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Alarm over decline in flying insects

Alarm over decline in flying insects

Science
It's known as the windscreen phenomenon. When you stop your car after a drive, there seem to be far fewer squashed insects than there used to be.Scientists have long suspected that insects are in dramatic decline, but new evidence confirms this.Research at more than 60 protected areas in Germany suggests flying insects have declined by more than 75% over almost 30 years.And the causes are unknown."This confirms what everybody's been having as a gut feeling - the windscreen phenomenon where you squash fewer bugs as the decades go by," said Caspar Hallmann of Radboud University in The Netherlands. "This is the first study that looked into the total biomass of flying insects and it confirms our worries.''The study is based on measurements of the biomass of all insects trapped at 63 nature pro...
After sex, female jumping spiders get shy

After sex, female jumping spiders get shy

Science
Oct. 18 (UPI) -- For many female Australian jumping spiders, the first time is the last time.When scientists at Macquarie University tracked the mating habits of Australian jumping spiders, they found many females display an increase in sexual inhibitions after mating for the first time. Some never take another mate.The study -- published this week in the journal PLOS ONE -- is one of the first track the longterm effects of mating on sexual behavior.Scientists captured 89 immature female Servaea incana jumping spiders and brought them to the lab. Each virgin spider was paired with a new mate everyday for the first ten days of her adult life, and a new mate every ten days after.After mating for the first time, most of the females spurned the advances of subsequent suitors. Many were aggress...
Photo of butchered rhino wins top award

Photo of butchered rhino wins top award

Science
A shocking image of environmental crime has been declared the top entry in this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY) competition. Taken by South African Brent Stirton, the picture shows the slumped form of a black rhino in Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve.Poachers killed the animal at night, with a silencer, and then dehorned it. Stirton took the photo as part of an investigation into the illegal trade in rhino products. The photographer visited more than 30 such crime scenes in the course of his probe - experiences he said he found depressing."My first child is going to be born in February; I'm 48. And I think I left it such a long time because I kind of lost faith in a lot of the work we see as photojournalists. You lose faith in humanity to some extent." Stirton, who collec...
Mars Express' webcam helps ESA scientists study high-altitude clouds

Mars Express' webcam helps ESA scientists study high-altitude clouds

Science
Oct. 17 (UPI) -- A new survey of high-altitude clouds on Mars marks the first time researchers have used the webcam on the European Space Agency's Mars Express probe for scientific purposes.Until now, the webcam was mostly used for science outreach and education. But last year, ESA scientists upgraded the webcam with new software and began capturing images of the clouds and dust storms forming atop the Red Planet's edge -- the planet's "limb."The probe's other cameras are mostly designed to make high-resolution observations of small targets, but the webcam is ideal for wide-angle views of Mars' distant horizon."For this reason, limb observations in general are not so numerous, and this is why our images are so valuable in contributing to our understanding of atmospheric phenomena," Agustin...
Saturn's A ring contained by not one, but seven moons

Saturn's A ring contained by not one, but seven moons

Science
Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Until recently, astronomers assumed Saturn's A ring was contained by a single moon, Janus, the gas giant's largest. But new research shows the A ring, the outermost of Saturn's large, bright rings, is confined by seven moons.The orbital resonances of the seven moons, new research shows, prevents the A ring from diffusing into nothingness. Without the seven moons, the ring's material would spread out and dissipate entirely over time.The revelation was made possible by observations recorded by the Cassini probe."Cassini provided detail on the mass of Saturn's moons and the physical characteristics of the rings, so mathematically speaking, we concluded that the moon Janus alone cannot keep the rings from spreading out," Radwan Tajeddine, a research associate in astronomy at C...