PLoS ONE News and Blog Round-Up

As we are now more than half-way through January, this blog is long overdue for a PLoS ONE media update. Here’s a round-up of some of the news and blog coverage of PLoS ONE articles over the past few weeks.

At the end of 2009, PLoS ONE published a paper by Jeffrey Ross-Ibara and colleagues in which the authors report that a southern Californian scrub oak has been cloning itself for at least 13,000 years, which would make it one of the world’s oldest plansts. The shrub, a Palmer’s oak (Quercus palmeri), was discovered about ten years ago in the Jurupa mountains in Riverside county and according to the authors, its ability to clone itself may explain why the plant was able to survive in the face of climate changes. The study was covered by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, New Scientist, the Independent and Not Exactly Rocket Science.

The birds appearing on state-wide and nation-wide endangered species lists in the United States might not do so well in the face of adversity, however. Earlier this month, Jeff Wells and colleagues reported that state-specific lists are failing to help the most endangered species nationally because they fail to take into account global conservation priorities. For example, a bird that is rare in one state might appear on the state’s endangered list even if the bird is abundant on a national level; on the other hand, a bird that is abundant in one state might not appear on its list of endangered species even if the bird is rare nation-wide. The authors conclude that as a result, birds that are at risk both nationally and globally have not received the attention they need. Some of the online coverage of the study has included: the Philadephia Inquirer, the Field of View blog and A DC Birding Blog.

In another recent conservation study published in PLoS ONE, authors Peter Mumby and Alistair Harborne at the University of Exeter report that local action to reduce the amount of fishing can help coral reefs to recover from damage. The authors stressed the importance of protected marine areas, or marine reserves where fishing is prohibited or highly limited, in promoting coral regrowth after damage. Planet Earth Online, Ars Technica and Treehugger all wrote about the study.

PLoS ONE has also published a number of medical studies that have received a lot of news coverage recently. A paper by Otto Erlwein and colleagues, Failure to Detect the Novel Retrovirus XMRV in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, has attracted a lot of attention in the media; here’s a selection of the some of the coverage: New Scientist, the Economist, the Guardian, the BBC News, Mind Hacks, Neuroskeptic and NHS Choices.

In their recent PLoS ONE article, David Melzer and colleagues report that higher exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in food and drinks packaging, reflected in higher urinary concentrations of BPA, is associated with reported heart disease among adults in the USA. Scientific American, National Geographic, Ars Technica and Effect Measure all covered the study.

Earlier this month, Lance Price and colleagues reported The Effects of Circumcision on the Penis Microbiome. This study was highlighted by Scientific American and Improbable Research; you can also read Jonathan Eisen’s comments on the paper and its press release (along with comments from the corresponding author) on his blog, the Tree of Life.

And finally, here is a brief summary of some of the other PLoS ONE papers that have made the headlines or been discussed in the blogosphere recently:

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