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  • December 18, 2013
  • 11:27 AM

Bumblebees’ communication and learning

by Diego in macrostylis

Bumblebees’ communication and learning Bumblebees can learn to use cues provided by other bumblebees as well as by honey bees to find food... Read more »

  • December 18, 2013
  • 09:20 AM

Velvet look-alikes: a most astonishing mimicry complex

by Chris Buddle in Expiscor

A most amazing mimicry complex exists with velvet ants in Central and North America. This post explores this complex, including discussion about why these different wasp species looks so similar.... Read more »

Wilson JS, Williams KA, Forister ML, von Dohlen CD, & Pitts JP. (2012) Repeated evolution in overlapping mimicry rings among North American velvet ants. Nature communications, 1272. PMID: 23232402  

  • December 18, 2013
  • 08:15 AM

Snow Saves Lives

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Tis the season for snow in the northern hemisphere – on the ground and in the mind of the biologist. Recent studies are showing the unique ways that organisms depend on and use snow in order to survive. An antifreeze protein from snow fleas may lengthen the time that organs can be stored for transplant. More amazing, reindeer use the UV rays that bounce of the snow to see predators – they are the only mammals that can see in the UV range.... Read more »

Hogg C, Neveu M, Stokkan KA, Folkow L, Cottrill P, Douglas R, Hunt DM, & Jeffery G. (2011) Arctic reindeer extend their visual range into the ultraviolet. The Journal of experimental biology, 214(Pt 12), 2014-9. PMID: 21613517  

Kondo H, Hanada Y, Sugimoto H, Hoshino T, Garnham CP, Davies PL, & Tsuda S. (2012) Ice-binding site of snow mold fungus antifreeze protein deviates from structural regularity and high conservation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(24), 9360-5. PMID: 22645341  

  • December 17, 2013
  • 09:12 AM

The most unknown animal group: placozoan

by Diego in macrostylis

The most unknown animal group: placozoan Placozoans found worldwide look very similar under a microscope; however, this unknown animal group is starting to show remarkable variation... Read more »

Eitel M., Osigus H.-J., DeSalle R., Schierwater B. (2013) Global diversity of Placozoa. PLoS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057131  

  • December 12, 2013
  • 09:06 AM

How parasites affect their victims

by Diego in macrostylis

How parasites affect their victims Parasitic worms influence the frequency of malformations and survival of marine snails... Read more »

Boraldo M.D., Ferrerira S.M., Jensen K.T., Pardal M.A. (2013) Impact of trematodes on the population structure and shell shape of the estuarine mud snail Hydrobia ulvae from a Southern European estuary. Marine Ecology. info:/DOI: 10.1111/maec.12086

  • December 11, 2013
  • 08:25 AM

Is There Anything Fat Can’t Do?

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Phospholipids are just one type of lipid in all cells. The fatty acids are the precursor to all kinds of lipids, but in some cases they have been modified to such a degree that they are not identifiable. The fatty acids are showing interesting functions, such as a new study showing that the levels of odd chain fatty acids can be used to monitor rumen health in cattle. The omega fatty acids are also becoming important in the treatment and prevention of depression. A new study shows that in Ameri........ Read more »

Beydoun MA, Fanelli Kuczmarski MT, Beydoun HA, Hibbeln JR, Evans MK, & Zonderman AB. (2013) ω-3 Fatty Acid Intakes Are Inversely Related to Elevated Depressive Symptoms among United States Women. The Journal of nutrition, 143(11), 1743-52. PMID: 24005610  

Li Z, Thiel K, Thul PJ, Beller M, Kühnlein RP, & Welte MA. (2012) Lipid droplets control the maternal histone supply of Drosophila embryos. Current biology : CB, 22(22), 2104-13. PMID: 23084995  

Vlaeminck B, Dufour C, van Vuuren AM, Cabrita AR, Dewhurst RJ, Demeyer D, & Fievez V. (2005) Use of odd and branched-chain fatty acids in rumen contents and milk as a potential microbial marker. Journal of dairy science, 88(3), 1031-42. PMID: 15738238  

  • December 10, 2013
  • 09:23 AM

The beetle and the stars

by Diego in macrostylis

The beetle and the stars Dung beetle use the sun, the moon and, as recently discovered, the stars (the Milky Way) for orientation... Read more »

Dacke M., Baird E., Byrne M., Scholtz C.H., Warrant E.J. (2013) Dung beetles use the milky way for orientation. Current Biology. DOI: 10.3410/f.717973203.793469887  

  • December 9, 2013
  • 04:00 PM

Kingsnakes Keep Copperheads in Check **Special Blog Carnival Edition - Don't Miss Links at Bottom**

by David Steen in Living Alongside Wildlife

 "We just found one of our Kingsnakes doing something really cool." 

    It was 2006 and we had recently started radio-tracking about a dozen Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getula) in a big chunk of longleaf pine forest in southwestern Georgia. Kingsnakes were fascinating to me because they were a big, recognizable species for which we knew next to nothing. In fact, this was ... Read more »

  • December 5, 2013
  • 10:45 AM

Spiders eating bats

by Diego in macrostylis

Spiders eating bats The biggest spiders are bigger than the smallest bats, and many spiders build a specific trapping tool: an orb web. Why should not spiders prey bats? Well, indeed they do; and these large and energetically rewarding prey may be important for them... Read more »

Nyffeler M., Knörnschild M. (2013) Bat predation by spiders. PLoS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058120  

  • December 4, 2013
  • 03:37 PM

Treecreepers and mixed flocks

by Africa Gomez in BugBlog

As winter sets in, small, resident insectivorous birds including Long-tailed tits, Great Tits and Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Goldcrests and Treecreepers join in loose, vocal mixed-species flocks that travel and forage together. Why do they eschew from following the saying 'birds of a feather flock together'? Well, first, their small bodies lose heat easily and the days are short, so they need to obtain as much food as possible. On the other hand, the leafless trees makes them more exposed to predatio........ Read more »

J. E. Arévalo and A. G. Gosler. (1994) The behaviour of Treecreepers Certhia familiaris in mixed-species flocks in winter. Bird Study, 41(1), 1-6. info:/10.1080/00063659409477190

  • December 3, 2013
  • 11:52 AM

Wind enabled midges to spread Schmallenberg virus across Europe

by Aileen Cudmore in Natural Reactions

A new study shows how midges swept along by strong winds rapidly carried the Schmallenberg virus to farms throughout Europe. ... Read more »

  • December 3, 2013
  • 08:00 AM

The Proof is in the Field Notes: Cottonmouths Rarely Bask in Trees --Guest Post--

by David Steen in Living Alongside Wildlife

    Some observations come before you realize how important they are. Only later do you slap your forehead and realize that you should have taken more detailed notes, because the likelihood of you seeing such a thing again is slim. This is why I encourage everybody interested in wildlife to take down field notes. 

    When I was in high school, every afternoon when I got home I would take a ... Read more »

  • December 3, 2013
  • 05:04 AM

Climate change and the future of terrestrial invertebrates

by Diego in macrostylis

Climate change and the future of terrestrial invertebrates What will happen to terrestrial invertebrate animals as the world climate changes? Who will survive? Who will change? A recent study tries to give some hints... Read more »

  • November 28, 2013
  • 08:23 AM

How nemertean larvae feed

by Diego in macrostylis

How nemertean larvae feed A combination of movements and cilia beating traps and forces the prey to pass through mouth of nemertean larvae, as shown by a recent video-based study... Read more »

von Dassow G., Emlet R.B., Maslakova S.A. (2013) How the pilidium larva feeds. Frontieres in Zoology. DOI: 10.1186/1742-9994-10-47  

  • November 27, 2013
  • 09:20 AM

On the unusual diets of spiders: A thanksgiving treat

by Chris Buddle in Expiscor

Spiders do not always feed on live prey. Some will scavenge dead insects, and some will drink nectar... unusual diets, indeed.... Read more »

  • November 25, 2013
  • 10:43 AM

How leeches find their prey

by Diego in macrostylis

How leeches find their prey Leeches can feel the water movements caused by their prey; however, they best feel these movements when they are moving themselves... Read more »

Harley C.M., Rossi M., Cienfuegos J., Wagenaar D. (2013) Discontinuous locomotion and prey sensing in the leech. Journal of Experimental Biology. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.075911  

  • November 25, 2013
  • 08:00 AM

Plastic for Dinner: Marine Debris and its Effects on Seabirds --Guest Post--

by David Steen in Living Alongside Wildlife

Plastic Dinner. Photo by Alex Bond.

    Imagine carrying around several kilos (or
pounds) of plastic in your stomach, unable to rid yourself of it, and gradually
adding pieces day by day.  This is
what many marine animals go through every day.  Millions of pieces of plastic enter the world’s oceans each
day, and once it’s there, it doesn’t go away.  Instead, it breaks into smaller and ... Read more »

  • November 22, 2013
  • 09:47 AM

Wheel invention: was it because of scarab beetles?

by Diego in macrostylis

Wheel invention: was it because of scarab beetles? Some evidence suggests that humans got inspired by scarab beetles in the use of wheel... Read more »

Scholtz G. (2008) Scrab beetles at the interface of wheel invention in nature and culture? . Contributions to Zoology. info:/

  • November 20, 2013
  • 09:30 AM

Strange eyes, twisted wings

by Chris Buddle in Expiscor

The wonderful yet odd insect order Strepsiptera. This post explores a bit of their biology and includes a stunning video of a male emerging from its wasp host.... Read more »

  • November 19, 2013
  • 06:00 AM

700,000-Year-Old Horse Found in Yukon Permafrost Yields Oldest DNA Ever Decoded

by Blake de Pastino in Western Digs

The frozen remains of a horse more than half a million years old have reluctantly given up their genetic secrets, providing scientists with the oldest DNA ever sequenced.... Read more »

Orlando L, Ginolhac A, Zhang G, Froese D, Albrechtsen A, Stiller M, Schubert M, Cappellini E, Petersen B, Moltke I.... (2013) Recalibrating Equus evolution using the genome sequence of an early Middle Pleistocene horse. Nature, 499(7456), 74-8. PMID: 23803765  

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