Time for the pheasant

Restless_flycatcher04A reminder for the photo competition. We’ll extend the deadline until the 10th June. You can submit one photograph to this album here. Just log in with username ecoevoblog and password is the same. Don’t make it obvious that it’s your image in case it biases the judge. The theme is ‘Fowl Play’. 

Author: Adam Kane, kanead[at]tcd.ie, @P1zPalu

No time like the pheasant

 

Let’s run another photo competition. Starting today and running until Monday 18th May anyone can submit one photograph to this album here. Just log in with username ecoevoblog and password is the same. Don’t make it obvious that it’s your image in case it biases the judge. The theme for this month will be ‘Fowl Play’. Prizes will be determined in due course.

Author: Adam Kane, kanead[at]tcd.ie, @P1zPalu

Photo credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Aves#/media/File:Tauraco_hartlaubi-20081223b.jpg

Still Life Results

flooded_forestWe have finally decided on the winner of the Still Life photography competition. The theme was ‘Changing Seasons’ and first place goes to the ‘flooded forest’ which is our featured image today. As the entries were anonymous we don’t know who submitted the image so please make yourself known and gather up the plaudits you so richly deserve.

Update: Our winner has come forward (see the comments). Congratulations to Aoibheann Gaughran of the TCD zoology department!

Author: EcoEvo@TCD

Still still life

1280px-Japanese_Squirrel_edited_versionOur photography competition is still open to entries (deadline 10th November). Submit one photograph to the album here. Log in with the username ecoevoblog and password which is the same. Remember, don’t give it a name that will reveal the photographer so as to avoid bias. Good luck!

Author: Adam Kane, kanead[at]tcd.ie, @P1zPalu

Photo credit: wikimedia commons

Still Life

1280px-Herbst_(MW_2010.11.13.)I thought it would be a nice idea to have the occasional photography contest on the blog. So starting today and running until Monday 10th November anyone can submit one photograph to this album here. Just log in with username ecoevoblog and password is the same. Don’t make it obvious that it’s your image in case it biases the judge. The theme for this month will be ‘Changing Seasons’. Prizes will be determined in due course. I just want to say good luck. We’re all counting on you.

Author: Adam Kane, kanead[at]tcd.ie, @P1zPalu

Photo credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autumn

And to the victor the spoiled

479px-Abraham_Mignon_-_Still-Life_-_WGA15664

Sometimes something is so obvious we forget to wonder why; why do our fingers resemble prunes when we over-extend our bath time, why don’t humans have a penis bone (stop sniggering in the back please and have a look at these fascinating links) and why do prunes rot when the very propose of fruit is to be eaten?

I’m guessing that for the last one you might say that fruit rots because all the bacteria have decided that you have overlooked the healthy option for the biscuits one too many times and so have decided to chow down. However there might be more to that horrid smelling milk then a simple bacterial get together according to a new study in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. It turns out that that this might actually be a tactic by our microbial co-occupants to put us off and so leave the micro revellers to savour their lactose lunch while we suffer taking our tea and coffee black.

Like our metaphorical milk party, this idea is not a particularly new one. In fact it dates back to the 70’s when Janzen pointed out that the reason fruit rots, seeds mold and meat spoils may arise from the obvious negative impact a community of micro-organisms experiences when a large animal consumes not just their food but the entire microorganism party itself. It was proposed that such microorganisms would be expected to retaliate by producing costly toxins to put off any potential party pooper. The theory hence follows that the pastel coloured mush that is the neglected fruit bowl is not simply a by product but an evolved response to competition for the same resource between microbes and their larger animal cousins.

However while the theory seems appealing (unlike my metaphors) little has been done to explore it since the 70’s. In particular one major obstacle to the theory was that such a costly strategy could be potentially out-competed by party crashing microorganism that do not produce any toxins but take advantage of those already produced without having to pay the costs.

Ruxton et al bring the theory up to data by exploring these conditions more closely. Using analytical models of dispersion and competition between a large feeder and toxin producing (spoiling) and non-toxin producing microorganisms (party crashers) they find that, in a rock/paper/scissors world of competition, dispersion is the key to the evolution of the spoilers. In particular they found that under conditions of short dispersal spoilers could resist the invasion of the party crashers, a plausible scenario considering that many resources, such as carrion, may be rare and widely dispersed in the environment.

So if you want to spoil the party then only invite your closest friends. The next time I take something from the fruit bowl I’ll be glad to simply be the first one there.

Author: Kevin Healy, healyke[at]tcd.ie, @healyke

Image Source: Wikicommons

Let the games begin!

Modern-Knight

 

We the blog declare that a month of games will commence from tomorrow. The aim is to achieve the most hits for a blog post in a day. The prize will be worth that of a King’s Ransom and will be revealed in good time. Cry havoc, and let slip the blogs of war!

Scribe

Adam Kane: kanead[at]tcd.ie

Photo credit

wikimedia commons