Ecology & Zoology

The first molecular characterization of the African elephant's adipose tissue, body fat, will form the basis of future studies aimed at securing the health and future survival of captive elephants.

The population of captive elephants, both Asian and African, in Europe and North America is not self-sustaining, largely due to poor fertility and fewer baby elephants being born. Captive elephants might face demographic extinction in North American zoos within the next 50 years if the reproductive issues aren't solved. 


A new study has found that kangaroos, commonly viewed as two-legged hoppers, move with a “pentapedal” gait, planting their tails on the ground in combination with their front and hind legs. 

What’s remarkable is that the tail is anatomically quite different, being made up of more than 20 vertebrae taking on the roles of our feet, calves and thigh bones. “Animals have discovered many uses for their tails,” says professor Max Donelan of Simon Fraser University’s Locomotion Laboratory, “but as far as we know, this is the first use of one as a leg.
Want to send a message to possible invaders? Pile dead bodies high and deep. A new species of wasp does just that.

This wasp with a unique nest-building strategy was discovered in the forests of southeast China. The "bone-house wasp" shuts off its nest with a chamber full of dead ants in order to protect its offspring from enemies, as shown by Michael Staab and Prof. Dr. Alexandra-Maria Klein from the Institute of Earth and Environmental Sciences of the University of Freiburg as well as scientists from the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

No other such strategy has ever been discovered before in the animal kingdom. 

Scorpions build a platform on which to warm up before the evening hunt. 


Locusts decide the most nutritious plant to eat based on ambient temperature - they choose their food and then where they digest it according to how hot it is.  


Many humans can't remember what they had for dinner last night. Nor can many other creatures. Some have exceptionally short memories. Defying popular convention, a new study finds that fish, believed to have a memory span of only 30 seconds, can actually remember context and associations up to twelve days later. 


It's commonly believed that plant growth can be influenced by sound and that plants respond to wind and touch.

Researchers at the University of Missouri took it a step farther than playing classical music for  ivy. They conducted a chemical and audio analysis and determined that plants respond to the sounds that caterpillars make when eating plants and that the plants respond with more defenses.


Cave beetles are one of the most iconic species found in subterranean habitats. They were historically the first living organisms described by science that are adapted to the conditions of hypogean - subterranean - life.

Now, the unusual habitat of the Krubera cave, 2,140 meters deep. in the Western Caucasus has revealed a new species of beetle, named Duvalius abyssimus. Ana Sofía Reboleira, researcher from the Universities of Aveiro and La Laguna, and Vicente M. Ortuño, from the University of Alcalá, named it in Zootaxa


A small, drab and highly inconspicuous moth has been flitting nameless about its special niche among the middle elevations of one of the world's oldest mountain ranges, the southern Appalachian Mountains in North America. A team of American scientists has now identified this new to science species as Cherokeea attakullakulla.

It was frequenting these haunts for tens of millions of years before the first humans set foot on this continent, all the while not caring in the least that it had no name or particular significance, but it will probably still get listed as endangered. 


Due to the president making bee colonies a national priority, there is a lot of talk from environmentalists about banning neonicotinoid pesticides but they may be blaming out of convenience rather than evidence. 

Car and truck exhaust fumes can be bad for humans and for pollinators too. In new research on how pollinators find flowers when background odors are strong, University of Washington and University of Arizona researchers have found that both natural plant odors and human sources of pollution can conceal the scent of sought-after flowers.