Additionally, many people have touted to me the great health benefits, and the anti-oxidants.

But I resisted. Because spirulina is not people food. It’s snail food.

But now, algae might infiltrate our food supply on a more permanent basis. Read about it here!

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CRISPR as a way to eradicate invasive species? Tell me more…

The way to kill invasive species, and thereby protect endangered species are brutal—traps, long-range rifles, and poisons—deployable only on a small scale and wildly indiscriminate. To excise the rat, say, from an ecosystem requires a sledgehammer that falls on many species.

All this is why some conservation biologists such as Karl Campbell has begun pushing for research into a much more precise and effective tool—one you might not associate with nature-loving conservationists. Self-­perpetuating synthetic genetic machines called gene drives could someday alter not just one gene or one rat or even a population of rats but an entire species—of rats, mosquitoes, ticks, or any creature. And this biological technology promises to eliminate these destructive animals without shedding a drop of blood.

But the methods also contain the threat of unleashing another problem: They could change species, populations, and ecosystems in unintended and unstoppable ways.

Want to know more? Read about it here.

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How Do You Keep an Elephant Warm? Knit a Giant Blanket

Today, in articles that make you go “d-awwwwwww”

Unseasonably cold  weather hit the Winga Baw camp for orphaned elephants in Myanmar, and workers scrambled to protect the seven animals in their care, using straw to keep them warm, according to Sangdeaun Lek Chailert, founder of the Save Elephant Foundation, a nonprofit based in Thailand that is dedicated to Asian elephants.

Temperatures fell to 8 degrees Celsius (46 degrees Fahrenheit) in some parts of the country. But the camp, in the Bago Region of Myanmar, had another secret weapon: giant knitted and crocheted blankets.

They were donated by Blankets for Baby Rhinos, a wildlife conservation craft group founded in November 2016 on Facebook by Sue Brown, who has been involved in rhino conservation for 25 years, and Elisa Best, a veterinary surgeon.

Want to know more? Read about it here!

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Marine Biology Chess over Twitter

Twitter recently bumped all the users up to 280 characters, which just seems excessive.

Unless you invent a new and delightful way to play chess, and are a marine biology nerd.

An epic match between Dr. Andrew Thaler, and Dr. David Shiffman had simple rules. Using marine biology emojis, the chess game had only two additional rules: 1) every move had to be accompanied by a fact about the animal 2) all captures had to be accompanied with detailed description of how the kill went down. Read more about it here!

8🐧🐬🐡🐠🐳🐡✖️🐧
7✖️🦈🦈🦈🦈🦈🦈🦈
6✖️✖️✖️✖️✖️🐬✖️✖️
5🦈✖️✖️✖️✖️✖️✖️✖️
4✖️✖️✖️🦀✖️✖️✖️✖️
3✖️✖️🦐✖️✖️✖️✖️✖️
2🦀🦀🦀✖️🦀🦀🦀🦀
1🐚✖️🦑🐙🐌🦑🦐🐚

Nature Therapy Is a Privilege

The mountains  are healing. It is like the miracle pool at Lourdes except it’s not a miracle and you’re not at Lourdes.

The mountains, and their attendant plant life and water features, help to lower blood pressure,  stress hormones, and keep heart rate variability normal. These are just some of the health benefits of spending time in nature that studies have found in recent years.

But these beautiful, soothing environments are fairly remote.

You don’t see anything like this on a regular basis. And neither do most people.

So what does it take to get out to the mountains? Read about the privilege here.

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Tree-Eating Beetles March Northward, Lured by Milder Winters

For lovers of the stately pine forests of the Northeast, sightings of a destructive tree-eating beetle in recent years have been nothing short of alarming.

Now, new research from climatologists at Columbia University confirms what ecologists feared: Warmer winters mean the southern pine beetle is here to stay, and is set to march ever northward as temperatures rise.

Historically, the tiny beetles, which starve evergreens to death, were largely unheard-of north of Delaware. The Northeast’s cold winters killed off any intruders.

The winters are no longer cold enough.

Want to know more? Read about it here!

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