From the Community: February edition

Fruit fly behavior mapped, resilience theory in an urban setting, changing the universe’s birthdate and genetic diversity in an all-female species. Here are extra news stories and studies on ecological science for the month of February:


Fruit fly mapping: A computer program (see above video) developed by the California Institute of Technology tracks the movement of fruit flies in an effort to quantify their behavior. Scientists hope these data will bridge the gap between the fruit flies’ brain, genes and behavior and will shed light on behavioral patterns of all insects. Read more in “Insect Character Recognition: Computers See Bees Like We Can’t.”

Building resilient cities: Drawing on experiences with natural ecosystems, resilience scientists offer insight into urban planning. For example, to solve the issue of water availability in a metropolis, these scientists suggest managers should consider watershed dynamics, instead of simply tapping into groundwater. Read more in “Urban Resilience.”

Friend or foe: Damselfish, while they appear identical to the naked, untrained eye, actually have complex facial patterns that are only revealed with UV light. Using an experiment that trained the fish to choose from a series of patterns, scientists discovered the UV patterns helped the fish to establish whether they were looking at a friend or foe. Read more in “The hidden face codes of fish.”

The military’s preservation efforts: In the past, the military has resisted intensive efforts to preserve the habitats and protect the endangered species within the confines of their bases. However, there has been a recent surge in planned adjustments “reaching beyond the 420 officially endangered or threatened species on its land and restoring ecosystems for more than 500 others that are considered at risk.”  Read more in “A Base for War Training, and Species Preservation.”

Genetic diversity in same-sex lizards: Scientists found that the all-female whiptail lizard, which has a strong presence in the wild, reproduces by duplicating all of its chromosomes into one egg and then pairing with its genetic duplicates to create an egg with 46 chromosomes. That means each new lizard is a replication of its mother. Read more in “Puzzle Solved: How a Fatherless Lizard Species Maintains Its Genetic Diversity.”

Also, soybean’s genetic make-up shows promise for balancing food, biofuel and sustainability,  the universe clocks in at 20 million years older than previously thought and scientists use a new method of retrieving a tick’s meal to track the spread of disease.

For the first installment of “From the Community,” these featured stories and studies are from the entire month of February. However, starting next Monday, this digest of interesting links in ecological news will be from the previous week only. If you would like to share the other ecological news you discovered during the week, please feel free to add them in the comments section. Thanks!

Siebeck, U., Parker, A., Sprenger, D., Mäthger, L., & Wallis, G. (2010). A Species of Reef Fish that Uses Ultraviolet Patterns for Covert Face Recognition Current Biology DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.12.047

Lutes, A., Neaves, W., Baumann, D., Wiegraebe, W., & Baumann, P. (2010). Sister chromosome pairing maintains heterozygosity in parthenogenetic lizards Nature DOI: 10.1038/nature08818

Author: Katie Kline

Moderator of EcoTone and ESA's communications officer.

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1 Comment

  1. Very interesting round-up! Looking forward to the weekly posts of “From the Community” to keep me up to date on all things ecology.

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