It was the summer of 1882, and grape farmers in the Médoc region of southwest France (north of Bordeaux, on the Atlantic coast) had a problem.Schoolchildren (or university students, or just anyone travelling the roads along which the grapevines grew, depending on what source you're reading) were pilfering their grapes. To try and ward them off, some farmers decided to dissolve some slaked lime and copper sulfate in water and spray it on their grapevines closest to the roads. The idea was... Read more »
Pimentel J, & Marques F. (1969) 'Vineyard sprayer's lung': A new occupational disease. Thorax, 24(6), 678-688. DOI: 10.1136/thx.24.6.678
Emerge into Brazil's swamp, with Chiara and the Wildlife Conservation Society.... Read more »
Keuroghlian, A., Andrade Santos, M., & Eaton, D. (2015) The effects of deforestation on white-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari) home range in the southern Pantanal. Mammalia, 79(4). DOI: 10.1515/mammalia-2014-0094
By Nick Gremban Male speckled wood butterflies will “perch” on leavesand ends of twigs to look out over their territory for females. However, they have been known to be quite aggressivewith any intruding males! Photo by Alvesgaspar atWikimedia Commons, modified by Nick Gremban.Think about any territorial animal. Now think about its aggressiveness while it is defending its territory. Was your animal a butterfly? No? You mean the colorful wings and the natural association with flowers d........ Read more »
Bergman, M., Olofsson, M., & Wiklund, C. (2010) Contest outcome in a territorial butterfly: the role of motivation. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 277(1696), 3027-3033. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.0646
Swarming Red Crabs, 11,000-year-old shaman headdress, 'superfast' wing muscles, slowdown of giant airstreams, and sexually transmitted infections in Neanderthals. Here are five of the latest scientific studies published open-access this week, ... Read more »
Pineda, J., Cho, W., Starczak, V., Govindarajan, A., Guzman, H., Girdhar, Y., Holleman, R., Churchill, J., Singh, H., & Ralston, D. (2016) A crab swarm at an ecological hotspot: patchiness and population density from AUV observations at a coastal, tropical seamount. PeerJ. DOI: 10.7717/peerj.1770
Little, A., Elliott, B., Conneller, C., Pomstra, D., Evans, A., Fitton, L., Holland, A., Davis, R., Kershaw, R., O’Connor, S.... (2016) Technological Analysis of the World’s Earliest Shamanic Costume: A Multi-Scalar, Experimental Study of a Red Deer Headdress from the Early Holocene Site of Star Carr, North Yorkshire, UK. PLOS ONE, 11(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0152136
Fuxjager, M., Goller, F., Dirkse, A., Sanin, G., & Garcia, S. (2016) Select forelimb muscles have evolved superfast contractile speed to support acrobatic social displays. eLife. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.13544
Stadtherr, L., Coumou, D., Petoukhov, V., Petri, S., & Rahmstorf, S. (2016) Record Balkan floods of 2014 linked to planetary wave resonance. Science Advances, 2(4). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501428
Houldcroft, C., & Underdown, S. (2016) Neanderthal genomics suggests a pleistocene time frame for the first epidemiologic transition. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22985
Growing evidence suggests that the telomeres’ length (a non-coding DNA sequence localized at the end of the chromosomes) is related to individual breeding performances and survival rates in several species.
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Le Vaillant, M., Viblanc, V., Saraux, C., Le Bohec, C., Le Maho, Y., Kato, A., Criscuolo, F., & Ropert-Coudert, Y. (2015) Telomere length reflects individual quality in free-living adult king penguins. Polar Biology, 38(12), 2059-2067. DOI: 10.1007/s00300-015-1766-0
Carney Almroth, B., Skold, M., & Nilsson Skold, H. (2012) Gender differences in health and aging of Atlantic cod subject to size selective fishery. Biology Open, 1(9), 922-928. DOI: 10.1242/bio.20121446
Ovenden, J., Berry, O., Welch, D., Buckworth, R., & Dichmont, C. (2015) Ocean's eleven: a critical evaluation of the role of population, evolutionary and molecular genetics in the management of wild fisheries. Fish and Fisheries, 16(1), 125-159. DOI: 10.1111/faf.12052
River flooding boosts carbon emissions, six new species of Chinese dragon millipedes discovered, how ancient animals adapted to climate change, maths tell palaeontologists where to find fossils, and the Arctic Ocean was ice-free ten million years ago. Here are five of the latest scientific studies published open-access this week.... Read more »
Stegen, J., Fredrickson, J., Wilkins, M., Konopka, A., Nelson, W., Arntzen, E., Chrisler, W., Chu, R., Danczak, R., Fansler, S.... (2016) Groundwater–surface water mixing shifts ecological assembly processes and stimulates organic carbon turnover. Nature Communications, 11237. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms11237
Liu, W., Golovatch, S., & Tian, M. (2016) Six new species of dragon millipedes, genus Desmoxytes Chamberlin, 1923, mostly from caves in China (Diplopoda, Polydesmida, Paradoxosomatidae). ZooKeys, 1-24. DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.577.7825
Botha-Brink, J., Codron, D., Huttenlocker, A., Angielczyk, K., & Ruta, M. (2016) Breeding Young as a Survival Strategy during Earth’s Greatest Mass Extinction. Scientific Reports, 24053. DOI: 10.1038/srep24053
Block, S., Saltré, F., Rodríguez-Rey, M., Fordham, D., Unkel, I., & Bradshaw, C. (2016) Where to Dig for Fossils: Combining Climate-Envelope, Taphonomy and Discovery Models. PLOS ONE, 11(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151090
Stein, R., Fahl, K., Schreck, M., Knorr, G., Niessen, F., Forwick, M., Gebhardt, C., Jensen, L., Kaminski, M., Kopf, A.... (2016) Evidence for ice-free summers in the late Miocene central Arctic Ocean. Nature Communications, 11148. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms11148
If birds fretted about their biological clocks like humans do, it would be the dads of some species doing the worrying, not the moms. When male albatrosses have chicks later in life, those chicks grow up to fare worse. It's because albatrosses of both sexes are such good parents to begin with.
Wandering albatrosses (Diomedea exulans) share parenting duties "quite equitably," explains Rémi Fay, a graduate student in biology at France's CNRS. The giant seabirds mate for life. Every other y........ Read more »
Fay, R., Barbraud, C., Delord, K., & Weimerskirch, H. (2016) Paternal but not maternal age influences early-life performance of offspring in a long-lived seabird. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 283(1828), 20152318. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.2318
For the past couple of years now, a fungus called Xylaria polymorpha has been munching on the buried roots of a beheaded tree on my parents' front lawn. In the grass surrounding the stump, X. polymorpha sends up a thicket of charcoal club-like mushrooms every summer. They look kinda like a dead man's fingers, which not coincidentally happens to be a common name for the fungus.... Read more »
Sagara N. (1995) Association of ectomycorrhizal fungi with decomposed animal wastes in forest habitats: A cleaning symbiosis?. Canadian Journal of Botany, 73(S1), 1423-1433. DOI: 10.1139/b95-406
Why do some birds migrate and others don’t? It’s not that simple. The reason isn’t genetics, it isn’t necessarily food or weather either. There are birds that can allow their feet to go to one degree above freezing while keeping the rest of the body toasty – so they don’t need to migrate, yet other birds that are close to them genetically will fly thousands of miles. Other birds species only have a few of the adults migrate – who decides which ones make ........ Read more »
Davenport LC, Goodenough KS, & Haugaasen T. (2016) Birds of Two Oceans? Trans-Andean and Divergent Migration of Black Skimmers (Rynchops niger cinerascens) from the Peruvian Amazon. PloS one, 11(1). PMID: 26760301
Ahola MP, Laaksonen T, Eeva T, & Lehikoinen E. (2007) Climate change can alter competitive relationships between resident and migratory birds. The Journal of animal ecology, 76(6), 1045-52. PMID: 17922701
Hobson KA, Anderson RC, Soto DX, & Wassenaar LI. (2012) Isotopic evidence that dragonflies (Pantala flavescens) migrating through the Maldives come from the northern Indian subcontinent. PloS one, 7(12). PMID: 23285106
Tardigrades, they are cute and cuddly — okay maybe not cuddly — but they have earned their nicknames, such as as moss piglets or water bears. Mostly because they look like, well bears (although I don’t see a piglet personally). These guys are eight-legged microscopic animals that have long fascinated scientists for their ability to survive extremes of temperature, pressure, lack of oxygen, and even radiation exposure. Talk about a thrill seeker they can even survive in space, without a sui........ Read more »
Georgios Koutsovoulosa, Sujai Kumara, Dominik R. Laetsch, Lewis Stevens, Jennifer Daub Claire Conlon, Habib Maroon, Fran Thomasa, Aziz A. Aboobakerc, and Mark Blaxter. (2016) No evidence for extensive horizontal gene transfer in the genome of the tardigrade Hypsibius dujardini. PNAS. DOI: 10.1101/033464
Last month, we spoke of our vision of the future of humanity here at the lab. It makes sense that humanity would one-day step away from the static, non-living computer constructs we have designed. Moving us instead towards an organic alternative, one that can be readily repaired, replaced, or changed. While we cannot pretend to know what the future may hold, a new discovery helps bolster the stance we presented.
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Lampa-Pastirk, S., Veazey, J., Walsh, K., Feliciano, G., Steidl, R., Tessmer, S., & Reguera, G. (2016) Thermally activated charge transport in microbial protein nanowires. Scientific Reports, 23517. DOI: 10.1038/srep23517
Viruses that infect bacteria are among the most abundant life forms on Earth. Indeed, our oceans, soils and potentially even our bodies would be overrun with bacteria were it not for bacteria-eating viruses, called bacteriophages, that keep the microbial balance of ecological niches in check. Now, a new study suggests that bacteriophages made of RNA — a close chemical cousin of DNA — likely play a much larger role in shaping the bacterial makeup of worldwide habitats than previously ........ Read more »
Had Teresa Dzieweczynski chosen to publish her recent findings as an updated children's classic, rather than as a research paper, she could have titled it If You Give a Fish an Antidepressant. The book would probably be less charming than If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. But it would also be, unfortunately, more realistic. Our pharmaceuticals are steadily trickling into the homes of fish and other animals. And—as the hero of the original book could have told us, his house in disarray aft........ Read more »
Dzieweczynski, T., Campbell, B., & Kane, J. (2016) Dose-dependent fluoxetine effects on boldness in male Siamese fighting fish. Journal of Experimental Biology, 219(6), 797-804. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.132761
People need the power of an elevator or our legs to rise high in a building, so how does water get from the roots of a tree to the very top leaves? Hint, it isn’t capillary action – even capillary tubes can move water only a few centimeters. The key is evaporation. But if water evaporates off plants, how do they survive during droughts? They have tricks to retain water, including developing big leaves and little leaves. Look carefully at some trees, you’ll find that they have t........ Read more »
von Caemmerer, S., & Baker, N. (2006) The Biology of Transpiration. From Guard Cells to Globe. PLANT PHYSIOLOGY, 143(1), 3-3. DOI: 10.1104/pp.104.900213
Terashima, I. (2005) Irradiance and phenotype: comparative eco-development of sun and shade leaves in relation to photosynthetic CO2 diffusion. Journal of Experimental Botany, 57(2), 343-354. DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erj014
Think your DNA is all human? Think again. And a new discovery suggests it’s even less human than scientists previously thought. Nineteen new pieces of non-human DNA — left by viruses that first infected our ancestors hundreds of thousands of years ago — have just been found, lurking between our own genes.
... Read more »
Wildschutte, J., Williams, Z., Montesion, M., Subramanian, R., Kidd, J., & Coffin, J. (2016) Discovery of unfixed endogenous retrovirus insertions in diverse human populations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201602336. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1602336113
Researchers uncover the origins of fairy tales through evolutionary biology’s methods... Read more »
Researchers uncover the origins of fairy tales through evolutionary biology’s methods... Read more »
In the microscopic life that thrives around coral reefs, researchers have discovered an interplay between viruses and microbes that defies conventional wisdom. As the density of microbes rises in an ecosystem, the number of viruses infecting those microbes rises with it. It has generally been assumed that this growing population of viruses, in turn, kills more and more microbes, keeping the microbial population in check. It’s a model known as “kill-the-winner” — the winners being the blo........ Read more »
Island living may call to mind vivid flowering vines and colorful plumage. But in reality, birds on islands around the world have evolved less-colorful feathers than their mainland relatives. Their drab, simple patterns are only the latest evidence that island evolution is kind of weird.
Claire Doutrelant, an ecologist at France's Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, and her coauthors studied 116 pairs of bird species, or 232 species in all. Each pair included an island bird and ... Read more »
By Maggie NannenhornIf you’re like me, you never truly realize how quiet winter is until all the sounds of spring come back in a chorus of celebration. Between the birds, crickets, and frogs, you can really hear the love in the air. So you can hear the love, but can you feel the love? Wood frogs are known for their chorus of calls that sound like a duck laughing. Seriously, tell a duck a good knock-knock joke and that is what a male wood frog sounds like when trying to attract a mate. He make........ Read more »
Höbel, G., & Kolodziej, R. (2013) Wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) use water surface waves in their reproductive behaviour. Behaviour, 1-13. DOI: 10.1163/1568539X-00003062
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