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  • May 20, 2010
  • 11:38 AM

What controls where a species lives?

by Aaron Berdanier in Biological Posteriors

Pigot AL, Owens IP, & Orme CD (2010). The environmental limits to geographic range expansion in birds. Ecology letters PMID: 20412281Or, what prevents that species from expanding further?  Generally, we assume that the environment has something to do with controlling a species' distribution.  But, our understanding of this topic is surprisingly limited, given centuries of scientists prodding the question.  Part of the problem has been:a limited number of species analyzed with smal........ Read more »

  • May 20, 2010
  • 10:09 AM

A Closer Look at Ankylosaur Armor

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

Many dinosaurs were adorned with spikes, horns and plates, but it was the ankylosaurs that took armor to the extreme. These dinosaurs were covered in bony armor from snout to tail-tip, yet, as a new study suggests, there may have been more to some of these structures than just attack and defense.
As reviewed by paleontologists [...]... Read more »

  • May 20, 2010
  • 09:39 AM

Tiny treasures - 100 million year old mammal hairs trapped in amber

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Mammal hairs preserved in amber specimen ARC2-A1-3. a - First fragment; b - Line drawing of first fragment; c - Second fragment; d - Line drawing of second fragment; e - Close-up of second fragment to show the cuticular surface.

About 100 million years ago, in a coastal forest located in what is today southwestern France, a small mammal skittered up the trunk of a conifer tree. As it did so it lost a few of its hairs, and this minor event would have been entirely unremarkable if two of tho........ Read more »

Vullo, R., Girard, V., Azar, D., & Néraudeau, D. (2010) Mammalian hairs in Early Cretaceous amber. Naturwissenschaften. DOI: 10.1007/s00114-010-0677-8  

  • May 20, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Study links spearfishing with reef fish crisis

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

... Read more »

Godoy, N., Gelcich, S., Vasquez, J., & Castilla, J. (2010) Spearfishing to depletion: Evidence from temperate reef fishes in Chile. Ecological Applications, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1890/09-1806  

  • May 20, 2010
  • 07:45 AM

Breast cancer gene study is a step forward, but tests are still some way off

by Cancer Research UK in Cancer Research UK - Science Update

Last week, researchers announced that they’d homed in on five more variations in our genetic code that are linked to a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. Cancer Research UK, together with the Wellcome Trust, funded the study, which was published in Nature Genetics. And, despite the post-election negotiations dominating the news, the study was [...]... Read more »

Turnbull, C., Ahmed, S., Morrison, J., Pernet, D., Renwick, A., Maranian, M., Seal, S., Ghoussaini, M., Hines, S., Healey, C.... (2010) Genome-wide association study identifies five new breast cancer susceptibility loci. Nature Genetics. DOI: 10.1038/ng.586  

  • May 20, 2010
  • 07:38 AM

Cross-protection and flu vaccines

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

We know that we need to make new vaccines against influenza each year, because new flu strains arise and spread each year and the previous year’s vaccines don’t give protection against the new strains.  Of course, there’s intense research toward developing cross-protective vaccines.  Ideally, flu vaccines would work like measles vaccines — get a shot [...]... Read more »

  • May 20, 2010
  • 05:51 AM

300 years of gecko literature, and the 'Salamandre aquatique' (gekkota part VI)

by Darren Naish in Tetrapod Zoology

So, you've had an introduction to the incredible leaf-tailed geckos (Uroplatus). In view of their bizarre appearance, it's perhaps not so surprising that leaf-tailed geckos have commanded attention for a long time and there's a large historical literature on these animals (see Bauer & Russell (1989) for review) [U. fimbriatus shown here; image by J. W. Connelly, from wikipedia]. Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »

  • May 20, 2010
  • 03:59 AM

Environmental round up

by Elements Science in Elements Science

A look at this week's environmental news.... Read more »

Lyman, J., Good, S., Gouretski, V., Ishii, M., Johnson, G., Palmer, M., Smith, D., & Willis, J. (2010) Robust warming of the global upper ocean. Nature, 465(7296), 334-337. DOI: 10.1038/nature09043  

Vermeij, M., Marhaver, K., Huijbers, C., Nagelkerken, I., & Simpson, S. (2010) Coral Larvae Move toward Reef Sounds. PLoS ONE, 5(5). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010660  

  • May 20, 2010
  • 12:48 AM

Trehalose and Nematode Worm Longevity

by Reason in Fight Aging!

Researchers interested in metabolic manipulation as a path to extended healthy longevity continue to identify potential compounds to feed into the long drug development process. Many such compounds begin with worm or fly life span studies, as the major known genes associated with metabolism and life span are conserved between species - all the way from worms up to we humans. If a compound can make a fly live longer and can be shown to act on genes and mechanisms already associated with calorie r........ Read more »

  • May 19, 2010
  • 10:48 PM

Prestige Influences Chimpanzee Cultural Transmission

by Michael Long in Phased

Victoria Horner (Emory University, United States) and coworkers have shown that prestige influences the transmission of cultural innovations among chimpanzees. This news feature was written on May 20, 2010.... Read more »

Horner, V., Proctor, D., Bonnie, K. E., Whiten, A., & de Waal, F. B. M. (2010) Prestige Affects Cultural Learning in Chimpanzees. PLoS ONE, 5(5). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010625  

  • May 19, 2010
  • 05:03 PM

IL-33—a new treatment against sepsis?

by geekheartsscience in geek!

New research shows that the novel cytokine interleukin (IL)-33 reduces sepsis and has “therapeutic potential” to treat this often fatal inflammatory condition. According to the study published this week in Nature Medicine, IL-33 promotes neutrophil recruitment to the site of infection, which is a critical host defence response, and the levels of the decoy IL-33 [...]... Read more »

Alves-Filho, J., Sônego, F., Souto, F., Freitas, A., Verri, W., Auxiliadora-Martins, M., Basile-Filho, A., McKenzie, A., Xu, D., Cunha, F.... (2010) Interleukin-33 attenuates sepsis by enhancing neutrophil influx to the site of infection. Nature Medicine. DOI: 10.1038/nm.2156  

  • May 19, 2010
  • 02:26 PM

Agri-environment schemes benefit birds at the landscape level

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

Findings from a new study in the U.K. affirm the benefits to birds from conservation programs that integrate ecologically friendly practices into agriculture...... Read more »

  • May 19, 2010
  • 11:51 AM

XMRV in human respiratory tract

by Vincent Racaniello in virology blog

An important question about the retrovirus XMRV, which has been implicated in prostate cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome, is where the virus replicates in humans. Such information would provide clues about how infection might be transmitted. To date the virus has been detected in malignant prostate cells and in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells [...]... Read more »

FIsher, N., Schulz, C., Stieler, K., Hohn, O., Lange, C., Drosten, C., & Aepfelbacher, M. (2010) Xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related gammaretrovirus in respiratory tract. Emerg. Inf. Dis. info:/10.3201/eid1606.100066

  • May 19, 2010
  • 11:16 AM

How a polluted environment can lead to illness

by Katie Kline in EcoTone

A study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics revealed alarming findings: A link between children diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and traces of the breakdown of organophosphate pesticides in their urine. Pollutants like pesticides can have both direct and indirect effects on human and wildlife health as a result of changes in an ecosystem.

... Read more »

Palmer, M., Bernhardt, E., Schlesinger, W., Eshleman, K., Foufoula-Georgiou, E., Hendryx, M., Lemly, A., Likens, G., Loucks, O., Power, M.... (2010) Mountaintop Mining Consequences. Science, 327(5962), 148-149. DOI: 10.1126/science.1180543  

Johnson, P., Townsend, A., Cleveland, C., Glibert, P., Howarth, R., McKenzie, V., Rejmankova, E., & Ward, M. (2010) Linking environmental nutrient enrichment and disease emergence in humans and wildlife. Ecological Applications, 20(1), 16-29. DOI: 10.1890/08-0633.1  

  • May 19, 2010
  • 10:05 AM

The "Big Four," part II: Mutation

by Jeremy Yoder in Denim and Tweed

This post is the second in a special series about four fundamental forces in evolution: natural selection, mutation, genetic drift, and migration.

In order for populations to change over time, to descend with modification, as Darwin originally put it, something has to create the modifications. That something is mutation.

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Barton, N., & Keightley, P. (2002) Understanding quantitative genetic variation. Nature Reviews Genetics, 3(1), 11-21. DOI: 10.1038/nrg700  

Drake J.W., Charlesworth B., Charlesworth D., & Crow J.F. (1998) Rates of spontaneous mutation. Genetics, 148(4), 1667-86. PMID: 9560386  

Linnen, C., Kingsley, E., Jensen, J., & Hoekstra, H. (2009) On the origin and spread of an adaptive allele in deer mice. Science, 325(5944), 1095-8. DOI: 10.1126/science.1175826  

Tokuriki, N., & Tawfik, D. (2009) Protein dynamism and evolvability. Science, 324(5924), 203-7. DOI: 10.1126/science.1169375  

  • May 19, 2010
  • 08:15 AM

Breaking the vulture monopoly on scavenger restaurants

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

A recent observational study in northern Spain reveals that making a dinner reservation is important even for diners at a vulture restaurant.

As a sanitary disposal area of animal carcases, vulture restaurants provide a dual purpose of preventing contagious diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy while serving as feeding stations for scavenging bird species that might otherwise be declining due to habitat loss.

However, these feeding stations do not mirror traditional patterns of........ Read more »

  • May 19, 2010
  • 07:51 AM

Does Oral Sex Confer An Evolutionary Advantage? Evidence From Bats

by Jason Goldman in The Thoughtful Animal

Regular readers of this blog know that while I think studying animal cognition, behavior, and communication is (sometimes) fun and (always) interesting, the real importance - the why should I care about this - is because by understanding animals, we can attempt to learn more about ourselves.

I've written about this before. Here are the relevant excerpts:
When human adults show complex, possibly culture-specific skills, they emerge from a set of psychological (and thus neural) mechanisms which ........ Read more »

Tan M, Jones G, Zhu G, Ye J, Hong T, Zhou S, Zhang S, & Zhang L. (2009) Fellatio by fruit bats prolongs copulation time. PLoS ONE, 4(10). PMID: 19862320  

  • May 19, 2010
  • 05:35 AM

Towards a Focal Consensus in Cognitive Neuroscience: Databases and Meta-Analyses

by The Neurocritic in The Neurocritic

Moving right along with our timely, fast-paced, cutting edge blog coverage from the CNS 2010 Annual Meeting [held last month], the first symposium urged the field to advance beyond the current piecemeal single-study approach to neuroimaging by moving Towards a cumulative science of human brain function.1 Building comprehensive, structured, and searchable databases (Van Essen, 2009) and using meta-analytic tools (Wager et al., 2009) were proposed to be key methods aimed at achieving this goal......... Read more »

  • May 19, 2010
  • 05:12 AM

Cold weather limits potential range of Burmese python invasion

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

The well-publicized invasion of Burmese pythons in the United States is unlikely to spread farther north than south Florida according to a new study by scientists from the National Wildlife Research Center...... Read more »

Avery, M., Engeman, R., Keacher, K., Humphrey, J., Bruce, W., Mathies, T., & Mauldin, R. (2010) Cold weather and the potential range of invasive Burmese pythons. Biological Invasions. DOI: 10.1007/s10530-010-9761-4  

  • May 19, 2010
  • 01:34 AM

The Neurogenesis theory of depression and a little guy called CREB

by Evil Monkey in Neurotopia

Sci wishes she could begin this post with something clever. But she has a cold. Suffice it to say that this paper is cool and interesting. And also, as Sci has a cold, I expect all of you to read this post out loud to yourselves in suitably stuffy, gluey Sci-voices.


Gur et al. "cAMP Response Element-Binding Protein Deficiency Allows for Increased Neurogenesis and a Rapid Onset of Antidepressant Response" The Journal of Neuroscience, 2007.

(Yeah, yeah, the title is long and sca........ Read more »

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