A study published in the latest issue of Conservation Biology examines the effects of humans on Magellanic Penguins and finds no immediate, negative effects of tourism. Although first seeing people is stressful for the penguins, habituation is rapid. The authors monitored the defensive head turns and the level of a hormone secreted in response to stress (plasma corticosterone) of penguins when encountering humans. "Head turns of penguins visited for 10 days were significantly lower than those of penguins visited for 5 days and were not significantly different than for penguins living in the [much frequented] tourist area," the authors explain. However, the authors stress that these results focus on the immediate. The consequences of the penguins changing behavior may not become apparent until later in life.
When approached in their nest, Magellanic Penguins turn their heads back and forth, looking at the approacher with one eye and then both. When stressed, the increase in their hormones facilitates their ability to escape or outlast the situation. As stated, the results show no short-term negative impact of human visits, but long-term effects have not been reported. "These long-term consequences are much harder to document, especially in long-lived animals such as Magellanic Penguins," the authors conclude. "Our data shows that quantifying the consequences of human disturbances on wildlife is rarely simple and straightforward."
Magellanic Penguins nest in coastal colonies along the southern Atlantic and Pacific oceans of South America. The penguins in the study live in the largest and most visited colony of Magellanic Penguins at Punta Tombo, Argentina. More than 70,000 people now visit annually.
Jill Yablonski | EurekAlert!
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Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
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The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
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