What We’re Reading- Feb 23, 2018

Wallaby Phylogeny Based on both morphological and limited genetic markers, the phylogeny of wallabies was uncertain.  This paper (open) sequenced the genomes of 11 species of wallabies and kangaroos and built a multi-locus phylogeny.  Three of these species are IUCN listed as “near threatened” (yellow-footed rock wallaby, black wallaroo, and parma wallaby).  The authors observed…

What is Urban Evolution?

In 2009 the United Nations reported that half of the world’s human population lived in cities and was expected to grow to 66% by 2050.  The movement of people from dispersed living to concentration in urban environments is a large change both for human civilization and for the environment.  Urbanization is the process of changing…

What We’re Reading- May 19, 2017

Genetic Diversity of Snow Leopards Snow leopards (Panthera uncia) are endemic to the Altai, Himalaya, and Tibetan uplifts and adapted to high-altitude environments.  They are currently listed as an endangered species by IUCN.  This new paper investigated genetic diversity of snow leopards across their range.  They found that the cats have low genetic diversity in…

What We’re Reading- April 7, 2017

Detecting Disease from Skin Swabs Chytrid (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) is a fungal disease causing amphibian die offs around the world (we wrote about it here).  Given its wide distribution both on hosts and geographically, there’s no surprise that there is genomic variation.  Scientists are interested in this variation to understand virulence, host specificity, and patterns of…

What We’re Reading- Oct 7, 2016

(Mal)adaptation on an Invasive Species Soapberry bugs (Jadera haematoloma) are adapted to feed on the nutrient dense seeds of faux persil (Cardiospermum corindum).  Following introduction of the invasive golden rain tree (Koelreuteria elegans), some populations of soapberry bugs shifted hosts to feed on the invasive, which is easier to eat but less nutritious.  Adaptation was observed…

What We’re Reading- July 10, 2015

Congratulations to SNPits blogger Stephanie for her new paper on raccoon relatedness under different experimental feeding systems. Stephanie and her coauthors found that clumped feeding resulted in shifted home range distributions of raccoons, thereby disrupting natural patterns of relatedness. Mammals tend to have one sex that disperses so that related individuals do not mate with…

What we’re reading: Oct 24, 2014

Evolutionary Conservation Since the premise of this blog is write about evolution, conservation, and their intersection, the thesis of this article (open), that evolution can inform conservation, is nothing new to us! The authors layout the links between these two disciplines nicely and give researchers ideas for a path forward in evolutionary conservation. Ecotype Evolution…

What we’re reading: Oct 17, 2014

Plants in a Prickle? Not When Carnivores are Near. Herbivores’ risk-avoidance behavior from predators and plants’ anti-herbivore defenses appear to interact to determine the distribution of trees in African savannas. Thorny trees were found to be abundant in low-risk areas for herbivores while poorly defended trees were more abundant in high-risk areas. Therefore, plants can…

What we’re reading: Aug 1, 2014

Oh, you know we calculated our Kardashian Index scores! This little 3 page paper created quite the stir this week. We’re guessing that scientists with large Twitter followings lablasted it and scientists not on Twitter cheered. In a nutshell, the K-Index is the ratio between observed and expected followers on Twitter and author Neil Hall…