“All of a sudden, boom, it drains right down. It
sucked all the water out of our hole.” — JoEl HARpER
Florida cats rescued by western kin
By Susan Milius
Plenty of people hated the idea in 1995,
but borrowing some genes from Texas has
improved the prospects of endangered
Florida panthers, a new report says.
Hybrids that mix Florida cats with
Texas cousins of the same species have
twice the genetic variety and far fewer of
the genetic defects seen in Florida panthers before the introduction, says geneticist Warren Johnson of the National
Cancer Institute in Frederick, Md.
When biologists first proposed import-
ing eight females to south Florida, wild-
life managers had doubts about whether
adding genetic variety would help
much. Also, this was the iconic Florida
panther, not the Floritexan panther.
Florida panther kittens have been health-
ier since eight Texan panthers arrived.
for a population to survive. A mere hundred Florida panthers isn’t a viable population in the long term.
“The Florida panther represents the
increasing reality for many large carnivores in the world today: small, isolated
populations,” Johnson says.
While drilling holes in Alaska’s Bench
Glacier, scientists discovered dozens of
huge cracks that could affect melting.
Glacier found to be deeply cracked
Alaska fissures raise questions about future ice movement
From top: Science/AAAS; J. HArper
and could help scientists better predict
how glaciers move and melt, which in turn
could affect forecasts of sea level changes.
Water pressure below the glacier
and stress from the enormous weight
above probably produced the cracks,
the researchers say. The gaps could allow
the glacier to absorb, sponge-style, a sudden inrush of water from melting or rain.
That buffering may prevent the glacier
from sliding and lurching if water floods
the bed of soil and rock below. But under
certain conditions the cracks might
suddenly drain, spilling water into the
By Rachel Ehrenberg
Pressure and stress can lead to a crack-up, or several, if you are a glacier.
Researchers have discovered a system
of deep cracks in the ice of southern
Alaska’s Bench Glacier. The crevasses are
described in the Sept. 30 Nature.
Scientists aren’t certain how wide-
spread such cracks are, how long the fis-
sures persist or how glacier movement
is influenced. The cracks, some of which
extend 80 meters from the glacier’s bot-
tom, hold a considerable amount of water
bed and sending a glacier sliding.
october 23, 2010 | science news | 9