News That Matters

Science

Scientists: Why we should appreciate wasps

Scientists: Why we should appreciate wasps

Science
Scientists have put together a map of the UK's wasp population, showing the distribution of key species.Data recorded by volunteers gives an insight into where wasps are living in the nation's grasslands, woodlands and towns.The researchers say wasps are a much maligned insect, which deserve more attention.Rather than being "bothersome and pointless", they are in fact beneficial insects, keeping other pests in check.Dr Seirian Sumner of University College London said wasps are nature's pest controllers and a world without wasps would mean that we would have to use a lot more pesticides to control the other insects that we dislike and find annoying."They're the maligned insect of the insect world - they're viewed as the gangsters, " she told the BBC. "Whe...
Compassionate conservation is ‘seriously flawed’

Compassionate conservation is ‘seriously flawed’

Science
The idea that you cannot kill any animal is "fatally flawed" as a conservation concept, scientists argue.Conservation measures should concentrate on species or habitats rather than individual animals, they observe.Invasive species, they argue, often require mass culling of an animal in order to protect an endangered species.Under so called "compassionate conservation", such an approach would not be allowed."The argument is that conservation and sustainability needs a variety of approaches. You need to be pluralistic about both the cultural and scientific approaches," explained study co-author Prof Kartik Shanker from the Indian Institute of Science."There is universal agreement that animal welfare is important by which we mean th...
Bigger, slow-breeding species need extra protections, conservationists claim

Bigger, slow-breeding species need extra protections, conservationists claim

Science
May 17 (UPI) -- To better protect larger, slow-breeding species, conservationists, biologists and other decision makers rethink the "endangered species" definition, the authors of a new study suggest. Researchers warn that slow-breeding giants, like elephants and rhinos, might not reveal themselves as "endangered" until it is too late. A slow decline among a population of slow-breeders can, in some cases, be more worrisome than a more precipitous decline among fast-breeders. To account for this, scientists suggest conservationists pay less attention to the size and distribution of a population, or the speed of its decline, and focus instead on the relationship between mortality and fertility rates. "Critical thresholds in so-called vital rates -- such as mortality and fertility rates amo...
Study reveals the secrets of cell size control

Study reveals the secrets of cell size control

Science
May 17 (UPI) -- New research has revealed the mechanism cells use to control their growth and maintain their size, a phenomenon known as "cell size homeostasis." "Cell size homeostasis is a fundamental biological question and to our knowledge this is the first time we finally understand its mechanistic origin," Suckjoon Jun, a biophysicist at the University of California, San Diego, said in a news release. Jun and his colleagues previously showed that cell size is controlled by something called the "adder principle." The researchers showed cells grow by a fixed added size, irrespective of their birth size. The adder principle proved cells don't control growth through a sense time and space, but it failed to explain the exact mechanisms that allows for size homeostasis. The latest resear...
Mars: The box seeking to answer the biggest question

Mars: The box seeking to answer the biggest question

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your device Is it possible? Is there life on Mars? Ever since the Mariner 4 probe made the first successful visit to the Red Planet - a flyby in July 1965 - we've sent a succession of missions that have given us all sorts of fascinating information about Earth's near neighbour - but not the answer to the only question that really matters. So, take a look at the technology that may finally change the game. This is the Analytical Laboratory Drawer, or ALD - a sophisticated three-in-one box of instruments that will examine rock samples for the chemical fingerprints of biology. On Thursday, it was gently lifted by crane and lowered into the ExoMars "Rosalind Franklin" rover, the six-wheeled buggy that will carry it...