Forest dance on wires depicts a creeping fungal multitude blown back by a tornado
Nov11

Forest dance on wires depicts a creeping fungal multitude blown back by a tornado

Plant biology PhD student Uma Nagendra of the University of Georgia, Athens, wins the 2014 Dance Your PhD competion, sponsored by Science, AAAS, and HighWire Press. Floating on trapeze wires, young white pine seedlings unfurl and reach for light. But lurking in the roots of the parent tree are dangerous fungi that creep forth to strike at the young scions. The sprouts closest to the great tree falter and wilt, giving ground to other...

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Bats: an important resource

This post contributed by Terence Houston, ESA Science Policy Analyst This week, the Ecological Society of America is holding its 96th Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas.  As over 3,000 ecologists participate in the meeting’s numerous scientific sessions, a highlight in Austin that most meeting attendees will make every effort to see are the city’s famous bats. As seen in the video below, between March and November, every evening around...

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Fungus makes zombie ants administer ‘death bite’ at noon

Researcher David Hughes has expanded research on a parasitic fungus and its carpenter ant host. As explained in an excerpt from a previous EcoTone post: Scientists have found that the parasitic fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis has possibly been invading carpenter ants (Camponotus) for 48 million years. The parasite not only infects the ant, but it manipulates the ant’s behavior, driving it to bite the underside of the leaf at the...

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It takes more than climate change to cause amphibian decline

This post contributed by Monica Kanojia, Administrative Assistant/Governance for ESA. Amphibians have been around for hundreds of millions of years. They have survived numerous extinction events and yet somehow, in the past two decades, their numbers have been in severe decline. The population changes have been linked to many factors, including climate change and disease, habitat destruction and water pollution. Studies indicate that...

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Frog legs: more than just a culinary curiosity

Frog legs are a culinary tradition in many cultures—featured in French and Cantonese cuisine, among others—and have been showing up in American cuisine as well, often as a culinary curiosity. In a recent article in the Washington Post, for example, frog legs were presented as a delicacy that could become more popular with American consumers if presented in a new way.

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From the Community: the wisdom of birds, felines and spores

Tim Birkhead explains what song bird research can contribute to human health, Surprising Science describes the evolution of a feline’s roar (or meow), a Geophysical Research Letters study assesses the world’s dwindling groundwater supply, Nature News interviews Gabriela Chavarria—the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s top science adviser—and Chris Palmer’s book reveals faking in nature videos. Here are stories in ecology from the last week in September.

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Fungus has been invading carpenter ants for 48 million years

Scientists have found that the parasitic fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis has possibly been invading carpenter ants (Camponotus) for 48 million years. The parasite not only infects the ant, but it manipulates the ant’s behavior, influencing it to bite the underside of the leaf at the veins. Once the ant hits an optimal location, the fungus grows rapidly, killing the ant and preparing it to release a new spore.

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Fungi turn ants into zombies. (need I say more?)

A stroma, or spore-releasing body, of a killer fungus grows out of the head of a victim ant. Image courtesy David Hughes and with thanks to Science News. As much as Hollywood might want you to think they exist, zombies are fictitious. But a study out today claims that actually, they kind of do exist — if your undead is an ant and your possessive reviving sorcerer a deadly and clever species of fungus. Imagine you’re a...

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