Traffic noise impacts frog survival

If you’ve ever lived near a busy road, you’re familiar with the noise of cars whooshing by and ear-piercing honks. Traffic noise is a well-known source of stress in humans. Now, a team of researchers has found that it can cause increased stress levels in frogs too. And aside from a spike in stress, traffic noise can have other negative effects on the European tree frog (Hyla arborea), such as suppressed immunity and a dulling of males’ vocal sacs. The team’s results were published last week (January 11) in Conservation Biology.

To study the effects of road noise on frogs, Thierry Lengagne of the University of Lyon, France, and colleagues first recorded noise from a nearby high-traffic road. The scientists then played back the recording to 20 male frogs in the lab. After 10 days of 24/7 exposure to traffic noise at 76 decibels, the frogs showed signs of increased stress.

Read the full story over at The Scientist.

Photo credit: Thierry Lengagne

Snails suffer genetic damage from pollution

Pollutants from oil spills, shipping activities and industrial effluents could be the reason for genetic damage in snails of Goa, research has found. The extent of genetic damage in snails could serve as a measure of the health of a marine ecosystem, it says.

A team of researchers collected snails of the species Morula granulata from nine locations along the coast of Goa – a major tourism and seafood industry hotspot of India. The team learnt that the extent of damage in the genetic material (DNA) of these snails increased with rising levels of toxic pollutants along the coast.

“When toxic contaminants, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), are taken up by marine organisms, the snails will try to metabolize the contaminants for subsequent elimination. The toxins are degraded, ultimately converted into by-products and removed from the body,” explains A. Sarkar, lead author of the study at Global Enviro-Care, Goa. “But during their metabolism, reactive intermediate stages are formed, resulting in DNA strand breaks.”

Sarkar and co-workers used molecular biomarker techniques to assess breaks in the DNA isolated from snails and determined its integrity. They observed that DNA integrity reduced by as much as 56% at one of the most polluted of the chosen sites (Hollant) compared to the non-polluted, reference site (Arambol) located farther away from the industrial belt. They found the concentration of PAHs in sediments to be highest around Hollant (5.17 μg/g) and lowest at Arambol (1.65 μg/g) among all sites.

Read the rest at IndiaBioScience.

Photo credit: A. Sarkar

Companies flout norms, regulators look away

National and multinational electronic and electrical companies in India are violating e-waste management norms while regulatory authorities are failing to take action against them, says a report published on 24 June 2014 by Toxics Link, an environmental research and advocacy group based in New Delhi.

Currently, India produces a whopping 2.7 million tons of e-waste every year but there are a handful of 42 e-waste collection units and 55 recycling units registered in the entire country, says the report. A chunk of the e-waste generated is managed by the informal sector, which has been operating illegally, putting humans and environment at great risk.

It was in light of the illegal operations and associated risks that the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, notified the E-waste (Management and Handling) Rules in 2011 and enforced these a year later in May 2012. A year’s time between notification and enforcement of the rules was meant for companies and regulators to implement the rules and set up an infrastructure for e-waste management.

Read more at India Together.