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Scientists map invasive species hotspots

Scientists map invasive species hotspots

Science
June 12 (UPI) -- Where are alien, or invasive, species most abundant? Where do they have the most success?According to new research by an international team of scientists, foreign invaders -- both plants and animals -- most frequently take root on islands and among the coastal regions of continents.In an effort to identify geographical patterns, scientists mapped the distribution of different types of invasive species, including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fishes, spiders, ants and vascular plants. Their analysis identified 186 islands and 423 mainland regions with high concentrations of alien species.Scientists measured the largest number of invasive species -- from all groups -- in Hawaii and New Zealand."Both regions are remote islands that used to be very isolated, lacking so...
The future will be rainier than expected, according to new NASA data

The future will be rainier than expected, according to new NASA data

Science
June 12 (UPI) -- In a new study, NASA scientists argue the latest predictive climate models underestimate future levels of precipitation in the tropics.NASA data suggests the tropics will host fewer tall, high-alittude clouds as global warming continues, boosting rainfall totals in the region.Under different circumstances, fewer clouds would likely translate to less precipitation. But tall tropical clouds help trap heat in the atmosphere. Without fewer of them around, the air above the tropics is expected to cool. Cooler air means more rain.But the confusing changes don't stop there. The increase in rain is expected to reheat the atmosphere. As raindrops condense, they transfer energy to their surroundings, warming the atmosphere. The cycle of heating and cooling encourages large-scale air...
Scientists capture, suspend individual cells in tiny drops of gel

Scientists capture, suspend individual cells in tiny drops of gel

Science
June 12 (UPI) -- A new method for isolating cells promises to prolong the amount of time scientists can study individual cells in the lab.Currently, only way to study individual cells is to cultivate and capture them in microgels, tiny hydrogel droplets. Unfortunately, most cells escape from the droplets within a few days.In order to study the biochemical mechanics of disease -- as well as the promise of new drug and stem cell therapies -- researchers need to monitor individual cells for longer periods of time.Researchers at the University of Twente in the Netherlands decided to take a closer look at escaping cells and found most were located near the edges of the hydrogel droplets. The scientists developed a chip capable of trapping individual cells in the exact center of the drops of hyd...
Subsea pipelines offer shelter to important commercial fish species in Australia

Subsea pipelines offer shelter to important commercial fish species in Australia

Science
June 12 (UPI) -- For conservationists and environmentalists, pipelines and the oil they carry are mostly viewed as a threat to ecological health. But new research suggests they serve as a safe haven for important commercial fish species off the coast of northwest Australia.The North West Shelf, which lies off the coast of Western Australia, features an array of gas wells, subsea pipelines and other kinds of underwater infrastructure necessary to support oil and gas exploration in the region.Oil and gas companies regularly use remote operated vehicles, or ROVs, to monitor their pipelines. Researchers at the University of Western Australia used video footage from industry submersibles to survey fish diversity and abundance around pipelines at varying depths.Their analysis revealed a surprisi...
Global hotspots for alien invasions revealed

Global hotspots for alien invasions revealed

Science
Great Britain is in the top 10% of areas for harbouring alien species, according to a study.Animals that have moved in from afar include the grey squirrel, rose-ringed parakeet and the noble false widow spider.The UK also has more established alien plants than elsewhere in Europe, such as Himalayan balsam.Scientists say islands and mainland coastal regions are global "hotspots" for alien species.They are calling for more effective measures to stop further introductions of plants and animals into vulnerable ecosystems."We need to be much better at trying to prevent the introduction of species that can be harmful in the first place," said Dr Wayne Dawson of Durham University, UK. "Prevention is better than cure with invasive species."Alien species are plants or animals that are non-native (o...