Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Country-level assessment hides big variations in soy’s carbon footprint

Analysts usually estimate a crop’s carbon footprint based on country-level factors. But that formulation isn’t adequate, according to a new analysis of soy exports from Brazil. Published in Global Environmental Change, the study tracked soy from specific production sites in … Continue reading

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Snake venom evolved in fits and spurts

The cocktail of toxins in snake venom experienced constant change with pulses of rapid evolution over the last 60 million years, according to a recent study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Venom, the researchers report, has changed … Continue reading

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Trends in conservation funding track popular narratives about the illegal wildlife trade

Trends in conservation funding are changing, according to a recent study in World Development. “We see a shift toward funding conservation work that’s increasingly about combatting wildlife trafficking,” says coauthor Jared Margulies, a human-environment geographer at the University of Alabama … Continue reading

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In plea for face masks, researchers visualize how speech sends fluid droplets flying

As COVID-19 ravaged Wuhan, China, in January, scientists remained unsure how the virus was spreading so rapidly. Biophysicist Adriaan Bax, chatting over dinner with his linguist wife Ingrid Pufahl, started to suspect that the saliva we project as we speak … Continue reading

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Neurons in the hippocampus can make several different maps of the same environment

Nestled deep in the brain, the hippocampus is the seat of spatial cognition. Specialized hippocampal neurons fire in consistent patterns thought to construct mental maps that help us navigate the world—in general, researchers believed there was one map for every … Continue reading

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PREVIEW News Feature: To counter the pandemic, clinicians bank on repurposed drugs

Teams are pursuing a dizzying array of therapeutic strategies to stymie COVID-19. It’s not yet clear which approach, or combination of approaches, will work best. *Editor’s Note: We’re providing a preview of this content due to the urgent and rapidly … Continue reading

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Fluid dynamics work hints at whether spoken word can spread COVID-19

As of April 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising that everyone—sick or healthy—wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Recent research on how fluids travel from our respiratory tracts when we sneeze, speak, or … Continue reading

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PREVIEW Inner Workings: Molecular biologists offer “wartime service” in the effort to test for COVID-19

*Editor’s Note: We’re providing a preview of this content due to the urgent and rapidly unfolding events surrounding the novel coronavirus pandemic. An updated version will appear in PNAS in the coming weeks. As COVID-19 spreads, communities across the United … Continue reading

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Variation in a single gene increases plant yield in groups but not in pairs

Groups of diverse plant species often produce more seeds than monocultures. But whether plants ramp up yield in response to genetically distinct, direct neighbors, as opposed to a broader neighborhood of diverse plants, remains an open question in ecology. “It’s … Continue reading

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A combination of living and nonliving selective forces drive local adaptation across species

Both living and nonliving factors can interact to shape local adaptation, according to a recent study in The American Naturalist. The metaanalysis also entailed the use of a method, borrowed from the social and medical sciences, that identified common themes and research gaps … Continue reading

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Judging others based on the rewards they receive correlates with political leanings

Which employee deserves the highest salary? Should a professor receive tenure? Did my spouse do their fair share of the household chores? These types of questions all require people to pass judgment on the effort expended by others. According to … Continue reading

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