In this week’s PLoS ONE media coverage digest, we highlight recent research on birds, bears, bats, buses, and much more besides.
Last Wednesday was a good day for PLoS ONE articles, with several papers published on October 28th being picked up by journalists and bloggers. As ever, ecology proved to be a popular topic. In their article, Lindsay Young at the University of Hawaii and her colleagues describe their studies of Laysan albatrosses (Phoebastria immutabilis)—a species known for its tendency to ingest plastic—from two distinct breeding colonies, located in Kure Atoll and Oahu, 2,150 km apart, to see whether the birds in different colonies ingested different levels of plastic. The researchers found that chicks from Kure Atoll were fed almost ten times as much plastic as chicks from Oahu, even though the same amount of natural food was found in the boluses of both groups of chicks. According to Young and colleagues, the differences in plastic load can be explained by differences in the foraging areas—adults from Kure, for example, had a greater overlap with the range of the Western Garbage Patch. The study was discussed by Scientific American, CBC, Discovery News, and Journal Watch.
Also published on October 28th was a paper by Guillaume Chapron and colleagues, in which the authors report that France is in great need of more female brown bears (Ursus arctos) in order to revitalise the declining populations of the species, currently found only in two sub-populations in the Pyrénées, and save the animal from extinction. The authors recommended translocations of female bears to redress the sex imbalance and calculated the numbers of bears that should be released to ensure viability, showing that the population could recover as long as enough new females are translocated. Reuters, USA Today’s Science Fair blog and io9 all wrote about the study.
There was extensive news and blog coverage of Min Tan’s paper, Fellatio by Fruit Bats Prolongs Copulation Time, including: ScienceNOW, Nature Research Highlights, New Scientist and Not Exactly Rocket Scientist.
In their PLoS ONE paper published on October 27th, John Horner at Montana State University and Mark Goodwin at University of California, Berkeley, report that two previously known genera of dinosaur, Dracorex and Stygimoloch, actually represent younger stages of the genus Pachycephalosaurus. You can read a discussion of the paper on the Open Source Paleontologist blog (Bora’s Blog Pick of the Month for October) and other there were other news stories and blog posts at Science News, Theropoda, Just a Theory and Dinochick Blogs.
Some of this week’s coverage includes a National Geographic piece on Caroline Palmer’s paper, Coral Fluorescent Proteins as Antioxidants, and a Planet Earth Online post about Nichola Fletcher’s paper, which describes how Neanthes marine worm females use smell to detect experienced males.
And finally, if you’ve ever wondered why public transport never seems to run on time (especially when you really need it to), you may like to check out an article by researchers at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Why Does Public Transport Not Arrive on Time? The Pervasiveness of Equal Headway Instability. The authors use a mathematical model to examine this question and suggest how to make headways (time intervals between vehicles) more stable—unstable headways can increase delays and lead to uneven waiting times. New Scientist and Mike the Mad Biologist have discussed the study.