What We’re Reading- March 17, 2017

An Endangered Generalist?  Soon after germination orchids must be colonized by fungi whose hyphae both enter orchid cells and create an extensive mycorrhizal network in the soil, thereby transferring nutrients to the plant.  Orchids may be mycorrhizal generalists able to associate with many different fungal species, or specialists only able to associate with one or a…

CRISPR for Conservation

I’ve got this feeling that CRISPR is the next PCR.  Have you ever met someone who was an early adopter of PCR?  No, I mean an early adopter of PCR where the technique required three water baths, a swivel chair, a stop watch, and AN ACTUAL PERSON to move the reaction tubes between water baths every…

Marsupial misconceptions: weird mammals, placentas and pouches

I’ve now been living in Australia for almost 18 years, and I’m an unashamed convert to #TeamMarsupial. Marsupials are fascinating animals in both evolutionary and ecological terms, but at times I am surprised by how poorly-understood they are. I’ve been thinking of writing a post to address some recurring marsupial misconceptions for a while. When I saw…

Making Science Real in Non-Majors Science Class

For the longest time, I complained about teaching one class, non-majors biology. While many teaching assistants complained about students, for me, it was the content I was teaching. The problem wasn’t that it was too simple and not advanced like in a majors class, it was that it was not relevant to the students’ lives (or…

What We’re Reading- Feb 17, 2017

Endangered Populations Growing in Size But Still at Risk The Little Spotted Kiwi (Apteryx owenii) is a near threatened bird species that once inhabited forests throughout New Zealand, but is now constricted to near shore islands devoid of introduced predators.  Each of the eight islands the birds now inhabit was founded by a different number…

What We’re Reading- Feb 10, 2017

Buzzing Around the Bombus Phylogeny We previously discussed how phylogenetic trees can be useful tools for making conservation decisions, so this paper applying these ideas to the European bumblebee (Bombus) was right up our alley! In this analysis, 58 of the 68 species of bumblebees were categorized based on their IUCN Red List status, then analyzed…

What We’re Reading- Feb 3, 2017

Finding management solutions for species that are threatened in their home ranges but introduced pests elsewhere Wildlife conservation and invasive species management are rarely straightforward. In some cases, a species that is an introduced pest in one place may be threatened in its native range. This creates a dilemma for managers: control them or conserve them? In this paper,…

What We’re Reading- Jan 27, 2017

When Following the Leader is Bad for Your Health (Like You Die) Many species make collective group decisions, including how to move across the landscape in search of food, water, shelter, or during long-distance migrations.  However, not all habitat is equal with some areas being higher risk than others, especially in areas where there is a…

What We’re Reading- Jan 13, 2017

Ash Trees Under Attack European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) face dieback across their range due to a fungal pathogen (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus).  Currently, there is no effective treatment for trees with the fungus, including managed removal of trees to prevent spread of the disease.  However, natural variation in resistance to the pathogen is known and could be…

What We’re Reading- Jan 6, 2017

Pangolin Trade Network All species of pangolins are endangered throughout their range, due in large part to poaching for their meat and scales.  Using media reports, a team of researchers identified approximately 65,800 individuals were harvested and seized between 2008-2016 although the level of harvest not detected remains unknown.  Notably, only 117 individuals were reported poached in the…

A Year of Science Selfies – Stephanie

When hearing about the #365scienceselfies challenge, I was immediately on board. I love selfies and was very willing to use this excuse to take more. I loved the idea – showing other people what scientists do on a daily basis and “humanizing” us (scientists – they’re just like us!). I was also up for the challenge of coming…

A Year of Science Selfies- Anna

At this time last year I was quite uncomfortable about the idea of participating in #365scienceselfies, but still, I agreed to give it a go. I thought it was worth exploring as a different kind of science communication, to show what scientists look like and what we do. I never once thought I’d actually reach the nominal…