July 18, 2013 |
Say you could hop into a DeLorean and travel back to when life on Earth began. Would fish migrate from water to land? Would the dinosaurs go extinct? At the end of our trip, would we still encounter life as we now know it? Some scientists don't think so. They argue that any number of chance events - storms and earthquakes, for example - would steer evolution down another course, making it impossible to predict. But a study published Tuesday in Science has found that if we know the ecology of an area, we can predict the traits a species will evolve millions of years from now, despite all the chance events that could influence the outcome.
June 17, 2013 |
Southern California's mountain yellow-legged frog has made a remarkable leap toward recovery for an endangered species, rebounding in just two years from near-extinction brought on by development, fires, fungal infections and predatory trout, federal biologists said on Monday. In 2010, only 200 remained in isolated wild populations, prompting federal wildlife authorities and zoos in Fresno, Los Angeles and San Diego to launch an ambitious recovery program that included captive breeding facilities, trout removal programs and barring public access to areas where frogs were clinging to existence.
May 16, 2013 |
GRAND CANYON, Ariz. -- Eric York was obsessed with the big cats -- their health, temperaments and survival rates amid the park's annual tourist invasion. For years, he wandered the area's crags, gullies and woods, tracking and tagging the region's last remaining mountain lions as a biologist for the Grand Canyon National Park. In 2007, tragedy struck. At age 37, the Massachusetts native was killed doing the job he loved, but not in the way people might guess. He wasn't mauled by a lion, but fell victim to a case of pneumonic plague he contracted doing a necropsy on a dead female cat. Because the park lacked a forensic lab, York did his postmortem for the mountain lion research program in the garage of his home in the village of about 2,000 park employees.
May 8, 2013 |
Marine biologist Dan Madigan stood on a dock in San Diego and considered some freshly caught Pacific bluefin tuna. The fish had managed to swim 5,000 miles from their spawning grounds near Japan to California's shores, only to end up the catch of local fishermen. It was August 2011, five months since a magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami had struck in Japan, crippling the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. Madigan couldn't stop thinking about pictures he'd seen on TV of Japanese emergency crews dumping radioactive water from the failing reactors into the Pacific Ocean.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 24, 2013 |
When James Watson and Francis Crick deciphered the structure of DNA in 1953, their discovery answered a crucial question in biology: How is genetic information passed down from parent to child? Their work also created conundrums, however. They and others showed that every cell of an organism contains all of its genetic material. How, then, does an individual cell know which genes to use and when? And how does information from DNA get to the cell's protein-making machinery? The seminal insight into those questions came from three biologists at the Pasteur Institute in Paris - Dr. Francois Jacob, Jacques Monod and Andre Lwoff.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 10, 2013 |
About 10% of married couples suffer from infertility - the inability to conceive a child naturally. Through the better part of the 20th century, physicians considered this a minor and perhaps irrelevant problem, one that contributed overall to society by keeping the birthrate down. British biologist Robert Edwards thought differently. He was among the first to fully appreciate the frustration and depression the condition engendered in its victims and the benefits that could arise from reversing it. Along the way, he met resistance from religious conservatives who insisted that life must begin only through intercourse, not artificially, and from fellow scientists who resented the fact that he spoke frequently with the media about both his research and the ethical implications.