Connect with us

Science

New cadence : Going viral: Why Canadian sparrows have changed their tune – RTL Today

Published

on


Members of a Canadian sparrow species famous for their jaunty signature song are changing their tune, a curious example of a “viral phenomenon” in the animal kingdom, a study showed Thursday.

Bird enthusiasts first recorded the white-throated sparrow’s original song, with its distinctive triplet hook, in the 1950s.

Canadians even invented lyrics to accompany the ditty: “Oh my sweet, Ca-na-da, Ca-na-da, Ca-na-da.”

But starting from the late 20th century, biologists began noticing that members of the species in western Canada were innovating.

Instead of a triplet, the new song ended in a doublet and a new syncopation pattern. The new ending sounded like “Ca-na, Ca-na, Ca-na.”

Over the course of the next two decades, this new cadence became a big hit, moving eastward and conquering Alberta, then Ontario. It began entering Quebec last year.

It’s now the dominant version across more than 2,000 miles (3,000 kilometers) of territory, in an extremely rare example of the total replacement of historic bird dialect by another.

Scientist Ken Otter at the University of Northern British Columbia, and his colleague Scott Ramsay from Wilfrid Laurier University, described the dizzying pace of this transformation in the journal Current Biology.

“What we’re seeing is like somebody moving from Quebec to Paris, and all the people around them saying, ‘Wow, that’s a cool accent’ and start adopting a Quebec accent,” Otter told AFP.

Their work was based on 1,785 recordings between 2000 and 2019, the majority made by them but with contributions from citizen-scientists, who posted the files on specialist sites like xeno-canto.org.

In the western province of Alberta, about half of the recorded songs ended with the triplet in 2004; ten years later, all the males had adopted the doublet.

In 2015, half of western Canada had converted to the doublet version, and by last year, the new song had been well established on the western tip of eastern Quebec province.

At this rate, the historic triplet version may soon exist only in tape recordings.

– Bird influencers –

The males of the species sing to mark their territory, and their songs all share a common structure. Usually, if a variation appears, it remains regional and doesn’t make headway in neighboring territories.

The study represents the first time scientists have been able to show this kind spread at huge geographic scale, said Otter.

So how did it happen?

Probably in the same way that children return from summer camp humming new tunes: songbirds from different parts of Canada winter in the same parts of the United States, then return to their own homes in spring.

The researchers verified this theory by tagging a few of the birds.

So it was that in the plains of Texas and Kansas, the new song’s first adopters from western Canada — avian influencers, if you will — popularized the trend among their eastern brethren.

Previous work has shown that young birds can pick up a foreign song after listening to a recording.

But to truly understand why the males were willing to abandon the old song that had once served them well, the scientists have to rely on theories.

Otter believes it may be because females were more attracted to the new song, so young males rushed to adopt it.

“There seems to be some advantage to adding novel elements into your song that make the song, not necessarily more attractive, but increases people’s attention to it,” said Otter.

Going back to the human example, it would be akin to “if all the French women in Paris thought that a Quebec accent sounded much more interesting than a Parisian accent, and so everybody starts adopting a Quebec accent.”

The hypothesis remains unverified.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

5 enjoyment matters about the Perseid meteor shower – CA News Ottawa

Published

on


If you want to get your meteor on, this week is the fantastic time as our world passes by way of the remnants of a comet, generating the annual fireworks exhibit in the evening sky

Just the info

“Perseids have normally been identified for placing on a good demonstrate,” said Parshati Patel, a Western College astrophysicist and place educator with the school’s Institute for Earth and Room Exploration. The phenomenon’s title comes from the Perseus constellation, from which it seems to materialize in the night time sky. In fact, the Earth is passing by means of the cluster of particles still left guiding by the comet Swift-Tuttle, as it does each yr at this time.

How to get a fantastic search

First, Patel states, get out of town and away from urban gentle pollution. Choose about 30 to 40 minutes to enable your eyes adjust to the night time sky — never even glance at your cellular phone, Patel advises. “Face the Massive Dipper and appear towards the east,” she stated. “You really don’t want to know the correct location,” but it can help if you glance closer to the horizon. Perseids is identified for getting a substantial variety of strikes towards the atmosphere for each hour.

Lights in the sky

Some of the fragments that make up the shower can be as tiny as a grain of sand, however they make for a breathtaking light clearly show as they burn off up close to Earth. “Basically they’re bumping off the atmosphere,” Patel explained. This offers the visual appeal of what is commonly called a shooting star. “These are just little, tiny objects,” she additional. “Those would in fact melt away up in the ambiance because of the friction.” Even bigger pieces of the debris at times look like inexperienced fireballs from the floor.

.u0dfa1fb5c9b29f906eb643f04b1bbc61padding:0;margin:0;padding-top:1em!important;padding-bottom:1em!important;width:100%;display:block;font-weight:700;background-color:inherit;border:0!important;border-left:4px solid inherit!important;text-decoration:none.u0dfa1fb5c9b29f906eb643f04b1bbc61:active,.u0dfa1fb5c9b29f906eb643f04b1bbc61:hoveropacity:1;transition:opacity 250ms;webkit-transition:opacity 250ms;text-decoration:none.u0dfa1fb5c9b29f906eb643f04b1bbc61transition:background-color 250ms;webkit-transition:background-color 250ms;opacity:1;transition:opacity 250ms;webkit-transition:opacity 250ms.u0dfa1fb5c9b29f906eb643f04b1bbc61 .ctaTextfont-weight:700;color:inherit;text-decoration:none;font-size:16px.u0dfa1fb5c9b29f906eb643f04b1bbc61 .postTitlecolor:inherit;text-decoration:underline!important;font-size:16px.u0dfa1fb5c9b29f906eb643f04b1bbc61:hover .postTitletext-decoration:underline!important

READ  Coronavirus update: B.C. modelling indicates what’s to occur, and that youthful individuals are ever more impacted

Definitions galore

It may possibly feel academic to the ordinary particular person, but there are discrepancies involving asteroids (massive, rocky objects observed concerning Mars and Jupiter), meteoroids (small objects floating close to the photo voltaic technique nearer to the Earth), meteors (the burning streaks of light-weight you see in the sky) and meteorites (what’s remaining on the floor soon after a meteor hits). “I possess a meteorite,” Patel suggests proudly, and Western University has its have selection of objects that arrived from outer area.

2020 is great for a thing

Why are stargazers enthusiastic right now? Patel states this summer months has been a banner one particular for folks who like to seem to the stars. “We move by it each August,” Patel said of the Perseid meteor shower, which is at peak viewing now. In July, persons got a glimpse of the newly found out Neowise comet (Patel received photos of it), named immediately after the orbiting telescope that detected it. And later this summer months will be a excellent time to perspective the Milky Way galaxy from Earth, Patel suggests

[email protected]

Twitter.com/DanatLFPress

Pop culture practitioner. Bacon expert. Explorer. Tv maven. Wannabe student. Subtly charming social media nerd.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

Calgary researchers zero in on gut bacteria as potent cancer fighter – The Province

Published

on


FILE – Dr. Kathy McCoy, director of the Western Canadian Microbiome Centre, explains the purpose of the facility on a tour prior to it opening in Calgary in this 2017 file photo.

Jeff McIntosh / CP

Employing intestinal bacteria could boost the effectiveness of some cancer treatment four-fold, say researchers at the University of Calgary.

Employing intestinal bacteria could boost the effectiveness of some cancer treatment four-fold, say researchers at the University of Calgary.

A lead scientist in an ongoing study said Thursday her team has made huge strides in understanding how such microbiomes supercharge the potency of immunotherapy in targeting cancer cells.

“We think the impact is huge,” said Dr. Kathy McCoy of the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases at the U of C’s Cumming School of Medicine.

“With cancers (normally) susceptible to immunotherapy 20 per cent of the time, and it responds at 80 per cent, that’s a major increase in efficacy.”

A series of published studies on the approach dating back to 2015 hinted strongly at the potential of combining some forms of gut bacteria with immunotherapy in treating diseases like melanoma and colorectal cancer.

But scientists weren’t able to pinpoint how it worked, said McCoy, who set about using germ-free mice as research subjects.

“We’d have to identify a mechanism…we identified three bacteria that were in an animal model of colorectal cancer and we wondered if we could tease apart the differences in the microbiomes,” she said.

Her team noted immunotherapy by itself was conspicuously ineffective.

But the bacteria that worked, she said, activated a T-cell which ultimately takes on cancerous tumours, shrinking them significantly.

“The three specific bacteria by themselves turn on a first switch on the T-cells within the intestine,” said McCoy.

That bacteria generates a tiny molecule called inosine that interacts with the T-cells to boost the immunotherapy that in turn eradicates cancer cells.

Another bacteria, akkermansia, has also been found to be an effective tumour fighter, said the scientist, and like the other three bacteria, is one present in humans who have been the subject of some study.

“We actually found there was an increase in bacterium in the patients responding, but the studies were too small,” said McCoy.

The U of C studies using humans remain preliminary for now with researchers seeking grants to further and broaden that work, to focus on lung cancer and melanoma over several years, she said.

“We’re going to see if we can find this metabolite in the serum, or blood, and in feces and see if they’re working with the same mechanism,” said McCoy.

And there’s a strong likelihood that approach could be applied to a much wider variety of cancers, she added.

That latest work is set to be published in the magazine Science, which has highlighted earlier discoveries using gut bacteria to enhance the immune system.

Efforts that have pushed the envelope on the treatment, said McCoy, are “a purely Calgary” achievement and one that should help undermine public skepticism over the effectiveness of cancer research funding that’s often led to conspiracy theories.

“I don’t know what people expect – research has made amazing strides in developing cancer therapies,” she said.

BKaufmann@postmedia.com

On Twitter:

@BillKaufmannjrn

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

ATLANTIC SKIES: Much more than a full moon – Learn about the phases of Earth's closest celestial neighbour – TheChronicleHerald.ca

Published

on


Although I was wishing the night sky was devoid of the interfering light of the moon on the nights and mornings preceding and following the Perseid meteor shower’s peak dates last week, it did afford me the opportunity to pay closer attention to the slowly-changing phases of the moon.

Most people only notice the full moon, giving little, if any, attention to the other lunar phases. The changing phases of the moon follow a precise timetable, which, once you understand it, might help with your plans, and bolster your interest, to observe the moon.

It is always best to observe the moon, whether with a telescope or binoculars, in its quarter, crescent or gibbous phases. During these phases, the sun’s light strikes the moon at a shallower angle (as opposed to directly, at the full moon phase), highlighting the moon’s terminator (the line between the illuminated and non-illuminated sides), and markedly defining the moon’s mountains, ridges, and impact crater walls.

A lunar phase is defined as the shape of the sunlit portion of the moon’s surface as seen from Earth. The moon completely orbits the Earth in an average time of 29.5 days (referred to as a “synodic month” or a “lunation”), marking, essentially, the period between consecutive new moon phases.

Due to variations in the angular rate at which the Earth orbits the sun (based on the fact that the Earth’s orbital path around the sun is elliptical, rather than circular, in shape), the actual time between lunations varies between 29.18 days and 29.93 days (the average being 29.530588 days, or 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 2.8 seconds).

As the moon orbits the Earth, and as the Earth orbits the sun (also an elliptical path), the area of the sunlit portion of the moon changes. As discussed in one of my earlier columns, gravity tidally locks one side (or face) of the moon towards Earth. Each moon phase depends on the position of the moon relative to the sun as seen from Earth, and the portion of the Earth-facing side that is illuminated by the sun.

There are four distinct lunar phases, with an average of 7.38 days between each of these phases. The first phase, the new moon, is when the sun and the moon are aligned on the same side (called a “conjunction”) of Earth. During this time, the moon is too close to the sun to be seen, and the side of the moon facing Earth is not illuminated by the sun (though, in fact, it is faintly lit by “earthshine”, which is washed out by the sun’s light). In the northern hemisphere, the new moon rises around 6 a.m., and sets around 6 p.m.

The next distinct lunar phase is the first-quarter moon, where the moon’s right side is 50 per cent lit by the sun. In the northern hemisphere, first-quarter moons are visible in the afternoon and early evening skies, rising around noon and setting around midnight.

Next is the full moon, with 100 per cent of its Earth-facing side illuminated. Full moons rise at sunset and set at sunrise.

The fourth lunar phase is the last-quarter moon, with 50 per cent of its left side illuminated. A last-quarter moon, visible from late night through the following morning, rises around midnight and sets around noon. It should be noted that the actual timing of the phases in the sky, and their location along the horizon, will vary with the latitude of the observer.

Between the four major phases, there are a number of intermediate phases: between the new moon and the first-quarter moon is the waxing (thickening), crescent moon (right side one to 49.9 per cent lit); between the first-quarter moon and the full moon is the waxing, gibbous moon (right side 50.1-99.9 per cent lit); between the full moon and the last-quarter moon is the waning (thinning), gibbous moon (left side 99.9- 50.1 per cent lit); and between the last-quarter moon and the new moon is the waning, crescent moon (left side 49.9 – 0.1 per cent lit).

If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “the old moon in the new moon’s arms,” this refers to when the waning, crescent moon has shrunk to just a thin sliver. Also, the crescent moon (either waxing or waning) is sometimes referred to as the “Cheshire Cat Moon”, as it resembles, at some point, the glowing smile that the Cheshire Cat left hanging in the air when it disappeared whilst talking with Alice (in ‘Alice in Wonderland’).

On a clear night, look for “earthshine” on the unlit, back portion of the crescent moon – a faint illumination caused by indirect sunlight reflecting off Earth’s lit half striking that dark side.


This week’s sky

Mercury achieves superior solar conjunction (passes behind the sun as seen from Earth) on Aug. 17, and is not observable. Mars (magnitude -1.47) rises in the east around 11:30 p.m., reaching its highest point (49 degrees) in the southern sky shortly after 5 a.m., before being lost in the dawn twilight 47 degrees above the southern horizon by about 6 a.m.

Mighty Jupiter (magnitude -2.65) is visible in the southeast sky around 8:30 p.m., reaching 21 degrees above the southern horizon by 10:45 p.m., before sinking below eight degrees above the southwest horizon shortly after 2 a.m.

Saturn (magnitude +0.23) trails Jupiter across the evening sky, becoming visible to the left of the larger and brighter planet around 8:45 p.m., remaining visible until it, too, disappears from view as it sinks below 10 degrees above the southwest horizon around 2:30 a.m.

Until next week, clear skies.


Events

Aug. 17 – Mercury reaches superior solar conjunction

Aug. 18 – New moon

Aug. 20 – Moon at perihelion (closest approach to the sun)

Aug. 21 – Moon at perigee (closest approach to Earth)

Glenn K. Roberts lives in Stratford, P.E.I., and has been an avid amateur astronomer since he was a small child. He welcomes comments from readers at glennkroberts@gmail.com.

RELATED:

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending