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Dung Beetles Navigate by Polarized Moonlight




dung beetle naviation

Dung beetles can navigate using polarized light, but only nocturnal dung beetles can use the dim light of a crescent moon. (Credit: Michael Potter11/shutterstock)

Like humans throughout history, it turns out that dung beetles are celestial navigators. Steering is important to dung beetles. When a choice load drops, they want to grab their ball and roll away in as straight a line as they can manage. In this sense, they’re not so much navigating (which implies a destination), but they are orienting themselves by the skies.

Dung beetles who work during the day can use the sun. But nocturnal dung beetles rely on moonlight – and that waxes and wanes throughout the month. It turns out that dung beetles rely specifically on the polarization of light – the orientation of the light waves – to orient themselves. And that can be much trickier when moonlight is scarce. Researchers led by James Foster from Lund University in Sweden set out to discover just how much polarization changes over a lunar cycle. They published their results Jan. 28, in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Reading a Map of the Sky

Reading polarization maps isn’t unusual for insects. Many do so during the day, when sunlight entering through Earth’s atmosphere polarizes, creating a map of light angles across the sky to creatures who can see such things. And moonlight has the same effect. But as the moon wanes to crescent and then New Moon, when no moon is visible, the polarization decreases.

Dung beetles who usually work during the day can use bright polarized moonlight to navigate, provided you can wake them up, says Foster. But unlike their nocturnal brethren, they can’t use dim polarized light, like a crescent moon. “So there’s a lot of adaptation in the nocturnal species that make them good at collecting light,” Foster says. “They’re much like radio telescopes. They combine wide angles to reclaim signals, at the sacrifice of spatial scales.”

Conversely, the nocturnal species do just fine substituting bright polarized sunlight for moonlight – again, once you convince them to do anything at all during their normal off-hours.

Even the nocturnal beetles have some trouble when moonlight is truly scarce. “Presumably they use the stars,” Foster says, “But it’s a lot worse.” Previous studies have also looked at whether beetles can use the Milky Way’s bright band to orient themselves, and found that they can – though it’s still less bright, and therefore less helpful, than full moonlight. They mostly rely on the contrast between the Milky Way’s bright splashes of stars and darker dusty bands.

Light pollution can also confuse the beetles. The extra, mostly unpolarized light swamps the beetles’ vision, making it more difficult to orient themselves – but usually only when the moonlight is dim to start with. Under a Full Moon, they’re able to ignore most light pollution.


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




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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Atlantic Provinces Ready For Aquaculture Growth




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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COMING SOON: A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0




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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