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Ecology / Conservation posts

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  • May 2, 2016
  • 03:50 AM
  • 49 views

A statistical regression approach to estimate zooplankton mortality

by sceintists from the Marine group at CEES in Marine Science blog




It is notoriously difficult to estimate mortality rates for zooplankton populations in the open ocean. In a new paper, Kvile and colleagues demonstrate that mortality estimation can be improved using a statistical regression approach (SRA) that takes into account advection and spatiotemporal trends in recruitment. Using this method on
Calanus finmarchicus survey data from the Norwegian Sea–Barents Sea, they find indications of increased mortality for the old........ Read more »

  • April 28, 2016
  • 09:33 AM
  • 109 views

Breathing Bordeaux is entirely different from drinking it!

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

It was the summer of 1882, and grape farmers in the Médoc region of southwest France (north of Bordeaux, on the Atlantic coast) had a problem.Schoolchildren (or university students, or just anyone travelling the roads along which the grapevines grew, depending on what source you're reading) were pilfering their grapes. To try and ward them off, some farmers decided to dissolve some slaked lime and copper sulfate in water and spray it on their grapevines closest to the roads. The idea was... Read more »

  • April 20, 2016
  • 06:49 AM
  • 155 views

The Pantanal Diaries I: Ready To Fly

by Chiara Civardi in United Academics

Emerge into Brazil's swamp, with Chiara and the Wildlife Conservation Society.... Read more »

  • April 18, 2016
  • 03:32 PM
  • 147 views

Are Territory Disputes Between Male Butterflies Influenced by Motivation?

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Nick Gremban Male speckled wood butterflies will “perch” on leavesand ends of twigs to look out over their territory for females. However, they have been known to be quite aggressivewith any intruding males! Photo by Alvesgaspar atWikimedia Commons, modified by Nick Gremban.Think about any territorial animal. Now think about its aggressiveness while it is defending its territory. Was your animal a butterfly? No? You mean the colorful wings and the natural association with flowers d........ Read more »

Bergman, M., Olofsson, M., & Wiklund, C. (2010) Contest outcome in a territorial butterfly: the role of motivation. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 277(1696), 3027-3033. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.0646  

  • April 17, 2016
  • 03:00 AM
  • 173 views

Week 15 In Review: Open-Access Science | 11 to 17 April

by TakFurTheKaffe in Tak Fur The Kaffe

Swarming Red Crabs, 11,000-year-old shaman headdress, 'superfast' wing muscles, slowdown of giant airstreams, and sexually transmitted infections in Neanderthals. Here are five of the latest scientific studies published open-access this week, ... Read more »

Stadtherr, L., Coumou, D., Petoukhov, V., Petri, S., & Rahmstorf, S. (2016) Record Balkan floods of 2014 linked to planetary wave resonance. Science Advances, 2(4). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501428  

  • April 15, 2016
  • 07:31 AM
  • 28 views

Size matters: age and telomeres

by sceintists from the Marine group at CEES in Marine Science blog




Growing evidence suggests that the telomeres’ length (a non-coding DNA sequence localized at the end of the chromosomes) is related to individual breeding performances and survival rates in several species.

... Read more »

  • April 11, 2016
  • 02:00 AM
  • 79 views

Week 14 In Review: Open-Access Science | 4 to 10 April

by TakFurTheKaffe in Tak Fur The Kaffe

River flooding boosts carbon emissions, six new species of Chinese dragon millipedes discovered, how ancient animals adapted to climate change, maths tell palaeontologists where to find fossils, and the Arctic Ocean was ice-free ten million years ago. Here are five of the latest scientific studies published open-access this week.... Read more »

Stegen, J., Fredrickson, J., Wilkins, M., Konopka, A., Nelson, W., Arntzen, E., Chrisler, W., Chu, R., Danczak, R., Fansler, S.... (2016) Groundwater–surface water mixing shifts ecological assembly processes and stimulates organic carbon turnover. Nature Communications, 11237. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms11237  

Botha-Brink, J., Codron, D., Huttenlocker, A., Angielczyk, K., & Ruta, M. (2016) Breeding Young as a Survival Strategy during Earth’s Greatest Mass Extinction. Scientific Reports, 24053. DOI: 10.1038/srep24053  

Stein, R., Fahl, K., Schreck, M., Knorr, G., Niessen, F., Forwick, M., Gebhardt, C., Jensen, L., Kaminski, M., Kopf, A.... (2016) Evidence for ice-free summers in the late Miocene central Arctic Ocean. Nature Communications, 11148. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms11148  

  • April 8, 2016
  • 12:00 PM
  • 178 views

Why Old Dads Are Bad for Albatrosses

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



If birds fretted about their biological clocks like humans do, it would be the dads of some species doing the worrying, not the moms. When male albatrosses have chicks later in life, those chicks grow up to fare worse. It's because albatrosses of both sexes are such good parents to begin with.

Wandering albatrosses (Diomedea exulans) share parenting duties "quite equitably," explains Rémi Fay, a graduate student in biology at France's CNRS. The giant seabirds mate for life. Every other y........ Read more »

Fay, R., Barbraud, C., Delord, K., & Weimerskirch, H. (2016) Paternal but not maternal age influences early-life performance of offspring in a long-lived seabird. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 283(1828), 20152318. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.2318  

  • April 7, 2016
  • 07:28 AM
  • 178 views

Some fungi are into dead bodies and waste piles

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

For the past couple of years now, a fungus called Xylaria polymorpha has been munching on the buried roots of a beheaded tree on my parents' front lawn. In the grass surrounding the stump, X. polymorpha sends up a thicket of charcoal club-like mushrooms every summer. They look kinda like a dead man's fingers, which not coincidentally happens to be a common name for the fungus.... Read more »

  • April 6, 2016
  • 09:00 AM
  • 209 views

I’ll Fly Home—Or Not

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Why do some birds migrate and others don’t? It’s not that simple. The reason isn’t genetics, it isn’t necessarily food or weather either. There are birds that can allow their feet to go to one degree above freezing while keeping the rest of the body toasty – so they don’t need to migrate, yet other birds that are close to them genetically will fly thousands of miles. Other birds species only have a few of the adults migrate – who decides which ones make ........ Read more »

  • March 28, 2016
  • 03:03 PM
  • 233 views

Spoiler alert: Water bears do not have extensive foreign DNA

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Tardigrades, they are cute and cuddly — okay maybe not cuddly — but they have earned their nicknames, such as as moss piglets or water bears. Mostly because they look like, well bears (although I don’t see a piglet personally). These guys are eight-legged microscopic animals that have long fascinated scientists for their ability to survive extremes of temperature, pressure, lack of oxygen, and even radiation exposure. Talk about a thrill seeker they can even survive in space, without a sui........ Read more »

Georgios Koutsovoulosa, Sujai Kumara, Dominik R. Laetsch, Lewis Stevens, Jennifer Daub Claire Conlon, Habib Maroon, Fran Thomasa, Aziz A. Aboobakerc, and Mark Blaxter. (2016) No evidence for extensive horizontal gene transfer in the genome of the tardigrade Hypsibius dujardini. PNAS. DOI: 10.1101/033464  

  • March 26, 2016
  • 04:40 PM
  • 216 views

Organic nanowires destroy the competition

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Last month, we spoke of our vision of the future of humanity here at the lab. It makes sense that humanity would one-day step away from the static, non-living computer constructs we have designed. Moving us instead towards an organic alternative, one that can be readily repaired, replaced, or changed. While we cannot pretend to know what the future may hold, a new discovery helps bolster the stance we presented.

... Read more »

Lampa-Pastirk, S., Veazey, J., Walsh, K., Feliciano, G., Steidl, R., Tessmer, S., & Reguera, G. (2016) Thermally activated charge transport in microbial protein nanowires. Scientific Reports, 23517. DOI: 10.1038/srep23517  

  • March 25, 2016
  • 04:48 PM
  • 245 views

Study finds vast diversity among bacteriophages

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Viruses that infect bacteria are among the most abundant life forms on Earth. Indeed, our oceans, soils and potentially even our bodies would be overrun with bacteria were it not for bacteria-eating viruses, called bacteriophages, that keep the microbial balance of ecological niches in check. Now, a new study suggests that bacteriophages made of RNA — a close chemical cousin of DNA — likely play a much larger role in shaping the bacterial makeup of worldwide habitats than previously ........ Read more »

Krishnamurthy, S., Janowski, A., Zhao, G., Barouch, D., & Wang, D. (2016) Hyperexpansion of RNA Bacteriophage Diversity. PLOS Biology, 14(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002409  

  • March 23, 2016
  • 03:00 PM
  • 233 views

Prozac in the Water Makes Fighting Fish More Mellow

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Had Teresa Dzieweczynski chosen to publish her recent findings as an updated children's classic, rather than as a research paper, she could have titled it If You Give a Fish an Antidepressant. The book would probably be less charming than If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. But it would also be, unfortunately, more realistic. Our pharmaceuticals are steadily trickling into the homes of fish and other animals. And—as the hero of the original book could have told us, his house in disarray aft........ Read more »

Dzieweczynski, T., Campbell, B., & Kane, J. (2016) Dose-dependent fluoxetine effects on boldness in male Siamese fighting fish. Journal of Experimental Biology, 219(6), 797-804. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.132761  

  • March 23, 2016
  • 07:25 AM
  • 257 views

Leaves Suck!

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

People need the power of an elevator or our legs to rise high in a building, so how does water get from the roots of a tree to the very top leaves? Hint, it isn’t capillary action – even capillary tubes can move water only a few centimeters. The key is evaporation. But if water evaporates off plants, how do they survive during droughts? They have tricks to retain water, including developing big leaves and little leaves. Look carefully at some trees, you’ll find that they have t........ Read more »

  • March 22, 2016
  • 06:59 PM
  • 212 views

Ancient viruses lurk in our DNA

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Think your DNA is all human? Think again. And a new discovery suggests it’s even less human than scientists previously thought. Nineteen new pieces of non-human DNA — left by viruses that first infected our ancestors hundreds of thousands of years ago — have just been found, lurking between our own genes.

... Read more »

Wildschutte, J., Williams, Z., Montesion, M., Subramanian, R., Kidd, J., & Coffin, J. (2016) Discovery of unfixed endogenous retrovirus insertions in diverse human populations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201602336. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1602336113  

  • March 17, 2016
  • 11:09 AM
  • 249 views

Once upon a time… On the origin of fairytales

by Gunnar De Winter in United Academics

Researchers uncover the origins of fairy tales through evolutionary biology’s methods... Read more »

  • March 17, 2016
  • 11:09 AM
  • 232 views

Once upon a time… On the origin of fairytales

by Gunnar De Winter in United Academics

Researchers uncover the origins of fairy tales through evolutionary biology’s methods... Read more »

  • March 16, 2016
  • 04:51 PM
  • 262 views

Viruses ‘piggyback’ on hosts success

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

In the microscopic life that thrives around coral reefs, researchers have discovered an interplay between viruses and microbes that defies conventional wisdom. As the density of microbes rises in an ecosystem, the number of viruses infecting those microbes rises with it. It has generally been assumed that this growing population of viruses, in turn, kills more and more microbes, keeping the microbial population in check. It’s a model known as “kill-the-winner” — the winners being the blo........ Read more »

Knowles, B., Silveira, C., Bailey, B., Barott, K., Cantu, V., Cobián-Güemes, A., Coutinho, F., Dinsdale, E., Felts, B., Furby, K.... (2016) Lytic to temperate switching of viral communities. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature17193  

  • March 15, 2016
  • 03:49 PM
  • 282 views

Birds Give Up Colorful Feathers for Carefree Island Lifestyle

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Island living may call to mind vivid flowering vines and colorful plumage. But in reality, birds on islands around the world have evolved less-colorful feathers than their mainland relatives. Their drab, simple patterns are only the latest evidence that island evolution is kind of weird.

Claire Doutrelant, an ecologist at France's Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, and her coauthors studied 116 pairs of bird species, or 232 species in all. Each pair included an island bird and ... Read more »

Doutrelant, C., Paquet, M., Renoult, J., Grégoire, A., Crochet, P., & Covas, R. (2016) Worldwide patterns of bird colouration on islands. Ecology Letters. DOI: 10.1111/ele.12588  

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