The evolution of beer yeasts, seedy pants and vampire bat venom-turned medicine

Beer yeasts: Researchers at Lund University in Sweden tracked the history of two yeasts—Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Dekkera bruxellensis—used in alcohol fermentation to pinpoint their role in ethanol production. They found that, around 150 million years ago, competition with other microbes, and the overall increase in sugar-rich fruits, encouraged the yeasts to withstand high ethanol concentrations—an adaptation that would allow them...

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Living video games, seed science and bat rescues

Video games that guide the movement of paramecia, dogs trained to aid in data collection, the evolution of seeds in the Amazon Rainforest, environmental degradation captured as art and the successful rescue of more than 100 bats stranded by the devastating floods in Australia. Here are stories in ecology for the third week in January 2011. PAC-mecium: Stanford University researchers have developed, not a life-like video game, but a...

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From the Community: December Edition

The following links highlight ecology from the month of December, but there are several science-related end-of-year lists floating around as well. For example, The Guardian released a review of 2010 wildlife photographic awards, Scientific American’s podcast 60-Second Earth highlighted Earth stories in 2010, Ed Yong is posting a series of 2010 research themed articles on his blog Not Exactly Rocket Science—such as a recent post on...

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From the Community: healthy green spaces, beak deformities and ocean acidification

National Geographic launches the new series Great Migrations, New Scientist outlines the multiple benefits of living near parks and other green spaces, scientists explore the physics of cat lapping, Brandon Keim from Wired Science joins researchers in an abandoned mine to test bats for White Nose Syndrome and the United States Geological Survey seeks help from bird watchers to track a recent spike in beak deformities. Here is the...

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From the Community: whispering bats, terror birds and x-rays of flowers

Western barbastelle bats in Europe learn to use quieter echolocation when hunting moths, ecologists analyze the importance of and methods for communicating science during times of environmental controversy, researchers map the skull of an extinct terror bird, unraveling this prehistoric carnivore’s hunting behaviors and a photographer produces x-ray images of flowers to showcase their inner beauty. Monitoring Antarctica: In a recent...

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From the Community: moth’s green islands, poison arrow frog controversy and life in unlikely places

Poison dart frog, Dendrobates auratus Credit: Dirk van der Made Moths create green islands in leaves, bats navigate long distances using a geomagnetic field and volcanic lake shows unexpected biodiversity. Here is what’s happening in ecology for the first week in April. Green islands: As leaves cease photosynthesis production in preparation for winter, leaf-miners use bacteria to protect islands of green for the growth of larvae. Read...

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Protecting the elusive, cave-dwelling troglobites

“Who will speak for the imperiled troglobites? Charismatic megafauna, they are not. Troglobites—not to be confused with troglodytes (cavemen) or trilobites (extinct arthropods)—are neither warm-blooded nor fuzzy. Most are invertebrates, including insects and crustaceans, but there are also troglobitic fish and amphibians—and all are as weird as they are rare.” Kaua’i cave wolf spider Credit: FWS That’s how Katherine Ellison...

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White-nose syndrome still devastating bats and challenging scientists

A healthy Virginia big-eared bat in WV Credit: Jeff Hajenga, WVDNR In an effort to conserve and research the endangered Virginia big-eared bat, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo took in 40 bats in November 2009. The goal was to establish a security population and to scientifically develop husbandry practices in a subspecies that researchers have not attempted to conserve before.  According to a press release, “The possible extinction of...

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