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 »
Proffit, M., Khallaf, M., Carrasco, D., Larsson, M., & Anderson, P. (2015) ‘Do you remember the first time?’ Host plant preference in a moth is modulated by experiences during larval feeding and adult mating. Ecology Letters, 18(4), 365-374. DOI: 10.1111/ele.12419
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 »
Cryan, J., & Dinan, T. (2015) More than a Gut Feeling: the Microbiota Regulates Neurodevelopment and Behavior. Neuropsychopharmacology, 40(1), 241-242. DOI: 10.1038/npp.2014.224
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
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 »
Paolo, F., Fricker, H., & Padman, L. (2015) Volume loss from Antarctic ice shelves is accelerating. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa0940
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 »
Altaki, M., Santos, F., & Galceran, M. (2011) Occurrence of furan in coffee from Spanish market: Contribution of brewing and roasting. Food Chemistry, 126(4), 1527-1532. DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2010.11.134
Pavesi Arisseto, A., Vicente, E., Soares Ueno, M., Verdiani Tfouni, S., & De Figueiredo Toledo, M. (2011) Furan Levels in Coffee As Influenced by Species, Roast Degree, and Brewing Procedures. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 59(7), 3118-3124. DOI: 10.1021/jf104868g
Guenther, H., Hoenicke, K., Biesterveld, S., Gerhard-Rieben, E., & Lantz, I. (2010) Furan in coffee: pilot studies on formation during roasting and losses during production steps and consumer handling. Food Additives , 27(3), 283-290. DOI: 10.1080/19440040903317505
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
Brown, C., Fulton, E., Possingham, H., & Richardson, A. (2012) How long can fisheries management delay action in response to ecosystem and climate change?. Ecological Applications, 22(1), 298-310. DOI: 10.1890/11-0419.1
Butterworth, D. (1999) Experiences in the evaluation and implementation of management procedures. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 56(6), 985-998. DOI: 10.1006/jmsc.1999.0532
King, J., & McFarlane, G. (2006) A framework for incorporating climate regime shifts into the management of marine resources. Fisheries Management and Ecology, 13(2), 93-102. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2400.2006.00480.x
Pitcher, T., Kalikoski, D., Short, K., Varkey, D., & Pramod, G. (2009) An evaluation of progress in implementing ecosystem-based management of fisheries in 33 countries. Marine Policy, 33(2), 223-232. DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2008.06.002
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
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 »
Stige, L., Langangen, �., Yaragina, N., Vikebø, F., Bogstad, B., Ottersen, G., Stenseth, N., & Hjermann, D. (2015) Combined statistical and mechanistic modelling suggests food and temperature effects on survival of early life stages of Northeast Arctic cod (Gadus morhua). Progress in Oceanography. DOI: 10.1016/j.pocean.2015.01.009
Langangen, O., Stige, L., Yaragina, N., Vikebo, F., Bogstad, B., & Gusdal, Y. (2013) Egg mortality of northeast Arctic cod (Gadus morhua) and haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus). ICES Journal of Marine Science, 71(5), 1129-1136. DOI: 10.1093/icesjms/fst007
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 »
Ridgway, S., & Hanson, A. (2014) Sperm Whales and Killer Whales with the Largest Brains of All Toothed Whales Show Extreme Differences in Cerebellum. Brain, Behavior and Evolution, 83(4), 266-274. DOI: 10.1159/000360519
Oliveira, C., Wahlberg, M., Johnson, M., Miller, P., & Madsen, P. (2013) The function of male sperm whale slow clicks in a high latitude habitat: Communication, echolocation, or prey debilitation?. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 133(5), 3135. DOI: 10.1121/1.4795798
BODDY, A., McGOWEN, M., SHERWOOD, C., GROSSMAN, L., GOODMAN, M., & WILDMAN, D. (2012) Comparative analysis of encephalization in mammals reveals relaxed constraints on anthropoid primate and cetacean brain scaling. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 25(5), 981-994. DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2012.02491.x
Montgomery, S., Geisler, J., McGowen, M., Fox, C., Marino, L., & Gatesy, J. (2013) THE EVOLUTIONARY HISTORY OF CETACEAN BRAIN AND BODY SIZE. Evolution, 67(11), 3339-3353. DOI: 10.1111/evo.12197
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 »
Petty, R. (2014) “Natural” Claims in Food Advertising: Policy Implications of Filling the Regulatory Void with Consumer Class Action Lawsuits. Journal of Public Policy , 2147483647. DOI: 10.1509/jppm.14.147
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
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 »
Christiansen P, & Wroe S. (2007) Bite forces and evolutionary adaptations to feeding ecology in carnivores. Ecology, 88(2), 347-58. PMID: 17479753
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
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 »
Frost R, Quiñones I, Veldhuizen M, Alava JI, Small D, & Carreiras M. (2015) What Can the Brain Teach Us about Winemaking? An fMRI Study of Alcohol Level Preferences. PloS one, 10(3). PMID: 25785844
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 »
Alon, S., Garrett, S., Levanon, E., Olson, S., Graveley, B., Rosenthal, J., & Eisenberg, E. (2015) The majority of transcripts in the squid nervous system are extensively recoded by A-to-I RNA editing. eLife. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.05198
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 »
Williams R. J. P. (1981) The Bakerian Lecture, 1981: Natural Selection of the Chemical Elements. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 213(1193), 361-397. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.1981.0071
Cook L. M., I. J. Saccheri, & J. Mallet. (2012) Selective bird predation on the peppered moth: the last experiment of Michael Majerus. Biology Letters, 8(4), 609-612. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2011.1136
Dhingra A., & H. Daniell. (2004) Enhanced translation of a chloroplast-expressed RbcS gene restores small subunit levels and photosynthesis in nuclear RbcS antisense plants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 101(16), 6315-6320. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0400981101
One of the most amazing animals is one of the least often seen. It has one tooth that grows into a tusk that’s off center. The tusk is basically inside out, with the inside of the tooth exposed to the world. This animal also has the world’s only spiraled tooth, for strength and because that’s what keeps it growing straight. Finally, this animal spends an amazing amount of time on its back. Why do we care about these animal…..because they are so awesome!... Read more »
Nweeia, M., Eichmiller, F., Hauschka, P., Donahue, G., Orr, J., Ferguson, S., Watt, C., Mead, J., Potter, C., Dietz, R.... (2014) Sensory ability in the narwhal tooth organ system. The Anatomical Record, 297(4), 599-617. DOI: 10.1002/ar.22886
Dietz, R., Shapiro, A., Bakhtiari, M., Orr, J., Tyack, P., Richard, P., Eskesen, I., & Marshall, G. (2007) Upside-down swimming behaviour of free-ranging narwhals. BMC Ecology, 7(1), 14. DOI: 10.1186/1472-6785-7-14
Even the most dismal gardener wouldn't mind taking charge of a plot of Lodoicea maldivica. This palm tree knows how to water itself. It even adds fertilizer. As a result, it rules the forest, turning a bad soil situation into seeds the size of a four-year-old human.
Lodoicea maldivica is commonly called the coco de mer palm. "Commonly" might be the wrong word, though, since the tree grows on exactly two islands in the world, in the Seychelles. It roots itself in soil made from weathered g........ Read more »
Edwards PJ, Fleischer-Dogley F, & Kaiser-Bunbury CN. (2015) The nutrient economy of Lodoicea maldivica, a monodominant palm producing the world's largest seed. The New phytologist. PMID: 25616088
Since Hjort’s ground-breaking work, it is admitted that the survival from the egg to the first reproduction is an essential factor affecting the dynamics of fish populations (
see post). Human activities around spawning ground may have an effect on the mortality of the younger age. One of such potentially risky activity is oil exploitation which is on the increase in the northern areas.
... Read more »
Hjermann, D.Ø., Melsom, A., Dingsør, G., Durant, J.M., Eikeset, A.E., Røed, L., Ottersen, G., Storvik, G., & Stenseth, N.C. (2007) Fish and oil in the LofotenBarents Sea system: synoptic review of the effect of oil spills on fish populations. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 283-299. DOI: 10.3354/meps339283
Hidalgo, M., Gusdal, Y., Dingsor, G., Hjermann, D., Ottersen, G., Stige, L., Melsom, A., & Stenseth, N. (2011) A combination of hydrodynamical and statistical modelling reveals non-stationary climate effects on fish larvae distributions. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 279(1727), 275-283. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2011.0750
Ciannelli, L., Dingsør, G., Bogstad, B., Ottersen, G., Chan, K., Gjøsæter, H., Stiansen, J., & Stenseth, N. (2007) SPATIAL ANATOMY OF SPECIES SURVIVAL: EFFECTS OF PREDATION AND CLIMATE-DRIVEN ENVIRONMENTAL VARIABILITY. Ecology, 88(3), 635-646. DOI: 10.1890/05-2035
SUMMARY: To meet humanity’s growing energy demands, scientists are taking lessons from plants, which perfected the process of capturing the sun’s rays and transforming that into starch. Might scientists be able to adapt the photosynthetic process pioneered by plants and adapt it to meet human demands? ... Read more »
Porter G. (1950) Flash Photolysis and Spectroscopy. A New Method for the Study of Free Radical Reactions. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 200(1061), 284-300. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspa.1950.0018
Porter G. (1966) Studies of Triplet Chlorophyll by Microbeam Flash Photolysis. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 295(1440), 1-12. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspa.1966.0222
Porter G. (1978) The Bakerian Lecture, 1977: In Vitro Models for Photosynthesis. Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 362(1710), 281-303. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspa.1978.0134
Tyndall J. (1861) The Bakerian Lecture: On the Absorption and Radiation of Heat by Gases and Vapours, and on the Physical Connexion of Radiation, Absorption, and Conduction. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 1-36. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstl.1861.0001
Cogdell R. J., P. I. Molina, & L. Cronin. (2013) The use and misuse of photosynthesis in the quest for novel methods to harness solar energy to make fuel. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 371(1996), 20110603-20110603. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2011.0603
SUMMARY: Citizen science is getting a lot of attention these days, which might make you think it is a new social phenomenon. But in fact, nothing is further from the truth.... Read more »
Blackawton P. S., Airzee S. , Allen A., Baker S., Berrow A., Blair C., Churchill M., Coles J., Cumming R. F.-J., & Fraquelli L. (2011) Blackawton bees. Biology Letters, 168-172. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2010.1056
The Cyclops had one eye in the middle of his forehead, but can you think of real animal with only one eye? Two eyes (or more) seem to be very important in evolution. This is so true that when flatfish lie down on the ocean floor they move one eye to the other side of their head! Research is showing that it’s more than just their eye that changes and the alterations are important for their survival. And by the way – there is one kind of animal that only has one eye, it’s the &he........ Read more »
MacDonald P. (2013) A rare occurrence of reversal in the common megrim Lepidorhombus whiffiagonis (Pleuronectiformes: Scophthalmidae) in the northern North Sea. Journal of fish biology, 83(3), 691-4. PMID: 23991885
Suzuki, T., Washio, Y., Aritaki, M., Fujinami, Y., Shimizu, D., Uji, S., & Hashimoto, H. (2009) Metamorphic pitx2 expression in the left habenula correlated with lateralization of eye-sidedness in flounder. Development, Growth , 51(9), 797-808. DOI: 10.1111/j.1440-169X.2009.01139.x
Goto T. (2009) Reversals in two dextral flounder species, Microstomus achne and Cleisthenes pinetorum (Pleuronectida; Teleostei), from Japan. Journal of fish biology, 74(3), 669-73. PMID: 20735586
BERGSTROM, C. (2007) Morphological evidence of correlational selection and ecological segregation between dextral and sinistral forms in a polymorphic flatfish, Platichthys stellatus. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 20(3), 1104-1114. DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2006.01290.x
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