In Brief

In Brief

May 26, 2006

Ornithology

Owl isn't added to endangered list

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has rejected a petition to list the California spotted owl under the Endangered Species Act, saying the population is stable and programs that prevent forest wildfires will allow it to thrive. The decision rankled environmentalists who had requested protection of the speckled, football-sized bird -- their second effort to list the owl in three years.

The petition's denial was based in part on the recommendation of scientists commissioned to study the owl, said Steve Thompson, manager of the agency's California-Nevada operations office. They found that fires in the old growth forests that owls prefer are the main threat, Thompson said. He argued that tree thinning programs will prevent the spread of flames and ensure the owls remain off the endangered list.

But environmentalists protested, saying the Sierra Nevada Forest Plan, amended in 2004 to allow cutting trees of up to 30 inches in diameter, is logging in disguise and destroys owl habitat. "They're completely off base," said Noah Greenwald, with the Center for Biological Diversity's Portland office. "Logging is by far the most serious threat to the California spotted owl and the kind of fuel reduction they're talking about is just that -- logging."

Associated Press

Research

Hopkins spent $1.375 billion in '04

The Johns Hopkins University spent $1.375 billion for science, medical and engineering research in fiscal 2004, making it the top U.S. institution in research spending for the 26th year in a row, according to a National Science Foundation report.

The university said it was also first on a separate NSF list of federally funded research and development, spending $1.23 billion in grants from agencies that included the National Institutes of Health, NASA, NSF and the Department of Defense.

Hopkins was the first university to reach $1 billion in spending, in 2002, and officials said no other school has matched it since.

The University of California, Los Angeles was second in total research spending in 2004 at $773 million, followed by the University of Michigan (all campuses) with $780 million, the University of Wisconsin-Madison with $763 million, and the University of California, San Francisco with $728 million.

The university said the total funding ranking includes both federal funds and support from foundations, corporations and other sources.

Sun Staff

Air travel

Studying cause of fatal blood clots

Reduced air pressure and oxygen levels do not appear to promote deadly blood clots during long commercial flights, an ailment sometimes called "economy class syndrome." The findings of a new study do bolster the widely held belief that clots develop in otherwise healthy people mainly because they're in cramped quarters that slow blood flow -- not because of cabin environment.

Researchers at England's University of Leicester tested 73 healthy volunteers who were placed in seats for eight hours in a chamber where the air pressure and oxygen levels mimicked those experienced during commercial air travel. They were allowed to stand up and move about for five minutes every hour.

The same group was retested at ground-level pressure and oxygen levels. Blood was drawn before and after each of the tests. The researchers said they found no significant difference between the two tests on clot formation, on activation of clot-forming platelets, or in the action of endothelial cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Los Angeles Times

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