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A cross-continental study including over 2 million trees from about 4000 species has found that among the factors that affect how forest communities change over time, variation in environmental conditions like temperature, rainfall and fire is the most important. The study shows for the first time that forest communities respond to environmental variation over a decade or two; not over thousands of years as previously thought.
A novel battery using sodium compounds has been developed, which can potentially be used to provide electricity for grid-power storage in remote areas and renewable energy generators like solar cells and wind turbines. Though scientists have been trying to use sodium in batteries for some time, this is the first time they have been able to achieve an operating voltage as high as 3.8 V.
A new frog species where the male frog plasters eggs with mud to protect them from drying out and camouflage them from predators has been described from the Western Ghats of southern India. This is the first time such behaviour has been recorded from frogs, worldwide. A great run for frog lovers as we await the monsoon — this adds to the incredible biodiversity that our mountains harbour.
A fig is not just a fruit, but also a live nursery for insects. Starting off as a live nursery with more than 2000 flowers, called the “syconium”, it has then played host to thousands of tiny insects. These insects are more than just casual visitors — they play a tug of war with each other inside the fig, deciding between them how long it takes for the fig fruit to develop.
Wasps lay eggs using an egg laying organ called the ovipositor. Some wasps lay eggs inside figs and need to drill through the fig fruit to do so. Researchers from IISc have unearthed the mechanism that these wasps use — they have teeth like projections on the ovipositor, like a saw. And that’s not all, these teeth are coated with zinc. Insights gained from this study may help us to build tools that aid in robot assisted surgery, and novel mechanisms to bore through hard surfaces.