Category Archives: ecology

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 […]

The ecology of Heaven

Here’s a scientifically based cartoon from SMBC about the relationship between ecology and immortality in Heaven. (One might call it “ecological theology.”) Sadly, the r versus k distinction has lost momentum over the years, as they are two ends of a continuum, and there are alternative as well as mixed reproductive strategies for single species. More […]

So what killed the ‘squirrel’ being eaten by the four-legged snake?

by Greg Mayer As the capstone to Snake Week, let’s take a closer look at how the squirrel-like mammal being eaten by Tetrapodophis in Julius Csotonyi’s striking reconstruction died. In my earlier post, I took note of the fact that the describers of the newly discovered four-legged fossil snake had inferred from its skeleton that […]

Why there probably isn’t a ghost ship full of cannibal rats headed for the British Isles

by Greg Mayer There’s been a lot of media attention the last few days about the prospect of a derelict Russian passenger ship, the Lyubov Orlova, crossing the Atlantic from Canada (where it was last berthed) and crashing into Ireland or Britain, spilling disease-ridden, inbred, cannibal rats on their shores. The ship was being towed […]

Python regurgitates dog

JAC Warning: This stuff is graphic, so if you are a d*g lover you may not want to watch. by Greg Mayer A video of a python disgorging a dog on a street in Bangkok is making the rounds, and has been the subject of an article in the Daily Mail. The python appears to […]

House cats as predators

by Greg Mayer It’s long been known that house cats, which are introduced to most of the places they occur (the wild members of the species are found in Europe, North Africa, and western Asia), can wreak havoc on native wildlife, perhaps the most infamous case being that of the Stephens Island Wren (Xenicus lyalli). […]

Roots of Ecology

by Greg Mayer My friend and colleague Frank Egerton, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, is the author of a new book, Roots of Ecology: Antiquity to Haeckel, published last month by the University of California Press.  With two sections on Darwin, and two others featuring Alfred Russel Wallace, the book will […]

50 years on: Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”

by Matthew Cobb Over at The Guardian, Leo Hickman reminds us that 50 years ago today, Rachel Carson’s seminal book “Silent Spring” was published, with an amazing first print run of 150,000 copies.  Carson’s dramatic ecological warning of the effects of insecticides on bird populations played an important part in bringing the problems of population, […]

James Wood on Santorum’s Earth-wrecking theology

I’ve occasionally taken issue on this site with James Wood’s seeming friendliness to religion despite his own nonbelief, but have also praised him for his terrific literary criticism at The New Yorker (he’s their chief literary critic and a professor at Harvard). Wood gets more kudos this week for a nice short piece at The […]