1000s of quelea at a dam on Manyara RanchI've been struggling to think of the next common bird to do something interesting with, until the obvious solution came to me, possibly the world's most abundant bird, the red-billed quelea.So, first the identification. The most obvious thing about red-billed queleas are, as the name suggests, a large red beak! Apart from that feature, females and non-breeding males are rather nondescript, small sparrow-like birds. Breeding males are rather brighter, with........ Read more »
Bayer R.D. (1982) how important are bird colonies as information centres?. The Auk, 99(1), 31-40. info:/
Imagine the United States several decades in the future. Will renewable energy technologies play a dominant role in U.S. power generation? And if this is to be more than a mere academic exercise, what must we do to realize such a future?... Read more »
Don Gwinner. (2013) With improved flexibility, storage, and transmission structure, renewable energy can power the U.S. electric grid. NREL Continuum Magazine. info:/
Without plagues, earthquakes, and unhinged criminal masterminds, the residents of Gotham might never need to put up the bat signal. Real bats, of course, are less concerned with responding to emergencies than with eating bugs. But like Batman, they do just fine—if not better than ever—in recently devastated environments. Specifically, forests that have burned down.
For five weeks in the summer of 2002, a wildfire tore through national forests in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The McNally F........ Read more »
Buchalski, M., Fontaine, J., Heady, P., Hayes, J., & Frick, W. (2013) Bat Response to Differing Fire Severity in Mixed-Conifer Forest California, USA. PLoS ONE, 8(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057884
The next time you try to catch a snowflake on your tongue, just think that the particle at the core of that snowflake may have traveled thousands of miles from a desert in Asia before it fell from the sky above the United States. A new study published online in Science Express by an international group of researchers, including Carnegie Mellon University’s Ryan Sullivan, has found that airborne dust and biological particles from the Sahara Desert in Africa and deserts in Asia can form the ........ Read more »
Jocelyn Duffy, & Chriss Swaney. (2013) Asian Desert Dust Causes Californian Snowfall. Carnegie Mellon University News. info:/
The illicit trade in elephant ivory has been a ridiculous problem since the 1980′s, when Asian and African elephants were decimated to such a level that they made it onto Appendix One (“most endangered species”) of CITES. While all trade … Continue reading →... Read more »
Wasser SK, Shedlock AM, Comstock K, Ostrander EA, Mutayoba B, & Stephens M. (2004) Assigning African elephant DNA to geographic region of origin: applications to the ivory trade. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 101(41), 14847-52. PMID: 15459317
Wasser SK, Mailand C, Booth R, Mutayoba B, Kisamo E, Clark B, & Stephens M. (2007) Using DNA to track the origin of the largest ivory seizure since the 1989 trade ban. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(10), 4228-33. PMID: 17360505
Caffeinated plants provide an unforgettable experience.
Honeybees rewarded with caffeine remember the smell of specific flowers longer than bees given only sucrose, according to a study published in Science. “By using a drug to enhance memories of reward,” the study says, “plants secure pollinator fidelity and improve reproductive success.”
Many drugs used by humans come from plants. But what role do the drugs play for the plants themselves? Frequently, they play the role of toxic ave........ Read more »
Wright G. A., Baker D. D., Palmer M. J., Stabler D., Mustard J. A., Power E. F., Borland A. M., & Stevenson P. C. (2013) Caffeine in Floral Nectar Enhances a Pollinator's Memory of Reward. Science, 339(6124), 1202-1204. DOI: 10.1126/science.1228806
A tamarin rock star (photographed by Ltshears at Wikimedia)Our moods change when we hear music, but not all music affects us the same way. Slow, soft, higher-pitched, melodic songs soothe us; upbeat classical music makes us more alert and active; and fast, harsh, lower-pitched, dissonant music can rev us up and stress us out. Why would certain sounds affect us in specific emotional ways? One possibility is because of an overlap between how we perceive music and how we perceive human voic........ Read more »
Snowdon, C., & Teie, D. (2009) Affective responses in tamarins elicited by species-specific music. Biology Letters, 6(1), 30-32. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2009.0593
The Red Queen hypothesis is well-accepted in evolutionary biology. Organisms evolve and adapt not to gain an evolutionary advantage, but simply to not fall behind competing organisms that evolve and adapt. Hence, everyone has to “run as fast as they can” (evolve) to “stay in the same place” (reproduce). It’s a nice hypothesis, and has been shown to be fairly descriptive when dealing with close competitors, such as host-parasite or predator-prey relationships.
Wh........ Read more »
Morris, J., Lenski, R., & Zinser, E. (2012) The Black Queen Hypothesis: Evolution of Dependencies through Adaptive Gene Loss. mBio, 3(2). DOI: 10.1128/mBio.00036-12
Melanism in wolves... Read more »
Anderson TM, vonHoldt BM, Candille SI, Musiani M, Greco C, Stahler DR, Smith DW, Padhukasahasram B, Randi E, Leonard JA.... (2009) Molecular and evolutionary history of melanism in North American gray wolves. Science (New York, N.Y.), 323(5919), 1339-43. PMID: 19197024
Caniglia, R., Fabbri, E., Greco, C., Galaverni, M., Manghi, L., Boitani, L., Sforzi, A., & Randi, E. (2013) Black coats in an admixed wolf × dog pack is melanism an indicator of hybridization in wolves?. European Journal of Wildlife Research. DOI: 10.1007/s10344-013-0703-1
Coulson T, MacNulty DR, Stahler DR, vonHoldt B, Wayne RK, & Smith DW. (2011) Modeling effects of environmental change on wolf population dynamics, trait evolution, and life history. Science (New York, N.Y.), 334(6060), 1275-8. PMID: 22144626
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 envir........ Read more »
Hazel Susan J., Signal Tania D., & Taylor Nicola. (2011) Can Teaching Veterinary and Animal-Science Students about Animal Welfare Affect Their Attitude toward Animals and Human-Related Empathy?. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, 38(1), 74-83. DOI: 10.3138/jvme.38.1.74
Investigating the role of wild carnivores in the spread of bovine neosporosis in Ireland... Read more »
STUART, P., ZINTL, A., WAAL, T., MULCAHY, G., HAWKINS, C., & LAWTON, C. (2012) Investigating the role of wild carnivores in the epidemiology of bovine neosporosis. Parasitology, 140(03), 296-302. DOI: 10.1017/S0031182012001588
Of all the alternatives to fossil-based fuels, hydrogen seemed to have it all. It was efficient, left no waste except water vapor (but that’s a good thing), and promised to provide even more energy than nuclear energy, oil or gas.... Read more »
Nielsen, M., Alberico, E., Baumann, W., Drexler, H., Junge, H., Gladiali, S., & Beller, M. (2013) Low-temperature aqueous-phase methanol dehydrogenation to hydrogen and carbon dioxide. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature11891
Weighing the social and ecological costs and benefits of plastic vegetable greenhouses over conventional vegetable production.... Read more »
Chang, J., Wu, X., Wang, Y., Meyerson, L., Gu, B., Min, Y., Xue, H., Peng, C., & Ge, Y. (2013) Does growing vegetables in plastic greenhouses enhance regional ecosystem services beyond the food supply?. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 11(1), 43-49. DOI: 10.1890/100223
The use of carrion fly derived DNA to identify mammals ... Read more »
Calvignac-Spencer, S., Merkel, K., Kutzner, N., Kühl, H., Boesch, C., Kappeler, P., Metzger, S., Schubert, G., & Leendertz, F. (2013) Carrion fly-derived DNA as a tool for comprehensive and cost-effective assessment of mammalian biodiversity. Molecular Ecology, 22(4), 915-924. DOI: 10.1111/mec.12183
by Piter Kehoma Boll Beetles are the most species-rich group of living beings on our planet, so it’s time for Friday Fellow bring you a representative of them. I’ve chosen my favorite species, the violaceous longhorned borer Compsocerus violaceus (White, … Continue reading →... Read more »
Garcia, H. A. (1994) Ocorrência e danos de Compsocerus violaceus (White, 1853) (Coleoptera, Cerambycidae) em pomar de citros. Anais das Escolas de Agronomia e Veterinária, 24(1), 148-153. info:/
Don't trust your kids. Like a miniature, juice-fueled army with subliminal messaging tactics, they can get inside your mind and make you do things. You won't realize what's happening until you step out of your low-flow shower one morning, turn the calendar page, and see a smug endangered trout looking back at you.
Though we usually think of education flowing down from parents and teachers to children, some people would prefer it to go upstream too. Environmental educators, for example, may h........ Read more »
Damerell, P., Howe, C., & Milner-Gulland, E. (2013) Child-orientated environmental education influences adult knowledge and household behaviour. Environmental Research Letters, 8(1), 15016. DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/8/1/015016
Lately in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesota legislators have been heatedly debating the best plan for preventing bighead and silver carp from overrunning the state's reserves. Although there are now no populations of these or any other Asian carp species in Minnesota's waters and branch of the Mississippi River, a handful of the fish have been caught recently, with countless schools of non-indigenous carp teeming downstream in Iowa.... Read more »
Laws, E. . (1990) Use of silver carp to control algal biomass in aquaculture ponds. The Progressive Fish-Culturist, 1-8. DOI: 10.1577/1548-8640(1990)0522.3.CO;2
Hobbs, R., Hallett, L., Ehrlich, P., & Mooney, H. (2011) Intervention ecology: Applying ecological science in the twenty-first century. BioScience, 442-450. DOI: 10.1525/bio.2011.61.6.6
By Sam Brunner and Ian Straus Cephalopods, like octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish, are well known for their ability to alter the color and patterns on their bodies for better camouflage, mimicry, and even communication. By developing a unique set of camouflage tools, cephalopods excel at not being seen or being seen but not detected as a cephalopod. There are videos all over the internet showcasing how squid can terrify divers with their flashing red displays, or how some octopuses avoid their p........ Read more »
Froesch, D. (1973) Projection of chromatophore nerves on the body surface of Octopus vulgaris. Marine Biology, 19(2), 153-155. DOI: 10.1007/BF00353586
Messenger JB. (2001) Cephalopod chromatophores: neurobiology and natural history. Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, 76(4), 473-528. PMID: 11762491
Huge quantities of algae are growing on the underside of sea ice in the Central Arctic: in 2012 the ice algae Melosira arctica was responsible for almost half the primary production in this area. When the ice melts, as was the case during the ice minimum in 2012, these algae sink rapidly to the bottom of the sea at a depth of several thousands of metres.... Read more »
Max Planck Institute. (2013) Rapid changes in the Arctic ecosystem. Max Planck Institute . info:/
by Piter Kehoma Boll Most ordinary people think of a tree as just that, a tree, a big plant with a hard tall stem which provides shade and oxygen and sometimes beautiful flowers or delicious fruits. So, it may not … Continue reading →... Read more »
Moeed, A., & Meads, M. J. (1983) Invertebrate fauna of four tree species in Orongorongo Valley, New Zealand, as revealed by trunk traps. New Zealand Journal of Ecology, 39-53. info:/
Zytynska, S., Fay, M., Penney, D., & Preziosi, R. (2011) Genetic variation in a tropical tree species influences the associated epiphytic plant and invertebrate communities in a complex forest ecosystem. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 366(1569), 1329-1336. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0183
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