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Browsing: Science

The media is full of scary and shocking descriptions as of late, and as I’m sure many of you are, I am panicked. Here I have digested some of the biggest topics of 2019 into more approachable and understandable concepts so everyone can get a true grasp on what’s happening in the world of science. Last year various naturalists and conservationist warned of an ecological apocalypse, but what does this really mean? The term encompasses everything that is going wrong in current world. Global populations of wildlife are declining at an extremely rapid rate, biodiversity and abundance of flora and…

No Such Thing as A Fish A weekly podcast from the writers of QI, where they discuss fun and obscure facts from the week. Some of the best facts include “the man with the world’s longest-ever beard broke his neck and died after tripping over it” and the “The Dalai Lama is frightened of caterpillars”. With over 200 podcasts are available on Spotify and it is a definite must listen whilst you soak up the summer freedom. As well as that it’s extremely funny and gives you great useless facts to wow your next tinder date with Death on…

New research reveals that farmed salmon have smaller ‘jaw hooks’ or ‘kype’- a secondary sexual trait, likened to the antlers of a stag, making them less attractive to females than their wild salmon cousins. This new finding published in the peer–reviewed science journal Royal Society Open Science, implies that farm-bred salmon are less sexually attractive than their wild brethren, and that despite only being bred in captivity since the 1970’s, within some 12 generations, that they are already diverging from wild salmon. The findings form part of a wider research project into the differences between wild, farmed and hybrid salmon.…

Research conducted by students at Bangor University, working with Friends of the Earth, has attracted global media attention. As mentioned in the last issue of Seren, Bangor University was commissioned by the environmental organization, to measure the amount of plastics and microplastics in British lakes and rivers- and what they found was widely reported in print and broadcast media across Britain and beyond. Luke Frears, 22 and Jedd Owens, 23 analysed all the water samples, filtering them and counting the microplastic particles in the samples for the report, they also demonstrated that using fluorescence during microscope analysis is an efficient…

Professor Simon Creer, a Professor in Molecular Ecology Georgina Brennan, Postdoctoral Research Officer, at the School on Natural Sciences release work using DNA analysis that may help allergy sufferers. With climate change hitting us hard our winters are becoming warmer, the plants are blooming earlier, it is expected that up to 400m people worldwide will develop allergic reactions to airborne pollen from trees, grasses and weeds. Symptoms will range from itchy eyes, congestion and sneezing, to the aggravation of asthma and an associated cost to society that runs into the billions. Creer and colleges at PollerGEN, have been working on…

New research undertaken by Bangor University and Friends of the Earth has found microplastic pollution in some of the UK’s most iconic rivers and lakes. The study, supposedly the first of its kind, looked at ten sites across the UK. The sites included the Lake District, Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, a wetland and a Welsh reservoir. Unfortunately, microplastics were found to be present in all of them. Dr Christian Dunn, School of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, states that the findings suggest that microplastic should be considered as an emergent contaminant and that consistent, routine monitoring of all UK…

Marine Biologists global work to save the world’s coral reefs has drawn attention to the fact that the reefs are being increasingly affected by human activity. This has led for such scientists to push for the inclusion of the assessment of the effects of non-direct activities, such as activities occurring in markets or cities. Writing in a special issue of Functional Ecology, “Coral reef functional ecology in the Anthropocene”, and using coral reefs as an example, the scientists call for the inclusion of socio-economic activity into account when predicting future ecosystem responses of coral reefs. This is in contrast to…

Chewing Gum It’s hard to believe that something we optionally place into our mouths is made out of plastic, but here it is, chewing gum consists of a large amount of plastic. Often manufacturers will leave this off of the label as it’s not the most appealing, but the plastic product is often listed on the label as “gum base”. Most gum bases will include polyethylene, a plastic that’s used to make plastic bottles and plastic bags. Gum bases also tend to contain polyisobutylene, this is literally the rubber used to make the inner tube of tyres. Truly appetising. Glitter…

By Ella Daly  After years of indecision surrounding how to tackle the UK’s grey squirrel problem, pine martens are an increasingly popular ecologically-based solution to manage the invasive species. Pine martens, whose British populations have long suffered, are currently being considered for re-introduction in more locations in the UK following recent releases in mid-Wales. The mustelid has been courted by the media and conservationists as a ‘perfect predator’ that preferentially hunts grey squirrels and leaves the beloved red squirrel alone. This optimism stems from research in Scotland and Ireland which has shown that the presence of pine martens is associated…

January: Study reveals long time scale of recovery for marine sea fans and other species A team of scientists from the School of Oceans predicted that Pink seafans, Ross corals and white sea squirts could take up to 20 years to recover after an area of seabed, the Lyme Bay Special Area of Conservation, was closed due to scallop dredging in 2008. The scientists sampled Lyme Bay at the time of the change-over and resampled the sites in 2017. Former Professor Michel Kaiser said “The time-scale of recovery appears to be directly linked to the reproductive strategies shown by the different…

The School of Ocean Sciences research on the impact of climate change on coral reefs and sea ice and the School of Natural Sciences research into soil science and forestry was heard in the debate on Climate Change at the House of Lord. Baroness Walmsley, of the Liberal Democrats referred to a letter she received from four children from Year Six of The Rofft Primary School, Marford, where they expressed their concern “for climate change the polar bears losing their habitat”. Baroness Walmsley quoted research from the School of Ocean Science on the “increasing rate of decline of the sea…

Pioneering new techniques will enable leading aquarium visitor attractions to breed their own tropical fish, following a new collaboration. The larvae of many tropical fish species are so small, that they are invisible to the naked eye, and their food source is even more microscopic. This makes captive breeding of these fish challenging. But aquaculture experts at Bangor University believe that they can help the aquarium industry to develop techniques to rear their own coral reef fish from captive larvae. The Zoological Society of London (ZSL), The Deep and SEA LIFE, three of the UK’s leading aquariums are working…

Bangor University Primatology students were extremely lucky to have Matilda Brindle present a guest lecture on her PhD topic; Masturbation in Primates. Matilda is a PhD from University College London, Institute of Zoology, and is currently researching the evolution of auto-sexual behaviours (masturbation) in primates. Her previous project focused on the evolution of the penis bone (baculum), one of the most enigmatic structures in the animal kingdom. Matilda began the talk on why masturbation has become such a taboo subject. The history of masturbation reflects broad changes in society concerning ethics, sexuality and social attitudes. The bad stigma that surrounds…

Wombat faeces has baffled scientists for decades. The Australian marsupial passes cubed-shaped poo, and the only species of mammal to do so. Despite having a pretty normal shaped anus like other mammals, wombats do not pass normal shaped poo. Researchers revealed that the elasticity of their intestines help sculpt the faeces into cubes, the team compared wombat intestines to pig intestines by inserting a balloon and monitored variations of the stretching patterns. It was discovered that wombat faeces changed from liquid form into solid form in the last 25% of the intestines but the final 8% of the intestines varied…

NASA’s next mission involving the Mars rover will continue the hunt for life outside of earth. The 2020 mission will look for signs of ancient life in an ancient river delta. The rover is expected to launch during July 2020 and land on Mars during February 2021. The rover is hunting for signs of past life in the sediments of the Jezero crater, which used to house a 250m deep lake and a delta that flowed into the lake. The presence of the lake may have influenced and supported growth of life due to highly favourable abiotic conditions. River deltas…

Food supplies are finite and scientists are getting desperate on alternative food supplies for the human population. Human’s eating insects is nothing new, globally 2 billion people consume insects, this practice is called entomophagy. It is a common practice in Africa and is home to the richest diversity of edible insects with over 500 different species being consumed. From caterpillars to termites, locusts, grasshoppers, crickets, beetles and ants. The edible insect market is set to exceed £406m by 2023. For decades scientists have proposed insects as feed for animals but views on entomophagy differ vastly. Most edible insects are harvested…

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