Jim Clapp (University of Ulster) will reveal how bird droppings can be used to measure radioactive fall-out in the environment. Solid urate spheres found in bird excretions can be screened for man-made pollutants such as radioactive caesium, providing a new non-invasive way to monitor the environment. Mr. Clapp will present his latest results today at the annual meeting of the Society for Experimental Biology at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh (29 March – 2 April 2004).
“This is a new method which does not interfere with the birds or with the environment” explains Mr. Clapp. “There is no need to sacrifice birds or disrupt them, which may cause them to leave their breeding site”. The technique involves collecting solid urate spheres found in bird droppings and testing the levels of contaminants against the amount of uric acid in the spheres. Solid urine is ideal since it remains in place for several days, can be collected year-round without disturbing the birds, and birds excrete toxins and their metabolites in their urine so it provides a direct measure of the toxicity of their environment.
Mr. Clapp expects that this new technique can easily be extended to test for other man-made pollutants such as heavy metals and toxins in the near future. “If there are any concerns about a particular site, we can identify a local bird population and use this new technique to test the level of pollutants.” says Mr. Clapp.
Yfke van Bergen | alfa
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An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
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