Scientia Issue #113

Jul 26, 2017 | Issues

CELEBRATING AND SUSTAINING LIFE ON EARTH

In this exciting new edition of Scientia, we celebrate our living planet, by showcasing a diverse collection of research projects dedicated to understanding life on Earth, and devising new ways to preserve and restore it.

To open the issue, we have had the pleasure of speaking to Dr Hazel Norman, Executive Director of The British Ecological Society, who tells us about how the Society communicates worldleading ecological science, promotes diversity and collaboration within the field of ecology, and much more. Next, we meet Professor Thomas Fleischner and his colleagues who are working to highlight the importance of field studies for teaching biology. His team has come up with several steps that can be taken to ensure a vibrant future for field-based education.

After this introduction, our first full section in the issue showcases research dedicated to uncovering the origins of life. Here, we feature a diverse collection of projects – from studying how minerals played a role in the emergence of life on Earth, to pinning down the habitable zones of different stars in the search for life elsewhere in the galaxy.

Our next section focuses our home planet’s great biodiversity – from a species of algae that records climate change, to prairie dogs who display a rich tapestry of surprising social behaviours. Unfortunately, our planet’s rich diversity is severely under threat, primarily due to human activities causing widespread habitat loss, climate change and pollution. In fact, many scientists agree that we are currently in the midst of a mass-extinction event – aptly termed ‘the Anthropocene extinction’. Thus, protecting and restoring Earth’s habitats is more important than ever before. Therefore, our third section in this edition showcases the tireless efforts of many scientists – each striving to preserve and revive life on Earth.

One of the most significant ways humans negatively impact the planet’s biodiversity is through our agriculture. Thus, many researchers are working hard to find more sustainable ways for us to produce food, whilst also ensuring food security into the future. This is the theme of the final section in the edition, where we highlight the latest innovations in agricultural science. From finding environmentally friendly alternatives to pest control, to improving the health and wellbeing of our farm animals, the research teams featured here are making a sustainable future a reality.

 

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CONTACT

Published in the UK, by Science Diffusion ltd
ISSN 2059-8971 (print)
ISSN 2059-898X (online)  
E: info@sciencediffusion.com
W: www.sciencediffusion.com
W: www.scientia.global

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Meet The Team…

DIRECTOR
Nick Bagnall 
nick@sciencediffusion.com

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Nelly Berg 
nelly@sciencediffusion.com  

PUBLICATION MANAGERS 
Nick Powers 
npowers@sciencediffusion.com
Brett Langenberg 
brett@sciencediffusion.com
Marie Serrano  
marie@sciencediffusion.com
Tom Render 
tom@sciencediffusion.com  

DESIGN MANAGER
Mimi Jones
 

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS 
Margaret Unkefer, MSc
Conn Hastings, PhD
Sherwin Barretto, PhD
Carol Marzuola, MSc
Allan West, PhD
Miriam Grace, PhD
Matthew Aitkenhead, PhD
Kerry Hunt, MSc
Kate Stewart, BSc
Joseph Pastorek, MD, JD
Chris Harrison, PhD
Kevin Pollock, PhD
Anna Fagre, DVM
Carlos Campos, PhD
Abigail Beall, MPhys

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Scientia Issue #113 Contents

 

 

 

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THE BRITISH ECOLOGICAL SOCIETY
An exclusive interview with Dr Hazel Norman, Executive Director of the BES

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WHY FIELD STUDIES MATTER FOR  TEACHING BIOLOGY
Professor Thomas Fleischner and colleagues

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HOW DID LIFE BEGIN?

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GEOCHEMICAL BEGINNINGS: HOW MINERALS MAY HAVE PLAYED A KEY ROLE IN THE ORIGINS OF LIFE
Professor Nita Sahai
Investigating the geochemistry underlying protocell formation and evolution

 

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SULPHUR METABOLISM ON THE ANAEROBIC EARTH
Dr John J. Perona
Unravelling the metabolism of methanogens, with   implications for climate change and the origin of life

 

 

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UNCOVERING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN AQUATIC  THERMOPHILES AND HUMAN BACTERIAL PATHOGENS
Professor Costantino Vetriani and Professor Frank T. Robb
Studying the metabolism of thermophiles, towards the development of biotechnologies and therapeutics

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PINNING DOWN THE HABITABLE ZONES OF DIFFERENT STARS
Professor Jim Kasting
Investigating which planets might support life by working out if they lie in the habitable zone of their parent star

 

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CELEBRATING OUR PLANET’S BIODIVERSITY

 

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COPING WITH STRESS IN AN AQUATIC WORLD 
Professor Suzie Currie
Investigating the inherent plasticity of fish to cope in the face of climate change

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CORALLINE ALGAE AS A CLIMATE ARCHIVE
Dr Branwen Williams
Studying the effect of climate change on coralline  red algae

 

 

 

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INVESTIGATING METALS IN THE WORLD’S INVERTEBRATE ANIMALS
Professor Reinhard Dallinger
Measuring levels of metals in invertebrates, as a way to quantify metal pollution in the environment

 

 

 

 

 

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HOW FEMALE FLIES CHOOSE THE RIGHT PARTNER AFTER MATING WITH MULTIPLE MALES
Dr Mollie Manier
Uncovering how female fruit flies choose the best quality sperm to fertilise their eggs after mating

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PRAIRIE DOGS ARE CHARMING AND CUTE, BUT THEY ARE ALSO SERIAL KILLERS
Professor John L. Hoogland
Exploring the remarkable social behaviours of prairie dogs

 

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BATS IN TRANSLATION
Dr Mirjam Knörnschild
Studying the acoustic communication and social behaviours of wild bats

 

 

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THE GALAPAGOS CONSERVATION TRUST
An exclusive interview with Jenny Vidler and Sharon Johnson of GCT

 

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PROTECTING AND RESTORING LIFE ON EARTH

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THE SOCIETY FOR CONSERVATION BIOLOGY
An exclusive interview with Heather DeCaluwe and Nathan Spillman of the SCB

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BRINGING WHITE ABALONE BACK FROM THE BRINK
Dr Kristin M Aquilino and Professor Gary Cherr
Reintroducing the near-extinct white abalone snail back into the wild

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CONSERVATION, CONNECTIONS OF HUMANS  AND NATURE, AND UNRAVELLING A WORLD OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES
Dr Scott Carver
Studying the health of wildlife and ecosystems, with a focus on infectious diseases

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LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY: THE SENSE OF SPACE
Professor Steven Greco
Using spatial analysis and visualisation techniques to   inform conservation efforts

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COOPERATION, CONSERVATION AND FIRE: ENGAGING PEOPLE IN ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT
Professor Urs P. Kreuter
Safeguarding habitats and ecosystems into the future   by engaging landowners

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SOLUTIONS TO MODERN CHALLENGES IN GENDER, AGRICULTURE AND CONSERVATION
Professor Peggy Petrzelka
Empowering female land owners to drive conservation efforts on their land

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STRATEGIES FOR SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT
Professor René H. Germain
Improving the sustainability of forest management   through research and outreach programs

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USING MOTHER NATURE TO HELP CLEAN UP MOTHER NATURE
Dr Irina S. Druzhinina
Searching for natural compounds that degrade plastic waste

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WASTEWATER IN HIGH LATITUDES
Dr Pascale Champagne
Eco-engineering a modern model for treating wastewater in Canadian climates

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GREENING OUR AGRICULTURE

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GROWING OPPORTUNITY IN THE INNER CITY
Dr Deanna L. Wilkinson
Giving disadvantaged adolescents opportunities to explore new skills, through sustainable agriculture

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BIOLOGICAL CONTROL: PROTECTING AGRICULTURE AND WILDERNESS AREAS FROM INVASIVE INSECT PESTS
Dr Mark Hoddle
Reducing levels of invasive insect pests by identifying their natural enemies

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CLOUDY, WITH A CHANCE OF INSECTS
Dr Leonard B. Coop
Developing pest forecasting tools, to benefit both   farmers and the environment

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PROTECTING US RICE WITH INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES
Dr Michael Stout and Dr Blake Wilson
Adopting integrated pest management strategies to reduce the agricultural impacts of invasive pests

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GENOTYPING OUR DAILY BREAD: GENETIC MARKERS IN MODERN WHEAT BREEDING
Dr Guihua Bai
Using genomics to analyse wheat DNA markers, informing the breeding of new high-quality cultivars

 

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IMPROVING PLANT DISEASE RESISTANCE: CAN NANOPARTICLES DELIVER?
Dr Wade H. Elmer
Using nanoparticles to provide an effective, practical method of getting vital micronutrients into crops

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THE CHICKEN IN THE EGG: HACKING EARLY DEVELOPMENT TO IMPROVE ADULT CHICKEN HEALTH
Dr E. David Peebles
Developing innovative approaches to improving the health of broiler chickens, starting in the egg

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GLOBAL HEALTH IS FOR THE BIRDS: STUDYING AVIAN DISEASES TO PROTECT HUMAN HEALTH
Dr Chang-Won Lee
Developing new ways to understand, predict and prevent diseases in poultry