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Acacia ants' vibrational sensors can differentiate between nibbles and wind

Acacia ants' vibrational sensors can differentiate between nibbles and wind

Science
Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Acacia ants have an exceptional sense of vibration. As a new study revealed, the ants, which live in and on Africa's acacia trees, can tell the difference between the vibrational patterns made by wind rustling the tree's leaves and those made by a munching herbivore. The ants aren't afraid of being eaten themselves. Instead, the vibrations trigger ants to patrol the branches of the tree and fend off animals looking to eat the tree's leaves and bark. In return for the ants' defensive efforts, the acacia tree provides the insect colonies with nutritious nectar and shelter in the form of hollow thorns. "The vibrations that occur when a mammal plucks a leaf are so powerful that they spread across the whole tree and are perceived by the ants," Felix Hager of Ruhr University Bo...
Geologists use tide gauge measurements to track tremors

Geologists use tide gauge measurements to track tremors

Science
Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Geologists have developed a method to track tremors using water level measurements recorded by tide gauges. Today, scientists use GPS to track the elevation changes caused by episodic tremors and slow slip earthquakes, but the Global Positioning System has only been in operation since 1995. Researchers have been tracking water levels for much longer. The new analysis technique -- detailed this week in the journal Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America -- could allow researchers to probe pre-GPS tide gauge data for unique seismic patterns called episodic tremor and slip events, or ETS. "The part of the fault that is slipping during [an episodic tremor and slip] can't be totally locked, because it is experiencing periodic slow earthquakes, so that area sort of def...
Gene-edited animal plan to relieve poverty in Africa

Gene-edited animal plan to relieve poverty in Africa

Science
A researcher in Edinburgh is leading efforts to develop gene-edited farm animals for poor farmers in Africa. Prof Appolinaire Djikeng is developing cows, pigs and chickens that are resistant to diseases and more productive.Among them are cattle that have been gene edited to be heat-resistant.Details of the project were given at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Washington DC.Prof Djikeng is the director of the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health. He believes that gene editing along with more targeted traditional cross-breeding will lead to healthy, productive livestock that will transform the lives of some of the very poorest people in the world."We can drive out poverty in some of ...
Scientists use spacecraft's measurements to study solar wind heating

Scientists use spacecraft's measurements to study solar wind heating

Science
Feb. 14 (UPI) -- With the help of a NASA spacecraft, astrophysicists have uncovered the process by which energy is transferred between electromagnetic fields and plasma in space. Most of the visible matter in the universe exists in the form of plasma, an ionized state of matter. Understanding how energy is transferred to and from ionized particles in space can help scientists to better understand a variety of cosmological phenomena. The transfer of energy from electromagnetic turbulence in space to the electrons in the solar wind is caused by a process known as Landau damping. When electromagnetic waves travel through plasma and the plasma particles themselves are traveling at the same speeds, the plasma particles absorb the wave's energy, reducing -- or damping -- the electromagnetic wav...
New frog species discovered on remote Ethiopian mountain

New frog species discovered on remote Ethiopian mountain

Science
Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Biologists have discovered a new species of frog living among the forests on a remote mountain in Ethiopia. The small frog's home is one of the country's last undisturbed forests. Scientists named the new frog species Phrynobatrachus bibita sp. nov.. The amphibian belongs to a group called Ethiopian puddle frogs. DNA analysis confirmed the species is genetically distinct from its closest puddle frog relatives. Human development has impacted wildlife throughout Ethiopia, but the southwestern corner of the country hosts several pockets of remote wilderness. Bibita Mountain is one of the most remote pockets. "Untouched, isolated, and unexplored: it had all the elements to spike our interest," Jacobo Reyes-Velasco, a postdoctoral researcher at New York University who led some...