Urban Life of Bees: A Pollination-Parasite Trade-Off Animals Biology Botany Environment 

Urban Life of Bees: A Pollination-Parasite Trade-Off

By Jonathan Trinastic @jptrinastic   Few people would consider cities the ideal home for bees, but what if these dense population centers could provide the means for healthy cohabitation? Scientists from Europe recently examined how bumblebees visit and pollinate flowers across urban and agricultural regions and found that urban areas can have a surprisingly beneficial effect on pollination rates. The reasons behind these results not only provide insight into how cities could be designed to better care for bees but also signal yet another danger of farming monocultures. Urban sanctuary…

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GMOs and the Risk to Our Genetic Heritage Biology Environment 

GMOs and the Risk to Our Genetic Heritage

By Alex Taylor In 2001, high in the Sierra Norte de Oaxaca mountains of southern Mexico, UC Berkeley graduate student David Quist hiked along some of the world’s oldest cornfields. Quist was sampling cobs for DNA testing, and what he found kicked off a scientific firestorm and brought attention to a subtle threat to the future of global agriculture. In those ancient Mexican corn varieties, Quist detected the DNA signature of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). A living genetic repository Hike down those Oaxacan mountains and into village marketplaces, and you…

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Endangered Primates: Researcher Gonedele Sere (left) holds a cocoa plant found at an illegal farm in the Dassioko Forest Reserve in Ivory Coast (Photo by W. Scott McGraw, Courtesy of Ohio State University) Animals Biology Environment 

Illegal Cocoa Farms Threaten Primates

When a team of researchers set out to count the endangered primates in Ivory Coast national parks and forest reserves, they expected to find monkeys. Instead they found that most of the protected areas had been deforested and turned into illegal cocoa farms. The team surveyed 23 protected areas in West Africa and found about three-quarters of the land in each area was being used for cocoa production. Most of the trees and the monkeys that lived in them were gone. Bitter Chocolate: Illegal Cocoa Farms “The world’s demand for…

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Medicine for sick bees: A bumble bee collects nectar containing iridoid glycoside secondary metabolites from a turtlehead flower. (Leif Richardson) Biology Environment 

Nature’s Medicine Cabinet for Sick Bees

By Kate Stone Around the world, honey bees are in decline and under constant threat from parasites. This ongoing problem threatens fruits, vegetables and other crops that make up much of the food supply for people. However, naturally occurring chemicals found in flowers of certain plants could be just the right prescription for sick bees, according to new research from Dartmouth College. The chemicals that occur naturally in floral nectar “may play a vital role in reducing bee-parasite interactions,” according to researcher Rebecca Irwin. The study found that chemicals in…

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