Lions: just big kitties really! There have been a couple of lion stories in the news in the last week or two, and enough interest in them that I felt compelled to write something. First there was a paper by Craig Packer and many coauthors about lion populations in Africa, their current declines, and the possible role of fencing in protecting them. Then, shortly after, there was a letter in the New York Times by Tanzania's own Director of Wildlife, asking the US government not to list the lion as........ Read more »
Packer, C., Loveridge, A., Canney, S., Caro, T., Garnett, S., Pfeifer, M., Zander, K., Swanson, A., MacNulty, D., Balme, G.... (2013) Conserving large carnivores: dollars and fence. Ecology Letters. DOI: 10.1111/ele.12091
PACKER, C., BRINK, H., KISSUI, B., MALITI, H., KUSHNIR, H., & CARO, T. (2011) Effects of Trophy Hunting on Lion and Leopard Populations in Tanzania. Conservation Biology, 25(1), 142-153. DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2010.01576.x
The decisions of this chimpanzee living in the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Sanctuary are affected by his social situation. Photo by Alex Rosati.If you have a choice between a prize that is awesome half the time and totally lame the other half of the time or a mediocre prize that is a sure-thing, which would you choose? Your choice probably depends on your personality somewhat. It may also depend on your needs and your mood. And it can depend on social contexts, like if you’re competing with someone........ Read more »
Rosati, A., & Hare, B. (2012) Decision making across social contexts: competition increases preferences for risk in chimpanzees and bonobos. Animal Behaviour, 84(4), 869-879. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2012.07.010
We’ve laughed in the past about a “genome of the day” because there are so many projects each week that we want to explore, and it’s hard to keep up. But recently I wanted to have a look at the peach genome project, because–well, peaches! And the summary papers are nice. But generally I want [...]... Read more »
Verde, I., Abbott, A., Scalabrin, S., Jung, S., Shu, S., Marroni, F., Zhebentyayeva, T., Dettori, M., Grimwood, J., Cattonaro, F.... (2013) The high-quality draft genome of peach (Prunus persica) identifies unique patterns of genetic diversity, domestication and genome evolution. Nature Genetics. DOI: 10.1038/ng.2586
Goodstein, D., Shu, S., Howson, R., Neupane, R., Hayes, R., Fazo, J., Mitros, T., Dirks, W., Hellsten, U., Putnam, N.... (2011) Phytozome: a comparative platform for green plant genomics. Nucleic Acids Research, 40(D1). DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkr944
Parasitism is the most common lifestyle on earth, be it plant, animal or fungi virtually all species are affected by it. It may be slightly morbid but there is something [...]... Read more »
Pamminger Tobias, Leingärtner Annette, Achenbach Alexandra, Kleeberg Isabelle, Pennings Pleuni S., & Foitzik Susanne. (2013) Geographic distribution of the anti-parasite trait “slave rebellion”. Evolutionary Ecology, 27(1), 39-49. DOI: 10.1007/s10682-012-9584-0
A fish swims along a sandy lake bottom, carrying one of its babies in its mouth. It approaches the nesting cave of another family of fish. With a furtive "ptooey," it leaves the baby behind for adoption. For certain fish, this seems to be a common scene: giving up your young and taking on others' may be the best way to ensure your offspring grow past snack size.
The fish in question is Neolamprologus caudopunctatus, a type of cichlid (pronounced like a compliment for someone's hat).* Ju........ Read more »
Schaedelin, F., van Dongen, W., & Wagner, R. (2012) Nonrandom brood mixing suggests adoption in a colonial cichlid. Behavioral Ecology, 24(2), 540-546. DOI: 10.1093/beheco/ars195
How do you catch a dragon? Do you go looking for a brave knight to send forth on a difficult quest? Or a legendary hunter without fear?
No. You use cameras to capture their image.
To be clear, the dragons we’re talking about here are Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis), the largest living lizards, which can be found on some Indonesian islands and can reach a length of 3 meters. Their size, along with the absence of large mammalian carnivores on the islands, makes them apex predators........ Read more »
Ariefiandy, A., Purwandana, D., Seno, A., Ciofi, C., & Jessop, T. (2013) Can Camera Traps Monitor Komodo Dragons a Large Ectothermic Predator?. PLoS ONE, 8(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058800
This week, I found a paper that I’m calling the best of both worlds. Well, for me at least. This paper combines my past (and lingering) interest in island biogeography with a current interest in climate change and carbon storage.If you have been reading my blog long enough then you already know my love of islands. They are just so darn useful. In the past, I have focused on oceanic islands, but lake islands are also really neat. These types of islands typically form when lower lying land........ Read more »
Clemmensen, K., Bahr, A., Ovaskainen, O., Dahlberg, A., Ekblad, A., Wallander, H., Stenlid, J., Finlay, R., Wardle, D., & Lindahl, B. (2013) Roots and Associated Fungi Drive Long-Term Carbon Sequestration in Boreal Forest. Science, 339(6127), 1615-1618. DOI: 10.1126/science.1231923
We recently picked up an unusual looking American mink in Waterford, Ireland...... Read more »
C. Douglas Deane and Fergus O'Gorman. (1969) The Spread of Feral Mink in Ireland. The Irish Naturalists' Journal . info:/
Zalewski, A., Michalska-Parda, A., Ratkiewicz, M., Kozakiewicz, M., Bartoszewicz, M., & Brzeziński, M. (2011) High mitochondrial DNA diversity of an introduced alien carnivore: comparison of feral and ranch American mink Neovison vison in Poland. Diversity and Distributions, 17(4), 757-768. DOI: 10.1111/j.1472-4642.2011.00767.x
As the reader will discover, the wolves—given just a fragment of chance and space—wove a story while we, with our supposedly vast powers of imagination, did well to just sit back and watch and learn. –Rick Bass, Preface to the Mariner Books edition of The Ninemile Wolves (2003) This post is a final analysis of [...]... Read more »
Axelsson, E., Ratnakumar, A., Arendt, M., Maqbool, K., Webster, M., Perloski, M., Liberg, O., Arnemo, J., Hedhammar, �., & Lindblad-Toh, K. (2013) The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet. Nature, 495(7441), 360-364. DOI: 10.1038/nature11837
The oceans have long accumulated the waste products of civilization. Dumping at sea is banned, but to protect the marine environment we must also monitor litter on coastal lands and rivers.... Read more »
These whio (pronounced “fee-0”) ducklings were just a few days old when I took this photo. They were some of the lucky ones, hatching in a river valley where introduced predators were kept at low numbers due to the hard … Continue reading →... Read more »
WHITEHEAD, A., EDGE, K-A., SMART, A., HILL, G., & WILLANS, M. (2008) Large scale predator control improves the productivity of a rare New Zealand riverine duck. Biological Conservation, 141(11), 2784-2794. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2008.08.013
WHITEHEAD, A., ELLIOTT, G., & MCINTOSH, A. (2010) Large-scale predator control increases population viability of a rare New Zealand riverine duck. Austral Ecology, 35(7), 722-730. DOI: 10.1111/j.1442-9993.2009.02079.x
Too many mouths to feed? Just make your babies fight each other to the death! That's a strategy some bird parents have been using since even before The Hunger Games was popular. It means the strongest chicks get stronger while the weakest ones conveniently stop showing up to the table.
One type of bird takes this family drama a step further: after letting the biggest chicks bully their siblings for a while, parents suddenly decide the runts are their favorites and begin beating up ........ Read more »
Shizuka, D., & Lyon, B. (2013) Family dynamics through time: brood reduction followed by parental compensation with aggression and favouritism. Ecology Letters, 16(3), 315-322. DOI: 10.1111/ele.12040
In Africa people eat monkey meat for the protein it contains. You can guess this is bad news for the monkey population, but it actually has far bigger consequences for the whole forrest and eventually for humans themselves. It could lead to less fruits and nuts, typically those that men also eat, like mango’s.... Read more »
Effiom EO, Nuñez-Iturri G, Smith HG, Ottosson U, & Olsson O. (2013) Bushmeat hunting changes regeneration of African rainforests. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 280(1759), 20130246. PMID: 23516245
Over the course of hundreds of millions of years, the combustible, black rock we call coal was formed from the vast peat bogs of flooded forests. For centuries, people have burned lumps of coal for smoky fuel, such that opposition to its pollution had been voiced as early as the fourteenth century. Today, as anti-coal movements emphasize a role in climate change and miners cope with unemployment, a novel, microporous material may challenge objections to coal by cleaning up its carbon emissions.... Read more »
Lyndon R, Konstas K, Ladewig BP, Southon PD, Kepert PC, & Hill MR. (2013) Dynamic photo-switching in metal-organic frameworks as a route to low-energy carbon dioxide capture and release. Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English). PMID: 23401101
Baxter PJ, Kapila M, & Mfonfu D. (1989) Lake Nyos disaster, Cameroon, 1986: the medical effects of large scale emission of carbon dioxide?. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 1437-1441. PMID: 2502283
Ahern MM, Hendryx M, Conley J, Fedorko E, Ducatman A, & Zullig KJ. (2011) The association between mountaintop mining and birth defects among live births in central Appalachia, 1996-2003. Environmental research, 838-46. PMID: 21689813
Hendryx M, Wolfe L, Luo J, & Webb B. (2012) Self-reported cancer rates in two rural areas of West Virginia with and without mountaintop coal mining. Journal of community health, 320-327. PMID: 21786205
The following article is a guest post by David Jachowski. Dr. Jachowski is an instructor at Virginia Tech and conducts research in the United States, Africa and southeast Asia on the conservation and restoration of wildlife. You can find more information about his research on his website:
So maybe genetically recreating the Woolly Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) is a bad
idea. Long ... Read more »
Hansen, D., Donlan, C., Griffiths, C., & Campbell, K. (2010) Ecological history and latent conservation potential: large and giant tortoises as a model for taxon substitutions. Ecography. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0587.2010.06305.x
Josh Donlan C, Berger J, Bock CE, Bock JH, Burney DA, Estes JA, Foreman D, Martin PS, Roemer GW, Smith FA.... (2006) Pleistocene rewilding: an optimistic agenda for twenty-first century conservation. The American Naturalist, 168(5), 660-81. PMID: 17080364
A new study, done by scientists at The University of Nottingham, however, has found no link between the ‘measured’ level of noise from small and micro wind turbines and reports of ill health.... Read more »
Taylor, J., Eastwick, C., Lawrence, C., & Wilson, R. (2013) Noise levels and noise perception from small and micro wind turbines. Renewable Energy, 120-127. DOI: 10.1016/j.renene.2012.11.031
Taylor, J., Eastwick, C., Wilson, R., & Lawrence, C. (2013) The influence of negative oriented personality traits on the effects of wind turbine noise. Personality and Individual Differences, 54(3), 338-343. DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2012.09.018
A new study by U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists provides an extensive analysis of costs and benefits of replacing home oil heating systems with switchgrass pellets powered ones.... Read more »
Wilson, T., McNeal, F., Spatari, S., G. Abler, D., & Adler, P. (2012) Densified Biomass Can Cost-Effectively Mitigate Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Address Energy Security in Thermal Applications. Environmental Science , 46(2), 1270-1277. DOI: 10.1021/es202752b
A wildlife population can sustain itself when at least one animal is born for every animal that dies. Conservation biologists generally have a rule of thumb regarding how many individual animals need to be in a population to make sure that population has a high chance of sticking around for over 100 years or so; conservation plans often try to boost troubled populations up to that magic number. ... Read more »
Shoemaker KT, Breisch AR, Jaycox JW, & Gibbs JP. (2013) Reexamining the Minimum Viable Population Concept for Long-Lived Species. Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology. PMID: 23458501
Forget a needle in a haystack. For that search you'd be allowed light and air—and when you held the needle in your hand at last, it wouldn't be unrecognizably coated in bone-eating worms. Looking for whale skeletons on the ocean floor is such an impossible task that no one sets out to do it on purpose. The most recent find, lying near Antarctica and crawling with previously unseen species, was a very happy accident.
A dead whale that sinks all the way to the ocean floor is called a "wha........ Read more »
Amon, D., Glover, A., Wiklund, H., Marsh, L., Linse, K., Rogers, A., & Copley, J. (2013) The discovery of a natural whale fall in the Antarctic deep sea. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography. DOI: 10.1016/j.dsr2.2013.01.028
SUMMARY: I am trying to learn the truth regarding a published piece that caused at least one reader to ask: "Is this really true??? If it is not true how can they get away with saying this???" Read more... Read more »
Melo Martim, & O’Ryan Colleen. (2007) Genetic differentiation between Príncipe Island and mainland populations of the grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus), and implications for conservation. Molecular Ecology, 16(8), 1673-1685. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2006.03128.x
Blackburn Tim M., Harvey Paul H., & Pagel Mark D. (1990) Species Number, Population Density and Body Size Relationships in Natural Communities. The Journal of Animal Ecology, 59(1), 335. DOI: 10.2307/5176
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