Sage grouse struts his stuff
Apr07

Sage grouse struts his stuff

Greater sage grouse males strut their stuff for the cameras of Gail Patricelli‘s lab (and the female grouse) on a mating lek in Wyoming, in 2008. In the spring, greater sage grouse males (Centrocercus urophasianus) gather together on open knolls and patches of bare soil and low vegetation in groups called leks. Like gyms or bars, lekking grounds are social performance spaces, where males spread their tail-feathers, inflate their...

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Sage grouse losing habitat to fire as endangered species decision looms
Apr03

Sage grouse losing habitat to fire as endangered species decision looms

Post-wildfire stabilization treatment has not aided habitat restoration for the imperiled Great Plains birds.   As fires sweep more frequently across the American Great Basin, the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has been tasked with reseeding the burned landscapes to stabilize soils. BLM’s interventions have not helped to restore habitat for the greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) reported scientists from the US...

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Strawberry poison frogs feed their babies poison eggs
Mar20

Strawberry poison frogs feed their babies poison eggs

The Strawberry poison frog lavishes care upon its offspring. In the March issue of Ecology, out Monday the 17th, Stynoski et al. report that the female frog fortifies its progeny with defensive chemicals. Also in this issue: P value debates, arctic warming, and estimating the success of biological invasions. Tiny, toxic, and ostentatiously beautiful, the strawberry poison dart (Oophaga  pumilio) is the kind of frog to lavish care upon...

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Yellowstone wolves take a blow to their rep
Mar11

Yellowstone wolves take a blow to their rep

A well-publicized depiction of wolves revitalizing Yellowstone’s ecosystem is a myth, said writers for the NY Times‘ op-ed page and a Nature news feature last week. This is the story: For thousands of years, wolves shaped the ecology of Yellowstone. That changed in the twentieth century, when people succeeded in eradicating a competitor and perceived threat from the lower 48. In the predators’ absence, elk and deer overran the...

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Popcorn origins glimpsed in the ruins of antiquity and the greenhouse time machine
Mar05

Popcorn origins glimpsed in the ruins of antiquity and the greenhouse time machine

Before there was corn (Zea mays subsp. mays), and corn ruled the world, there was the wild grass, teosinte. Corn, known as maize outside the Americas, easily hybridizes with its wild sibling, but these two incarnations of Z. mays do not look alike. Subtle genetic alterations in the regulation of development change Z. mays profoundly, turning an edible wild weed into the economic powerhouse con. Teosinte’s body plan structure and...

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