Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

All it takes to get a little specialized is a small increase in group size…

Posted 30 Aug 2018 / 0

Nature “Fitness benefits and emergent division of labour at the onset of group living” Another Corina Tarnita study that elegantly converts empirical observations into an insightful model. If it doesn’t take a lot for already-social species to harness the power of “division of labor”, that begs an important question: why don’t more species show this Read More

A Minor Post, Cooperation, Group Selection

What might we discover in the ocean twilight zone?

Posted 30 Aug 2018 / 0

Science “What lives in the ocean’s twilight zone? New technologies might finally tell us” We tend to think that there’s nothing unexplored on the earth, that we know what kinds of organisms inhabit different ecosystems. So it’s pretty striking that there’s a whole area of the ocean that we know so little about. The scientific challenges Read More

A Minor Post, Articles, Biodiversity Loss, Climate Change, Fluidity of Knowledge, Marine Ecosystems, Sustainability

Different hominin species not so species-like it seems

Posted 30 Aug 2018 / 0

Science “This ancient bone belonged to a child of two extinct human species” It’s amazing what can be discovered by looking at ancient DNA. It will be interesting to see how robust this finding is: is this just a rare occurence that we happened to find, or will additional evidence suggest that hybridization between hominin Read More

A Minor Post, Homo species, Human Evolution, Speciation

Parasites better watch out for parasites!

Posted 30 Aug 2018 / 0

Science “This parasitic ‘love vine’ is sucking the life out of freeloading wasps” A plant evolves to parasitize the parasitic structure of an animal parasite that targets another plant. You can’t make this stuff up folks: it’s nature…

A Minor Post, Coevolution, Parasitism, Uncategorized

Model suggests that warming climate will catalyze greater insect-pest crop losses

Posted 30 Aug 2018 / 0

Science “Insect threats to food security” Science “Increase in crop losses to insect pests in a warming climate” This is scary, especially since this is a global estimate that has never before been modeled. I found it interesting that the temperate-zone effects are most profound because the effects of warming are not so extreme as to lower Read More

A Minor Post, Climate Change, Food, Sustainable Agriculture

Is it possible that Trump’s science-adviser is a stealth climate-change accepter?

Posted 30 Aug 2018 / 0

Nature “Trump’s science-adviser pick hedges on climate change” There’s not a lot of reason to think that anyone can soften President Trump’s irresponsible stance on climate change action, but maybe Kelvin Droegemeier is trying to sneak some climate realism into the White House? It’s bizarre how these things work, but I am actually somewhat more optimistic Read More

A Minor Post, Climate Change, Political Science, Public Policy, Uncategorized

Is sexualization of women driven by the structure of our economy?

Posted 30 Aug 2018 / 0

PNAS “Income inequality not gender inequality positively covaries with female sexualization on social media” This study kind of blew up my head (well, at least blew up the preconceptions in my head). It would seem so logical to predict that gender inequality would be the main cause of the sexualization of women on social media. Read More

A Minor Post, Competition, Economics, Human Evolution, Human Nature, Sexual Competition, Uncategorized

Both primates have their own uses for the same land

Posted 30 Aug 2018 / 0

PNAS “Small room for compromise between oil palm cultivation and primate conservation in Africa” This study reaches what is probably not a surprising conclusion: if we want to grow tropical plants for food, we are likely to displace tropical mammals. Palm oil is particularly frightening because it seems to like to grow in areas where endangered Read More

A Minor Post, Anthropogenic Change, Conservation Biology, Primates, Sustainability, Sustainable Agriculture

Can a realistically-parameterized model tell us why our brains are so big?

Posted 30 Aug 2018 / 0

Nature “Sizing up human brain evolution” Nature “Inference of ecological and social drivers of human brain-size evolution” This is an interesting study that I simultaneously think is really cool and has some major flaws. What’s cool about this study is that it trys to get at this question with a model that’s (reasonably) constrained by observed parameter Read More

A Minor Post, Allometries, Articles, Brain size, Cognitive Ability, Evolution, Human Evolution, Individual-based Models, Modeling (General), Neuroscience, Uncategorized

Alan Rabinowitz, 1953-2018

Posted 07 Aug 2018 / 0

Photo of Alan Rabinowitz speaking in 2010 courtesy of Kris Krüg via Wikimedia Commons It was with great sadness that I learned that Alan Rabinowitz died of cancer on August 5th. There’s a great tribute to him on the National Geographic site: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2018/08/alan-rabinowitz-big-cat-champion-news/ A Brooklyn-born kid who used frequent Bronx Zoo visits to overcome a severe stuttering Read More

A Minor Post, Activism, Conservation Biology, Felids, Obituary, Population Genetics, Web