Army ants, beard microbes and ant-mimicking jumping spiders

Army ant week: Biologist and photographer Alex Wild reported on army ants all last week  in a series of posts on his blog Myrmecos. In one post, he described how army ants link with one another using hooks on their feet: “When the time comes to encamp, they can string together living curtains of ants in a matter of minutes. Army ant bivouacs are made from the ants themselves, a vibrant structure that protects the vulnerable brood and...

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From the Community: street lamps, traffic lights and nuclear energy

Songbirds become disoriented by street lamps, plants adapt to the conditions near Chernobyl, a newly discovered spider spins gigantic webs with the strongest known biological material in the world, traffic light experiment shows promise of reducing emissions and easing traffic congestion and researchers discuss the Daily Show with Jon Stewart as an outlet for communication science to the public. Here are some of the latest stories in ecology for the second to last week in September.

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Female jumping spiders fight to the death

Male jumping spiders (Phidippus clarus) size one another up before engaging in a fight—whether the aggression is based on rights to mating or territory—and in many cases, the pre-fight displays are sufficient to deter physical contact. The males do not nest but instead wander between female nests looking for opportunities to mate. The females, on the other hand, are not nomads—they build nests from silk and leaves in which they wait while they draw closer to sexual maturity.

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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.”

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New spider species an homage to David Bowie

Here’s an interesting tidbit for your Friday. A new species of sparassid spider (pictured) from Malaysia has been named after David Bowie. Peter Jäger, an arachnologist at the Senckenberg research institute in Germany, says he named the spider –  Heteropoda davidbowie — after the English rock star in an effort to raise awareness about endangered spiders. Bowie’s 1972 album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust...

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