Ecology & Zoology

Even after over 1,500 years frozen in Antarctic ice, moss can come back to life and continue to grow.

Writing in Current Biology, the team report that they observed moss regeneration after at least 1,530 years frozen in permafrost.  For the first time, this vital part of the ecosystem in both polar regions has been shown to have the ability to survive century to millennial scale ice ages and it is the first study to show such long-term survival in any plant; similar timescales have only been seen before in bacteria. Mosses are known to survive environmental extremes in the short-term with previous evidence confirming up to a 20 year timescale for survival. 


The agave's claim to fame is as the plant from which the distilled adult beverage Tequila, named after the nearby town that made it famous, is produced.

But that may change. A sweetener created from the agave plant could lower blood glucose levels for the 26 million Americans and others worldwide who have type 2 diabetes and even help the obese lose weight, according to a paper presented at the   National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).


Poisoning of dingoes - wild dogs - has a deleterious effect on small native mammals such as marsupial mice, bandicoots and native rodents, according to a new paper which found that loss of dingoes after baiting is associated with greater activity by foxes, which prey on small marsupials and native rodents.

As well, the number of kangaroos and wallabies increases when dingoes, the top predators in the Australian bush, disappear. Grazing by these herbivores reduces the density of the vegetation in which the small ground-dwelling mammals live.


Sardines have been a hot news topic in recent weeks. Environmental groups and others have claimed that the sardine population is collapsing like it did in the mid-1940s. 

The environmental group Oceana has been arguing this point loudly in order to shut down the sardine fishery. That’s why they filed suit in federal court, which is now under appeal, challenging the current sardine management.

Just how many species existed of the extinct New Zealand moa? The status for extinct moa (Aves: Dinornithiformes) from the genus Euryapteryx isn't as clear cut as it might seem. 

Dr. Leon Huynen, lead author of a new paper said the challenges of understanding extinct fauna can be formidable and particularly so when it comes to this ancient bird. "Despite more than 100 years of research being devoted to the issue, determining species status is challenging, especially where there is an absence of substantial morphological, physiological, and behavioral data.


Many men have been a little overexcited on the dance floor and showed off moves that have never been seen before. Blame alcohol. 

Testosterone has a similar effect. A little too much and the frequency of overzealous wooing behavior may increase, but the quality won't go up with it.

For the male canary, the ability to sing a pitch-perfect song is critical to wooing female canaries and as the seasons change, so does song quality and frequency. 


When you think of crocodiles, you usually envision them climbing trees.

Probably not. Most people imagine them in water or waddling on the ground, but a study has found that the reptiles can climb trees as far as the crowns. 

Vladimir Dinets, a research assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, says he is the first to thoroughly study the tree-climbing and basking behavior. 


People who live in cities love the infrastructure, the nightlife, the hobos, the fact that you can find a Starbucks on every corner. People who live in the country love the cleaner air, the openness, the fact that you can go for a walk without being accosted by hobos.

Is it just personal choice? If so, birds face many of the same dilemmas about how best to live life. Larger groups bring risks of disease and aggression by neighbors.

What other factors may be involved? 


A new study has found that several types of aquatic algae can detect orange, green and blue light.

Land plants have receptors to detect the common visual optical wavelengths in the air, light on the red and far red of the spectrum. That allows them to sense the light and move and grow as their environment changes, such as when another plant shades them from the sun.

But the ocean is a different environment. Water absorbs red wavelengths and reflects colors such as blue and green. As part of the study, and the team sequenced about 20 different marine algae and found they were capable of detecting not only red light, but also many other colors. 


Can diet give you a better memory?

It seems to, at least when it comes to an animal cognition test using lemurs. A study of five lemur species found that fruit-eatershad better spatial memory than lemurs with a more varied diet. The researchers conclude that relying on foods that are seasonally available and far-flung gives a competitive edge to individuals with certain cognitive abilities - such as remembering where the food is.