Category Archives: ecology

What was the animal that inspired Dr. Seuss’s lorax? Biologists suggest a hypothesis

The New York Times from two days ago has an article about one of Dr. Seuss’s most famous books, The Lorax (you can see a preview of the book’s contents at the Amazon site). Here’s the article: And the book at issue: The book’s plot involves a man called the Once-ler visiting a beautiful forest […]

Stick insects can disperse like plant seeds: in bird poop

One of the striking observations about life on oceanic islands—those islands, like Hawaii and the Galapagos, that arose, bereft of life, from volcanic activity below the sea—is the prevalence of native birds, insects, and plants, and the paucity of native reptiles, mammals, and amphibians. (Continental islands, like Great Britain, that were once connected to larger […]

Should we bring wolves back to Scotland? A video and a questionnaire

by Matthew Cobb It used to be standard practice for final year science students to do a lab-based research project. At the University of Manchester we have broadened the choice of final-year projects so that biology students can also choose to do a Science Media Project. This involves creating a portfolio of writing and other […]

This is what’s happening…

by Matthew Cobb Earlier I posted this photo and asked readers to describe what’s going on. Here’s my answer: a worker honeybee was visiting a white flower to get nectar. She was attacked by a white crab spider who was remarkably camouflaged (probably chemically, as well as visually). The crab spider had another, brown, crab […]

What’s happening here?

by Matthew Cobb This photo by R Fontaine (aka @Tenfon2 on Tw*tter) contains a complex set of interactions, involving two kingdoms and two classes, with two orders within one of those classes, and two genera or perhaps species within the other. Your task is to describe them. You don’t need to use fancy latin names, […]

AAAS refuses to consider population growth as a cause of environmental degradation, and promotes Catholic point of view

I’ve had my worries about the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), especially its cozying up to religion. They’ve collaborated with Templeton in funding an accommodationist program, the Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSer), and have engaged in other religion-coddling activities unseemly for a secular science organization (see, for instance, here, here, here, and […]

Space Girl goes on a Marine Environment junket

JAC: Melissa Chen is a doctoral candidate in genetics at MIT, and, like me, a moderator of the Global Secular Humanist Movement Facebook site. She recently went on a cool NASA-sponsored trip from Wood’s Hole, and when she volunteered to write about her adventures here, I of course said, “Sure.” Here they are.  (By the way, Melissa’s […]

Reader wildlife photo

by Greg Mayer My Okinawa correspondent sends a happier picture than last time, this one of a living longhorn beetle, a member of the family Cerambycidae. Note the very long antennae, and the impressive tarsi. Cerambycids are often brightly or contrastingly colored. Normally I’d have no idea what particular genus or species an Okinawan insect […]

Richard Levins, 1930-2016

by Greg Mayer Richard ‘Dick’ Levins, the John Rock Professor of Population Sciences at the Harvard School of Public Health, died on January 19 of this year. He was one of the most influential population biologists of the 20th century, and a close colleague and associate of Dick Lewontin, Jerry’s doctoral advisor. Levins was an […]

Nature to launch new ecology and evolution journal

This hasn’t been officially announced yet, but I learned about it last week and it’s not really a secret given that Nature is already advertising for editors (here and here) for a new journal whose description is in the second ad: Nature Ecology and Evolution — the latest member of the Nature family — will […]