2010 “deadline” missed for reversing loss of biodiversity

The United Nations has declared the International Year of Biodiversity–a year that was supposed to be a milestone. The 193 nations participating in a treaty called the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) had agreed to “achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth.”

But in a statement released early this year, Ahmen Djoghlaf, the executive secretary of CBD, states that we’re a long way off. He writes “The more than 100 national reports received so far from Parties have demonstrated that we continue to lose biodiversity at an unprecedented rate.”

While this is serious news on many fronts, it has also provided scientists with the impetus to better understand the benefits of biodiversity and the ramifications of its loss. Here’s a great feature article written by Susan Milius that covers the topic in detail. If you don’t read anything else this year, read this.

via Losing Life’s Variety – Science News.

Make your own gummi insects!

gummi dung beetleKids of all ages like gross-out food, especially if it’s sweet. A Japanese company, Megahouse, aims to please with a DIY insect kit: the Gummi-X kit. It’s sure to up the ick factor at your next slumber party or Halloween get-together.

For  around 4,300 yen (just under $50.00), you can order the kit from Amazon Japan. The “mother center” gives you a base mold, beakers, tweezers, and a measuring spoon.

pillbugs

The molds allow you to create two different beetles, pillbugs and crayfish. Expansion kits include molds for a tree frog and another beetle, going for 1,529 yen (about $17.00) each.  If only it had botflies!!!

Check out this Japanese TV commercial for the kit – even the young actors can’t hide their “Eeeeeew!”

More pictures of the kit in use are available at this Japanese blog.

Bee dance may be more complex than thought

Bees use a complex “waggle” dance to communicate with hivemates about the direction and distance to sources of food. Through a sequence of waggles and vibrations, the dance communicates direction relative to the sun, distance from the hive, and quality of the food source–all in the complete darkness inside a hive.

Discovery and decoding of this remarkable form of communication won Karl von Frisch the nobel prize in 1973. Now, UCSD professor James Nieh has built on this research by finding that some members of the bee audience may stop the dancer if they know about predators or other risks at the food source. By doing so, the hive improves its collective intelligence.

Studies of bee waggling have led to discoveries about the complex communication patterns of true social insects such as bees, wasps, and ants. The “stop” signal is only the second known example of a sophisticated insect society using “negative feedback” — signals that tell others to stop a behavior.

Sources: The Nieh lab at UCSD

http://www.physorg.com/news185115064.html

Hives stayin’ alive – SignOnSanDiego.com.