Panama  PANAMÁ 09/11/2020

DNA in fringe-lipped bat poop reveals unexpected eating habits

The poop of 'Trachops cirrhosus' revealed surprising results about its foraging abilities and prey preferences

Poop is full of secrets. For scientists, digging into feces provides insights into animal diets and is particularly useful for understanding nocturnal or rare species. When animals eat, prey DNA travels all the way through animal digestive tracts and comes out again. Poop contains very precise information about the prey species consumed. At the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), a team explored the eating habits of the fringe-lipped bat (Trachops cirrhosus) by examining its poop.

 
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Panama  PANAMÁ 30/10/2020

How the ability to clone itself may empower a mystery globetrotter

It always pays to think outside of the box. Rachel Collin decided to look further afield to find the adult form that matched a larvae from a plankton sample in Panama and was surprised by the result

For decades biologists have captured tiny sea star larvae in their nets that did not match with the adults of any known species. A Smithsonian team just discovered what these larvae grow up to be and how a special superpower may help them move around the world. Their results are published online in the Biological Bulletin.

 
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Panama  PANAMÁ 24/09/2020

How do Giraffes and Elephants alter the african savanna landscape?

Through their foraging behavior across the diverse topography of the African savanna, megaherbivores may be unknowingly influencing the growth and survival of vegetation on valleys and plateaus

As they roam around the African savanna in search for food, giraffes and elephants alter the diversity and richness of its vegetation. By studying the foraging patterns of these megaherbivores across different terrains in a savanna in Kenya, scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and collaborating institutions discovered that these large mammals prefer to eat their meals on flat ground, potentially impacting the growth and survival of plant species on even savanna landscapes, such as valleys and plateaus.

 
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Panama  PANAMÁ 01/09/2020

Mother bats use baby talk to communicate with their pups

Just as humans with their babies, adult female bats change their vocalizations when interacting with “babbling” pups, which could be interpreted as positive feedback to their offspring during vocal practice

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Panama  PANAMÁ 03/08/2020

Lightning strikes more than 100 million times per year in the tropics

Scientists consider the lightning strikes will radically alter forests and other ecosystems in the region between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.

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Panama  PANAMÁ 27/07/2020

Long-term consequences of river damming in the Panama Canal

As the demand for hydroelectricity and water increases in the tropics, a team of scientists explored the natural impacts of one of the oldest tropical dams in the world

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Panama  PANAMÁ 02/07/2020

A new social role for echolocation in bats that hunt together

Socially foraging bats may find food faster by listening in to the search-phase calls of their group members

Searching for food at night can be tricky. To find prey in the dark, bats use echolocation, their “sixth sense.” But to find food faster, some species, like Molossus molossus, may search within hearittng distance of their echolocating group members, sharing information about where food patches are located. Social information encoded in their echolocation calls may facilitate this foraging strategy, according to a recent study by Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) scientists and collaborating institutions published online in Behavioral Ecology.

 
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Spain  MADRID 10/06/2020

A research study improves solar radiation forecasting models

Researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and the Universidad de Jaen (UJA) have published a study in which they have developed an optimal blending of solar radiation

Researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and the Universidad de Jaen (UJA) have published a study in which they have developed an optimal blending of solar radiation forecasting models with which they are able to reduce error in short-term forecasts (6 hours) by 25% and 30%.

 
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Chile  MAGALLANES Y DE LA ANTáRTICA CHILENA 04/06/2020

Humpback whales may risk collision with vessels in the Magellan Strait

By tagging and tracking migrating humpback whales that feed in the Magellan Strait in Chile, the scientists were able to provide policy recommendations to reduce the risk of collisions

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Panama  PANAMÁ 30/04/2020

White-faced capuchin monkeys come down from the trees on Panama's Coiba Island

A group of intrepid biologists was surprised to find that capuchin monkeys spent so much time on the ground there

Crossing a 23-kilometer stretch of ocean from mainland Panama to Coiba, the largest offshore island in the Eastern Pacific, a group of intrepid biologists hoped to find species never reported there before. But in addition to discovering new species, the 2015 Coiba BioBlitz crew was surprised to find that capuchin monkeys spent so much time on the ground there.

 
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Argentina  ARGENTINA 24/04/2020

Fossil frogs offer insights into ancient Antarctica

The fossils, which belong to the family of helmeted frogs, are described in 'Scientific Reports'

The discovery of the earliest known modern amphibians in Antarctica provides further evidence of a warm and temperate climate in the Antarctic Peninsula before its separation from the southern supercontinent, Gondwana. The fossils, which belong to the family of helmeted frogs, are described in Scientific Reports this week.

 
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Panama  PANAMÁ 15/04/2020

Bocas dolphins may be more sociable while we shelter in place

A study of dolphin behavior in the presence of tourist boats informs conservation efforts

Wild animals are changing their behavior as the coronavirus puts the world in lockdown: pumas stroll the streets of Boulder, Colorado and dolphins frolic along the beaches of Lima, Peru, replacing the usual bobbing crowd of surfers. At the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Bocas del Toro Research Station in Panama, researchers are sharing new results about dolphin behavior with and without tourist boats, giving us some clues about how dolphins may be experiencing the world as humans shelter in place.

 
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Brazil  BRASIL 09/04/2020

New fossil from Brazil hints at the origins of the mysterious tanystropheid reptiles

New species named after Tolkien's Aragorn hints at early southern evolution for these reptiles

A new species of Triassic reptile from Brazil is a close cousin of a mysterious group called tanystropheids, according to a study published April 8, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Tiane De-Oliviera of the Federal University of Santa Maria, Brazil and colleagues.

 
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Brazil  BRASIL 08/04/2020

How does habitat fragmentation affect Amazonian birds?

Four decades of research provide some answers

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Perú  PERú 27/03/2020

Coral tells own tale about El Niño's past

Rice, Georgia Tech study in Science reveals Pacific temperatures over a millennium

There is no longer a need to guess what ocean temperatures were like in the remote tropical Pacific hundreds of years ago. The ancient coral that lived there know all. A study in Science led by Rice University and Georgia Tech researchers parses the record archived by ancient tropical Pacific coral over the past millennium. That record could help scientists refine their models of how changing conditions in the Pacific, particularly from volcanic eruptions, influence the occurrence of El Niño events, which are major drivers of global climate.

 
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Colombia  COLOMBIA 23/03/2020

Pablo Escobar's hippos may help counteract a legacy of extinctions

Study from international team of researchers including UMass Amherst biologist John Rowan shows introduced species can restore a lost world

When cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar was shot dead in 1993, the four hippos he brought to his private zoo in Colombia were left behind in a pond on his ranch. Since then, their numbers have grown to an estimated 80-100, and the giant herbivores have made their way into the country's rivers. Scientists and the public alike have viewed Escobar's hippos as invasive pests that by no rights should run wild on the South American continent.

 
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Argentina  ARGENTINA 11/03/2020

Remote South American kelp forests surveyed for first time since 1973

Kelp forest ecosystems at Tierra del Fuego remain relatively unchanged over 45 years

In the kelp forests of Tierra del Fuego, at the southernmost tip of South America, the relative abundance of kelp, sea urchins, and sea stars has not changed significantly since 1973. Alan Friedlander of the National Geographic Society's Pristine Seas project and colleagues present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on March 11, 2020.

 
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Brazil  BRASIL 05/03/2020

Tropical forests' carbon sink is already rapidly weakening

The ability of the world's tropical forests to remove carbon from the atmosphere is decreasing

The ability of the world's tropical forests to remove carbon from the atmosphere is decreasing, according to a study tracking 300,000 trees over 30 years, published today in Nature. The global scientific collaboration, led by the University of Leeds, reveals that a feared switch of the world's undisturbed tropical forests from a carbon sink to a carbon source has begun.

 
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Panama  PANAMÁ 25/02/2020

Microplastics are new homes for microbes in the Caribbean

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) looked at how marine microbial communities colonize microplastics in Panama

With 5 trillion pieces of plastic in the oceans, the dynamics of marine environments are shifting in ways that are yet to be discovered. Over time discarded plastics, such as sandwich bags and flip-flops, have degraded into small particles, called microplastics, which are less than 5 mm long. Kassandra Dudek, a former Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) fellow and doctoral student at Arizona State University, looked at how marine microbial communities colonize microplastics in Panama.

 
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Mexico  COAHUILA 19/02/2020

Rules of life: From a pond to the beyond

The Cuatro Cienagas Basin is an invaluable place for researchers to study and understand how life may have existed on other planets in our solar system

The Cuatro Cienegas Basin, located in Chihuahuan Desert in Mexico, was once a shallow sea that became isolated from the Gulf of Mexico around 43 million years ago. This basin has an unusual characteristic of being particularly nutrient-poor and harboring a 'lost world' of many below-ground and above-ground aquatic microbes of ancient marine ancestry.

 
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