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3Episodes
Category: Science & Medicine

A fun take on the latest science news with enough data to sink your teeth into. Lagrange Point goes beyond the glossy summary and gets in depth with the research from across the world.

June 30, 2019

Episode 333 - Saving which bees and where

Saving the bees has gotten widespread understanding, but it is more nuanced than a simple sound bite. Which bees are in danger and where? How many bee species are out there and are under threat? Can domesticated bees spread disease to wild populations? How do wild flowers help feed bees but also spread disease? Can different types of crop cycles help both wild and domesticated bees thrive? We know of colony collapse disorder and pesticides, but what other threats are out there to bee populations? Does the urban sprawl play a role in destabilising the gender balance of the bee populations? Why do bee populations drop off as you approach the city?

References:

  1. Samantha A. Alger, P. Alexander Burnham, Humberto F. Boncristiani, Alison K. Brody. RNA virus spillover from managed honeybees (Apis mellifera) to wild bumblebees (Bombus spp.). PLOS ONE, 2019; 14 (6): e0217822 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0217822
  2. Dimitry Wintermantel, Jean-François Odoux, Joël Chadœuf, Vincent Bretagnolle. Organic farming positively affects honeybee colonies in a flower-poor period in agricultural landscapes. Journal of Applied Ecology, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13447
  3. Gordon Fitch, Paul Glaum, Maria-Carolina Simao, Chatura Vaidya, Jill Matthijs, Benjamin Iuliano, Ivette Perfecto. Changes in adult sex ratio in wild bee communities are linked to urbanization. Scientific Reports, 2019; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-39601-8
May 27, 2019

Episode 328 - Mathematics and Nature, from Bees to Choruses of Frogs

Mathematics is not just something humans can perform. It's present across the universe and especially in nature. So can animals understand abstract mathematical concepts? Can we learn from the different complicated algorithms and mathematical models used by animals to improve the internet of things? What can social media help tell us about both human and animal tourists to nature reserves?

References:

  1. Scarlett R. Howard, Aurore Avarguès-Weber, Jair E. Garcia, Andrew D. Greentree, Adrian G. Dyer. Numerical cognition in honeybees enables addition and subtractionScience Advances, 2019; 5 (2): eaav0961 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav0961
  2. Ikkyu Aihara , Daichi Kominami , Yasuharu Hirano and Masayuki Murata. Mathematical modelling and application of frog choruses as an autonomous distributed communication systemRoyal Society Open Science, 2019 DOI: 10.1098/rsos.181117
  3. Anna Hausmann, Tuuli Toivonen, Christoph Fink, Vuokko Heikinheimo, Henrikki Tenkanen, Stuart H.M. Butchart, Thomas M. Brooks, Enrico Di Minin. Assessing global popularity and threats to Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas using social media dataScience of The Total Environment, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.05.268
May 20, 2019

Episode 327 - Hippos and Algae, Lions and Porcupines, plus Narwhals.

What connects Hippos, Algae and keeping the rivers of Africa healthy? What causes Lions to square-off against Porcupines? What is keeping the Narwhal population healthy despite it's genetic diversity? We look at the strange interconnection between species and how small changes in one ecosystem can destabilise a whole species.

Hippos help keep the rivers and lakes of Africa healthy...through their poo.

Hippos are essential in pumping silicon from the savannah into the rivers and lakes of Africa.

Lions hunt lots of creatures, but what needs to happen for them to try attacking a Porcupine?

Porcupines vs Lion sounds like a March Mammal Madness battle, but what causes a Lion to go after such a tough prey?

The Narwhals population is rebounding but it its still at risk due to it's shallow gene pool.

Can a species survive with a shallow gene pool?

References:

  1. Schoelynck, J., Subalusky, A.L., Struyf, E., Dutton, C.L., Unzué-Belmonte, D., Van de Vijver, B., Post, D.M., Rosi, E.J., Meire, P., Frings, P. Hippos (Hippopotamus amphibius): The animal silicon pumpScience Advances, 2019 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav0395
  2. Julian C. Kerbis Peterhans, Gastone G. Celesia, Thomas P. Gnoske. Lion-Porcupine Interactions in Africa, Including Impacts on Lion Predatory BehaviorJournal of East African Natural History, 2019; 108 (1): 1 DOI: 10.2982/028.108.0101
  3. Westbury, M.V. Narwhal genome reveals long-term low genetic diversity despite current large abundance sizeiScience, 2019 DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2019.03.023
April 15, 2019

Episode 322 - Imaging strange objects in space (and on earth)

Taking images of strange objects in space is incredibly complicated and requires both large telescopes, and even larger teams of scientists to pour over the data. Techniques, codes and algorithms to sift through that data to find the unusual patterns is an incredibly difficult and challenging task. However with it we can capture some incredible things whether it be images of black holes, to asteroids literally spinning themselves apart, or even missing endangered species here on earth.

References:

  1. Iowa State University. (2019, March 27). Data flows from NASA's TESS Mission, leads to discovery of Saturn-sized planet. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 13, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190327174701.htm
  2. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2019, March 28). Hubble watches spun-up asteroid coming apart. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 13, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190328112601.htm
  3. British Ecological Society. (2019, April 9). Astro-ecology: Counting orangutans using star-spotting technology: A collaboration between astrophysicists, conservationists and ecologists aims to save rare and endangered animals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 13, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190409083245.htm

 

March 18, 2019

Episode 318 - Stubborn Moose, repulsive smells and Otters with tools

We recap March Mamma Madness Round 1, and look at some latest science stories that relate. From what happens inside your brain when you smell a repulsive smell, to making the right call on fleeing or standing your ground. Plus we look at using archaeological techniques to help understand the history of animal tool use like with otters. 

References:

  1. Ahmed A. M. Mohamed, Tom Retzke, Sudeshna Das Chakraborty, Benjamin Fabian, Bill S. Hansson, Markus Knaden, Silke Sachse. Odor mixtures of opposing valence unveil inter-glomerular crosstalk in the Drosophila antennal lobeNature Communications, 2019; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-09069-1
  2. Michael Haslam, Jessica Fujii, Sarah Espinosa, Karl Mayer, Katherine Ralls, M. Tim Tinker, Natalie Uomini. Wild sea otter mussel pounding leaves archaeological tracesScientific Reports, 2019; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-39902-y
  3. B. A. Oates, J. A. Merkle, M. J. Kauffman, S. R. Dewey, M. D. Jimenez, J. M. Vartanian, S. A. Becker, J. R. Goheen. Antipredator response diminishes during periods of resource deficit for a large herbivoreEcology, 2019; e02618 DOI: 10.1002/ecy.2618
March 4, 2019

Episode 316 - Mice that sing and see in infrared, balancing predators and 2019MMM Preview

We preview 2019 March Mammal Madness, and find out about interesting animals from across the world. We look at ways to augment vision to help see in infra-red, and use singing mice to study human conversation. Plus we find out about balancing predators and prey.

References:

  1. March Mammal Madness
  2. Yuqian Ma, Jin Bao, Yuanwei Zhang, Zhanjun Li, Xiangyu Zhou, Changlin Wan, Ling Huang, Yang Zhao, Gang Han, Tian Xue. Mammalian Near-Infrared Image Vision through Injectable and Self-Powered Retinal Nanoantennae. Cell, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.01.038
  3. Matthew T. Farr, David S. Green, Kay E. Holekamp, Gary J. Roloff, Elise F. Zipkin. Multispecies hierarchical modeling reveals variable responses of African carnivores to management alternatives. Ecological Applications, 2019; 29 (2): e01845 DOI: 10.1002/eap.1845
  4. Daniel E. Okobi Jr., Arkarup Banerjee, Andrew M. M. Matheson, Steven M. Phelps, Michael A. Long. Motor cortical control of vocal interaction in neotropical singing miceScience, 2019 DOI: 10.1126/science.aau9480
February 11, 2019

Episode 313 - Cross continent pop hits from whales and deep divers

The greatest pop hits can cross continents, but what about oceans? We all know whales make songs, but not only are they very complex, they can be covered, repeated and spread like a Number 1 summer hit across oceans to the far flung corners of the globe. Plus reaching the deepest depths of the ocean is tough for humans, but easy for whales. How do they accomplish these great feats? We also touch on the impact of naval sonar on the battle between squids and whales. 
Reference:

  1. Jeanne M. Shearer, Nicola J. Quick, William R. Cioffi, Robin W. Baird, Daniel L. Webster, Heather J. Foley, Zachary T. Swaim, Danielle M. Waples, Joel T. Bell, Andrew J. Read. Diving behaviour of Cuvier's beaked whales ( Ziphius cavirostris ) off Cape Hatteras, North CarolinaRoyal Society Open Science, 2019; 6 (2): 181728 DOI: 10.1098/rsos.181728
  2. Melinda L. Rekdahl, Ellen C. Garland, Gabriella A. Carvajal, Carissa D. King, Tim Collins, Yvette Razafindrakoto, Howard Rosenbaum. Culturally transmitted song exchange between humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in the southeast Atlantic and southwest Indian Ocean basinsRoyal Society Open Science, 2018; 5 (11): 172305 DOI: 10.1098/rsos.172305
  3. Brandon L. Southall, Kelly J. Benoit-Bird, Mark A. Moline, David Moretti. Quantifying deep-sea predator-prey dynamics: Implications of biological heterogeneity for beaked whale conservationJournal of Applied Ecology, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13334
February 11, 2019

Episode 313 - Cross continent pop hits from whales and deep divers

The greatest pop hits can cross continents, but what about oceans? We all know whales make songs, but not only are they very complex, they can be covered, repeated and spread like a Number 1 summer hit across oceans to the far flung corners of the globe. Plus reaching the deepest depths of the ocean is tough for humans, but easy for whales. How do they accomplish these great feats? We also touch on the impact of naval sonar on the battle between squids and whales. 

 

Reference:

  1. Jeanne M. Shearer, Nicola J. Quick, William R. Cioffi, Robin W. Baird, Daniel L. Webster, Heather J. Foley, Zachary T. Swaim, Danielle M. Waples, Joel T. Bell, Andrew J. Read. Diving behaviour of Cuvier's beaked whales ( Ziphius cavirostris ) off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Royal Society Open Science, 2019; 6 (2): 181728 DOI: 10.1098/rsos.181728
  2. Melinda L. Rekdahl, Ellen C. Garland, Gabriella A. Carvajal, Carissa D. King, Tim Collins, Yvette Razafindrakoto, Howard Rosenbaum. Culturally transmitted song exchange between humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in the southeast Atlantic and southwest Indian Ocean basins. Royal Society Open Science, 2018; 5 (11): 172305 DOI: 10.1098/rsos.172305
  3. Brandon L. Southall, Kelly J. Benoit-Bird, Mark A. Moline, David Moretti. Quantifying deep-sea predator-prey dynamics: Implications of biological heterogeneity for beaked whale conservation. Journal of Applied Ecology, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13334
December 24, 2018

Episode 306 - Drones as a force for good and evil

Drones being used for good, and drones being used for evil. We look at ways that drones can help biologists protect, treat, regrow marine damaged ecosystems. Including IVF transplants for the Great Barrier Reef, sea-grass disease hunting drones and even drones to detect camouflaged birds in forests. We also look into the science behind drone defense and how we can protect our critical infrastructure from rogue drones.

References:

  1. Hartley, A. (2018, November 27). This attempt to save the reef is the largest, most complicated coral regeneration project ever. Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-11-27/reef-ivf-unprecedented-new-approach-could-save-dying-coral-reefs/10557718
  2. Hegranes, J. (2018, January 26). The Past, Present And Future Of Anti-Drone Tech. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2018/01/26/the-past-present-and-future-of-anti-drone-tech/#845428852d62
  3. Minogue, K. (2018, September 17). Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. Retrieved from https://serc.si.edu/media/press-release/eelgrass-wasting-disease-has-new-enemies-drones-and-artificial-intelligence
  4. Vincent, J. (2015, December 11). Tokyo police unveil net-wielding interceptor drone. Retrieved from https://www.theverge.com/2015/12/11/9891128/tokyo-interceptor-net-drone
  5. Shewring, M. (2018, December 13). Drones can detect protected night jar nests (S. Weiss, Ed.). Retrieved from https://www.britishecologicalsociety.org/drones-nightjar-nests/
November 26, 2018

Episode 302 - Ancient empires changing the planet, leaving behind ruins and relics

This week we find out about ancient empires which have changed the face of the planet, changed the climate and left behind trophies of their conquests. From pyramid building termites in Brazil, to large climate changing colonies in Spain and even David vs Goliath battles in Florida with trophies of the dead.

  1. Stephen J. Martin, Roy R. Funch, Paul R. Hanson, Eun-Hye Yoo. A vast 4,000-year-old spatial pattern of termite mounds. Current Biology, 2018; 28 (22): R1292 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.09.061
  2. David Martín-Perea, Omid Fesharaki, M. Soledad Domingo, Sara Gamboa, Manuel Hernández Fernández. Messor barbarus ants as soil bioturbators: Implications for granulometry, mineralogical composition and fossil remains extraction in Somosaguas site (Madrid basin, Spain). CATENA, 2019; 172: 664 DOI: 10.1016/j.catena.2018.09.018
  3. Adrian A. Smith. Prey specialization and chemical mimicry between Formica archboldi and Odontomachus ants. Insectes Sociaux, 2018; DOI: 10.1007/s00040-018-0675-y
October 1, 2018

Episode 294 - What is the biggest bird; Island Giants and dwarfs.

What is the biggest bird? Why do some species in some locations end up becoming giants? What makes islands like Madagascar so special and why are so many of the species once found there so very large in size? This week we look at island gigantism and island dwarfism across the world with a focus on the giant Elephant birds of Madagascar.

References:

  1. James P. Hansford, Samuel T. Turvey. Unexpected diversity within the extinct elephant birds (Aves: Aepyornithidae) and a new identity for the world's largest birdRoyal Society Open Science, 2018; 5 (9): 181295 DOI: 10.1098/rsos.181295
  2. James Hansford, Patricia C. Wright, Armand Rasoamiaramanana, Ventura R. Pérez, Laurie R. Godfrey, David Errickson, Tim Thompson, Samuel T. Turvey. Early Holocene human presence in Madagascar evidenced by exploitation of avian megafaunaScience Advances, 2018; 4 (9): eaat6925 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat6925
August 27, 2018

Episode 289 - Unlikely alliances, from ancient virus and Koalas to farming fruit flies and coral alliances

How do you defend against invaders in a millenia long war? Well Koala DNA is currently using some ancient DNA weapons to fight back against a viral invader. We also find out about some unlikely alliances from different corals teaming up, to how bacteria manages to spread and colonize from place to place. All this and more this week on Lagrange Point. 

References:

  1. Ulrike Löber, Matthew Hobbs, Anisha Dayaram, Kyriakos Tsangaras, Kiersten Jones, David E. Alquezar-Planas, Yasuko Ishida, Joanne Meers, Jens Mayer, Claudia Quedenau, Wei Chen, Rebecca N. Johnson, Peter Timms, Paul R. Young, Alfred L. Roca, Alex D. Greenwood. Degradation and remobilization of endogenous retroviruses by recombination during the earliest stages of a germ-line invasion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018; 201807598 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1807598115
  2. Inês S. Pais, Rita S. Valente, Marta Sporniak, Luis Teixeira. Drosophila melanogaster establishes a species-specific mutualistic interaction with stable gut-colonizing bacteria. PLOS Biology, 2018; 16 (7): e2005710 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2005710
  3. Luigi Musco, Tomás Vega Fernández, Erik Caroselli, John Murray Roberts, Fabio Badalamenti. Protocooperation among small polyps allows the coral Astroides calycularis to prey on large jellyfish. Ecology, 2018; DOI: 10.1002/ecy.2413
July 2, 2018

Episode 281 - Interconnections between animals, ocean currents, climates and ecosystems

This week we look into three stories about how oceans tie our planet together. Our ecosystems are often linked in unusual ways that are not immediately obvious. Ocean currents can tie ecosystems across the world together, impacting migratory species, local environments and ecosystems. Sometimes these impacts are short term, other times they play out over years, decades and centuries. 

References:

  1. Carl J. Reddin, Ádám T. Kocsis, Wolfgang Kiessling. Marine invertebrate migrations trace climate change over 450 million yearsGlobal Ecology and Biogeography, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/geb.12732
  2. Hector M. Guzman, Catalina G. Gomez, Alex Hearn, Scott A. Eckert. Longest recorded trans-Pacific migration of a whale shark (Rhincodon typus)Marine Biodiversity Records, 2018; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s41200-018-0143-4
  3. Jocelyn Champagnon, Jean-Dominique Lebreton, Hugh Drummond, David J. Anderson. Pacific Decadal and El Niño oscillations shape survival of a seabirdEcology, 2018; 99 (5): 1063 DOI: 10.1002/ecy.2179
May 20, 2018

Episode 275 - Protecting biodiversity and ecosystems in flux

Protecting biodiversity is important, but how well have we protected our critical zones over the past 25 years? Are predators invading human spaces or are they just reclaiming their old territory? What about places where the predator / prey balance is out of whack? We dive into biodiverse ecosystems across the world. 

References:

  1. Kendall R. Jones, Oscar Venter, Richard A. Fuller, James R. Allan, Sean L. Maxwell, Pablo Jose Negret, James E. M. Watson. One-third of global protected land is under intense human pressure. Science, 2018; 360 (6390): 788 DOI: 10.1126/science.aap9565

  2. Brian R. Silliman, Brent B. Hughes, Lindsay C. Gaskins, Qiang He, M. Tim Tinker, Andrew Read, James Nifong and Rick Stepp. Are the Ghosts of Nature's Past Haunting Ecology Today? Current Biology, 2018 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.002

  3. Michigan Technological University. (2018, May 17). After 60 years, Isle Royale continues world's longest predator-prey study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 19, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180517102304.htm

April 9, 2018

Episode 269 - Finding their way through the magnetosphere with quantum mechanics and chemistry

How do animals from bacteria to birds manage to use the Earth's magetnic field to navigate? Do we know how or why? What potential mechanisms are out there and how does quantum mechanics get involved?

March 19, 2018

Episode 266 - Strange ways of fighting antibacterial resistance from platypus milk to cooking an egg

This week we find out some strange and new ways scientists are hunting for a new weapons in the antimicrobial resistance arms race. Including turning to platypus milk for guidance, cooking the insides of bacteria like an egg and blocking it from even spreading. Plus we get an update on Mammal March Madness.

March 12, 2018

Episode 265 -March Mammal Madness preview, uncovering Tardigrades and the history of lungs

It's time for March Mammal Madness 2018, where the greatest mammals from the past and the future face off against each other in performance science battles. Although this year it also features creatures from the past (Antecessors) and even some alt!mammals! This week we preview the tournament, along with checking out some latest scientific research form across the world on some of the competitors like the Tardigrades along with finding out about the development of that mammalian trait that helped us breath better.

February 19, 2018

Episode 262 -Biomaterials saving lives from spider silk cardiac tissue to sticky when wet bandages

How can we make wounds close and heal by sticking together better? Is there some kind of super strong glues that can help stick even when wet? What can we learn from spiders to help heal a broken heart? All these bio materials and more in this week's episode.

February 5, 2018

Episode 260 - A glimpse of our future from the tropical rain forests and jungles

Life in a tropical jungle or rain forest provide a window into the future, particularly for Climate Scientists. We look into the impact of a warming climate on biodiversity plus keeping the delicate balance between agricultural land and dangerous deforestation.

January 15, 2018

Episode 257 - Tracking creatures from the deep with social media and NASA

Mysterious creatures roam the depths of the ocean, from turtles to whale sharks. Studying their journeys shed light on the way our oceans are interlinked and the impact of climate change on the whole ecosystem.