Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Can understanding cooperation lead to higher-yield crops?

Posted 07 Jan 2016 / 0

The Scientist “The Evolution of Cooperation” Starting with the title, this short article is not bringing anything all that new to the existing literature on how cooperation evolves. But once I realized that this piece was really about the direction of Denison’s research on rhizobia, the rest of the basic background made a lot more Read More

A Minor Post, Coevolution, Competition, Cooperation, Host-Pathogen Evolution, Mutualism, Parasitism, Punishment, Reciprocity, Web

Urban Wildlife Podcast on synanthropes and urban island castaways

Posted 06 Oct 2015 / 0

Urban Wildlife Podcast “Episode 3: Timbers on a Boston Island” I love this episode because it captures the two major human impacts of urban ecology: the creation of commensal niches for some species while other species are isolated to islands of small remaining habitat. We learn about a variety of organisms from birds to bugs Read More

A Minor Post, Biodiversity Loss, Birds, Commensalism, Habitat Destruction, Habitat Fragmentation, Mutualism, Parthenogenesis, Radio & Podcasts, Reptiles, Sustainable Urban Design, Urban Ecology

My new favorite concept mapping activity: depicting whole-system ecological flows

Posted 17 Jul 2015 / 0

Concept mapping is increasingly becoming an important part of my overall approach to teaching. I started out using it in my own research, and quickly realized how valuable it can be as a teaching tool. Because the only real goal of making a concept map is to explore and express understanding of a topic, concept Read More

A Major Post, Community Ecology, Competition, Concept Mapping, Ecology, Ecology Education, Ecosystem Ecology, Information Design, Interactions, Learning Management Systems, Lesson Ideas, MSCI-270, Ecology, MSCI-271, Ecology for Architects, Mutualism, Predation, Teaching Tools

The costly nature of wind pollination

Posted 05 May 2015 / 2

It is once again that time of year, the time when trees that rely on wind pollination dump a really absurd amount of pollen into the air. The surfaces of outdoor objects become covered in a layer of yellow dust that is shockingly visible to the naked eye. When it rains, run-off nearly glows yellow Read More

A Minor Post, Adaptation, Behavior, Divergence, Pollination

Evolution 2014: Day 2

Posted 22 Jun 2014 / 0

About five years ago I developed my Evolution course, which is aimed at my non-majors art and design students. I have not taught this course in more than two years, and as it has sat on the shelf I have been able to get that critical distance necessary to make the course better. So coming Read More

A Major Post, Assessment Methods, Competition, Conferences, Cooperation, Cooperative Breeding, EvoDevo, Evolution Education, Higher Education, Mutualism, Niche Partitioning, Parasitism, Society for the Study of Evolution

Evolution 2014: Day 1

Posted 21 Jun 2014 / 0

My first session of the day was spent entirely in a Symbiosis session. I am fascinated by symbiosis, particularly mutualistic symbiosis, so I am always looking for cool new stories to help illustrate the concept for my students. This session featured a lot of talks on microbial symbionts, which are also of interest to me. The Read More

A Major Post, Coevolution, Conferences, Film & Video, Host-Pathogen Evolution, Mating systems, Microbial Ecology, Mutualism, Parasitism, Phylogenetics, Predation, Science in Art & Design, Sexual Selection, Society for the Study of Evolution

Evolution 2014: Could the right symbionts provide protection from chytrid infection to amphibians?

Posted 21 Jun 2014 / 0

Patrick McLaughlin showed work on Bioko Island suggesting that frogs there may be protected from the ill effects of chytrid infection by the presence of bacterial symbionts. These symbionts produce metabolites that lower rates of parasitic infection, suggesting that symbionts might be used to protect amphibian populations worldwide. It also suggests a mechanism by which Read More

A Minor Post, Biodiversity Loss, Coevolution, Competition, Conferences, Host-Pathogen Evolution, Invasive Species, Mutualism, Parasitism, Society for the Study of Evolution

Evolution 2014: Are island mutualist communities more likely to be nested because they are inherently more unstable?

Posted 21 Jun 2014 / 0

The interactions in ecological communities can be structured in a variety of ways, and recently there has been a push to categorize these networks along the spectrum between modular (smaller clusters of more specialized interactions) and nested (unclustered networks with more generalist species). Theoretically it is understood that the nested communities are more stable, so Read More

A Minor Post, Coevolution, Conferences, Mutualism, Mutualistic Networks, Society for the Study of Evolution

Evolution 2014: Is thyme a facultative mutualist with leguminous plants?

Posted 21 Jun 2014 / 0

Mary McKenna of Howard University presented work that suggested that thyme plants may be facultative mutualists when associated with various legume species. In work done at the Blandy Experimental Farm, her students have demonstrated that legumes growing in the presence of thyme plants form more root nodules in association with their nitrogen-fixing bacterial symbionts. This effect occurs Read More

A Minor Post, Competition, Conferences, Mutualism, Parasitism, Society for the Study of Evolution

Evolution 2014: Lemurs display huge diet diversity, and their gut microbes track this diversity

Posted 21 Jun 2014 / 0

Erin McKenney of Duke University talked about three lemur species with different diets: a frugivore (fruit-eater), a generalist, and a folivore (leaf-eater). Not surprisingly their gut morphologies and passing times vary with their diet, but McKenney showed that they also have unique trajectories as infants are colonized by symbiotic bacteria of different types.

A Minor Post, Coevolution, Conferences, Mutualism, Primates, Society for the Study of Evolution