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Below are some science stories you may be interested in following this week. If you have any questions or feedback, please contact us at:
indicates Canadian contributors. 

PLEASE NOTE: Embargoed stories may not be released, distributed, or published before the embargo date and time. Embargo violations will result in cancellation of access to our material.

B.C. shellfish-farming regions highly contaminated by microplastics


Embargoed until May 23, 2018 14:00 EDT (News release from PLOS) 
Researchers sampled sediments from 16 sites within Lambert Channel and Baynes Sound, British Columbia. They found microplastics at all sites, the three main types being microfibers, microbeads, and microfragments. Microbeads comprised up to 25,000/kg sediment. The greatest number of microplastics was found within Baynes Sound, in Henry and Metcalfe bays—regions of intense shellfish aquaculture. 
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Corresponding author: Leah Bendell, Simon Fraser University -

Widespread ocean anoxia caused past mass extinction

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 
Published May 21, 2018 15:00 EDT (News release from University of New Mexico)

In the first study of its kind, geochemical evidence left behind in marine limestone sediment from Quebec’s Anticosti Island suggests a mass extinction that occurred more than 450 million years ago was caused by a period of global cooling that led to the world’s oceans abruptly losing life-supporting oxygen. The Late Ordovician Mass Extinction was the first of five mass-extinction events that Earth has experienced, and saw 85 per cent of marine life go extinct. The results suggest the potential severity of marine anoxia as an extinction driver for many past and ongoing biologic extinction events.
Canadian co-author: Andre Desrochers, University of Ottawa -

New structures for stretchable electronics
Embargoed until May 24, 2018 11:00 EDT

Researchers have furthered the development of stretchable electronics for use in wearable health care technologies. By fusing two different elastic polymers in a layered structure, the researchers combined different properties into a single structure that dramatically enhances the performance of stretchable metallic conductors. Transforming rigid electronics into soft devices that conform to the body enables technology to be almost imperceptibly worn against the skin or even implanted within the body.
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Corresponding author: Tricia Breen Carmichael, University of Windsor -

 Plasma lensing in an eclipsing binary star system amplifies pulsar emissions
Embargoed until May 23, 2018 13:00 EDT (related Nature News & Views article preview)

Pulsars scintillate because their radio signals travel through space along multiple paths that interfere with each other. Researchers have used one of these scintillation-causing regions as an interstellar lens to localize the ‘black widow’ pulsar, B1957+20, near the phase in its 9.2-hour orbit at which its emission is eclipsed by its binary companion’s signal. During the lensing events, the observed radio flux was enhanced at specific frequencies, causing distinct frequency patterns similar to those observed for the repeating fast radio burst FRB 121102.
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Corresponding Author: Robert Main, University of Toronto -
Including Indigenous elders in primary care improves Indigenous patients' mental health
Canadian Medical Association Journal
Embargoed until May 22, 2018 00:00 EDT (News release from CMAJ

In a study that partnered Elders with mainstream health care providers in primary care in Vancouver, B.C.'s Downtown Eastside, 37 participants from 20 different First Nations were interviewed about the impact of Elders on mental health. Access to respected Elders as part of routine primary care enables meaningful participation in cultural practices that can improve Indigenous patients' care and help reduce inequities, particularly in urban settings where Indigenous people may feel excluded from mainstream health-care services.
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Lead author: George Hadjipavlou, University of British Columbia -

In Case You Missed It

One-third of global protected land faces intense human pressure
Published May 18, 2018 
Globally, one-third of protected land is under intense human pressure from processes that include road building, grazing, and urbanization. Read more>
Video available>
Canadian co-author: Oscar Venter, University of Northern British Columbia -

437 million tonnes of fish wasted due to destructive fishing operations
Fisheries Research
Published October 2018

In the first summary of globally reconstructed fisheries catches by major gear categories for 1950–2014, researchers found bottom trawling and purse seining jointly account for over 53 per cent of all catches, while bottom trawling alone dominated discarded catches. Read more>
Lead author: Tim Cashion, University of British Columbia -

Using AI to help manage Canada’s invasive species
Biological Invasions
Published March 27, 2018

Researchers combine machine-learning technology with biology and statistics expertise to build a simple, easy-to-use tool for managing aquatic invasive species. Read more>
Canadian co-authors: Russell Greiner, University of Alberta -; Mark Lewis, University of Alberta -

Antibiotic resistance increases with local temperature
Published May 21, 2018

An increase in temperature of 10 °C across regions was associated with increases in antibiotic resistance of 4.2 per cent, 2.2 per cent, and 2.7 per cent for common pathogens Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus. The effect is consistent across most antibiotic and pathogen classes and may be strengthening over time. Read more>
Corresponding author: Derek MacFadden, University of Toronto -

Genomic evidence links extinct giant ground sloth to small modern sloths
Proceedings of the Royal Society B
Published May 16, 2018

High-quality mitochondrial DNA, captured from 12,880-year-old giant ground sloth remains from Chile, shows the extinct animal is closely related to today’s two-fingered sloth, one of the world’s slowest mammals. Read more>
Corresponding author: Hendrik Poinar, McMaster University -

New, faster test for cannabis quality
Phytochemical Analysis
Published March 30, 2018

Researchers have developed a new method of measuring the primary bioactive molecules in cannabis that will lead to faster, safer and more accurate information for producers, regulators and consumers. Read more>
Corresponding author: Wesley Zandberg, University of British Columbia, Okanagan -

BC public supports forest rehab to address climate change
PLOS One and Forests
Published April 23, 2018

A survey and analysis of public opinion about forest management strategies designed to mitigate climate change shows that British Columbians prefer forest rehabilitation over seven other strategies. Read more>
Lead author: Guillaume Peterson St-Laurent, University of British Columbia - 

New catalyst upgrades greenhouse gas into renewable hydrocarbons
Published May 18, 2018

Researchers have designed a technology that could enable manufacturers to create plastics out of two key ingredients: sunshine and pollution. Read more>
Corresponding author: Ted Sargent, University of Toronto -

Researchers use tech tank top to detect heart problems
Journal of Applied Physiology
Published February 23, 2018

Clothing that combines wearable sensors with artificial intelligence designed to assess changes in aerobic responses could offer hope for people experiencing onset of a respiratory or cardiovascular disease. Read more>
Corresponding author: Richard Hughson, University of Waterloo -

Climate change broadens threat of emerald ash borer
Biological Invasions
Published April 7, 2018

According to a new probability map for North America that shows where emerald ash borer is likely to kill trees, climate change and fewer days of extreme cold will enable the non-native, invasive forest pest to infest more Canadian cities than originally estimated. Read more>
Lead author: Kim Cuddington, University of Waterloo -

Probiotics protects bees from infection linked to colony collapse disorder
Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Adding probiotics to bees' food helps make them more resistant to a fungal infection associated with colony collapse disorder, decreasing bees’ mortality rate from the infection by up to 40 per cent. Read more>
Corresponding author: Nicolas Derome, Université Laval -

Nickel leaching from petroleum coke in Canada’s oil sands region
Published April 30, 2018

When researchers analyzed water samples collected from the deposits, they found nickel leaching is enhanced when fluid petroleum coke is in contact with slightly acidic waters, such as rainwater, compared with the slightly alkaline waters that are typical of oil sands tailings ponds. Read more>
Corresponding author: Matthew Lindsay, University of Saskatchewan -

News Tips

G7 academies of science statement on the global arctic: the sustainability of communities in the context of changing ocean systems
Read the May 17 news release>
Read the statement>

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