New York, December 28,2016: Traffic noise can reduce birds’ ability to hear an alarm call, thereby potentially increasing their vulnerability to predators, a new research has found.
“There has been lots of work on how anthropogenic noise affects vocal production, but much less on the response of animals to signals in the presence of noise,” said one of the researchers, Megan Gall, from Vassar College in New York.
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The researchers tested how traffic noise affected the reactions of Black-capped Chickadees and Tufted Titmice to alarm calls, which warn birds that a predator is nearby.
Using speakers set up near feeding platforms baited with bird seed, they recorded the birds’ responses to three different recordings — alarm calls alone, traffic noise alone, and a combination of the two.
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The traffic noise did not deter the birds from feeding, but five times as many birds approached speakers when the researchers played alarm calls on their own compared with when traffic sounds were added, according to the study published in the journal The Condor: Ornithological Applications.
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The findings suggest that excess noise in the environment from sources such as traffic can have negative effects on animals that rely on sound to communicate and get information about their surroundings. (IANS)
It’s been over 6 months since the Coronavirus outbreak and the world is still fighting against it. Coronavirus Worldometer suggests a total of 4,907,135 cases so far, including cases that resulted in deaths and the ones recovered. This is not the first time that the world is going through a pandemic and crisis. Humans saw the Spanish Flu back in 1918, the spread of HIV in 1981, and the most recent one in 2009, H1N1 Swine flu. These pandemics killed millions of people across the globe, just like COVID-19
Since the onset of the year 2020, the world has faced terrible situations. The year began with Australia still on wildfires, a US drone strike on Iran which could’ve escalated to another World War in January, February saw a global stock market crash, in March COVID-19 had spread globally forcing nations to shut down, the global death toll from COVID-19 exceeds 200,000 in April and the world economy is expected to shrink 3%, which is the worst contraction since the 1930s Great Depression. With the onset of May, the global death toll exceeds 300,000 and the world faces a global mental health crisis because of isolation, fear, and economic crisis.
It’s not even been 6 months into this year and the world has already the worst of times. But the question is- who is responsible for all this? The answer is crystal clear. It is us, the human race.
The modern form of humans has existed on earth from 200,000 years. With time, humans have conquered the planet, excelled in the fields of science and technology, made impossible things possible, and developed a world with possibly the most luxurious facilities.
In the process of development, humans have caused irreparable damage to Earth and the environment which includes ecosystems, biodiversity, natural resources, etc.
Overconsumption and over-exploitation of resources, overpopulation of humans, global warming, pollution, deforestation, etc have caused damages that are irreversible now. We have exploited the planet to an extent where it’s impossible to rectify the damage we have caused.
Speaking about my personal opinion, this year seems to be a punishment to the human species for all the harm we have caused to nature and the environment since the day of our existence. We have hurt the nature, animals, birds, plants, and even our fellow human beings, and this devastating situation right now, feels like we’re repaying for it.
We have killed a countless number of animals and birds just to satisfy our hunger even when we can live without eating them, we have killed animals for the sake of wearing good clothes, we have killed animals just to pursue our hobby of hunting, we have cut down trees so that we can make paper and write ‘save trees’ on them, we have caused air pollution so that we don’t sweat, we have exploited natural resources like petroleum just for the sake of our laziness, we have destroyed forests for the purpose of making luxurious cities, we have damaged the water bodies because we can’t even throw garbage in a bin.
And we happen to be the ‘best creation of God’ and also the smartest species to ever exist on this planet.
Is the development and smartness of any use if the planet is no more able to sustain us? It feels like nature took everything in its hands and decided to punish us from all possible aspects and started to heal itself by confining us to our houses.
Nature has bounced back as we are locked inside our homes. The world has seen a significant positive change in the environment with many countries experiencing a fall in carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide of as much as 40%. With the minimum use of cars on the road, it seems to be a piece of potential good news for the climate as oil happens to be the biggest source of carbon emissions. Not just this, but the flora and fauna have also received a big positive change.
The World and its people are suffering and facing the worst of times, but the planet earth seems to be relieved.
After several studies revealed that men are more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection, evidence from a new larger research of several thousand patients shows that men have higher concentrations of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) in their blood than women, a molecule that enables the novel coronavirus to infect healthy cells in men. This may help to explain why men are more vulnerable to COVID-19 than women, according to the researchers.
The study, published in the European Heart Journal, also found that heart failure patients taking drugs targeting the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS), such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), did not have higher concentrations of ACE2 in their blood.
“Our findings do not support the discontinuation of these drugs in COVID-19 patients as has been suggested by earlier reports,” said study co-author Adriaan Voors from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.
Some recent research suggested that RAAS inhibitors might increase concentrations of ACE2 in plasma — the liquid part of blood — thereby increasing the risk of COVID-19 for cardiovascular patients taking these drugs.
The current study indicates that this is not the case, although it looked only at ACE2 concentrations in plasma, not in tissues such as lung tissue.
“ACE2 is a receptor on the surface of cells. It binds to the coronavirus and allows it to enter and infect healthy cells after it is has been modified by another protein on the surface of the cell, called TMPRSS2,” Voors said.
“High levels of ACE2 are present in the lungs and, therefore, it is thought to play a crucial role in the progression of lung disorders related to COVID-19,” he added.
For the findings, the researchers measured ACE2 concentrations in blood samples taken from two groups of heart failure patients from 11 European countries.
There were 1,485 men and 537 women in the first group, the index cohort, which was designed to test the researchers’ hypotheses and research questions. Then the researchers validated their findings in the second group of 1,123 men and 575 women, the validation cohort.
The research team assessed the number of clinical factors that could play a role in ACE2 concentrations, including the use of ACE inhibitors, a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and coronary artery by-pass graft.
They found that male sex was the strongest predictor of elevated ACE2 concentrations. ACE2 is found not only in the lungs, but also the heart, kidneys and the tissues lining blood vessels, and there are particularly high levels in the testes.
The researchers speculate that its regulation in the testes might partially explain higher ACE2 concentrations in men, and why men are more vulnerable to COVID-19.
Last month, the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, found that men are more than twice as likely to die from the disease as compared to women.
Another study from the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine showed that males over 50 with non-communicable chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and coronary heart disease are at greater risk of death from coronavirus. (IANS)
Due to the reduction in air and noise pollution pursuant to the imposition of the nationwide lockdown to fight the Covid-19 outbreak, the population of birds and butterflies has surged significantly across the country.
“The lockdown has resulted in an increase in the population of birds in the country. Resident birds are breeding much more than before due to less human activity, no noise and air pollution,” wildlife biologist Faiyaz Khudsar said.
Clanking of machinery in factories, buzzing of car horns and whirring of vehicular engines have now been replaced by chirping of birds in the dawn and the dusk.
Khudsar, who is also the scientist in-charge at the Yamuna Biodiversity Park (YBP), said that due to the reduction in noise pollution, bird mating calls and songs are being understood by its mates clearly.
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“Vocalisation is very important. When there is less noise pollution, it is very easy for birds to express themselves. Otherwise, there are many studies which suggest that due to noise pollution, birds sometimes fail to reach their mates,” Khudsar said.
He also said that at a place where there is less human population, aircraft are grounded and no vehicles ply on the road, birds tend to increase their flight or retain their historical geographical ranges. “Lockdown is a good time for birds,” he said, smiling.
Khudsar also alluded to the effect of air pollution on butterflies and said that heavy metals emitted from the vehicles and haze increases their mortality. “Due to reduction in sulphur dioxide toxicity, flocks of ePioneer’ butterflies are flying around and are breeding more than ever before,” he said.
Vikrant Tongad, environment conservationist and founder of Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE), expressed happiness over the increase in the population of birds and butterflies, but rued over the maintainability of the current situation post the lockdown period.
“The rosy situation we see today is part of our policies, but there is lack of implementation in the country. We should move towards green energy; people should be made aware and policies should be implemented,” Tongad suggested. (IANS)