What’s killing killer whales? Orca report covering a decade of necropsies identifies threats — ScienceDaily

Pathology reports on more than 50 killer whales stranded over nearly a decade in the northeast Pacific and Hawaii show that orcas face a variety of mortal threats — many stemming from human interactions.

A study analyzing the reports was published today in the journal PLOS ONE. The study findings indicate that understanding and being aware of each threat is critical for managing and conserving killer whale populations. It also presents a baseline understanding of orca health.

The study was conducted by a team of marine mammal and orca specialists led by the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and coordinated through the SeaDoc Society, a Washington-based program of the University of California, Davis’ School of Veterinary Medicine. The lead author, Dr Stephen Raverty, and coauthor, Dr John Ford, are adjunct professions at the University of British Columbia Institute of Oceans and Fisheries and Department of Zoology, respectively.

The whales

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The Brain’s “Visual Dictionary” Identifies Fake Words

The uniquely human ability to read is the cornerstone of modern civilization, yet very little is understood about the effortless ability to derive meaning from written words. Scientists at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) have now identified a crucial region in the temporal lobe, know as the mid-fusiform cortex, which appears to act as the brain’s visual dictionary. While reading, the ability of the human brain to distinguish between a real word such as “lemur” and a made-up word like “urmle” appears to lie in the way that region processes information.

These findings were published today in Nature Human Behavior.

“How much the mid-fusiform responds to a word and how quickly it can distinguish between a real and made-up word is highly dependent on how frequently the real word is encountered in everyday language,” said Nitin Tandon, MD, senior author, professor and vice chair in

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Wuhan mass screening identifies hundreds of asymptomatic cases — ScienceDaily

A mass screening programme of more than 10 million Wuhan residents identified 300 asymptomatic cases, but none were infectious, according to a study involving the University of East Anglia.

The mass testing project took place over two weeks at the end of May — after the city’s stringent lockdown was lifted in April.

The study found no ‘viable’ virus in the asymptomatic cases and the close contacts of these positive asymptomatic cases did not test positive.

But the research team warn that their findings do not show that the virus can’t be passed on by asymptomatic carriers.

Rather, strict non-pharmaceutical interventions such as mask-wearing, hand washing, social distancing and lockdown have helped reduce the virulence of Covid-19.

The study, published in Nature Communications, was led by researchers at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) in Wuhan, China — in collaboration with researchers at UEA’s Norwich Medical School.

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Study identifies the undersea origins of mysterious love waves, decoding some of Earth’s continuous vibrations — ScienceDaily

Vibrations travel through our planet in waves, like chords ringing out from a strummed guitar. Earthquakes, volcanoes and the bustle of human activity excite some of these seismic waves. Many more reverberate from wind-driven ocean storms.

As storms churn the world’s seas, wind-whipped waves at the surface interact in a unique way that produces piston-like thumps of pressure on the seafloor, generating a stream of faint tremors that undulate through Earth to every corner of the globe.

“There is an imprint of those three Earth systems in this ambient seismic data: atmosphere, Earth’s rocky outer layers and ocean,” said Stanford University geophysicist Lucia Gualtieri, lead author of a paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that helps to resolve a decades-old conundrum over the physics of seismic waves related to ocean storms.

Known as secondary microseisms, the small seismic waves excited by rumbling oceans are so ubiquitous and

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New research identifies ‘triple trouble’ for mangrove coasts — ScienceDaily

Some of the world’s most valuable ecosystems are facing a “triple threat” to their long-term durability and survival, new research shows.

The study found that mangrove forests, their large biodiversity and the coastal protection they provide are under pressure from three distinct threats — sea-level rise, lack of mud and squeezed habitats.

The research, conducted by an international team of experts including Dr Barend van Maanen from the University of Exeter, identifies not only how these coastal forests get pushed against their shores, but also what causes the loss of their diversity.

It shows the negative effects of river dams that decrease the supply of mud that could otherwise raise mangrove soils, while buildings and seawalls largely occupy the space that mangroves require for survival.

The study is published in Environmental Research Letters.

Coastal mangrove forests are valuable, highly biodiverse ecosystems that protect coastal communities against storms.

Mangroves withstand

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New research identifies ‘triple trouble’ for mangrove coasts

New research identifies 'triple trouble' for mangrove coasts
Mangroves with dense roots trap mud more effectively. Credit: Barend van Maanen

Some of the world’s most valuable ecosystems are facing a “triple threat” to their long-term durability and survival, new research shows.


The study found that mangrove forests, their large biodiversity and the coastal protection they provide are under pressure from three distinct threats—sea-level rise, lack of mud and squeezed habitats.

The research, conducted by an international team of experts including Dr. Barend van Maanen from the University of Exeter, identifies not only how these coastal forests get pushed against their shores, but also what causes the loss of their diversity.

It shows the negative effects of river dams that decrease the supply of mud that could otherwise raise mangrove soils, while buildings and seawalls largely occupy the space that mangroves require for survival.

The study is published in Environmental Research Letters.

Coastal mangrove forests are valuable, highly

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As tech rally stretches continues, market analyst identifies one key level for comeback confirmation

Tech stocks are roaring back this week, attempting to reverse a steep decline since mid-October.

As tech roars back, two market analysts weigh whether the rebound can last

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The sector and the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 had been beaten down by a rotation into value as a surge in coronavirus cases in the U.S. spooked investors hoping for a smooth economic recovery.

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Gains this week are likely tied to the election outcome, according to Steve Chiavarone, portfolio manager at Federated Hermes.

“It’s a big relief rally, and in particular, it’s because right now it looks as though the most likely outcome is a [Joe] Biden presidency with a Republican Senate,” Chiavarone told CNBC’s “Trading Nation” on Wednesday.

He added that investors are likely feeling more optimistic that the chances of a Democratic sweep have dwindled – a “blue wave” would have boosted the prospects

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UConn researcher identifies genes and regulatory elements critical to heart development

The advent of genome science has given researchers an unprecedented ability to understand the root causes of a host of conditions. Justin Cotney, assistant professor of genetics and genome sciences in the UConn School of Medicine, has used this technology to identify a suite of genes and regulatory elements critical to normal heart development.

In a paper published in the October issue of Circulation Research, Cotney outlines the importance of “hub genes” in heart development. Hub genes operate like the hub of a wheel; they serve as the center from which many other “spokes” radiate and follow their lead in terms of when and to what extent they are expressed.

By studying a massive dataset of 125,000 control patients’ genomes amassed from other studies in the Genome Aggregation Database (gnomAD), Cotney and his team identified a set of genes and regulators

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‘White matter lesion’ mapping tool identifies early signs of dementia — ScienceDaily

A new tool for analyzing tissue damage seen on MRI brain scans can detect with more than 70 percent accuracy early signs of cognitive decline, new research shows.

The findings by imaging specialists at NYU Grossman School of Medicine center on small bright spots on scans called white matter hyperintensities. Increased numbers and size of the intense-white spots seen on the mostly gray images of the brain have long been linked to memory loss and emotional problems, especially as people age.

More spots on MRI and their occurrence in the center of the brain have also been shown to correlate with the worsening of dementia and other brain-damaging conditions, such as stroke and depression, say the study authors. The spots represent fluid-filled holes in the brain, lesions that are believed to develop from the breakdown of blood vessels that nourish nerve cells.

Current methods for grading white matter lesions rely

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