Ecology & Zoology

A new study finds that migratory birds that breed in Arctic Alaska are initiating nests earlier in the spring, and that snow melt occurring earlier in the season is a big reason for it.  

The researchers looked in nearly 2,500 nests of four shorebird species: semi-palmated sandpiper, red phalarope, red-necked phalarope, and pectoral sandpiper, and one songbird, the lapland longspur, and recorded when the first eggs were laid in each nest. The research occurred across four sites that ranged from the oilfields of Prudhoe Bay to the remote National Petroleum Reserve of western Arctic Alaska.


Around 165 million years ago, a bizarre parasite lived in the freshwater lakes of present-day Inner Mongolia - fly larva with a thorax formed entirely like a sucking plate.

With this odd thorax, the animal could adhere to salamanders and suck their blood with its mouthparts formed like a sting. To date no insect is known that is equipped with a similar specialised design. 


Spiders are traditionally viewed as predators of insects but zoologists have published a study that finds spiders all over the world also prey on fish. 

That spiders are not exclusively insectivorous and larger-sized species supplement their diet by occasionally catching small fish is somewhat new.


Honeycomb of Western honey bees (Apis mellifer...

Honeycomb of European honey bees (Apis mellifera) with eggs and larvae. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s time once again for everyone’s favorite game show: Environmental Whack-a-Mole!

Throughout Earth's geological history, there have been numerous warming and cooling phases. The last Ice Age only ended 11-12,000 years ago

The Antarctic Peninsula, the northern most region of Antarctica, is experiencing some dramatic changes, including population declines of some penguin species, but this is not the first time that region has felt the effects of climate warming.

How did penguins respond to the melting of snow and ice cover 11,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age?


White sharks
(Carcharodon carcharias)
are among the largest, most widespread apex predators in the ocean so there have been concerns about their vulnerability. The most comprehensive study undertaken on seasonal distribution patterns and historic trends in abundance of white sharks in the western North Atlantic Ocean used records compiled over more than 200 years finds that white sharks are a conservation win.

Scientists from NOAA Fisheries and colleagues added recent grey literature - unpublished, non-peer reviewed data - to previously published data to create a broader picture of 649 confirmed white shark records obtained between 1800 and 2010, the largest white shark dataset ever compiled for the region.  


Three years ago, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers took a close look at a connectivity phenomenon - how fire ants work together to build waterproof rafts to stay alive.

After examining the edges and tops of rafts, they discovered that ants grip each other with their mandibles and legs at a force of 400 times their body weight. Next they did what anyone would do.


People may associate the concept of the chastity belt with medieval Europe but other parts of the animal kingdom used them long before that.

Male dwarf spiders, for instance, have evolved a mechanical safeguard to ensure their paternity - mating plugs to block off the genital tract of the female they have just mated with. The larger and older the plug, the better the chances are that other males will not make deposits in a female's sperm storage organ, too. 

Yes, dwarf spider males (Oedothorax retusus) insert mating plugs into the two copulatory ducts of the females they have mated with.
The first genotyping of grey squirrels shows a direct link between their genetic diversity and their ability to invade new environments.

Grey squirrels are an invasive species introduced from North America. While they are common throughout most of the UK and Ireland, on mainland Europe they are currently only found in Italy, where they mostly exist in discrete, but slowly expanding, populations.
In the rainforests of South America, scientists have discovered a new genus and three new species of katydid with the highest ultrasonic calling songs ever recorded in the animal kingdom.

Katydids (bushcrickets) are insects known for their acoustic communication, with the male producing sound by rubbing its wings together (stridulation) to attract distant females for mating. But these newly discovered insects turn ultrasonic calling all the way up to 11 on the dial - males reach a frequency of a startling 150 kHz. For comparison, the calling frequencies used by most katydids range between 5 kHz and 30 kHz while nominal human hearing range ends at around 20 kHz.