Ecology & Zoology

The odds of being attacked and castrated by a variety of parasitic flatworms increases for marine horn snails the farther they are found from the tropics. A Smithsonian-led research team discovered this exception to an otherwise globally observed pattern--usually biodiversity is greatest in the tropics and decreases toward the poles.

The study makes a case for using host-parasite relationships as a tool to understand why there are typically more species--and more interactions between species--in the tropics than anywhere else in the world.


We know that Greenpeace and other activist groups really,really care about bees. Really.

A new small goby fish differs from its relatives not only in its size and colors, but also in the depth of its habitat (70-80 m) in the southern Caribbean. The scientists gave it the name Coryphopterus curasub in recognition of the Curasub submersible that was used in their deep-reef exploration.

Marine biodiversity inhabiting shallow Caribbean coral reefs has been studied for more than 150 years, but much less is known about what lives at depths just below those accessible with conventional SCUBA gear.

Thanks to the availability of a privately owned, manned submersible on the island of Curacao, the Curasub, scientists are now able to intensively study depths to 300 m (1,000 ft).


From the frozen forests of Russia to the scorching sands of the Kalahari Desert, leopards are the most widely distributed large cat on earth. Their iconic spotted coat has been admired and coveted by humans for millennia.

But in one part in their vast range - the Malay Peninsula - leopards are almost entirely black in color.

Yes it turns out those have spots also. By modifying the infrared flash on automatic camera traps and forcing them into ‘night mode’ a team of wildlife experts has revealed the black leopard’s spots. Using infrared flash, the seemingly ‘black’ leopards suddenly showed complex patterns of spotting. 

Even a short period of inactivity can be extremely bad for our bones, and for astronauts facing months in zero gravity, the risks are serious.

But there is an animal that has already solved all of the problems faced by immobile humans - black bears who hibernate for six months at a time. 


Blind cavefish that have adapted to annual cycles of starvation and binge-eating have mutations in the gene MC4R, the same gene that is mutated in certain obese people with insatiable appetites, according to a new study in PNAS which reveals more about how vertebrates evolved to have different metabolisms from one another and could provide insights into the relationship between human obesity and disease.

As the name suggests, Mexican cavefish live in dark, isolated caves in northeastern Mexico. In the hundreds of thousands of years since they were separated from their surface-dwelling cousins, they have adapted to their harsh environment in several ways.


Pink salmon that begin life in freshwater with high concentrations of carbon dioxide, which causes acidification, are smaller and may be less likely to survive, according to a new study.

The risks of ocean acidification on marine species have been studied extensively but the impact of freshwater acidification is not well understood. The study is one of the first to examine how rising carbon dioxide levels caused by climate change can impact freshwater fish.


Too much male sexual attention harms attractive females, according to a new Australian and Canadian study on fruit flies.

Associate Professor Steve Chenoweth from The University of Queensland's School of Biological Sciences said the study showed that male harassment of females hampered the species' ability to adapt to new environmental conditions.

"We found that sexually attractive females were overwhelmed by male suitors," he said.

"Female fruit flies with superior genes that allow them to lay more eggs were so attractive to male suitors they spent most of the time fending off male suitors rather than actually laying eggs. The end result was that these supposedly 'superior' genes could not be passed on to the next generation."


The first species of Yeti Crab from hydrothermal vent systems of the East Scotia Ridge in the Southern Ocean, Antarctica, has been described in a study by Sven Thatje from University of Southampton, and colleagues.

The species of Yeti crab Kiwa tyleri belongs to an enigmatic group of squat lobsters, known as Kiwaidae, that thrive in the hot waters surrounding the geothermally heated hydrothermal vents. It is the dominant species at these sites, occurring at extremely high densities exceeding 700 specimens per square meter.


Many animals – including seals, dolphins and bats – are able to communicate vocally.

However, parrots are among a select few that can spontaneously imitate members of another species.

A study has now pinpointed the region in the brain that may be allowing this to happen – the region that is also involved in controlling movement. The finding could perhaps also explain the fact that parrots, just like humans, can talk and dance.