A new Columbia Engineering study demonstrates that even when temperatures warm and cold stress is limited, light is still a major factor in limiting carbon uptake of northern high latitudes. The team analyzed satellite observations, field measurements, and model simulations and showed that there is a prevalent radiation limitation on carbon uptake in northern ecosystems, especially in autumn.
Deserts of the US Southwest are extreme habitats for most plants, but, remarkably, microscopic green algae live there that are extraordinarily tolerant of dehydration. After completely drying out, the algae can become active and start photosynthesizing again within seconds of receiving a drop of water. Elena Peredo and Zoe Cardon of the Marine Biological Laboratory provide a genetic explanation for the algae's resilience, a new perspective that warrants investigation in plants more generally.
A new study by the University of Leeds and University of California at San Diego reveals that changes in the direction of the Earth's magnetic field may take place 10 times faster than previously thought.
Dinosaurs and pterosaurs may be known for their remarkable size, but a newly described species that lived around 237 million years ago suggests that they originated from extremely small ancestors. The fossil reptile, named Kongonaphon kely, or "tiny bug slayer," would have stood just 10 centimeters tall. The study may help explain the origins of flight in pterosaurs, the presence of "fuzz" on both pterosaurs and dinosaurs, and other questions about these charismatic animals.
Characteristics of palm trees differ from those of other tropical trees in many ways. In a major new study led by scientists at Uppsala University, Sweden, and University of Campinas, Brazil, they have surveyed the actual numbers of palms in tropical rainforests around the globe. The proportion of palm trees is important to include in calculations of forests' potential carbon storage and in estimates of forested areas' sensitivity to climate change.
Study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides first direct evidence for Gulf Stream blender effect, identifying a new mechanism of mixing water across the swift-moving current. The results have important implications for weather, climate and fisheries because ocean mixing plays a critical role in these processes. The Gulf Stream is one of the largest drivers of climate and biological productivity from Florida to Newfoundland and along the western coast of Europe.
Researchers often study the genomes of individual organisms to try to tease out the relationship between genes and behavior. A new study of Africanized honey bees reveals, however, that the genetic inheritance of individual bees has little influence on their propensity for aggression. Instead, the genomic traits of the hive as a whole are strongly associated with how fiercely its soldiers attack.