118 posts · 147,170 views
Discussion of all things science with a focus on clarity, rationality and enthusiasm. Discussion topics: Natural Science, Biology, Evolution, Paleontology, Geology, Science Education
A newly published study from Penn State details what can happen when a genetically modified organism escapes from captivity and interbreeds with the wild members of its species.
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Sasu, M., Ferrari, M., & Stephenson, A. (2010) Interrelationships among a Virus-Resistance Transgene. International Journal of Plant Sciences, 171(9), 1048-1058. DOI: 10.1086/656531
What do Alfred Wallace and David Bowie have in common with a caterpillar? …in this work, Wallace expanded on one of his theories - a theory that he had previously presented to Charles Darwin and to members of the Entomological Society of London… Aposematism refers to signaling adaptations…... Read more »
Lee, et al. (2010) Can dietary conservatism explain the primary evolution of aposematism?. Animal Behaviour, 79(1), 63-74. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2009.10.004
The argument presented in the paper is that inclusive fitness theory is an extraneous, unnecessary concept that has failed to provide insights into the evolution of eusociality.
Here are a few of the reasons why I think that their argument fails:
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Even though their preferred range places them in proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, the conquest of marine ecosystems by the cottonmouths has been - as it has with most aquatically inclined reptiles - blockaded. The physiological demands of maintaining adequate hydration in a high-saline environment has constrained the Agkistrodon genus to a landward life. But things could change. ... Read more »
Lillywhite, H., Sheehy, C., & Zaidan, F. (2008) Pitviper Scavenging at the Intertidal Zone: An Evolutionary Scenario for Invasion of the Sea. BioScience, 58(10), 947. DOI: 10.1641/B581008
...a paper in Arizona, which proclaims that “Research by UA assistant anthropology professor David Raichlen and his colleagues provide evidence suggesting that 3.6 billion years ago, hominins walked with the same upright gait that humans do today...”... Read more »
Raichlen, D., Gordon, A., Harcourt-Smith, W., Foster, A., & Haas, W. (2010) Laetoli Footprints Preserve Earliest Direct Evidence of Human-Like Bipedal Biomechanics. PLoS ONE, 5(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009769
The National Association of Biology Teachers has recently published the results of a survey which focused on the attitudes held by Florida’s biology teachers towards the teaching of evolution.... Read more »
FOWLER and MEISELS. (2010) Florida Teachers’ Attitudes about Teaching Evolution. The American Biology Teacher, 72(2), 96-99. info:/10.1525/abt.2010.72.2.8
...chemical signals that switch tail enhancement into overdrive include those compounds released by other tadpoles as warning pheromones during predatory attack and those molecules discharged by the predator while digesting prey-tadpole tissues. So, in other words, a predator’s attack and digestion of a conspecific tad liberates chemicals into the water that are received by other tadpoles during development; as a result, resources are directed away from ‘normal’ growth processes and are d........ Read more »
LaFiandra, E., & Babbitt, K. (2004) Predator induced phenotypic plasticity in the pinewoods tree frog, Hyla femoralis : necessary cues and the cost of development. Oecologia, 138(3), 350-359. DOI: 10.1007/s00442-003-1412-3
...despite the fact that promiscuous mating systems are the prevailing strategy in nature, environmental factors can push typically promiscuous species towards monogamy... case in point, a report published in the April issue of The American Naturalist details how the ‘mimic poison dart frog’ (Ranitomeya imitator) parted ways with promiscuity to adapt a lifestyle as the first scientifically recognized genetically monogamous amphibian. ... Read more »
Brown, J., Morales, V., & Summers, K. (2010) A Key Ecological Trait Drove the Evolution of Biparental Care and Monogamy in an Amphibian. The American Naturalist, 175(4), 436-446. DOI: 10.1086/650727
...undermining the normal life-processes of the host’s cells, viruses are detriments to health; however, more than just illness can remain in the wake of the virus’s biological sabotage. Sometimes included with the observable symptoms of an ailment are other characteristics of viral infection that serve to promote the spread of disease. The genes that such a virus splices into a host cell’s mainframe can code for phenotypes that manipulate unwitting vectors into exposing them........ Read more »
Mauck, K., De Moraes, C., & Mescher, M. (2010) Deceptive chemical signals induced by a plant virus attract insect vectors to inferior hosts. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0907191107
...the invasive could theoretically replace the native with little ill effect to the ecosystem; the invasive could fill the niche left void by the out-competed native plant without disrupting the energetics of the plant community as a whole. BUT, at the same time, a newly arrived invasive species may have a distinct advantage over a native transient because it is completely foreign to the ecosystem. For example, being unrecognized by its new environment the invasive may, for a period of time, ........ Read more »
Simberloff, D. (2010) Invasions of Plant Communities – More of the Same, Something Very Different, or Both?. The American Midland Naturalist, 163(1), 220-233. DOI: 10.1674/0003-0031-163.1.220
A recent blog post at National Public Radio’s “Cosmos And Culture” by astrophysicist Adam Frank has raised my hackles. The post, titled “The Evolution Debate Is Over; It's Time To Move Forward,” argues that “it's time to put the prejudices that drag down discussion between science and the domains of human spiritual endeavor aside.”
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According to Utah State Representative Mike Noel, global climate change is a conspiracy theory. He insists that the whole idea of shifting climates was put together by the world’s biologists, climatologists and other scientists as an elaborate effort to control his sex life.Speaking to climate change, Republican Mike Noel (at left) explained recently that, “This is absolutely, in my mind, in fact a conspiracy to limit population not only in this country but across the globe."Being both a Rep........ Read more »
According to Utah State Representative Mike Noel, global climate change is a conspiracy theory. He insists that the whole idea of shifting climates was put together by the world’s biologists, climatologists and other scientists as an elaborate effort to control his sex life.
... Read more »
If I had a nickel for every time a biologist told me that tree plantations are nothing but “biological deserts” I’d be a rich man!
Well, at least a rich-er man anyway…
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Paquette, A., & Messier, C. (2010) The role of plantations in managing the world's forests in the Anthropocene. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 8(1), 27-34. DOI: 10.1890/080116
Birds undertake a re-conquest of the ground following the KT Extinction and ultimately find themselves on Darwin's dinner plate.... Read more »
Phillips, M., Gibb, G., Crimp, E., & Penny, D. (2009) Tinamous and Moa Flock Together: Mitochondrial Genome Sequence Analysis Reveals Independent Losses of Flight among Ratites. Systematic Biology, 59(1), 90-107. DOI: 10.1093/sysbio/syp079
...the paper is saying that the introduction of ACQUIRED CHARACTERS into the germline of a lineage has lead to GENETIC NOVELTIES with the demonstrated ability to translate to the expressed PHENOTYPE of an ANIMAL, thus acting as a source of INNOVATION... Read more »
Horie, M., Honda, T., Suzuki, Y., Kobayashi, Y., Daito, T., Oshida, T., Ikuta, K., Jern, P., Gojobori, T., Coffin, J.... (2010) Endogenous non-retroviral RNA virus elements in mammalian genomes. Nature, 463(7277), 84-87. DOI: 10.1038/nature08695
An irreducibly complex rant using developmental biology (arrested development) to connect the shortfalls of the Greek Philosopher Socrates to failed creationist arguments; includes a detailed account of a parasitic worm’s lifecycle (Alaria marcianae), and of course, endangered Florida Panthers and Mexican axolotls… A well rounded post!
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Davies, S. (2003) Developmental plasticity in schistosomes and other helminths. International Journal for Parasitology, 33(11), 1277-1284. DOI: 10.1016/S0020-7519(03)00161-9
Foster, G., Kinsella, J., Sheppard, B., & Cunningham, M. (2009) Transmammary Infection of Free-Ranging Florida Panther Neonates by Alaria marcianae (Trematoda: Diplostomatidae). Journal of Parasitology, 95(1), 238-239. DOI: 10.1645/GE-1749.1
Research published today... tediously analyzing the genomes from multiple generations of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, scientists from the Max Planck... Sanger scientists published work in which the rate of mutation in humans was estimated at around...... Read more »
Ossowski, S., Schneeberger, K., Lucas-Lledo, J., Warthmann, N., Clark, R., Shaw, R., Weigel, D., & Lynch, M. (2009) The Rate and Molecular Spectrum of Spontaneous Mutations in Arabidopsis thaliana. Science, 327(5961), 92-94. DOI: 10.1126/science.1180677
Whiptails and fencers scurry and make haste,
cross White Sands their paths converge and pace.
Tho' differing by both origin and type,
their causal genotypes follow trace.
Independent mutations had aligned,
and were by adaptation refined.
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Rosenblum, E., Rompler, H., Schoneberg, T., & Hoekstra, H. (2009) Molecular and functional basis of phenotypic convergence in white lizards at White Sands. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0911042107
Shield pennywort represents but one of about a hundred different species that belong to the Genus Hydrocotyle, a.k.a the ‘water pennyworts.’ Though often found listed as members of the Apiaceae Family, the Hydrocotyle group is now included in the ‘Ivy Family’ (Araliaceae). The genus as whole enjoys a worldwide distribution; however, the Facultative Wet H. verticillata is native to the Americas where can be found occupying floodplains, swamps, ditches, and just about any........ Read more »
CHANDLER, G., & PLUNKETT, G. (2004) Evolution in Apiales: nuclear and chloroplast markers together in (almost) perfect harmony. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 144(2), 123-147. DOI: 10.1111/j.1095-8339.2003.00247.x
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