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…

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…

Behind the paper: using DNA to define conservation units for endangered dragons

This week, we have a new paper published online in the journal Conservation Genetics, with former Honours student Emma Carlson as lead author. The paper is titled “How many conservation units are there for the endangered grassland earless dragons?” Yes, that’s right, dragons! But not the fire-breathing sort. The grassland earless dragon (Tympanocyrptis pinguicolla) is a…

What We’re Reading: Jan 15, 2016

Paternal sex allocation: how variable is the sperm sex ratio? Think back to the classes you took on cell division. You might recall that in male mammals, meiosis is an important part of spermatogenesis. Chromosomes in diploid cells separate as the cell splits in two: one half gets the X chromosome the other the Y. So this means…

What We Read: Favorite Papers of 2015

Part two of our Year in Review: we describe our favorite papers of 2015. These papers did not necessarily have to have been part of our Friday link dump series, What We’re Reading, which focuses on the WildlifeSNPIts theme of the intersection between evolution and conservation. Anna I’m terrible at picking favourites, but after a…

What We’re Reading: Oct 16, 2015

Bushbaby BMI A new study reports that bushbabies (Galago moholi) in urban environments have higher body-mass indexes (BMI) and stress hormone levels than their rural counterparts. The authors also observed higher use of human food and less movement in the urban primates. Their results show how urbanization can impact the health of wild animals. How…

What we’re reading: Nov 21, 2014

Captive Breeding and Mate Choice Captive breeding is one conservation strategy both for species preservation but also for potential release of individuals into the wild for increasing population size and/or genetic diversity. This paper examined the breeding patterns of mice which were captively bred for three generations before being released with wild mice. The authors…

Ecological Genomics 2014 Themes

I just got back from Kansas State University’s 12th Ecological Genomics Symposium (EcoGen2014, this year with Twitter hashtag #ecogensymp). I covered the themes from last year’s meeting and wanted to do the same this year. The themes I keyed in on from 2014 included: the importance of phenotyping and how genomics informs managed species. Phenotypes…

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: Aug 8, 2014

Hybrid Songbirds use Hybrid Migration Routes Neat new paper (open) shows that hybrids between two subspecies of Swainson’s thrushes, show intermediate migration routes from the parental species. Additionally, the authors estimate that selection against hybrids is strong and postulate if migration may constitute an ecological pressure driving speciation. Many Genes of Small Effect This blog…

What we’re reading- Jan 10, 2014

How to Freeze and Defrost a Frog Amazing video of the daily freeze-thaw cycle wood frogs go through in a day! Evolution of Angiosperms into Freezing Environments The evolution of small water transport vesicles and senescing tissues allowed angiosperms to colonize colder environments. These traits may have evolved before expansion into new environments. Mangrove Forests…