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Ecology / Conservation posts

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  • November 28, 2013
  • 04:36 PM

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: A Brief Overview of Microbiome Studies and Why They are Important

by Geoffrey Hannigan in Prophage

The discovery and characterization of microbial species continues to be a long and painstaking process. Scientists have spent decades (well... really centuries) carefully studying the distinct properties of different microbes, examining the evolutionary relationships between different microbes, and organizing microbes into taxonomic groups based on various commonalities.... Read more »

Kang, Ilnam; Oh, Hyun-Myung M; Kang, Dongmin; Cho, Jang-Cheon C. (2013) Genome of a SAR116 bacteriophage shows the prevalence of this phage type in the oceans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1219930110  

Culley AI. (2013) Insight into the unknown marine virus majority. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(30), 12166-7. PMID: 23842091  

  • November 28, 2013
  • 05:00 AM

Please don't steal me | @GrrlScientist

by GrrlScientist in GrrlScientist

A new study finds that equipment used in scientific field research can best be protected from theft and vandalism by tagging it with a polite, personal message that provides a brief overview of the research and an appeal to leave the equipment undisturbed. ... Read more »

Clarin B.-Markus, Bitzilekis Eleftherios , Siemers Bjorn M. , & Goerlitz Holger R. . (2013) Personal messages reduce vandalism and theft of unattended scientific equipment. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.12132  

  • November 26, 2013
  • 12:18 PM

Learning socially but not socially learning

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

How do we distinguish learning from our friends from learning because our friends happen to be around? When I was younger, Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64 was the game to play, but I was sadly N64-less. Did I learn how to play Goldeneye because my friends were good at it and showed me, or because whenever I […]... Read more »

Ilan, T, Katsnelson, E, Motro, U, Feldman, M, & Lotem, A. (2013) The role of beginner’s luck in learning to prefer risky patches by socially foraging house sparrows . Behavioral Ecology. info:/10.1093/beheco/art079

  • November 26, 2013
  • 12:11 PM

Methane Emissions May Be 5 Times Greater Than Estimated

by dailyfusion in The Daily Fusion

According to a pair of new studies by Berkeley Lab scientist Marc Fischer and colleagues, current official inventories of methane emissions may greatly underestimate the actual quantity of methane that is being released into the atmosphere.... Read more »

Seongeun Jeong, Ying-Kuang Hsu, Arlyn E. Andrews, Laura Bianco, Patrick Vaca, James M. Wilczak, Marc L. Fischer. (2013) A multitower measurement network estimate of California's methane emissions. Journal of Geophysical Research, 118(19), 11338-11351. DOI: 10.1002/jgrd.50854  

  • November 25, 2013
  • 08:00 AM

Plastic for Dinner: Marine Debris and its Effects on Seabirds --Guest Post--

by David Steen in Living Alongside Wildlife

Plastic Dinner. Photo by Alex Bond.

    Imagine carrying around several kilos (or
pounds) of plastic in your stomach, unable to rid yourself of it, and gradually
adding pieces day by day.  This is
what many marine animals go through every day.  Millions of pieces of plastic enter the world’s oceans each
day, and once it’s there, it doesn’t go away.  Instead, it breaks into smaller and ... Read more »

  • November 23, 2013
  • 04:24 PM

Poo Power! Global Challenge

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

Hey Julie,it's not every week I get to issue an invitation to the entire world, but that's exactly what I'm doing today! MiaStudents invited to compete in global dog poo competition:Poo Power! Global Challenge launches Monday 25 November 2013Students and classes will be pitched against each other to see who can identify the most and largest dog waste 'hotspots' in their local neighbourhood in the 'Poo Power! Global Challenge'. Participants use a GPS-enabled iPhone to download the free Poo P........ Read more »

Okoroigwe E.C., Ibeto C.N., & Okpara C.G. (2010) Comparative Study of the Potential of Dog Waste for Biogas Production. Trends in Applied Sciences Research, 5(1), 71-77. DOI: 10.3923/tasr.2010.71.77  

Nemiroff Leah. (2007) Design, Testing and Implementation of a Large-Scale Urban Dog Waste Composting Program. Compost Science , 15(4), 237-242. info:other/ studies.pdf

  • November 21, 2013
  • 12:31 PM

Underwater “tree rings” show 650 years of sea ice change

by Perikis Livas in Tracing Knowledge

Featured article
Underwater “tree rings” show 650 years of sea ice change

Calcite crusts of arctic algae help reconstruct climate and improve modelling of climate change to come…
___ Lanna Crucefix | November 19, 2013 | Original online publication University of Toronto Mississauga

Reference Paper
Arctic sea-ice decline archived by multicentury annual-resolution record from crustose coralline algal proxy

Northern Hemisphere sea ice has been declining sharply over th........ Read more »

Halfar J, Adey WH, Kronz A, Hetzinger S, Edinger E, & Fitzhugh WW. (2013) Arctic sea-ice decline archived by multicentury annual-resolution record from crustose coralline algal proxy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 24248344  

  • November 20, 2013
  • 12:02 PM

When crowds aren’t so wise

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

Alex Tabarrok recently related a familiar story about the ‘wisdom of the crowds’: I ask the audience to guess my weight. They all wrote their guesses on a piece of paper. All the guesses was collected and an average guess – the “consensus forecast” – was calculated, while I continued my presentation. I started my presentation […]... Read more »

  • November 20, 2013
  • 10:06 AM

What Cetaceans Can Teach Us About Culture

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

A bottlenose dolphin mother shares her culture with her offspring. Image by M. Herko at the National Undersea Research Program (NURP) available at Wikimedia Commons.We often think of culture as being food dishes, music, dance, and clothing that are specific to a group of people. But are we the only species that have culture? What is culture exactly and how does it relate to relationships? Scientifically, culture is behavior that is socially transmitted between individuals and shared within po........ Read more »

  • November 20, 2013
  • 08:00 AM

Indigo Snake Found Last Week in Southwestern Georgia! --Guest Post--

by David Steen in Living Alongside Wildlife

    Like many other people these days I finally succumbed to the allure of social media and created a personal Facebook page; the main benefit for me is that it has allowed me to hear from lots of old friends. Another benefit is getting tagged in those, "Hey what is this critter?" posts I'm sure all other biologists probably get. Usually, the critter ends up being some spider in a garage or a ... Read more »

K.M. Enge, D. J. Stevenson, M. J. Elliot, & J. M. Bauder. (2013) The historical and current distribution of the eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi). Herpetological Conservation and Biology, 8(2), 288-307. info:/

  • November 20, 2013
  • 07:36 AM

Risky business? Using biological control methods to eradicate a marine pest species

by Aileen Cudmore in Natural Reactions

Boosting the natural population of New Zealand sea urchins may help to eliminate an invasive Asian sea kelp, but at what cost? ... Read more »

  • November 18, 2013
  • 08:00 AM

An Unstoppable Anaconda Invasion in Florida? What Slate Got Wrong.

by David Steen in Living Alongside Wildlife

Photo By Dave Lonsdale, Wikimedia

    Last week Slate ran a piece in their Wild Things blog
entitled, “Green Anacondas in the Everglades: The Largest Snake in the World has Invaded the United States.” Obviously the sensational headline caught my attention as did the subtitle, which refers to this invasion as "unstoppable." However, after reading the actual article I realized that it was ... Read more »

Dorcas ME, Willson JD, Reed RN, Snow RW, Rochford MR, Miller MA, Meshaka WE Jr, Andreadis PT, Mazzotti FJ, Romagosa CM.... (2012) Severe mammal declines coincide with proliferation of invasive Burmese pythons in Everglades National Park. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(7), 2418-22. PMID: 22308381  

  • November 16, 2013
  • 07:47 PM

How Scientist Soldiers Are Directly Aiding Overseas Military Efforts

by Geoffrey Hannigan in Prophage

Although most people think of scientists as people in lab coats working in University labs and teaching college courses, scientists overall apply their skills to a wide range of jobs and careers. One of those careers I, and probably most people, don't often associate with scientists is that of a soldier.... Read more »

  • November 15, 2013
  • 10:20 AM

Citizen Scientists Dig Up the Truth about Decomposing Dung

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

The amount of cow dung plopped into the world every day is almost unthinkable, but Tomas Roslin is thinking about it."We can regard it as either an immense waste problem or an enormous ecosystem service," he says. He means that what starts out as a turd in a field turns into a wealth of nutrients for plants—assuming it can make its way below ground. So understanding how dung gets broken down can help us ensure an ecosystem is running smoothly. To address such a messy, large-scale question........ Read more »

  • November 15, 2013
  • 08:04 AM

Microbe Breaks Down Lignin, Improves Biofuel Production

by dailyfusion in The Daily Fusion

Lignin, a complex polymer of aromatic alcohols, is an integral part of the secondary cell walls of plants and some algae. By its nature, lignin inhibits access to cellulose, reducing accessibility of plant sugars for biofuel production. Now, researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have characterized the enzymatic activity of a rain forest microbe that breaks down lignin essentially by breathing it.... Read more »

Khudyakov J.I., D'haeseleer P., Borglin S.E., Deangelis K.M., Woo H., Lindquist E.A., Hazen T.C., Simmons B.A., & Thelen M.P. (2012) Global transcriptome response to ionic liquid by a tropical rain forest soil bacterium, Enterobacter lignolyticus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(32), 73-82. PMID: 22586090  

  • November 14, 2013
  • 11:50 AM

Hyena Scent Posts Use Symbiotic Microbe Messengers

by Jim Ryan in Wild Mammals

Animals’ scent posts may be equally as short, relatively speaking, yet they convey an encyclopedia of information about the animals that left them.

In the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a Michigan State University researcher shows that the detailed scent posts of hyenas (Figure 1) are, in part, products of symbiotic bacteria, microbes that have a mutually beneficial relationship with their hosts.

“When hyenas leave paste deposits on grass, t........ Read more »

Theis KR, Venkataraman A, Dycus JA, Koonter KD, Schmitt-Matzen EN, Wagner AP, Holekamp KE, & Schmidt TM. (2013) Symbiotic bacteria appear to mediate hyena social odors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 24218592  

  • November 13, 2013
  • 02:15 PM

Can Animals Sense Each Other’s Wants and Hopes?

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

Is the ability to empathize uniquely human? This question has long been pondered by philosophers and animal behaviorists alike. Empathy depends in part on the ability to recognize the wants and hopes of others. A new study by researchers at the University of Cambridge suggests that we may not be alone with this ability. A male Eurasian jay feeds his female mate. Photo provided by Ljerka Ostojić.Ljerka Ostojić, Rachael Shaw, Lucy Cheke, and Nicky Clayton conducted a series of studies on Eurasia........ Read more »

  • November 13, 2013
  • 09:27 AM

African elephant societies fail to fully recover from past traumatic events

by Aileen Cudmore in Natural Reactions

Basic social skills of African elephants remain impaired decades after surviving devastating experiences. ... Read more »

Shannon G, Slotow R, Durant SM, Sayialel KN, Poole J, Moss C, & McComb K. (2013) Effects of social disruption in elephants persist decades after culling. Frontiers in Zoology, 62. PMID: 24152378  

  • November 11, 2013
  • 08:00 AM

Taking Note: I Finally Found the Snake that Feigns Death

by David Steen in Living Alongside Wildlife

By Brian Folt

    The skies were blue, the water was beige, and the sun was basically white on a September Monday in Macon County, Alabama. Turkey Vultures soared above and Cricket Frogs skipped below as I made my way down a dried-up dirt road, heading down to the river. I was leading the Auburn University Vertebrate Biodiversity class to catch stream fishes, and I was mighty content.

    ... Read more »

Grinell, J. (1912) An afternoon’s field notes. Condor, 104-107. DOI: 10.2307/1362226  

Steen, D. A. (2010) Snakes in the grass: Secretive natural histories defy both conventional and progressive statistics. Herpetological Conservation and Biology, 183-188. info:/

  • November 8, 2013
  • 10:52 AM

Fungus-Farming Beetles Start Tending Their Crop as Babies

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Inside the stems of Japanese bamboo plants, tiny farmers are working in secret. They tend to their crop of fungus, growing it in plump white clusters on their walls for eating, all while sealed safely away from the rest of the world. They begin farming the day they hatch—and when they retire, tuck some of their crop into their pockets to pass on to the next generation.

The farmer is Doubledaya bucculenta, a species of lizard beetle. Many social insects (those that live in colonies) are wel........ Read more »

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