Why flowers bloom earlier in a warming climate

Scientists have discovered why the first buds of spring come increasingly earlier as the climate changes.

Dr Steven Penfield found that plants have an ideal temperature for seed set and flower at a particular time of year to make sure their seed develops just as the weather has warmed to this 'sweet spot' temperature.

Dr Penfield, working with Dr Vicki Springthorpe, found the sweet spot for the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana is between 14-15˚C. Seeds that develop in temperatures lower than 14˚C will almost always remain dormant and fail to germinate. This allows the mother plant to produce seeds with different growth strategies, increasing the chances that some of her progeny will successfully complete another generation.

As the climate changes the sweet spot for seeds comes earlier in the year, so first flowers bloom correspondingly earlier too.

How migratory birds respond to balmier autumns?

Around the world, no matter where we are, we can usually expect the weather to change from one season to the next. The warm days of summer eventually turn into the cooler days of autumn, and these changes are vital to a lot of the animals that inhabit the region as they trigger the urge of animals to prepare for winter. Migratory animals, like songbirds, use these predictable weather changes as environmental cues to tell them when it's time to migrate south. But with the earth now getting hotter and hotter each year, birds can no longer rely on the once predictable climate. As autumns are becoming milder, ornithologists keep pondering on how it could be affecting birds' migratory decisions. Now, a new paper published this week, has experimentally investigated how birds use temperature as a signal to migrate according to Science daily.

Whales use nested Russian-doll structure to protect nerve tissue during lunge dives

Fin whales use two neatly packed levels of nested folds to protect the nerves along the floor of their mouth during lunge feeding, according to new research.

Large whales balloon an immense pocket between their body wall and overlying blubber to store captured prey during feeding dives -- extending nerves along their mouth and tongue to more than double their length according to Science daily.

"But when they shorten again these nerves have to fold so tightly that they develop bending stretches, which could damage the nerve," says zoologist Margo Lillie, author of the paper. "It surprised me that just folding them up created a problem."

How desert ants find their way in a featureless environment

These desert ants live in salt pans and are ideal models for navigation research. When they set out in search of food in their flat, bare, hostile environment, they are nevertheless always able to find their way back to their nest on the shortest route possible. They have an internal navigation system. The ants measure the distance they have gone by recording how many steps they have taken -- and they use the sun for directional orientation, taking into account its movement over time via their own internal clock. A team of researchers led by Dr. Matthias Wittlinger developed a tiny treadmill, on which the ants behave just as they do in the wild. "This gives us almost unlimited possibilities to test the mechanisms and neural basis of our model animal's spatial orientation and navigation -- in the laboratory," says Wittlinger. "We can place the ants in a virtual world and incorporate certain changes into it to see how they react."

Meet the 'cockeyed' squid

From eyes the size of basketballs to appendages that glow, deep-sea dwellers have developed a range of weird and wonderful features to help them survive their cold, dark habitat according to Daily mail.

But with one tiny eye and one giant, bulging, yellow eye, this bizarre squid has one of the strangest adaptations of all.

Researchers have studied the cockeyed sea creature, and believe the lopsided eyes may be an adaptation to allow the squid to see in both light and dark depths.