July 02, 2014

9:45 AM | Update: Plant Health News (02 Jul 14)
Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the release of EFSA’s scientific opinion on biotech oilseed rape, why using too much fertilizer is bad for crops and bad for climate and how the El Niño is already impacting Peruvian fruit crops. Click on the link to read more of the latest […]
1:37 AM | DNA analysis reveals Bigfoot is a big fake | @GrrlScientist
A newly-published genetic analysis of hair samples suspected as being from a cryptic primate known by various names such as "bigfoot" or "yeti", has revealed they actually originated from dogs, horses, bears or other well known mammals. A newly-published genetic analysis of hair samples suspected as being from a cryptic primate known by various names such as "bigfoot" or "yeti", has revealed they actually originated from dogs, horses, bears or other, well known, mammals. The analysis was […]

Sykes B.C., Mullis R.A., Hagenmuller C., Melton T.W. & Sartori M. (2014). Genetic analysis of hair samples attributed to yeti, bigfoot and other anomalous primates, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.0161

MacLeod N. (2014). Molecular analysis of ‘anomalous primate’ hair samples (commentary), Proceedings of the Royal Society B, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.0843

Hailer F., B. M. Hallstrom, D. Klassert, S. R. Fain, J. A. Leonard, U. Arnason & A. Janke (2012). Nuclear Genomic Sequences Reveal that Polar Bears Are an Old and Distinct Bear Lineage, Science, 336 (6079) 344-347. DOI:

12:43 AM | Oddballs or Innovators?
I spotted an upland sandpiper on top of a power pole last week.  In central Nebraska, that’s not really noteworthy – upland sandpipers are pretty common across much of the state.  They tend to nest in large open grasslands with … Continue reading →
12:29 AM | World’s oceans filling with plastic
Every day the air, the rivers, and the barges carry our garbage out to sea. Plastic might be the least harmful. Continue reading →

July 01, 2014

8:55 PM | Occupational Health News Roundup
The U.S. Supreme Court deals a blow to union fair-share fees; Massachusetts raises minimum wage to $11 an hour; and Texas lawmakers scoff at the idea of better safeguards in the wake of the West fertilizer blast.
7:42 PM | Tell Congress to Protect Your Right to Know: Oppose the DARK Act; Don’t Hide Food Contents
>The Grocery Manufacturers Association, along with allies like Monsanto and Dow, have teamed up with Koch-backed Congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas to introduce a federal bill that would deny your right to know what is in your food. Continue reading →
6:22 PM | Hot Arctic Water, High Pressure Domes Pushing Sea Ice Toward New Record Lows
It doesn't take much to shove Arctic sea ice toward new record low values Continue reading →
4:40 PM | New York Mets Smitten with Meatless Meat
Plant-based company Beyond Meat is reaching out to the New York Mets, in hopes of garnering the support of mainstream American consumers. Continue reading →
2:43 PM | New HHMI Professors announced for 2014
HHMI announced a new slate of professors to be inducted into their Professors program. This program is specifically for faculty who are both excellent researchers and teachers; it’s nice to see the latter actually rewarded. Here are the Professors who are most relevant to the theme of the blog; they’re all doing good stuff. Mark Goldman […]
1:00 PM | Bayesian Markov-chain Monte Carlo in population genetics
This is a guest post by Arun Sethuraman, a postdoctoral associate with Jody Hey, studying statistical models for divergence population genetics in the Department of Biology at Temple University. You can also find him on Twitter, and on his short story blog. Prompted by the great response … Continue reading →
12:26 PM | On the differences between natural resource and biology departments
Six weeks ago, in my post on research funding, in the comments several people noted that funding for TAs and RAs were different in natural resource departments than in ecology and evolutionary biology or biology departments. A reader Steven Byrd, emailed … Continue reading →
12:00 PM | Field courses: a blessing and a curse
Since I began my position at Uppsala, my summers begin frantically. Although my teaching load is relatively light, the majority of it comes in the spring just when I am getting ready for my own and my PhD’s fieldwork. I teach in a course on Ecological Methods. Students learn mainly about sampling and survey techniques…
11:27 AM | Factsheet of the month: July – Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease
  On Friday, the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) released an official pest report, submitted by KEPHIS, for the presence of Maize lethal necrosis disease (MLND) in Kenya. This disease is caused by a co-infection of Maize Chlorotic Mottle Virus and another cereal potyvirus, such as Sugarcane Mosaic Virus, Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus or Maize Dwarf Mosaic […]
3:56 AM | Pipeline proponents consider explosives in ocean to scare whales from potential oil slicks (Canada)
Stopping whales from swimming toward any disastrous oil spill ... Continue reading →
1:46 AM | Collaboration Yields Another Wasp Yeast Beer!
Wish you had the opportunity to taste a beer made from a unique wild yeast? A yeast so wild that it lives in a venomous wasp? A yeast so unique that it has never been used in commercial beer production? Well, thanks to a partnership between Your Wild Life and Gizmo Brew Works, you will soon have this opportunity! On July 5, Gizmo will release a limited edition of their Palisade Wasp IPA – appropriately nicknamed “Wild Wasp” – as it was brewed with a strain of wild yeast […]
1:21 AM | Why Animal Rights?
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. . Continue reading →
1:00 AM | El Niño Project (Part 3)
In February, this paper claimed there’s a 75% chance the next El Niño will arrive by the end of 2014: • Josef Ludescher, Avi Gozolchiani, Mikhail I. Bogachev, Armin Bunde, Shlomo Havlin, and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, [Very early warning of next El Niño, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, February 2014. (Click title for […]
12:41 AM | Keep Large Constrictor Snakes Out of the Pet Trade
In 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed listing nine large constrictor snakes as injurious under the Lacey Act, which would significantly reduce the trade of these species as pets. However, in January 2012, only four of the nine species were listed. USFWS is still considering... Continue reading →

June 30, 2014

11:43 PM | Tadpoles bulk up to meet the alien invaders
What happens when an invasive, carapaced, and clawed, alien predator arrives in your pond? Do you change your daily habits to avoid drawing dangerous attention? Bulk up to make yourself a tougher target? If you an Iberian water frog, you do both.
10:45 PM | Uzumati
Happy Birthday # 150 you bad ass, it wouldn’t be the same without you. Filed under: Awesome
8:22 PM | Celebrating PODs packed full of sensor equipment
NEON staff celebrate a major accomplishment as four PODs full of sensor equipment ship off to Blandy (D2), Disney (D3), Jones (D3) and Jornada (D14) this week, which marks the beginning of phase three sensor installation for those sites.  Once phase three installation is completed, sensor installation will be completed for those sites.  Although the … Continue reading »
7:47 PM | Great Biodiversity Cartoons
Anyone who reads knows that I like to inject a bit of humour into my (often gloomy) messages. Sniggering, chortling, groaning and outright guffawing are useful ways to deal with the depressing topics conservation scientists examine every day. Continue reading →
6:56 PM | OCO-2 set for launch
Tomorrow at 09:56 UTC (02:56 CA time) the Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2 will be launched into orbit, if everything goes as planned. The goal of the mission is to infer spatio-temporally specific CO2 sources and sinks via continuous atmospheric estimates … Continue reading →
6:18 PM | On the curse of cursive handwriting in homework by Madhusudan Katti
Is it really such a terrible curse if people stop writing in cursive? Or is this just one more attempt to hold on to a declining element of a rapidly chaining culture, mere nostalgia for a fading way of life? I’m inclined to think it is the latter, and am generally impatient with nostalgia, but […]
6:12 PM | A polymorphism persists in panmixia despite unfit heterozygotes
Discovering the genes that underlie phenotypic variation within species is increasingly common, but figuring out how they respond to natural selection is a major challenge. Stickleback researchers have been particularly successful at identifying genes or genomic regions of major phenotypic effect. The Pitx1 gene, for example, is known to influence pelvic girdle and spine development. QTL studies have revealed genomic regions underlying variation in phenotypes ranging from juvenile growth rate, […]
5:50 PM | My Favorite Actor
I’ve seen some incredible organisms over the years, but one of my favorite critters is the eastern hognose snake (Heterodon platirhinos), a stocky snake found throughout the open woods and dry fields of the eastern US. One reason that the hognose really captures my attention is its elaborate series of anti-predator displays. First they inflate their bodies and hiss loudly. If still annoyed, they may spread the nape of their neck creating a ‘hood’, much like a cobra. At this […]
4:49 PM | New tools for science collaboration
  The problem with science is email. You all know what I mean. Nearly everything we do is done via email. On the one hand, email is faster than snail mail and enables me to effortlessly share large amount of information via attachments, links, etc.  Email – even more than Word, r, and Excel – is the […]
3:32 PM | Why great white shark sightings are good news
Wild ThingsAnimals by Sarah Zielinski 12:00pm, June 30, 2014 Great white sharks aren’t common in the Atlantic, but sightings are perfectly normal.pterantula/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)In the past week or so, people in the northeastern United States have been seeing a lot of probably disturbing reports of great white sharks: A group of friends fishing a mile off Rockaway Beach in Queens, […]
3:05 PM | Monday open question: What have you read that inspired you in science?
In a twitter discussion of inspirational scientists, I realized that a more interesting question was whether other scientists had particular papers or books that had profoundly inspired them. For very young me, the answer would clearly have been Jurassic Park. This made me want to do science to the extent that several friends and I […]
1:26 PM | Why the Ecology Letters editorial board should reconsider it’s No vote on preprints
As I’ve argued here, and in PLOS Biology, preprints are important. They accelerate the scientific dialog, improve the quality of published research, and provide both a fair mechanism for establishing precedence and an opportunity for early-career researchers to quickly demonstrate the importance of their research. And I’m certainly not the only one who thinks this: […]
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