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Ecology

How Our Sleeping Habits Helped to Make Us Human

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Some animals do sleep with one or two eyes open, but others tend to go for
the full shut-eye. Within that state, they cycle through degrees of
consciousness. During non-REM stages, heart rate and breathing slow,
muscles relax and awareness of external stimuli fades. Brain activity
settles into comalike, low-frequency electrical waves, detectable by EEG.
Next comes REM sleep, characterized by quick brain waves and dreams.


The deepest stage of REM “is as dead to the world as you’ll ever be. You’re
pretty much out for the count, and you’re not taking stock of what’s going
on in your environment,” says Samson.

Why Risk It?

While the costs of sleep are obvious — an animal is vulnerable to predators
and other threats, and loses opportunities to find food and mates — the
benefits are not. Different hypotheses about why we need sleep include
neural development and upkeep, memory processing and immune defense, but
there’s no consensus.


Sleep habits also differ drastically among species. Elephants get by with
two hours of shut-eye, while armadillos need 20. Researchers have found
several factors that influence these variations in sleep patterns. For
example, animals with high metabolisms sleep less — presumably because they
spend more time awake and eating. And animals with bigger brains spend a
greater portion of sleep in REM.


As a result, different species need different amounts of sleep based on
their diets, brain size and other variables: An armadillo-hour does not
equal an elephant-hour when it comes to catching Zs.


In a 2018 study in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Samson
and colleague Charles Nunn, an anthropologist at Duke University, employed
a sophisticated statistical method to compare the sleep patterns found in
30 primate species, including our own. They found, says Samson, that humans
are significant “evolutionary outliers.” We sleep less but spend about 10
percent more of our total sleep time in REM than expected. Human sleep is
shorter and deeper — in other words, more efficient — than that of our
closest relatives.


The finding supports a hypothesis proposed by the duo in 2015: Efficient
sleep gave our hominin ancestors an evolutionary edge. By shortening total
duration, hominins reduced their time as unconscious targets for predators,
and added waking hours to complete essential tasks, like learning, securing
resources and maintaining social bonds.


It’s also still unknown when our ancestors evolved this unusual sleep
pattern. Samson speculates it may have emerged when they became too large
to sleep in trees, roughly 2 million years ago with Homo erectus. While
other apes avoid predators by building arboreal nests, it’s possible that
hominins sleeping on the ground evolved more efficient sleep to allow them
to spend more time awake — and on the alert for potential threats.

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Ecology

Yukon and Northern BC First Nations tackle climate change using Indigenous knowledge and science

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YUKON, June 18, 2021 /CNW/ – The Government of Canada is working together in partnership with Indigenous and Northern communities in finding solutions to adapt to the impacts of climate change in the North.

Today, Minister of Northern Affairs, Daniel Vandal, along with Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency), Larry Bagnell, highlighted progress on three unique, Indigenous-led projects that are helping communities in Yukon and Northern British Columbia adapt to the challenges posed by climate change.

The Minister and Parliamentary Secretary met virtually with Carcross/Tagish First Nation (C/TFN) to learn about their community-led climate change monitoring program. C/TFN has partnered with Tsay Keh Dene Nation (TKDN) and Chu Cho Environmental of Prince George, British Columbia, to build a community-led monitoring project that examines environmental data and Indigenous knowledge to create a holistic picture of how the climate is changing across C/TFN and TKDN traditional territories. The project combines tracking of current and historical climate trends with knowledge shared by Elders while also providing opportunities for youth mentorship and climate change awareness.

The Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN) is also leading a unique project to assess the impacts of climate change within their traditional territory. Climate change is causing many of the culturally significant ice patches to melt, exposing organic artifacts to oxygen and leading to rapid deterioration. The TRTFN ice patch mapping project will involve performing archaeological assessments to prevent the degradation of artifacts. Research will be guided by traditional knowledge, Elders and oral histories, when available, and heavily involve community, Elders, youth and Knowledge Keepers.

The Pelly Crossing Selkirk Development Corporation is leading the Selkirk Wind Resource Assessment project through the installation of a Sonic Detection and Ranging (SODAR) system. The initiative includes a feasibility study leading up to the construction of a renewable energy facility, including wind, solar and battery energy storage. Expanding clean energy within the region will have direct benefits for communities, including reduced reliance on diesel, job creation and revenue generation for Selkirk First Nation. 

These projects are delivering important environmental, social and economic benefits that lead to healthier, more sustainable and resilient communities across Yukon and Northern British Columbia. They also build community clean energy capacity and help to avoid the impacts of climate change.

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Ecology

Atlantic Provinces Ready For Aquaculture Growth

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Aquaculture is an important economic driver for rural, coastal and Indigenous communities, and Atlantic Canada is well positioned to increase aquaculture production as global demand for sustainably sourced seafood grows.

That is why the ministers responsible for aquaculture in the Atlantic provinces have agreed to the ongoing development and management of their industries based on common principles. A new memorandum of understanding has been signed by the four ministers, which extends the previous agreement signed in 2008.

“In a time when food security is especially important, it is good to see our aquaculture industry has grown steadily and is poised for continued growth in 2021 based on environmentally responsible, science-based policies and practices,” said Keith Colwell, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for Nova Scotia. “Our Atlantic partnership continues to help the industry grow sustainably.”

Cooperation between the provinces and the aquaculture industry has led to improvements in pest management, environmentally sustainable aquaculture methods, aquatic animal health and policies to support the shared use of marine and freshwater resources. It also aims to align regulation and policy between the provinces to make the regulatory requirements easier to understand by industry and the public.

Each province has a comprehensive and robust legislative and regulatory framework to ensure environmental sustainability, economic prosperity and public accountability. The provinces update their legislation and regulations regularly. Nova Scotia revamped its regulatory framework in 2015; New Brunswick received Royal Assent for a new Aquaculture Act in 2019 and is working on the supporting regulations; Newfoundland and Labrador completely revised its aquaculture policy in 2019; and Prince Edward Island has recently drafted a new Aquaculture Act.

The ministers have agreed to continue to use science-based evidence for management decisions, thereby increasing public and investor confidence in the Atlantic Canadian aquaculture industry.

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Ecology

COMING SOON: A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0

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We all want the same thing: a clean and responsible energy future for our children and future generations while continuing to enjoy a high standard of living.

On December 11, 2020, the Prime Minister announced a new climate plan which he claimed will help achieve Canada’s economic and environmental goals.

The proposed plan by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) entitled “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy” will have an initial investment of $15 billion of taxpayer’s money. It is built on 5 pillars of action:

  1) Making the Places Canadians Live and Gather More Affordable by Cutting Energy Waste

2) Making Clean, Affordable Transportation and Power Available in Every Community

3) Continuing to Ensure Pollution isn’t Free and Households Get More Money Back

4) Building Canada’s Clean Industrial Advantage

5) Embracing the Power of Nature to Support Healthier Families and More Resilient Communities  

In my paper, “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0” I will objectively critique each pillar in the government’s new climate plan and provide alternative solutions to the same issues.

  This is an alternative plan that supports workers, protects lower income earners and creates economic growth while respecting the environment and focusing on the dignity of work.

  This plan abandons virtue-signaling projects and relies on Canadian ingenuity to build our economy and restore Canada’s role of responsible leadership in the world.

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