Eastern floater mussels are abundant in lakes and ponds throughout the Northeastern United States. The below illustration is from The Pearly Mussels of the New York State, written by David Strayer
If you have spent time boating or fishing in freshwater, there is a good chance you have encountered a pearly mussel. Elliptical in shape, with iridescent inner shells, humans have appreciated the animals since prehistoric times. Coveted for their pearls and mother-of-pearl shells; their meat has been a resource for both humans and wildlife. In a BioScience paper published this week, a team of scientists report that something troubling has been happening in our nation’s freshwaters— once-abundant pearly mussels are disappearing from the landscape.
Written by a team of seven mussel experts, the paper concludes that, "Many pearly mussel populations have a negative growth rate and are likely to disappear unless environmental conditions change." To protect the animals, the authors urge simultaneous research and conservation actions, among them increased research on mussel biology and the protection of mussel habitat.
Though humans have been interacting with mussels for millennia, there are large gaps in our understanding of their life history and the role they play in freshwater ecosystems. Lead author Dr. David L. Strayer, a freshwater ecologist at the Institute of Ecosystem Studies, remarks, "Pearly mussels are imperiled by human activities, such as pollution, dam construction, and channelization. Dozens of species are already extinct and well over a hundred species are in danger of disappearing. For many mussel species, without intervention, future populations will be limited to specimens in museum drawers."
Lori M. Quillen | Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy