On our Scoop It between April 26th and May 13th

These are links from our Scoop It page between April 26th and May 13th:

Fishing Lake Hawassa, Ethiopia: Rift Valley lakes and catching Tilapia and Catfish

Fishing boats on the side of Lake Hawassa, Awassa in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia. Opening with a view of lake from a park next to the shoreline where fish is landed, the film shows the landing, folding of nets, gutting and preparing of hte fish.



Drug-making plant blooms

Approval of a ‘biologic’ manufactured in plant cells may pave the way for similar products.



First Drug from GM Plant Approved

This week (May 1), the US Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug for humans produced by a genetically modified plant. Made by Israeli biotech Protalix Biotherapeutics and licensed in the US by Pfizer, Elelyso is an enzyme replacement therapy for Gaucher disease, a rare genetic disorder in which individuals do not produce enough of an enzyme called glucocerebrosidase, resulting in the buildup of fatty materials in the spleen, liver, and other organs.



Ecosystem effects of biodiversity loss could rival impacts of climate change, pollution

Loss of biodiversity appears to impact ecosystems as much as climate change, pollution and other major forms of environmental stress, according to a new study. The study is the first comprehensive effort to directly compare the impacts of biological diversity loss to the anticipated effects of a host of other human-caused environmental changes.



Theobrominated: Is biology zoonormative?

A geneticist colleague once told me a story about hiking with another biologist. The forest was quiet and still, from the emergent podocarps and the tawa canopy right down to the ferns and mosses on the forest floor (sadly often the case in New Zealand forest since introduced mammals ate most of our native birds). The other biologist's reaction to this was to say, "It's so quiet; there's nothing alive here!" To what extent is our thinking and teaching in biology zoonormative?



Why taxonomy is important for biodiversity-based science

Taxonomy usually refers to the theory and practice of describing, naming and classifying living things. Such work is essential for the fundamental understanding of biodiversity and its conservation. Yet the science behind delimiting the natural world into “species” is often neglected, misunderstood or even derided in some quarters.

The paper give the example of rattans of Africa, leading to the publication of a taxonomic monograph of these climbing palms. Taxonomic work of this kind is not purely an academic exercise. It is an essential basis for the conservation, development and management of the resource itself. It is important that the differences between species are clearly understood so that we know which species are of commercial importance and how they can be distinguished from other species that are not utilised and why. This knowledge is essential in order to undertake meaningful inventories of commercially important species and to be able to assess the potential of each species for cultivation and sustainable management. A structured taxonomic framework also ensures that any experimental or development work undertaken is replicable.



Sperm racing: the tortoise and the hare

Once they conquered the land, the earliest land plants (the bryophytes) were like the amphibians: they can live on dry land, but they need water for mating. The seed plants acquired a kind of internal fertilization, because they use pollen grains to deliver their sperms right to the stigma or the ovule, where a pollen tube can take it the last few millimetres to the egg. In this, the seed plants resemble the mammals. However, this is an analogy. These plants are doing similar things to the animals for similar reasons, but in completely different ways.



Science of the Invisible: Google+? It’s very simple

f you’re interested in science communication, or learning about science, Google+ is the hot place to be. In January 2012, Google changed the game when it introduced “Search plus your world”, adding a social element to search results. Talk to any publisher and they will tell you that Google is still by far the biggest player in search, so if you want people to read about your science, you need to pay attention



IWMI : CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems – Overview

Worldwide research initiative launched to tackle global crises in water, food and the environment

 

An ambitious new research program, launched by the world’s largest consortium of international agricultural researchers, aims to address some of the world’s most pressing problems related to boosting food production and improving livelihoods, whilst simultaneously protecting the environment.The program focuses on the three critical issues of water scarcity, land degradation and ecosystem services, as well as the CGIAR System Level Outcome of sustainable natural resource management. It will also make substantial contributions to the System Level Outcomes on food security, poverty alleviation and, to a minor extent, health and nutrition.



RuSource: Economic evidence for investing in the environment

There are many examples where green infrastructure offers much better value for public investment than the alternative, for example natural water filtration and natural flood defence.

Alan Spedding over at RuSource had identified and summarized an important report with the less-than-exciting title "Natural England Research Report NERR033 ‘Microeconomic Evidence for the Benefits of Investment in the Environment – review’.

 

Natural climate control is much cheaper than the air-conditioning (or heating) it replaces. Natural air filtering is likely to be efficient compared to technical alternatives, particularly as trees provide so many other benefits. Access to greenspace and the promotion of active travel are extremely cost-effective ways to address Mental and physical ill-health.

 

From RuSource and Natural England