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Ecology / Conservation posts

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  • October 16, 2016
  • 08:58 PM

Call me: female zebra finches prefer their mate’s call

by Emily Makowski in Sextraordinary!

Social interactions are highly sought-after and rewarding in many animals... Even when social interactions involve only one of our senses, they are still rewarding. For example, we like looking at photos of our friends on Facebook, or hearing the voice of a faraway relative via telephone. It’s the same with other animals; not only is socialization rewarding and can be used as an incentive for learning, but just the sights, sounds, and even smells of others are also rewarding. Hernandez et ........ Read more »

  • October 14, 2016
  • 07:00 AM

Friday Fellow: Witch’s Jelly

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll I wonder how many people can say they have a bacterium that reminds them of their childhood. Well, at least I can say that I have. When I was a boy and started to know about … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • October 8, 2016
  • 03:15 PM

That time 20,000 jellyfish orbited Earth

by Emily Makowski in Sextraordinary!

Why did NASA put jellyfish aboard the space shuttle in the 1990s? I discuss the reasoning behind this experimentand the results.... Read more »

Spangenberg, D., Jernigan, T., McCombs, R., Lowe, B., Sampson, M., & Slusser, J. (1994) Development studies of Aurelia (Jellyfish) ephyrae which developed during the SLS-1 mission. Advances in Space Research, 14(8), 239-247. DOI: 10.1016/0273-1177(94)90408-1  

  • October 5, 2016
  • 12:00 PM

When Animals Tell the Truth: Honest Signalling Theory

by Awwducational in Awwducational

Honest signalling Theory. Why would animals tell the truth? Is it strong moral fiber? Maybe they paid really close attention when their mother told them the story of the boy who cried wolf? It's actually about self preservation.

Signalling theory states that animals send out signals that benefit themselves. Honest signalling theory states when an animal tells the truth , eg: sends a signal that says 'I'm healthy' when the animal is actually healthy, it does so to avoid a p........ Read more »

Blount JD, Speed MP, Ruxton GD, & Stephens PA. (2009) Warning displays may function as honest signals of toxicity. Proceedings. Biological sciences, 276(1658), 871-7. PMID: 19019790  

  • October 5, 2016
  • 09:06 AM

Of microbes and men: Evolving as one and terraforming earth

by gdw in FictionalFieldwork

Me and my microbes In the past decade or so, the microbiota, the community of microbes that makes its home in the guts of humans and other animals, has become quite a popular research topic. Quite rightly so, since our little guests seem to affect aspects of our lives that we wouldn’t necessarily consider to […]... Read more »

Faria VG, Martins NE, Magalhães S, Paulo TF, Nolte V, Schlötterer C, Sucena É, & Teixeira L. (2016) Drosophila Adaptation to Viral Infection through Defensive Symbiont Evolution. PLoS genetics, 12(9). PMID: 27684942  

Solé RV, Montañez R, & Duran-Nebreda S. (2015) Synthetic circuit designs for earth terraformation. Biology direct, 37. PMID: 26187273  

  • October 2, 2016
  • 02:32 PM

Sugar gives bees a happy buzz

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

An unexpected sugary snack can give bees a little buzz and appears to lift their mood, even making them optimistic, according to research that suggests pollinators have feelings, too. Since emotions are subjective and difficult to measure—particularly in animals—researchers looked at how bees' behavior changed after they were given a sip of sucrose solution.

... Read more »

  • September 29, 2016
  • 12:00 PM

Rat Boggling: Simultaneously Freaky and Adorable

by Awwducational in Awwducational

When extremely happy or relaxed, rats will display a behavior known as boggling where their eyes vibrate and bulge. ... Read more »

Froberg-fejko, Karen. (2014) Give a rat a bone: satisfying rodents' need to gnaw. Lab animal. info:/

  • September 27, 2016
  • 05:50 PM

The unintended consequences of almond milk on California

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A new study using aerial imagery across the state of California has found that converting land to grow almonds between 2007 and 2014 has led to a 27% annual increase in irrigation demands—despite the state's historic drought. The expansion of almonds has also consumed 16,000 acres of wetlands and will likely put additional pressure on already stressed honeybee populations.

... Read more »


  • September 27, 2016
  • 03:09 PM

Sex changes in nature

by Emily Makowski in Sextraordinary!

We might think of animal mating being as simple as 1 male and 1 female, like on Noah's Ark. But many types of fish undergo sex changes throughout their lives. My goal is to open people's eyes to the diversity among sex in animals.... Read more »

  • September 27, 2016
  • 08:32 AM

Do you really see plants? Humans and their plant blindness

by Alice Breda in la-Plumeria

What do you see in the picture? An elephant, right?
Some will say that they see an African elephant, or perhaps an elephant in the savannah protecting from the sun in the shade of a tree. But who sees an elephant and a majestic flowering baobab surrounded by savannah shrubs in a dry grass meadow?
If your answer is the latter, congratulations, you are a quite unique case. If in the picture you just see “an elephant” then you are just like most of the people around you.

This pheno........ Read more »

Wandersee, J., & Schussler, E. (1999) Preventing Plant Blindness. The American Biology Teacher, 61(2), 82-86. DOI: 10.2307/4450624  

  • September 23, 2016
  • 07:00 AM

Friday Fellow: Rosy Crust

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll If you are walking through a forest in Europe you may find the bark of some trees covered by a thin rosy or orange crust. Commonly known as rosy crust, its scientific name is Peniophora incarnata. As … Continue reading →... Read more »

Suay, I., Arenal, F,, Asensio, F. J., Basilio, A., Cabello, M. A., Díez, M. T., García, J. B., González del Val, A., Gorrochategui, J., Hernández, P.... (2000) Screening of basidiomycetes for antimicrobial activities. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, 78(2), 129-140. DOI: 10.1023/A:1026552024021  

  • September 20, 2016
  • 04:31 PM

Potentially harmful chemicals widespread in household dust

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Household dust exposes people to a wide range of toxic chemicals from everyday products, according to a new study. A multi-institutional team conducted a first-of-a-kind meta-analysis, compiling data from dust samples collected throughout the United States to identify the top ten toxic chemicals commonly found in dust.

... Read more »

  • September 18, 2016
  • 07:03 AM

5 Things We Learned This Week | Open-Access Science | Week 37, 2016

by TakFurTheKaffe in Tak Fur The Kaffe

New theories in ocean circulation and acidification, shorter sea ice season in polar bear habitats, and new tools to track bird migrations and hair protein analysis in forensic IDs. Here are five of the latest scientific studies published open-access this week.... Read more »

Stern, H., & Laidre, K. (2016) Sea-ice indicators of polar bear habitat. The Cryosphere, 10(5), 2027-2041. DOI: 10.5194/tc-10-2027-2016  

Shamoun-Baranes, J., Farnsworth, A., Aelterman, B., Alves, J., Azijn, K., Bernstein, G., Branco, S., Desmet, P., Dokter, A., Horton, K.... (2016) Innovative Visualizations Shed Light on Avian Nocturnal Migration. PLOS ONE, 11(8). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0160106  

Parker, G., Leppert, T., Anex, D., Hilmer, J., Matsunami, N., Baird, L., Stevens, J., Parsawar, K., Durbin-Johnson, B., Rocke, D.... (2016) Demonstration of Protein-Based Human Identification Using the Hair Shaft Proteome. PLOS ONE, 11(9). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0160653  

  • September 17, 2016
  • 01:50 PM

Largest-ever study reveals environmental impact of genetically modified crops

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

According to new research, widespread adoption of genetically modified crops has decreased the use of insecticides, but increased the use of weed-killing herbicides as weeds become more resistant. This is the largest study of genetically modified crops and pesticide use to date. The team of economists studied annual data from more than 5,000 soybean and 5,000 maize farmers in the U.S. from 1998 to 2011, far exceeding previous studies that have been limited to one or two years of data.

... Read more »

  • September 16, 2016
  • 07:00 AM

Friday Fellow: Samambaiaçu

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll It’s more than time to bring a fern as a Friday Fellow, and I decided to start with one of my favorites, the Neotropical tree fern Dicksonia sellowiana, known in Brazil as Samambaiaçu or Xaxim. The samambaiaçu … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • September 14, 2016
  • 03:48 PM

Food waste could store solar and wind energy, or there's the obvious...

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Saving up excess solar and wind energy for times when the sun is down or the air is still requires a storage device. Batteries get the most attention as a promising solution although pumped hydroelectric storage is currently used most often. Now researchers are advancing another potential approach using sugar alcohols—an abundant waste product of the food industry—mixed with carbon nanotubes.

... Read more »

  • September 9, 2016
  • 09:55 AM

The deep history of barley breeding

by Luigi in Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog

A recent paper reported on the discovery of a bit of the barley genome where an allele from the wild relative, when homozygous, confers a 30% yield advantage over a popular German variety under saline conditions.1 That of course is very interesting in its own right, but I want here to delve a bit into the methods, rather than the results.... Read more »

  • September 9, 2016
  • 07:00 AM

Friday Fellow: Helicopter Damselfly

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll Damselflies are usually delicate versions of dragonflies, but some species challenge their place among the odonates. The most extreme example comes from the moist forests of Central and South America and is known as Megaloprepus caerulatus or … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • September 8, 2016
  • 12:00 PM

Fertility Campaigns: It’s A Kid-a-strophe!

by Chiara Civardi in United Academics

Are fertility campaigns the right way to face an ageing population?... Read more »

Jos G.J. Olivier, Greet Janssens-Maenhout, Jeroen A.H.W. Peters, & Julian Wilson. (2011) Long-term trend in global CO2 emissions: 2011 report. PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, . info:other/978-90-78645-68-9

Bloom DE, Chatterji S, Kowal P, Lloyd-Sherlock P, McKee M, Rechel B, Rosenberg L, & Smith JP. (2015) Macroeconomic implications of population ageing and selected policy responses. Lancet (London, England), 385(9968), 649-57. PMID: 25468167  

  • September 7, 2016
  • 06:17 PM

Girls only, literally: global warming and sea turtle sex ratios

by Emily Makowski in Sextraordinary!

The sex of sea turtle offspring is largely dependent on temperature, and global warming could lead to problems where populations are mostly/all female. However, sea turtles have a trick up their sleeve (in their shells?) that may make them more resilient to the effects of global warming than previously thought.... Read more »

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