Climate Change, Extreme Heat and Health | SMCC Backgrounder

  There is no denying it and no doubt about it: our planet is warming and climate change is well underway, around the world and right here in Canada. And extreme heat events are one of the consequences. Periods of extreme heat are uncomfortable, but they can also exacerbate existing health conditions, such as asthma, and […]

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In this model, based on an inkjet printer and enlarged models of spores, a high-speed camera shows how spores use the physics of merging droplets to uniformly launch themselves out into the world
(Image by Chuan-Hua Chen, Duke University)

How fungal spores harness water droplets to travel

Fungal spores spread by hitching a ride on other animals or travelling on their own. In one of the methods, the spore is picked up by a water droplet, which is then propelled upwards. Exactly how this is done has been a mystery to scientists – until now. A new paper describes how two different-sized water droplets […]

8 ways to safeguard scientific integrity in policy-making

In order for government bodies to make informed, science-based decisions, open and honest communication has to exist – both among the scientists consulting key decision-makers, and in the government scientists’ communication to the public and media. A new paper outlines how such scientific integrity is currently under threat in Canada, Australia and the US, and how these […]

Biobanks are going to great lengths to gather human tissues, but there are still questions over whether the consent process is adequate.
(Sean Caulfield *Virus #2*, silkscreen and digital on drafting film and paper, 24)

Health law experts call for better policy around biobanks

The international health community has seen a lot of progress in the collection and storage of health data and tissue samples, but there is still work to be done regarding consent and ownership rights. Health law researchers say that current biorepository structures such as UK Biobank and the US Precision Medicine Initiative, which have been proliferating over […]

Biodiversity in shallow Arctic lakes

Shallow Arctic lakes that remain unfrozen throughout the year contain more diverse biofilms than lakes that freeze up for a period of time, a new study has found. Researchers analyzed the genetic material of biofilm—which is a group of microorganisms that stick to one another, forming a so-called “microbial mat” on the surface of a lake—in […]

Underground fungi network helps forests spread farther

Forests that are facing the dangers of disappearing from the effects of climate change might have an unlikely ally: ancient underground fungi. A recently published paper puts forward a theory called the “paleosymbiosis hypothesis,” which states that tree roots can activate an underground fungal network that has laid dormant for millennia. These fungi could helping […]

Oiled pelicans came onshore in Louisiana in 2007. (Image by Louisiana GOHSEP via Flickr CC BY 2.0 SA)

A drop of oil slows down seabird flight

Even the smallest amount of oil can disrupt the delicate mechanisms behind the flight of seabirds, a new study suggests. Crude oil on the feathers of waterfowl significantly increase the amount of energy the birds have to spend in order to fly, making the birds’ wings and bodies less aerodynamic. Researchers trained wild western sandpipers […]

Worker honeybees in a hive at York University (Image via YorkU)

Neonic pesticides increase mortality rates among worker and queen honey bees

First-ever study using realistic field doses of neonicotinoid pesticides has confirmed their deadly effects on honey bee populations. Researchers have quantified the length and magnitude of pesticide exposure in Canada’s cornfields, and mimicked the exposure in a lab setting. They found that the lifespans of worker and queen honey bees are cut by 23% after […]

How alternative medicine practitioners may be spreading the anti-vaccination sentiment

Tighter regulations of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) providers are necessary to stop the spread of misinformation about vaccines, according to a new paper. Researchers have examined 330 websites of CAM providers in Alberta and BC, to evaluate how these practitioners may be contributing to the anti-vaccination sentiment among their patients. Their findings showed that […]

(Image via Global Young Academy)

Fundamental research is failing in Canada: survey

The number of scientists investigating basic-science questions in Canada has dropped by nearly 20%, a new survey reports. Reasons for the drop include decreased funding and institutional preference for applied research over fundamental research. Over 1,300 Canadian researchers took part in an online survey that asked them to share their views on the state of […]

the arctic tundra ecosystem at Toolik Field Station with the Brooks Range in the background.
(Image by Daniel Obrist)

The cycle of mercury pollution in the Arctic tundra

Human activity has been a major source of mercury pollution in the Arctic, and a new study has identified the form most often taken by the pollutant: gaseous elemental mercury (GEM). The News & Views article discusses how the Arctic tundra acts as a major sink for mercury, as the local plants uptake GEM from the […]

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