Current America News and Events

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Potential regional declines in species richness of tomato pollinators under climate
About 70% of the world's main crops depend on insect pollination. Climate change is already affecting the abundance and distribution of insects, which could cause geographical mismatches between crops and their pollinators. Crops that rely primarily on wild pollinators (e.g., crops that cannot be effectively pollinated by commercial colonies of honey bees) could be particularly in jeopardy. (2021-02-22)

Study: Effects of past ice ages more widespread than previously thought
A study by University of Arkansas researchers suggests that cold temperatures in unglaciated North America during the last ice age shaped past and modern landscape as far south as Texas and Arkansas. (2021-02-22)

Migratory birds track climate across the year
As climate change takes hold across the Americas, some areas will get wetter, and others will get hotter and drier. A new study of the yellow warbler, a widespread migratory songbird, shows that individuals have the same climatic preferences across their migratory range. (2021-02-18)

Starling success traced to rapid adaptation
Love them or hate them, there's no doubt the European Starling is a wildly successful bird. A new study from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology examines this non-native species from the inside out to learn what exactly happened at the genetic level as the starling population exploded across North America? (2021-02-09)

Kernels of history
Earlier this year Douglas J. Kennett, a UC Santa Barbara professor of anthropology, demonstrated that maize, or corn, became a staple crop in the Americas 4,700 years ago. It turns out he was just beginning to tell the story of the world's biggest grain crop. (2020-12-15)

Inclusion is key for all to thrive throughout life, report says
When it comes to optimizing 'longevity fitness' through attention to social, health, and wealth aspects of life, many Americans face intractable inequities based on the color of their skin, where they live, their sex, and who they love. The COVID-19 pandemic has further demonstrated the additional impacts affecting these demographics through the increased number of cases and mortality rates. (2020-11-19)

Two centuries of Monarch butterflies show evolution of wing length
North America's beloved Monarch butterflies are known for their annual, multi-generation migrations in which individual insects can fly for thousands of miles. But Monarchs have also settled in some locations where their favorite food plants grow year round, so they no longer need to migrate. A new study of specimens collected over the last two centuries shows how wing length evolves in response to migration habits. (2020-11-02)

Americans agree: improving our public health system is an urgent priority
As COVID-19 infections escalate, Americans across the political divide demonstrate pronounced support for public health. According to a recently-commissioned survey by Research!America on behalf of a working group formed to address our nation's commitment to science, a strong bipartisan majority of Americans place an urgent or high priority on improving our nation's public health system (78%) (2020-10-29)

Texas A&M expert: New clues revealed about Clovis people
There is much debate surrounding the age of the Clovis -- a prehistoric culture named for stone tools found near Clovis, New Mexico in the early 1930s -- who once occupied North America during the end of the last Ice Age. New testing of bones and artifacts show that Clovis tools were made only during a brief, 300-year period from 13,050 to 12,750 years ago. (2020-10-23)

Survey shows broad bipartisan support for a stronger focus on science
A recent survey commissioned by Research!America on behalf of a working group formed to assess America's commitment to science shows overwhelming support for science across political parties. A strong majority of Americans agree that ''the COVID-19 pandemic is a disruptive event and requires urgent refocusing of America's commitment to science.'' (2020-10-08)

Droughts in the Amazon rainforest can be predicted up to 18 months in advance
For the first time, it is possible to accurately predict severe drought up to 18 months in advance in Tropical South America. Early warnings of upcoming droughts are imperative for mitigating the impact on millions of people depending on the Amazon rainforest ecosystem. Additionally, droughts threaten the delicate ecosystems of the rainforest in South America. (2020-09-17)

Study shows Latin America twice as rich in plant species as tropical Africa
Latin America is more than twice as rich in plant species as tropical Africa and is home to a third of the world's biodiversity, a new paper published today in Science Advances confirms. With tropical forests being removed at alarming rates, and likely to nearly disappear by the end of the century, this information can help focus conservation efforts in areas with the greatest biodiversity while there is still time do so. (2020-09-09)

UC creates living tribute to Ohio botanist
The University of Cincinnati and Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum replaced invasive and nonnative ground cover on E. Lucy Braun's grave with native plants as a tribute to the pioneering botanist and conservationist. (2020-08-26)

Are cover crops negatively impacting row crops?
Research investigates if chemicals released by cover crops may be the cause for yield reductions (2020-07-30)

Stone tools move back the arrival of humans in America thousands of years
Findings of stone tools move back the first immigration of humans to America at least 15,000 years. This is revealed in a new international study from the University of Copenhagen, where researchers have analysed ancient material from a Mexican mountain cave. (2020-07-22)

Otago researchers discover the origins of the beloved guinea pig
New University of Otago research sheds light on guinea pig domestication and how and why the small, furry animals became distributed around the world. (2020-06-15)

Extinct camelids reveal insights about North America's ancient savannas
A new study looking at extinct camelids -- ancestors of today's camels and llamas -- tells the story of North America's ancient savannas and highlights how past climatic and environmental conditions influenced the composition of mammalian faunas. (2020-06-10)

Analysis of ancient genomes suggests Caribbean settled by three colonization events
The islands of the Caribbean were settled and resettled by at least three successive waves of colonists from the American mainland, according to a new study, which presents new findings from an examination of ancient DNA from 93 early Caribbean islanders. (2020-06-04)

Warming climate is changing where birds breed
Spring is in full swing. Trees are leafing out, flowers are blooming, bees are buzzing, and birds are singing. But a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that those birds in your backyard may be changing right along with the climate. (2020-05-26)

Palaeontology: Fossil frogs offer insights into ancient Antarctica
The discovery of the earliest known modern amphibians in Antarctica provides further evidence of a warm and temperate climate in the Antarctic Peninsula before its separation from the southern supercontinent, Gondwana. The fossils, which belong to the family of helmeted frogs, are described in Scientific Reports this week. (2020-04-23)

Research brief: Ocean temperatures impact Central American climate more than once thought
In a study published today in the journal Nature Communications, UNLV researchers and colleagues at Indiana State University, the University of Venice, and other institutions examined the rainfall history of Central America over the last 11,000 years. The results provide context for the development of tropical rainforest ecosystems in the region, and long-sought answers to what has been controlling rainfall in Central America for several millennia. (2020-02-05)

Snowmageddon warnings in North America come from tropics more than Arctic stratosphere
Scientists conducted the first ever study to identify how the four main winter weather patterns in the US and Canada behave depending on the strength of the stratospheric polar vortex. They found a strong connection with three of the patterns, but that the coldest conditions may be influenced more by the tropics. (2019-12-27)

California's stricter vaccine exemption policy and improved vaccination rates
California's elimination, in 2016, of non-medical vaccine exemptions from school entry requirements was associated with an estimated increase in vaccination coverage at state and county levels, according to a new study published this week in PLOS Medicine by Nathan Lo of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues. (2019-12-23)

Investment in medical and health R&D not keeping up with needs of nation
Total US investment in medical and health research and development (R&D) grew by 6.4% from 2017 to 2018, reaching $194.2 billion. For the third straight year, the growth-rate of medical and health R&D investment outpaced the growth-rate of overall health spending. (2019-12-18)

A likely trigger of tropical glacier melt 20,000 years ago
An analysis of sediment carried by glaciers in both South America and East Africa indicates that tropical glaciers not just in South America but across the tropics began to melt earlier than expected at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum (26,000-19,000 years ago), before atmospheric carbon dioxide levels began to rise. The study's authors suggest that the early melting. (2019-12-11)

Huge gaps in research on microplastics in North America, PSU study finds
Amid increasing concern about the effects of plastic pollution on marine ecosystems, a new study led by Portland State University found that North America is lagging behind other continents when it comes to understanding the potential risks that microplastics and associated pollutants pose to both fisheries and the humans that consume the seafood (2019-11-06)

Survey completeness of a global citizen-science database of bird occurrence
There are many shortfalls in knowledge of the world's biodiversity, and one of the most basic is the lack of knowledge about where species occur geographically. This deficiency has broad ramifications for research and conservation. This study, published in Ecography, suggests the development of citizen science programs to collect data by volunteers has the potential to reduce this shortfall. (2019-10-22)

Forget 'Obamageddon', 'prepping' is now part of mainstream US politics and culture
Criminologist Dr. Michael Mills challenges the traditional view that US 'preppers' are motivated by extreme right-wing or apocalyptic views. (2019-08-08)

Voters really want presidential candidates to talk more about science
A large majority of Iowans (74 percent) say it is important for the presidential candidates to talk about how science and scientific research will affect their policymaking decisions, but only 22 percent recall them discussing science issues during the past two months. (2019-08-02)

The Zika epidemic in Cuba, reflected by imported cases in Barcelona
Travelers returning to Barcelona mirrored the 2017 Zika outbreak in Cuba, according to a study led by the Hospital ClĂ­nic of Barcelona and the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, an institution supported by 'la Caixa'. (2019-07-10)

Study reveals global disparities in cervical cancer rates among women with HIV
A new International Journal of Cancer study indicates that rates of invasive cervical cancer (ICC) are particularly high in women living with HIV in South Africa or Latin America. (2019-06-19)

Study provides new insight into origin of Canadian Rockies
The Canadian Rocky Mountains were formed when the North American continent was dragged westward during the closure of an ocean basin off the west coast and collided with a microcontinent over 100 million years ago, according to a new study by University of Alberta scientists. (2019-06-06)

Mapping global impervious surface area and green space within urban environments
What the spatial pattern of global urban surface area that human depends on is the important issue, which is widely concerned at present. A recent study has developed the datasets of global intro-urban impervious surface and green space fraction, effectively characterizing the spatial pattern of global urban surface area. The findings are reported in the English edition of the Science China Earth Sciences, Volume 62, 2019. (2019-05-16)

Study shows native plants regenerate on their own after invasive shrubs are removed
Invasive shrubs have become increasingly prevalent in the deciduous forests of eastern North America -- often creating a dense understory that outcompetes native plants. Many land managers would like to remove the invaders, but worry about whether a costly remediation program will be needed to help the native plant community rebound. (2019-05-10)

Banana disease boosted by climate change
Climate change has raised the risk of a fungal disease that ravages banana crops, new research shows. (2019-05-05)

Dementia more preventable in Asia and Latin America
Close to one in two cases of dementia could be preventable in low- to middle-income countries, finds a new UCL study. The findings, published in The Lancet Global Health, found how improving childhood education and other health outcomes throughout life could reduce the risk of dementia. (2019-04-15)

Review finds antibiotic development increased, but insufficient
While the pipeline of new antibiotics has improved over the past six years, momentum in the development of new infection-fighting agents remains inadequate and could take a significant downturn without new incentives, a report released in Clinical Infectious Diseases shows. (2019-02-06)

Game over for Zika? KU Leuven researchers develop promising vaccine
Scientists at the KU Leuven Rega Institute in Belgium have developed a new vaccine against the Zika virus. This vaccine should prevent the virus from causing microcephaly and other serious conditions in unborn babies. (2018-12-19)

Revealed by a multidisciplinary effort: History of maize domestication not what we thought
The domestication of maize, a process which began in what is now central Mexico nearly 9,000 years ago, was far more complex and nuanced than once previously thought, a new study finds. The results of an analysis of the ancient grain's genetic heritage reveals southwestern Amazonia as a secondary improvement center for early maize. (2018-12-13)

Does work stress increase cancer risk?
In an International Journal of Cancer study of data on more than 280,000 people from North America and Europe, work stress was associated with a significantly increased risk of colorectal, esophagus, and lung cancers. (2018-12-12)

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