Grassland studies, radar-tracked bumblebees offer clues for protecting pollinators

It's not just crops that rely on bumblebees; wild plants do too. Image credit - Anthony King

Scientists used a radar to track a bumblebee from its maiden flight until death for the first time as part of wider research racing to understand the impact and needs of declining bee populations, including on Europe’s fragmented biodiversity hotspots – grasslands. Wild bees are major pollinators of crops in Europe such as peas, beans and … Read more

Q&A: China and Europe likely to see different effect of coronavirus-related air pollution drop

Coronavirus lockdowns have caused air pollution to drop. Science is probing whether air pollution worsens the effects of coronavirus, with recent studies including in Italy suggesting there’s a link between polluted areas and higher fatality risk. Image credit - European Space Agency/ licenced under CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

In March, a study revealed that between 50,000 and 100,000 deaths could be avoided this year in China if air pollution stayed at the same level as during the coronavirus lockdown. While other parts of the world have also seen improvements in air quality, the impact in Europe is likely to be less dramatic than for China, … Read more

‘I don’t see any other way out’: Diagnostic testing and smartphone contact tracing to beat pandemic

Researchers have found two different virus populations in the throat and lungs of coronavirus patients, a whole new type of virus behaviour. Image credit - pixnio.com/Darko Stojanovic, licenced under CC0

by Vittoria D’Alessio What makes the Covid-19 pandemic so difficult to contain? Silent transmission by asymptomatic patients is partly responsible, but research emerging from Germany suggests the SARS-CoV-2 virus has developed a second impressive strategy for ensuring its success: the ability to establish two separate communities within a host – the first in the throat, the … Read more

The dangers of misinformation and neglecting linguistic minorities during a pandemic

Advice on policies such as 'social distancing' can become lost in translation during crises, say researchers. Image credit - Città di Parma/Flickr, licenced under CC BY-SA 2.0

By Fintan Burke The rapidly changing coronavirus pandemic means governments and health authorities need to act fast. But medical advice — and pleas for help — are being hindered by language barriers and misinformation online. Improving communication for vulnerable communities in particular has become a race against time. The pandemic has now led to roughly half … Read more