Ecosystems and Biodiversity

Published in the journal Molecular Ecology, new research has revealed that several species of Australian sea snakes can sense light on their tail skin. The researchers have discovered a gene for a light-sensitive protein called melanopsin, and several genes that are involved in converting light into information in the nervous system using RNA sequencing. They have found 3 species, including Olive sea snakes (Aipysurus laevis) and other Aipysurus species, that move their tail away from light; this helps protect their paddle-shaped tails from being seen by predators. Via Phys.org

Animal behaviorists were surprised to find that Magellanic Penguins try to divide food equally between their chicks. The findings were surprising because throughout most of the animal kingdom, including in other penguin species, parents usually divide food unequally, favoring one offspring over the other. The study took place over four years at a breeding colony in Argentina. Researchers calculated the amounts of food given to the 218 chicks they observed by weighing them before and after feedings. Via EurekAlert!

Water Quality and Supply

Until now, removal of antibiotic residue from water has been very complicated and not very effective. Scientists in Estonia have developed a process using aerogel, a very light and porous material produced from local Estonian oil shale material, combined with metal catalysts like nickel. Scientists from the University of Tallinn recently reported on their work, successfully removing the antibiotic trimethoprim, which is used to treat kidney infections, from wastewater. Via EurekAlert!

Government Initiatives

When catastrophic events happen in our oceans, many slow-moving animals like sea stars and shellfish are at risk since they may not be able to avoid issues such as viruses and oil spills. A green abalone fishery on Isla Natividad in Mexico is being used in a case study which shows how marine protected areas are beneficial to preventing population collapse after experiencing such events. Via Phys.org

Photo: nicoleleec / flickr

Energy and Power

At the University of Edinburgh, researchers are using the FloWave facility to test a low-cost wave power device. A Dielectric Elastomer Generator is less expensive, more durable, and simpler than conventional wave power generators. Its design consists of a vertical tube capped by a flexible rubber membrane. The pressure change from the rise and fall of ocean waves causes expansion and contraction of the membrane, which generates electricity. One full sized device could generate power for 100 homes by running electricity to shore by a series of underwater cables. Via Techxplore

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