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Fish

Fiddler Crabs Reveal Honesty Is Not Always The Best Policy

Dishonesty may be more widespread in the animal kingdom than previously thought. A team of Australian ecologists has discovered that some male fiddler crabs "lie" about their fighting ability by growing claws that look strong and powerful but are in fact weak and puny. Published this week in the British Ecological Society's journal Functional Ecology, the study is the first direct evidence that crabs "bluff" about their fighting ability.
Male fiddler crab
© Tanya Detto
Male fiddler crab, Uca mjoebergi.

The signals animals send each other about their fighting prowess - and the honesty of these signals - is a long-standing problem in evolutionary biology. Despite their size - they are just two centimetres across - fiddler crabs are ideal for studying dishonesty in signalling. This is because males have one claw that is massively enlarged (which they use to attract females or fight rival males) and if they lose this claw during fights they can grow a replacement. In most species the new claw is identical to the lost one, but some species "cheat" by growing a new claw that looks like the original but is cheaper to produce because it is lighter and toothless.
Frog

Low Concentrations Of Pesticides Can Become Toxic Mixture For Amphibians

Ten of the world's most popular pesticides can decimate amphibian populations when mixed together even if the concentration of the individual chemicals are within limits considered safe, according to University of Pittsburgh research.
frog
© iStockphoto

Such "cocktails of contaminants" are frequently detected in nature, a new paper notes, and the Pitt findings offer the first illustration of how a large mixture of pesticides can adversely affect the environment.

Study author Rick Relyea, an associate professor of biological sciences in Pitt's School of Arts and Sciences, exposed gray tree frog and leopard frog tadpoles to small amounts of the 10 pesticides that are widely used throughout the world. Relyea selected five insecticides-carbaryl, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, endosulfan, and malathion-and five herbicides-acetochlor, atrazine, glyphosate, metolachlor, and 2,4-D. He administered the following doses: each of the pesticides alone, the insecticides combined, a mix of the five herbicides, or all 10 of the poisons.
Magnify

Nature Ups The Ante: Brisbane declared natural disaster zone

Brisbane Storms 1
© ABC News: Shelley Lloyd
Soldiers will help clear trees and debris from around power lines and roads
Brisbane has been declared a natural disaster zone as authorities scramble to respond to yesterday's violent storm, and the weather bureau has likened the storm to a Category 2 cyclone.

Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard says the Federal Government will provide practical help to families affected by the storm, which caused damage across south-east Queensland and killed one person.
Syringe

Wild horse advocates decry BLM euthanasia proposal

© 2003 katherine e. koziar
Reno, Nev. - A stampede of opposition is growing over a proposal being considered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for the first time to kill or allow unrestricted sale of wild horses captured from western public lands because of budget constraints.

Tens of thousands of horse advocates have weighed in with public comments to the agency, voicing outrage at the idea of slaughtering what many revere as romantic symbols of the American West.

"Most Americans view these horses as the greatest symbols of our American freedom," said Ross Potter of Phoenix.
Phoenix

California fires destroy 1,000 homes, winds ease

LOS ANGELES - Wildfires hop-scotched around Southern California on Sunday although calmer winds slowed flames that have destroyed almost 1,000 houses, forced tens of thousands to evacuate and turned some neighborhoods into scenes resembling war zones.
Bizarro Earth

7.5 Earthquake Minahasa, Sulawesi, Indonesia

Date-Time

* Sunday, November 16, 2008 at 17:02:31 UTC

* Monday, November 17, 2008 at 01:02:31 AM at epicenter

* Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones
© USGS

Location 1.275°N, 122.103°E

Depth 21 km (13.0 miles) (poorly constrained)

Region MINAHASA, SULAWESI, INDONESIA

Distances 135 km (85 miles) NW of Gorontalo, Sulawesi, Indonesia

305 km (190 miles) W of Manado, Sulawesi, Indonesia

1485 km (920 miles) S of MANILA, Philippines

1890 km (1170 miles) ENE of JAKARTA, Java, Indonesia

Location Uncertainty horizontal +/- 7.8 km (4.8 miles); depth +/- 23.8 km (14.8 miles)
Phoenix

Hungry LA fires reduce hundreds of homes to ash

LOS ANGELES - Southern Californians endured a third day of destruction Saturday as wind-blasted wildfires torched hundreds of mobile homes and mansions, forced tens of thousands of people to flee and shut down major freeways.
Eye 1

Sunspots spell end of climate myth

It is disturbing that many recent statements on climate change by influential people are not supported by hard evidence.

For instance, Professor Ralph Chapman's statement that the globe risks a tipping point if emissions are not reduced by 2015 is unsupported by hard evidence, as is David Parker's claim that if we do nothing to reduce emissions, New Zealand could be up to $500 million worse off by 2012.

This is not true because, if we adopt the Emissions Trading Scheme, electricity bills alone will increase by more than $500 million each year.

On Kyoto, lawyer Alistair Hercus recently claimed that "as a country we have to pay". In fact, the Kyoto protocol says nothing about enforcement and as yet there are no international emissions enforcers to act as judge, jury and executioner.
Snowman

The world has never seen such freezing heat

A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore's chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand. China's official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its "worst snowstorm ever". In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years.
Bizarro Earth

Small Quake Reported In Central Arkansas

The U.S. Geological Survey says a small earthquake occurred in central Arkansas.

The quake, of preliminary magnitude 2.9, occurred at 7:47 a.m. Saturday, 14 miles north of Hector in Pope County.

A dispatcher with the Pope County Sheriff's Office said the office had not gotten any calls regarding the tremor.

A quake of magnitude 2.5 to 3 is the smallest generally felt by people. Hundreds of earthquakes occur each year. Most are so small they cannot be felt.
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