Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

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: Aphids protect themselves from parasitoids by harboring a bacteria whose viral parasite is toxic

Posted 21 Jun 2014 / 0

Andrew Smith of Drexel University spoke about a four-species interaction that could best be described as “my symbiont’s enemy is my parasitoid’s toxic enemy” scenario. Aphids can avoid being parasitized by a parasitoid wasp if they harbor particular bacterial strains. What’s interesting is that the bacteria don’t directly confer resistance to the parasitoid: instead, it is the Read More

A Minor Post, Coevolution, Conferences, Host-Pathogen Evolution, Mutualism, Parasitism, Predation, Society for the Study of Evolution

Is “nest parasitism” really “nest mutualism”?

Posted 20 May 2014 / 0

NPR All Things Considered “This Freeloading Bird Brings Help — And The Help Smells Gross” It is hard to believe that feeding an entire extra non-offspring would be in the self-interest of a bird, but as this short points out, costs and benefits are always environment-specific. In this case, the “parasitic” effect of having to raise Read More

A Minor Post, Behavior, Birds, Coevolution, Mutualism, Parasitism, Predation, Quantifying Costs and Benefits, Radio & Podcasts

Caterpillars weaponize nicotine

Posted 02 Jan 2014 / 0

The Economist “Caterpillars that blow nicotine at their enemy” I love the combination of genetic manipulation and “arena of death” wolf-spider gauntlet that led to these findings.

A Minor Post, Adaptation, Articles, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Host-Pathogen Evolution, Interactions, Parasitism, Predation, Resistance Evolution in Parasites

Isabella Rossellini’s Green Porno

Posted 21 Jul 2013 / 0

I have been preparing for next semester’s Evolution of Sex course by looking for new media that might help my students. I just spent a few enjoyable hours checking out Isabella Rossellini’s Green Porno series, produced by the Sundance Channel. I have been aware of Rossellini’s rather interesting foray into the world of animal sex and reproduction for awhile Read More

A Major Post, Adaptation, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Biodiversity Loss, Ecology, Film, Television, & Video, Marine Ecosystems, MSCI-362, The Evolution of Sex, Parasitism, Predation

Megan Frederickson shares the wonder of ant cooperation with Toronto Library patrons

Posted 31 Oct 2012 / 0

Toronto Public Library/University of Toronto Exploring Evolution series “The Evolution of Cooperation: Ant-Plant Associations in Peru” We need more scientists out there explaining the wonders of evolutionary biology!

A Minor Post, Adaptation, Behavior, Coevolution, Competition, Cooperation, Evolution, Interactions, Keystone Species, Mutualism, Parasitism, Predation, Public Outreach, Social Networks, Tropical Forest

The humble Mistletoe turns out to be a probable keystone species

Posted 19 Sep 2012 / 0

Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences “Mistletoe as a keystone resource: an experimental test“

A Minor Post, Articles, Community Ecology, Interactions, Keystone Species, Parasitism

National Geographic on the yartsa gunbu bubble

Posted 23 Aug 2012 / 0

National Geographic “Tibetan Gold” This story encapsulates a whole host of unsustainable human behaviors: First, we have people over-harvesting an ecological product in a manner that risks its collapse; Second, the over-harvesting is driven by a cultural superstition that has spread without any real basis in fact; and Third, the entire over-valuation of these parasite-infested-worms is Read More

A Minor Post, Anthropogenic Change, Articles, Belief, Biodiversity Loss, Coevolution, Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Evolution, Ecology, Economic sustainability, Ecosystem Services, Memetic Fitness, Parasitism, Population Growth, Resource Consumption, Sustainable Harvesting, System Stability, Tundra

ESA 2012 Thursday afternoon talks

Posted 10 Aug 2012 / 0

I spent Thursday afternoon once again hustling from one talk to another, with Organized Oral Session #47 (Universal Senescence? New Theories and Experimental Approaches Across the Tree of Life) being my primary focus. The writings of George C. Williams and his ingenious antagonistic pleiotropy hypothesis explaining aging have always fascinated me. Like a lot of Read More

A Major Post, Behavior, Conferences, Ecological Modeling, Ecological Society of America, Ecosystem Services, Freshwater Ecosystems, Individual-based Models, Parasitism, Phenotypic Plasticity, Ponds & Lakes, Predation, Senescence, Spatially Explicit Modeling, Sustainable Agriculture, Talks & Seminars, Tropical Forest

Mutualistic fungus transfers nitrogen from parasitized insects to its plant host

Posted 22 Jun 2012 / 0

Science “Endophytic Insect-Parasitic Fungi Translocate Nitrogen Directly from Insects to Plants” What I find fascinating about this story is how a fungus that parasitizes one species can use that ability to form a mutualism with a plant host. I wonder whether there is a value-added feature of this parasitism: are the parasitized insects potential parasites Read More

A Minor Post, Articles, Coevolution, Host-Pathogen Evolution, Mutualism, Parasitism