At only about 1,000 in the wild, Chinas giant panda is among the most endangered species in the world. But there is still hope if we act fast. The pandas greatest threat is habitat loss and new research identifies high-quality habitat that, if protected, could increase the species chances of long-term survival.
"The current network of nature reserves provides protection for less than half of the pandas remaining habitat and fails to conserve essential habitat for dispersal," say Colby Loucks and Eric Dinerstein of the World Wildlife Fund-US in Washington DC, and four co-authors in the April issue of Conservation Biology. The giant pandas range has shrunk from the lowland forests of southeast China, northern Vietnam and northern Myanmar to six mountain ranges along Chinas Tibetan Plateau, where only 24 isolated populations survive today. Now, however, there is a window of opportunity to protect more of the pandas habitat, thanks to two conservation policies recently adopted by the Chinese government to help control flooding. First, under the National Forest Conservation Program, logging is banned in natural forests until 2010; and second, the Grain-to-Green policy is restoring forests on steep agricultural lands. These policies "have the potential to protect and restore panda habitat across the pandas entire range," say Loucks, Dinerstein and their colleagues.
Giant pandas need both high- and low-elevation forests as well as dispersal corridors. They need both types of forest because each supplies their primary food during part of the year: during the summer, pandas eat a kind of bamboo that grows at high elevations; and during the rest of the year, they eat another kind that grows at low elevations.
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A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
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In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
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The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
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The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
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