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Ecology / Conservation posts

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  • April 9, 2015
  • 07:02 AM
  • 689 views

Restore Or Protect: How To Save Biodiversity?

by Gunnar de Winter in United Academics

Mathematical model can help conservationists choose.... Read more »

  • April 8, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 1,012 views

Why Do Males And Females Look Different?

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

You see a spotted hyena – is it a male or female. There’s no way of telling without a blood test or a litter of pups. Other animals have obvious differences between males and females; eclectus parrots have green males but red and blue females, while male elephant seals weigh 10x as much as females. Are the differences for sexual selection or natural selection?... Read more »

Cunha, G., Risbridger, G., Wang, H., Place, N., Grumbach, M., Cunha, T., Weldele, M., Conley, A., Barcellos, D., Agarwal, S.... (2014) Development of the external genitalia: Perspectives from the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta). Differentiation, 87(1-2), 4-22. DOI: 10.1016/j.diff.2013.12.003  

Hammond, G., Miguel-Queralt, S., Yalcinkaya, T., Underhill, C., Place, N., Glickman, S., Drea, C., Wagner, A., & Siiteri, P. (2012) Phylogenetic Comparisons Implicate Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin in “Masculinization” of the Female Spotted Hyena . Endocrinology, 153(3), 1435-1443. DOI: 10.1210/en.2011-1837  

  • April 6, 2015
  • 08:47 PM
  • 721 views

Evolving Arctic habitats: how global warming may disrupt the prey-predator balance

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

Does global warming affect all species equally? Probably not says new modeling research predicting how habitats will evolve in Alaska over the next century.... Read more »

  • April 3, 2015
  • 11:39 AM
  • 692 views

The Jay Who Came to Dinner (on a Sloth)

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Kelsey Neam was strolling through the trees in Costa Rica and looking for sloths when she spotted something unusual. High on a tree branch, a three-toed sloth was eating leaves at an unhurried pace. It seemed oblivious to three brown jays that perched nearby and were watching it intently. Then one jay scooted closer and plunged its beak into the sloth's fur.

Neam is a graduate student in ecology at Texas A&M University. She was in the Costa Rican cloud forests to study three-toed slot... Read more »

  • April 1, 2015
  • 08:20 AM
  • 642 views

Eyes on Environment post: cultural and environmental impact of big solar

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

Megawatt solar plants are popping up in the Mojave Desert - but what are their environmental and cultural consequences?... Read more »

  • April 1, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 1,119 views

The Bird Jaws Of Life

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Do birds have teeth? No, but they did once, and sometimes a throwback mutation can create a chick with a full set of chompers. That’s weird, but bird mouths get weirder. Birds can open their upper jaw, not just their lower. And some birds take being weird even farther. The crossbill has a mouth where the upper and lower beaks scissor past one another while the wrybill has a beak that always turns right. ... Read more »

Meredith, R., Zhang, G., Gilbert, M., Jarvis, E., & Springer, M. (2014) Evidence for a single loss of mineralized teeth in the common avian ancestor. Science, 346(6215), 1254390-1254390. DOI: 10.1126/science.1254390  

Smith, J., Sjoberg, S., Mueller, M., & Benkman, C. (2012) Assortative flocking in crossbills and implications for ecological speciation. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 279(1745), 4223-4229. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2012.1500  

Benkman, C., Parchman, T., & Mezquida, E. (2010) Patterns of coevolution in the adaptive radiation of crossbills. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1206(1), 1-16. DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2010.05702.x  

SNOWBERG, L., & BENKMAN, C. (2009) Mate choice based on a key ecological performance trait. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 22(4), 762-769. DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2009.01699.x  

  • March 31, 2015
  • 11:01 AM
  • 852 views

Moths Fondly Remember Plant Species Where They Lost Their Virginity

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Think real estate decisions are hard for humans? Imagine if the house you lived in were also your singles bar, your babies' nursery, and your shelter from large animals trying to eat you. And, while you were growing up, your food source, as you nibbled away its floors and shingles.

Moths face all these pressures each time they settle down on a plant. That may be why at least one type of moth uses pleasant associations to help with its choices. The plant species where an individual loses........ Read more »

  • March 30, 2015
  • 11:32 AM
  • 1,080 views

Gut Feelings

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

This boy may be influencing who he will marry when he grows up. Photo by Orrling at Wikimedia Commons.Animals (including humans) are swarming with microorganisms both on and in our bodies. Humans harbor so many different microorganisms that we have over 150 times more microbial genes than mammalian genes, and it is reasonable to suspect that this scenario is similar for most animals. But before you run to soak in a tub of hand sanitizer, you should realize that many of these microorganisms are a........ Read more »

Ezenwa, V., Gerardo, N., Inouye, D., Medina, M., & Xavier, J. (2012) Animal Behavior and the Microbiome. Science, 338(6104), 198-199. DOI: 10.1126/science.1227412  

  • March 29, 2015
  • 02:43 PM
  • 689 views

Biofuel, good for the environment if you’re eating less

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

When the government first changed policy to require ethanol in gasoline, we were told it would reduce our carbon footprint. Then food prices rose significantly and corn in particular saw the largest price rise. This was because corn is a staple in production of almost any other food from eggs to beef, but the policy made environmental sense. Well it made sense, until you found out that the new government policy also took into account people eating less.... Read more »

Searchinger, T., Edwards, R., Mulligan, D., Heimlich, R., & Plevin, R. (2015) Do biofuel policies seek to cut emissions by cutting food?. Science, 347(6229), 1420-1422. DOI: 10.1126/science.1261221  

  • March 29, 2015
  • 10:42 AM
  • 1,228 views

Accelerated loss: western Antarctice ice shelf melting at faster pace within last decade

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

New satellite measurements have given unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution to Antarctice melting. The data indicates the Western shelf is melting faster than thought and the Eastern shelf is no longer gaining thickness. Important information to predict future sea level rises!... Read more »

  • March 26, 2015
  • 07:00 AM
  • 1,030 views

http://www.united-academics.org/magazine/health-medicine/coffees-dirty-secret-like-carcinogens-with-that/

by Elisabeth Buhl Thubron in United Academics

Furans are coffee’s dirty little secret. Although we can thank them for the pleasant aroma and delicious flavour of freshly brewed coffee, furans have been labelled as a possible human carcinogen (cause of cancer) in disguise by food safety agencies. How many are in there
depends on how you like your cup of Joe.... Read more »

  • March 25, 2015
  • 08:52 AM
  • 708 views

A world-wide evaluation of the use of environmental information in tactical fisheries management

by sceintists from the Marine group at CEES in Marine Science blog




The Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management has for many years been presented as the way to go to ensure fish stock productivity and has been adopted by many governments and international organizations. But to which extent has ecosystem information in fact been included in tactical fisheries management practice?

... Read more »

Skern-Mauritzen, M., Ottersen, G., Handegard, N., Huse, G., Dingsør, G., Stenseth, N., & Kjesbu, O. (2015) Ecosystem processes are rarely included in tactical fisheries management. Fish and Fisheries. DOI: 10.1111/faf.12111  

Vert-pre, K., Amoroso, R., Jensen, O., & Hilborn, R. (2013) Frequency and intensity of productivity regime shifts in marine fish stocks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(5), 1779-1784. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1214879110  

  • March 25, 2015
  • 08:31 AM
  • 479 views

Linking statistical and mechanistic modelling to understand the dynamics of the free-floating eggs and larvae of a marine fish

by sceintists from the Marine group at CEES in Marine Science blog




Many marine fishes experience tremendous mortality during their first months of life. Understanding the causes of this mortality and why it varies from year to year has challenged fisheries ecologists for more than a century. Part of the difficulty comes from the fact that many fishes have free-floating larvae. It is therefore difficult to follow a group of fish larvae over time in the field and investigate which factors cause mortality.

... Read more »

  • March 25, 2015
  • 08:00 AM
  • 1,222 views

This Nose Knows

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Evolution has given the sperm whale the most amazing head in the animal kingdom. They’ve got the biggest brain – all 18 lb.s of it. It has 1900 liters of sperm oil that almost caused in the extinction of the animal. It has one nostril that’s offset on its head, making the whale asymmetric. But most impressively, he can change the density of his head to help him dive or surface, and to do it he uses the same organ he uses for echolocation!... Read more »

  • March 24, 2015
  • 02:42 PM
  • 562 views

FDA struggles to define what “natural” means for food labels

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

After decades of debate there remains no generally accepted definition of a “natural” food product. Despite a gamut of products with the label prominently displayed, it has caused a headache in lawsuits for the government who have yet to define “natural”. According to new research, while regulatory agencies have refused to settle the issue, they may be under new pressure from those consumer lawsuits.... Read more »

  • March 24, 2015
  • 10:11 AM
  • 981 views

Global Warming Turns Rainforest Leaves into Junk Food

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Like those breakfast cereals that look healthy on the box but have even more sugar inside than Cocoa Puffs, some rainforest trees engage in false advertising. It's not their fault—it's ours. Climate change has made their leaves less nutritious than they used to be. And the animals who live off of those trees don't exactly have another store to shop at.

Experiments in labs and greenhouses have given scientists mixed answers about what happens to plant tissues in a changing climate. So pr........ Read more »

Rothman, J., Chapman, C., Struhsaker, T., Raubenheimer, D., Twinomugisha, D., & Waterman, P. (2015) Long-term declines in nutritional quality of tropical leaves. Ecology, 96(3), 873-878. DOI: 10.1890/14-0391.1  

  • March 23, 2015
  • 10:34 AM
  • 1,062 views

Komodo Dragons: Their Bite is Worse than Their Bark

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Shelly Sonsalla Komodo Dragon. Image by Arturo de Frias Marques on Wikimedia. Komodo dragons are the world’s largest living lizard and can be found only on select islands in the Indonesian archipelago. These massive lizards can grow to be 10 feet in length and up to 150 pounds! Their natural prey includes wild boars, deer, and water buffalo—animals which may outweigh them by several hundred pounds. So how does a lizard, even such a large one, manage to take down prey so much larger tha........ Read more »

Fry, B., Wroe, S., Teeuwisse, W., van Osch, M., Moreno, K., Ingle, J., McHenry, C., Ferrara, T., Clausen, P., Scheib, H.... (2009) A central role for venom in predation by Varanus komodoensis (Komodo Dragon) and the extinct giant Varanus (Megalania) priscus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(22), 8969-8974. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0810883106  

Merchant, M., Henry, D., Falconi, R., Muscher, B., & Bryja, J. (2013) Antibacterial activities of serum from the Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis). Microbiology Research, 4(1), 4. DOI: 10.4081/mr.2013.e4  

Montgomery JM, Gillespie D, Sastrawan P, Fredeking TM, & Stewart GL. (2002) Aerobic salivary bacteria in wild and captive Komodo dragons. Journal of wildlife diseases, 38(3), 545-51. PMID: 12238371  

  • March 22, 2015
  • 06:52 AM
  • 559 views

Can Neuroscience Teach Us About Winemaking?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Modern winemakers may have erred when they switched to producing high alcohol wines. According to a new paper, from Spanish neuroscientists Ram Frost and colleagues, a low alcohol content wine actually produces more brain activity in 'taste processing' areas than more alcoholic varieties do.



But what does the brain really have to say about Beaujolais? Can scanning help us pick a Sauvignon? Will neuroimaging reveal the secret to a good... er... Nero d'Avola?



In their paper, publishe... Read more »

  • March 21, 2015
  • 07:31 PM
  • 508 views

Squid prolifically edit RNA to enrich their DNA

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

DNA, it’s what makes us, well us! Not that long ago, before we sequenced human DNA we assumed we had one of the largest genomes around. Frankly it wasn’t a bad assumption, but of course we found out this was far from the case and to make ourselves feel better we said size doesn’t matter. But one of the surprising discoveries to emerge from comparative genomics is that drastically different organisms–humans, sea urchins, worms, flies –are endowed with a more or less common set of genes......... Read more »

  • March 20, 2015
  • 03:55 AM
  • 1,179 views

How chemistry affects the evolution of life

by GrrlScientist in Maniraptora

SUMMARY: In this fascinating video, Professor Ros Rickaby from Oxford chats with Professor Simon Conway-Morris at Cambridge about how Earth’s changing chemistry has affected evolution, and how this can sometimes lead to evolutionary convergence... Read more »

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