Stable isotopes help trace bird migrations to investigate the highly pathogenic avian influenza

When outbreaks of disease happen, locating the origin and pattern and its transmission are of critical importance — and isotope techniques can help.

In cases of zoonotic diseases, (which are those transmitted from animals to humans), this involves a detailed understanding of the migration of animal carriers. Migratory birds can pose a special challenge, given the vastness of their geographical ranges and the sheer numbers of individual birds to track. Read more.

Costa Rica paves the way for climate-smart agriculture

Pineapple plants take in more fertilizer through the leaves than they do through their small roots

In Costa Rica, using isotopic techniques, scientists have found that applying fertilizer on the leaves of pineapple plants is much more efficient than spreading it on the soil. Read more.

Study: Suburban ponds are a septic buffet

A new study shows that human waste accounts for a high percentage of nutrients consumed by some animals and plants in suburban ponds.

Researchers at Yale University and Portland State University have found that residential, suburban land use is altering the dynamics of the food chain, as well as where nutrients originate and how they move through pond ecosystems. Read more.

Oxford researchers make startling discovery about ancient St. Nicholas relic

Just don’t tell the kids.

Researchers at Oxford University have used modern scientific technology to test a religious relic believed to belong to St. Nicholas, the fourth-century Christian bishop whose generosity inspired the legend of Santa Claus.

Tom Higham and Georges Kazan, directors of the Oxford Relics Cluster, used radiocarbon dating to investigate a pelvic bone fragment thought to belong to the saint. The tests showed that the bone fragment dates to the fourth century - the period when some historians believe St. Nicholas died. Read more.