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BioScience tip sheet July/August 2008

Research articles published in the July/August 2008 issue of BioScience are as follows:

High-Speed Developments in Avian Genomics.
Camille Bonneaud, Joan Burnside, and Scott V. Edwards.
An increasingly broad range of genomics techniques is being applied to birds, thus expanding what has been learned from studies based on the chicken and shedding new light on the ecology and evolution of the whole class.

Penguins as Marine Sentinels.
P. Dee Boersma.
The author describes the causes of population declines in most species of penguins and urges a program of improved surveillance focusing on penguin breeding "hot spots."
Note: this article is the subject of a separate press release dated today titled "Human influences challenge penguin populations."

Controls on Annual Forest Carbon Storage: Lessons from the Past and Predictions for the Future.
Christopher M. Gough, Christoph S. Vogel, Hans Peter Schmid, and Peter S. Curtis.
Repeated clear-cut harvesting and fire disturbance resulted in a lasting decrease in annual carbon storage in a Michigan forest study site; climate variation also exerted a strong effect. The findings demonstrate that controlling greenhouse-gas levels will need to take into account both climatological influences and forest-management practices.

"The Calamity of So Long Life": Life Histories, Contaminants, and Potential Emerging Threats to Long-lived Vertebrates.
Christopher L. Rowe.
Life-history theory indicates that long-lived species high in the food chain, such as many reptiles, birds, and mammals, are vulnerable to persistent contaminants in the environment. Long generation cycles, however, may delay the emergence of obvious toxic effects while putting limits on the ability of populations to recover.

Biodiversity Congruence and Conservation Strategies: A National Test.
Haigen Xu, Jun Wu, Yan Liu, Hui Ding, Ming Zhang, Yi Wu, Qing Xi, and Lili Wang.
Limits on the availability of data make the use of "surrogate species" essential in conservation planning, though the suitability of some species to serve as proxies remains a topic of dispute. A comprehensive study in China established that patterns of species richness are broadly concordant between terrestrial vertebrates and vascular plants. The causes of the decline of species are, however, diverse.

Long-term Agricultural Research: A Research, Education, and Extension Imperative.
G. Philip Robertson and colleagues.
A multi-author team identifies a lack of comprehensive, systems-level planning for US agricultural research and proposes a long-term research program. Such a program could improve the delivery of agricultural products and other important ecosystem services.

The US Ethanol and Biofuels Boom: Its Origins, Current Status, and Future Prospects.
Wallace E. Tyner.
An expert on alternative energy policies argues that today's boom in fuel ethanol is an unintended consequence of a fixed ethanol subsidy that was keyed to $20-per-barrel crude oil. Policy choices in the future development of biofuels will be crucial to the role that such fuels play.

Genetic Literacy of Undergraduate Nonscience Majors and the Impact of Introductory Biology and Genetics Courses.
Bethany Vice Bowling, Carl A. Huether, Lihshing Wang, Melanie F. Myers, Glenn C. Markle, Gary E. Dean, Erin E. Acra, Francis P. Wray, and George A. Jacob.
Nonscience-major undergraduates studying genetics were assessed for their understanding of concepts in genetics before and after a course of instruction. Post-course scores were only modestly higher than pre-course scores, suggesting that changes are needed in how genetics is taught.


Contact: Jennifer Williams
202-628-1500 x209
American Institute of Biological Sciences

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