94 posts · 153,941 views
this blog covers evolution, ecology, animal behavior, genetics, ornithology, parrots and birds in general along with stories about other animals, mental illness, atheism and politics.
Like anyone who has taught science courses, and probably like anyone who has ever taught anything to a classroom in the history of mankind, I've wondered how to motivate my students to really care about the material they are learning, beyond simply "studying for the test." For example, I have used a group method of study where groups of 4 students are each assigned a specific task: to become an expert in a particular area and to share their knowledge with the other groups. This method is only p........ Read more »
McCallum, M. (2010) A Method for Encouraging Classroom Discussion of Scientific Papers. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, 91(3), 363-366. DOI: 10.1890/0012-9623-91.3.363
A zombie is another name for The Walking Dead -- those who are lifeless, apathetic, or totally lacking in independent judgment. But in an ecological sense, a zombie species no longer fulfills its ecological function because it is becoming extinct... Read more »
Shultz, S., Baral, H., Charman, S., Cunningham, A., Das, D., Ghalsasi, G., Goudar, M., Green, R., Jones, A., Nighot, P.... (2004) Diclofenac poisoning is widespread in declining vulture populations across the Indian subcontinent. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 271(Suppl_6). DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2004.0223
Lemus, J., & Blanco, G. (2009) Cellular and humoral immunodepression in vultures feeding upon medicated livestock carrion. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 276(1665), 2307-2313. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2009.0071
Naidoo, V., Wolter, K., Cromarty, D., Diekmann, M., Duncan, N., Meharg, A., Taggart, M., Venter, L., & Cuthbert, R. (2009) Toxicity of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to Gyps vultures: a new threat from ketoprofen. Biology Letters, 6(3), 339-341. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2009.0818
Jackson, A., Ruxton, G., & Houston, D. (2008) The effect of social facilitation on foraging success in vultures: a modelling study. Biology Letters, 4(3), 311-313. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2008.0038
Swan, G., Cuthbert, R., Quevedo, M., Green, R., Pain, D., Bartels, P., Cunningham, A., Duncan, N., Meharg, A., Lindsay Oaks, J.... (2006) Toxicity of diclofenac to Gyps vultures. Biology Letters, 2(2), 279-282. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2005.0425
Cuthbert, R., Parry-Jones, J., Green, R., & Pain, D. (2007) NSAIDs and scavenging birds: potential impacts beyond Asia's critically endangered vultures. Biology Letters, 3(1), 90-93. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2006.0554
Humans have long tried to separate themselves from other animals on the basis of characters that are perceived to be unique to us, such as tool design and use, planning for the future and our capacity for empathy.... Read more »
Fraser, O., & Bugnyar, T. (2010) Do Ravens Show Consolation? Responses to Distressed Others. PLoS ONE, 5(5). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010605
A recently published study suggests that the Deepwater Horizon oil leak may devastate the endangered Atlantic bluefin population, causing it to completely collapse or possibly go extinct.... Read more »
Steven L. H. Teo, & Barbara A. Block. (2010) Comparative Influence of Ocean Conditions on Yellowfin and Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Catch from Longlines in the Gulf of Mexico. PLoS ONE, 5(5). info:/10.1371/journal.pone.0010756
tags: ecology, marine biology, conservation biology, endangered species, environmental toxicology, seabirds, marine mammals, bpr3.org/?p=52,peer-reviewed research, journal club
Bird rescue personnel Danene Birtell (L) and Heather Nevill (R) hold an oiled brown pelican, found on Storm Island in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, that will be washed at the treatment facility at Fort Jackson, Louisiana, USA. BP has contracted bird rescue groups to rehabilitate wildlife affected by........ Read more »
TSENG, F. (1999) Considerations in care for birds affected by oil spills. Seminars in Avian and Exotic Pet Medicine, 8(1), 21-31. DOI: 10.1016/S1055-937X(99)80032-2
David A. Jessup, & Jonna A. K. Mazet. (1999) Rehabilitation of Oiled Wildlife: Why Do It?. 1999 International Oil Spill Conference. info:/
tags: Eyjafjallajökull, volcanic particulate material, ash clouds, airborne-particle deposition, respiratory physiology, respiratory toxicology, medicine, veterinary medicine, birds, avian health, bioassay, anatomy, bpr3.org/?p=52,peer-reviewed research, journal club
Figure 1: The eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, photographed by an unidentified farmer in Iceland. This eruption sent massive billowing clouds of volcanic ash several miles into the atmosphere.
Image: Newscom/Zuma [larger view........ Read more »
Brown, R., Brain, J., & Wang, N. (1997) The Avian Respiratory System: A Unique Model for Studies of Respiratory Toxicosis and for Monitoring Air Quality. Environmental Health Perspectives, 105(2), 188. DOI: 10.2307/3433242
Llacuna S, Gorriz A, Riera M, & Nadal J. (1996) Effects of air pollution on hematological parameters in passerine birds. Archives of environmental contamination and toxicology, 31(1), 148-52. PMID: 8688002
McArn GE, Boardman ML, Munn R, & Wellings SR. (1974) Relationship of pulmonary particulates in English sparrows to gross air pollution. Journal of wildlife diseases, 10(4), 335-40. PMID: 4373586
Clark, L. (1998) Contribution of particulates and pH on cowbirds' (Molothrus ater) avoidance of grain treated with agricultural lime. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 57(1-2), 133-144. DOI: 10.1016/S0168-1591(97)00121-4
tags: evolutionary biology, evolutionary biogeography, molecular biology, medicine, ectoparasite, orificial hirudiniasis, mucosal leech infestation, hirudinoids, leech, Tyrannobdella rex, public health, zoology, PLoS ONE, anatomy, phylogenetic analysis, taxonomy, bpr3.org/?p=52,peer-reviewed research, journal club
Figure 1. Mucosally invasive hirudinoid leeches. Known from a wide variety of anatomical sites including eyes (A) as in this case involving Dinobdella ferox (B), mucosal leech sp........ Read more »
Phillips, A., Arauco-Brown, R., Oceguera-Figueroa, A., Gomez, G., Beltrán, M., Lai, Y., & Siddall, M. (2010) Tyrannobdella rex N. Gen. N. Sp. and the Evolutionary Origins of Mucosal Leech Infestations. PLoS ONE, 5(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010057
tags: evolutionary biology, behavioral ecology, molecular ecology, personality, novelty seeking, exploratory behavior, dopamine receptor, dopamine receptor D4 gene, DRD4 gene polymorphism, ornithology, birds, Great Tit, Parus major, bpr3.org/?p=52,peer-reviewed research, peer-reviewed paper
Bold or cautious? Individuals with a particular gene variant are very curious --
but only in some populations.
Image: Henk Dikkers.
Research shows that personality variations are heritable in hum........ Read more »
KORSTEN, P., MUELLER, J., HERMANNSTÄDTER, C., BOUWMAN, K., DINGEMANSE, N., DRENT, P., LIEDVOGEL, M., MATTHYSEN, E., van OERS, K., van OVERVELD, T.... (2010) Association between DRD4 gene polymorphism and personality variation in great tits: a test across four wild populations. Molecular Ecology, 19(4), 832-843. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2009.04518.x
tags: writer's block, psychology, abnormal psychology, cognitive psychology, writing, publishing, career, publish or perish, bpr3.org/?p=52,peer-reviewed research, peer-reviewed paper, journal club
Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »
Didden, R., Sigafoos, J., O'Reilly, M., Lancioni, G., & Sturmey, P. (2007) A Multisite Cross-Cultural Replication of Upper's (1974) Unsuccessful Self-Treatment of Writer's Block. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 40(4), 773-773. DOI: 10.1901/jaba.2007.773
Upper, D. (1974) The unsuccessful self-treatment of a case of “writer's block”. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 7(3), 497-497. DOI: 10.1901/jaba.1974.7-497a
tags: evolution, evolutionary biology, UV light, flight, dinosaur, dromaeosaur, theropods, Microraptor gui, paleontology, fossils, birds, bpr3.org/?p=52,peer-reviewed research, peer-reviewed paper, journal club
Figure 1. The holotype of Microraptor gui, IVPP V 13352 under normal light. This shows the preserved feathers (white arrow) and the 'halo' around the specimen where they appear to be absent (black arrows). Scale bar at 5 cm. [larger view]
It has l........ Read more »
Hone, D., Tischlinger, H., Xu, X., & Zhang, F. (2010) The Extent of the Preserved Feathers on the Four-Winged Dinosaur Microraptor gui under Ultraviolet Light. PLoS ONE, 5(2). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009223
tags: evolution, evolutionary biology, behavioral ecology, animal behavior, molecular ecology, parental care, mating systems, monogamy, sexual selection, frogs, poison dart frogs, Dendrobatidae, Ranitomeya, bpr3.org/?p=52,peer-reviewed research, peer-reviewed paper, journal club
Peruvian mimic poison frog, Ranitomeya imitator.
Image: Jason Brown [larger view]
To know the breeding system is to know the genetic architecture of a species.
To know the evolution of a breeding system is to kn........ Read more »
Brown JL, Morales V, & Summers K. (2010) A key ecological trait drove the evolution of biparental care and monogamy in an amphibian. The American Naturalist, 175(4), 436-46. PMID: 20180700
tags: evolution, evolutionary biology, gynandromorph, bilateral gynandromorph bird, half-sider, mixed-sex chimaera, sex determination, molecular biology, genetics, developmental biology, endocrinology, birds, chicken, Gallus gallus, ornithology, bpr3.org/?p=52,peer-reviewed research, peer-reviewed paper, journal club
Almost exactly one year ago, hundreds of American birders
were thrilled by sightings and photographs of this remarkable
Northern Cardinal, or Redbird, Cardinali........ Read more »
Zhao, D., McBride, D., Nandi, S., McQueen, H., McGrew, M., Hocking, P., Lewis, P., Sang, H., & Clinton, M. (2010) Somatic sex identity is cell autonomous in the chicken. Nature, 464(7286), 237-242. DOI: 10.1038/nature08852
tags: evolution, evolutionary biology, ancient DNA, aDNA, molecular biology, molecular ecology, archaeology, paleontology, fossil eggshell, extinct birds, giant moa, Dinornis robustus, elephant birds, Aepyornis maximus, Mullerornis, Thunderbirds, Genyornis, bpr3.org/?p=52,peer-reviewed research, peer-reviewed paper, journal club
Elephant bird, Aepyornis maximus, egg
compared to a human hand with a hummingbird egg balanced on a fingertip.
To conduct my avian research, I've isolated and........ Read more »
Charlotte L. Oskam, James Haile, Emma McLay, Paul Rigby, Morten E. Allentoft, Maia E. Olsen, Camilla Bengtsson, Gifford H. Miller, Jean-Luc Schwenninger, Chris Jacomb, Richard Walter, Alexander Baynes, Joe Dortch, Michael Parker-Pearson, M. Thomas P. Gilb. (2010) Fossil avian eggshell preserves ancient DNA. Proc. R. Soc. B. info:/10.1098/rspb.2009.2019
tags: faith-based birding, mass hysteria, endangered species, extinct species, conservation, politics, Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Campephilus principalis, IBWO, ornithology, birds, bpr3.org/?p=52,peer-reviewed research, peer-reviewed paper
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has posted a reward of $50,000
to be given to anyone who can provide "video, photographic, or
other compelling information and lead a project scientist to a
living wild Ivory-billed Woodpecker."
Mass hysteria is that........ Read more »
tags: evolutionary biology, molecular biology, Thoroughbred race horses, horses, aerobic capacity, muscle development, myostatin, MSTN, myostatin-suppressing C variant, myostatin-suppressing T variant, Horse Genome Project, Equinome, bpr3.org/?p=52,peer-reviewed research, peer-reviewed paper
Emerging from the mist is Rachel Alexandra, a champion American Thoroughbred who excels at winning both long and short distance races.
Image: Rob Carr, 2009, Associated Press [larger view]
If you'........ Read more »
Hill, E., Gu, J., Eivers, S., Fonseca, R., McGivney, B., Govindarajan, P., Orr, N., Katz, L., & MacHugh, D. (2010) A Sequence Polymorphism in MSTN Predicts Sprinting Ability and Racing Stamina in Thoroughbred Horses. PLoS ONE, 5(1). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008645
tags: evolutionary biology, paleontology, taphonomy, plumage color, feathers, color, melanin, eumelanin, phaeomelanin, dinosaurs, theropod, paravian, avialae, fossils, Anchiornis huxleyi, ornithology, birds, bpr3.org/?p=52,peer-reviewed research, peer-reviewed paper
New research reveals that recently-described 155-million-year-old Anchiornis huxleyi,
a woodpecker-like dinosaur the size of a modern-day domesticated chicken,
had black-and-white spangled wings and a rusty red crown.
Image:........ Read more »
Li, Q., Gao, K., Vinther, J., Shawkey, M., Clarke, J., D'Alba, L., Meng, Q., Briggs, D., Miao, L., & Prum, R. (2010) Plumage Color Patterns of an Extinct Dinosaur. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1186290
tags: evolutionary biology, paleontology, fossils, fossilization, fossil forensics, Taphonomy, taxonomy, zoology, deep time, paleoceanography, amphioxus, Branchiostoma lanceolatum, lamprey, Lampetra fluviatilis, chordates, bpr3.org/?p=52,peer-reviewed research, peer-reviewed paper
Three rotting Amphioxus heads.
A sequence of images showing how the characteristic features of the body of amphioxus, a close living relative of vertebrates, change during decay. Colours are caused by interferen........ Read more »
Sansom, R., Gabbott, S., & Purnell, M. (2010) Non-random decay of chordate characters causes bias in fossil interpretation. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature08745
Donoghue, P., & Purnell, M. (2009) Distinguishing heat from light in debate over controversial fossils. BioEssays, 31(2), 178-189. DOI: 10.1002/bies.200800128
tags: evolutionary biology, convergent evolution, paleontology, taxonomy, zoology, basal birds, theropods, dinosaurs, ornithology, birds, Alvarezsauroidea, Haplocheirus sollers, Maniraptora, Archaeopteryx, bpr3.org/?p=52,peer-reviewed research, peer-reviewed paper
A Newly Discovered Basal Alvarezsauroid Theropod from the Early Late Jurassic.
Artwork: Portia Sloan [larger view]
A long-standing scientific debate focuses on the origins of birds: did they evo........ Read more »
Choiniere, J., Xu, X., Clark, J., Forster, C., Guo, Y., & Han, F. (2010) A Basal Alvarezsauroid Theropod from the Early Late Jurassic of Xinjiang, China. Science, 327(5965), 571-574. DOI: 10.1126/science.1182143
tags: evolutionary biology, fossils, feathers, plumage color, color, dinosaurs, theropods, Sinosauropteryx, Sinornithosaurus, birds, Confuciusornis, melanosomes, phaeomelanosomes, eumelanosomes, keratinocytes, SEM, scanning electron microscopy, 10.1038/nature08740, bpr3.org/?p=52, peer-reviewed research, peer-reviewed paper
Reconstruction of two Sinosauropteryx, sporting their orange and white striped tails.
Artwork by Chuang Zhao and Lida Xing [larger view]
........ Read more »
Zhang, F., Kearns, S., Orr, P., Benton, M., Zhou, Z., Johnson, D., Xu, X., & Wang, X. (2010) Fossilized melanosomes and the colour of Cretaceous dinosaurs and birds. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature08740
tags: evolutionary biology, behavioral ecology, biochemistry, biophysics, magnetoreception, photochemical mechanism, cryptochromes, geomagnetic fields, butterflies, Monarch Butterfly, Danaus plexippus, birds, migration, Cryptochrome, bpr3.org/?p=52,peer-reviewed research, peer-reviewed paper
Every autumn, millions of monarch butterflies, Danaus plexippus, each weighing less than one gram (one US penny weighs 2.5 grams), migrate nearly 4000 kilometers (3000 miles) between their summer bree........ Read more »
Gegear, R., Foley, L., Casselman, A., & Reppert, S. (2010) Animal cryptochromes mediate magnetoreception by an unconventional photochemical mechanism. . Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature08719
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