Hurricane Ida Curfew set due to storm threat via Mississippi’s Best Community Newspaper

Hurricane Ida

Government officials have set an 8 p.m. curfew for Adams County due to dangerous travel conditions likely to result from Hurricane Ida. For the safety of employees and others, business owners are also being asked to to send employees home and close by 5 p.m. According to Tom McGehee, Adams County Emergency Operation Center Planning […]

Curfew set for Adams County due to storm threat — Mississippi’s Best Community Newspaper

Freshwater Mussels via The Ephemeral Stag

 

Walking along the riverbanks, lake sides, and pond shores across the world are empty open shells that were once the shield of protection to many freshwater bivalves, also known as freshwater mussels. I, personally, have even seen shells mixed into “river rock” on playgrounds. When I was a child, I even cut my foot on one hiding in the tiny pebbles of my parks swing set. I never thought much about them. When we would go to the lake to fish or swim, I would collect them like I was a mermaid princess collecting pearls. I would take them home and keep them in my fish tank, which helped my fish live for years. My beta fish named “fish” lived over 6 years because of his little friends (or a parent who lied… time will never know). How little did I know that twenty years later I would be doing the exact same thing. This time instead of a mermaid princess, I get to act in a scientific and ecological manner.

Mussel beds die off due to pollution, water diversion and invasive species.

Worldwide some conservations and ecological organizations estimate upwards to 1,000 species of freshwater mussels and other organizations claim its more like 900 different species. North America houses a known 300 different freshwater mussel species. The US Fish and Wildlife Services claims the North America has the highest diversity in freshwater mussel species in the world. There are many hot spots for mussels in the US including but not limited to the Mid-West and the Appalachian Mountains. It is estimated that over 70% of the endanger freshwater mussels are found in these two areas. Tennessee by itself historically housed 129 of the nation’s freshwater mussel species. Now with in Tennessee, it is estimated to house only 40 species.

There are many types of species in one general area. Most can live harmoniously.

Pre-European Colonization (don’t get me started on that mess) times are in my opinion the most ecologically balanced times in North America. Natives understood the balance between nature and humans. The first uses of mussels in the now US, was by these Natives and was probably food based. Archaeologist and anthropologist have found multiple sites of discarded shells on the banks of rivers around tribal sites. They probably were not a primary food source for the tribes, but the evidence does point to a culinary use. Later, (when Europe sent a bunch of “Karenz” over) there was significant uptick in trade for the shells.

Mussel buttons

During colonization and Pre-Modern day (prior to 1970s), freshwater mussels were harvested from riverbanks by the masses not for food or trade but for buttons. Yes, buttons. The “clammers” would use boats and drag the river bottoms looking for mussel beds. They would then shell the poor creature, sand down the roughness, and punch holes through out the shell. These punch outs would then be polished and punched for buttonholes. This type of harvested lasted longer than it should have unfortunately. It wasn’t until the 1900, this type of industry slow due to massive die off of the natural mussel beds.

Dead mussels littering the banks of rivers.

So, what is so fascinating about freshwater mussels? Conservationist around the world are trying to save the species we have left. They act as a natural water filtration system as well as food for fish and castration. They are what is called a “niche” species. So basically, without them we won’t have freshwater ecosystems. They have a rough outer shell that is semi curved on both sides. The shell open for them to eat, breath, mate, and move (yes, they move). Inside is the organs and soft tissue. If you ever open one, it kind of looks like an oyster but smaller.

A freshwater mussel using a lure to bring a host fish close enough to release its offspring into the nose of the host fish.

Freshwater mussels can live in almost any collection of freshwaters from pond and stream all the way to lakes and major rivers. Each species has its preferred depth and habitat. Also, the majority of freshwater mussel need fish to act as a host when mating. Some will even use their soft tissue disguised as a fish or prey to lure in the host fish. These may seem like simple creatures on the surface but they in fact are surprisingly in genius.

A mussel bed on the river floor

While we try to restore, what a boat load of people destroyed, there are still massive problems in their ecosystem that threatens the survival of the species. During the decades between 1930s to 1970s and even later there were over 80,000 dams built in the US, in an effort to use hydro power and control water flows and regulate flood waters. As well as dams the US dug canals and channels to divert water flows. There are over 18,000 canals in the US to this date. Both cause problems for the freshwater mussel by many factors. The waters become deeper in areas that were shallow before which can cause less area the mussels can survive in. It stops or impinges on the migration of the host fish species, causing reproduction to dwindle.

Dead mussels along a pond bank

Newer problems like pollution is not only affecting the host and phytoplankton that they feed on but the mussels themselves. There are multiple studies showing the biological affects of heavy metals, chemical and other man made pollutants. These contaminations cause lower body mass, lowered behavioral movement, and lowered overall survivability for the individual. It’s like if you have to live in your neighbors trash dump. You can’t find food. You can’t find love. And you won’t survive long periods of time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lastly, invasive species are also causing a threat to the native freshwater mussels. Many species will come in on boats from other areas and take advantage of the new area. Other mussels, like the Zebra Mussel of Russia, leach off others for nutrients and other sustainable substances. There are new policies of how to maintain and care for the boats traveling in different waters, in order to slow the progression of the spread. However, it will take a lot of help from us as humans to undo our mistake.

Invasive Zebra Mussels attached to a native freshwater mussel

Protecting endangered species should be a priority for conservationists. A creature like the freshwater mussel is overlook so many times. It is important to know how vital they are to the ecosystem and how not to cause them more harm. Things you can do to help the protect these creatures is 1. To vote in all elections. Do your research! 2. Cut down on plastic usage. Many plastics and industries run off contaminate the water. 3. Spread your knowledge! A lot of people don’t see freshwater mussels as creatures that need protection or that they even exist and why they are important.

Sources

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/extinction-countdown/americas-freshwater-mussels-are-going-extinct-heres-why-that-sucks/

https://www.knowablemagazine.org/article/living-world/2019/hidden-strengths-freshwater-mussels

https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/freshwater_mussels/index.html

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2019/12/freshwater-mussels-die-off-united-states/

https://molluskconservation.org/MUSSELS/What_Mussel.html

https://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/clams/mussels.html

https://xerces.org/endangered-species/freshwater-mussels/about

Walking along the riverbanks, lake sides, and pond shores across the world are empty open shells that were once the shield of protection to many freshwate

via Forgotten Mussels — The Ephemeral Stag

Disaster warnings are as Reliable as the Humans Creating the Apps via Syntax Apps

1. Recycle the CO₂ content in the atmosphere: Just reducing the greenhouse gase emissions is not a permanent fix for the problem. Today Startups are going the extra mile and are trying to recycle the CO₂ in the atmosphere. More importantly a cost effective way needs to be found to store that amount of CO₂ which we pull out from the atmosphere.

2. Energy Storage: Wind and Solar energy are becoming cheaper but the issue is no electricity is generated when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing. Hence, the requirement for a storage system for electricity is even greater, either through molten salt, flow batteries to store such huge amounts of electricity.

3. Safe Driverless Cars: Companies have been testing autonomous vehicles for a long time now. But we have also witnesses accidents during the testing stages. Driverless Cars face a big challenge in situations like heavy traffic or during drastic weather conditions. Every transforming idea comes with an even greater amount of execution in mind. Safety is what Tech Companies should keep in mind while building Driverless Cars.

4. Earthquake Prediction: Number of Earthquakes, Tsunamis have been on the rise in nations such as Indonesia, Japan, India, Sri Lanka to name a few. Technology to preempt such natural disasters hours before impact could help save many lives and help in evacuation in time.

5. Artificial Intelligence: Recently a company named Boston Dynamics introduced an Embodied A.I. in the form of Atlas, a robot copying the actions of a soldier. It had a body but it can’t play Go, where AlphaGo beat the word’s best Go Player. AlphaGo is intelligent but lacks a body. Atlas has a body but lacks intelligence. Bringing or integration of both is any way will not only be a milestone in A.I. but just imagine an A.I. that could communicate in the Physical World just like Humans and Animals do.

1. Recycle the CO₂ content in the atmosphere: Just reducing the greenhouse gase emissions is not a permanent fix for the problem. Today Startups are going the extra mile and are trying to recycle the CO₂ in the atmosphere. More importantly a cost effective way needs to be found to store that amount of CO₂ […]

via Candidtech: Biggest Challenges Tech should solve — Syntax Apps

10 Reasons To Get Out And Be In Nature — A Pursuit of Life –

Nature is alive and full of high vibration healing energy. With technology having taken over the world, we are full of radiation and health depleting substances. We have built walls between us and the outdoor world. The majority of people spend up to 90% of their time indoors. We get so wrapped up with work, […]

via 10 Reasons To Get Out And Be In Nature — A Pursuit of Life – Barefoot&HighHeeled

Mt. Washington Meadows — John Carr Outdoors

Welcome to John Carr Outdoors! Please visit the blog and follow. The follow button can be found at the bottom of the page. If you are seeing this on Facebook, click the link to visit the blog to see all of the photos. Mt. Washington Sunshine and crisp air at the Pacific Crest Trail south […]

via Mt. Washington Meadows — John Carr Outdoors

Evangelical Environmental Network: Restoring our National Parks should be a bipartisan effort — Red, Green, and Blue

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Committee Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) recently introduced the “Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act”, a bipartisan effort to address the deferred maintenance backlog in our parks by establishing the National Park Service and Public Lands Restoration Fund. We applaud this bipartisan effort to address the critical maintenance […]

via Evangelical Environmental Network: Restoring our National Parks should be a bipartisan effort — Red, Green, and Blue

Volunteer with Sloths

Famous the world over for their sluggish nature and comical facial expressions, sloths are revered amongst animal enthusiasts. These slow moving creatures are coming under increasing pressure in their natural rainforest homes due to rapid deforestation, resulting in a loss of habitat and enhanced exposure to predators. Unless something changes soon, sloth numbers will continue to fall. It is for this reason that volunteering with sloths could be a vital and rewarding way to spend your holiday!Sloths are herbivorous mammals that have been living in the forests of the Americas for over 60 million years, and here at The Great Projects we can offer you the chance to volunteer with them at a rescue and rehabilitation centre deep in the Costa Rican jungle.

SLOTHS AT A GLANCE

ENDANGERED STATUS

Not endangered/endangered

NUMBER REMAINING IN THE WILD

Dependent on species

ENDEMIC REGION

The Americas

HOW ENDANGERED ARE SLOTHS?

There are two different types of sloth and six different species. Of those, the pygmy sloth is critically endangered and the maned sloth is vulnerable. The other species are all classed as of least concern, but unless action is taken sooner rather than later this could change as deforestation continues to accelerate in the regions within which the sloths live.

Pygmy sloth numbers are thought to be as low as 100 and this is an indication of what could happen to the other species if action is not taken now.

THREATS SLOTHS ARE FACING

The health of the world’s sloth population is entirely dependent on the health of the world’s rainforests and this symbiotic relationship could prove disastrous to the sloths if deforestation continues at its current rates.

Sloths need forests full of trees to survive, and without them they become exposed to the forest floor where they are vulnerable to the many predators that share the forests with them. Sloths are defenceless to fend off predators when this happens, and that is why trees are so crucial to their survival.

FAST FACTS
  • Even though the two different types of sloths are named the two-toed sloth and three toed sloth, they all actually have three toes! Their names are actually in reference to the claws on their front limbs!
  • We all know sloths move very slowly, but did you know that on land they move at just 2 meters per minute? They are slightly faster up in the trees where they can move at 3 meters a minute!
  • Sloths have very long tongues, and some can stretch up to 10-12 inches out of their mouths!

Projects DO MORE

 

The E.P.A.’s Top 10 Toxic Threats

The Environmental Protection Agency has published a list of 10 toxic threats it will evaluate first under a law passed last year intended to crack down on hazardous chemicals. They are among 90 chemicals identified by the agency that may harm children, damage nerve tissue, cause cancer, contaminate the environment, accumulate in the bloodstream or show up in consumer products. As the review begins, industry and other interest groups are urging the E.P.A. to limit any restrictions.

Asbestos

Where you may find itAsbestos has not been manufactured in the United States since 2002, but imports surged last year, and it is still used in certain vehicle braking systems, asphalt roof coatings and gaskets. Asbestos is also commonly used by chlorine manufacturers.

How it could hurt you: Asbestos is associated with lung cancer and mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin lining of the lung, heart, chest and abdomen.

Industry intervention: The trade group representing the chlorine industry, the American Chemistry Council, argues that “the few remaining uses for asbestos are tightly controlled,” and that banning it would not do much to protect health.

1-Bromopropane

The geologists Brenda Buck, left, and Rodney Metcalf have found asbestos on rocks and soil near Las Vegas.CreditIsaac Brekken for The New York Times

Where you may find it1-bromopropane is used as a refrigerant, a lubricant, a degreaser and a solvent in spray adhesives and dry cleaning. Its use in agricultural chemical manufacturing and foam-cushion manufacturing has also been reported.

How it could hurt you: Exposure can cause dizziness, headaches, slurred speech, confusion, muscle twitching, difficulty walking and loss of consciousness. Studies on animals suggest that exposure is also associated with reduced blood cell counts along with toxicity to the liver and the reproductive and nervous systems.

Industry intervention: The Alkylphenols & Ethoxylates Research Council, which represents companies that manufacture the chemical, arguethat the E.P.A. should not consider health threats that occur when people do not follow warning labels.

Carbon Tetrachloride

Where you may find it: Carbon tetrachloride, a clear liquid with a sweet smell, was once used in refrigeration fluids, aerosol propellants, pesticides, cleaning fluids, spot removers and degreasing agents. Most of those uses have been banned, but it is still has industrial applications, such as manufacturing petrochemicals.

How it could hurt you: It can cause injuries to the liver and kidneys and, at high levels, can result in fatal damage to the brain and nervous system.

Industry intervention: Halogenated Solvents Industry Alliance arguesthat worker exposures are already regulated by Labor Department safety rules and that “occupational conditions of use do not pose an unreasonable risk.”

1,4-Dioxane

Where you may find it: 1,4-dioxane is a flammable liquid with a variety of industrial applications, such as the manufacture of adhesives and sealants and other chemicals. It is used in paint strippers, dyes, greases, varnishes and waxes, and it can be found in antifreeze, aircraft de-icing fluids, deodorants, shampoos and cosmetics.

How it could hurt you: The E.P.A. says that the chemical is “likely to be carcinogenic to humans” and that it may cause kidney and liver damage. It is now often found at low levels in drinking water supplies.

Industry interventionThe American Cleaning Institute argues that while many consumer products may have small amounts of 1,4-dioxane, they are “extraordinarily low levels” and should be ignored.

Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster

Where you may find it: Cyclic aliphatic bromide cluster is a group of chemicals found in flame retardants, plastic additives and certain polystyrene foams used in the construction industry for thermal insulation boards.

How it could hurt you: People may be exposed to the chemicals from products and dust in the home. Animal test results suggest potential reproductive, developmental and neurological effects.

Industry intervention: The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers argues that the E.P.A. should not consider “potential of an accident or misuse, whether intentional or unintentional,” when deciding to restrict these chemicals, as “misuse is not even predictable and should never be included in toxicological risk assessment.”

Methylene Chloride

Where you may find it:Methylene chloride is used in pharmaceutical manufacturing and polyurethane foam manufacturing. It is also found in paint strippers, adhesives, metal cleaners and aerosol solvents. Many products are sold at home improvement stores.

How it could hurt you:Exposure can harm the central nervous system, with effects including dizziness, incapacitation and, sometimes, death. It is also linked to liver toxicity, liver cancer and lung cancer. It has been associated with dozens of deaths. The E.P.A., just days before the end of the Obama administration, proposed banning its use as a paint stripper because of these hazards.

Industry intervention: W.M. Barr & Company, the largest national manufacturer of solvents, removers, fuels and cleaning products, asked the E.P.A. to withdraw its proposed rule to ban methylene chloride in paint strippers, arguing that its products do “not present an unreasonable risk.”

N-Methylpyrrolidone

Where you may find it: N-Methylpyrrolidone is a solvent used in petrochemical processing. It can be found in plastics, paints, inks, enamels, electronics, industrial and consumer cleaning products and arts and crafts materials.

How it could hurt you: It may pose a particular risk to women who are pregnant or of childbearing age, according to studies on animals that suggest delayed fetal development.

Industry intervention: The NMP Manufacturers Group argues that the chemical “is used in many industry sectors, in varied processes,” and that it would be “unworkable for industry and unworkable for EPA” to evaluate them all.

Perchloroethylene

Where you may find it: Perchloroethylene, also known as perc, is a solvent widely used in dry-cleaning chemicals, automotive-care products, cleaning and furniture-care products, lubricants, greases, adhesives, sealants and paints and coatings.

How it could hurt you: High-level inhalation exposure is associated with kidney dysfunction, dizziness, headache, sleepiness and unconsciousness, while long-term inhalation exposure may affect the liver, the kidneys and the immune and reproductive systems. The E.P.A. has classified it as likely to be carcinogenic to humans, as it is associated with bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and multiple myeloma. It is also a drinking-water contaminant.

Industry intervention: The Drycleaning and Laundry Institute and the National Cleaners Association argue that “any future decision to reduce or phase out the use of perc in drycleaning will put an oppressive burden on thousands of cleaners” and that “sadly, in taking any radical regulatory action the EPA will be doing little to reduce the negligible risks associated with the use, while threatening the future viability of thousands of dry cleaners.”

Pigment Violet 29

Where you may find it: Pigment Violet 29 is used in watercolors, acrylic paints, automotive paints, inks for printing and packaging, cleaning and washing agents, pharmaceuticals, solar cells, paper, sporting goods and industrial carpeting. It is also approved to be used in food packaging.

How it could hurt you: There are limited health studies, but preliminary work suggests “acute toxicity, eye irritation, skin irritation, skin sensitization,” and perhaps reproductive and developmental toxicity.

Industry intervention: Color Pigments Manufacturers Association argues that it “does not pose any known hazard in any reasonably foreseeable use or misuse, and therefore cannot present an unreasonable risk.”

Trichloroethylene

Where you may find it: Trichloroethylene, also known as TCE, is used to make a refrigerant chemical and remove grease from metal parts. It is also a spotting agent for dry cleaning and can be found in consumer products. The E.P.A., in the final days of the Obama administration, proposed a ban on its use in dry-cleaning chemicals, spot removers and aerosol degreasers.

How it could hurt you: It is associated with cancers of the liver, kidneys and blood. Animal studies suggest that it may also be a factor in birth defects, testicular cancer, leukemia, lymphomas and lung tumors. TCE is also a drinking-water contaminant.

Industry intervention: The Halogenated Solvents Industry Alliance, which manufactures the chemical, argues that the E.P.A. has conducted a “very deficient risk assessment.” Pointing to one study the E.P.A. has used, the group says that “a single flawed study should not be the basis for the toxicological value that serves as the basis for regulation.”

Mt Hood Ridable Through the Summer

Hi there, bloggers! Continuing with our nature-themed road trip the following day, my family and I took the car south of Hood River to Mount Hood, which is actually a potentially-active volcano and the tallest one in the state of Oregon. At over 11,000 feet (3500 meters), its snow-capped peaks make for the iconic, picture-perfect […]

via Destination: Mount Hood, Oregon — The Finicky Cynic

Uinta-Wasatch-Cache I — Making memories

Summer is long gone, but I still have some pictures from my holidays that I haven’t shared yet. I will mix and divide them between two blog posts. This canyon road goes through Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest all the way from Utah to Wyoming. There are countless opportunities for hiking, but with our newborn baby we only […]

via Uinta-Wasatch-Cache I — Making memories

Beauty and Inspiration…

The solace of empty places and open spaces…

via Crash – Hissss — Heroes ‘N Pirates

Images of the Day…Animals on safari !!!

Images of the Day…Animals on safari !!!

Africa promises one of the best safari experiences in the world, enabling you to see the five big wild animal groups: the lion, the leopard, the elephant, the rhino and the buffalo. Capturing a good photo of these beautiful animals is not always easy, and very often, it comes down to being at the right place at the right time. But, the pictures below are pretty incredible. So, get ready to enjoy some animal watching with this great photo series!

safari animals

Male lion ignoring a group of Thomson’s Gazelles.

safari animals

‘One day I’ll be tall like mommy’.

safari animals

Young male leopard watching the setting sun.safari animals

Black-face Vervet monkeys as seen on safari in Tanzaniasafari animals

The ‘painted wolf’, also known as the African wild dog, is Africa’s most endangered predator.

safari animals

Two male lions relaxing in the sun.safari animals

Elephants playing in the red soil. Taken at Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi National Park in Kenya, Africa.

safari animals

A male lion getting some sun at the Serengeti Nati

Source: Images of the Day…Animals on safari !!!

Tragic end for Hunstanton whale as it dies after getting trapped in rocks

A whale beached in Norfolk is believed to have been part of a pod that stranded and died in the Netherlands.

The 50ft (14.5m) young adult male was part of a group of six spotted in the Wash at Hunstanton on Friday.

A team from the RNLI, HM Coastguard, Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary and rescue divers tried to help the whale back into deeper water but it died at around 11pm the same day.

MORE: Handyman’s note to military mother will restore your faith in humanity

Handout photo issued by Kathryn Robbins of a dead sperm whale beached in Norfolk. The 50ft (14.5m) young adult male was part of a group of six spotted in the Wash at Hunstanton on Friday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday January 23, 2016. A team from the RNLI, HM Coastguard, Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary and rescue divers tried to help the whale back into deeper water but it died at around 11pm the same day. See PA story ANIMALS Whale. Photo credit should read: Kathryn Robbins/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
The young adult male was part of a group of six spotted in Hustnanton on Friday (Picture: PA)
It is believed the animal became distressed and injured its tail thrashing around in the shallow waters.

There are fears at least two of the other whales could become stranded, he said.

Dr Peter Evans, director of the Seawatch Foundation, said the whales probably swam south looking for food but got disorientated.

‘They feed on squid and what’s probably happened is that squid came in and the whales fed upon them but ran out of food,’ he said.

Handout photo issued by Jonathon Holt of a dead sperm whale beached in Norfolk. The 50ft (14.5m) young adult male was part of a group of six spotted in the Wash at Hunstanton on Friday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday January 23, 2016. A team from the RNLI, HM Coastguard, Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary and rescue divers tried to help the whale back into deeper water but it died at around 11pm the same day. See PA story ANIMALS Whale. Photo credit should read: Jonathon Holt/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
They may be linked to a pod that was found washed up in the Netherlands (Picture: PA)

‘The further south they got the shallower the water gets and when they got to Norfolk, which is very, very shallow, it’s quite difficult to navigate and they tend to lose their way and actually strand.’

He believes they could have been part of a large pod, some of which beached in the Netherlands and Germany.

‘There have been 12 other sperm whales that stranded and died, six in the Netherlands and six in Germany,’ he added.

‘They were probably all in the same group, quite a big group which are usually adolescent males a few years old.’

The UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme, which investigates all UK strandings, will send a team of scientists to perform a post-mortem examination on the whale in Norfolk.
The 50ft young adult male was part of a group of six spotted in the Wash at Hunstanton on Friday.

Source: Tragic end for Hunstanton whale as it dies after getting trapped in rocks

Univ. of Utah study finds increased temperatures reduce toxin tolerance of some animals

Add this to the growing list of environmental complications due to global warming.

PatriceKurnathWoodrat5788_300dpi.jpg

U Study Finds That Increased Temperatures Reduce Toxin Tolerance of Some Animals

on January 20, 2016 at 6:00 am

Research conducted by U Ph.D. student Patrice Kurnath finds that at warmer temperatures the toxin tolerance of certain mammals is reduced — adding yet another problem to the growing list of environmental complications due to global warming.

Plants often generate toxins as a natural defense. Desert woodrats, the plant-eating species used by Kurnath and chair of the U’s biology department Denise Dearing in the study, generate certain enzymes to counteract the effects of these toxins that are ingested when consuming the plants.

“We’re answering the big question of how warmer temperatures might be affecting animals that eat plants and how they deal with the toxins produced by those plants,” Kurnath said.

The diet of desert woodrats, which are common in Utah and western North America, consists mainly of creosote bush, which produces so many toxins in its resin that laboratory rats often die eating the same amount as the desert woodrats.

The idea behind the experiments hypothesized that as woodrat toxin tolerance levels decreased with temperature increases, that they would reduce food intake and lose weight. Woodrats were removed from the experiment if they lost more than 10 percent of their body weight.

“[Kurnath] really pushed the envelope with this work and expanded knowledge from a different study,” Dearing said. “Not only did she work with different species and a different toxin, she did processes and experiments we have never done before.”

Desert woodrats were able to eat more food at cooler temperatures in both experiments at the end of the research, while almost all of the woodrats in higher temperature climates were removed due to weight loss.

“The most recent study found that warmer temperatures resulted in reduced tolerance in rats,” Kurnath said.

This research adds another dimension to the problems associated with global warming for these species as they deal with an increasingly more toxic diet.

“Not only are surface temperatures increasing, severe weather storms, this is another obstacle that these woodrats and other species are going to have to face,” Kurnath said.

Kurnath plans to extend the study by “digging deeper” into the liver functions and genetic structure of these mammals consuming a highly toxic diet and by “stepping back” and examining their behavior in lab settings. Dearing is working on studying this same trend in marsupials and expects to see results by next year.

Dearing said, “We hope that it will inspire research in other species of mammals.”

b.hart@dailyutahchronicle.com

@BeauHart13

Source: Univ. of Utah study finds increased temperatures reduce toxin tolerance of some animals