Ecology & Zoology

Researchers at the University of Maryland and the U.S. Agriculture Department recently found that several parasites and the diseases they vector into honey bee colonies are the source of most of the bee health problems and supposed ‘die-offs’ observed in recent years

Galileo is regarded as an important figure today, because he was put under house arrest by his church for ridiculing the Pope, but for much of his career he was derided by other scientists. Both Kepler and mathematics knew Galileo was wrong about the moon, for example, but his flavor of science insisted that the tides only happened once per day if they happened at all, they happened at the same time every day, and that Luna had nothing to do with them.


Madagascan Darwin's bark spider (Caerostris darwini) are a sexually size dimorphic species from Madagascar, with females several times larger and heavier than males.

If you want a weird science project for school, kids, these are the way to go. C. darwini has a rich sexual repertoire that not only involves sexual cannibalism and genital mutilation, but also oral sex. Males of this species routinely salivate onto female genitalia.

Oral sexual contact is rare in the animal kingdom, except in mammals, where fellatio-like behaviors are known in macaques, lemurs, bonobos, hyenas, cheetahs, lions, dolphins and bats. However, cunnilingus-like behaviors, like the one shown in this spider are even rarer.


Researchers wondered whether bed bugs preferred certain colors for their hiding places, so they did some testing in the lab.

The tests consisted of using small tent-like harborages that were made from colored cardstock and placed in Petri dishes. A bed bug was then placed in the middle of the Petri dish and given ten minutes to choose one of the colored harborages. A few variations of the test were also conducted, such as testing bed bugs in different life stages, of different sexes, individual bugs versus groups of bugs, and fed bugs versus hungry bugs.


A typical mouse laboratory is kept between 20 and 26 degrees C, but if the mice had it their way, it would be a warm 30 degrees C. While the mice are still considered healthy at cooler temperatures, they expend more energy to maintain their core temperature, and evidence is mounting that even mild chronic cold stress is skewing results in studies of cancer, inflammation, and more. 


During their life, plants constantly renew themselves. They sprout new leaves in the spring and shed them in the fall. No longer needed, damaged or dead organs such as blossoms and leaves are also cast off by a process known as abscission. By doing so, plants conserve energy and prepare for the next step in their life cycle.

But how does a plant know when it is the right time to get rid of unnecessary organs? It is regulated by receptor proteins located at the surface of specific cells that form a layer around the future break point. When it is time to shed an organ, a small hormone binds to this membrane receptor and, together with a helper protein, the abscission process is initiated. Their findings are now published in the journal eLife.


Illuminating fishing nets is a cost-effective means of dramatically reducing the number of sea turtles getting caught and dying unnecessarily, conservation biologists at the University of Exeter have found.

Dr Jeffrey Mangel, a Darwin Initiative research fellow based in Peru, and Professor Brendan Godley, from the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the University's Penryn Campus, were part of a team of researchers who found that attaching green battery powered light-emitting diodes (LED) to gillnets used by a small-scale fishery reduced the number of green turtle deaths by 64 per cent, without reducing the intended catch of fish.


Thanks to government mandates and ongoing subsidies, wind energy has become more popular, and one impact of large-scale wind energy development has been widespread mortality of bats. A new study tracks down the origin of bats killed by wind turbines in the Appalachian region in hopes of better understanding the risks to affected populations.


As the deadly bat disease called white-nose syndrome continues to spread across North America, scientists are studying bats in China to understand how they are able to survive infections with the same fungus that has wiped out millions of North American bats.


Cat owners tare familiar with their pets’ individual personalities, habits and preferences, and they can tell when the behavior is different than normal, but understanding what these changes mean can be much more difficult.