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Ecology / Conservation posts

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  • May 31, 2017
  • 10:34 PM
  • 1,746 views

Cities Are Bad for Bumblebees—Except Detroit

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



For bumblebees, big cities are a bummer. Layers of?asphalt, concrete, brick and metal add up to?fewer places for the insects to nest. But one big city—Detroit—reverses that trend. That means shrinking cities might be a growing opportunity for at-risk pollinators.

Bumblebees (species with?the genus name?Bombus) are, like other bees, in trouble. Their numbers and diversity are decreasing across North America. Other native wild bees—the insects that have been living here and pollinatin........ Read more »

Glaum, P., Simao, M., Vaidya, C., Fitch, G., & Iulinao, B. (2017) Big city Bombus: using natural history and land-use history to find significant environmental drivers in bumble-bee declines in urban development . Royal Society Open Science, 4(5), 170156. DOI: 10.1098/rsos.170156  

  • May 19, 2017
  • 11:21 PM
  • 490 views

The warmer the dangerouser, at least if you are a caterpillar

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll Scientist all over the world agree that species diversity is higher at the tropics than at polar regions, i.e., the closer you get to the equator, more species you will find. But apart from making food … Continue reading →... Read more »

Roslin, T., Hardwick, B., Novotny, V., Petry, W., Andrew, N., Asmus, A., Barrio, I., Basset, Y., Boesing, A., Bonebrake, T.... (2017) Higher predation risk for insect prey at low latitudes and elevations. Science, 356(6339), 742-744. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaj1631  

  • May 19, 2017
  • 08:00 AM
  • 520 views

Friday Fellow: Common Stinkhorn

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll Today things are getting sort of pornographic again. Some time ago I introduced a plant whose flowers resemble a woman’s vulva, the asian pigeonwing, and now is time to look at something of the other sex. … Continue reading →... Read more »

SMITH, K. (2009) On the Diptera associated with the Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus Pers.) with notes on other insects and invertebrates found on this fungus. Proceedings of the Royal Entomological Society of London. Series A, General Entomology, 31(4-6), 49-55. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-3032.1956.tb00206.x  

  • May 16, 2017
  • 11:15 AM
  • 507 views

Fatal Attraction: Praying Mantises (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Britta Bibbo We all know the character: an incredibly beautiful woman that seduces the rough-and-tumble action hero, only for him to later find himself chained up over a lava pit with sharks in it! …Or something like that. A “femme fatal” is the idea of a beautiful woman who leads men to their demise. None are more perfect for this role than the female praying mantis. Praying mantis females practice the art of deception through sexual cannibalism. It’s exactly how it sounds: the m........ Read more »

Barry, K. (2014) Sexual deception in a cannibalistic mating system? Testing the Femme Fatale hypothesis. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 282(1800), 20141428-20141428. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.1428  

  • May 12, 2017
  • 08:00 AM
  • 493 views

Friday Fellow: Spreading Earthmoss

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll If you still think mosses are uninteresting lifeforms, perhaps you will change your mind after knowing the spreading earthmoss,?Physcomitrella patens. Found in temperate regions of the world, except for South America, but more commonly recorded in … Continue reading →... Read more »

Cove, D. (2005) The Moss Physcomitrella patens. Annual Review of Genetics, 39(1), 339-358. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.genet.39.073003.110214  

Schaefer, D. (2001) The Moss Physcomitrella patens, Now and Then. PLANT PHYSIOLOGY, 127(4), 1430-1438. DOI: 10.1104/pp.127.4.1430  

  • May 11, 2017
  • 10:26 AM
  • 526 views

Land snails on islands: fascinating diversity, worrying vulnerability

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll The class Gastropoda, which includes snails and slugs, is only beaten by the insects in number of species worldwide, having currently about 80 thousand described species. Among those, about 24?thousand live on land, where they are … Continue reading →... Read more »

Chiba, S., & Cowie, R. (2016) Evolution and Extinction of Land Snails on Oceanic Islands. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, 47(1), 123-141. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-ecolsys-112414-054331  

Sugiura, S., Okochi, I., & Tamada, H. (2006) High Predation Pressure by an Introduced Flatworm on Land Snails on the Oceanic Ogasawara Islands1. Biotropica, 38(5), 700-703. DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7429.2006.00196.x  

  • April 28, 2017
  • 08:00 AM
  • 534 views

Friday Fellow: Hooker’s Lips

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll We are always fascinated by plants that have some peculiar shape that resemble something else. And certainly one of them is the species I’m introducing today,?Psychotria elata, also known as hooker’s lips or hot lips. Found … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • April 27, 2017
  • 09:49 AM
  • 608 views

Code Orange for the Bengal Tiger!

by Jente Ottenburghs in Evolutionary Stories

Genetic study highlights challenging conservation of the Bengal Tiger in India.... Read more »

Singh, S., Aspi, J., Kvist, L., Sharma, R., Pandey, P., Mishra, S., Singh, R., Agrawal, M., & Goyal, S. (2017) Fine-scale population genetic structure of the Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) in a human-dominated western Terai Arc Landscape, India. PLOS ONE, 12(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0174371  

  • April 21, 2017
  • 08:00 AM
  • 471 views

Friday Fellow: Crystalline crestfoot

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll Even in the smallest pools or ponds of freshwater lost in a field, the diversity of lifeforms is amazing. Sadly, these environments are one of the most damaged of all ecosystems on earth and we probably … Continue reading →... Read more »

Elia, A., Galarini, R., Martin D?rr, A., & Taticchi, M. (2007) Heavy metal contamination and antioxidant response of a freshwater bryozoan (Lophopus crystallinus Pall., Phylactolaemata). Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 66(2), 188-194. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2005.12.004  

Hill, S., Sayer, C., Hammond, P., Rimmer, V., Davidson, T., Hoare, D., Burgess, A., & Okamura, B. (2007) Are rare species rare or just overlooked? Assessing the distribution of the freshwater bryozoan, Lophopus crystallinus. Biological Conservation, 135(2), 223-234. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2006.10.023  

  • April 14, 2017
  • 08:00 AM
  • 422 views

Friday Fellow: Crawling Spider Alga

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll The world of unicelular creatures includes fascinating species, some of which were already presented here. And today one more is coming, the marine phytoplanctonic amoeboid protist?Chlorarachnion reptans, which again is a species without a common name, … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • April 11, 2017
  • 11:22 AM
  • 780 views

Risking Limb for Life? (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Matthew Whitley Imagine you are walking alone in parking lot, when suddenly somebody grabs you by the arm and flashes a knife, demanding your money. Do you A) scream for help, B) try to wrestle the knife away, or C) remove your arm from your shoulder and make a break for it? Disarming your assailant may seem preferable to dis-arming yourself, but for a lizard option C is a likely response. A lizard tail left behind. Image by Metatron at Wikimedia Commons.You likely have heard before that many........ Read more »

Clause, A., & Capaldi, E. (2006) Caudal autotomy and regeneration in lizards. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Comparative Experimental Biology, 305A(12), 965-973. DOI: 10.1002/jez.a.346  

Gilbert, E., Payne, S., & Vickaryous, M. (2013) The Anatomy and Histology of Caudal Autotomy and Regeneration in Lizards. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 86(6), 631-644. DOI: 10.1086/673889  

  • April 7, 2017
  • 08:00 AM
  • 424 views

Friday Fellow: Amphibian chytrid fungus

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll Today I’m bringing you a species that is probably one of the most terrible ones to exist today, the amphibian chytrid fungus,?Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, also known simply as?Bd. The amphibian chytrid fungus, as its name says, is … Continue reading →... Read more »

Fisher, M., Garner, T., & Walker, S. (2009) Global Emergence of Batrachochytridium dendrobatidis and Amphibian Chytridiomycosis in Space, Time, and Host. Annual Review of Microbiology, 63(1), 291-310. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.micro.091208.073435  

  • April 4, 2017
  • 07:00 PM
  • 549 views

New rice fights off drought

by adam phillips in It Ain't Magic

Researchers have created drought resistant transgenic rice using a gene from a small Eurasian flowering plant.... Read more »

Selvaraj, M., Ishizaki, T., Valencia, M., Ogawa, S., Dedicova, B., Ogata, T., Yoshiwara, K., Maruyama, K., Kusano, M., Saito, K.... (2017) Overexpression of an galactinol synthase gene improves drought tolerance in transgenic rice and increased grain yield in the field . Plant Biotechnology Journal. DOI: 10.1111/pbi.12731  

  • March 31, 2017
  • 11:16 AM
  • 619 views

The Snail That Only Lives in a Hole inside Another Hole under a Sea Urchin

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



If you think house hunting is hard, consider the plight?of this snail. It lives only in tide pools in southern Japan. Within those tide pools, it only lives in holes?carved out of rock—specifically, holes dug?by sea urchins. But it can only move into one of those holes after?the hole-digging urchin has moved out. When?a second, differently shaped sea urchin moves into the hole, it?leaves a gap between its spiny body and the wall of the burrow. It's this nook that the snail snuggles int........ Read more »

  • March 28, 2017
  • 05:48 PM
  • 598 views

Bottlenose Dolphins: The Ultimate Sea Bully? (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Kayla FullerImagine this situation: you’ve brought your favorite lunch to work. Everyone is jealous of your food, continuously eyeing it up. A few coworkers, who have brought in disappointing lunches in comparison, approach and demand that you hand it over. After you refuse, they beat you until your body lies lifeless and they take your lunch anyway. Woah, woah, woah… that took a dramatic turn! Photo of a harbour porpoise, taken by AVampireTear (Wikimedia Commons)But for harbour porpoise........ Read more »

Ross, H., & Wilson, B. (1996) Violent Interactions between Bottlenose Dolphins and Harbour Porpoises. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 263(1368), 283-286. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.1996.0043  

Spitz, J., Rousseau, Y., & Ridoux, V. (2006) Diet overlap between harbour porpoise and bottlenose dolphin: An argument in favour of interference competition for food?. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 70(1-2), 259-270. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecss.2006.04.020  

  • March 24, 2017
  • 08:00 AM
  • 559 views

Friday Fellow: Divergent Dinobryon

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll Let’s return once more to the troublesome and neglected protists. This time I’m bringing you another tiny but beautiful alga, more precisely a golden alga. Its name is?Dinobryon divergens and as usual there is no common … Continue reading →... Read more »

Franke, W., & Herth, W. (1973) Cell and lorica fine structure of the chrysomonad alga, Dinobryon sertularia Ehr. (Chrysophyceae). Archiv für Mikrobiologie, 91(4), 323-344. DOI: 10.1007/BF00425052  

KARIM, A., & ROUND, F. (1967) Microfibrils in the lorica of the freshwater alga Dinobryon. New Phytologist, 66(3), 409-412. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.1967.tb06020.x  

Sheath, R., Hellebust, J., & Sawa, T. (1975) The statospore of Dinobryon divergens Imhof: Formation and germination in a subarctic lake. Journal of Phycology, 11(2), 131-138. DOI: 10.1111/j.1529-8817.1975.tb02760.x  

  • March 21, 2017
  • 11:04 AM
  • 756 views

The Weirdest Animals on Earth: 12 Amazing Facts About Platypuses

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

What IS that? A photo by Stefan Kraft at Wikimedia Commons.1. Platypuses are so strange, that when British scientists first encountered one, they thought it was a joke: A Governor of New South Wales, Australia, sent a platypus pelt and sketch to British scientists in 1798. Even in their first published scientific description of the species, biologists thought that this duck-beaked, beaver-bodied, web-footed specimen may be some Frankenstein-like creation stitched together as a hoax. But this is ........ Read more »

Scheich, H., Langner, G., Tidemann, C., Coles, R., & Guppy, A. (1986) Electroreception and electrolocation in platypus. Nature, 319(6052), 401-402. DOI: 10.1038/319401a0  

Warren, W., Hillier, L., Marshall Graves, J., Birney, E., Ponting, C., Grützner, F., Belov, K., Miller, W., Clarke, L., Chinwalla, A.... (2008) Genome analysis of the platypus reveals unique signatures of evolution. Nature, 453(7192), 175-183. DOI: 10.1038/nature06936  

  • March 17, 2017
  • 08:00 AM
  • 649 views

Friday Fellow: Pliable Brachionus

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll Charles Darwin had already noticed that small animals, such as those found in zooplankton, are widely distributed around the world, even those that are found in small ponds of freshwater. This seemed to go against the … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • March 11, 2017
  • 05:45 PM
  • 647 views

Badass females are unpopular among praying mantids

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll One of the most iconic representations of praying mantids is that of a female eating the male after (or during) sex, an unpleasant scenario that starts with a beheading before the poor male even finishes his … Continue reading →... Read more »

Lelito, J., & Brown, W. (2008) Mate attraction by females in a sexually cannibalistic praying mantis. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 63(2), 313-320. DOI: 10.1007/s00265-008-0663-8  

Scardamaglia, R., Fosacheca, S., & Pompilio, L. (2015) Sexual conflict in a sexually cannibalistic praying mantid: males prefer low-risk over high-risk females. Animal Behaviour, 9-14. DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2014.10.013  

  • February 24, 2017
  • 07:18 PM
  • 714 views

Symbiote Separation: Coral Bleaching and Climate Change

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

It’s been a while since I’ve broken down some studies for you, so I took on a big one.I’m sure you’ve heard of coral bleaching. What is it? Why does it happen? Why does it matter? To start off, you need to know a little bit more about the individuals that make up a head (fan, whip, etc.): the polyp. Coral polyps look like tiny plants but are actually tiny animals (less than ? an inch in diameter). They produce calcium carbonate to create a protective shell or skeleton that, when thousan........ Read more »

Anthony KR, Kline DI, Diaz-Pulido G, Dove S, & Hoegh-Guldberg O. (2008) Ocean acidification causes bleaching and productivity loss in coral reef builders. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105(45), 17442-6. PMID: 18988740  

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