Toxic metals released since Industrial Revolution in Europe found in the Himalayas

Bengaluru: In the 18th and 19th century, Britain was abuzz with cranking steam engines, rattling power looms, and clattering machines. Amidst this daily ding, the world was witnessing a defining movement in human history—the Industrial Revolution—that soon spread to the rest of Western Europe. Powered by coal, the production of most things transitioned from hand to machine, spurring a rise in population and air pollution. For the next two centuries, London became infamous for its soot and smog,
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Dams spell doom for freshwater fish

The picturesque mountains of the Western Ghats, with its pristine rivers and lush green forests, are a treat to the eyes. Innumerable plants and animals, some of which are found nowhere else in the world, call these mountains home. Most rivers that flow in South India, including the Godavari, Krishna, Tunga, Bhadra, Cauvery and Netravati originate in these mountains. Over the last several decades, this biodiversity hotspot, like many others around the world, has been plagued by habitat loss, err

What does it take to discover geckos?

On a warm summer evening in 2007, Dr Ishan Agarwal, a herpetologist, was scouting the hillocks of Rishi Valley in Andhra Pradesh. Eyeing his favourite creatures, the lizards, he looked for them under rocks, between crevices, and in thorny bushes. Ishan spotted several lizards—some of which he had seen before and could recollect their names. But, there were two that he could not put his finger on, and he began his quest to find out more. After 13 years of spotting them, this year, he and his coll

Toxic pollutants in the air are taking the toll on pollinating insects

New findings show air pollution is affecting the survival, health and genes of honeybees in Bengaluru. Honey, where are the bees? They seem to have gone, away from the trees! For the air in the cities is mal, Choking and killing 'em all! It’s not just the bees. In reality, most insects are dying at a never-seen-before rate, and the world is heading towards an insect apocalypse. In the last three decades, the insect population has silently but surely dwindled by a quarter across the globe. I

Researchers discover a new species of ribbon worm from Chennai’s Kovalam beach

The Kovalam beach on the outskirts of the Chennai is a quaint fishing village with historical significance. Once a port town, it was conquered by the British and the French when they set foot in India. The bustling fishing village now draws visitors who want to spend an evening watching the waves dance. Despite the many footfalls, it could also be thriving with biodiversity, as researchers have discovered a new species of ribbon worm in the rocky beach of Kovalam. In a recent collaborative stud

Genetic diversity in India’s lions is dangerously low, and that’s a big problem

Study traces the evolution of extinct and living lions through genes and provides hints for conservation. Disney’s 1994 animated film, The Lion King, immortalised the character Simba, a young lion cub, and intrigued many into the lives of lions—majestic cats now restricted to only parts of Africa and India. It may be a surprise to learn that, not long ago, they were found all over the world! About fifteen thousand years ago, the cave lions of Eurasia, the American lions of North America, the Ba

Roads pose a roadblock to tiger conservation in South and Southeast Asia

Study finds proposed road construction in the continent could impact tiger populations in 13 countries. At the beginning of the 20th century, the large-scale production of automobiles revolutionised transport and today, most aspects of daily life depend on these wagons on wheels. With an increase in the number of vehicles came an unquenchable thirst for building roads across the world. It is now predicted that by 2050, the planet could see up to 4.7 million kilometres of roads— more than ten ti

ಕೊರೋನ ಮತ್ತು ಬಾವಲಿಯ ನಂಟು: ಬಾವಲಿಗಳನ್ನು ಹೊರಗಟ್ಟಬೇಕೇ?

ಬಾವಲಿಗಳು ತಮ್ಮ ಪಾಡಿಗೆ ತಾವು ರಾತ್ರಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಹಾರಾಡುವ ಸಸ್ತನಿಗಳು. ಇವು ಪ್ರಪಂಚದಾದ್ಯಂತ ಹರಡಿದ್ದು, ಇವುಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಸುಮಾರು ೧೨೦೦ ಪ್ರಭೇದಗಳಿವೆ. ಈಗಿನ ಲಾಕ್ ಡೌನ್ ಗೆ ಕಾರಣವಾಗಿರುವ ಕೋವಿಡ್-೧೯ ಸಾಂಕ್ರಾಮಿಕವನ್ನು ಬಾವಲಿಗಳು ಹರಡುತ್ತಿವೆ ಎಂದು ಜನರು ತಿಳಿದಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಇದಕ್ಕೆ ಪೂರಕವಾಗಿ, ಕೆಲವೇ ದಿನಗಳ ಹಿಂದೆ, ICMR (ಇಂಡಿಯನ್ ಕೌನ್ಸಿಲ್ ಫಾರ್ ಮೆಡಿಕಲ್ ರಿಸರ್ಚ್)ನ ಅಧ್ಯಯನವೊಂದು ದಕ್ಷಿಣ ಭಾರತದಲ್ಲಿ ಕಂಡುಬರುವ ಬಾವಲಿಗಳಲ್ಲಿ “ಬ್ಯಾಟ್-ಕೊರೊನ ವೈರಸ್” ಇದೆ ಎಂಬುದು ಬೆಳಕಿಗೆ ಬಂದಿದೆ. ಇದನ್ನೆಲ್ಲಾ ಓದಿದ ಜನ, ಭಯಭೀತರಾಗಿ ಕೆಲವೆಡೆ ಬಾವಲಿಗಳನ್ನು ಕೊಲ್ಲುವ ನಿರ್ಧಾರ ಮಾಡಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಕೆಲವರಂತೂ ಮನೆ ಅಂಗಳದಲ್ಲಿ

In Gir, not sharing is caring for the lions and leopards

Researchers explore how the two predators coexist by preferring different habitats in Gir The vast expanse of the Gir National Park in Gujarat is home to the endangered Asiatic lions—the only place where they are found in the wild. The population of these majestic cats has soared from a handful in the 19th century to about 600 in 2017, charting one of the success stories in India's conservation history. Apart from the Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica), Gir also has a sizeable number of anothe

Mediated by Mold: Bengaluru researchers show how fungi can make rice crops tolerant to salinity

Among all the calamities caused by climate change, an increase in the salinity of the soil is one. It is projected that, by 2050, about half of today’s arable land across the world will be affected by salinity. This increase would also hit India’s rice bowl, the Indo-Gangetic plains, which is projected to lose about 45% of the crop yield. When salinity increases, plants respond by absorbing less water, which affects their growth. How then do we help agriculturally vital crops cope with high sali

An accurate count of Asiatic lions could help design better conservation practices

A new study proposes an improved approach to determine lion densities and identify factors that affect their abundance, but there may be flaws say some. The Gir National Park in Gujarat represents a successful conservation story for the charismatic Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica), as their numbers have apparently surged from less than fifty individuals to claims of over 500 in a century. As a consequence, these cats have started to disperse into neighbouring villages, killing livestock, an

There’s more to birdwatching than just a hobby

This week, conservationists and bird enthusiasts from all over the world are meeting in Gujarat’s Gandhinagar for the 13th session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (COP 13). The week-long conference hosts an array of meetings, discussions and activities focused on addressing the threats and challenges faced by migrating species of wild animals. During this event, a first-of-its-kind report, titled State of India’s Birds,

Among dwindling numbers, some bright spots for India’s birds

Powered by citizen science, the State of India’s Birds report calls for conservation efforts to save India’s aves. With about 1300 species, India is among the top ten countries with the most avian diversity. But, if you grew up in one of the six metro cities, you might have seen a few crows and pigeons and might wonder where have all these birds gone. Most of India’s bird numbers have plummeted to new lows in the last two decades, reveals a new report titled State of India’s Birds. Released dur

Dams are dividing the world’s fish habitats, and India is one of the most affected

Finding Nemo, Pixar’s animated movie released in 2003, revolved around the adventure of a lost clownfish, Nemo, who finds his way to his father, Marlin. For its part, the roller-coaster ride of adrenaline and the numerous exploits of Nemo until he found his way back held the plot. But for the fish in a river close to you, the chances are that many Marlins would still be looking for their long lost Nemos, never to be found! The culprits are not always predators or baits, but an unsuspecting, mass

Fostered by frost for years, shola grasslands now threatened by invasive plants and the warming climate

High up in the mountains, a vast grassland interspersed by forests—sounds like a perfect location for shooting a Bollywood romantic song, does it? Well, such ‘forest-grassland mosaics’ are found in many parts of the world—Malawi and Madagascar in Africa, Sri Lanka, South Brazil, North America, Australia and India too. The shola forests in the Western Ghats are an example of such mosaics. While some believe that the grasslands are a result of clearing forest patches by humans, they have been show

What cues do the root bridges of Meghalaya hold for futuristic architecture?

Since 2012, six bridges have collapsed in Mumbai, killing 28 people and injuring hundreds. Often, news of flyovers and pedestrian bridges tumbling down have made it to the headlines across the country. Although durable materials like steel and concrete are used in today’s structures, poor quality of construction and lack of maintenance are often blamed for such catastrophes. Contrast this with the rock-solid centuries-old root bridges found in Meghalaya—many as old as 250 years and still growing

Understand the burning issue

With a robust combination of the right policies, economic incentives and awareness campaigns, the problem of managing crop residue in an environment-friendly manner can be addressed Delhi, one of the world’s most polluted cities, is in the news again for its worsening air quality as the Government has been forced to close schools and declare a health emergency. The much-loved winter months in other parts of the country are a nightmare for the residents of Delhi-NCR as the area gets enveloped in

Alternatives to stubble burning not only possible but profitable, shows study

Burning of rice residues after harvest, to quickly prepare the land for wheat planting, around Sangrur, Punjab, India. [Image Credit: Neil Palmer (CIAT) via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0] In India, about 2.5 million farmers in the Indo-Gangetic plains grow two crops a year—rice and wheat. Rice is planted such that its water requirements are met from the monsoon rain, and within a short period of 10 to 20 days, the fields are cleared for wheat. A convenient way to get rid of the whopping 23 mil

DNA holds key to tiger numbers

Every year, since 2010, July 29 is celebrated as International Tiger Day to raise awareness about tiger conservation. India is home to over half of the world’s tigers. In 2010, India reportedly had 1,706 tigers, and this number increased to 2,226 in 2014. Isn’t a 30% increase in population in just four years remarkable? However, a study by an international team of researchers questioned the techniques used to estimate tiger populations in India and the accuracy of these numbers. Instead, they p

Floating plastics: Nothing to be buoyant about

Study details how floating plastic debris can affect physical processes in the oceans One of the finalist entries of the 2017 Natural History Museum Wild Photographer of the Year contest was Justin Hofman’s Sewage Surfer. The photograph captured a small seahorse, anchored on a pink earbud, drifting in the waters of Sumbara Island in Indonesia. Although the photographed seahorse looked pretty, the image caught the world’s attention for another reason—marine pollution. “It's a photo that I wish d
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