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Predators preserve existing animal species

To the left a roach, to the right a bream. In between a hybrid of the two species. Photo: Christian Skov A new study from Lund University in Sweden increases knowledge of how boundaries and barriers are maintained between different species in the animal world. According to theory, crosses between two species, known as hybrids, may not survive encounters with natural predators to the same degree as their parents. Now, researchers at the Department of Biology in Lund show that reality confirms this theory.

Jackdaws flap their wings to save energy

Photo edited by Marco Klein Heerenbrink For the first time, researchers have observed that birds that fly actively and flap their wings save energy. Biologists at Lund University in Sweden have now shown that jackdaws minimise their energy consumption when they lift off and fly, because the feathers on their wing tips create several small vortices instead of a single large one. The discovery could potentially be applied within the aeronautical industry.

Bacteria never swim alone

Joakim Stenhammar Many animal species display flocking behaviour, but the fact that microorganisms do is not as well known. Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have now shown that algae and bacteria form flocks at very low concentrations of individuals, a finding that could increase our future understanding of how the organisms infect their host animals.

Birds’ migration genes are conditioned by geography

Photo: Max Lundberg The genetic make-up of a willow warbler determines where it will migrate when winter comes. Studies of willow warblers in Sweden, Finland and the Baltic States show that “migration genes” differ - depending on where the birds breed in the summer. The willow warblers that breed in southern Sweden migrate to West Africa, while those in northern Sweden, Finland and the Baltic States fly to southern or eastern Africa.

Through fossil leaves, a step towards Jurassic Park

Ginkgo. Photo: Stephen McLoughlin For the first time, researchers have succeeded in establishing the relationships between 200-million-year-old plants based on chemical fingerprints. Using infrared spectroscopy and statistical analysis of organic molecules in fossil leaves, they are opening up new perspectives on the dinosaur era.

Birds become immune to influenza

Photo: Michelle Wille An influenza infection in birds gives a good protection against other subtypes of the virus, like a natural vaccination, according to a new study.

Playground found to release microplastic into nearby river

microplastics Up to now, there has been uncertainty over whether microplastics from playgrounds is released into watercourses. A detailed study of a school playground in Lomma, Sweden, now clearly shows that microplastic is released into a nearby river. The soft rubber surfacing intended to protect our children is also threatening animal life, both at sea and on land.

Deforestation in Amazon basin could disrupt the distant rainforest by remote climate connection

Minchao Wu The ongoing deforestation around the fringes of the Amazon may have serious consequences for the untouched deeper parts of the rainforest. A new research study shows that it is not only the climate that is adversely affected by deforestation. In fact, the very stability of the ecosystem in the entire Amazon region is altered when deforestation takes place in the outermost regions.

The world’s largest canary

São Tomé grosbeak. Photo: Martim Melo Biologists at Lund University, together with their colleagues from Portugal and the UK, have now proven that the endangered São Tomé grosbeak is the world’s largest canary – 50 per cent larger than the runner-up.

Silver atom nanoclusters could become efficient biosensors

Equipment used to study the silver nanoclusters. Photo: Marcelo Alcocer Researchers have now managed to pinpoint what happens when light is absorbed by extremely small nanoclusters of silver atoms. The results may have useful application in the development of biosensors and in imaging.

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Lena.Bjork_Blixt [at] science.lu.se