Science

The best in science news, commentary, and research
  • [This Week in Science] Nailing down graphene's topology
    [Jan 2015]

    Author: Jelena Stajic
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • [This Week in Science] Current impacts of the first geological map made
    [Jan 2015]

    Author: Julia Fahrenkamp-Uppenbrink
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • [Editors' Choice] Building rubber without rubber trees
    [Jan 2015]

    Author: Pamela J. Hines
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • [Editors' Choice] Blocking tumor cell transitions
    [Jan 2015]

    Author: Lisa D. Chong
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • [Editors' Choice] The ER gets in on an endocytic sorting act
    [Jan 2015]

    Author: Stella M. Hurtley
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • [Editors' Choice] An entire family with the same birthday?
    [Jan 2015]

    Author: Margaret M. Moerchen
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • [Editors' Choice] For stability just add some debris?
    [Jan 2015]

    Author: Marc S. Lavine
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • [Review] Marine defaunation: Animal loss in the global ocean
    [Jan 2015]

    Marine defaunation, or human-caused animal loss in the oceans, emerged forcefully only hundreds of years ago, whereas terrestrial defaunation has been occurring far longer. Though humans have caused few global marine extinctions, we have profoundly affected marine wildlife, altering the functioning and provisioning of services in every ocean. Current ocean trends, coupled with terrestrial defaunation lessons, suggest that marine defaunation rates will rapidly intensify as human use of the oceans industrializes. Though protected areas are a powerful tool to harness ocean productivity, especially when designed with future climate in mind, additional management strategies will be required. Overall, habitat degradation is likely to intensify as a major driver of marine wildlife loss. Proactive intervention can avert a marine defaunation disaster of the magnitude observed on land. Authors: Douglas J. McCauley, Malin L. Pinsky, Stephen R. Palumbi, James A. Estes, Francis H. Joyce, Robert R. Warner
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • [Report] Agriculture facilitated permanent human occupation of the Tibetan Plateau after 3600 B.P.
    [Jan 2015]

    Our understanding of when and how humans adapted to living on the Tibetan Plateau at altitudes above 2000 to 3000 meters has been constrained by a paucity of archaeological data. Here we report data sets from the northeastern Tibetan Plateau indicating that the first villages were established only by 5200 calendar years before the present (cal yr B.P.). Using these data, we tested the hypothesis that a novel agropastoral economy facilitated year-round living at higher altitudes since 3600 cal yr B.P. This successful subsistence strategy facilitated the adaptation of farmers-herders to the challenges of global temperature decline during the late Holocene. Authors: F. H. Chen, G. H. Dong, D. J. Zhang, X. Y. Liu, X. Jia, C. B. An, M. M. Ma, Y. W. Xie, L. Barton, X. Y. Ren, Z. J. Zhao, X. H. Wu, M. K. Jones
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • [Report] The roller coaster flight strategy of bar-headed geese conserves energy during Himalayan migrations
    [Jan 2015]

    The physiological and biomechanical requirements of flight at high altitude have been the subject of much interest. Here, we uncover a steep relation between heart rate and wingbeat frequency (raised to the exponent 3.5) and estimated metabolic power and wingbeat frequency (exponent 7) of migratory bar-headed geese. Flight costs increase more rapidly than anticipated as air density declines, which overturns prevailing expectations that this species should maintain high-altitude flight when traversing the Himalayas. Instead, a “roller coaster” strategy, of tracking the underlying terrain and discarding large altitude gains only to recoup them later in the flight with occasional benefits from orographic lift, is shown to be energetically advantageous for flights over the Himalayas. Authors: C. M. Bishop, R. J. Spivey, L. A. Hawkes, N. Batbayar, B. Chua, P. B. Frappell, W. K. Milsom, T. Natsagdorj, S. H. Newman, G. R. Scott, J. Y. Takekawa, M. Wikelski, P. J. Butler
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • [Report] Reduced El Niño–Southern Oscillation during the Last Glacial Maximum
    [Jan 2015]

    El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a major source of global interannual variability, but its response to climate change is uncertain. Paleoclimate records from the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) provide insight into ENSO behavior when global boundary conditions (ice sheet extent, atmospheric partial pressure of CO2) were different from those today. In this work, we reconstruct LGM temperature variability at equatorial Pacific sites using measurements of individual planktonic foraminifera shells. A deep equatorial thermocline altered the dynamics in the eastern equatorial cold tongue, resulting in reduced ENSO variability during the LGM compared to the Late Holocene. These results suggest that ENSO was not tied directly to the east-west temperature gradient, as previously suggested. Rather, the thermocline of the eastern equatorial Pacific played a decisive role in the ENSO response to LGM climate. Authors: Heather L. Ford, A. Christina Ravelo, Pratigya J. Polissar
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • [Report] Linked canopy, climate, and faunal change in the Cenozoic of Patagonia
    [Jan 2015]

    Vegetation structure is a key determinant of ecosystems and ecosystem function, but paleoecological techniques to quantify it are lacking. We present a method for reconstructing leaf area index (LAI) based on light-dependent morphology of leaf epidermal cells and phytoliths derived from them. Using this proxy, we reconstruct LAI for the Cenozoic (49 million to 11 million years ago) of middle-latitude Patagonia. Our record shows that dense forests opened up by the late Eocene; open forests and shrubland habitats then fluctuated, with a brief middle-Miocene regreening period. Furthermore, endemic herbivorous mammals show accelerated tooth crown height evolution during open, yet relatively grass-free, shrubland habitat intervals. Our Patagonian LAI record provides a high-resolution, sensitive tool with which to dissect terrestrial ecosystem response to changing Southern Ocean conditions during the Cenozoic. Authors: Regan E. Dunn, Caroline A. E. Strömberg, Richard H. Madden, Matthew J. Kohn, Alfredo A. Carlini
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • [Report] Expectations of brilliance underlie gender distributions across academic disciplines
    [Jan 2015]

    The gender imbalance in STEM subjects dominates current debates about women’s underrepresentation in academia. However, women are well represented at the Ph.D. level in some sciences and poorly represented in some humanities (e.g., in 2011, 54% of U.S. Ph.D.’s in molecular biology were women versus only 31% in philosophy). We hypothesize that, across the academic spectrum, women are underrepresented in fields whose practitioners believe that raw, innate talent is the main requirement for success, because women are stereotyped as not possessing such talent. This hypothesis extends to African Americans’ underrepresentation as well, as this group is subject to similar stereotypes. Results from a nationwide survey of academics support our hypothesis (termed the field-specific ability beliefs hypothesis) over three competing hypotheses. Authors: Sarah-Jane Leslie, Andrei Cimpian, Meredith Meyer, Edward Freeland
    Categories: Journal Articles