Ecology & Zoology

A new study challenges the popular idea that sexual cannibalism occurs because a female is unable to alter or 'tone down' her aggressive mindset after foraging and hunting for prey. Instead, females are sexually cannibalistic because they are testing the males, rather than just being inherently aggressive, says University of Melbourne scientist Dr. Mark Elgar.

In the first trial, 11 of 16 female raft spiders (Dolomedes fimbriatus) that copulated then attacked the males during or immediately after copulation. But only four attacks were fatal.

The key to helping animals evolve quickly in response to climate change could actually be their predators, according to a new study which says that species interactions, meaning the way species interact with each other in an ecosystem, like in a predator-prey relationship, is important to understanding how animals will respond to climate change.  

"Not only can predators keep prey populations in check but in some cases they can help speed up the evolutionary response to climate change," said Michelle Tseng, a research associate in UBC's Department of Zoology and lead author of the study. "We now understand that species interactions and evolution can play a significant role in preventing animals from going extinct in a rapidly changing climate."

People often think hippos are herbivores with big smiling faces. Every now and then, reports of a hippo of hunting down prey, eating a carcass, or stealing prey from a crocodile are heard, but they're typically considered 'aberrant' or 'unusual' behavior. 

A native Australian grass that plays dead during droughts and culls its own cells to survive could provide genetic keys to help food crops survive worldwide.

Like other so-called 'resurrection plants', Tripogon loliiformis has the ability to withstand desiccation (being dried out) for prolonged periods and can be revived by water but scientists have never known how these plants actually do it, or if the existing plant cells really do come alive again from a dormant state, or if its new growth is separate from the old cells. Professor Sagadevan Mundree of Queensland University have now proved sugar manipulation and the controlled sacrifice of cells are keys to the native grass's survival.

The armored shells of some marine mollusks have evolved to satisfy two conflicting design requirements, protection and sight, a new study shows.

In the animal world, if several males mate with the same female, their sperm compete to fertilize her limited supply of eggs. And longer sperm seem to have a competitive advantage, but even when it comes to sperm the size of the animals matter. The larger the animal, the more im-portant the number of sperm is relative to sperm length. That's why elephants have smaller sperm than mice.  

The United States Food and Drug Administration has approved the AquAdvantage salmon, a genetically modified Atlantic salmon that expresses a gene from a Chinook salmon to grow faster, after reviewing it since 1996.

Researchers have discovered several new species of marine fungi inhabiting previously undescribed branches of the tree of life. Though there is always talk about what little we do know going extinct, little is known about species on land, now or in the past, much less about the fungi flourishing in the world's oceans.

It turns out that many marine fungi are very different from those found on land.

The research, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, used large-scale DNA sequencing to describe the diversity of fungal microbes in a wide range of marine environments.

As the American media continues to speculate, analyze and in some cases choose the Republican and Democratic nominations for U.S. President, researchers in the journal Trends in Ecology&Evolution review the nature of leadership - at least in a set of small-scale mammalian societies, including humans and other social mammals such as elephants and meerkats. 

From the Biblical plagues of Egypt to a major infestation in Madacasgar two years ago, locust swarms have caused chaos throughout history. Just one swarm can cover 20% of the land surface of the Earth, affecting the livelihood of 10% of the world’s population by consuming up to 200 tons of vegetation per day.