April 16, 2014

1:49 AM | Tiny Microbe Instigated Huge Permian Extinction
The Permian mass extinction coincided with the timing of a disruption in the Earth’s carbon cycle - but what, or who, played a part in the die-out?
12:57 AM | Iowan proclaimation calls for prayer and humble repentance
Dear Pastor Grandstand (Branstad or something like that), Thank you for your invitation to join in thoughtful prayer and humble repentance, but for what exactly?  Yes, your proclamation was for Iowa, but surely it would still count just across the river, or is the God you mention a small one?  Is repentance necessary because Iowa has been wicked? But no, you say our nation has “fallen from her intended purpose”?  Hmm, TPP didn’t even know our […]

April 15, 2014

8:41 PM | Highlights from the Keystone Symposium on Stem Cells & Reprogramming
I recently attended the joint Keystone Symposium “Stem Cells & Reprogramming” and “Engineering Cell Fate & Function” at the beautiful Resort at Squaw Creek. In addition to gorgeous weather, there was an amazing lineup of talks demonstrating the power and promise of stem cells and cell/tissue engineering. Here are just a few of the highlights from the meetings:  … Read more
5:14 PM | NBA and WNBA players perform differently with age
Life-history traits are often shaped by a balance between somatic maintenance and reproductive investment. That is, an individual wants their own cells to be active, but also needs to invest in making offspring. This tension between natural and sexual selection can generate age-related physiological trajectories that differ between organisms, environments and populations. In simpler terms, […]

Lailvaux S.P., Wilson R. & Kasumovic M.M. (2014). Trait comparison and sex-specific aging of performance in male and female professional basketball players, Evolution, DOI:

4:59 PM | Ferns have it made in the shade
Here's a great bit of research just reported by my colleague Emily over at the No seeds, no fruits, no flowers: no problem blog.  Everyone knows that ferns grow well in the deep forest shade, but this is no easy trick because that leaf canopy overhead captures most of the sunlight, especially at the blue end of the spectrum. Ferns have a neochrome pigment that allows them to use both red and blue light more efficiently.  This isn't news in and of itself, but the real news is […]
3:27 PM | Return to the Jurassic Paradise of Makhtesh Gadol
MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL–This week I’m back in Makhtesh Gadol, that great bowl of Jurassic delights. This is the most extensive exposure of marine Jurassic rocks in southern Israel, and it is highly fossiliferous. This is just a brief report. I’ll summarize the latest finds and ideas later. Today I spent most my time sitting on […]
1:32 PM | PostDoc position for a forest modeller with stats knowledge in our lab
We are looking for candidates to fill a 3-yr postdoc position in our lab. The plan is to use Bayesian statistics to connected a process-based forest model to data, and use the fitted models to test the effect of functional diversity on ecosystem responses and community stability. Details here or via NatureJobs.
11:38 AM | Pupfish on the adaptive landscape, or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the cable tie
[ This post is by Christopher Martin; I am just putting it up.  –B. ]Like most evolutionary biologists, when I think of evolution I imagine rugged mountain landscapes, as Carl Zimmer eloquently introduced the concept of the adaptive landscape. Try to imagine a vast landscape connecting the phenotypes of all organisms where spatial location indicates a particular phenotype and the terrain – the height at any particular location – corresponds to the fitness of each […]
10:28 AM | OpenSciLogs – A Glimpse of the Future of Science Blogging
Guest blog post by Paige Brown, SciLogs.com blogging manager and Ph.D. student in the Manship School of Mass Communication, Louisiana State University.  Read more
12:19 AM | Events
Grab your calendar, plan ahead — biotech events through June, including the annual BIO Convention.  Read more

April 14, 2014

4:35 PM | See you in Raleigh!
I’ve just registered (a whole two days ahead of the deadline!) for the 2014 Evolution meetings, which this year are hosted by NESCent at Raleigh, North Carolina. Up to now, my strongest association with Raleigh is from a childhood of watching The Andy Griffith Show, in which Raleigh is the big city from Mayberry’s point […]
3:01 PM | Not Your Daddy’s Falcon
My son and his friend agreed that Falcon was the coolest character in The Winter Soldier.  This was not the red-and-white Falcon with a telepathic link to his pet bird.  This Falcon wore black, and his wings were metal, and he carried machine guns.  Boy, I can’t wait until it’s their turn to be the Daddy whose comics are not good enough. Which is really just me being grumpy, because the new Falcon actually was pretty cool.  ”More of a […]
2:32 PM | The Yeasts That Make Lager
Around 500 years ago, a group of stowaways crossed the Atlantic to begin an illu...
12:57 PM | Holiday in Mitzpe Ramon
MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL–Pesach (Passover) begins this evening at sundown, but essentially the holiday has started today as people prepare for this evening’s family seders. The town has gone very quiet as stores have closed and traffic dropped to almost no vehicles moving. I spent the day walking around the periphery of Mitzpe Ramon enjoying the […]
12:55 PM | Birdbooker Report 316
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 […]
11:30 AM | Trouble in Haven: Resolving conflicts in academia
Sharing a laboratory with others is typically rewarding – peers in close quarters become a sounding post for new ideas and a support network for the highs and lows of research life. But you don’t choose your desk mates and things can go wrong. Regular Naturejobs contributor Shimi Rii recently experienced how small disagreements can escalate quickly. Finding the right way to deal with conflict is not easy but necessary in order to ensure a harmonious work environment.  Read more
8:41 AM | Evidence for the existence of three primary strategies in plants and its relevance to ecological and evolutionary theory
JP Grime. The American Naturalist 111(982): 1169-1194. Evidence for the existence of three primary strategies in plants and its relevance to ecological and evolutionary theory I’m a zoologist who somehow keeps looking at plants, and this paper is probably the best demonstration of how plant and animal ecologists really do seem to think differently (in my mind, […]
2:29 AM | Landscaping challenge
One thing leads to another, and the Phactors done one thing, in this instance, removing several old declining spruces, a big old ugly yew, and a rear-view mirror-removing redbud with no other redeeming features (it grew immediately adjacent to the neighbor's driveway). This leaves a 65 foot, south-facing, bed, our eastern front garden without any trees. After so many years of seeking shade-tolerant plants, to be seeking full-sun plants is quite a different challenge. However, with […]

April 13, 2014

10:25 PM | Nuclear Fusion & the Elements of Life
I hope you’ll all forgive this brief post today. I’ve been buried under insane levels of work for the last several weeks. However, as I was taking a short break […]
6:55 PM | In the Valley of Elah
MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL–Simon Schama begins his magnificent series The Story of the Jews at an archaeological site near the Valley of Elah called Khirbet Qeiyafa. He said that the first physical evidence for the existence of the Jewish people was not the Exodus from Egypt (for which there is not a trace) but the structures […]
6:45 PM | You Should Know: Dr Caleph Wilson and 1st Generation STEM
The hashtag #ScholarSunday is very much like #FollowFriday or #FF for short. Dr. Raul Pacheco (@RaulPacheco and raulpacheco.org). He created it as a vehicle for academics to engage with each other... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
3:42 PM | IPCC report calls for climate mitigation action now, not later
The world is heading towards possibly dangerous levels of global warming despite increasing efforts to promote the transition to a low-carbon economy, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns in its latest report today.  Read more
2:23 PM | Robust Predictive Control
My wife and I were both sick from some nameless fever-inducing alien virus all last weekend.  Fairly horrible.  Not Agent Coulson, “Let me die, please just let me die” horrible, but not pleasant at all.  Thus the flashback. I tried to read a couple of papers about sleep, including A new theoretical approach to the functional meaning of sleep and dreaming in humans based on the maintenance of ‘predictive […]
5:17 AM | Wooster’s Fossil of the Week: An unusual scleractinian coral from the Upper Cretaceous of Israel
Originally this was going to be a mystery fossil for a crowd-sourced identification while I’m here in Israel doing fieldwork, but through the wonders of the internet I finally found a match for the strange fossil above: it is the scleractinian coral Aspidiscus König, 1825 (Family Latomeandridae).  Yoav Avni and I found several specimens in […]

April 12, 2014

10:03 PM | Bitter greens of spring
TPP appreciates the anonymous tip to this poetic description of spring greens at Salt and Stone Poetry. Although if you considered TPP's comment in the last blog as anything other than saying dandelion greens were the best of a bad lot, then best this author brush up on his writing. You must understand the world of 2, or for most of you, 3 generations back. Over the winter food was canned or winter-stored; cabbage was as close to green and fresh that you got.  My Father […]
6:11 PM | Wooster’s X-ray Lab Hosts Expanding Your Horizons
WOOSTER, OH — What a beautiful Saturday for science!!  Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) hit Scovel Hall again this year, and area middle school girls were able to select “Minerals in My Jewelry” as one of the fun science sessions held around campus.  Meagen Pollock, who oversees Wooster’s X-ray Lab, organized and taught “Minerals in My […]
5:27 PM | Tar Pits Bees Connect California’s Past to the Present
The La Brea asphalt seeps are practically synonymous with megafauna. Sculptures of American lions and scrapping Smilodon draw …
4:30 PM | Seeing the archaeological site of Shivta through a geologist’s eyes
MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL–The tradition we’ve built over the years on our Israel expeditions is to travel to interesting places on Saturdays to take a break from work. Yes, it appears geologists never really stop geologizing, but then that’s not really “work”, is it? Today Yoav, part of his family and I went to the Nabatean-Byzantine […]
8:45 AM | True facts about the owl | video | @GrrlScientist
Just in time for caturday! A lovely and humourous video about owls and of course, a story about one of my favourite owl species.Yep, it's caturday once again so you know what that means: it's time for an animal video! Continue reading...

April 11, 2014

11:44 PM | Meeting wrapup from ECFG12 in Seville
The 12th European Conference on Fungal Genetics was a fun and successful exchange of science and ideas in Seville, Spain.
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