A new study by scientists at Duke University and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) finds no evidence of groundwater contamination from shale gas production in Arkansas.... Read more »
Warner, N., Kresse, T., Hays, P., Down, A., Karr, J., Jackson, R., & Vengosh, A. (2013) Geochemical and isotopic variations in shallow groundwater in areas of the Fayetteville shale development, north-central Arkansas. Applied Geochemistry. DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2013.04.013
Erin on the side of a river somewhere in western NC, hard at work study obviously.
Erin Abernethy is a Master’s student in the Odum
School of Ecology at the University of Georgia, where she is studying
scavenging ecology in Hawaii. Before coming to Athens, Erin lived in North
Carolina earning her BS in Biology at Appalachian State. For that degree,... Read more »
Guillette Jr., L., Pickford, D., Crain, D., Rooney, A., & Percival, H. (1996) Reduction in Penis Size and Plasma Testosterone Concentrations in Juvenile Alligators Living in a Contaminated Environment. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 101(1), 32-42. DOI: 10.1006/gcen.1996.0005
A new study by Saoirse Leonard and co-authors from the Institute of Zoology, London and the University of Liverpool model the potential survival of brown bears in an Irish glacial refugium. The study has just been published in Biology Letters, and is free to read.
The study examines the presence of the now extinct brown bear (Ursus arctos) in Ireland during the Last Glacial Maximum (between 15,000 and 24,000 years ago) and aims to address the possibility that bears survived in Ireland during this period. The question has arisen because there is still lengthy debate as to whether Ireland remained partially ice free during the last glaciation, and if so, how many species, if any, survived in this ice free refugium?... Read more »
Leonard, S., Risley, C., & Turvey, S. (2013) Could brown bears (Ursus arctos) have survived in Ireland during the Last Glacial Maximum?. Biology Letters, 9(4), 20130281-20130281. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2013.0281
Edwards, C., Suchard, M., Lemey, P., Welch, J., Barnes, I., Fulton, T., Barnett, R., O'Connell, T., Coxon, P., Monaghan, N.... (2011) Ancient Hybridization and an Irish Origin for the Modern Polar Bear Matriline. Current Biology, 21(15), 1251-1258. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.05.058
The first evidence that climate change has affected fishing catches, revealed by William Cheung from the University of British Columbia and his team, shows tropical countries are set to be hardest hit.... Read more »
Cheung, W., Watson, R., & Pauly, D. (2013) Signature of ocean warming in global fisheries catch. Nature, 497(7449), 365-368. DOI: 10.1038/nature12156
A new genetic study by Mondol et al. 2013 examines the contemporary and historical genetic diversity of Indian tigers. They have found that the large reduction in the population has also wiped out many of the mitochondrial DNA haplotypes that were historically present, and the remaining populations are becoming more isolated and at greater risk for future extinctions. Mondol et al. 2013 is currently freely available!... Read more »
Mondol S, Bruford MW, & Ramakrishnan U. (2013) Demographic loss, genetic structure and the conservation implications for Indian tigers. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 280(1762), 20130496. PMID: 23677341
This article could use a little more reflection about working alongside potentially dangerous animals and a little less sensationalism. But, it's still an incredible story: I was swallowed by a hippo.
Who knew? Snakes like hot springs too.
The Roundup from a couple weeks ago featured amazing pictures of a pod of Orcas attacking a group of Sperm Whales. This week's unlucky victim is a dolphin.
... Read more »
Wenger SJ, Isaak DJ, Luce CH, Neville HM, Fausch KD, Dunham JB, Dauwalter DC, Young MK, Elsner MM, Rieman BE.... (2011) Flow regime, temperature, and biotic interactions drive differential declines of trout species under climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(34), 14175-80. PMID: 21844354
Any given species of bird probably has a variety of different songs. Most bird studies track individual birds in their own habitats, and then make more or less one-by-one comparisons—a bird in a forest will sound different from the same species in a city. An international team has taken these studies one step further—by making a giant leap into space.... Read more »
The newly-sequenced scarlet macaw genome will provide many important insights into avian and human biology, behaviours and genetics and will contribute to parrot conservation.... Read more »
Seabury Christopher M., Dowd Scot E., Seabury Paul M., Raudsepp Terje, Brightsmith Donald J., Liboriussen Poul, Halley Yvette, Fisher Colleen A., Owens Elaine, & Viswanathan Ganesh. (2013) A Multi-Platform Draft de novo Genome Assembly and Comparative Analysis for the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao). PLoS ONE, 8(5). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062415.s019
Oleksyk Taras K, Pombert Jean-Francois, Siu Daniel, Mazo-Vargas Anyimilehidi, Ramos Brian, Guiblet Wilfried, Afanador Yashira, Ruiz-Rodriguez Christina T, Nickerson Michael L, & Logue David M. (2012) A locally funded Puerto Rican parrot (Amazona vittata) genome sequencing project increases avian data and advances young researcher education. GigaScience, 1(1), 14. DOI: 10.1186/2047-217X-1-14
I am thrilled to announce that this month I am joining a new top-notch science blogging team at Scitable, Nature Education’s award-winning science education website! (But don’t worry, friends. I will continue to post here about animal physiology and behavior every Wednesday). Next week, Scitable will be launching eleven new blogs covering topics like neuroscience, genetics, oceanography, physics and more. I will be co-authoring an evolution blog called Accumulating Glitches together with Sedeer el-Showk (the author of the fantastic nature blog Inspiring Science). To celebrate the launch of these new science blogs, many of us are writing guest posts at Student Voices, another Scitable blog. What follows is the start of my guest post:__ A female western black widow contemplates the tastinessof her suitor. Photo by Davefoc at Wikimedia Commons. Sexual reproduction is a costly affair, but the costs are not usually equal for males and females. Among animals, females generally produce larger gametes (eggs are way bigger than sperm), spend more energy gestating or incubating the young before they are born, and spend more effort caring for the young after they are born. It’s no wonder then that across animal species, females are typically more choosy of who they mate with than males are. But what if the tables are turned and sex is more costly for males than it is for females? Such is often the case for black widow spiders, named for the females’ infamous reputation for making a post-coital snack of their mates. In such a situation where every sexual encounter is potentially the last, who would blame males for being more choosy of their mating partners? But are they? To find out, read the rest of the post here! And to find out more, check this out:Johnson, J., Trubl, P., Blackmore, V., & Miles, L. (2011). Male black widows court well-fed females more than starved females: silken cues indicate sexual cannibalism risk Animal Behaviour, 82 (2), 383-390 DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2011.05.018 ... Read more »
Johnson, J., Trubl, P., Blackmore, V., & Miles, L. (2011) Male black widows court well-fed females more than starved females: silken cues indicate sexual cannibalism risk. Animal Behaviour, 82(2), 383-390. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2011.05.018
For a long time, it has been thought that evolutionary and ecological research were quite separated from each other. After all, evolution takes place on long timescales while ecological events usually happen much faster. At least, that was the common perception. Lately, however, it has become clear that, in some cases, the relevant timescales in […]... Read more »
Sanchez, A., & Gore, J. (2013) Feedback between Population and Evolutionary Dynamics Determines the Fate of Social Microbial Populations. PLOS Biology, 11(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001547
It is easy to forget that other organisms also affect the “environment” of a given species. No one is evolving in a vacuum. The existence of other species can not only … Continue reading →... Read more »
Moir H. M., Jackson J. C., & Windmill J. F. C. (2013) Extremely high frequency sensitivity in a 'simple' ear. Biology Letters, 9(4), 20130241-20130241. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2013.0241
Worldwide access to modern energy could be achieved with an investment of between 65 and 86 billion US dollars per year up until 2030, a new study has shown.... Read more »
Pachauri, S., van Ruijven, B., Nagai, Y., Riahi, K., van Vuuren, D., Brew-Hammond, A., & Nakicenovic, N. (2013) Pathways to achieve universal household access to modern energy by 2030. Environmental Research Letters, 8(2), 24015. DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024015
One of the most valuable ponds in Alabama, if you ask me
was a drive from Auburn University to a conference in the Florida panhandle
that allowed us a short detour to visit one of the most storied wetlands in
Alabama herpetological history. But, I didn’t realize that at the time.
wouldn’t know it by looking at them now, but there are a... Read more »
Willson, J., Winne, C., Dorcas, M., & Gibbons, J. (2006) Post-drought responses of semi-aquatic snakes inhabiting an isolated wetland: Insights on different strategies for persistence in a dynamic habitat. Wetlands, 26(4), 1071-1078. DOI: 10.1672/0277-5212(2006)26[1071:PROSSI]2.0.CO;2
Winne, C., Dorcas, M., & Poppy, S. (2005) Population Structure, Body Size, and Seasonal Activity of Black Swamp Snakes (Seminatrix pygaea). Southeastern Naturalist, 4(1), 1-14. DOI: 10.1656/1528-7092(2005)004[0001:PSBSAS]2.0.CO;2
Dodd Jr., C.K. (1993) Population structure, body mass, activity, and orientation of an aquatic snake during a drought. . Canadian Journal of Zoology, 71(7), 1281-1288. DOI: 10.1139/z93-177
This week's Caturday morning video smile is a lovely blend of science, animals and humour all rolled up into a short video.... Read more »
In the soft jungle sun, a thick-limbed primate—with heavy fur and a strong grasping tail—is poised for flight. This is Lagothrix poeppigii, or Poeppigi’s woolly monkey, and it is the … Continue reading →... Read more »
Papworth Sarah, Milner-Gulland E. J., Slocombe Katie, & Noë Ronald. (2013) Hunted Woolly Monkeys (Lagothrix poeppigii) Show Threat-Sensitive Responses to Human Presence. PLoS ONE, 8(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062000.s004
(source)Hi Julie, WOW!Dogs in clothes. Corgis in bikinis at the beach. Greyhounds in onesies. We people do some weird things to our canine friends, no?! I'm pretty sure I wouldn't enjoy being dressed up in a padded outfit all day long, so I think I'll pass on sharing that experience with my dogs. As you said, cultural perceptions, ethics and expectations add a whole layer of extra consideration. It's not always easy to work out what dogs want or need. That's why I like science. It helps us work this stuff out.I've been super busy this week - working hard (as always!) and still thinking a lot about dogs living in kennel facilities. So I wanted to pull your head away from dogs dressed as flowers, back to dogs getting the opportunity to smell the flowers. No, really. Lavender in fact.(source)Dogs should stop to smell the flowers. Especially lavender.When I talk to people about the body of research that's been conducted in the area of environmental enrichment for dogs housed in kennels, they never fail to be amazed at what has been studied. Or what hasn't. One topic that usually results in a snort, a laugh or a quizzical raised eyebrow is olfactory (smelly) stimulation. Which is kind of weird. Because we know that dogs can smell on a level that's basically in another galaxy compared to our smelling experiences. Research conducted in a rescue shelter kennel in 2005 exposed dogs to five different diffused aromas: - a blank control, or essential oil of- chamomile - lavender - peppermint- rosemary The study showed that olfactory stimulation had a significant effect on behaviour. Dogs were more likely to rest and less likely to bark when exposed to the smells of lavender and chamomile. Peppermint and rosemary exposure resulted in more active and noisy behaviour. The researchers suggested that the welfare of dogs in shelter kennel environments (and also their attractiveness to potential adopters) could be improved by using this kind of aromatherapy. What a dog's nose knows.Further research has shown a similar effect of lavender in effecting the behaviour of dogs with travel-induced excitement in cars: they spent more time sitting, resting and less time vocalising when they were exposed to the smell of lavender.Interestingly, human studies show a similar effect of lavender on us: reduced mental stress.So if a dog is in a kennel environment and can't get out to romp in a field of flowers, or chomp them up (as dogs tend to do!), perhaps we can help them out by giving them something... Read more »
Wells Deborah L. (2009) Sensory stimulation as environmental enrichment for captive animals: A review. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 118(1-2), 1-11. DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2009.01.002
Graham Lynne, Wells Deborah L., & Hepper Peter G. (2005) The influence of olfactory stimulation on the behaviour of dogs housed in a rescue shelter. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 91(1-2), 143-153. DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2004.08.024
Wells Deborah L. (2006) Aromatherapy for travel-induced excitement in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 229(6), 964-967. DOI: 10.2460/javma.229.6.964
As the world shifts from coal to natural gas, it is becoming more important to find ways of using natural gas efficiently and environmentally friendly. Now chemical engineering researchers have identified a new mechanism to convert natural gas into energy up to 70 times faster, while effectively capturing the greenhouse gas—carbon dioxide.... Read more »
Galinsky, N., Huang, Y., Shafiefarhood, A., & Li, F. (2013) Iron Oxide with Facilitated O Transport for Facile Fuel Oxidation and CO Capture in a Chemical Looping Scheme . ACS Sustainable Chemistry , 1(3), 364-373. DOI: 10.1021/sc300177j
Like Mother, like baby! Photo from freedigitalphotos.net.Moms give us so much more than we ever give them credit for. Biologically speaking, we all have a mom and a dad (unless you’re a flatworm or some other species that can reproduce without sex) that provide us with one of each chromosome type (our chromosomes contain our genes, commonly thought of as our “biological blueprints”). So it makes sense that we tend to think of ourselves as being half-our-mom and half-our-dad. But not so! All of us are slightly more-our-mom and slightly less-our dad.Our genes are encoded in our DNA, which is coiled and tightly packed into dense little chromosomes. Most of our cells contain 23 different pairs of chromosomes (for a total of 46), and one from each pair comes from each parent. One of those pairs is the sex chromosomes. Individuals with two X sex chromosomes are genetically females and individuals with an X and a Y sex chromosome are genetically male. Because genetic males are the only ones with Y chromosomes, all Y chromosomes are inherited from dad. But compared to X chromosomes, Y chromosomes are piddly little things that don’t contain as many genes. So if you’re a guy, you already have more genes from mom than from dad.In addition to our 46 chromosomes that we keep in the nucleus of each cell, we also have a tiny set of genes in another cell structure, the mitochondria. This mitochondrial DNA is only inherited from the mother, so regardless of whether you are XX or XY, you have a few more genes from mom than from dad.Wait! My genes are where?? Your genes are lined up on the doubled-stranded DNA, which is tightly coiled and packed into chromosomes. You have 23 different pairs of chromosomes, where one of each pair came from mom and the other came from dad. A copy of each of these 23 pairs of chromosomes (46 chromosomes in total) is in the nucleus of every cell you have (except for sperm or egg cells, which only have one of each pair, or 23 chromosomes in total). Get it? Figure adapted from an image by KES47 at Wikimedia.But we are not simply a product of our genes. If we were, identical twins would be, well… identical. But they’re not. The slight differences between twins results from differences in how our environment interacts with our genes. (By environment, I’m not just talking about temperature and air quality, but rather all external influences). Our environment plays a big role in shaping the individuals we become, and our mothers have more effect on our environment than our fathers do. When we are developing in the womb, our moms’ bodies single-handedly provide us with nutrients, hormones, and antibodies (and sometimes pathogens). During this time, her circumstances and decisions will determine what kind of setting we are born into. After we’re born, the social interaction, nutrition, and antibodies (through breast feeding and/or vaccines) she provides will all influence our gene activity and thus how we develop. Collectively, the traits that we develop due to these factors and all mom’s other nongenetic influences are called maternal effects.Mom gives us more genes, and has more input in determining how active each gene is. In the end, we are who we are in large part because of our moms.So Mom, this is for you: Happy (early) Mother’s Day! Want to know more? Check these out:1. BERNARDO, J. (1996). Maternal Effects in Animal Ecology Integrative and Comparative Biology, 36 (2), 83-105 DOI: 10.1093/icb/36.2.832. Wolf, J., & Wade, M.J. (2009). What are maternal effects (and what are they not)? Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 364, 1107-1115 ... Read more »
A new robotic sensor deployed by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Gulf of Maine coastal waters may transform the way red tides or harmful algal blooms (HABs) are monitored and managed in New England. The instrument was launched at the end of last month, and a second such system will be deployed later this spring.... Read more »
WHOI Media Relations Office. (2013) New Robotic Instruments to Provide Real-Time Data on Gulf of Maine Red Tide. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution . info:/
When Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) marine paleoecologist Marco Coolen was mining through vast amounts of genetic data from the Black Sea sediment record, he was amazed about the variety of past plankton species that left behind their genetic makeup (i.e., the plankton paleome).... Read more »
WHOI Media Relations Office. (2013) The Black Sea is a Goldmine of Ancient Genetic Data. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. info:/
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