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Ecology / Conservation posts

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  • November 28, 2015
  • 04:25 PM

How early life may influence the way elephants age

by Shermin de Silva in Maximus

Insights from 50 years of records on the reproduction and aging of Myanmar's timber elephants.... Read more »

Clubb, R., Rowcliffe, M., Lee, P., Mar, K., Moss, C., & Mason, G. (2008) Compromised Survivorship in Zoo Elephants. Science, 322(5908), 1649-1649. DOI: 10.1126/science.1164298  

Mumby, H., Mar, K., Thitaram, C., Courtiol, A., Towiboon, P., Min-Oo, Z., Htut-Aung, Y., Brown, J., & Lummaa, V. (2015) Stress and body condition are associated with climate and demography in Asian elephants. Conservation Physiology, 3(1). DOI: 10.1093/conphys/cov030  

de Silva, S., Webber, C., Weerathunga, U., Pushpakumara, T., Weerakoon, D., & Wittemyer, G. (2013) Demographic Variables for Wild Asian Elephants Using Longitudinal Observations. PLoS ONE, 8(12). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082788  

Mumby, H., Mar, K., Hayward, A., Htut, W., Htut-Aung, Y., & Lummaa, V. (2015) Elephants born in the high stress season have faster reproductive ageing. Scientific Reports, 13946. DOI: 10.1038/srep13946  

  • November 25, 2015
  • 09:50 AM

Video Tip of the Week: iDigBio for access to historical specimens and more

by Mary in OpenHelix

Usually for Thanksgiving week posting is light. In the past, we’ve all done turkey breeding and genomics, cranberry genome, and some people have included apples, potatoes, and more. But another key aspect of the holiday is to remember the past and thank those who came before. And as I was watching this video that crossed my […]... Read more »

Nelson, G., Sweeney, P., Wallace, L., Rabeler, R., Allard, D., Brown, H., Carter, J., Denslow, M., Ellwood, E., Germain-Aubrey, C.... (2015) Digitization Workflows for Flat Sheets and Packets of Plants, Algae, and Fungi. Applications in Plant Sciences, 3(9), 1500065. DOI: 10.3732/apps.1500065  

Jolley-Rogers, G., Varghese, T., Harvey, P., dos Remedios, N., & Miller, J. (2014) PhyloJIVE: Integrating biodiversity data with the Tree of Life. Bioinformatics, 30(9), 1308-1309. DOI: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btu024  

  • November 24, 2015
  • 12:10 PM

How Spider Personalities Affect Pest Control

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

They say you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. But what about with lazy spiders versus lively ones? When it comes to keeping pests at bay, the personalities of the spiders hunting them are important.

That's what two behavioral ecologists reported after watching bug dramas play out in a sunny hilltop alfalfa patch. Raphaël Royauté of North Dakota State University and Jonathan Pruitt of the University of Pittsburgh were studying the personalities of wolf spiders (Pardosa mi........ Read more »

  • November 21, 2015
  • 05:09 PM

The mysterious fungus that has major health consequences

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers at the University of Toronto examined fungi in the mucus of patients with cystic fibrosis and discovered how one particularly cunning fungal species has evolved to defend itself against neighbouring bacteria. A regular resident of our microbiome – and especially ubiquitous in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients -the Candida albicans fungus is an “opportunistic pathogen.”
... Read more »

  • November 20, 2015
  • 03:45 PM

Horrible Gulls Are Eating Baby Whales Alive

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Yes, it's important not to anthropomorphize other species or impose our values on them—but sometimes animals are just horrible. For example, kelp gulls. A few decades ago the birds in one part of Argentina realized that for a tasty snack, they could tear flesh from the backs of whales when they came up for air. Eventually the whales learned to protect themselves somewhat from the gulls. But now the gulls have shifted their attention to the whales' babies, and might be killing them.

Kelp........ Read more »

  • November 18, 2015
  • 03:15 PM

Making climate change local: how to motivate city-wide adaptation strategies

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

More than 80% of the US population lives in cities, making their adaptation strategies one of the most important political decisions in the coming decades. Here we discuss a new study that identifies reasons why some cities have already prepared response programs while others haven't yet started.... Read more »

  • November 15, 2015
  • 03:19 PM

The rise of do-it-yourself biology

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The Wilson Center’s Synthetic Biology Project has released a short documentary on the growth of the do-it-yourself biology (DIYbio) movement as seen through a community DIYbio lab in Baltimore, Maryland. ... Read more »

The Wilson Center. (2015) The rise of do-it-yourself biology: A look at the Baltimore Underground Science Space. Synthetic Biology Project. info:other/Link

  • November 11, 2015
  • 11:10 AM

Short-term stability and long-term collapse: exploring the complex behavior of the Antarctic ice sheet

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

A recent study indicates that Antarctic sea ice is growing, but what about its long-term evolution? Read on to see what scientists have discovered about the Antarctic's future.... Read more »

  • November 11, 2015
  • 10:10 AM

Monkeys Keep Their Food Clean, Sort Of

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

We all have our standards. For humans, it's the five-second rule. For macaques, it's "think twice before eating food off a pile of poop." The monkeys have several ways of keeping their food (sort of) clean. And the most fastidious macaques, it seems, are rewarded with fewer parasites.

On the Japanese island of Koshima, scientists have been studying Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) for nearly seven decades. The tiny, forested island is overrun with the monkeys, which live there naturally... Read more »

  • November 11, 2015
  • 08:05 AM

Fish Guts and Cancer

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

E. fishelsoni s a bacterium that breaks the rules. It grows from 10 µm long to a fully visible 0.7 mm….in twelve hours! Normally, diffusion isn’t adequate for a bacterium this big because it takes too long for two interacting proteins to find one another. But what if the bacterium make more of the protein, so much more that it can find a partner all the time. How can you make that much of each protein? E. fishelsoni does it by making 85,000 copies of its genome….. ever........ Read more »

Bresler V, Montgomery WL, Fishelson L, Pollak PE. (1998) Gigantism in a bacterium, Epulopiscium fishelsoni, correlates with complex patterns in arrangement, quantity, and segregation of DNA. J Bacteriol., 180(21), 5061-5611. info:/9791108

  • November 10, 2015
  • 03:54 PM

Projects, papers and other pleasures

by Jente Ottenburghs in Evolutionary Stories

An overview of my PhD so far...... Read more »

  • November 9, 2015
  • 01:17 PM

Solving the silicon swelling problem in batteries

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

Silicon anodes offer great capacity for next-generation batteries but suffer from volume expansion that degrades batteries. Here new research has found a clever method to allow for volume expansion and maintain their high potential capacity!... Read more »

  • November 8, 2015
  • 10:30 PM

Resistance to plant toxins in milkweed butterflies is linked to toxin storage for defense

by Betty Zou in Eat, Read, Science

Cornell biologists have shown that resistance to milkweed toxins is an evolutionary response to toxin sequestration as a defense mechanism and not as an adaptation to a toxic diet.... Read more »

  • November 4, 2015
  • 08:10 AM

Breaking the Size Barrier – Giant Bacteria, part 1

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

The rules of biology say that a bacterium must be small because it doesn’t have dedicated systems for moving molecules around inside the cell and diffusion can only move them so far, so fast. Well, here’s a bacterium that breaks the rule – it’s as big as 3 million other bacteria lumped together! To live this way, this bacterium stores sulfur and nitrogen in amounts that would be enough to kill your cells – everybody has their own rules.... Read more »

Schulz, H., & Jørgensen, B. (2001) Big Bacteria. Annual Review of Microbiology, 55(1), 105-137. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.micro.55.1.105  

Girnth, A., Grünke, S., Lichtschlag, A., Felden, J., Knittel, K., Wenzhöfer, F., de Beer, D., & Boetius, A. (2011) A novel, mat-forming Thiomargarita population associated with a sulfidic fluid flow from a deep-sea mud volcano. Environmental Microbiology, 13(2), 495-505. DOI: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2010.02353.x  

  • October 31, 2015
  • 06:22 PM

New Study Looking at the Viruses Colonizing Your Skin

by Geoffrey Hannigan in Prophage

Your skin is covered in microbes, including bacteria, fungi, and even viruses (see the illustration to the right)! We know viruses can directly impact your health by infecting your cells and causing diseases such as cutaneous warts and serious skin cancers like...... Read more »

  • October 28, 2015
  • 01:25 AM

First field observations of one of the world’s rarest whales:

by TakFurTheKaffe in Tak Fur The Kaffe

Scientists have made the first ever field observations of the Omura's whale -- the least known species of whales in the world. The results are published in the open-access Royal Society Open Science journal.... Read more »

Cerchio, S., Andrianantenaina, B., Lindsay, A., Rekdahl, M., Andrianarivelo, N., & Rasoloarijao, T. (2015) Omura’s whales (Balaenoptera omurai) off northwest Madagascar: ecology, behaviour and conservation needs . Royal Society Open Science, 2(10), 150301. DOI: 10.1098/rsos.150301  

  • October 27, 2015
  • 11:03 PM

Mysterious Whales Seen Alive for the First Time

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Never heard of an Omura's whale? There's a good reason. Until recently, no one had laid eyes on one in the wild.

Before 2003, the Omura's whale was thought to be simply a dwarf version of another type of whale. Then Japanese scientists studying the whale's DNA and bodily characteristics decided it ought to be its own species, and named it after the late cetologist Hideo Omura. Still, all they had to work with were carcasses caught by whalers or washed up on the beach. They gleaned what........ Read more »

Cerchio, S., Andrianantenaina, B., Lindsay, A., Rekdahl, M., Andrianarivelo, N., & Rasoloarijao, T. (2015) Omura’s whales (Balaenoptera omurai) off northwest Madagascar: ecology, behaviour and conservation needs . Royal Society Open Science, 2(10), 150301. DOI: 10.1098/rsos.150301  

  • October 27, 2015
  • 03:58 PM

Intestinal worms ‘talk’ to gut bacteria to boost immune system

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

When you think parasites you probably don’t think of anything helpful. However, this isn’t the case and certain parasites inadvertently help the host by helping themselves. In fact, researchers have discovered how intestinal worm infections cross-talk with gut bacteria to help the immune system.... Read more »

Zaiss MM,, Rapin A,, Lebon L,, Kumar Dubey L,, Mosconi I,, Sarter L,, Piersigilli A,, Menin L,, Walker AW,, Rougemont J,.... (2015) The intestinal microbiota contributes to the ability of helminths to modulate allergic inflammation. Immunity. info:/

  • October 26, 2015
  • 07:30 PM

Researchers create technology to produce lighter, long-lasting batteries from silicon

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Substantially smaller and longer-lasting batteries for everything from portable electronic devices to electric cars could become a reality thanks to an innovative technology developed by University of Waterloo researchers. Zhongwei Chen, a chemical engineering professor at Waterloo, and a team of graduate students have created a low-cost battery using silicon that boosts the performance and life of lithium-ion batteries.... Read more »

  • October 26, 2015
  • 01:25 AM

A week in review: Top open-access science stories

by Cath Jex in Tak Fur The Kaffe

There's simply not enough time in the week to write about everything that I'd like! So here are 6 extra short summaries of scientific studies published during the past week, available free via open-access journals for anyone and everyone to read and enjoy!... Read more »

Luo J, Ault JS, Shay LK, Hoolihan JP, Prince ED, Brown CA, & Rooker JR. (2015) Ocean Heat Content Reveals Secrets of Fish Migrations. PloS one, 10(10). PMID: 26484541  

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