What we’re reading: Nov 14, 2014

Keeping mtDNA in Shape between Generations
Mitochondrial DNA markers are important tools for many genetic studies, including much evolutionary and conservation genetics. This paper (open) reviews what we know about how mitochondrial DNA is transmitted in animals, with a focus on the implications for human health. However, the points raised are also interesting to consider from a broader evolutionary perspective.

Effects of Introduced Mammals on Australian Endemic Species
The Australian mammal fauna has changed dramatically since European settlement, with declines in many native mammal species and incredibly successful introductions of predators such as cats and foxes. It can be difficult to understand the causes of many native mammal declines. This paper reviews historical accounts to uncover patterns of hyperabundance, disease and interactions with cats and foxes in populations of quolls (extremely cute but threatened marsupial predators native to Australia).

The Annimated Life of Alfred Russell Wallace
Wallace was a contemporary of Charles Darwin and independently came up with ideas on the role of natural selection in evolution.

Conservation of Mimics
Batesian mimics are non-harmful species that have evolved to resemble the warning coloration of harmful species. In this way the mimetic species is protected from predators that do not want to eat the harmful species. When a poisonous non-protected, and non-poisonous (mimetic) protected species live together, what are the conservation outcomes for each species? This paper (sub) looked at such a case with snakes in Finland. They found that predation by birds was lower where the two species lived together (as predicted), but observed higher mortality of the endangered mimetic by humans since they fear (and wontly kill) the abundant venomous snake.

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