Ecology & Zoology

There has been some ongoing concern about bee colonies, even fears of an impending "colony collapse disorder", but both the fears and the causes have been misplaced, recent studies have shown.

Rather than being a mysterious effect due to pesticides (like neonicotinoids) slight variations in bee populations remain the fault of parasites. Yet that brings its own mystery. Varroa mites, the biggest culprit, are not very mobile. 
A newly named species, a giant, black, mud dwelling, worm-like animal, doesn't seem to eat much, instead it gets its energy from a form of sulfur. 

The public is often confused what 'discovery' means in science. It means it is being identified as a new species, not never seen before. The three- to five-foot long, tusk-like shells that encase the animal were first documented in the 1700s and are fairly common, it's the living animal inside that is being identified as a new species.  
Colony Collapse Disorder, the belief that honeybees, an important pollinator, are being killed off in droves, has been good for environmental fundraising but hasn't had a scientific foundation.

Nonetheless, it has persisted for 10 years despite data showing that periodic die-offs in bees are as common, and therefore predictable, as solar cycles and California droughts. From the time that records of bees were formally kept, there were reports of mass die-offs without explanation, a thousand years before pesticides even existed.
Let's be honest, most human dads do less work raising the kids than human moms. That's not true in all species, though. In a few, fathers care for their developing embryos more than mothers, and biologists speculated that this paternal devotion had evolved from ancestors entirely lacking parental care.

A new paper provides a new wrinkle. When fathers are more involved, parental care gets a lot more elaborate.

This is the first of a series of articles on Huanglongbing (Citrus Greening Disease) that is devastating Florida. Subsequent articles will explore its causes, effects and potential cures. 

The line between deliberately manipulating a story and poorly reporting the facts is perilously thin.

During Sunday’s Oscars, what is colloquially called the United States’ ‘paper of record’, the New York Times, launched an advertising blitz positioning itself as the highbrow ethical responder to the spate of so-called ‘fake news.’

“The truth is hard…to find…to know,” the ad, widely circulated now on YouTube, proclaimed somberly.

Its not a great idea to use surveys, but sometimes those are all we have. After environmental groups drummed up publicity about a colony collapse disorder in honeybees, for example, concerned amateurs began taking up beekeeping. Since nature is not a perfect system, and the new folks didn't know what they were doing, these amateurs killed off a lot of bees, but there is no checkbox on the survey for that, so they blamed pesticides.

Declaring things endangered, even species that were only just discovered, is good for business, and a species of hummingbird has been added to conservation watchlists and global warming has been blamed - except it isn't endangered, it's instead migratory. 
In Insectivorous Plants, Sir Charles Darwin pondered carnivorous plants. They live in habitats poor in nutrients, mostly on nitrogen and phosphorous, and have compensated this lack with the ability to digest animals such as insects and other arthropods.

Adapting and surviving with a carnivorous diet in nutrient-poor soils is an evolutionary process that some evolutionary unrelated species have been going through, repeatedly and independently, from the same set of genes and proteins, according to a new study in Nature Ecology&Evolution.
A new test with molluscs - freshwater mudsnails (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) - may enable manufacturers of chemicals and drugs to check their products for harmful effects on reproduction, and avoid the hype and scaremongering of environmental groups. 
With the aid of a new immunosuppressive agent known as PIF (preimplantation factor), researchers at the World Health Organisation (WHO) Institute of Primate Research in Nairobi,  Kenya, have successfully transplanted an ovary from one individual to another, even managing to restore a monthly cycle. 

Approximately 11 percent of women worldwide suffer from premature ovarian failure. This can have many different causes: chemotherapy administered for a malignant disease might irreversibly damage the ovaries and, because of the advances in modern cancer therapy, the number of young women surviving cancer is on the increase. The women, some of whom are still very young, prematurely enter menopause. Genetic diseases can also trigger early menopause.