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USGS Office of Communications Science Picks — Leads, Feeds and Story Seeds September 2007 Edition For Release: UPON RECEIPT Endocrine Disruptors, oil, gas, and hypoxia … Find out about the planet we live on. September Science Picks explore this restless planet. Are you burning to know more about fighting wildland fires? Science Picks provide a host of timely tips on earth and natural science research and investigations at the USGS. Photos and Web links are available. If you would like to receive Science Picks via e-mail, would like to change the recipient or no longer want to receive it, please e-mail dmakle@xxxxxxxx . September Highlights: · Of Mice and Men — Health Effects of Endocrine Disruptor Bisphenol A · USGS Scientists Release New Oil and Gas Assessment of Northeastern Greenland · Burning to Know More about Fighting Wildland Fires? · Doing the Dirtiest of Jobs Better · What Do Crickets Have to Say for Themselves? · A Whole Lot of Flappin’ Going On — Shorebird Travels from New Zealand to Alaska and Back · USGS Holds Crystal Ball for Prediction of the Hypoxic Zone · Picturing the Birds and the Bees · USGS Report on Endangered Pallid Sturgeon Habitat · Worldwide Water Monitoring LEADS (top news, updates and happenings in natural science) Of Mice and Men — Health Effects of Endocrine Disruptor Bisphenol A: When pregnant mice are exposed to bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in everyday plastics, such as sunglasses, drink bottles, shatterproof baby-bottles, and some dental sealants and fillings, exposure may adversely affect the mother, but also, disturb development in the unborn fetuses. In a recently released report, USGS scientists say even low doses of the chemical may affect the reproductive systems of male and female mice, organizational development of the brain, and metabolic processes. Evidence suggests that when exposed female fetuses reach adulthood, there is a greater potential for abnormal eggs and embryos. Learn more at http://www.cerc.usgs.gov/pubs/briefs/bisphenolA.pdf or contact Catherine Richter at (573) 876-1841 or crichter@xxxxxxxxx USGS Scientists Release New Oil and Gas Assessment of Northeastern Greenland: The USGS recently released an assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources in the East Greenland Rift Basins Province. The assessment suggests that although there are no proven reserves in northeastern Greenland, significant undiscovered resource potential exists. In comparison to the world’s 500 other oil and gas provinces, if this resource is proved and realized, northeastern Greenland would rank 19th. The assessment estimates there are almost 9 billion barrels of oil, 86 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 8 billion barrels of natural gas liquids that are undiscovered and would be technically recoverable in the absence of sea ice. For more information, visit http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=1750 or contact Jessica Robertson at (703) 648-6624 or jrobertson@xxxxxxxxx Burning to Know More about Fighting Wildland Fires? Recent drought, unhealthy forest conditions and bark-beetle infestation indicate the potential for catastrophic wild fires, such as those seen in the past few years in the western United States, is increasing. The hazard to human life and property is extreme. According to a new USGS, University of California, and California State University study, published in the August International Journal of Wildland Fire, there are a few things that will improve a commonly used index to predict wildland fire for Los Angeles County, Calif. Find out how wildfire risk indices, which are used for multiple purposes (including insurance, urban planning, and fire department resource management) can be modified to provide the most accurate predictions of wildfire danger. For more information see http://www.werc.usgs.gov/pubbriefs/keeleypbaug2007.html or contact Jon Keeley at (559) 565-3170 or Jon_Keeley@xxxxxxxxx Doing the Dirtiest of Jobs Better: Wondering what happens to all the wastes we generate, especially those that are toxic? Gasoline, dry cleaning fluids and industrial solvents are potential toxic hazards that can contaminate the Nation’s lands and ground water and posing a risk to us and wildlife. The USGS, in cooperation with the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program and Virginia Tech University, has developed a method for assessing the natural cleanup processes — known in the regulatory community as monitored natural attenuation — at toxic waste cleanup sites. Monitored natural attenuation is a combination of naturally occurring physical, chemical and/or biological processes that reduce, or even destroy, contaminants at toxic waste sites. Learn more by visiting http://toxics.usgs.gov/highlights/mna_circ.html or contacting Frank Chapelle at (803) 750-6116 or chapelle@xxxxxxxxx What Do Crickets Have to Say for Themselves? The mahogany Jerusalem cricket, has told one USGS geneticist a lot about its ancestry by letting its genes do the talking. Native to Southern California, this large, flightless insect is an ideal indicator species for monitoring the genetic effects of urban habitat fragmentation throughout the region. Analyzing DNA sequences from genes located in mitochrondria of this cricket, Vandergast and colleagues traced the origin of the species to the Pleistocene epoch, about 1.6 million years ago. To learn more about this and other conservation genetics research at USGS in Southern California, see http://www.werc.usgs.gov/sandiego/sdfsgenetics.html or contact Amy Vandergast at 619-225-6445 or avandergast@xxxxxxxxx A Whole Lot of Flappin’ Going On — Shorebird Travels from New Zealand to Alaska and Back: A female Bar-tailed Godwit, a large, streamlined shorebird, has touched down in New Zealand following an epic, 18,000-mile-long (29,000 km) series of flights tracked by satellite, including the longest non-stop flight ever recorded for a land bird. The flight lasted more than eight days and a distance of 7,200 miles, the equivalent of making a roundtrip flight between New York and San Francisco, and then flying back again to San Francisco. It’s the longest flight ever recorded for a land bird. Find out how the data collected during this epic journey may be valuable in discussions of early warning monitoring protocols for avian flu virus. Check out http://alaska.usgs.gov/science/biology/avian_influenza/index.html for Avian Influenza information and on going research. See http://alaska.usgs.gov/science/biology/shorebirds/index.html for more information, or to track the flight of the Bar-tailed Godwit, contact Denver Makle at (703) 648-4732 or dmakle@xxxxxxxxx FEEDS (USGS tools and resources) USGS Holds Crystal Ball for Prediction of the Hypoxic Zone: Scientists from many agencies use nutrient and streamflow delivery data from the Mississippi River basin to predict the size of the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico. The hypoxic zone contains waters with low levels of dissolved oxygen, which can cause stress or death in bottom-dwelling organisms. The USGS collects water-quality samples and provides estimates of spring streamflow and nutrient loads each summer before the hypoxic zone forms. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, states and the Mississippi River-Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force use the data to assess the relation between nutrient loads and Gulf hypoxia and to develop nutrient reduction strategies. Access real-time nutrient information and annual reports and learn more about nutrients in the Mississippi River basin by logging onto the hypoxia Web site http://toxics.usgs.gov/hypoxia/ or EPA's Web site http://www.epa.gov/msbasin/taskforce/. For more information, contact Jennifer LaVista at (703) 648-4432 or jlavista@xxxxxxxxx Picturing the Birds and the Bees: Got a story, but need an image? The USGS has released a new Web site for its rapidly growing Digital Image Library http://images.nbii.gov. With 30,000 images in the queue, the new Digital Image Library has multiple ways for you to browse the collections and find the images you need. The images are also linked to detailed information — such as location, scientific and common names, and habitat and behavior descriptions — to support research, education and decision-making. For more information, contact Annette Olson at (703) 648-4080 or alolson@xxxxxxxxx STORY SEEDS (points to ponder or investigate) USGS Report on Endangered Pallid Sturgeon Habitat: The USGS recently published a report documenting the availability and quality of potential pallid sturgeon spawning habitat on the Lower Missouri River. Scientists surveyed about 800 miles of the river during low-water conditions from 2003 to 2006 and mapped 443 potential spawning areas. Learn more about this multi-year, collaborative research study to determine factors leading to reproduction and survival of the endangered pallid sturgeon and the closely related shovelnose sturgeon. The report and related maps are available at http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1192. For more information, contact Robert Jacobson at (573) 876-1844 or rjacobson@xxxxxxxxx Worldwide Water Monitoring: The USGS is a proud sponsor of the World Water Monitoring Day kick-off, Sept. 18. Citizens of the global community will join together Sept. 18 - Oct. 18 in this opportunity to positively impact the health of rivers, lakes, estuaries and other waters. Volunteer monitoring groups, water quality agencies, students and the general public may be testing the four key indicators of water quality: temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen and turbidity in a nearby river or stream. Visit http://www.usgs.gov/homepage/science_features/world_water_2007.asp and check back often for updates about USGS sponsored events. For more information, contact Jennifer LaVista at 703-648-4432 or jlavista@xxxxxxxxx .