September 07, 2014

1:11 PM | “Invasive Species – Friends or Foes?”
The topic of discussion “Invasive Species – Friends or Foes?” organised and hosted by The Royal Society of Edinburgh quickly polarised the room in opinions after both speakers each gave their 20 minute presentations. In the past all invasive species were labelled as bad however this black and white view has become blurred. The movement […]
4:56 AM | Non-evolutionary facts predict ovulatory shifts
Round 2: Ovulatory Cycles and Shifting Preferences Excerpt: “…ovulatory shifts are intriguing because they represent an original prediction of evolutionary theory, but are not predicted by non-evolutionary theoretical frameworks.” My comment: Ovulation does not occur in reproductively immature women or...Read more
1:46 AM | Epigentically-effected sensory sensitivity and affects on behavior
Sensory-Related Neural Activity Regulates the Structure of Vascular Networks in the Cerebral Cortex A video abstract is available via the above link to the article abstract information. Reported as: Sensory Sensitivity Neuroscience News September 5, 2014 Excerpt: “…lowering neural activity...Read more

September 06, 2014

7:20 PM | Understanding 3-way interactions between continuous and categorical variables: small multiples
It can be pretty tricky to interpret the results of statistical analysis sometimes, and particularly so when just gazing at a table of regression coefficients that include multiple interactions. I wrote a post recently on visualising these interactions when variables are continuous; in that instance, I computed the effect of X on Y when the […]

September 05, 2014

11:37 PM | MicroRNA de novo Creation manifested in ecological adaptation
Linking ‘natural mutants’ and evolution Reservoir of mutations enabled cichlid fish to adapt to varied environments September 3, 2014 | Popular By Leah Eisenstadt, Broad Institute Communications Excerpt: “…the East African cichlid genomes possess an excess of gene duplications; alterations...Read more
2:25 AM | Pattern recognition from microbes to man
  Commensal bacteria play a role in mating preference of Drosophila melanogaster Excerpt: “The major findings of this study are (i) diet-induced mating preference occurred in D. melanogaster after only one generation on different growth media and was maintained under...Read more
12:11 AM | From cell type differentiation to extinction
The 1,300 Bird Species Facing Extinction Signal Threats to Human Health Excerpt: “Through analysis of the inner workings of birds’ cells, scientists have been deciphering increasingly urgent signals from ecosystems around the world.” My comment: Like all other organisms, birds reach...Read more

September 03, 2014

8:08 PM | Hyraxes Upgrade Their Songs When Their Audience is Attentive
If you’re going to take the trouble to sing a song about how great you are, you probably want to make sure others are listening. It seems this is what male rock hyraxes do: they try harder to give a better performance when they have attentive listeners. Read my latest Zoologic post: Hyraxes Sing Better for Attentive Audiences .
2:56 PM | Before there were none
SUMMARY: What was it like to witness a flock of passenger pigeons flying overhead? What did this spectacle look and sound like? Start by imagining a murmuration of starlings multiplied by ten thousand times ... The passenger pigeon was driven to extinction (by people, of course) one hundred years and two days ago, when the last individual, a captive-bred individual named Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoo on 1 September 1914. One of the first things that astounds most people... Read more
2:19 AM | Answers from epigenetics: What about birds?
Darwin’s Finches: Answers From Epigenetics by Jeffrey Tomkins, Ph.D. Article posted on August 29, 2014. Excerpt 1): “In studies attempting to determine the molecular basis for beak variability in finches, researchers have found that very similar developmental genetic pathways among...Read more

September 02, 2014

6:58 PM | Connecting the various levels of analysis
Is Our Focus Becoming Overly Narrow? By Nancy Eisenberg Excerpt: “A larger perspective informed by knowledge about all levels of analysis is in jeopardy. An important challenge for psychological science is to better frame and assess the interconnections among the...Read more
2:35 PM | Syringes with a natural aptitude for sucking blood
Not everyone likes bugs. “It was a little scary to see about a hundred bugs running in a little glass jar,” describes Dr. Christina Bauch who employed dummy-eggs to study Common Swifts. Fortunately, “extracting blood from the bugs is easy”. The swollen abdomen of the blood-fed bug is punctured with a syringe and the blood is drawn out “carefully and slowly”.
1:05 PM | Birdbooker Report 336
SUMMARY: Books, books, beautiful books! This is a list of biology, ecology, environment, natural history and animal books that are (or will soon be) available to occupy your bookshelves and your thoughts. “Words in leather and wood”. Bookshelves in the “Long Room” at the old Trinity College Library in Dublin. Image: Nic McPhee from Morris, MN, USA. 2007. (Creative Commons.) Books to the ceiling, Books to the sky, My pile of books is a mile high. How I love them!... Read […]
12:24 PM | The passenger pigeon by Errol Fuller – review
SUMMARY: Written by an artist and authority on extinct species, this book shares rare photographs and other visual materials to provide a general overview to the history of the extinct passenger pigeon. "Men still live who, in their youth, remember pigeons. Trees still live who, in their youth, were shaken by a living wind. But a decade hence only the oldest oaks will remember, and at long last only the hills will know.” -- Leopold Aldo, A Sand County Almanac:... Read more
2:19 AM | Another misrepresentation of molecular epigenetics
Tiny, Vast Windows Into Human DNA By CARL ZIMMER SEPT. 1, 2014 Excerpt 1): “Sometimes, a single transcription factor may switch on dozens of other genes. And sometimes, those genes encode transcription factors of their own, enabling a cell to...Read more

September 01, 2014

6:10 PM | New Creature Feature: Meet the Thorny Devil
The thorny devil has spikes, camouflage, and a false head to protect it from predators. Plus, it can survive in its desert habitat by concentrating and drinking dew. But do they live up to their devilish name? Read my latest Creature Feature to find out: The Creature Feature: 10 Fun Facts About the Thorny Devil .
5:10 PM | Adopting Littermates… (Don’t)
The title of this post is a bit strong, but I do want to caution people from adopting two dogs from the same litter because “it’s easier” to raise two at once (ask someone with twins if it’s easier than having one child) or “we don’t want our dog to be lonely.” (Because you might […]
10:45 AM | A feathered river across the sky by Joel Greenberg – review
One hundred years ago today, the last passenger pigeon, a captive-bred adult named Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoo. Since we knew that she was the last of her kind, her body was frozen into a 300-pound block of ice before she was shipped by train to the Smithsonian Institution, where she was skinned, dissected and preserved as a mount. Although none of the people who knew the living bird are themselves still alive today, we can still learn more... Read more
3:25 AM | August lives up to its definition: respected and impressive
The things we noticed in and around canine science over the past two weeks, Storified in one neat location for your convenience:[View the story "Do You Believe in Dog? [16-31 August 2014]" on Storify] Further reading:Feuerbacher E.N. (2014). Shut up and pet me! Domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) prefer petting to vocal praise in concurrent and single-alternative choice procedures, Behavioural Processes, DOI: Gygax L. (2014). The A to Z of […]

Gygax L. (2014). The A to Z of statistics for testing cognitive judgement bias, Animal Behaviour, 95 59-69. DOI:

Arnott E.R., Claire M. Wade & Paul D. McGreevy (2014). Environmental Factors Associated with Success Rates of Australian Stock Herding Dogs, PLoS ONE, 9 (8) e104457. DOI:


August 31, 2014

5:46 PM | Epigenetic Shaping of Sociosexual Interactions
Epigenetic Shaping of Sociosexual Interactions: From Plants to Humans “…is the first attempt to interpret the higher social functions of organisms. This volume covers an extraordinarily wide range of biological research and provides a novel framework for understanding human-specific brain...Read more
5:18 PM | Carnival of Evolution #75: A journey
It’s the start of a new month and that means it’s time again for the Carnival of Evolution and this time it’s a special one, the 75th edition! So all aboard […]
3:42 PM | Laws of Physics are Eliminated from Evolutionary Theory
Review article: Towards an evolutionary theory of the origin of life based on kinetics and thermodynamics Excerpt: ‘Irreversibility and the kinetic power of reproduction seem to be, at least in principle, sufficient to allow the emergence of life and there...Read more

August 30, 2014

2:45 PM | Do phenotypes evolve?
In my model, ecological variation leads to nutrient-dependent ecological adaptations manifested in the morphological and behavioral phenotypes of species from microbes to man. Conserved molecular mechanisms lead from the epigenetic landscape to the physical landscape of DNA in the organized...Read more
2:32 AM | Pattern recognition: fine-tuning of color differences
Local reorganization of xanthophores fine-tunes and colors the striped pattern of zebrafish Excerpt: “Many animals have evolved a fascinating diversity in their color patterns, which serve as an essential component of their survival strategy.” Reported as: How the zebrafish gets...Read more

August 29, 2014

8:51 PM | Nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled divergent alleles
The evolutionary genetics of highly divergent alleles of the mimicry locus in Papilio dardanus Conclusion: “…while the polymorphism is generated by different genomic regions, the evolutionary processes that build up the phenotypic diversity at the genome level are similar between...Read more
5:22 PM | Epigenetic modulation of odor response
Toxoplasma gondii infection reduces predator aversion in rats through epigenetic modulation in the host medial amygdala Abstract excerpt: “These results demonstrate an epigenetic proximate mechanism underlying the extended phenotype in the Rattus novergicus – Toxoplasma gondii association.” Reported as: Parasites...Read more
3:48 AM | A Map to Build Roads to a Better Future
When I learned that the pesticide DDT–widely toxic and now widely banned–has snaked its way into polar bears and beluga whales, I questioned if any environment remains pristine on terrestrial Earth. Perhaps, the thick, hostile and unyielding rainforests of Borneo might prove a bastion? Then in 2013, satellite images showed roads penetrating deep into Borneo. […]

Laurance, W., Clements, G., Sloan, S., O’Connell, C., Mueller, N., Goosem, M., Venter, O., Edwards, D., Phalan, B., Balmford, A. & Van Der Ree, R. (2014). A global strategy for road building, Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature13717

3:35 AM | Pseudogenes exemplify past ecological adaptations
Wild Connection: What Animal Courtship and Mating Tell Us about Human Relationships Paperback – June 3, 2014 by Jennifer L. Verdolin Reported as: Are Humans Any Good at Pheromones? By Jennifer L. Verdolin   Excerpt: “…almost all of the genes...Read more
2:44 AM | Baby talk: More misrepresentations of ecological adaptations
Evolution’s Baby Steps by Carl Zimmer Excerpt 1) “When organisms find themselves in a new environment, they develop in a way that helps them cope with their new surroundings. Their descendants may acquire mutations that encode that anatomy in their...Read more

August 28, 2014

11:56 AM | Comparative analysis of facts and theories
Comparative analysis of regulatory information and circuits across distant species Excerpt: “…structural properties of regulatory networks are remarkably conserved and that orthologous regulatory factor families recognize similar binding motifs in vivo and show some similar co-associations.” My comment: The co-associations...Read more
100 Results