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Sat, 27 Feb 2021
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Frog

In Egg, Frog Knows Predators Already

Some say it's never too late to learn new things, but can it be too early?

Apparently not, if the behavior of wood frogs is any indication. Those amphibians can learn to identify predators while still in the egg, according to new research by Alicia Mathis of Missouri State University in Springfield and several colleagues.

After hatching, many amphibians and fish learn to recognize a predator by associating its odor with an alarm pheromone released by injured conspecifics. Mathis' team wondered whether frogs might have that cognitive capacity even earlier, as embryos.

For three hours a day, on six consecutive days, the team exposed wood-frog eggs to water from a bucket containing crushed tadpoles mixed with water from a bucket housing fire-belly newts. (The newts, native to Asia, are unfamiliar to wood frogs, but eat tadpoles of other species.) A control group received newt water alone.

Life Preserver

Couple rescue rare albino hedgehog

Image
© Kent
London -- A British couple say they took a rare albino hedgehog they found to a wildlife sanctuary to protect it from predators.

Julie Packham of Kent county said she and her husband, Nick, spotted the hedgehog in their garden because its white color made it stand out in the dark, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

"We saw this white hedgehog and could not really believe our eyes. He was literally glowing in the dark," Packham said about the spiny nocturnal animal the couple dubbed Midnight.

Packham said fearing the rare animal would eventually be attacked by predators in the area, she and her husband drove 250 miles round-trip to the Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital.

Info

Groups decry Yellowstone cell phone plans

Jackson WY -- U.S. park officials, trying to find a happy medium, say they want the national park system to include telecommunications as part of their planning.

A proposal by Yellowstone National Park that expanded cell phone towers and installed wireless Internet in its hotels -- were televisions are banned -- has drawn the ire of environmentalists, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.
Yellowstone National Park
© UPI Photo/A.J. Sisco
Yellowstone National Park

"There are some people who feel lost without an electronic connection and there are other people who feel that cell phones shouldn't be in parks at all, said Lee Dickinson, who coordinates cellular permits for the National Park Service.

In September Yellowstone officials issued a plan that proposed expanding cell phone use in developed areas and installing wireless Internet service in the park's hotels. Cell phone service would be excluded from the park's backcountry and off most of its roads, the Times reported.

Hourglass

Wild Bees Possibly Infected By Commercially Bred Bees

Commercially bred bees used pollinate greenhouse crops may be spreading diseases to wild populations, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Toronto and published in the journal PLoS ONE.

Bee populations have been collapsing across North America in recent years, alarming not only scientists but also the food industry. Honeybees alone pollinate 130 different food crops, responsible for $15 billion worth of food and ingredient revenue each year.

Compass

Tsunami warning follows strong quake off Indonesia

A powerful earthquake struck waters off eastern Indonesia early Monday, generating tsunami warnings for coastlines within 600 miles of the epicenter.

The U.S. Geological Survey put the quake's preliminary magnitude at 7.5 and said it struck 13 miles beneath the sea. It was centered 54 miles from Gorantalo, a coastal town on Sulawesi island.

Fauzi, an official with the local geological agency who goes by only one name, put the magnitude at 7.7. He did not have any immediate reports of damage or injuries.

Info

Finches keep the beat with a mental metronome

Image
© Frank Sundgaard Nielsen
Wild zebra finch pair. The males are distinguished by an orange cheek patch
The way birds can sing the same song at the same speed day after day has long been a mystery. Now it has emerged that an area in the brains of zebra finches acts as a kind of music box, controlling the speed at which the birds sing. A similar mechanism may also help to control the speed of human speech.

Michale Fee and Michael Long at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology investigated by implanting small coolers at various sites in the finches' brains. The devices cooled that part of the birds' brains by up to 6.5 °C.

Info

Concealed floods drive flow of Antarctic ice

A hidden network of glacial lakes far below the Antarctic surface regulates the motion of the continent's ice rivers, a study has found. When the subglacial lakes overflow, the ice above accelerates towards the ocean.

"It's like putting in a squirt of oil," says Andy Smith of the British Antarctic Survey, who was not involved in this latest study. "The water lubricates the base of the glacier."
Byrd glacier
© Stearns
Byrd glacier has one of the largest catchment basins in Antarctica and funnels 20 gigatonnes of ice to the Ross ice shelf (bottom left) each year.

What causes the lakes to flood is not known, but researchers watching the movement of ice in satellite images have noticed that the ice appeared to "breathe" in some places, apparently linked to the ebb and flow of water underneath. Now, for the first time, evidence has emerged sub-surface floods can indeed act like a "turbo lubricant" for glaciers.

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.