The Mediterranean Basin has been witness to increased droughts for at least five decades, but has this always been the case? A team from the University of Zaragoza has been successful in reconstructing, for the first time, the droughts from 1694 to 2012 based on the precipitation index and the study of tree growth rings. According to the study, the twelve months leading up to July 2012 were the driest.
The dragonfly considered the most primitive in the world lives in Australia and Tasmania, and was believed to be extinct four decades ago. But it is far from being so. A Spanish researcher has observed thousands of these insects in one of the few habitats in which it has been detected and it displays sexual behaviour that is unique, not only directed towards reproduction.
Mountain gorillas from Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda eat up to 30 kilos of plants a day and their diet is highly varied in a habitat that is becoming increasingly fragmented as a result of illegal hunting and deforestation. For the first time, a study shows how dental morphology adapts to the food that is available. The information from the wear on their teeth is used to identify specimens that disappear.
Six months ago, the International Agency for Research on Cancer associated consumption of red meat and processed meat to cancer risk. However, in its analysis it made no reference to some carcinogenic environmental pollutants that are already present in raw or unprocessed meat. A study shows that only cooking processes that remove fat from meat can reduce the concentrations of these substances.
Thanks to the analysis of fossil pollen and charcoal remains, a team of scientists has been able to reconstruct the evolution of the vegetation from Gran Canaria between 4,500 and 1,500 years ago. The study reveals that the disappearance of forests in some parts of the island is in part due to the rise in fires and the cultivation of cereals. Both factors are closely related to the arrival of the first indigenous people to the island.
Pool frog (Pelophylax lessonae) tadpoles have the amazing ability to grow at different rates depending on changes in temperature. A new study has revealed that this species, which requires relatively warm environments for breeding, speeds up its capacity for growth in Sweden during the warmest time of the year in order to take full advantage of short periods of high temperatures. This trait may be the key to this frog's survival in cold climates.
Some species of plants are capable of colonising new habitats thanks to birds that transport their seeds in their plumage or digestive tract. Until recently it was known that birds could do this over short distances, but a new study shows that they are also capable of dispersing them over more than 300 kilometres. For researchers, this function could be key in the face of climate change, allowing the survival of many species.
The rising global average temperature induced by climate change will cause regions such as the Mediterranean Basin to become drier and more arid, in turn directly affecting the availability of water. A study has revealed that river flows in this zone will decrease in headwaters, on average, by as much as 34% by the year 2100 - a figure that will reach 50% during the autumn months.
If the price of oil decreases, carbon dioxide emissions increase. This is what two Spanish scientists claim after comparing the relationship between air pollution and economic development by using the real oil prices in Spain between 1874 and 2011 as an indicator. The scientists suggest a need to design new energy taxes.
Scientists from Tarbiat Modares University (Iran), in collaboration with the researcher Sergio Álvarez from the University of Jaén (Spain), have discovered a new species of nematode –or roundworm– in Iran which belongs to the rare genus Diploscapteroides. The new species has been named Diploscapteroides persicus and is one of just seven species of worm identified to date that belong to this genus. The description of this new worm includes a morphological and molecular characterisation of the specimens that have been studied.
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