5 fascinating Frontiers articles you may have missed in January 2022

By Colm Gorey, Science Communications Manager

A newly born desert tortoise. Image: K. Kristina Drake/ USGS.

At Frontiers, we bring some of the world’s best research to a worldwide audience. But with tens of thousands of articles published each year, many often fly under the radar. Now, as part of new series each month, Frontiers will highlight just some of those amazing papers you may have missed.   

1: Too hot to nest? In a hot summer, one tortoise can switch from nesting to developing eggs internally

Researchers from Australia and South Africa published an article in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution identifying what may be a novel reproductive strategy in Chersina angulate tortoises that has the potential to enhance the resilience of species to global warming.

After observing a captive colony of in Cape Town, South Africa and checking back through historical data, Gerald Kuchling of The University of Western Australia and Margaretha Hofmeyr of the University of Western Cape found that local ambient temperature altered how females deposited their last clutch of eggs.

Periods of unusual heat may result in females switching from depositing their eggs in a nest to develop(oviposition), to growing the egg in their body until the offspring is born.

Article link: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fevo.2021.788764/full

2: Realistic Motion Avatars are the Future for Social Interaction in Virtual Reality

How do we make meeting people in virtual reality (VR) feel more like real life? In a study published to Frontiers in Virtual Reality, researchers from Cowan University, Perth in Australia looked at whether full face and body motion capture helped in the illusion.

With each VR model designed to look like each of the people involved in the experiment, the findings suggested that harnessing full face and body motion capture can make social interaction in VR very similar to face-to-face interaction.

Article link: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/frvir.2021.750729/full

3: What impact does artificial light pollution have on the mortality of seabirds?

Aside from just obstructing our view of a starry sky at night, artificial light pollution also significantly impacts the lives of seabirds. In a paper published to Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, researchers in Spain wanted to understand what role light pollution has in the mortality rates of Cory’s shearwater fledglings using new GPS tracking technologies and taking note of everything from a bird’s body mass to how long they were flying.

This revealed that birds with more down feathers had a higher chance of being grounded during excessive artificial light pollution, as well as birds with slower flights. The researchers hope that longer-lasting GPS trackers will help them acquire more accurate data in the future.

Article link: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fevo.2021.786557/full

4: Severe COVID-19 Is Associated With an Altered Upper Respiratory Tract Microbiome

As part of ongoing efforts to better understand how Covid-19 impacts the body, researchers in the US have published a study in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology looking at its impact on the upper respiratory tract (URT).

Despite being described as the “portal” of entry for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, little is known of the association between the URT microbiome and the severity of Covid-19.

This latest study found that the URT microbiome composition significantly changed as Covid-19 severity increased. Ultimately, the researchers believe the URT microbiome could potentially predict which patients may be more likely to progress to severe disease or be modified to decrease severity. However, further research in additional longitudinal cohorts is needed to better understand how the microbiome affects COVID-19 severity.

Article link: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcimb.2021.781968/full

5: How is the global food and beverage sector doing in its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

With 15% of the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions estimated to come from agriculture, as well as the food and beverage industry, efforts are underway to help this crucial sector reduce its impact on the planet.

But how are the world’s 100 largest food and beverage companies doing in reducing their GHG emissions? In a paper published to Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, researchers in the US tracked publicly disclosed data to find that two thirds of these companies disclose at least part of their emission figures and targets.

However, only about half have measured and set goals for so-called ‘scope three’ emissions generated by other assets or third-party companies in the wider supply chain of a business.

Article link: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fsufs.2021.789499/full

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