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Bird pulled from brink of extinction facing poisoning threat

Bird pulled from brink of extinction facing poisoning threat

Science
The red kite has become more common in the UK in the past 30 years, thanks to conservation schemes.But, while numbers of the birds of prey are on the rise, scientists say human factors threaten to derail progress.Post-mortem tests on wild red kites found many had been poisoned by lead shot, rat poison or pesticides.The study, published in the European Journal of Wildlife Research, suggests poisoning of red kites may be slowing their rate of recovery in England.Dr Jenny Jaffe of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), who worked on the study, said birds of prey, and especially scavengers, would eat animals that contained lead shot, leading to lead poisoning.''That can be changed by changing the shot gun cartridges to non lead, which a lot of countries do,'' she told BBC News. ''And, there i...
Clean air target 'could be met more quickly'

Clean air target 'could be met more quickly'

Science
Targets for reducing illegal levels of NO2 pollution from vehicles will be achieved more quickly than the government expects, a study says.Researchers say government projections of future NO2 are too pessimistic, because they ignore the latest real world data.They say cities may achieve roadside emissions standards several years earlier than ministers expect.The research is published in the journal Nature Geoscience.The authors at the University of York warn that despite the adjustment, the government is still lagging badly on NO2 targets.And they say the air in the UK's big cities remains dangerously polluted from many different compounds. But how did the government miscalculate NO2?The authors say it's because they relied on projections of future emissions, rather than on real world road...
Deep fat fryers may help form cooling clouds

Deep fat fryers may help form cooling clouds

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your deviceFatty acids released into the air from cooking may contribute to the formation of clouds that cool the climate, say scientists.Fatty acid molecules comprise about 10% of fine particulates over London, and such particles help seed clouds.But researchers dismiss the idea that cooking fats could be used as a geo-engineering tool to reduce warming.Instead, the research is designed to help reduce uncertainties about the role of cooking fats on climate.Researchers believe the fatty molecules arrange themselves into complex 3-D structures in atmospheric droplets.These aerosols persist for longer than normal and can seed the formation of clouds which experts say can have a cooling effect on the climate.The authors say the study will shed new light on the...
Galapagos finches caught in act of becoming new species

Galapagos finches caught in act of becoming new species

Science
A population of finches on the Galapagos has been discovered in the process of becoming a new species. This is the first example of speciation that scientists have been able to observe directly in the field. Researchers followed the entire population of finches on a tiny Galapagos island called Daphne Major, for many years, and so they were able to watch the speciation in progress.The research was published in the journal Science.The group of finch species to which the Big Bird population belongs are collectively known as Darwin's finches and helped Charles Darwin to uncover the process of evolution by natural selection.In 1981, the researchers noticed the arrival of a male of a non-native species, the large cactus finch.Professors Rosemary and Peter Grant noticed that this male proceeded ...
Flies more germ-laden than suspected

Flies more germ-laden than suspected

Science
Scientists have discovered that flies carry more diseases than suspected. The house fly and the blowfly together harbour more than 600 different bacteria, according to a DNA analysis.Many are linked with human infections, including stomach bugs, blood poisoning and pneumonia.Flies can spread bacteria from place-to-place on their legs, feet and wings, experiments show. In fact, every step taken by a fly can transfer live bacteria, researchers said.''People had some notion that there were pathogens that were carried by flies but had no idea of the extent to which this is true and the extent to which they are transferred," Prof Donald Bryant of Penn State University, a co-researcher on the study, told BBC News.OutbreaksDNA sequencing techniques were used to study the collection of microbes fo...