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Banking on biodiversity

The diversity of life on Earth gives ecosystems the resilience they need to thrive. Yet every day scores of plants and animals go extinct, victims of activities we humans undertake to feed, clothe, house and trans­port ourselves. How can we meet our own needs without destroying that which sustains us? The west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, has a rugged, involuted shoreline, etched by fjords, sand dunes and shel­tered coves. It is sandwiched between two biospheres, the dark swelling sea and the emerald temperate rain forest, and it attracts all sorts—from salmon to surfers. As idyllic as … Read more…

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Cold cash for cold science

The recent funding wrap-up from the international polar year (IPY) has left many Canadian researchers scratching their heads, trying to find a way to continue their arctic science projects. A new grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada may help close that research-funding gap. In its announcement yesterday, NSERC opened a competition to fund large-scale research with a focus—for this round of funding—on northern earth systems. The Discovery Frontiers initiative will heft Can$4 million over five years on the successful research team to study the physical, chemical, biological and social factors that affect the North and its … Read more…

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Free Radicals Radio: Bring on the bugs!

Babes in the woods Get outside Can a walk in the woods really change us? Scientists are beginning to think so. There’s evidence to suggest that being in a busy city environment can reduce the brain’s capacity to remember things and lower self-control. Kids are driven to school and back, and off to soccer practice, and then when they get home, they turn on the computer or TV and settle down to an evening of screen-tertainment. The growing children and nature movement suggests children’s problems with obesity, attention span and lack of understanding of the environment are connected to less … Read more…

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Canada picks site for Arctic Research Station

Cambridge Bay location offers a wealth of opportunities for studying the far north. After months of deliberation, the Canadian government has chosen Cambridge Bay — a hamlet midway along the Northwest Passage in the country’s far north — as the site for a world-class Arctic research station. Once built, the station will house scientists all year round, giving them a modern space to study Arctic issues, including climate change and natural resources. It will host conference facilities and laboratories for research on marine biology and geophysics, provide ecologists with the space to do long-term ecological monitoring in aquaria and greenhouses, … Read more…

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Muslim students weigh in on evolution

In Indonesia and Pakistan, questions about how science and faith can be reconciled. In the first large study of its kind, a survey of 3,800 high-school students in Indonesia and Pakistan has found that teachers are delivering conflicting messages about evolution. The Can$250,000 Islam and Evolution research project is the first large study of students, teachers and scientists in countries with significant Muslim populations to examine their understanding and acceptance of evolution. Some results from the three-year project were presented at a symposium at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, this week. “We now have empirical data for how Muslim students, … Read more…