Recently Evolved Species Cope Better with Changing Land Use

A 12-year field study of birds in Costa Rica shows that older lineages, or species with the longest evolutionary histories, are more likely to go extinct in agricultural landscapes than newer lineages. This finding demonstrates how habitat conversion can actually restructure the tree of life by favoring certain branches over others, and it may inform conservation efforts in the future. Luke Frishkoff and colleagues studied 44 plots of land that represented three different types of land use: forest reserves, which are undisturbed by humans; diversified agricultures, which host different kinds of crops; and intensive monocultures, which host only one kind of crop. They performed surveys of birds, documenting 118,127 sightings of 487 different species, and designed a model to estimate when and where such species disappeared from those landscapes. 

Read more about this research from the 12 September issue of Science here.

[Photo courtesy of Daniel Karp. Please click here for further information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Recently Evolved Species Cope Better with Changing Land Use

A 12-year field study of birds in Costa Rica shows that older lineages, or species with the longest evolutionary histories, are more likely to go extinct in agricultural landscapes than newer lineages. This finding demonstrates how habitat conversion can actually restructure the tree of life by favoring certain branches over others, and it may inform conservation efforts in the future. Luke Frishkoff and colleagues studied 44 plots of land that represented three different types of land use: forest reserves, which are undisturbed by humans; diversified agricultures, which host different kinds of crops; and intensive monocultures, which host only one kind of crop. They performed surveys of birds, documenting 118,127 sightings of 487 different species, and designed a model to estimate when and where such species disappeared from those landscapes.

Read more about this research from the 12 September issue of Science here.

[Photo courtesy of Daniel Karp. Please click here for further information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

New Fossils Reveal Dino’s Aquatic Adaptations

Spinosaurus aegyptiacus — a meat-eating dinosaur bigger than Tyrannosaurus rex — was a fantastic swimmer, a new fossil study reports. This is a first for dinosaurs, long thought to be terrestrial beasts. Ever since the first fossils of S. aegyptiacus were examined over a century ago, much of our understanding of its morphology and ecology was left to speculation because the first fossils were destroyed during World War II. Now, a much more complete set of fossils suggests that the carnivore was semi-aquatic. Nizar Ibrahim and colleagues describe these new fossils, which include portions of a skull, axial column, pelvic girdle and limbs, from the Kem Kem beds of eastern Morocco. 

Read more about this research from the 11 September issue of Science  here and here.

[Artwork by Davide Bonadonna, Ibrahim et al., Science/AAAS. Click here for further information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

New Fossils Reveal Dino’s Aquatic Adaptations

Spinosaurus aegyptiacus — a meat-eating dinosaur bigger than Tyrannosaurus rex — was a fantastic swimmer, a new fossil study reports. This is a first for dinosaurs, long thought to be terrestrial beasts. Ever since the first fossils of S. aegyptiacus were examined over a century ago, much of our understanding of its morphology and ecology was left to speculation because the first fossils were destroyed during World War II. Now, a much more complete set of fossils suggests that the carnivore was semi-aquatic. Nizar Ibrahim and colleagues describe these new fossils, which include portions of a skull, axial column, pelvic girdle and limbs, from the Kem Kem beds of eastern Morocco.

Read more about this research from the 11 September issue of Science here and here.

[Artwork by Davide Bonadonna, Ibrahim et al., Science/AAAS. Click here for further information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

A woman cares for her 5-year-old grandson, who has malaria, in a hospital in northwestern Zambia. An upsurge in funding for global health over the past 15 years has brought dramatic declines in deaths and illness from malaria and other diseases of the poor. Countries like Zambia are now trying to preserve those gains while tackling new challenges. See page 1256.

[Photo © John Stanmeyer/VII/Corbis] 

Anyone wishing to use the cover of Science must contact AAAS to request permission to do so.

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

A woman cares for her 5-year-old grandson, who has malaria, in a hospital in northwestern Zambia. An upsurge in funding for global health over the past 15 years has brought dramatic declines in deaths and illness from malaria and other diseases of the poor. Countries like Zambia are now trying to preserve those gains while tackling new challenges. See page 1256.

[Photo © John Stanmeyer/VII/Corbis]

Anyone wishing to use the cover of Science must contact AAAS to request permission to do so.

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

How Ocean Microbes Respond to Limited Nutrients

Two new studies advance our understanding of how nutrient availability influences protein production by marine microbes. Mak Saito and colleagues show, for the first time, that they can precisely measure the amounts of specific proteins from individual ocean microbe species at various ocean locations. They collected water samples along a 2,500-mile stretch of Pacific Ocean and their efforts spanned regions with widely different nutrient concentrations. They show how multiple scarce nutrients can together influence ocean microbial communities. In a second study, Shee Yong and colleagues provide new insights about the trace metals that marine plankton require to extract phosphorous from low-phosphorous ocean environments. Together, the studies reveal how ocean microbes respond to limited nutrients. 

Read more about this research from the 5 September issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of Brian Dimento, University of Connecticut. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

How Ocean Microbes Respond to Limited Nutrients

Two new studies advance our understanding of how nutrient availability influences protein production by marine microbes. Mak Saito and colleagues show, for the first time, that they can precisely measure the amounts of specific proteins from individual ocean microbe species at various ocean locations. They collected water samples along a 2,500-mile stretch of Pacific Ocean and their efforts spanned regions with widely different nutrient concentrations. They show how multiple scarce nutrients can together influence ocean microbial communities. In a second study, Shee Yong and colleagues provide new insights about the trace metals that marine plankton require to extract phosphorous from low-phosphorous ocean environments. Together, the studies reveal how ocean microbes respond to limited nutrients.

Read more about this research from the 5 September issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of Brian Dimento, University of Connecticut. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Soft, Shape-Shifting Materials

By placing liquid crystals on the surface of a soft, deformable fluid pocket, or vesicle, researchers have designed a new, tunable kind of shape-changing material that mimics some of the remarkable complexity of a living organism. Felix Keber and his colleagues demonstrate how topological constraints can be used to control the non-equilibrium dynamics of active matter, like liquid crystals.

Read more about this research from the 5 September issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of Christoph Hohmann, Nano Initiative Munich. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Soft, Shape-Shifting Materials

By placing liquid crystals on the surface of a soft, deformable fluid pocket, or vesicle, researchers have designed a new, tunable kind of shape-changing material that mimics some of the remarkable complexity of a living organism. Felix Keber and his colleagues demonstrate how topological constraints can be used to control the non-equilibrium dynamics of active matter, like liquid crystals.

Read more about this research from the 5 September issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of Christoph Hohmann, Nano Initiative Munich. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Greenland Ice Cores Reveal Long-Sought Temperature Data

A new study suggests Greenland started warming about 19,000 years ago, along with the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, despite studies that had suggested Greenland warmed much later. The researchers also suggest that temperatures changed more in central Greenland than in the northwest and that such abrupt climate change is heavily dependent upon the seasons — largely a winter phenomenon. 

Read more about this research from the 5 September issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of Helle Kjaer. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Greenland Ice Cores Reveal Long-Sought Temperature Data

A new study suggests Greenland started warming about 19,000 years ago, along with the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, despite studies that had suggested Greenland warmed much later. The researchers also suggest that temperatures changed more in central Greenland than in the northwest and that such abrupt climate change is heavily dependent upon the seasons — largely a winter phenomenon.

Read more about this research from the 5 September issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of Helle Kjaer. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Your Microbial Fingerprint on the Move

Researchers studying the microbial communities that colonize people, places and pets have determined that such microbiota differ greatly from household to household. By characterizing the bacteria in our unique environments, they are starting to map out how interactions between people and the bacteria that surround them might affect human health. When people pack up their belongings and move houses, they also move their unique microbiological “auras”, Simon Lax and colleagues report in this study.

Read more about this research from the 29 August issue of Science here.

[Video © Argonne National Laboratory. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Paying Brazil’s Farmers to Conserve 

A new study by Cristina Banks-Leite and colleagues suggests that it would cost Brazil less than 1% of its gross domestic product to set aside private farmland for conservation in the Atlantic Forest, one of the world’s most threatened biodiversity hotspots. How to affordably implement conservation efforts in mixed landscapes, consisting of both public and private protected areas, is widely discussed now; this finding provides a cost-effective path forward for this conservation strategy, hinting at how to do it in other similarly mixed landscapes as well. The researchers analyzed data on 43 mammalian species, 140 bird species and 29 amphibian species from various regions of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest and found that such communities require about 30% forest cover to maintain their integrity, or a level of biodiversity similar to that found in protected landscapes. 

Read more about this research from the 29 August issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of Sandro Von Matter. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Paying Brazil’s Farmers to Conserve

A new study by Cristina Banks-Leite and colleagues suggests that it would cost Brazil less than 1% of its gross domestic product to set aside private farmland for conservation in the Atlantic Forest, one of the world’s most threatened biodiversity hotspots. How to affordably implement conservation efforts in mixed landscapes, consisting of both public and private protected areas, is widely discussed now; this finding provides a cost-effective path forward for this conservation strategy, hinting at how to do it in other similarly mixed landscapes as well. The researchers analyzed data on 43 mammalian species, 140 bird species and 29 amphibian species from various regions of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest and found that such communities require about 30% forest cover to maintain their integrity, or a level of biodiversity similar to that found in protected landscapes.

Read more about this research from the 29 August issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of Sandro Von Matter. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Sequenced Ebola Strains Inform Aspects of Current Epidemic

Researchers have sequenced 99 Ebola virus genomes from patients in West Africa, the site of the largest Ebola outbreak ever recorded. Their results provide insights into how and when Ebola virus (EBOV) entered human populations in the 2014 outbreak and may guide approaches for managing Ebola’s spread and understanding therapeutic targets. While previous outbreaks of Ebola were confined to Middle Africa, the 2014 outbreak began in the West African nation of Guinea, then spreading to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria. As in all other EBOV outbreaks, the viral strains involved carry distinctive genetic variations. Gire et al. determined that this year’s outbreak likely spread from Middle Africa within the last decade. Although there are not immediate treatment implications from knowing these viral sequences, this information is critical to scientists working to understand the disease.

Read more about this research from the 28 August issue of Science Express here and the related News story.

[Image courtesy of Stephen Gire. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Sequenced Ebola Strains Inform Aspects of Current Epidemic

Researchers have sequenced 99 Ebola virus genomes from patients in West Africa, the site of the largest Ebola outbreak ever recorded. Their results provide insights into how and when Ebola virus (EBOV) entered human populations in the 2014 outbreak and may guide approaches for managing Ebola’s spread and understanding therapeutic targets. While previous outbreaks of Ebola were confined to Middle Africa, the 2014 outbreak began in the West African nation of Guinea, then spreading to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria. As in all other EBOV outbreaks, the viral strains involved carry distinctive genetic variations. Gire et al. determined that this year’s outbreak likely spread from Middle Africa within the last decade. Although there are not immediate treatment implications from knowing these viral sequences, this information is critical to scientists working to understand the disease.

Read more about this research from the 28 August issue of Science Express here and the related News story.

[Image courtesy of Stephen Gire. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Early Peopling of the North American Arctic

[Image courtesy of Claus Andreasen. Please click here for more information.]

View image slideshow, with captions and credits, here.

Using a combination of data from ancient and modern individuals, researchers have provided one of the clearest pictures yet of the population history of the North American Arctic. They believe the first inhabitants may have arrived 6,000 years ago, having crossed the Bering Strait from Siberia. The Arctic residents represent two distinct migrations, the Paleo-Eskimos, who showed up first and exhibited varied archaeological cultures, and the Neo-Eskimos, who appeared almost 4,000 years later. The researchers collected preserved bone, teeth, and hair samples of more than 150 ancient humans from Arctic Siberia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland, and analyzed their mitochondrial DNA. To draw comparisons between these ancient peoples and modern groups, the researchers sequenced the genomes of seven living individuals from the region. 

Read more about this research from the 29 August issue of Sciencehere.

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Early Peopling of the North American Arctic

[Image courtesy of Claus Andreasen. Please click here for more information.]

View image slideshow, with captions and credits, here.

Using a combination of data from ancient and modern individuals, researchers have provided one of the clearest pictures yet of the population history of the North American Arctic. They believe the first inhabitants may have arrived 6,000 years ago, having crossed the Bering Strait from Siberia. The Arctic residents represent two distinct migrations, the Paleo-Eskimos, who showed up first and exhibited varied archaeological cultures, and the Neo-Eskimos, who appeared almost 4,000 years later. The researchers collected preserved bone, teeth, and hair samples of more than 150 ancient humans from Arctic Siberia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland, and analyzed their mitochondrial DNA. To draw comparisons between these ancient peoples and modern groups, the researchers sequenced the genomes of seven living individuals from the region.

Read more about this research from the 29 August issue of Science
here.

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.