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Science

Bye bye bugs? Scientists fear non-pest insects are declining

OXFORD, Pa. — A staple of summer ‚Äî swarms of bugs ‚Äî seems to be a thing of the past. And that’s got scientists worried.

Pesky mosquitoes, disease-carrying ticks, crop-munching aphids and cockroaches are doing just fine. But the more beneficial flying insects of summer — native bees, moths, butterflies, ladybugs, lovebugs, mayflies and fireflies — appear to be less abundant.

Side of seagrass please: Scientists find omnivorous shark

IRVINE, Calif. — Ruining the reputation of sharks as bloodthirsty predators, California researchers said they have found a shark that enjoys a side of seagrass with its prey.

Bonnethead sharks not only eat grass while chomping fish and squid — they also digest the plant and gain nutrition from it, scientists at the University of California, Irvine announced Wednesday.

Telltale bits of DNA help track past and elusive wildlife

NEW YORK — On a scorching summer day, Mark Stoeckle threw a bucket into the murky waters of New York’s East River to fill up three small plastic bottles.

The biologist hopes the water he collected contains the genetic trail of the river’s diverse life including all of its fish and of course, the occasional rat.

A controversial comeback for a highly prized tuna

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — On a drizzling summer afternoon in South Portland, marine biologist Walt Golet is helping attach a quarter-ton Atlantic bluefin tuna to a heavy crane so it can be weighed as part of New England’s premier tournament for the giant fish. And this year’s derby is different than many in the past and there are far more tuna.

Cold, dry climate shifts linked to Neanderthal disappearance

NEW YORK — Ancient periods of cold and dry climate helped our species replace Neanderthals in Europe, a study suggests.

Researchers found that such cold periods coincided with an apparent disappearance of our evolutionary cousins in different parts of the continent, followed by the appearance of our species, Homo sapiens.

New satellite will bounce light off air to measure winds

BERLIN — Whichever way the wind blows, a new satellite launched Wednesday will be watching it.

The Aeolus satellite will be the first to directly measure wind speeds and directions all over the globe, allowing scientists to improve worldwide weather forecasts.

“This has not been done before from space,” said project scientist Anne Grete Straume of the European Space Agency.