Science Storiented

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The purpose of Science Storiented is to disseminate scientific knowledge in an educational and entertaining manner. As such, while reading through this blog you will encounter an eclectic mix of serious science, funny and/or educational science videos, the occasional infographic, and general geekology references that we scientists find poignantly true.

Melissa Chernick
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  • October 23, 2012
  • 07:29 PM

The Rocky Mountain Parnassius Problem

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Lately, I've been thinking about butterflies. I won't subject you to the interesting, if slightly convoluted, train of thought that led me to today's paper (this post is long enough as it is), but suffice it to say that we are back on the topic of butterflies and climate change. If you remember, back in March I wrote about a paper that explored how a single climate parameter can determine population dynamics in a butterfly species, the Mormon Fritillary (Speyeria mormonia) - An Early Spring Isn'........ Read more »

  • October 9, 2012
  • 03:45 PM

Dinosaurs, Diversity, Distribution, and the LBG

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

For some reason I am in the mood to read a biogeography paper. I didn’t really have a particular topic in mind when I started looking, just a few journals I occasionally peruse. Then I came across a paper about palaeodiversity and the distribution of dinosaurs. I like dinosaurs and I like biogeography. So this must be a win-win. I haven’t visited the idea of dinosaur community structure and distribution since my Dino Eco post back in 2010. That paper concluded that the entire Western Interio........ Read more »

Philip D. Mannion, Roger B. J. Benson, Paul Upchurch, Richard J. Butler, Matthew T. Carrano, & Paul M. Barrett7. (2012) A temperate palaeodiversity peak in Mesozoic dinosaurs and evidence for Late Cretaceous geographical partitioning. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 21(9), 898-908. DOI: 10.1111/j.1466-8238.2011.00735.x  

  • October 2, 2012
  • 05:46 PM

Hey, I Could Be Your Girlfriend

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

In the immortal words of Avril Lavigne: “Hey hey, you you, I don't like your girlfriend / No way, no way, I think you need a new one / Hey hey, you you, I could be your girlfriend...”Do I need to apologize for subjecting you to that? I almost feel as if I do. But it serves my point, I swear. Let’s say that the song was not titled “Girlfriend,” but instead was called “Mate Poaching.” Admittedly, it doesn’t really have the same ring to it, but that is essentially what she’s talki........ Read more »

  • September 19, 2012
  • 05:03 PM

Snakes, An Origin Story

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Quite honestly, I should have been reading a plant paper for my upcoming lab meeting. But then I stumbled across a really cool snake paper and, well, that won out. I regret nothing. As with most people, I will most likely read the plant paper right before the meeting anyway.A paper published online today in Biology Letters takes a look at the phylogeny of squamate reptiles (lizards and snakes). This group of reptiles is one of the most diverse and well-known vertebrate groups including approxima........ Read more »

John J. Wiens, Carl R. Hutter, Daniel G. Mulcahy, Brice P. Noonan, Ted M. Townsend, Jack W. Sites Jr., & Tod W. Reeder. (2012) Resolving the phylogeny of lizards and snakes (Squamata) with extensive sampling of genes and species. Biology Letters, 4(11). DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2012.0703  

  • August 24, 2012
  • 03:20 PM

The Mother-in-Law Conflict

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Mother-in-law. And the need she feels to help you raise your kids. Blame menopause. And evolution.Humans are a cooperative breeding society. We live in extended family-groups in which both "breeders" and "non-breeders" contribute in rearing the offspring. However, humans are one of the select few species (including pilot whales and killer whales) that are known to stop reproducing long before we die. This means that a significant proportion of this cooperation includes non-breeding helpers in th........ Read more »

  • August 16, 2012
  • 01:55 PM

Castrating the Zombie Ant

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

 Last year I posted Attack of the Zombie Ant! A post that turned out to be quite popular. To sum it up, there are fungal parasites (genus Ophiocordyceps) that infect ants and take control of their bodies. The fungus then compels the ant to crawl up into the forest canopy and clamp down on a leaf while the fungus grows inside the body, eventually producing a hyphae and stroma (fruiting body) that grows out of the head and produces and releases spores. And repeat.A recent paper in PLoS ONE ta........ Read more »

Sandra B. Andersen, Matthew Ferrari, Harry C. Evans, Simon L. Elliot, Jacobus J. Boomsma, & David P. Hughes. (2012) Disease Dynamics in a Specialized Parasite of Ant Societies. PLoS ONE, 7(5). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036352  

  • July 20, 2012
  • 04:46 PM

Reflections on Competitive Karting

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

There's just something really funny about watching my parents go head-to-head in a game of Mario Kart on their Wii. Maybe it has something to do with my mom choosing to play as Princess Peach and my dad driving as Bowser. Or perhaps it is how my mom yells at my dad for bumping her off the track right before she throws a bomb at his kart. I was recently at their house for a visit and threw my Yoshi character in the mix, and we got to talking about how the game brings out our competitive natures. ........ Read more »

  • July 6, 2012
  • 02:20 PM

Meet the NanoPutians

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

It is always nice to be reminded that science can have a sense of humor. For instance, I know that biology has a long history of naming insects after famous people including movie stars (such as the dolichopodid fly Campsicnemius charliechaplini), writers (like the dinosaur Serendipaceratops arthurclarkei), musicians (such as the trilobites Avalachurus lennoni, A. starri, and Struszia mccartneyi), science educators (like the land snail Crikey steveirwini), and even fictional characters (such ........ Read more »

Stephanie H. Chanteau, & James M. Tour. (2003) Synthesis of Anthropomorphic Molecules:  The NanoPutians. The Journal of Organic Chemistry, 68(23), 8750-8766. DOI: 10.1021/jo0349227  

  • July 3, 2012
  • 06:48 PM

A Lionfish of a Problem

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Lionfish are beautiful but venomous. Very recently these fish have become quite a large problem in the Caribbean, the fastest invasion documented for a marine fish. The Indo-Pacific lionfish (Pterois miles and P. volitans) are native to the reefs of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. They are also very popular aquarium fish. Whether through accidental or purposeful releases in the late 1970’s through the present, lionfish have made their way into the Caribbean. It started out as not-so-bad (as suc........ Read more »

Emily S. Darling, Stephanie J. Green, Jennifer K. O’Leary, & Isabelle M. Coˆte. (2011) Indo-Pacific lionfish are larger and more abundant on invaded reefs: a comparison of Kenyan and Bahamian lionfish populations. Biological Invasions, 13(9), 2045-2051. info:/10.1007/s10530-011-0020-0

John Alexander Brightman Claydon, Marta Caterina Calosso, & Sarah Beth Traiger. (2012) Progression of invasive lionfish in seagrass,mangrove and reef habitats. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 119-129. info:/10.3354/meps09534

  • May 25, 2012
  • 02:02 PM

I'm Older and I Have More Insurance

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

If you've seen the 1991 movie Fried Green Tomatoes then you will remember this wonderful scene:Believe it or not, this scene actually relates to today's post about territorial behavior in parking lots.You are probably familiar with the concept of territorial behavior. In animals it typically involves occupying a defined territory and marking and defending it against interlopers. This territory is desirable because it contains resources (food, mates, etc.). However, there can be risk involved in ........ Read more »

  • May 10, 2012
  • 06:01 PM

Dinosaur Farts: Climate Driver or Just Gas?

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Hmmm, how do you begin a serious discussion about dinosaur farts? Maybe I should call it flatulence? How about methane emissions from sauropod posteriors? To be honest, it hasn't ever been something I've thought about before. A correspondence paper, published this month in Current Biology,on this topic caught my attention, and it caught the attention of several news outlets. Makes sense, I suppose. As one article put it, "It sounds like perfect journalist bait." Obviously perfect blogger bait as........ Read more »

  • May 4, 2012
  • 09:28 PM

Biodiversity Good, Extinction Bad, Climate Change Worse

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

This phylogenetic tree of life was created by David Hillis, Derreck Zwickil and Robin Gutell. It depicts the evolutionary relationships of about 3,000 species throughout the Tree of Life. Less than 1 percent of all the known species. Download the pdf from the Hillis Lab.I hope we can all agree that: biodiversity = good, extinction = bad. This incredibly simplistic statement could be taken a number of ways, but, as we are doing with so many things lately, let's look at it through the le........ Read more »

Reich, P., Tilman, D., Isbell, F., Mueller, K., Hobbie, S., Flynn, D., & Eisenhauer, N. (2012) Impacts of Biodiversity Loss Escalate Through Time as Redundancy Fades. Science, 336(6081), 589-592. DOI: 10.1126/science.1217909  

Cardinale, B. (2012) Impacts of Biodiversity Loss. Science, 336(6081), 552-553. DOI: 10.1126/science.1222102  

Hooper, D., Adair, E., Cardinale, B., Byrnes, J., Hungate, B., Matulich, K., Gonzalez, A., Duffy, J., Gamfeldt, L., & O’Connor, M. (2012) A global synthesis reveals biodiversity loss as a major driver of ecosystem change. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature11118  

  • April 12, 2012
  • 10:28 AM

A Beautiful Feathered Tyrant

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

photo credit: Brian ChooThe tyrannosaurids belong to a group of carnivorous dinosaurs called theropods within the Saurischia ("reptile-hipped") dinosaurs. The Tyrannosauroidea was one of the longest-lived theropod subgroups, extending from the Middle Jurassic to the Upper Cretaceous. They are characterized by massive skulls with short but deep jaws containing large sharp teeth, elongate hindlimbs, small eyes, and highly reduced forelimbs. The Tyrannosauridae taxon includes such creatures as Albe........ Read more »

Xu, X., Wang, K., Zhang, K., Ma, Q., Xing, L., Sullivan, C., Hu, D., Cheng, S., & Wang, S. (2012) A gigantic feathered dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of China. Nature, 484(7392), 92-95. DOI: 10.1038/nature10906  

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