Life of an albatross: ecologists tackle individuality in studies of populations
Feb28

Life of an albatross: ecologists tackle individuality in studies of populations

A study published in Ecological Monographs follows 9,685 wandering albatrosses throughout their long lives, seeking the intrinsic differences that make some individuals outstanding performers

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Road ecology: shifting gears toward evolutionary perspectives
Apr06

Road ecology: shifting gears toward evolutionary perspectives

Steven Brady is an evolutionary ecologist with the Department of Water and Land Resources at King County in Seattle, Wa. He and colleague Jonathan Richardson, an assistant professor at Providence College, share this Frontiers Focus on the ways in which species adapt to the pervasive presence of roads—and how those adaptations are not always beneficial for survival in the wider environment, in the March 2017 issue of ESA Frontiers....

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Jennifer Williams and colleagues receive the Mercer Award for outstanding papers by young researchers
Apr03

Jennifer Williams and colleagues receive the Mercer Award for outstanding papers by young researchers

The George Mercer Award recognizes an outstanding and recently-published ecological research paper by young scientists. ESA recognizes Jennifer Williams, Bruce Kendall, and Jonathan Levine with the 2017 Mercer award for their paper “Rapid evolution accelerates plant population spread in fragmented experimental landscapes,” published in Science. Biological invasions, and migrations of native species in response to climate...

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Bite force: why islanders become giants among lizards
Jul29

Bite force: why islanders become giants among lizards

Species evolve quickly on islands. These “natural laboratories” often offer freedom from predators and competitors, isolation, and new foods and resources. Animals on islands tend to be larger or smaller than their mainland relatives. First described by Foster in 1963, this pattern is so striking that it was dubbed “the island rule” by Leigh van Valen ten years later. Many subsequent studies have investigated, debated, and refined...

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Forgotten beetle hunters and the foundation of evolutionary theory; Alfred Wallace remembered in puppetry
Jan15

Forgotten beetle hunters and the foundation of evolutionary theory; Alfred Wallace remembered in puppetry

The history of science is filled with famous, pivotal individuals, who were in fact surrounded by brilliant, inquisitive colleagues working on the same goals, ideas, collections, and experiments. The puppets tell the tale.

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Ecology branches into the tree of life

An August 2012 supplementary issue of Ecology explores the interface of ecology and phylogenetics. By Liza Lester, ESA communications officer Lebensbaum (Tree of Life): Detail from Gustav Klimt’s 1910/11 drawing for the immense dining room frieze at Stoclet Palace, in Brussels. Watercolor and pencil. Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst, Vienna. NATURALISTS of the late 19th century tended to holistic interpretations of the...

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Tinkering with worm sex to shed light on evolution

This post contributed by Nadine Lymn, ESA Director of Public Affairs The roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) is a tiny laboratory animal that researchers have worked with for decades.  As a hermaphrodite, C. elegans makes both sperm and eggs and can reproduce by self-fertilization.  In contrast to humans, where hermaphrodites are rare, for C. elegans, this is its normal state.   However, male individuals, with only male...

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Scientists dig up the history of the mole’s extra ‘thumb’

Marcelo Sánchez-Villagra from the University of Zurich and researchers have uncovered the evolutionary history of the mole’s extra “thumb.” As it turns out, this polydactyl animal evolved an elongated wrist bone to serve as a sort of extra finger, widening the paw for more effective tunneling. The researchers examined embryos of the Iberian mole (Talpa occidentalis) and the closely related—but five-fingered—North American least shrew...

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Pollination from the plant’s perspective

If plants had a perspective, they would probably think of pollinators as more than just extra-friendly house guests. That is, plants would be more likely to view pollinators as the mutual friend who likes to set up blind dates. Bees might limit pollen to its use as a protein source for the hive, and birds might devour the flesh of a fruit and eliminate the seed as waste. However, many flowering plants, as Bug Girl pointed out in a...

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The story of the fig and its wasp

Inside the rounded fruit of a fig tree is a maze of flowers. That is, a fig is not actually a fruit; it is an inflorescence—a cluster of many flowers and seeds contained inside a bulbous stem. Because of this unusual arrangement, the seeds—technically the ovaries of the fig—require a specialized pollinator that is adapted to navigate within these confined quarters. Here begins the story of the relationship between figs and fig wasps....

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