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A zoology blog reporting on research and news related to conservation, ecology, and biodiversity.
Few health issues strike a deeper chord of fear than that of cancer--your own body's tissues being hijacked, turning against you and taking over. An estimated 1,596,670 new cancer cases (not including some types of skin cancer, which are not...... Read more »
One cannot always judge a species by its cover. For example, grizzly and polar bears are in no danger of being mistaken for one another morphologically, and yet molecular studies have shown that the polar bear is actually nested within...... Read more »
Edwards, C., Suchard, M., Lemey, P., Welch, J., Barnes, I., Fulton, T., Barnett, R., O'Connell, T., Coxon, P., Monaghan, N.... (2011) Ancient Hybridization and an Irish Origin for the Modern Polar Bear Matriline. Current Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.05.058
What is better than catching an animal that belongs to a species thought to have been extirpated for half a century? Discovering that the animal is a pregnant female, of course. With species going extinct at unprecedented rates across the...... Read more »
Eklof, J. (2003) Use of vision in prey detection by brown long-eared bats, Plecotus auritus. Animal Behaviour, 66(5), 949-953. DOI: 10.1006/anbe.2003.2272
Many people have heard the fascinating factoid that the comically elongated necks of giraffes actually comprise the same number of cervical (neck) vertebrae as humans, and it's absolutely true--the giraffe's neck vertebrae are each stretched out to nearly 10 inches...... Read more »
Varela-Lasheras, I., Bakker, A., van der Mije, S., Metz, J., van Alphen, J., & Galis, F. (2011) Breaking evolutionary and pleiotropic constraints in mammals. On sloths, manatees and homeotic mutations. EvoDevo, 2(1), 11. DOI: 10.1186/2041-9139-2-11
South America is currently home to a single species of ursid, the highly elusive and uniquely patterned spectacled bear ( Tremarctos ornatus ). This species is slightly diminutive in size compared to other bears, and is known for being fairly...... Read more »
LEOPOLDO H. SOIBELZON AND BLAINE W. SCHUBERT. (2011) THE LARGEST KNOWN BEAR, ARCTOTHERIUM ANGUSTIDENS, FROM THE EARLY PLEISTOCENE PAMPEAN REGION OF ARGENTINA: WITH A DISCUSSION OF SIZE AND DIET TRENDS IN BEARS. Journal of Paleontology, 85(1), 69-75. info:/10.1666/10-037.1
Although many people tend to think of nature as being "red in tooth and claw," with different species constantly at odds with one another in a scramble for survival, ecological communities are actually bursting with mutualistic relationships in which species...... Read more »
Grafe, T., Schoner, C., Kerth, G., Junaidi, A., & Schoner, M. (2011) A novel resource-service mutualism between bats and pitcher plants. Biology Letters. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2010.1141
In my last post, we discussed Allee effects and the importance of taking those factors into consideration when making plans for managing threatened species. This time, I'm going to pick the Allee effect apart just a little bit more. Much...... Read more »
ANGULO, E., ROEMER, G., BEREC, L., GASCOIGNE, J., & COURCHAMP, F. (2007) Double Allee Effects and Extinction in the Island Fox. Conservation Biology, 21(4), 1082-1091. DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2007.00721.x
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
Although political and moral stances on alcohol use have gone back and forth over the decades, anthropological studies suggest that low-level alcohol ingestion has been an important factor in primate evolution. Alcohol is associated with ripe, nutrient-rich fruits, in addition...... Read more »
Wiens, F., Zitzmann, A., Lachance, M., Yegles, M., Pragst, F., Wurst, F., von Holst, D., Guan, S., & Spanagel, R. (2008) Chronic intake of fermented floral nectar by wild treeshrews. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(30), 10426-10431. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0801628105
In the past I have focused on reviewing newly published literature, but I have decided to periodically take a look back at some "classic" zoology papers. Defining "classic" is difficult, I am using the slightly arbitrary criteria that the paper...... Read more »
Jaeger, R. (1981) Dear Enemy Recognition and the Costs of Aggression between Salamanders. The American Naturalist, 117(6), 962. DOI: 10.1086/283780
Harvesting wind power is a fast-growing form of alternative energy technology, and U.S. interest in the wind industry is growing, as we work towards diversifying our energy grid. New turbines are being erected across the nation, and the prospects for...... Read more »
Nicholls, B., & Racey, P. (2009) The Aversive Effect of Electromagnetic Radiation on Foraging Bats—A Possible Means of Discouraging Bats from Approaching Wind Turbines. PLoS ONE, 4(7). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006246
The patchy and elusive nature of the fossil record offers us limited glimpses as to what life was like during ancient times. Often, details of behavior and interspecific interactions are left open to interpretation and speculation. But occasionally, a sudden catastrophe caught ancient animals by surprise, killing and preserving them in a moment of activity. This is rather unfortunate at the time, but proves a boon to inquisitive hominds all these years later. This is exactly the case ........ Read more »
Wilson JA, Mohabey DM, Peters SE, Head JJ. (2010) Predation upon hatchling dinosaurs by a new snake from the Late Cretaceous of India. PLoS Biology, 8(3). info:/10.1371/journal.pbio.1000322
This week, PLoS has a new paper which reports the conservation significance of a truly astounding region in Ecuador. (Ecuador also happens to be the country in which I am conducting my thesis research, although my work is at a higher elevation in the eastern Andean foothills). The new paper by Bass et al. focuses on the Yasuni National Park, which is situated in a biodiversity hotspot, in the area where the eastern Andes foothills meet the western Amazon rainforest. It was declared a ........ Read more »
Bass, M., Finer, M., Jenkins, C., Kreft, H., Cisneros-Heredia, D., McCracken, S., Pitman, N., English, P., Swing, K., Villa, G.... (2010) Global Conservation Significance of Ecuador's Yasuní National Park. PLoS ONE, 5(1). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008767
The question of whether dinosaurs were endothermic has been a rich source of controversy for decades. Although they were originally portrayed as sluggish reptiles that crept their “cold-blooded” way through the Mesozoic, over time evidence has suggested that they may have actually had active and athletic lifestyles, with fast-running metabolisms to match. Everything from growth rates to diet to integument has been used as evidence that dinosaurs, if not as fully “war........ Read more »
Pontzer, H., Allen, V., & Hutchinson, J. (2009) Biomechanics of Running Indicates Endothermy in Bipedal Dinosaurs. PLoS ONE, 4(11). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007783
National Geographic has an interesting report on predator-prey issues in national parks: apparently pregnant moose in Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park tend to shift their activity closer to roads before giving birth, in order to avoid predation by grizzly bears.
According to the results of the study, bears tend to be much more wary of roadways than moose. Grizzlies usually give keep at least a 5000 meter clearance, while moose have been recorded giving birth with........ Read more »
Reynolds-Hogland, M., Mitchell, M., Powell, R., & Brown, D. (2007) SELECTION OF DEN SITES BY BLACK BEARS IN THE SOUTHERN APPALACHIANS. Journal of Mammalogy, 88(4), 1062-1073. DOI: 10.1644/06-MAMM-A-329R1.1
I did my undergraduate degree at Auburn University, which is both a fantastic research institution and (in my exceedingly biased opinion), the crown jewel of Southern college football. I have spent many autumn Saturdays crammed in Jordan-Hare Stadium with 87,000 other people (keep in mind that the entire population of the town is around 40,000), and never ceased to be amazed at such a huge aggregation of humans, all there just to watch a game. The conservation biologist in me always f........ Read more »
Mondol, S., Karanth, K., & Ramakrishnan, U. (2009) Why the Indian Subcontinent Holds the Key to Global Tiger Recovery. PLoS Genetics, 5(8). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000585
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