Researchers discover how ‘cryptic’ connections in disease transmission influence epidemics

Diseases have repeatedly spilled over from wildlife to humans, causing local to global epidemics, such as HIV/AIDS, Ebola, SARS, and Nipah.

A new study by researchers of disease transmission in bats has broad implications for understanding hidden or “cryptic” connections that can spread diseases between species and lead to large-scale outbreaks.

By dusting bats with a fluorescent powder that glows under ultraviolet ...

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Surface water and flood dynamics increase vulnerability to waterborne disease and climate change

Diarrheal disease, a preventable and treatable illness, remains the second-leading cause of death in children under the age of 5 and a persistent public health threat in sub-Saharan Africa.

Researchers have now uncovered how surface water dynamics may increase the vulnerability of dependent populations to diarrheal disease and climate change.

Kathleen Alexander, professor of wildlife in Virginia Tech’s College of ...

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Mammal diversity will take millions of years to recover from the current biodiversity crisis

Matt Davis, Søren Faurby, and Jens-Christian Svenning

Significance

Biodiversity is more than the number of species on Earth. It is also the amount of unique evolutionary history in the tree of life. We find that losses of this phylogenetic diversity (PD) are disproportionally large in mammals compared with ...

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Researchers examine how the laws of physics impact evolution

From VT News

Think about the fast sprint of a cheetah or the rapid undulation of a swimming fish.

All biological motion is dependent on the rules of mechanics, which is a branch of physics that deals with the motion of material bodies and the forces exerted upon them.

But, how do the static laws of physics impact the dynamic process of evolution? Do stronger relationships between a morphological trait and swimming speed, for example, ...

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Study: Genetic variation can leave long-lasting stamp on evolutionary patterns

From VT News

[Featured image: An Anolis evermanni lizard, photo courtesy Edmund D. Brodie III.]

A new study from Virginia Tech takes on the decades-old battle of which has more impact on evolution: genetic variation or natural selection.

In a study published in the latest issue of Evolution Letters, Virginia Tech researcher Joel McGlothlin has found that genetic variation can leave a much longer-lasting stamp on evolutionary patterns than was previously ...

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Disaster aid: new research uses analytics to improve placement of supplies

From VT News

When disaster strikes, having relief supplies in the right place to be deployed swiftly is critical.

Humanitarian relief agencies often position such supplies in advance to help ensure ready availability but lack a good way to gauge the effectiveness of such preparations.

It’s difficult to know what quantities of supplies will be needed and where they should be placed to be most effective, particularly given the uncertainty about where and when a ...

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Personal outreach to landowners is vital to conservation program success

From VT News

April 5, 2018  |   Virginia Tech College of Natural Resources and Environment research published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE shows that private landowners trust conservation agencies more and have better views of program outcomes when they accompany conservation biologists who are monitoring habitat management on their land.

Engaging private landowners in conservation and sustaining that interest is critically important, particularly in the eastern United States, where more than 80 percent of land is privately owned. Outreach from ...

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Human-centered design is key to forming partnerships for large-scale conservation success

From VT News

March 22, 2018  |  To recruit more fishers to help with marine conservation, cast a wider net.

This is the conclusion of a new study by Virginia Tech researchers who examined participation in a payment for ecosystem services program.  The study modeled preferences of fishers in Chile in creating and monitoring marine protected areas inside their fishing management zones.

Lead author Michael Sorice, an associate professor of conservation social science ...

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Dude…Where’d this weed come from?

Globalization and other human activities such as domestication can influence population structure of the earth’s flora and fauna, having broad implications for biodiversity.  For example, Cannabis sativa (a.k.a. hemp/marijuana) has been used by humans for diverse purposes including medicine, spirituality, entertainment, and as a source of fiber for thousands of years.  Because of its broad utility, this plant has been subject to extensive cultivation, artificial selection, and global trade.  As a result, the origins and historical patterns of genetic diversity of marijuana ...

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Even small amounts of oil made birds sick near Deepwater Horizon spill

From VT News

Photos from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on April 20, 2010, show heartbreaking images of deceased or soon-to-be-deceased sea life—birds, fish, sea turtles, and mammals coated in thick, black grime.

However, even small amounts of oil exposure affected the health of birds in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a Virginia Tech research team. Their findings were published Oct. 12 in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

The team examined samples ...

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