Gun research neglected

Gun violence is a leading cause of death in the United States, and rates of fatalities from gun-related suicides and homicides are rising. But firearm injury is among the least researched and worst funded of the top causes of mortality in the United States, as shown by the outlier point in this graph. In 2017, almost all of the other 20 most-common causes received more funding for each life lost. One of the most limiting data gaps is timely information on non-fatal firearm injuries, say the authors of a Comment article.

Dollars by death rate. Scatter plot showing research funding by life lost by various causes of death.

Source: RAND/D. E. Stark & N. H. Shah JAMA 317, 84–85 (2017)/Nature

Amazon under attack

As Brazil’s presidential election heads into a second round, scientists are assessing the impact of President Jair Bolsonaro on science, health and the environment. Data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) show that deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has surged since the start of 2019, coinciding with the start of Bolsonaro’s presidency. Last year, it reached its highest level since 2008. Critics of the government blame its lax enforcement of environmental laws.

Deforestation surge. Bar chart showing the rise of deforestation in Brazil in the last decade.

Source: INPE/Terrabrasilis

Birds in lockdown

During the United Kingdom’s first lockdown of 2020, 80% of the most commonly observed birds altered their behaviour, according to a study published in September. Using more than 870,000 bird sightings, the research team found that some species were sighted more, and others less, than before the COVID-19 pandemic. Parks — which were flooded with visitors — saw an uptick in the numbers of corvids and gulls, which were perhaps attracted by discarded rubbish. Smaller birds, such as Eurasian blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) and house sparrows (Passer domesticus), were spotted less frequently than in previous years, possibly because they fled when people started spending more time in parks and domestic gardens.

BIRD BEHAVIOUR. Graphic showing how UK bird behaviour changed during the country’s first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.

Source: M. H. Warrington et al. Proc. R. Soc. B 289, 20212740 (2022)