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Sea stars under attack

October 20, 2014

If a mysterious disease keeps spreading, we may no longer see sea stars along the seashore A year ago sea stars, commonly known as starfish, started disintegrating on the shores of Howe Sound, hit by a mysterious condition referred to as sea star wasting syndrome. The syndrome has decimated sea star colonies from British Columbia to California. UBC marine biologist Chris Harley discusses the effects of this puzzling condition, and what might be causing it. What is sea star wasting disease, and what is causing it?

UBC Science welcomes eight new Canada Research Chairs

October 20, 2014

Eight new Canada Research Chairs have been appointed and one renewed at the UBC Faculty of Science. The newly appointed researchers are helping improve stress-tolerant crops, solar electricity and tuberculosis treatments, and making big discoveries about the origins of planets and of life on Earth. With 13 new appointments and three renewals valued at $11.6 million UBC now has 186 Canada Research Chairs, the second-highest number in the country.

Loss of big predators could leave herbivores in a thorny situation

October 16, 2014

Global declines in carnivore populations could embolden plant eaters to increasingly dine on succulent vegetation, driving losses in plant and tree biodiversity, according to UBC research published today in Science. UBC zoologist Adam Ford and colleagues used GPS tracking and feeding experiments to measure how an African antelope’s (impala) fear of predators, as well as the growing patterns of thorny plants, combine to influence the landscape.

Fish moving poleward at rate of 26 kilometres per decade

October 9, 2014

Large numbers of fish will disappear from the tropics by 2050, finds a new University of Britsh Columbia study that examined the impact of climate change on fish stocks. The study identified ocean hotspots for local fish extinction but also found that changing temperatures will drive more fish into the Arctic and Antarctic waters.

A bee in their bonnet

October 6, 2014

Beekeepers have launched a lawsuit against the makers of neonicotinoid pesticides. Are their concerns justified? Canadian beekeepers recently filed a class-action lawsuit against the makers of neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides that are coming under scrutiny. But do they have a case? UBC biochemistry researcher and apiarist Leonard Foster says these chemicals may not be great for bees, but they’re not necessarily the bogeyman they’re made out to be. What are neonicotinoids?

Missing targets: UBC fisheries expert says we aren’t meeting our goals of protecting biodiversity

October 2, 2014

In 2010, the international community adopted the Strategic Plan of the Convention on Biological Diversity, agreeing to meet 20 targets to protect the diversity of animals, fish, plants and their habitats by 2020. As we near the midpoint to 2020, UBC professor Villy Christensen, co-author of the report “A mid-term analysis of progress toward international biodiversity targets” published today in Science, explains whether we can achieve those goals. Will we meet the 2020 biodiversity targets?

New research decodes virus-host interactions in ocean dead zones

September 15, 2014

A new study by University of British Columbia and US Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute researchers sheds light on the ecological role played by marine viruses in oxygen starved regions of the worlds' oceans. It's the first time researchers have used single cell genomics to explore interactions between SUP05—a sulfur-oxidizing bacteria that will play an increasingly important role in ocean carbon and nutrient cycling—and the viruses that infect the bacteria at deeper depths.

New president pledges to boost UBC research excellence

September 12, 2014

UBC's new President Arvind Gupta pledged in his formal academic installation ceremony today to increase funding for research excellence by $100 million during his presidency, supporting those who discover, develop, and deploy knowledge. He said the pledge to boost research excellence is fundamental to improving teaching and learning, building engagement throughout B.C. and the world, fostering a vibrant international learning community, and promoting innovation. Last year UBC received $564 million in research funding for more than 8,440 research projects.

UBC chemist, astronomer honoured by Royal Society of Canada

September 9, 2014

UBC chemist Mark MacLachlan and stellar astronomer Harvey Richer have been elected fellows of the Royal Society of Canada, the society announced today. MacLachlan is an internationally recognized leader in supramolecular materials chemistry, applying concepts from nature to the design and synthesis of new molecules and materials. His pioneering work in iridescent glasses that mimic the structure of beetle shells has led to a new field of research in photonic materials. Last year MacLachlan was honoured with the Rutherford Memorial Medal in Chemistry from the RSC.

$2.5M investment to chart future health of Canada’s oceans

August 27, 2014

UBC Fisheries Centre researchers have received $2.5 million to examine the future health and economic potential of Canada's oceans from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s (SSHRC).

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