Miss Behavior

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  • January 22, 2014
  • 03:52 PM
  • 222 views

We Are Each A Community

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Lactobacillus (the purple rod-shaped things) is a common bacterial species in reproductive tracts. Image by Janice Carr from the CDC at Wikimedia Commons. In our world of antibacterial soaps, we have learned that bacteria are evil, dirty, sickness-causing agents to be eliminated at all costs. Although some bacteria can cause sickness, bacteria in general are actually a critical component of animal bodies. A human body has ten times as many bacterial cells as human cells and a hundred times........ Read more »

Archie, E.A., & Theis, K.R. (2011) Animal behaviour meets microbial ecology. Animal Behaviour, 425-436. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2011.05.029  

  • January 8, 2014
  • 01:12 PM
  • 151 views

Freezing the Winter Away

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

The clutches of the Polar Vortex are finally releasing its grasp on us and we can be thankful for our home heating, our layers of warm clothing, and most of all, our bodies’ abilities to generate heat. But it is times like these that make me wonder about our friends that live outside year-round… especially those that don’t generate most of their own body heat. How do they survive these periods of intense cold? There are several species of North American frogs that have an unusual trick up ........ Read more »

  • January 1, 2014
  • 04:52 PM
  • 276 views

Metabolism and Body Size Influence the Perception of Movement and Time

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Zoetropes like this one have been used for almost 2000 years. If you look in the slits from the side, the image appears to be animated. Image by Andrew Dunn at Wikimedia Commons.When we watch TV or a movie, we are essentially watching a series of still images presented in rapid succession… so rapid, in fact, that we perceive them to be a single moving image. The ability of movie-makers to convince us that still images are fluid in time is based on our physiology. Specifically, moving-pictures,........ Read more »

  • December 11, 2013
  • 11:43 AM
  • 207 views

Personality and the Spread of Disease

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

This image was provided by the CDC and the Partnership, Inc. Available at Wikimedia Commons.Studies of the spread of infectious diseases have shown that behavior plays a strong role in which individuals are more likely to be infected and which ones aren't. For example, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are more commonly diagnosed in people that have more sexual partners. But despite our understanding of how diseases are spread among people, we know very little about the spread of diseases amo........ Read more »

  • November 20, 2013
  • 10:06 AM
  • 223 views

What Cetaceans Can Teach Us About Culture

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

A bottlenose dolphin mother shares her culture with her offspring. Image by M. Herko at the National Undersea Research Program (NURP) available at Wikimedia Commons.We often think of culture as being food dishes, music, dance, and clothing that are specific to a group of people. But are we the only species that have culture? What is culture exactly and how does it relate to relationships? Scientifically, culture is behavior that is socially transmitted between individuals and shared within po........ Read more »

  • November 13, 2013
  • 02:15 PM
  • 274 views

Can Animals Sense Each Other’s Wants and Hopes?

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Is the ability to empathize uniquely human? This question has long been pondered by philosophers and animal behaviorists alike. Empathy depends in part on the ability to recognize the wants and hopes of others. A new study by researchers at the University of Cambridge suggests that we may not be alone with this ability. A male Eurasian jay feeds his female mate. Photo provided by Ljerka Ostojić.Ljerka Ostojić, Rachael Shaw, Lucy Cheke, and Nicky Clayton conducted a series of studies on Eurasia........ Read more »

  • October 31, 2013
  • 01:30 PM
  • 231 views

The Mimic Octopus: Master of Disguise

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

The disguises of the mimic octopus: (a) shows a mimic octopus looking out of its burrow; (b) is a foraging mimic octopus with coloration to blend with the sand; (c) shows a mimic octopus as a sole fish and (d) is an actual sole fish; (e) shows a mimic octopus as a lion-fish and (f) is an actual lion-fish; and (g) shows a mimic octopus as a banded sea-snake and (h) is an actual banded sea-snake. Images from the Norman, 2001 article in Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B.Different animal species have evolv........ Read more »

  • October 9, 2013
  • 10:43 AM
  • 429 views

Honeybees Can Avoid Deadlock When Making Group Decisions, So Why Can't We?

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

This honeybee swarm has precious little time to make a democratic decision as to where they will move to. A decision deadlock could have fatal consequences. Image by Nino Barbieri at Wikimedia Commons.In case you've been living in a cave lately, the U.S. Government has been shut down since October 1st. Not because of a terrorist attack or a bank system meltdown or a natural disaster, but because Congress cannot agree on a spending bill to determine our government's funding plan for the next year........ Read more »

  • September 25, 2013
  • 10:52 AM
  • 202 views

Just Another Day (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Cassie Apostolou The zooplankton picture on the left was provided by the EPA at Wikimedia Commons. The human picture on the right was provided by Cassie Apostolou.Check out the two pictures above. It doesn’t look like those two animals share a lot in common, right? Obviously the two organisms don’t look alike and the zooplankton (the odd looking microorganism creature in the left picture) lives in water and us humans typically like to stay dry on land. But if you dig a little deeper than ........ Read more »

Haney, J.F. (1988) Diel Patterns of Zooplankton Behavior. Bulletin of Marine Science, 43(3), 583-603. info:/

  • September 18, 2013
  • 10:01 AM
  • 237 views

Hiding in Plain Sight

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

The fish on the far left is a juvenile cleaner wrasse in the act of cleaning another fish. The two fish in the middle and on the right are both bluestriped fangblennies, one in its cleaner wrasse-mimicking coloration (middle) and the other not (right). Figure from the Cheney, 2013 article in Behavioral Ecology.Sometimes the best place to hide is right under everybody's nose. If you look like you are innocuous and you belong there, every so often you can get away with trouble. The blu........ Read more »

  • September 4, 2013
  • 01:49 PM
  • 375 views

Who Said What? (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Porscha CarriveauAs an aviculturist-turned-scientist, to me, it is common sense to tell people that birds are heard more often than seen. People study bird songs or calls for a variety of reasons. The reason I study bird songs is to identify the songs that my African grey parrot has learned to mimic. His repertoire includes the vocalizations of several birds’ songs such as robins, cardinals, cat birds, and chickadees. He also mimics humans. When leaving home in the morning, the last thing t........ Read more »

Ohms, V., Beckers, G., Ten Cate, C., & Suthers, R. (2012) Vocal Tract Articulation Revisited: The Case of the Monk Parakeet. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 85-92. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.064717  

  • August 28, 2013
  • 09:04 PM
  • 246 views

Some City Birds Are Changing Their Tune

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

European starlings are one of the many bird species changing their songs in urban environments. Image by 4028mdk09 at Wikimedia Commons.The human world population has climbed to over 7.1 billion people and for the first time ever, more than half of us live in an urban area. Urban areas are spreading and more animals are either getting pushed out or are becoming urbanized in the process. Birds are among the many species we are used to seeing and hearing in our cities, but how exactly a........ Read more »

  • August 7, 2013
  • 07:35 AM
  • 282 views

What Comes First: The Signal or the Response?

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Jewel wasps show us how new communication systems may have come to be. Photo by M.E. Clark at Wikimedia Commons.Finding and attracting a mate is tricky business for most species. It can be quite helpful then to have a species-specific signal that is sent and received by members of your own species, but not perceived as well by predators. Chemical signals (those we perceive through smell and taste) are among the most diverse and specific signals produced in the animal kingdom, so they make good c........ Read more »

Niehuis, O., Buellesbach, J., Gibson, J.D., Pothmann, D., Hanner, C., Mutti, N.S., Judson, A.K., Gadau, J., Ruther, J., & Schmitt, T. (2013) Behavioural and genetic analyses of Nasonia shed light on the evolution of sex pheromones. Nature, 345-348. DOI: 10.1038/nature11838  

  • July 24, 2013
  • 12:08 PM
  • 399 views

Welcome Home to Wood Tick Acres!

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Early last spring I was offered a new job and embarked on a search for a new home. We found a beautiful property: wooded acreage with a trout stream and spring-fed pond, all in a reasonable commuting distance. The potential of this forest sanctuary glistened even under feet of spring snow. When we returned in the rains of early summer to collect our keys and move in, we found that the thaw had revealed our forest sanctuary to be a mosquito-infested swampy wetland, complete with this welcome sign........ Read more »

  • July 17, 2013
  • 05:42 PM
  • 327 views

The Laws of Attraction: Mangrove Killifish Style

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

A mangrove killifish. Photo by D. Scott Taylor at Wikimedia.In the game of love, we typically think of males as being the showy courting sex and females being the coy choosy sex. But what if your species doesn't have the simple division of males and females? Most populations of animal species (and most notably our own) are roughly half male and half female, so this is the standard we tend to accept as "normal". In this common system, males generally invest less in each potential offspring than ........ Read more »

Ellison, A., Jones, J., Inchley, C., & Consuegra, S. (2013) Choosy males could help explain androdioecy in a selfing fish. The American Naturalist, 181(6), 855-862. DOI: 10.1086/670304  

  • July 3, 2013
  • 12:39 PM
  • 265 views

The Genetics of Drinking Like a Fish

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

 Image by J. Dncsn at Wikimedia Commons Among people, drug and alcohol addictions are the most prevalent preventable cause of death in the Western world. But not everyone that tries an addictive substance like alcohol, cigarettes, and addictive drugs becomes addicted to the point that it has a devastating effect on their life and health. People that do struggle with addiction commonly have less control over their impulsive behavior than those that do not, and it is likely that our genes play ........ Read more »

  • June 26, 2013
  • 11:22 AM
  • 404 views

Do Animals Have Personalities?

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Leaders and followers. What makes personality? Photo by Thang Nguyen at Wikimedia Commons.The heart of science lies in existential questions such as "Who am I?" and "Where did I come from?" Yet somehow, these are the very questions that scientists tend to shy away from. It's as if we're afraid that by unraveling the mysteries of our world and ourselves, we'll be left with nothing but a handful of yarn. But many of us see the quest for personal understanding differently - as a journey to gain app........ Read more »

Réale, D., Reader, S., Sol, D., McDougall, P., & Dingemanse, N. (2007) Integrating animal temperament within ecology and evolution. Biological Reviews, 82(2), 291-318. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-185X.2007.00010.x  

Huntingford, F.A. (1976) The Relationship between anti-predator behavior and aggression among conspecifics in the three-spined stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus. Animal Behaviour, 245-260. info:/

  • June 19, 2013
  • 02:58 PM
  • 484 views

Thanks Dad!

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Daddy's girl. Photo from freedigitalphotos.net.Let’s take a moment to appreciate just how special dads are. Across the animal kingdom, fathers caring for their young is the exception, not the rule. Paternal care is most often seen in species in which males can be pretty sure that they are indeed the father (for example, in species that fertilize eggs outside of the mothers’ bodies or in socially monogamous species). Mammals rarely act fatherly - Only 10% of mammalian species show pate........ Read more »

  • June 5, 2013
  • 10:09 AM
  • 298 views

Cicadian Rhythms: Why Does The 17-Year Cicada Emerge Like Clockwork?

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Does your back yard look like this? This swarm of periodical cicadas was photographed by Greg Hume at Wikimedia. The 2013 Swarmageddon is here! After years of their absence, cicadas are overrunning parks, forests and communities all across the central-eastern United States. Periodical cicadas (from the genus Magicicada) are known for their synchronized emergence at 13- and 17-year intervals. Simply the fact that they can live this long is extraordinary: periodical cicadas have the longest life s........ Read more »

  • May 29, 2013
  • 01:43 PM
  • 482 views

What Has No Legs And The Most Amazing Feet Ever?

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

This starfish photo is by Mike Murphy at Wikimedia.We often think of echinoderms, like starfish, sand dollars, and sea urchins, as static ocean decorations. But if you watch them for long enough (or on fast-forward if you lack the patience) you will find that they have exciting motile lives. They hunt, they flee predators, and they mate. But how do they get around without any legs to stand on? Their secret is tube feet. If you look at the underbelly of these critters, you will see lots ........ Read more »

Lesser, M., Carleton, K., Bottger, S., Barry, T., & Walker, C. (2011) Sea urchin tube feet are photosensory organs that express a rhabdomeric-like opsin and PAX6. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 278(1723), 3371-3379. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2011.0336  

Santos, R. (2005) Adhesion of echinoderm tube feet to rough surfaces. Journal of Experimental Biology, 208(13), 2555-2567. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.01683  

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