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A new analysis suggests that wildlife trade is unlikely to ever be sustainable, despite some conservationists arguing that it can be in certain cases. Researchers compared 31 research papers charting the fate of individuals from 133 species of mammals, birds and reptiles to show that wildlife trade nearly always drives population declines, even in protected areas. Global wildlife trafficking generates an estimated US$5 billion–$20 billion a year, but has massively detrimental impacts on biodiversity.
Science | 5 min read
Reference: Nature Ecology and Evolution paper
Many human genome studies ask participants to sign a form that gives them little direct control over how their data will be used. But a panel of researchers in Africa says this can fuel distrust between researchers and participants, and needs to change. “Transparent and honest informed-consent processes, as well as fair benefit-sharing, will do much more to enhance research participation and to further scientific discovery than large-scale appropriation of samples and data without consent,” says bioinformatician Nicki Tiffin.
Nature | 6 min read
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Features & opinion
In January, Nature asked more than 100 immunologists, infectious-disease researchers and virologists working on SARS-CoV-2 whether it could be eradicated. Almost 90% of respondents think that the coronavirus will become endemic — meaning that it will continue to circulate in pockets of the global population for years to come. But failure to eradicate the virus does not mean that death, illness and social isolation will continue on the scales seen so far. The future will depend heavily on the type of immunity people acquire and how the virus evolves.
Nature | 11 min read
US mathematician Isadore Singer, known for unifying large areas of mathematics and physics, has died aged 96. His work helped to lay the foundations for areas of theoretical physics such as gauge theory and string theory, which have the potential to revolutionize our understanding of the structure of the Universe. Singer “changed how people viewed mathematics by showing that seemingly different areas have deep connections”, says mathematician Jeff Cheeger. “It opened up a whole new world that’s expanded and expanded.”
The New York Times | 5 min read