Ecology & Zoology

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.


Asian longhorned beetles are an invasive pest that affects about 25 tree species in the United States. 

Female Asian longhorned beetles lure males to their locations by laying down sex-specific pheromone trails on tree surfaces, according to an international team of researchers.  

The researchers isolated and identified four chemicals from the trails of virgin and mated female Asian longhorned beetles -- Anoplophora glabripennis -- that were not found in the trails of males. They found that the pheromone trails contained two major components -- 2-methyldocosane and (Z)-9-tricosene -- and two minor components -- (Z)-9-pentacosene and (Z)-7-pentacosene.


In 1832, the HMS Beagle arrived at Bahia Blanca, Argentina and Charles Darwin disembarked. On his way to Buenos Aires, Darwin collected several fossils of large mammals along with many other living organisms, including several insects.

February 12 is Darwin's birthday scientists and scientists have named after him a long lost but new to science beetle genus and species from his collection.


We may have too much plastic in the environment but creatures that lack a Mother Jones to tell them how awful things are adapt and overcome; two urban bee species have been caught making nests out of plastic waste.

Although lots of research has shown adverse impacts of the material on species and the ecosystem, few scientists have documented insects 'making lemonade out of lemons' and adapting to a plastic-rich environment. It's an important discovery because it shows bees' resourcefulness and flexibility in adapting to a human-dominated world, says lead author Scott MacIvor, a doctoral student at York University. 


Only one species of hoatzins exists in South America today - or anywhere else. 

Opisthocomus hoazin, also known as the Stinkbird or Canje Pheasant, has an unclear evolutionary history but was assumed to have originated in South America.

Not so, it seems. The oldest known fossils of Hoatzin ancestors reveal that these birds existed around 34 million years ago in Europe, according to paleornithologists at the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Flinders University in Adelaide.
A lot of coffee is grown on and around Kilimanjaro, which towers almost 20,000 feet in the air. 

The most traditional form of cultivation can be found in the gardens of the Chagga people. In some areas, coffee trees and other crop plants still grow in the shade of banana trees but most coffee is grown on plantations, which still feature a large number of shade trees.

However, Africans reliant on coffee for income have gradually replaced legacy coffee varietals, which prefer shade, with others that are more resistant to fungi and can also grow in the sun.

Last year, a group of researchers created a correlation between the migration patterns of ocean salmon and the Earth's magnetic field, suggesting it may help explain how the fish can navigate across thousands of miles of water to find their river of origin.


Insects taste through hair-like structures on the body called  sensilla.  Sensilla contain receptor nerve cells, each of which is sensitive to a particular substance.

In insects like the honeybee, sensilla are found on the mouthparts, antenna and the tarsi – the end part of the legs. Honeybees weigh information from both front tarsi to decide whether to feed, finds a new study on the ability of honeybees to taste with claws on their forelegs, which reveals details on how this information is processed.


Organic farms support more biodiversity, supporting 34% more plant, insect and animal species than conventional farms, according to a new paper. For pollinators such as bees, the number of different species was 50% higher on organic farms, although the authors stress that the study only looked at 'species richness'.