By Date

Mammals going nocturnal to avoid humans

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 11:00
Human activity is causing the planet’s mammals to flee daylight for the protection of night, according to a new study from UC Berkeley
Categories: Science News

Human disturbance creates a more nocturnal natural world

College of Natural Resources - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 11:00
two deer stand in an urban street at night under street lamps [image caption] Photo: Jamie Hall.

A new study published in Science finds that mammals are becoming more nocturnal in response to human activity. 

By Mackenzie Smith

Human activity is causing the planet’s mammals to flee daylight for the protection of night, according to a new study from UC Berkeley.

The study, published today in the journal Science, and supported in part by the National Science Foundation, represents the first effort to quantify the global effects of human activity on the daily activity patterns of wildlife. Its results highlight the powerful and widespread process by which animals alter their behavior alongside people: human disturbance is creating a more nocturnal natural world.

“Catastrophic losses in wildlife populations and habitats as a result of human activity are well documented, but the subtler ways in which we affect animal behavior are more difficult to detect and quantify,” said Berkeley PhD candidate and study lead author Kaitlyn Gaynor.

Fox drinking water in an urban area at night, surrounded by houses. [image caption]

This study represents the first effort to quantify the global effects of human activity on the daily activity patterns of wildlife. Photo by Jamie Hall.

Gaynor, along with co-authors Justin Brashares and Cheryl Hojnowski of UC Berkeley, and Neil Carter of Boise State University, applied a meta-analysis approach, using data for 62 species across six continents to look for global shifts in the timing of daily activity of mammals in response to humans. These data were collected by various approaches, including remotely triggered cameras, GPS and radio collars, and direct observation. For each species in each study site, the authors quantified the difference in animal nocturnality under low and high human disturbance.

On average, mammals were 1.36 times more nocturnal in response to human disturbance. This means that an animal that naturally split its activity evenly between the day and night increased its nighttime activity to 68% around people. This finding was consistent across carnivore and herbivore species of all body sizes greater than 1 kg (small mammals were not included in the study). The pattern also held across different types of human disturbance, including activities such as hunting, hiking, mountain biking, and infrastructure such as roads, residential settlement, and agriculture.

“While we expected to find a trend towards increased wildlife nocturnality around people, we were surprised by the consistency of the results around the world,” said Gaynor. “Animals responded strongly to all types of human disturbance, regardless of whether people actually posed a direct threat, suggesting that our presence alone is enough to disrupt their natural patterns of behavior.”

"It’s hard to believe we can simply squeeze nature into the dark half of each day and expect it to function and thrive." Professor Justin Brashares

According to Brashares, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management and the study’s senior author, the consequences of the behavioral shift in wildlife can be seen through contrasting lenses. “On the positive side, the fact that wildlife is adapting to avoid humans temporally could be viewed as a path for coexistence of humans and wild animals on an increasingly crowded planet,” said Brashares. “However, animal activity patterns reflect millions of years of adaptation—it’s hard to believe we can simply squeeze nature into the dark half of each day and expect it to function and thrive.”

The authors describe a range of potential negative consequences of the shifts they report in wildlife, including mismatches between the environment and an animal’s traits, disruption of normal foraging behavior, increased vulnerability to non-human predators, and heightened competition. They point out, however, that while many of the studies included in their analysis documented a clear increase in nocturnal activity, few examined the consequences for individual animals, populations, or ecosystems.

“We hope our findings will open up new avenues for wildlife research in human-dominated landscapes. We still have a lot to learn about the implications of altered activity patterns for the management of wildlife populations, interactions between species, and even human-induced evolution,” said Gaynor.

Media Contacts:

  • Kaitlyn Gaynor, PhD Candidate, UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, email: kgaynor@berkeley.edu, phone: (914) 391-3962
  • Justin Brashares, Professor, UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, email: brashares@berkeley.edu, phone: (510) 643-6080
Research News

Soil prospecting yields wealth of potential antibiotics

College of Natural Resources - Thu, 06/14/2018 - 10:17
Image:  computer-generated image of microbes Date:  Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 16:15 Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Thursday, June 14, 2018 - 10:15 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left News/Story tag(s):  Research News

Soil prospecting yields wealth of potential antibiotics

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 06/13/2018 - 10:00
Berkeley scientists discover hundreds of antibiotic-like genes by sequencing the genomes of all the microbes in a teaspoon of soil
Categories: Science News

CNR welcomes new dean

College of Natural Resources - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 15:23
Headshot of dean David Ackerly

Professor David Ackerly. Photo: Elena Zhukova.

Chancellor Carol Christ has announced the appointment of Professor David Ackerly as the next dean of the College of Natural Resources (CNR). Ackerly joined the faculty of the Department of Integrative Biology from Stanford in 2005, held the Virginia G. and Robert E. Gill Chair in Natural History from 2010 to 2015, and has most recently been serving as associate dean of the College of Letters and Science’s Biological Sciences Division since 2016. He will assume his new role as dean of CNR on July 1, 2018.

A skilled communicator and collaborator, Ackerly is an advocate for the notion that the university must cross traditional disciplines to better understand and address society’s greatest challenges. His vision for CNR is to strengthen the links among its departments, to collaborate more closely with other academic leaders, and to partner with the campus and other deans to pursue major philanthropic funding opportunities. A devoted mentor himself, Ackerly has also expressed a strong desire to focus on enhancing the graduate and undergraduate student experience at CNR.

Trained as a plant ecologist and evolutionary biologist, Ackerly has most recently been working on programs that bring together multidisciplinary teams to explore broad research areas including the effects of climate change on biodiversity, the integration of phylogenetics and ecology, and novel approaches to conservation biology. In the past decade, as a senior fellow at the Berkeley Institute for Data Science and member of the Berkeley Initiative in Global Change Biology steering committee, he has been increasingly involved in data-intensive projects.

Ackerly received his BA in Biology from Yale University in 1984 and his doctorate from Harvard University in 1993. He is a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences and the Ecological Society of America, as well as a recipient of the Berkeley Graduate Division's Distinguished Faculty Mentor Award.

“I look forward to joining the community of innovative scientists, teachers, students, and staff at the College of Natural Resources,” said Ackerly. “CNR’s interdisciplinary research and mission is helping to address the environmental and societal challenges facing our world, and I look forward to working with the College in the months and years ahead.”

Read the Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost’s announcement of Ackerly’s appointment

Image:  Headshot of dean David Ackerly Date:  Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - 12:15 byline:  By Michael Emerson Dirda, UC Berkeley Media Relations Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Monday, June 11, 2018 - 15:15 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left News/Story tag(s):  Honors and Awards Research News

MCB Postdoc Burgos Named 2018 Pew Latin American Fellow

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 13:45

Francesca Burgos, postdoctoral scholar in the lab of MCB Professor Carlos Bustamante, is a member of the 2018 class of Pew Latin American Fellows in the Biomedical Sciences. Her research examines the three-dimensional folding patterns of RNA molecules during their synthesis.

Read more...

Congratulations department fellows!

Department of Bioengineering - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 14:38
Congratulations to our PhD students awarded named department fellowships for 2018-19! Endowed fellowships allow our talented students to pursue independent , cutting-edge research not yet funded by a major grant. 2018-19 Brodie Scholar: Jordi Silvestre-Ryan 2018-19 Craven Scholar: Emily Suter 2018-19 Lloyd Scholars: Thomas Carey and Tiama Hamkins-Indik 2018-19 Lewis Scholar: Anjali Gopal
Categories: Science News

Jingxun Chen Receives the 2018 Teaching Excellence Award

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 12:16

Jingxun Chen, a graduate student in the Ünal lab, received the Teaching Effectiveness Award. Congratulations to Jingxun on her achievement!

Read more...

In desert trials, next-generation water harvester delivers fresh water from air

UC Berkeley Science News - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 11:00
UC Berkeley scientists demonstrated that their device can collect drinkable water from the air each day/night cycle
Categories: Science News

Fowlie appointed to Independent Emissions Market Advisory Committee

College of Natural Resources - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 15:42
Meredith Fowlie stands in front of Giannini Hall

Associate Professor Meredith Fowlie. Photo credit: Julie Gipple

California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. announced yesterday that he has appointed Meredith Fowlie to the Independent Emissions Market Advisory Committee, which serves the California Environmental Protection Agency. Fowlie is an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and holds the Class of 1935 Endowed Chair in Energy at the University of California at Berkeley. She is also a research associate at UC Berkeley's Energy Institute at Haas.

The five-member committee is tasked with performing an annual review of California's cap-and-trade program and other environmental laws, and evaluating their effectiveness as the state moves toward a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. The committee reports annually to the California Air Resources Board and the legislature on the environmental and economic performance of cap and trade and other relevant climate policies.

"It is an honor to be appointed to this Independent Emissions Market Advisory Committee," said Fowlie. "California's landmark cap-and-trade program is designed to reduce California's greenhouse gas emissions and to demonstrate policy leadership for the rest of the country and the world. There is a lot at stake, so it's critically important that this program be carefully designed, implemented, and evaluated. The committee will play an integral role in overseeing implementation and assessing the environmental and economic impacts. This is important work that I am honored to be a part of."

Fowlie has worked extensively on the economics of energy markets and the environment, including on California's cap-and-trade programs. Fowlie's appointment continues her long-standing work with the California Air Resources Board.

Image:  Meredith Fowlie stands in front of Giannini Hall Date:  Tuesday, June 5, 2018 - 15:30 Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Tuesday, June 5, 2018 - 15:30 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left News/Story tag(s):  Honors and Awards

Doudna Shares Kavli Prize in Nanoscience

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 10:37

MCB & Chemistry Professor Jennifer Doudna is a co-laureate of the 2018 Kavli Prize in Nanoscience for her groundbreaking invention of CRISPR-Cas9 technology.

The Kavli Prize is awarded biennially by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and the Kavli Foundation and recognizes scientists who have made seminal advancements in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience.

Read more...

June 14 launch of ICON satellite to probe the edge of space

UC Berkeley Science News - Fri, 06/01/2018 - 10:00
ICON will study the frontier of space: the dynamic zone high in our atmosphere where terrestrial weather from below meets space weather above.
Categories: Science News

Read the Spring 2018 Online MCB Newsletter!

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Tue, 05/29/2018 - 17:00

It's been an exciting and busy Spring!

Learn about the new imaging facilities on campus, read about MCB's recent collaborations with alumni and industry, catch up on community happenings and events, and much more!

Read it here now

Alumna McBirney on All Things Considered

Department of Bioengineering - Fri, 05/25/2018 - 14:12
Listen to alumna Samantha McBirney (BS 2012) on NPR's All Things Considered, discussing her graduate work on an inexpensive magnetic detector for malaria!
Categories: Science News

Living Large: Exploration of Diverse Bacteria Signals Big Advance for Gene Function Prediction

Department of Bioengineering - Fri, 05/25/2018 - 12:38
Professor Adam Arkin co-authors the largest functional genomics study of bacteria ever published. He and collaborators have developed a workflow that enables large-scale, genome-wide assays of gene importance across many conditions.
Categories: Science News

Restoring culturally relevant food systems to Native American and immigrant populations

UC Berkeley Science News - Fri, 05/25/2018 - 10:22
The Karuk Tribe’s food system was broken almost overnight by a presidential act, and has yet to recover. Jennifer Sowerwine, an assistant Cooperative Extension specialist with the College of Natural Resources, believes it still can
Categories: Science News

Rehabilitating lactate: from poison to cure

Department of Integrative Biology - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 15:49

Professor George Brooks has published a paper in in the journal Cell Metabolism which reviews the evolution of our understanding of the role lactate plays in metabolism, from a poison that causes muscle fatigue to an essential fuel that helps cells repair themselves after stress or injury.  
Read More...

Categories: Science News

Mary-Claire King Wins Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Tue, 05/22/2018 - 10:29

Former MCB Professor Mary-Claire King is the 2018 recipient of the Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine for mapping the first breast cancer gene. The Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine is awarded to those in the field of biomedical sciences whose discoveries "have led to significant victories in our longstanding war against illness and suffering."

King is currently a Professor of Genome Sciences and Medical Genetics at the University of Washington. She received her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in 1973.

Read more...

Closing coal, oil power plants leads to healthier babies

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 05/22/2018 - 09:00
Preterm birthrates dropped 20-25 percent when nearby power plants closed, providing an argument for replacing fossil fuel plants with renewable energy sources
Categories: Science News