Archive for December, 2012

No animal is an island

No animal is an island

By EcoEvo@TCD | Reviews

No man is an island; the same could be said for the millions of life forms that populate our planet. Think of all the ways in which organisms interact with each other through predation, parasitism and the countless symbioses. Sometimes a pair of interacting partners can become inextricably linked such is their mutual dependence. Each one may provide the other with a resource it’s unable to obtain on its own. A recent collaboration explored instances when these interactions lead to the loss of a trait and showed the fragility of this situation. One of the examples the [&hellip

Friends with benefits

Friends with benefits

By EcoEvo@TCD | Reviews

With the apocalypse come and gone we can still theorise about how our downfall will come about. E. O. Wilson wrote that ‘‘sex is an antisocial force in evolution’’. Charlie Cornwallis, his colleagues at Oxford and their promiscuous birds illustrated why this is so. As is so often the case in evolutionary theory the question centres on sociality, in this instance it takes the form of cooperative breeding. Why would an individual help someone else raise their young rather than having progeny of their own? The authors ask us to consider the case in birds of a mother [&hellip

The 12 days of NERD club

The 12 days of NERD club

By EcoEvo@TCD | Uncategorized

NERD club, for the uninitiated, is a weekly meeting of the Networks in Ecology/Evolution Research Cluster Dynamic of the School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin. We present and discuss our research and also general aspects of academia such as science communication, job hunting and using twitter. The members include interns, PhD students, postdocs and both junior and senior faculty, so it’s always full of interesting research and heated debate! Essentially, it’s my favourite hour of the week, so as it’s the festive season and I’m in a festive mood, I decided to write a Christmas song [&hellip

World's ending: enough time to read this?

World’s ending: enough time to read this?

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

What will happen today on the last day of the world (21st)? Will some giant asteroid hit the Earth? Will massive tsunamis ravage all the coast lines? Will climate suddenly be way to warm for life? Will methane bubble out of the oceans and asphyxiate everybody? Or are aliens going to take over our planet? We could spend a long time discussing the causes (or not !) of the end of the world. However people usually ignore the timing of this type of inevitable (or not !!) catastrophe. We all have in mind the asteroid that Alvarez [&hellip

Smoking nests

Smoking nests

By EcoEvo@TCD | Reviews

We all know that cigarettes and smoking are bad for you. However, a recent Biology Letters paper which was featured on BBC Nature suggests that the discarded remains of cigarette butts may help to maintain the health of some urban birds. Researchers from the National Autonomous University of Mexico found that smoked cigarette butts incorporated into house sparrow and house finch nests may act as parasite repellents. Nests which included high numbers of cigarette butts had fewer parasites. A further experiment involving heat traps to attract parasites indicated that the anti-parasitic properties of the cigarettes seemed to [&hellip

Hippo Critical

Hippo Critical

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

Hippopotami have been the talk of the Trinity College Zoology department’s tea room recently. Mainly because a number of staff are about to embark on a field trip to Kenya with some undergraduate students and hippos have featured highly on the list of possible animals which an encounter with might result in death or injury, I therefore decided to investigate, partly to allay fears but mainly to stir them. In a recent study by Dunham et al. (2010) they investigated human-wildlife conflicts which have resulted in death or injury. The fact that Hippos are one of the [&hellip

Gorillas and/or potatoes?

Gorillas and/or potatoes?

By EcoEvo@TCD | Research

If you were given a resource that could guarantee revenue of $30 million every year, with almost triple that amount additionally coming through ancillary spending, would you ignore it? If this resource then had the power to lift some of the most marginalised people on the planet out of poverty, you would even think twice? Gorilla tourism in Rwanda is this valuable and the people living around Volcanoes National Park (one of the few remaining islands for this species) are some of the poorest in Africa. My research into interactions between the national park and local farmers [&hellip

A Christmas Story…

A Christmas Story…

By EcoEvo@TCD | News

As the festive season draws upon us, Pope Benedict XVI is attracting increasing attention in the international press. Today (12th December) is scheduled to see the first tweet issued by the pontiff, a message which is predicted to reach at least 1 million followers; a remarkable number which fades in comparison to the 32 million people following Lady Gaga – what does that say about modern society? Aside from his increasing social media presence, Pope Benedict has also been at the centre of a media storm which accused him of “banning Christmas”. The article was in response [&hellip

Sex on the beach?

Sex on the beach?

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

Mr Garrison taught  South Park Elementary children (season 10, episode 12) the good old fashion way of seeing evolution; “we are the retarded children of some retarded frog-fish-squirrel…”. This is the gradualist way of seeing evolutionary processes; leading from uninteresting jelly fishes to the mighty Arnold Shwarzenegger. Many scientists reject this gradualist view in favour of Darwin’s idea that “there is no innate tendency leading to progress in evolution”. But do they really gave up this idea? A few gradualistic events in the history of life remains firmly accepted such as how the vertebrates went out of [&hellip

The undiscovered island

The undiscovered island

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

Early ecological research relied on adventurous naturalists striking forth into unknown territory and expanding our knowledge of the natural world. This exploratory work is far from complete and many species new to science are still being identified. However, in order to study and investigate the remaining unexplored frontiers, knowing where they are is a fundamental necessity. Finding our way around has never been so easy. GPS trackers are readily available; Google maps takes the stress out of navigating unfamiliar cities and Google Earth allows us to look down from above on some of the most remote regions [&hellip