Some of the most bio-diverse areas of the world are also some of the most impoverished, which is why it can seem cruel to create national parks and other protected areas to preserve these ecosystems. Aren’t the human lives in those regions more important than plants or other animals? Some research has supported the idea [...]... Read more »
Andam, K., Ferraro, P., Sims, K., Healy, A., & Holland, M. (2010) Protected areas reduced poverty in Costa Rica and Thailand. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(22), 9996-10001. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0914177107
Guppies do it. Why shouldn't we?... Read more »
Yorzinski JL, & Platt ML. (2010) Same-sex gaze attraction influences mate-choice copying in humans. PloS one, 5(2). PMID: 20161739
Male jumping spiders (Phidippus clarus) size one another up before engaging in a fight—whether the aggression is based on rights to mating or territory—and in many cases, the pre-fight displays are sufficient to deter physical contact. The males do not nest but instead wander between female nests looking for opportunities to mate. The females, on the other hand, are not nomads—they build nests from silk and leaves in which they wait while they draw closer to sexual maturity.
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Elias, D., Botero, C., Andrade, M., Mason, A., & Kasumovic, M. (2010) High resource valuation fuels "desperado" fighting tactics in female jumping spiders. Behavioral Ecology. DOI: 10.1093/beheco/arq073
How high did the sauropod dinosaurs hold their heads? It is a simple question, but for years it has been part of an ongoing controversy about the evolution and habits of these long-necked, large-bodied vegetarians. Depending on whom you ask, sauropods either kept their heads down to vacuum up low-lying vegetation from a wide area [...]... Read more »
Christian, A. (2010) Some sauropods raised their necks--evidence for high browsing in Euhelopus zdanskyi. Biology Letters. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2010.0359
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Conde, D., Colchero, F., Zarza, H., Christensen Jr., N., Sexton, J., Manterola, C., Chávez, C., Rivera, A., Azuara, D., & Ceballos, G. (2010) Sex matters: Modeling male and female habitat differences for jaguar conservation. Biological Conservation. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2010.04.049
Some really simple questions have surprisingly complex answers. “Why is the sky blue?” ends up being all about differential absorbance of varying wavelengths of electromagnetic radiat… see, there, I’ve already wandered off into jargon land.
And so it is with the question “Why is a cooked lobster red, when a live lobster is not?”. An odd question, but its exactly that kind of “I wonder why…” ... Read more »
Cianci M, Rizkallah PJ, Olczak A, Raftery J, Chayen NE, Zagalsky PF, & Helliwell JR. (2002) The molecular basis of the coloration mechanism in lobster shell: beta-crustacyanin at 3.2-A resolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 99(15), 9795-800. PMID: 12119396
I got a little bit starry eyed writing about the Neanderthal genome the other day. I chose to retrace the arc of scientific progress that links the initial description of Neanderthal man as something different than modern humans to the point reached last month, where we are able to tag some of those differences to a single gene. Most of the news stories about the Neanderthal genome focused not on the genes that made us different from them, but a small percentage of the genome that reinforced th........ Read more »
Invasive species flock to richer, more crowded European countries
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Pysek, P. et al. (2010) Disentangling the role of environmental and human pressures on biological invasions across Europe. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. info:/10.1073/pnas.1002314107
Sugar is sugar and calories are calories . . . or so we’ve always believed. Research from Princeton Neuroscience Institute, however, suggests otherwise.... Read more »
Bocarsly, M., Powell, E., Avena, N., & Hoebel, B. (2010) High-fructose corn syrup causes characteristics of obesity in rats: Increased body weight, body fat and triglyceride levels. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. DOI: 10.1016/j.pbb.2010.02.012
Everybody makes mistakes. But the peer-reviewed scientific literature tries to reduce mistakes by having fairly rigorous rules for citation. Citing original sources increases transparency and greatly facilitates fact-checking.
For instance, in one of our recent papers, we pointed out that a reference given in another paper did not support the point being made (as far as we could tell). Probably most practicing scientists have a story like that. But how common is that sort of error?
A new paper........ Read more »
Todd, P., Guest, J., Lu, J., & Chou, L. (2010) One in four citations in marine biology papers is inappropriate. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 299-303. DOI: 10.3354/meps08587
Lynn Margulis classified the Chaetognaths, known as arrow worms, as deuterostomes. Deuterostomy is characterized by several developmental characteristics including radial, indeterminate cleavage, a posterior position of the blastopore (deuterostomy=”second mouth”), enterocoelous coelom formation and a tripartite adult body plan . . . → Read More: What in Darwin’s Name Are Chaetognaths?!... Read more »
Ball, E., & Miller, D. (2006) Phylogeny: The Continuing Classificatory Conundrum of Chaetognaths. Current Biology, 16(15). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2006.07.006
Chen, J.-Y., & Huang, D.-Y. (2002) A Possible Lower Cambrian Chaetognath (Arrow Worm). Science, 298(5591), 187-187. DOI: 10.1126/science.1075059
Marlétaz, F., Martin, E., Perez, Y., Papillon, D., Caubit, X., Lowe, C., Freeman, B., Fasano, L., Dossat, C., & Wincker, P. (2006) Chaetognath phylogenomics: a protostome with deuterostome-like development. Current Biology, 16(15). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2006.07.016
In the previous few gekkotan articles we looked at the seriously weird and highly distinctive leaf-tailed geckos of Madagascar. There's another group of especially unusual, highly notable gekkonid gekkotans I want to write about: the flying, gliding or parachute geckos (Ptychozoon) of south-east Asia and India. These geckos are weird: the adjacent pic (widely available online, but only at frustratingly small size; it's credited to Tim Macmillan/John Downer) makes them look like tiny screamin........ Read more »
Brown, R. M., Ferner, J. W., & Diesmos, A. C. (1997) Definition of the Philippine parachute gecko, Ptychozoon intermedium Taylor 1915 (Reptilia: Squamata: Gekkonidae): redescription, designation of a neotype, comparisons with related species. Herpetologica, 373-373. info:/
A new case study presents a planning method for prioritizing ecosystem restoration efforts across an agricultural region. While this type of systematic approach to prioritization has been widely used in land protection, it is much less common in restoration...... Read more »
Thompson, B. (2010) Planning for Implementation: Landscape-Level Restoration Planning in an Agricultural Setting. Restoration Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/j.1526-100X.2010.00666.x
In the last text, it was discussed the capacity of H5N1 of infecting a number of hosts and causing very harsh symptoms, causing deaths in over 50% of the recorded human cases. Despite this, its transmission from person to person seems to be well limited. Now we will see its characteristics that contribute to this.
As [...]... Read more »
Steinhauer, D. (1999) Role of Hemagglutinin Cleavage for the Pathogenicity of Influenza Virus. Virology, 258(1), 1-20. DOI: 10.1006/viro.1999.9716
Stech, O., Veits, J., Weber, S., Deckers, D., Schroer, D., Vahlenkamp, T., Breithaupt, A., Teifke, J., Mettenleiter, T., & Stech, J. (2009) Acquisition of a Polybasic Hemagglutinin Cleavage Site by a Low-Pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus Is Not Sufficient for Immediate Transformation into a Highly Pathogenic Strain. Journal of Virology, 83(11), 5864-5868. DOI: 10.1128/JVI.02649-08
How many species are there here? It’s a beguilingly simple question, and a fundamental area of interest. A moments thought shows that the bigger here is, the more species there will be. So, if we start from a little patch of my lawn, and take successively larger heres until we’ve included the whole world, we [...]... Read more »
O'Dwyer, J., & Green, J. (2010) Field theory for biogeography: a spatially explicit model for predicting patterns of biodiversity. Ecology Letters, 13(1), 87-95. DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2009.01404.x
Rosindell, J., & Cornell, S. (2009) Species–area curves, neutral models, and long-distance dispersal. Ecology, 90(7), 1743-1750. DOI: 10.1890/08-0661.1
There are few images more fearsome than that of an angry bear, with teeth bared and claws flashing. It is intriguing, then, to consider a community in which a population of mighty ursids was driven to extinction by a diminutive...... Read more »
COTE, S. (2005) Extirpation of a Large Black Bear Population by Introduced White-Tailed Deer. Conservation Biology, 19(5), 1668-1671. DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2005.00252.x
Most “Dark Matter” Transcripts Are Associated With Known Genes Harm van Bakel, Corey Nislow, Benjamin J. Blencowe, Timothy R. Hughes PLoS Biology, 8 (5): e1000371, 18 May 2010. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000371 This week’s illuminating summary and analysis by Igor Ulitsky. It’s Igor’s second contribution to the blog: The paper is one of at least five interesting RNA-Seq [...]... Read more »
van Bakel H, Nislow C, Blencowe BJ, & Hughes TR. (2010) Most "dark matter" transcripts are associated with known genes. PLoS biology, 8(5). PMID: 20502517
Suppose you’re nearing the end of your life. In a strange twist of fate, you won the lottery. You decide to split the jackpot equally between your two children. While one child uses the money to fund a charity dedicated to fighting poverty, the other one uses it to start the crime syndicate he has [...]... Read more »
Janouskovec, J., Horak, A., Obornik, M., Lukes, J., & Keeling, P. (2010) A common red algal origin of the apicomplexan, dinoflagellate, and heterokont plastids. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1003335107
The 2,000 year dance between the Jewish people and Western civilization has spawned many questions of scholarly interest. A relatively minor point, though not trivial, has been the issue of the biological relatedness of the Jewish people, and their relatedness to the nations among whom they were resident. This particular point became more starkly relevant [...]... Read more »
Atzmon, G., Hao, L., Pe'er, I., Velez, C., Pearlman, A., Palamara, P., Morrow, B., Friedman, E., Oddoux, C., & Burns, E. (2010) Abraham's Children in the Genome Era: Major Jewish Diaspora Populations Comprise Distinct Genetic Clusters with Shared Middle Eastern Ancestry. The American Journal of Human Genetics. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2010.04.015
A study shows that frequent consumption habituates the body to caffeine, and it's all downhill from there...... Read more »
Rogers PJ, Hohoff C, Heatherley SV, Mullings EL, Maxfield PJ, Evershed RP, Deckert J, & Nutt DJ. (2010) Association of the Anxiogenic and Alerting Effects of Caffeine with ADORA2A and ADORA1 Polymorphisms and Habitual Level of Caffeine Consumption. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. PMID: 20520601
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