What We’re Reading- July 22, 2016

Summer is for Catching Lightning Bugs A new paper (sub) measured the color of light which lightning bugs (aka fireflies; genus Lampyridae) emit as the day gets darker.  They found that males flash more yellow light earlier in the day and more green light as it gets darker.  Their data supported two hypotheses, that the yellow light…

Charismatic Megafauna Conservation vs Charismatic Megafauna Conservation

Prioritizing research efforts and on-the-ground action is essential for conservation, but also incredibly hard.  There’s plenty of debate about how best to set conservation priorities: save everything, triage/mathematical formulas for decisions, how to weigh expert opinion and societal values, etc.  Since conservation decisions can have real consequences for protecting species (and local human communities and…

What We’re Reading: July 1, 2016

Inbreeding Shortens Female Life-Span A new paper (open) investigated how life span differs between male and female fruit flies if they belonged to an inbred or normal population.  In the normal (aka- outbred) population, females lived longer than males; but in the inbred population, males and females lived the same length of time.  Given that…

How to write a student travel award application

I love going to scientific conferences. They provide me with great opportunities to learn about exciting new research, expand my professional network, and catch up with colleagues and old friends. Over the last few months (and at this point in previous years) I’ve spent some time evaluating student applications for a couple of different conference travel awards. Many academic societies offer such awards,…

Human Scrambled Wildlife Populations

Last week I was at a conference on the genomics of admixed populations. What is admixture? Admixture is a within species process that occurs when two (or more) populations that previously diverged come back into contact and mate. Thus the offspring have genetic signatures from the original populations. A particularly engaging session at the meeting…

What We’re Reading: May 27, 2016

Cut the (Coffee) Crap Still looking for an #EarthDayResolution? Well #CutTheCrap! Wildlife Alliance is working to raise awareness about animal cruelty, and rescue civets fed only coffee berries for the luxury coffee trade. The berries pass through the animal’s digestive track, changing the chemical composition of the mostly undigested berries. The berries are collected from…

Bandicoots, the little marsupial diggers

  Bandicoots are fascinating creatures, but I suspect few people outside Australia and New Guinea have ever heard of them, well, unless you count Crash Bandicoot… They are probably best known in suburban Australia for infuriating gardeners with the conical pits, or “snout-pokes”, they dig whilst foraging for their food, which varies a little among species but usually includes fungi,…

What We’re Reading: May 13, 2016

Citizen Science Can Instill Conservation Attitudes This paper (sub) investigates the attitudes of people participating in COASST, Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team, a citizen science program focusing on beached birds. Even without specific educational goals, participants increased their conservation stewardship and developed a strong sense of place for the beaches that they patrolled. For…

What We’re Reading: May 6, 2016

Location, Location, Location It’s easy for people who live far from wildlife to criticize management and/or policies without considering how people who live near wildlife feel about the salient issues.  Particularly with species which may have an economic impact or are potentially dangerous, regulators ignore the human dimensions of human-wildlife interactions at their peril.  This…