Ecology & Zoology

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.


A highly sexed mouse-like marsupial from Queensland's Springbrook National Park, the Black-tailed Antechinus , has been identified as a new species.
It's the third new species in the genus Antechinus Dr. Andrew Baker's research team has discovered in the past two years, all from south-east Queensland.


This one has a strange life. Males are unlikely to survive to see the birth of their children, the stress of mating seems to be too much for them.

Baker said he suspected the rare, Black-tailed Antechinus was a separate species when he and his team came across it last May because it had distinctive yellow-orange markings around its eyes and on its rump, and a black tail and feet.


Call it the buoyancy of the brood.

When facing a flood, ants build rafts and find other ways to minimize injury or death - they can basically use the brood to act as a life preserver - according to a new paper. The queen ant goes in the middle and is protected on all sides by the rafting ants.


Julie Hartup, Mariana Islands Program Leader for the Manta Trust, has caught mantas on Guam in the act of having a party.

Several of Hartup's paddler and free diving friends told her about seeing mantas congregating in an area where surgeonfish were spawning, and they knew the exact date. With the date, Hartup was able to calculate the moon phase - many fish synchronize their spawning with the moon - and using this information she predicted when the spawning event would occur that upcoming year and was there to witness a shoal of spawning surgeonfish accompanied by a fever of mantas.