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Dear Dr. Universe: What can you tell me about parasites?

Lisa Shipley

A parasite is an organism that steals resources from another organism in order to survive. Our planet is home to all kinds of parasites and organisms that host them.

While some parasites live off plants, other parasites need animals. Lisa Shipley, a WSU professor who works with animals in the deer family, said some reindeers are host to a parasite that is so small we’d need a microscope to see it. It’s a kind of nematode more commonly called a brain worm.

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Ask Dr. Universe

Earthquakes south of Toppenish had no effect on Union Gap fissure

Stephen Reidel

Two earthquakes that shook the ground about 18 miles south of Toppenish on Friday likely had no effect on a fissure forming on Rattlesnake Ridge, a geologist said.

Steve Reidel, an adjunct geology professor at Washington State University’s Tri-Cities campus, said the quakes would be unnoticeable given how far underground they were happening.

He also said it does not appear that the quakes contributed to the fissure on Rattlesnake Ridge near Union Gap. The crack was first discovered in October, and it has been monitored since. Officials have urged about 50 residents in the area to leave as a landslide could occur in coming weeks. The state Department of Transportation has warned drivers to watch for falling rocks on Interstate 82 in the area just north and south of the gap.

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Yakima Herald
KXLY Spokane

 

Narrowing Down Pre-spawning Mortality Factors for Coho Salmon

Jennifer McIntyre

The annual pre-spawning salmon mortality study at the Suquamish Tribe’s Grovers Creek Hatchery takes a different twist each year.

After six years of learning how coho and chum salmon are affected by runoff from urban streets, scientists are narrowing down which pollutant is killing fish. This year, they focused on how tire residue in water affects juvenile and adult coho and chum salmon.

“We want to figure out which concentration of the tire residue in the water will kill fish and how long after exposure do the fish become sick and die,” said Jen McIntyre, aquatic ecotoxicologist for Washington State University, who has overseen the last few years of the project.

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Northwest Treaty Tribes

How Understanding Soil Could Be One Answer to Help Save the Planet

Marc Kramer
Marc Kramer

The deep, dark depths of the ocean are often called the final frontier—but, according to one researcher, the soils of the Earth are little understood as well.

Some of the soil’s mysteries could reveal how to store carbon, and maybe one day, carbon dioxide—a key greenhouse gas that is causing global temperatures to reach record-breaking temperatures. In a study published on Monday, Marc Kramer, an assistant professor of environmental chemistry at Washington State University Vancouver, digs deeper into what scientists know about soil, particularly uncovering how soil minerals are associated with carbon storage in soil.

“We know more about the surface of Mars than we do about either oceans or soils on Earth,” said Kramer.

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Salmon Sex Reshapes Rivers

Alexander Fremier
Alexander Fremier

Many forces shape the planet’s rugged features: wind, water, fire, and, of course, salmon sex.

That’s the conclusion from Washington State University researcher Alex Fremier and colleagues in a study that’s billed as one of the first attempts to quantify the earth-shaping power of spawning salmon. They titled their study, in part, “Sex That Moves Mountains,” and it’s a new take on the ways living things transform habitats.

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