Resurrection Ecology: Extinct Species and the Changing Environment

By Roberta Attanasio, IEAM Blog Editor

Extinction is, sometimes, merely a life stage. The resurrection of extinct species is not only possible with modern science, but it is also helpful to study evolutionary changes that occur because of natural events or anthropogenic stressors. As long as their dormant propagules are preserved in permafrost, soils or sediments, species can be brought back to life—sometimes. Resurrection ecology allows researchers to identify various stages of evolution by comparing extinct, resurrected species with their living descendants. Continue reading

Bristol Bay: The Impact of Potential Large-Scale Mining on Salmon and Wetlands

By Roberta Attanasio, IEAM Blog Editor

In a land of pristine rivers and uncontaminated wilderness, the indigenous people of Bristol Bay have shared bountiful catches of salmon for thousands of years. However, the Pebble Mine—something that has been defined as just an idea—could be changing their way of life. An assessment released last month by the EPA shows the extent of the potential impact that the development of the mine could have on indigenous people and their land. Continue reading

Exposure to Pesticides May Contribute to the Development of Parkinson’s disease

By Roberta Attanasio, IEAM Blog Editor

For the past few years, Parkinson’s disease and its association with exposure to pesticides has been the topic of a hot debate – one after the other, studies have shown a clear epidemiologic link between disease development and pesticide exposure without, however, identifying any related mechanism of action. Finally, in January 2013, results published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences pointed out a mechanism of action for the fungicide benomyl, a persistent pesticide that is still present in the environment despite having been banned by the U.S. in 2001. Now, results from a new study published in the current issue (February 4, 2014) of the journal Neurology show that several additional pesticides may be involved in the development of Parkinson’s disease, with a mechanism similar to that described for benomyl. Continue reading

Research Animal Guidelines — Are they for the Birds?

By Larry Tannenbaum, Guest Contributor and IEAM Editor

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
George Orwell, Animal Farm

There appears to be a striking incongruity in the requirements governing the ethical and humane treatment of vertebrate animals used in research. Some animals lack proper representation, as discussed in this post. Continue reading

Mercury from Natural Sources May Contribute to Freshwater Fish Contamination

By Roberta Attanasio, IEAM Blog Editor

Moving in an endless cycle, mercury goes from the atmosphere to soil, water and sediment, and then back to the atmosphere. While moving around, mercury changes to its various forms, often becoming the highly toxic and bioaccumulative methylmercury, the type that builds up in living tissue and increases in concentration up the food chain – including the food we consume. Continue reading

Not Just for Seafood: Mercury Pollution in Montane Ecosystems

By Roberta Attanasio, IEAM Blog Editor

In October 2013, the Minamata Convention on Mercury brought renewed attention to a major global pollution problem known to result in the contamination of seafood and, subsequently, in a variety of health problems in people that consume it. Designed to limit mercury use and emissions internationally, the Convention is only a first step in limiting mercury pollution.
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The Die-Off of Bottlenose Dolphins: Unusual Mortality Events

By Roberta Attanasio, IEAM Blog Editor

During the past year, bottlenose dolphins – known sentinels of ocean health – have been dying at an alarming rate along the US East and Gulf Coasts, albeit for apparently different causes. Along the East Coast, a major cause of death is dolphin morbillivirus, a pathogen related to human measles and canine distemper, which is responsible for an epidemic probably fueled by current lack of immunity and perhaps aided by global warming and pollution – factors that may increase the dolphin susceptibility to infection.
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