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  • March 25, 2013
  • 12:26 PM

Fiddler Crabs’ Large Claw Is Attractive and Effective

by Andrew Porterfield in United Academics

Male fiddler crabs face two major challenges to their dominance; attracting females, and fending off other males competing for those females. The crabs rely on an extra-large claw to achieve both these goals. However, most scientists studying these crabs have assumed that as the male crab evolved, it was forced to make a tradeoff between an attractive, long claw, and a shorter one that’s more effective in combat.... Read more »

  • March 25, 2013
  • 06:33 AM

Study of Great Tits: Prettier Birds Have Healthier Babies

by Carian Thus in United Academics

Researchers have discovered that the look of a female great tits (Parus major) signals reproductive success. ... Read more »

Remeš, V., & Matysioková, B. (2013) More ornamented females produce higher-quality offspring in a socially monogamous bird: an experimental study in the great tit (Parus major). Frontiers in Zoology, 10(14). info:/

  • March 22, 2013
  • 12:09 PM

Getting Science Right: Recognizing Emotions in Dogs

by Carian Thus in United Academics

Bad science reporting happens on a daily basis and is perpetuated by both the media as well as the scientists themselves. UA Magazine checks whether science related media are doing justice to the research papers they mention. ... Read more »

  • March 22, 2013
  • 10:23 AM

Is One Lung Enough for the Pope?

by Andrew Porterfield in United Academics

One of the many revelations about the new Pope Francis I is that he has one lung, surgically removed when he was a teenager. At age 76, clearly he has been able to function, but his condition begs two questions: can you thrive with just one lung? And, why do we have two, anyway?... Read more »

Bolliger, C., Jordan, P., Solèr, M., Stulz, P., Tamm, M., Wyser, C., Gonon, M., & Perruchoud, A. (1996) Pulmonary function and exercise capacity after lung resection. European Respiratory Journal, 9(3), 415-421. DOI: 10.1183/09031936.96.09030415  

  • March 21, 2013
  • 10:43 AM

Defining Who or What “Pimp” is: Research

by Mark Fonseca Rendeiro in United Academics

Sociological research into the world of prostitution and sex work has always been accompanied by references to the role and impact of the infamous pimp. This name, which carries with it many associations and assumptions, has actually been the source of changing and controversial meaning. A meaning that researchers like Holly Davis at the University of Edinburgh, see as badly needing explicit definition. By using data from in-depth interviews with pimps, Davis seeks “to draw attention to the problematic definitional trends, and propose new foundations for defining ‘pimp’ within social research.”... Read more »

  • March 21, 2013
  • 08:09 AM

Roadkill Sparks Evolutionary Trend

by Andrew Porterfield in United Academics

It’s pretty rare that we can watch evolution actually happen, especially in more complex animals and plants. But a study on Nebraska cliff swallows, done over 30 years, shows that the birds have changed their wingspan in order to avoid being hit by cars and trucks.... Read more »

Brown, C., & Bomberger Brown, M. (2013) Where has all the road kill gone?. Current Biology, 23(6). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.02.023  

  • March 19, 2013
  • 12:42 PM

Why Does a Rooster Crow in the Morning?

by Carian Thus in United Academics

New research explains why roosters make sound just before dawn.... Read more »

  • March 15, 2013
  • 09:20 PM

The heat(map) is on... The colours of canine welfare.

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

Hey Julie, All those conferences sound completely AMAZING! I love that both dog urine and poo are totally appropriate topics for us to discuss in our conversations. All the other scientists are so jealous right now!I hope you've been well since getting home again. We've just been through the longest heatwave ever recorded in Melbourne over the past fortnight (9 days over 30oC / 90oF in a row) and today it's finally cooled off, hooray! I haven't posted you the TimTams I promised you on Twitter yet, for fear they'd melt before leaving Australia!Speaking of heat, I made a heat map of canine welfare for one of my presentation slides at the recent RSPCA Australia Scientific Seminar. It was very colourful and looked like this (click to embiggen):Cobb's colourful heat map, depicting perceived welfare levels of different dog types.This is based on data I gathered in an online survey that was conducted as part of my PhD. I asked participants to rate the welfare of different dog types on a scale of 1-5 from very poor to very good. Consequently, this image is a representation of the perception of welfare of different types of dogs rather than an indication of actual welfare. But perceptions are important!  Proceedings from the day, including my full paper, should be available early next week on the RSPCA Australia website.  I'll make sure to put a note up on Facebook when it does. We wish we had a quick and easy indicator of animal welfare, but we don't!My presentation covered:- the increasing expectation from the general public for transparency and best practice from industries using animals in work and sport;- how we have traditionally measured animal welfare in science;- I used working dogs as an example to talk through the life cycle stages (breeding/sourcing; raising/training; housing/healthcare and retirement/endpoints), exploring what we have learned through our recent research projects in regards to welfare, current practices and where there is room for improvement.  - I also spoke briefly about research currently under way that is using cognitive bias (often referred to as testing to see if animals are optimistic/pesimistic) as an indicator of canine emotions.Yep, I actually used this image in my presentation (source) - I related the changing dynamic within animal welfare science from researching welfare outcomes (how do we understand and limit the bad stuff) toward studying affective states (how can we understand and promote the good stuff) to similar trends in other fields of research such as human positive psychology and education.So now I'm home again and focussing my attention on writing up the results of the data analyses (from that online survey) into a paper. I want to submit the paper for publication in a peer-reviewed academic journal. As you know, this can be a lengthy process. I first have to draft the paper to a standard that I am happy with; then forward it to my PhD supervisors who may (probably will!) suggest changes and redraft. I then need to decide which journal to submit it to, and format the paper accordingly. There are lots of factors involved in selecting which journal to submit to, including impact factors... Read more »

Seligman Martin E. P., Ernst Randal M., Gillham Jane, Reivich Karen, & Linkins Mark. (2009) Positive education: positive psychology and classroom interventions. Oxford Review of Education, 35(3), 293-311. DOI: 10.1080/03054980902934563  

  • March 14, 2013
  • 07:12 AM

Ejaculating Every Day Keeps the Doctor Away?

by Carian Thus in United Academics

This image, spreading over the Internet, suggests that frequent ejaculation lowers the risk of prostate cancer with one third. But is it also true? We checked the original research paper to find out.
... Read more »

Giles, G., Severi, G., English, D., McCredie, M., Borland, R., Boyle, P., & Hopper, J. (2003) Sexual factors and prostate cancer. BJU International, 92(3), 211-216. DOI: 10.1046/j.1464-410X.2003.04319.x  

  • March 14, 2013
  • 07:03 AM

More Competion Means More Corruption, New Smog-test Study Finds

by Andrew Porterfield in United Academics

Most economists, business people and even educators and scientists assume the merits of competition; it’s supposed to lead to lower prices and improvements in quality. But, as a study on the automobile smog-testing industry shows, competition can lead to corruption and even public health problems.

A research group led by University of Southern California management professor Victor Bennett found that the structure of the smog-testing industry can lead many firms to cheat on their customers’ smog-check results. And this cheating takes place because it can actually lead to better customer relationships.... Read more »

  • March 8, 2013
  • 10:01 AM

The Need to Know Science Better

by Andrew Porterfield in United Academics

A new study underscores a chronic problem in American (and European) society; a lack of scientific literacy. A recent study from the universities of Bristol and Cardiff found that science was one of the most difficult-to-understand topics by the average reader (environmental issues, politics, economics and religion topped out the rest of that list).

Unfortunately, these are issues somewhat vital to functioning in complex society. So, what’s the problem? Why is science in particular, so hard to understand?... Read more »

Flaounas, I., Ali, O., Lansdall-Welfare, T., De Bie, T., Mosdell, N., Lewis, J., & Cristianini, N. (2013) RESEARCH METHODS IN THE AGE OF DIGITAL JOURNALISM. Digital Journalism, 1(1), 102-116. DOI: 10.1080/21670811.2012.714928  

  • March 8, 2013
  • 07:29 AM

Debunking the Political Myth of “Legitimate Rape”

by Katja Keuchenius in United Academics

When he was running for the U.S. Senate last summer, Rep. Todd Akin, a Republican from Missouri, made a huge gaffe; he claimed that female rape victims’ bodies “just shut down,” preventing pregnancy from occurring. Therefore, according to that logic, any rape that resulted in pregnancy was, instead, consensual. His statement was in support of proposed policies that would restrict the availability of abortion even in the case of rape or incest.... Read more »

  • March 7, 2013
  • 07:23 AM

Sex Can Relieve Severe Headaches

by Carian Thus in United Academics

Maybe you’re not really into it when you have a splitting headache, but new research proves that sexual activity can acutally sooth or even stop your pain.... Read more »

  • March 5, 2013
  • 03:38 PM

New stem cell approach for the treatment of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

by beredim in Stem Cells Freak

In a new study, researchers from the University of Minnesota's Lillehei Heart Institute (UMLHI) used induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and a novel genetic repair method to create skeletal stem cells, which in turn were used to partially restore muscle function in a Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) mouse model.Full Story... Read more »

Filareto, A., Parker, S., Darabi, R., Borges, L., Iacovino, M., Schaaf, T., Mayerhofer, T., Chamberlain, J., Ervasti, J., McIvor, R.... (2013) An ex vivo gene therapy approach to treat muscular dystrophy using inducible pluripotent stem cells. Nature Communications, 1549. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2550  

  • March 5, 2013
  • 08:10 AM

Lesbian Beetle Sex—It’s the Man’s Faul

by Andrew Porterfield in United Academics

Why does gay and lesbian sex exist? If the purpose of sex is reproduction, it makes no evolutionary sense. But recent work by a group at Uppsala University in Sweden has turned that notion on its head.

While beetles are hardly the species to investigate if you’re looking for the origins of same-sex love, recent work on their copulation system shows an evolutionary advantage to same-sex mating behaviors.... Read more »

  • March 5, 2013
  • 07:47 AM

Following the Nerd Herd – The Stereotype Revisited

by Anouk Vleugels in United Academics

“I was such a nerd in high school.” Most people who’ve been on a few first dates will recognize this line. Having nerd qualities, apparently, is nothing to be ashamed of anymore; it shows you’re quirky, unique and intelligent.. Nerds are fun now. So whatever happened to getting stuffed into the trash can for being different? And what exactly did the nerd evolve into?... Read more »

  • March 5, 2013
  • 04:16 AM

Why Think of Jumping From Great Heights

by Mark Fonseca Rendeiro in United Academics

I grew up going back and forth between New Jersey and New York City, which often meant going over a bridge. And that is probably my earliest memory of sitting in the car wondering, what if we drive off this bridge? Years later I would find my way to the top of sky scrapers and spires overlooking cities around the world, naturally to marvel at the view, but each time with that strange familiar thought, what if I jump or fall off this building?

Suicidal thoughts? I don’t think so. But why do our imaginations so often ponder the idea?... Read more »

  • March 3, 2013
  • 09:17 PM

“It Wasn’t My Idea to Come Here”: Young Women Lack Ownership of the Idea to Immigrate

by Mark Rubin in Mark Rubin's Social Psychology Research Blog

Together with getting married and buying a house, the decision to immigrate is one of the most important decisions that a person can make. So, it’s important that immigrants feel that they have satisfactory input into the process of deciding whether or not to migrate. In some recent research, I looked at a very early stage of this decision-making process: ownership of the idea to immigrate.... Read more »

  • March 3, 2013
  • 07:11 AM

The Genetics and Birth of Homer’s Iliad

by Gunnar de Winter in United Academics

The Iliad, Homer’s epic poem telling the tale of Achilles and the war of Troy, is widely considered to be one of the greatest and well-known pieces of ancient literature. Despite its status, however, the date of its production is still uncertain.... Read more »

Altschuler, E., Calude, A., Meade, A., & Pagel, M. (2013) Linguistic evidence supports date for Homeric epics. BioEssays. DOI: 10.1002/bies.201200165  

  • March 1, 2013
  • 09:53 PM

RSPCA Australia Scientific Seminar 2013: Recap

by Cobb & Hecht in Do You Believe In Dog?

Hi Julie, what a week! Thanks for all that great information about The Sounds of Dogs, that was so interesting. I definitely recognise differences in the way my dogs bark. They have very different vocalisations for "strange person at the door", "someone familiar that I'm excited to see at the door" and "Oh my goodness, you just did something that we're not meant to do!" (that last one is ALWAYS Elke 'dobbing' on Caleb - she would have totally been the teacher's pet in a classroom environment!).The RSPCA Australia Scientific Seminar in Canberra was a fantastic day. So many interesting presentations on various topics all focussing on the day's theme: When coping is not enough- promoting positive welfare states in animals.The keynote presentations from David Mellor and James Yeates were (as expected!) really thought-provoking in regards to the journey animals welfare science has taken over the past thirty years and the recent focus on animal affective states (we can probably just call them animals feelings/emotions). It was fabulous to see so many friends and fellow scientists from all over Australia and hear about their latest news regarding zoo, companion, livestock, working and even pest animal research. Some of the slides from my presentation about the welfare of working dogs.As you know, we're moving from understanding how animals cope in welfare-poor environments and taking a huge leap to try and learn how we can help them flourish. Exciting times! Here are a few of the notes I wrote down while listening to talks on the day:- Importance of teaching undergraduate students to assess the complexities of animal welfare issues objectively; use of e-simulation programs to enhance student understanding of animal welfare practices and economic/production components to decisions (Susan Hazel) - Animal welfare is about people as much as it is about animals - Australian dogs spend a lot of time in residential backyards monitoring for their owners' return from work. Most separation anxiety behavioural issues related to this management practice can be resolved by giving dogs access to indoors; preferably to owner's bed; but access to worn socks/underwear can also help if bed not available. (Robert Holmes) - Re: texting during talks -- Blackberries are loud, iPhones are quiet  - Death is not an animal welfare issue (assuming done humanely) ??? If considered as deprivation of a life worth living, it might be.  - Future will move from species-specific provision of welfare to greater individualism. Challenge in developing codes of practice/welfare to provide for individual but still be functional at herd/group/facility level As you can see, there were some really huge ideas being thrown about the room! I'll be sure to let you know when the full papers come out in the proceedings from this excellent day. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity by RSPCA Australia to speak amongst such a great line up. There's so much to think about in the wake of all the amazing talks, I think I just need to go and think! If you'd like to get into the thick of my current mind-space, you can check out the Public Lecture 'How happy does a happy animal have to be (and how can we tell)? given by James Yeates (essentially the same as his keynote address) recorded in Melbourne, the day after the Canberra event:  How happy does a happy animal have to be (and how can we tell?) from ... Read more »

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