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News: March 2020

Coronavirus: experts in evolution explain why social distancing feels so unnatural

For many people, the most distressing part of the coronavirus pandemic is the idea of social isolation. If we get ill, we quarantine ourselves for the protection of others. But even among the healthy, loneliness may be setting in as we engage with pre-emptive social distancing.

This article by Isabelle Catherine Winder, Lecturer in Zoology, School of Natural Sciences and Vivien Shaw, Lecturer in Anatomy, School of Medical Sciences is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Publication date: 26 March 2020

Snake venom evolved for prey not protection

It is estimated that every year, over 100,000 human deaths can be attributed to snakebite from the world’s 700 venomous snake species – all inflicted in self-defence when the snakes feel threatened by encroaching humans. However, a new piece of research concludes that snake venom did not evolve as a defence mechanism.

Publication date: 25 March 2020

Why do snakes produce venom? Not for self-defence, study shows

Snake venoms vary a lot between species in their make-up and effects, which is a major problem for developing treatments. Snakes use these venoms for two main purposes. The first is foraging, where venom helps the snake to overpower its prey before eating it. The second is self-defence against potential predators – this is how millions of people get bitten, and around 100,000 killed, every year.

This article by Wolfgang Wüster, Senior Lecturer in Zoology, Bangor University and Kevin Arbuckle, Senior Lecturer in Biosciences, Swansea University is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Publication date: 24 March 2020

The Amazon rainforest could be gone within a lifetime

Large ecosystems, such as the Amazon rainforest, will collapse and disappear alarmingly quickly, once a crucial tipping point is reached, according to calculations based on real-world data.

Writing in Nature Comms (10.1038/s41467-020-15029-x), researchers from Bangor University, Southampton University and The School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London, reveal the speed at which ecosystems of different sizes will disappear, once they have reached a point beyond which they collapse – transforming into an alternative ecosystem.

Publication date: 10 March 2020

Tropical forests’ carbon sink is already rapidly weakening

Dr Simon Willcock, a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Geography at Bangor University’s School of Natural Sciences is an expert in tropical landscapes and the benefits people receive from them. He contributed to a major piece of research, published today. He collected and provided data from Tanzanian rainforests, as well as collaborating with the manuscript preparation.

Publication date: 4 March 2020

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