Traffic noise reduces birds' response to alarm calls

Pollution can take many forms -- including noise. Excess noise in the environment from sources such as traffic can have negative effects on animals that rely on sound to communicate and get information about their surroundings. A new study shows that traffic noise makes birds less responsive to alarm calls that would otherwise alert them to dangers such as predators according to Science daily.

 Megan Gall and Jacob Damsky tested how traffic noise affected the reactions of Black-capped Chickadees and Tufted Titmice to titmouse alarm calls, which warn birds that a predator is nearby. Using speakers set up near feeding platforms baited with bird seed, they recorded the birds' responses to three different recordings -- alarm calls alone, traffic noise alone, and a combination of the two.

Insectivorous long-fingered bats may also be capable of catching fish, should the opportunity arise

While most long-fingered bats eat only insects, they may all be instinctively able to also catch fish, according to Science daily. Ostaizka Aizpurua and colleagues.

Many animals adapt their diets when their environment changes and new food sources become available. Long-fingered bats (Myotis capaccinii) are generally thought to consume only insects, but previous studies found some individuals that ate fish.

Rudolph's antlers inspire next generation of unbreakable materials

Scientists have discovered the secret behind the toughness of deer antlers and how they can resist breaking during fights according to Science daily.

The team looked at the antler structure at the 'nano-level', which is incredibly small, almost one thousandth of the thickness of a hair strand, and were able to identify the mechanisms at work, using state-of-the-art computer modelling and x-ray techniques.

First author Paolino De Falco said: "The fibrils that make up the antler are staggered rather than in line with each other. This allows them to absorb the energy from the impact of a clash during a fight."

Climate change is already causing widespread extinction in plant and animal species

Extinctions related to climate change have already happened in hundreds of plant and animal species around the world. New research, shows that local extinctions have already occurred in 47% of the 976 plant and animal species studied according to Science daily.

Climate change is predicted to threaten many species with extinction, but determining how species will respond in the future is difficult. Dozens of studies have already demonstrated that species are shifting their geographic ranges over time as the climate warms, towards cooler habitats at higher elevations and latitudes. The new study, by Professor John J. Wiens, used these range-shift studies to show that local extinctions have already happened in the warmest parts of the ranges of more than 450 plant and animal species.

How seals sleep with only half their brain at a time

A new study led by an international team of biologists has identified some of the brain chemicals that allow seals to sleep with half of their brain at a time according to Science daily.

The study was headed by scientists. It identified the chemical cues that allow the seal brain to remain half awake and asleep. Findings from this study may explain the biological mechanisms that enable the brain to remain alert during waking hours and go off-line during sleep.

"Seals do something biologically amazing -- they sleep with half their brain at a time. The left side of their brain can sleep while the right side stays awake.