Post List

  • April 12, 2010
  • 01:45 PM

History of land use determines threat and rarity in mangrove tree species

by Jeremy in Voltage Gate

A new study from PLoS ONE was published last week assessing the threat to mangrove tree species around the world based on IUCN Red List data. At first glance the paper might seem to be just another bleak walk through the anthropogenic dismantling of a fragile biome, but there are some excellent issues presented regarding our relationship between the land and its inhabitants and the interconnectedness of rarity and threat level.... Read more »

Polidoro, B., Carpenter, K., Collins, L., Duke, N., Ellison, A., Ellison, J., Farnsworth, E., Fernando, E., Kathiresan, K., Koedam, N.... (2010) The Loss of Species: Mangrove Extinction Risk and Geographic Areas of Global Concern. PLoS ONE, 5(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010095  

  • April 12, 2010
  • 01:41 PM

Monday Pets: Biological Evidence That Dog is Man's Best Friend

by Jason Goldman in The Thoughtful Animal

The party isn't over yet! Here's another helping of Monday Pets. Enjoy!

Wild Dog crawled into the Cave and laid his head on the Woman's lap... And the Woman said, "His name is not Wild Dog any more, but the First Friend."
--Just So Stories, Rudyard Kipling.

Archaeological evidence indicates that dogs were already a part of human society around the end of the Ice Age. Small dog skeletons have been unearthed in human communities as far back as 6- to 12-thousand years ago in Europe, the Middle Ea........ Read more »

NAGASAWA, M., MOGI, K., & KIKUSUI, T. (2009) Attachment between humans and dogs. Japanese Psychological Research, 51(3), 209-221. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-5884.2009.00402.x  

  • April 12, 2010
  • 01:40 PM

Topical Vaccination: No More Needles

by Michael Long in Phased

Victor Yang (University of Michigan Ann Arbor, United States) and coworkers have reported a needle-free vaccination protocol that overcomes technical hurdles encountered with many other approaches, and shows great potential for widespread use in resource-limited nations. This news feature was written on April 12, 2010.... Read more »

Huang, Y., Park, Y. S., Moon, C., David, A. E., Chung, H. S., & Yang, V. C. (2010) Synthetic Skin-Permeable Proteins Enabling Needleless Immunization. Angewandte Chemie International Edition. DOI: 10.1002/anie.200906153  

  • April 12, 2010
  • 01:14 PM


by Welkin Johnsonr in Small Things Considered

by Welkin Johnson How does one even begin to investigate the natural history of viruses? The dinosaurs bequeathed a motley assortment of bones, teeth, footprints striding 'cross ancient riverbeds, fossilized eggs, the occasional coprolite. The tiny trilobite left lasting and ubiquitous impressions, finding its way...... Read more »

Horie M, Honda T, Suzuki Y, Kobayashi Y, Daito T, Oshida T, Ikuta K, Jern P, Gojobori T, Coffin JM.... (2010) Endogenous non-retroviral RNA virus elements in mammalian genomes. Nature, 463(7277), 84-7. PMID: 20054395  

  • April 12, 2010
  • 12:51 PM

Deep Brain Stimulation for Depression

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

NARSAD, a leading private funding organization for brain disorders is sponsoring educational symposiums across the United States. One such symposium in the Healthy Minds Across America 2010 series was held in Tulsa, Oklahoma on April 10, 2010. Three internationally recognized researchers presented at the Tulsa symposium: Helen Mayberg, Wayne Drevets and Robert Kowatch. I will present some of my notes for these presentations over the next week. This post will summarize the key points for Dr......... Read more »

  • April 12, 2010
  • 12:00 PM

In defense of constructive neutral evolution - Part II

by Psi Wavefunction in Skeptic Wonder

Continued from Part I herePart I -Adaptationism vs. Neutralism -"Population genetics ignores reality!" -Existence of neutrality and near-neutralityPart II-Neutral evolution is relevant-Evolution lacks foresight; it can neither anticipate nor respond-Clarifying some terminology: two types of function, positive vs. negative selection-Rise of complexity through non-adaptive means-An example of constructive neutral evolution at work: loss of group I intron self-splicingPart III-Further examples of c........ Read more »

Pinker S, & Bloom P. (1990) Natural language and natural selection. Behavioral and brain sciences, 13(4), 707-784. info:/

Stoltzfus, A. (1999) On the Possibility of Constructive Neutral Evolution. Journal of Molecular Evolution, 49(2), 169-181. DOI: 10.1007/PL00006540  

  • April 12, 2010
  • 10:24 AM


by teofilo in Gambler's House

I’ve talked a bit about Jane Hill’s theory that agriculture was introduced to the Southwest by a migration of speakers of Uto-Aztecan languages from Mesoamerica, which she supports mostly through somewhat unconvincing linguistic evidence.  A recent paper in, yes, PNAS offers a strong set of counterarguments to Hill’s theory, and offers an alternative theory in [...]... Read more »

Merrill, W., Hard, R., Mabry, J., Fritz, G., Adams, K., Roney, J., & MacWilliams, A. (2009) The diffusion of maize to the southwestern United States and its impact. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(50), 21019-21026. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0906075106  

  • April 12, 2010
  • 10:16 AM

The maggot of the plant world – mangroves

by CJA Bradshaw in ConservationBytes

I don’t know how many of my readers have waded through a mangrove swamp before – if you have, you’ll know it’s no ‘walk in the park’. They are generally mosquito-infested with waist-deep mud, have more creepy-crawlies than you can poke a stick at, and in some places (such as my former stomping ground, the [...]... Read more »

Polidoro, B., Carpenter, K., Collins, L., Duke, N., Ellison, A., Ellison, J., Farnsworth, E., Fernando, E., Kathiresan, K., Koedam, N.... (2010) The Loss of Species: Mangrove Extinction Risk and Geographic Areas of Global Concern. PLoS ONE, 5(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010095  

  • April 12, 2010
  • 09:17 AM

why, Why, WHY? Three-year-olds hold the key to science literacy

by Promega Corporation in Promega Connections

I opened up a recent Nature Alert to find an editorial entitled “Learning in the Wild (1).” In this piece the authors discuss the current cries to improve science and math education in the United States. As the piece states, much of current educational policy focus is on classroom learning, revamping the “No [...]... Read more »

Nature editors. (2010) Learning in the wild. Nature, 464(7290), 813-814. DOI: 10.1038/464813b  

  • April 12, 2010
  • 09:15 AM

When a trait isn’t a trait isn’t a trait

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

One of the great things about evolutionary theory is that it is a formal abstraction of specific concrete aspects of reality and dynamics. It allows us to squeeze inferential juice from incomplete prior knowledge of the state of nature. In other words, you can make predictions and models instead of having to observe every last [...]... Read more »

Liao BY, Weng MP, & Zhang J. (2010) Contrasting genetic paths to morphological and physiological evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 20368429  

  • April 12, 2010
  • 09:00 AM

SAC's revisited

by Alistair Dove in Deep Type Flow

A little while back I wrote about how we can use Species Accumulation Curves to learn stuff about the ecology of animal, as well as to decide when we can stop sampling and have a frosty beverage. There’s a timely paper in this month’s Journal of Parasitology by Gerardo Pérez-Ponce de Leon and Anindo Choudhury about these curves (let’s call them SACs) and the discovery of new parasite species in ... Read more »

  • April 12, 2010
  • 08:09 AM

The potential for PI3K pathway inhibitors in Lung Cancer

by Sally Church in Pharma Strategy Blog

Life is about stories, events and even coming back full circle sometimes. I experienced that moment of déjà vu this morning on opening a link to an article that a colleague kindly sent from Avrum Spira's lab that was published...... Read more »

Gustafson, A., Soldi, R., Anderlind, C., Scholand, M., Qian, J., Zhang, X., Cooper, K., Walker, D., McWilliams, A., Liu, G.... (2010) Airway PI3K Pathway Activation Is an Early and Reversible Event in Lung Cancer Development. Science Translational Medicine, 2(26), 26-26. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3000251  

  • April 12, 2010
  • 08:05 AM

Sunday Protist -- Notodendrodes: giant tree forams

by Psi Wavefunction in Skeptic Wonder

Foraminifera are wonderful organisms. For a glimpse of their phylogeny, see this diagram, but keep in mind that the majority of forams are actually allogromiids, forams which build their walls of protein as opposed to scavenged material or depositing mineral substances. From the allogromiids there have been several independent origins of non-proteinaceous forams, many building their tests out of sand grains, remnants of prey or their own waste. Test-building is a complicated and highly regulated........ Read more »

  • April 12, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

The impact of vacation homes on bird nest predation

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

Vacation homes may be harming some birds through increased nest predation, according to the findings in a new study in the journal of European Wildlife Research.

While suburban sprawl receives close scrutiny for its negative environmental impacts, vacation homes and other low density housing in more pristine areas are often overlooked.

However, as Ole-Gunnar Støen and fellow researchers in Norway show, these homes can negatively impact birds by attracting generalist predators that feed on........ Read more »

  • April 12, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Inching Toward An Obesity Drug Target?

by Carmen Drahl in The Haystack

As the race to discover a new obesity drug continues, it’s important to consider what makes a good obesity drug target. Before you bother putting a team of medicinal chemists on the job of making a small molecule that could be the next big diet pill, what do you need to know about the target [...]... Read more »

Han, Z., Niu, T., Chang, J., Lei, X., Zhao, M., Wang, Q., Cheng, W., Wang, J., Feng, Y., & Chai, J. (2010) Crystal structure of the FTO protein reveals basis for its substrate specificity. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature08921  

  • April 12, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Blondes beat brunettes on beach

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

The joke around some beach communities is that you can never be too thin, too rich, or too blonde. I don’t know about the first two, but a new paper suggests being blonde on a beach may be good, but you can be too blonde – if you’re a mouse.

Animal colours provide some classic cases of adaptation and natural selection. For instance, most people with even a passing familiarity with biology know about peppered moths and industrial melanism. Fur colour in mice isn’t quite as famous as moth........ Read more »

  • April 12, 2010
  • 06:41 AM

Light from a distant black hole pierces the Milky Way

by Professor Astronomy in Professor Astronomy

Video credit: University of Michigan / Boston University / Cosmovision

We went looking for a small black hole in our neighborhood, maybe a few hundred light-years away, and instead we found a supermassive black hole nearly 7 billion light-years away.  Sometimes astronomy can be that way...

Back in February, my colleagues and I were looking at white dwarfs with the Keck I telescope in Hawaii.  Before our second night started, the astronomers at the neighboring teles........ Read more »

J. Vandenbroucke, R. Buehler, M. Ajello, K. Bechtol, A. Bellini, M. Bolte, C. C. Cheung, F. Civano, D. Donato, L. Fuhrmann.... (2010) Discovery of a GeV blazar shining through the Galactic plane. Astrophysical Journal Letters. arXiv: 1004.1413v1

  • April 12, 2010
  • 06:00 AM

Article review: Internal Medicine team redesign

by Michelle Lin in Academic Life In Emergency Medicine

The Institute of Medicine has re-sparked discussions about limiting and further reducing resident duty hours in the United States (IOM's Duty Hours Report from Dec 2008). In response to this, the Brigham and Women's Internal Medicine residency program created an innovative inpatient team model, which was published in this month's New England Journal of Medicine.Study DesignSetting:Faulkner Hospital, an affiliated community hospital with 72 inpatient medicine bedsControl team = General Medical Se........ Read more »

McMahon, G., Katz, J., Thorndike, M., Levy, B., & Loscalzo, J. (2010) Evaluation of a Redesign Initiative in an Internal-Medicine Residency. New England Journal of Medicine, 362(14), 1304-1311. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMsa0908136  

  • April 12, 2010
  • 05:00 AM

Designing better conservation easements for land management

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

A new study looks at 52 conservation easements created by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in California rangelands from 1973 - 2006 to see how the approach of this land protection strategy has evolved over time. Specifically, the study focuses on the challenge of incorporating adaptive management into a legal document that sets restrictions on land use in perpetuity...... Read more »

  • April 12, 2010
  • 12:01 AM

Domestic violence in a multilingual world

by Ingrid Piller in Language on the Move

Non-English speakers’ access to emergency services in Australia is in the news again as a Melbourne man has been convicted of the murder of his wife. What makes the case particularly shocking is the fact that the victim, who was originally from Afghanistan, tried to call police a few days before the murder but couldn’t [...]... Read more »

Piller, Ingrid, & Takahashi, Kimie. (2010) Language, Migration, and Human Rights. Wodak, Ruth, Paul Kerswill and Barbara Johnstone. Eds. Handbook of Sociolinguistics. London: Sage. info:/

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