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
Yesterday's post on a variation of the "Twin Paradox" with both twins accelerating was very successful-- 337 people voted in the first poll question, as of a little before 9am, and the comments to the original post are full of lively discussion. That's awesome.
I wish I could take credit for it, but the problem posed is not original to me. It comes from a 1989 paper in the American Journal of Physics, which also includes the following illustration setting up the situation:
The article contai........ Read more »
Desloge, E. (1991) Comment on ‘‘The case of the identically accelerated twins,’’ by S. P. Boughn [Am. J. Phys. 57, 791–793 (1989)]. American Journal of Physics, 59(3), 280. DOI: 10.1119/1.16580
So there is this cool new paper out in PLoS Genetics: Evolutionary Mirages: Selection on Binding Site Composition Creates the Illusion of Conserved Grammars in Drosophila Enhancers. and I have wanted to write about it for a week or so. You see, the paper is about something I have been interested in for most of my career - how the particular processes by which mutations occur can sometimes be biased (i.e., some types of mutations are more common than others) and that these biases can create high........ Read more »
Lusk, R., & Eisen, M. (2010) Evolutionary Mirages: Selection on Binding Site Composition Creates the Illusion of Conserved Grammars in Drosophila Enhancers. PLoS Genetics, 6(1). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000829
In 1998, a landmark study was published in the medical journal The Lancet. It was the first major research that suggested a link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. Almost immediately following publication, the rates of vaccination plummeted and the incidence of measles escalated among children. Since then, the subject has been the source [...]... Read more »
Herbert MR. (2010) Contributions of the environment and environmentally vulnerable physiology to autism spectrum disorders. Current opinion in neurology. PMID: 20087183
Kinney, D., Barch, D., Chayka, B., Napoleon, S., & Munir, K. (2010) Environmental risk factors for autism: Do they help cause de novo genetic mutations that contribute to the disorder?. Medical Hypotheses, 74(1), 102-106. DOI: 10.1016/j.mehy.2009.07.052
WAKEFIELD, A., MURCH, S., ANTHONY, A., LINNELL, J., CASSON, D., MALIK, M., BERELOWITZ, M., DHILLON, A., THOMSON, M., & HARVEY, P. (1998) Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. The Lancet, 351(9103), 637-641. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(97)11096-0
A study in PNAS looks at the link between teacher anxiety and the gender gap in math achievement...... Read more »
Beilock, S., Gunderson, E., Ramirez, G., & Levine, S. (2010) Female teachers' math anxiety affects girls' math achievement. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(5), 1860-1863. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0910967107
Regular readers of Denim and Tweed know that I'm fascinated by the evolution of species interactions: interactions between plants and nitrogen-fixing bacteria, Joshua trees and yucca moths, parasitoid wasps and butterflies, and between ants and the trees they guard. I tend to think that coevolutionary interactions not only determine the health of natural populations, but shape their evolutionary history. But would I feel that way if I were a paleontologist?
Running just to stay in place
The id........ Read more »
Stenseth, N., & Maynard Smith, J. (1984) Coevolution in ecosystems: Red Queen evolution or stasis?. Evolution, 38(4), 870-80. DOI: 10.2307/2408397
Van Valen, L. (1973) A new evolutionary law. Evolutionary Theory, 1(1), 1-30. info:/
Venditti, C., Meade, A., & Pagel, M. (2009) Phylogenies reveal new interpretation of speciation and the Red Queen. Nature, 463(7279), 349-52. DOI: 10.1038/nature08630
Whilst I would describe myself as a scientific skeptic, in that I will try to investigate claims before coming to a judgement, I would not say I was a “climate change skeptic”. This term is often used to label those that are irrationally dismissive of the scientific evidence (or worse). Several commentators on [...]... Read more »
M. J. Menne, C. N. Williams, & M. A. Palecki. (2010) On the reliability of the U.S. Surface Temperature Record. Journal of Geophysical Research. info:/doi:10.1029/2009JD013094
Patrick McGoohan in his role as the less-than-sentimental King Edward ‘Longshanks’ in the 1995 production of ‘Braveheart’ said it best in his references to the invocation of ius primæ noctis:
If we can’t get them out, we’ll breed them out
What a charmer.
Dabbling in molecular ecology myself over the past few years with some gel-jockey types (e.g., [...]... Read more »
Fitzpatrick, B., Johnson, J., Kump, D., Smith, J., Voss, S., & Shaffer, H. (2010) Rapid spread of invasive genes into a threatened native species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0911802107
Lancaster, M., Bradshaw, C.J.A., Goldsworthy, S.D., & Sunnucks, P. (2007) Lower reproductive success in hybrid fur seal males indicates fitness costs to hybridization. Molecular Ecology, 16(15), 3187-3197. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2007.03339.x
Ask people why the enter the lottery and they will usually tell you that “you’ve got to be in it to win it”. As far as it goes that’s true, but it still doesn’t get around the odds of you picking the right numbers being vanishingly (although not quite homeopathically) small at 14 million to [...]Science based risk assessment is a post from: Sciencebase Science Blog
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Terje Aven. (2009) A new scientific framework for quantitative risk assessments. Int. J. Business Continuity and Risk Management, 1(1), 67-77. info:/
You would think that having a dedicated set of neurons that triggered super-fast escape responses to get away from fast predator attacks and other sudden events in your area would be something that you’d want to keep around. This is usually so, but it turns out, not always. This is a problem I’ve been struggling with for some time now, and I’m thrilled to bits to find another example.
Fish have a group of neurons that trigger escape responses called C-starts, so called because the fish b........ Read more »
Greenwood, A., Peichel, C., & Zottoli, S. (2010) Distinct startle responses are associated with neuroanatomical differences in pufferfishes. Journal of Experimental Biology, 213(4), 613-620. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.037085
Figure 1: Newton's gravity predicts an elliptical orbit for Mercury (similar to the red path). Mercury's orbit actually shifts over time (similar to the path in blue). Mercury's motion agrees with Einstein's model of gravity. (Source: Wikipedia) Last time I...... Read more »
Dyson, F., Eddington, A., & Davidson, C. (1920) A Determination of the Deflection of Light by the Sun's Gravitational Field, from Observations Made at the Total Eclipse of May 29, 1919. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Containing Papers of a Mathematical or Physical Character (1896-1934), 220(1), 291-333. DOI: 10.1098/rsta.1920.0009
A lot of the studies that I cast my Neuroskeptical eye over are related to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).This is because, in my opinion, quite a lot of today's fMRI work suffers from methodological flaws. But that's not to say that all fMRI work is suspect, or, worse, that there's something inherently unscientific about fMRI as such. fMRI's a tool, an amazing one in a lot of ways, but like any tool it needs to be used well. Along with others, I've criticized various aspects of re........ Read more »
Sabatinelli D, Lang PJ, Bradley MM, Costa VD, & Keil A. (2009) The timing of emotional discrimination in human amygdala and ventral visual cortex. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 29(47), 14864-8. PMID: 19940182
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Brockington, D., & Scholfield, K. (2010) Expenditure by conservation nongovernmental organizations in sub-Saharan Africa. Conservation Letters. DOI: 10.1111/j.1755-263X.2010.00094.x
by Vincent Racaniello in virology blog
One of the most important procedures in virology is measuring the virus titer – the concentration of viruses in a sample. A widely used approach for determining the quantity of infectious virus is the plaque assay. In this technique, the spread of progeny viruses released by individually infected cells is restricted to neighboring cells by [...]... Read more »
Doceul, V., Hollinshead, M., van der Linden, L., & Smith, G. (2010) Repulsion of Superinfecting Virions: A Mechanism for Rapid Virus Spread. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1183173
by judithharvey in NASGP
A 1980s cult advertising campaign posed sharing your tube of cheap caramels as an existential crisis. A 21st century version of the dilemma involves higher stakes. Would you offer one of your kidneys to a member of your family? To a friend? To a stranger?
The first successful living donor kidney transplant was performed in 1954. [...]... Read more »
Clonal evolution during in situ to invasive breast carcinoma progression1
What’s a tumor?
In some ways, that’s a bad question (never mind the answer) because it implies that a tumor is a single thing. But we know that’s not true. A tumor, by the time we can detect it, is a collection of many cells, [...]... Read more »
Park, S., Gönen, M., Kim, H., Michor, F., & Polyak, K. (2010) Cellular and genetic diversity in the progression of in situ human breast carcinomas to an invasive phenotype. Journal of Clinical Investigation. DOI: 10.1172/JCI40724
It's a widely held, if much derided, belief that ownership of a prestige sports car can increase a man's sex appeal to women. Indeed, there's a scene in the American sit-com Friends in which Joey dons a ridiculous Porsche-branded costume of peak cap, gloves, jacket and trousers, so determined is he to convince female passers-by that he owns a fast, shiny car. Now Michael Dunn and Robert Searle have tested the shiny car effect scientifically, looking at the effect of apparent car ownership on bot........ Read more »
Dunn, M., & Searle, R. (2010) Effect of manipulated prestige-car ownership on both sex attractiveness ratings. British Journal of Psychology, 101(1), 69-80. DOI: 10.1348/000712609X417319
Satoshi Minakata (Osaka University) and coworkers have converted carbon dioxide into a synthetically-useful chemical under mild conditions, providing hope for practical atmospheric cleanup and a halt to global warming. This news feature was written on February 2, 2010.... Read more »
Minakata, S., Sasaki, I., & Ide, T. (2010) Atmospheric CO2 Fixation by Unsaturated Alcohols Using tBuOI under Neutral Conditions . Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 49(7), 1309-1311. DOI: 10.1002/anie.200906352
Oil and gas extraction is pervasive among the coasts of the world. In many areas, such as the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of west Africa, resource exploration companies have been moving into pretty deep waters. Many rigs use water-based muds in the drilling process. It is considered to the best alternative because [...]... Read more »
Hilde C. Trannum, Hans C. Nilsson, Morten T. Schaanning, & Sigurd Øxnevad. (2009) Effects of sedimentation from water-based drill cuttings and natural sediment on benthic macrofaunal community structure and ecosystem processes. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. info:/10.1016/j.jembe.2009.12.004
A recent paper describes a significant benefit from abstinence-only education. The story is more complicated...... Read more »
Jemmott, J., Jemmott, L., & Fong, G. (2010) Efficacy of a Theory-Based Abstinence-Only Intervention Over 24 Months: A Randomized Controlled Trial With Young Adolescents. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 164(2), 152-159. DOI: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2009.267
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