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Climate change would be altering deer to give birth early

Credit: Elsemargriet / Pixabay

Usually, we think of evolution as a slow process that takes place over millions of years. However, a team of scientists has now documented how deer on a Scottish island seem to be evolving over the course of decades, possibly in response to climate change, which makes them give birth earlier, at the beginning of the year.

According to a study published in the open access journal PLOS Biology, these deer, who live on the island of Rum, near the west coast of Scotland, have undergone genetic changes that have contributed to the animals having children almost two weeks earlier over the past four decades.

Previous studies by other groups of scientists have shown that deer on this island have been giving birth before, partly as a result of warmer temperatures that have altered their behavior and the functioning of their bodies.

Genetic changes in deer

However, the latest study sheds light on the important role of adaptive genetic changes in this process. The researchers say that this work represents some of the first evidence that evolutionary changes are affecting the time of year when wild animals give birth.

Timothée Bonnet, lead author of the study of the Australian National University said in a statement:

This is one of the few cases in which we have documented the evolution in action, which shows that it can help populations adapt to climate warming. ”

For their research, Bonnet and his colleagues examined the field records and genetic data that scientists collected from the deer population living on the island between 1972 and 2016.

Red deer on the Isle of Rum, Scotland
Red deer on the Isle of Rum, Scotland. Credit: J. Pemberton

Bonnet told the website Newsweek:

That population of red deer has been monitored intensely since the 1970s, and even before in less detail. That is why researchers have been able to notice changes in birth dates over the years. That is the fundamental motivation for our study: try to understand that change. ”

Impact of climate change on deer

The team’s analysis revealed that red deer hinds, known as hinds, with genetic adaptations that made them give birth at the beginning of the year, they tended to have more offspring throughout their lives. Therefore, responsible genes offer an evolutionary advantage and as a result they have become increasingly common in this deer population in recent decades.

Bonnet said:

We discovered that the genetic makeup of the population had changed to determine the dates of birth before spring. We discovered that genetic change is probably a response to natural selection, but we do not know what causes selection: it could be climate change, change in population density or any unknown factor that has changed in recent decades.

It is very difficult to say when climate change causes genetic change, but genetic change occurs at a rate similar to direct (non-genetic) responses to climate warming and fast enough to matter in the ecological dynamics related to climate change. ” .

Climate change would be changing deer to give birth early
Credit: smarko / Pixabay

Sally Thomas, from Scottish Natural Heritage, who also did not participate in the study, said in a statement:

These findings are a fascinating example of the impact that climate change can have on wildlife. More and more research shows that climate change is influencing species throughout the United Kingdom and the world. ”

Climate change is affecting life on our planet Earth in several ways and scientists say that for species to survive they must adapt by experiencing genetic changes or migrating to more suitable habitats, for example.

But a recent research published in the magazine Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that genetic adaptation along with dispersion in new ranges could put species in conflict with each other.

This finding could mean that scientists have been underestimating how the global climate change will affect biodiversity and the amount of extinctions that will occur.

Some scientists have argued that the Earth is currently experiencing its sixth mass extinction, with species that disappear significantly faster than historical reference rates.

In fact, a historical report by the UN recently warned that 1 million species around the world run the risk of disappearing due to human pressures and climate change.

The scientific study has been published in PLOS Biology.

Source: Newsweek

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Planet Earth

What is the real cause of explosions and fires around the world in the past few days?

What has caused all these giant explosions and apocalyptic fires in China, North Korea, Lebanon, India, USA, Iraq, Iran over the past few days?

China

It all began on August 3, 2020 in the Chinese province of Hubei, where an instant explosion at a chemical plant killed at least six people and injured four. The reason is under investigation.

North Korea

This first explosion was followed a few hours later by a giant explosion following a possible “gas leak” in Hyesan, Yangan Province, North Korea, killing 9 people and injuring at least 30 residents. The reason is being investigated.

Lebanon

The next day, the port area of ​​Beirut, Lebanon, was destroyed by a giant explosion, killing more than 140 people and injuring thousands.

India

Also on the afternoon of August 4, 2020, an explosion caused panic among residents living around the Vijayshree Pharma Company plant in the Rambilli Zone FEZ in Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, India. The reason is being investigated.

Great Britain

On 4 August, an explosion occurred again in the middle of a residential street in Birmingham, UK, causing smoke and fireballs to rise into the air and residents fleeing to seek refuge. The explosion was so strong that fire alarms went off in the houses.

United States of America

Finally, on Tuesday, firefighters put out a massive fire in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, that engulfed a building under construction. When the firefighters arrived at about 4:20 am, the flames were flying high into the air, and the glow was visible for miles.

Iran

A fire broke out on Tuesday inside three industrial warehouses east of Tehran. The fire destroyed production materials, including lumber and leather.

Then, on August 5, at least seven ships burst into flames at a shipyard in the southern Iranian port of Bushehr. According to reports, the reason remains unclear, no casualties.

United Arab Emirates

On 5 August 2020, on Wednesday evening at 18:30, a fire broke out in a market in the emirate of Ajman, 50 km from Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. The reason is being investigated.

China

A gas pipeline exploded and several roads collapsed after torrential rains flooded parts of Yulin, a city in China’s northwestern Shaanxi province. Local authorities evacuated about 600 people from the area. The reason is being investigated.

United States of America

On the same day in Midland, Texas, an investigation is under way of an explosion and subsequent fire in an oil storage facility. The reason is also unknown.

Iraq

Again, on August 6, 2020, a major fire broke out in over 20 wholesale market warehouses in Najaf, Iraq. The reasons are being investigated.

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Planet Earth

Geneticists have clarified the origin of American slaves

Frame from the movie "Django Unchained" - imdb.com

It is the largest study of DNA from people living in the Americas. It shows where the slaves came from in the United States and reveals the details of their abuse.

The work includes information on 50 thousand people, of which 30 thousand are of African origin. The article, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics , serves as “evidence that genetics can shed light on history,” said Alondra Nelson, professor of social sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

The study began with the work of Joanna Mountain, senior director of research at the company 23andMe. Together with the team, she created a genetic database, which included mainly information about the company’s clients, whose grandparents were born in regions where slavery flourished. Dr. Stephen Micheletti, the geneticist at 23andMe who led the study, compared it to data from the Slave Travels digital project, which contains information about the people brought in: information on ports of embarkation and disembarkation, the number of enslaved men, women and children. He also collaborated with historians to learn more about the plight of African regions, such as contemporary Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the 17th and 19th centuries.

Scientists have found out: the DNA of the study participants from the United States showed their Nigerian origin. This means that there are far more ships that transported enslaved people directly to America from Nigeria than would be expected based on historical records. 

At first, historians “could not believe how many Nigerian ancestors were there in the United States,” Micheletti said. 

Later, after consulting with experts, the study authors learned that slaves were first sent to the British Caribbean Islands, and only then sold to the Americans.

Percentage of people of African descent in Africa, the Americas, and Europe. Red denotes the descendants of slaves from Senegal and Gambia, blue - from the west coast of Africa, green - from Nigeria, orange - from Congo / © Stephen Micheletti
Percentage of people of African descent in Africa, the Americas, and Europe. Red denotes the descendants of slaves from Senegal and Gambia, blue – from the west coast of Africa, green – from Nigeria, orange – from Congo / © Stephen Micheletti

Experts estimate that more than half of the people were brought into the United States and Latin America from West Africa. The study found that the modern black population is genetically related to six regions, among them Senegal, Gambia, Nigeria and Benin. Moreover, according to historical sources, there were more regions from which slaves were exported.

The work also showed that the brought women made a much greater contribution to the modern gene pool than men, although there were much fewer of them. Scientists have calculated that in the United States there are 1.5 times more descendants of slaves, and in Latin America and the Caribbean – 13-17 times. Moreover, in the United States, European men have influenced the modern gene pool of people of African descent three times more than European women, and 25 times more in the Caribbean.

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Planet Earth

The collapse of humanity is predicted with a 90% probability

A new study by theoretical physicists cites truly horrifying numbers. The results of a great deal of work have shown that if human society continues to move in the same direction, then civilization in the form in which we know it now will come to an “irreversible collapse” in a few decades.

The research findings, published in Scientific Reports, are a model for our future. The work is based on data on current rates of deforestation and other resource use. Scientists say that even the most positive forecasts show a 90% chance of disaster.

Physicists at the Alan Turing Institute and Tarapaki University predict that the last forests on Earth will be cleared somewhere between 100 and 200 years of this century.

Combined with global population changes and resource consumption, this is an incredible blow to humanity. In light of this, scientists say that society as we know it may cease to exist within the next 20 to 40 years. There is good news, the researchers note that from a global perspective, the rate of deforestation has actually slowed in recent years.

However, they are still too large and continue to suffer losses as newly planted trees cannot protect the environment as well as mature forests.

“Calculations show that while maintaining the real rates of population growth and consumption of resources, in particular forest resources, we have several decades left before the irreversible collapse of our civilization,” the article says.

A fundamental transformation will be required to prevent collapse. The authors say that the main driving force behind the collapse right now is that the consumption of planetary resources is not taken seriously because it is driven by the economy.

Our civilization gives preference to the interests of individuals, countries or territories, without caring about the entire ecosystem. Therefore, in order to stop the catastrophe, people need to reconsider the current model of society, and accept the one that puts the interests of the ecosystem above the individual.

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