Posts

January 15, 2015

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3:08 PM | UC Davis MARS Symposium Wrap Up #globalfood #UCDavisMARS
Yesterday I went to a symposium at UC Davis that was the launching of a new partnership between UC Davis and the Mars Corporation. I note - I have been collaborating with some people at Mars on multiple microbiome related projects and generally have had great interactions with the people there. I am not directly involved in the planning for this new partnership between UC Davis and Mars and thus I was interested in hearing more about it at the symposium. The symposium was at the Mondavi […]
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3:00 PM | SpaceMix, and a brief history of Spatial Genetics
Incorporating spatial data to inform studies of the population demography of a species has a long history of interest. From inferring geographical clines in Principal Components Analyses (Menozzi et al. 1978), using location data as “informative priors” during model-based estimation … Continue reading →
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1:51 PM | The dual role of Transcription Factors in protein evolution, revisited
In December 2013, Stergachis and colleagues published a high-profile paper on the dual role Transcription Factors (TFs) might have as a consequence of their binding to protein coding regions. This observation could imply that not all codons in a protein sequence are equal, … Continue reading →
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10:39 AM | Tokyo Lectures in Language Evolution
This will certainly be of interest to rep typo readers. Info below: We are pleased to announce that the Tokyo Lectures in Language Evolution will be held from the 2nd – 5th of April 2015 at the Komaba II Campus of the University of Tokyo. The event will bring together researchers from around the world […]
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9:56 AM | 5 reasons why I am not Charlie
The “Je suis Charlie” campaign is the first important meme of 2015. The desire to show solidarity with journalists of Charlie Hebdo, the victims of the terrorist attack in Paris, has filled the world far and wide, from members of different NGOs to artists and from teenagers to Heads of States. You can see nowadays […] The post 5 reasons why I am not Charlie appeared first on Social Ethology.
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2:44 AM | How Extinction Changed the Coyote
The La Brea asphalt seeps are famous for the predators found entombed there. Dire wolves and the sabercat …

January 14, 2015

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10:00 PM | A current review of modern and ancient eDNA
There is something romantic about environmental DNA. The ability to discover the presence of almost any species just by detecting the microscopic bread crumbs they leave behind? That is really just a deerstalker and pipette away from Sherlock-level science. But if … Continue reading →
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8:48 PM | Undergraduate Research Highlights from #SICB2015
Happy New Year! I hope you all had a restorative holiday break. I spent nearly two weeks with family and friends and it was glorious. I capped off the break attending the annual meeting Society for... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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8:41 PM | Nature’s Drag Queens
Some men like to dress up as women. Personally, I am not a big fan of these drag queens, but I must say some look convincingly female. But is this behavior strictly human? Or do other animals organize the occasional gender-switch-party? It turns out that nature has her fair share of drag queens. Sneaky Sam Meet Sam, […]

Norman, M., Finn, J. & Tregenza, T. (1999). Female impersonation as an alternative reproductive strategy in giant cuttlefish, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 266 (1426) 1347-1349. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.1999.0786

Slagsvold, T. & Sætre, G.-P. (1991). Evolution of Plumage Color in Male Pied Flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca): Evidence for Female Mimicry, Evolution, 45 (4) 910-917. Other:

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7:12 PM | In the Name of Morphology
Morphology in biology, to me, is about the science of the relationship of anatomical form to function (including biomechanics), evolution, development and other areas of organismal biology. It thus encompasses the more descriptive, form-focused area of anatomy. But in common parlance I use the two terms interchangeably, because many scientists and the general public do […]
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3:41 PM | Journal Club: Birds pick nest materials with camouflage in mind
SUMMARY: A recent study by a research team in Scotland reveals that birds intentionally choose colour-matching materials to camouflage their nests thereby reducing predation risk. The old saying, “Don’t put all your eggs into one basket” belies the very thing that many bird species must do. For this reason, predation is a major cause of loss of eggs, nestlings and the brooding hen, especially for birds that build open-cup nests. So how do birds protect their nests from […]

Bailey I.E., Kate Morgan, Simone L. Meddle & Susan D. Healy (2015). Birds build camouflaged nests, The Auk, 132 (1) 11-15. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1642/auk-14-77.1

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3:00 PM | A population genetic R-evolution
Uphill, both ways, in the snow, without shoes … quite apt when thinking of the dark days, in the not too distant past, in which a separate input file was needed for each popgen analysis in order to use a … Continue reading →
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3:00 PM | Academia vs. Industry
All of the contributors here at NiB are at a not permanent point in their career. Some are finishing their PhD, some wrapping up post docs, but all of us are on some level thinking about the next step. And as such, I am considering the perpetual question, should I stay in academia or leave […]
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2:14 PM | Birds pick nest materials with camouflage in mind | @GrrlScientist
A recent study by a research team in Scotland reveals that birds intentionally choose colour-matching materials to camouflage their nests thereby reducing predation risk.The old saying, “Don’t put all your eggs into one basket” belies the very thing that many bird species must do. For this reason, predation is a major cause of loss of eggs, nestlings and the brooding hen, especially for birds that build open-cup nests. So how do birds protect their nests from predators? […]
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1:00 PM | Everybody In The Gene Pool - Plants That Swim
Biology concepts – botany, taxonomy, alternation of generations, cycad, gametophyte, sporophyte, gametes, motility, ginkgo, archegonium, antheridiumIn the LOTR The Two Towers we find the tree herders that can move on their own despite being plants. Today’s exception is a version of this, if on a much smaller scale. There are a few types of trees that have motile parts; they don’t rely on wind, gravity, insects or anything else to move from one place to another.Plants are […]

Suinyuy, T., Donaldson, J. & Johnson, S. (2013). Patterns of odour emission, thermogenesis and pollinator activity in cones of an African cycad: what mechanisms apply?, Annals of Botany, 112 (5) 891-902. DOI: 10.1093/aob/mct159

Vaughn, K. & Renzaglia, K. (2006). Structural and immunocytochemical characterization of the Ginkgo biloba L. sperm motility apparatus, Protoplasma, 227 (2-4) 165-173. DOI: 10.1007/s00709-005-0141-3

Murch, S., Cox, P. & Banack, S. (2004). A mechanism for slow release of biomagnified cyanobacterial neurotoxins and neurodegenerative disease in Guam, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 101 (33) 12228-12231. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0404926101

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10:23 AM | Seratonin and short-term/long-term orientation
This week I discovered that an analysis using Causal Graphs that James and I did in 2013 has been backed up by more recent data.  This demonstrates the power of Causal Graph analysis, which we’ll be discussing in our workshop on Causality in the Language Sciences (submission deadline extended!) A recent paper demonstrates a correlation […]
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8:00 AM | That chart doesn’t match your headline – fertility edition
Under the heading “Japan’s birth rate problem is way worse than anyone imagined“, Ana Swanson at The Washington Post’s Wonkblog shows the following chart: So, the birth rate problem is worse than forecast in 1976, 1986, 1992 and 1997. However, the birth rate is higher than was forecast in 2002 and 2006 – so has surprised on […]
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5:55 AM | Muslims, Football, and Gun Nuts
I wasn’t originally going to say anything about t […]
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4:56 AM | Final Thoughts on Charlie Hebdo
I don’t have much to add to what I have already said about the Charlie Hebdo killings. However, having had some time to think about things a little more, and to read what other people have said, I do feel inclined to change my mind about one aspect of this. First, Charlie Hebdo put out…
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1:42 AM | Electric mushrooms
Fungi illuminated; this is one great photo essay of mushrooms. While TPP admires these photos he's quite envious about those little LED lights. Several years ago, one of my students had a nifty idea about using tiny lights to illuminate white flowers that appeared to have other adaptations for hawkmoth pollination. A lot of these flowers open in the early evening, and she wondered if flowers that were more conspicuous by illumination if they would get more visits and set more fruit. […]
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1:11 AM | ‘Strange bedfellow frogs’ (part I): rotund, adorable brevicipitids
Suddenly and unexpectedly, I have the urge to write about frogs. Today we look briefly at the first of two behaviourally peculiar, anatomically surprising groups, both of which are endemic to... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

January 13, 2015

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10:36 PM | Infectiously Fun Science
Science is sometimes frustrating. The work is often repetitive and even tedious. It can be hard to explain to our friends and families—and sometimes even to peers—what we’re doing and why we think it’s important and interesting. The current state of … Continue reading →
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9:18 PM | Give your subconscious a chance to be creative
A discussion on NPR the other day gave TPP pause, yes, it was about cell phones, and similar devices, robbing you of your creativity, and it most certainly is true.  Many years ago a book told a story about how Linus Pauling liked to think about a problem he was trying to solve a night before he went to bed, and how in the morning he often had a new thought about the problem. Hey, it sounded easy enough, so what the heck.  And it works, but there's a catch.  Your […]
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8:15 PM | Great Galloping Crocodiles!
Crocodiles are masters of deception. I’m not talking about their ability to perfectly conceal themselves until the moment …
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4:32 PM | Scrupulosity
Yesterday I heard this great interview on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) on NPR.  It’s become common, especially among young people, to use the label to describe healthy, high-performing individuals who display higher-than-average anxiety — about their grades, for instance.  I teach at Governor’s School, and I taught Early College high school students last fall, and they use the phrase commonly.  It’s true that every single one of us has […]
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3:11 PM | [#2015PostPubRev] #365papers digest 2
With apologies to the many I have missed, and for having to restrict my selection to papers that belong to this blog, here’s the second round of #365papers digest. Please feel free to add/comment!   editorial about RSC efforts to advance chem … Continue reading →
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12:38 PM | Whip it. Population structure and cross-species transmission of Whipworms
This may be my second worm-related post, but it comes from the PLoS journal that is first in my heart: PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. And, as the journal name suggests, it is about a neglected tropical disease: the Whipworm (Trichuris … Continue reading →
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8:13 AM | Ice Breaker Card Tricks
Today was the first day of classes for the spring semester. I have a light teaching load this term, which is my reward for having an especially heavy teaching load last term. Just two classes, and they both meet in the afternoon, no less. For a night-owl like me that’s a good deal. One of…

January 12, 2015

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9:00 PM | Science Word of the Day: Super-weaner
There are some technical terms that make me think “Hah, that’s funny”, but not actually laugh out loud. …
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4:02 PM | Betting with flat Earthers - Alfred Russel Wallace
Alfred Russel Wallace has always been a favorite historical figure of TPP's.  He independently arrived at the idea of natural selection, much to Charles Darwin's dismay. Here is a link to an episode in his life that teaches an interesting lesson about science. Wallace took up a wager to anyone who could prove the Earth wasn't flat. Wallace's approach was quite interesting in that it offered direct observational evidence of the Earth's curvature, but he still "lost" the wager. This is […]
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