Wikinews interviews biologist Chris Simon about periodical cicadas

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Wikinews interviews biologist Chris Simon about periodical cicadas

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

In May, periodical cicadas with 17 years life cycle emerged on the East Coast of the USA after underground development as juveniles since 1996. Researchers and scientists worked to map and study the rare wave, and the locals prepared for the noisy event. First recorded in 1666, the Magicicada septendecim species recently emerged in 1979, 1996, this year, with a next wave due in 2030.

This week, Wikinews interviewed Chris Simon, an ecology and evolutionary biologist at University of Connecticut, about the cicadas.

((Wikinews)) What caused your initial interest in periodical cicadas?

Chris Simon: As an undergraduate student, I was interested in the formation of species so when I went to graduate school I looked for a study organism that was likely to be in the process of forming new species. I chose periodical cicadas because they are broken up into reproductively isolated broods (or year classes). Reproductive isolation leads to speciation so I planned to study biochemical differences among the broods.

((WN)) You study the emergence of the periodical cicadas. What do you study? What observations are you making?

CS: We record exactly where each cicada population emerges (using GPS automated mapping and crowd sourcing). We record the presence or absence of each of the three morphologically distinct species groups of periodical cicadas (Decim group, Cassini group, and Decula group). We collect specimens for DNA analysis. We look for cicadas coming up one and four years early and late. We dig up cicada nymphs and monitor their growth rates.

((WN)) What equipment do you use?

CS: Nets, shovels, automated GPS recorders, cameras, laptop computers, automated DNA sequencers.

((WN)) Do you study the periodical cicadas with anyone else? What is their role?

CS: Yes, there are a large number of people studying periodical cicadas in my lab and in other labs. My lab is made up of Research Scientists, Postdoctoral Researchers, a technician, graduate students, and undergraduates. Research Scientist John Cooley is the leader of the GPS mapping project; he invented the automated GPS recorder; he built our crowd-sourcing website, and he is instrumental in public outreach. Postdoctoral research David Marshall also participates in the mapping project and leads the part of the research related to the mapping of stragglers. John and Dave and Technician Kathy Hill all study periodical cicada mating behavior and conduct mating and hybridization experiments. One of my graduate students Beth Wade has participated in the nymph collections and will soon start genetic work involving genome wide association mapping designed to locate genes related to life cycle. My graduate student Russ Meister is studying the genes of the bacterial endosymbionts of cicadas. My current undergraduate honors student Erin Dwyer is also studying the development of Magicicada nymphs and is helping to design a lab exercise for college students around the eastern US to do the same. Many of my past undergraduate students have studied the biochemical genetics and development of periodical cicadas. See the Simon Lab website.
CS: We are collaborating with Teiji Sota at the University Kyoto and Jin Yoshimura at Shizuoka University in Japan. They are studying the phylogeography of Magicicada. We are collaborating with John McCutcheon of the University of Montana who is studying the endosymbiont genomes.
CS: We are also collaborating with ecologists Rick Karban and Louie Yang, both professors at UC Davis who have an interest in cicada population dynamics and nutrient cycling in the ecosystem.

((WN)) You studied the periodical cicadas in 1979 and 1996 too. What changes with time?

CS: I have studied periodical cicadas since I was a student back in 1974. What changes with time is increased human development constantly shrinking the patch size of cicada populations.

((WN)) What are your thoughts on the long life span of the periodical cicadas? Why could it be so? What advantages and what disadvantages does it have?

CS: Most or all cicadas have long life cycles compared to your typical annual insect. Examples have been found of two-year to 9-year cycles in different species. Periodical cicadas evolved an even-longer life cycle and I think that part of this relates to the evolution of their synchronized life cycles and peculiar safety-in-numbers strategy for survival. To become synchronized, periodical cicadas had to evolve an exact length life cycle and all adults would have to appear in the same year. Because the nymphs grow at different rates underground, a longer life cycle and a way of counting years must have evolved so that the individuals that get to the last nymphal (underground juvenile) stage first would wait long enough for all other individuals in the population to become ready to emerge.

((WN)) News reports mention this is ‘Brood II’ of the periodical cicadas. What are the distinctive features of this specific species and what is its full scientific name?

CS: The same species exist in multiple broods. No species is restricted to Brood II. The three species present in Brood II are: Magicicada septendecim, M. cassini, and M. septendecula. These same three species are found in every 17-year brood (except the farthest north which only has M. septendecim).

((WN)) At what depth do the cicadas juveniles live underground?

CS: Most live within the top foot of soil but some have been found deeper. We do not know if they go deeper in winter. We need to do much more digging to understand the nymphs.

((WN)) How do people prepare for the cicada emergence?

CS: Of course various people prepare in different ways. Ideally, everyone prepares by studying information available on the web (especially on our websites Magicicada Central and Magicicada.org).

((WN)) Do cicadas affect transport in the local area?

CS: No, not really. Occasionally individuals can be seeing flying across highways and sometimes they smash into cars.

((WN)) Do cicadas usually stay outside or do they also invade houses too?

CS: They stay outside. One might accidentally fly in through an open window but that would be rare.

((WN)) What do the cicadas eat?

CS: Cicadas suck xylem fluid (the watery fluid coming up from the roots of plants) in deciduous forest trees and herbs. Essential amino acids in the cicada diet are supplied by their bacterial endosymbionts. There are two species of endosymbionts. One makes 8 essential amino acids and one makes two essential amino acids.

((WN)) Do cicadas damage crops or city vegetation? What damage?

CS: Cicadas do not chew leave so they do not damage crops like other insects. They can inflict some damage by their egg laying. Cicadas lay eggs in pencil-sized tree branches. If there are not enough branches available, too many female cicadas may lay eggs in a single branch weakening it and making it susceptible to breakage by wind. This can sometimes cause damage in fruit orchards. If the branches break, the eggs die so this behavior is selected against by natural selection.

((WN)) Thank you.

CS: You’re welcome. I am happy to have this opportunity to communicate with your readers!

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Turkmen president bans recorded music in public

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Turkmen president bans recorded music in public

September 23, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov has banned the playing of recorded music on television, at public events, and both public and private wedding ceremonies. Turkmenistan’s official daily newspaper, Neitralny Turkmenistan, quotes President Niyazov as stating that the ban is intended to “protect true culture, including the musical and singing traditions of the Turkmen people.” The office of the president said recorded music and lip synching has “a negative effect on the development of singing and musical art.” In a cabinet meeting broadcast on national television, Niyazov said “Unfortunately, one can see on television old voiceless singers lip-synching their old songs. Don’t kill talents by using lip synching… Create our new culture.”

President Niyazov has a history of regulating cultural influences in Turkmenistan. He has outlawed long hair or beards and capped teeth, required video monitors in all public places, and banned car radios and certain performing arts like opera and ballet, deeming them “unnecessary.”

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French goat is found to have BSE

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French goat is found to have BSE

September 23, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

The European Union has announced that a French goat has become the first animal other than a cow to ever have tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The results were announced after over two years testing of the goat’s remains. Scientists originally thought that the goat was suffering from scrapie, another degenerative disease that can be found in goats and sheep.

This discovery proves correct the theory that BSE, or mad cow disease as it is commonly know, can exist in ruminants other than cattle.

The EU has stated that eating goat products is still safe due to precautionary measures which have been put in place. “I want to reassure consumers that existing safety measures in the EU offer a very high level of protection.” The EU Commissioner responsible for Health and Consumer Protection, Markos Kyprianou said regarding the findings.

“This case was discovered thanks to the EU testing system in place in France.”

“The testing programme has shown us that there is a very low incidence rate of TSEs (transmissible spongiform encephalopathies) in goats and allowed us to detect suspect animals so that they can be taken out of the food chain, as was done with this goat and its entire herd.”

The EU intends to test 200,000 goats in the 25 member states over the next six months.

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Final Harry Potter book’s cover art released

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Final Harry Potter book’s cover art released

September 23, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The publishing companies Bloomsbury (U.K.) and Scholastic (U.S.) released cover art for the seventh Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

“The structures around Harry show evident destruction and in the shadows behind him, we see outlines of other people,” David Saylor, Scholastic’s art director, said in a statement describing the U.S. version. “For the first time, the cover is a wraparound. On the back cover spidery hands are outstretched toward Harry. Only when the book is opened does one see a powerful image of “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named“, his glowing red eyes peering out from his hood.”

The children’s U.K. version of the cover shows an adult Harry, Ron, and Hermione. The adult U.K. version shows a locket with a serpentine forming an ‘S’. It is believed to be a horcrux in which Lord Voldemort stores part of his soul.

The seventh, and final, book is due out on July 21, 2007.

The U.S. covers for the Harry Potter series are drawn by Mary GrandPré. The U.K. covers are drawn by Jason Crockcroft.

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Electronic Frontier Foundation sues Sony over CD technology

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Electronic Frontier Foundation sues Sony over CD technology

September 22, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The California-based non-profit organization Electronic Frontier Foundation, as well as the Attorney General of Texas, has filed a law suit against Sony Computer Entertainment of America for their controversial use of anti-piracy software.

The EFF claims that the digital rights management software on the CDs BMG Music (a subsidiary of Sony) produces acts as spyware, which the EFF claims is against Texas law. The program, known as XCP, is said to install software on one’s system when they insert the CD into their computer for purposes such as adding to iTunes music software.

Sony currently rejects the idea of XCP technology being considered as spyware, however they have agreed to replace CDs with the software and to temporarily discontinue the installation of it on their CDs.

Among the controversy that Sony’s moves to counter piracy have raised is the accusation that their software leaves a machine more vulnerable to attacks across the Internet. A trojan horse has already been found in the wild that utilizes one of the anti-piracy software’s functions.

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CanadaVOTES: NDP candidate Michael McMahon running in Prince Edward—Hastings

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CanadaVOTES: NDP candidate Michael McMahon running in Prince Edward—Hastings

September 22, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Friday, September 26, 2008

On October 14, 2008, Canadians will be heading to the polls for the federal election. New Democratic Party candidate Michael McMahon is standing for election in the riding of Prince Edward—Hastings. McMahon moved to Windsor in 1951, getting a degree in education, teaching locally and in Papua New Guinea. He served as Branch President of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), served on multiple of their major committees, and recently retired from the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board.

Wikinews contacted Michael McMahon, to talk about the issues facing Canadians, and what they and their party would do to address them. Wikinews is in the process of contacting every candidate, in every riding across the country, no matter their political stripe. All interviews are conducted over e-mail, and interviews are published unedited, allowing candidates to impart their full message to our readers, uninterrupted.

Since being redefined in 2003, the riding includes the County of Prince Edward and the County of Hastings (except the City of Quinte West). Conservative Party member Daryl Kramp currently represents the riding, after beating a Liberal in 2004. Ken Cole of the Liberals and Alan Coxwell of the Greens are also running in the riding.

For more information, visit the campaign’s official website, listed below.

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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Liberal candidate Kate Holloway, Trinity-Spadina

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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Liberal candidate Kate Holloway, Trinity-Spadina

September 22, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Monday, October 1, 2007

Kate Holloway is running for the Ontario Liberal Party in the Ontario provincial election, in the Trinity-Spadina riding. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed her regarding her values, her experience, and her campaign.

Stay tuned for further interviews; every candidate from every party is eligible, and will be contacted. Expect interviews from Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party members, Ontario Greens, as well as members from the Family Coalition, Freedom, Communist, Libertarian, and Confederation of Regions parties, as well as independents.

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An account of the Esperanza Fire from an animal rescuer

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An account of the Esperanza Fire from an animal rescuer

September 22, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

As families fled their homes in the early morning hours on Thursday October 26, there was no warning. The Esperanza Fire southeast of Los Angeles and West of Palm Springs, California, had ballooned under the influence of Santa Ana winds to more than 19,000 acres as of the morning of October 27. No time to get the animals, no time for crates or even a leash. Sadly, owners left behind not only their horses, lamas, donkeys, chickens, rabbits, but also their dogs and cats.

Many of the families who did manage to evacuate their pets found themselves in the parking lot at the Fellowship in the Pass Church Red Cross Shelter where a MuttShack Animal Rescue team caught up with them.

Pam Anderson, Director of the emergency Red Cross shelter said that many people with animals had come and left.

The air was thick with smoke, and ash was raining down on the parking lot where dog owners, not able to take their dogs into the shelter were camping out in pup tents andin their cars.

Those who could afford it checked themselves into pet friendly hotels in nearby towns.

Some were prepared. Jane Garner, a small dog breeder was able to get all her animals out, and had set up her puppy runs alongside her RV in the parking lot. Others were not doing too well, having left home without as much as a leash.

The same scenario played out at the Red Cross shelter at Hemet High School. Animals were being boarded in vans, trailers and cars and small travel crates.

When MuttShack Animal Rescue arrived, a small fracas had sent several dogs off in different directions, running out of the school parking lot down busy streets necessitating an instant rescue response.

The Incident Command for the Esperanza Animals, Ramona Humane Society in San Jacinto welcomed MuttShack‘s offer to help at the shelters.

Ramona Humane Society had recently published a notice in their Newsletter about the newly passed “PETS Act”and warned owners not wait until a major disaster such as an earthquake or fireto prepare. “Be proactive to ensure that your pet will be taken care of.”

MuttShack and PetSmart Charities set up ad hoc facilities for the animals at both shelters.

The Red Cross shelter, run by Madison Burtchaell of the Orange County Red Cross was very accommodating about allowing a small emergency pet shelter adjacent to the School.

Barbara A. Fought of PetSmart Charities, an organization that works with animal welfare organizations and provide assistance in disasters, provided crates and emergency supplies.

MuttShack and Red Cross volunteers, Martin St. John, Tom Hamilton, and Steve Meissner helped assemble the crates to secure a safe environment for evacuated pets.

It was a great relief for evacuees who had camped out in the parking lot to finally leave their vehicles and relax at the shelter, setting up their cots to grab some sorely needed rest.

Firefighters and residents reported loss of wildlife and animals. The Esperanza fire burned 34 homes, consumed 40,000 acres and cost five Firefighters their lives before it was contained four days later on October 30. Firefighting operations cost nearly $10 million.

MuttShack Animal Rescue is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization active in disasters and dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and care of lost or discarded dogs, cats and other animals.

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News briefs:June 4, 2010

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News briefs:June 4, 2010

September 21, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Wikinews Audio Briefs Credits
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Ford offers US$78 million for Romanian auto plant

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Ford offers US$78 million for Romanian auto plant

September 21, 2018 · Filed under Uncategorized

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Ford Motor Company, the U.S. car maker, will reportedly pay €57 million (US$78 million) for a 72.4 percent stake in the Romanian assembly plant Automobile Craiova, a Romanian official said Friday.

“The offer of Ford Motor Company for a 72.4 percent stake is €4.1556 per share or €57 million overall,” said Sebastian Vladescu, head of the State Property Agency (AVAS), after opening Ford’s improved offer. Vladescu added that the contract may be signed on September 12, during the auto show in Frankfurt.

The Romanian government bought back the Craiova-based car maker from Daewoo Motors, in late 2006 for US$51 million. As the Korean company was bankrupt, the government had to pay another $10 million for debts stemming from past loans. Ford is the only bidder for the purchase of the factory.

According to Washington Post, many auto-part makers have set up in the new European Union member country, attracted by cheap labor, favourable tax rates and the rising output of Renault’s Dacia plant. The vice president of Dacia, Constantin Stroe, said that the price Ford offers is not important. “It’s important to have the factory working as soon as possible”, he added. “With this production facility, Romania will become an important auto production center in Europe”, concluded Stroe, cited by HotNews.

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