Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Urbanization

New study shows mussels are “hot and bothered”

Freshwater organisms are especially vulnerable to environmental changes as they are exposed to both atmospheric changes as well as run-off from nearby cities; in particular, rising temperatures and increasing carbon dioxide levels from both natural factors (rainfall, geology, etc) as well as human influence (deforestatin, agriculture, urbanization). For example, studies of rivers around the world have found that carbon dioxide levels vary from 647 – 38,000 µatm. Higher levels are […]

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Attempts to save Houston’s bats

Got bugs? Get a bat. As many species of bats are insectivores, they help keep insect populations in check. Hurricane Harvey has been devastating to people, animals and property. So it probably comes as no surprise that there are many volunteers dedicating their time to saving animals displaced by Hurricane Harvey as well. From squirrels, cats and dogs to…you guessed it…bats. It turns out that bats are not very good […]

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Improved cognition in male turtles exposed to BPA during development

Bisphenol A (BPA) has earned a bad reputation as a potential endocrine disrupting chemical in several studies of developing animals. Some studies even report correlations of BPA levels with certain diseases in humans. Thus it is not surprising there are a plethora of BPA-free food containers, especially for baby food and bottles, as our most common route of exposure is through our diet. It gets there from the epoxy resin lining of some canned foods as […]

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Pigeons can identify words

A study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides evidence that pigeons can learn to recognize words. That is after the birds were trained over a period of 8 months. According to the study authors “The pigeons’ performance is actually more comparable to that of literate humans than baboons’ performance.” To read, we must be about to decode letters and the sounds they make as […]

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Pigeons in the lead mine?

With reported lead poisonings in cities such as Flint Michigan, methods to detect risk of exposure are desperately needed. Since pigeons live in close proximity to humans, could pigeons be the ‘canary in the lead mine’? Researchers at Columbia University in New York City measured the concentrations of lead in the blood of 825 ill or injured feral pigeons to determine whether the animals could serve as bioindicators of levels in the environment. Their results were published […]

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Protecting the Great Lakes

In a prior post summarizing the annual Michigan Physiological Society Meeting, I briefly mentioned the work from Adrian Vasquez, Milad Qazazi, Andrew Failla, Sanjay Rama, Samuel Randall, and Jeffrey Ram from Wayne State University, Detroit, MI). They were exploring the diversity of water mites, a type of arachnid, in Western Lake Erie and they found a mixture of both native and invasive species. Dr. Jeffrey Ram, Professor at the School of Medicine at […]

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Pesticide confuses bees

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Guelph found that the use of certain pesticides impacts wildflower pollination by bees. According to a quote by study author Nigel Raine, published in CBCNews, the use of neonicotinoid-type pesticides “modify the way in which information flows through the nervous system.” The research team found that bees gather pollen more frequently, but less efficiently, when exposed to the pesticide compared to […]

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