Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

When it comes to considering sex and gender, don’t forget sex determination

Posted 22 Oct 2018 / 0

Scientific American “Beyond XX and XY: The Extraordinary Complexity of Sex Determination” I teach about sex and gender in a lot of my courses. For some courses, such as Evolution or The Evolution of Sex, these are basic concepts that need to be established in order to study reproductive behaviors. For other courses, such as Breeders, Propagators, & Read More

A Minor Post, Information Design, MSCI-362, The Evolution of Sex, Sex and Reproduction

Break not the ungulate culture of migration

Posted 27 Sep 2018 / 0

Science “Is ungulate migration culturally transmitted? Evidence of social learning from translocated animals” Wow, this is super cool. We often think of humans as exclusively cultural, but it is only the extent to which we rely on culture that makes us unique. That doesn’t mean that culture’s not crucial to the learning of other animals, whose Read More

A Minor Post, Conservation Biology, Cultural Evolution, Mammals

How renewable power sources grow more trees

Posted 27 Sep 2018 / 0

Science “Climate model shows large-scale wind and solar farms in the Sahara increase rain and vegetation” These kinds of positive feedback loops are exciting. Generally, we are really good at creating deleterious positive feedback loops: changes that further exacerbate our environmental dilemmas. But as this modeling article demonstrates, careful re-engineering of our environment can create Read More

A Minor Post, Climate Change, Ecological Modeling, Ecological Restoration, Ecology, Modeling (General), Sustainable Energy

Australia’s a hot spot for climate change politics, climate change science, and climate change suffering

Posted 27 Sep 2018 / 0

Nature News “Global warming tops the agenda as climate brings down a third Australian prime minister” As this article makes clear, Australia is an interesting country. It’s not “ground-zero” for climate change per se, but compared to other developed countries it is suffering from climate change in rather profound ways. Some of this suffering relates to Read More

A Minor Post, Anthropogenic Change, Biodiversity Loss, Climate Change, Political Science, Public Policy

Humans arrive, other mammals shrink

Posted 27 Sep 2018 / 0

Scientific American “Mammals Shrink When Humans Migrate In” Another really cool infographic from Scientific American. What I really find interesting here is the difference between the recent arrival of humans (Australia, the Americas) and places where humans just innovated culturally (Africa, Eurasia). Those large mammals species that coevolved with our emergence as a highly-cultural species seem Read More

A Minor Post, Anthropogenic Change, Articles, Conservation Biology, Evolution, Extinction, Human Evolution, Mammals, Natural Selection

Scientific American drops special issue on “Science of Being Human”

Posted 20 Sep 2018 / 0

Scientific American just released a great special issue on The Science of Being Human. It’s one of those nicely-integrated issues that Scientific American has become really good at creaating: from the graphics to the flow of the article topics, everything fits together into a nice three-part structure that explores a diversity of issues surround human evolution and our resulting Read More

A Minor Post, Group Selection, Human Evolution, Human Nature, Human Uniqueness, Periodicals

Don’t blame people for being obese (blame their neighborhood)

Posted 06 Sep 2018 / 0

Science News “Artificial intelligence spots obesity from space” Wow, if you are the kind of person who tends to put a lot of stock in “personal responsibility”, maybe you don’t want to read the brief article above. Because it is an amazing piece of evidence that individual human behaviors are highly influenced by the environments that Read More

A Minor Post, Behavior, Environmental Justice, Gene by Environment Interactions, Health & Medicine, Urban Ecology, Urban Planning

Mom: “Eat my sh*t and then help your younger siblings”

Posted 06 Sep 2018 / 0

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences “Responses to pup vocalizations in subordinate naked mole-rats are induced by estradiol ingested through coprophagy of queen’s feces” Okay, we all knew that naked mole rats are weird. The inbreeding, the eusociality in a mammal, and… well, the look. But this is a new wrinkle. Apparently mom is sending Read More

A Minor Post, Behavior, Kin Selection

Mom leaves, offspring get buff and work together

Posted 06 Sep 2018 / 0

Science News “When this beetle mom disappears, her children become stronger and nicer” There are so many cool aspects to this study! First, it is amazing that lab evolution can produce this dramatic a change in both anatomy and behavior. These results are kind of like what we observe in artificial selection scenarios: there’s a lot Read More

A Minor Post, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Competition, Cooperation, Kin Selection, Parenting

Wildfires driven more by lowered precipitation than elevated temperatures or reduced snowpack

Posted 06 Sep 2018 / 0

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences “Decreasing fire season precipitation increased recent western US forest wildfire activity” There’s a little bit of a “choose your climate change poison” to this study, but it is interesting to be able to isolate the specific climate-driven effects that are causing more wildfires to crop up.

A Minor Post, Climate Change, Urban Ecology, Urban Planning