For lovers of the stately pine forests of the Northeast, sightings of a destructive tree-eating beetle in recent years have been nothing short of alarming. Now, research from climatologists at Columbia University confirms what ecologists feared: Warmer winters mean the southern pine beetle is here to stay, and is set to march ever northward as temperatures rise. Historically, the tiny beetles, which starve evergreens to death, were largely unheard-of north of Delaware. The Northeast’s cold winters killed off any intruders. The winters are no longer cold enough. Southern pine beetles are now frequently spotted in New Jersey, New York and parts of New England. And their range will only grow farther as the planet continues to warm, according to the study.
Taking pictures can help you recall visuals
A new study in Psychological Science found that taking photos during an experience helped people remember visuals more accurately, even when they did not revisit their photos. However, snapping pictures also appeared to decrease how much spoken information people retained. Researchers asked people to walk through a museum exhibit while listening to an audio guide, and either take photos freely or leave their phones and cameras outside. Afterward, when given a memory test, those who took pictures better recalled objects they had seen, but were less able to remember facts from the audio guide, than those who did not take pictures.
Pollution may be behind snakes’ black skin
For years, researchers have noticed that turtle-headed sea snakes living in waters near human activity had jet-black skin, but most others, in more pristine waters, were speckled or banded. A new report suggests the varied coloration is probably an adaptation that helps them deal with pollution. Black sea snake skin may act like a pollution trap collecting heavy metals absorbed by the snakes and then cleaning them out as the skin is shed. Researchers tested the skins of black and banded sea snakes for more than a dozen trace minerals, and as expected, the black skin contained more of the metals.