Category Archives: Adaptation

Ben Knight’s “Phyletic gradualism / Punctuated equilibrium”

My good friend, artist Ben Knight, has created a nice chart that captures the difference between two different theories of macroevolution: phyletic gradualism and punctuated equilibrium.

Posted in A Minor Post, Art & Design, Divergence, Evolution, Information Design, Macroevolution, Science in Art & Design, Speciation, Web | Tagged | Leave a comment

Do cancer cells play cooperate in the Prisoner’s Dilemma?

PLoS One “Prisoner’s Dilemma in Cancer Metabolism” What is interesting here is that cancer cells must cooperate with each other in order to out-compete somatic cells against a staggering cost-to-benefit ratio. Generated by the extreme inefficiency of anaerobic metabolism, this … Continue reading

Posted in A Minor Post, Articles, Cooperation, Game Theory, Health & Medicine, Quantifying Costs and Benefits | Tagged | Leave a comment

Evolution 2014: Day 0

I started off this year’s Evolution meeting early. The conference is — at its core —  a four-day affair. But the days leading into the “official” start on Friday evening feature larger workshops aimed at building skills. I chose to … Continue reading

Posted in A Major Post, Adaptation, Assessment Methods, Behavior, Coevolution, Competition, Conferences, Cooperation, Evolution, Evolution Education, Evolutionary Modeling, Genetics, Grants & Funding, Higher Education, Individual-based Models, Lesson Ideas, Multilevel Selection, Natural Selection, Phylogenetics, Population Genetics, Population Growth, Predation, Reproductive Fitness, Science in Art & Design, Sex and Reproduction, Society for the Study of Evolution, Talks & Seminars, Teaching, Teaching Tools | Tagged | Leave a comment

Hawaiian crickets converge on the same solution to eavesdropping parasites

The New York Times “On Separate Islands, Crickets Go Silent“

Posted in A Minor Post, Adaptation, Articles, Behavior, Coevolution, Convergence, Evolution, Host-Pathogen Evolution, Natural Selection, Phylogenetics | Leave a comment

Apparently I should stop holding my breath for the Google Translate “dolphin” module

The Chronicle of Higher Education “Dolphin Talk and Human Credulity” Great short here (and further evidence that TED Talks entice scientists to lose their heads and say unfounded things). Anyone who has carefully watched a child learn to talk comes to realize … Continue reading

Posted in A Minor Post, Adaptation, Articles, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Cognitive Ability, Communication, Human Uniqueness, Language Evolution, Linguistics, Phenotypic Plasticity, Web | Leave a comment

Is “nest parasitism” really “nest mutualism”?

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 … Continue reading

Posted in A Minor Post, Behavior, Birds, Coevolution, Mutualism, Parasitism, Predation, Quantifying Costs and Benefits, Radio & Podcasts | Leave a comment

0.5% to 3%: Do we now have a better sense of what makes people smart?

The Economist “A potent source of genetic variation in cognitive ability has just been discovered” A new gene variant, KL-VS, appears to account for up to 3% of variation in IQ score; this would be a radical discovery given that … Continue reading

Posted in A Minor Post, Adaptation, Articles, Cognitive Ability, Gene by Environment Interactions, Genetics, Intelligences, Web | Tagged | Leave a comment

Cognitive Ethology and Cat Companionship

The Chronicle of Higher Education “Animal Magnetism” I still think that we would be appalled and offended if we could literally read the inner emotional dialogue of a cat, but I have to agree with the main contention of Barash … Continue reading

Posted in A Minor Post, Articles, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Belief, Consciousness, Data Limitation, Divergence, Emotion, Fluidity of Knowledge, Hypothesis Testing, Neuroscience | Tagged , | Leave a comment

If sloths endure costs to maintain closed-loop agricultural systems, why can’t we?

The New York Times “The Sloth’s Busy Inner Life” This is a great story about how paradoxical behaviors can be understood through appreciating mutualisms. If you don’t understand the benefits of algae to sloths and sloths to algae,  you can’t understand … Continue reading

Posted in A Minor Post, Adaptation, Articles, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Closed Loop Systems, Coevolution, Community Ecology, Composting, Mutualism, Predation, Quantifying Costs and Benefits, Tropical Forest | Leave a comment

String Theory: should we care?

On Being “Reimagining the Cosmos” I always find myself stuck on the fence when it comes to the confrontation between physics and philosophy (and by extension religion). This episode effectively captures my ambivalence. On the one hand, I like that … Continue reading

Posted in A Minor Post, Adaptation, Behavior, Belief, Consciousness, Emotion, Ethics, Evolutionary Psychology, Human Evolution, Human Uniqueness, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Physics, Psychological Adaptation, Psychology, Radio & Podcasts, Religion | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Once considered clear, the line between ecological and evolutionary time scales is becoming more blurry

The Chronicle of Higher Education “What Darwin Got Wrong” Great article on the importance of better understanding rapid and/or fluctuating evolution! The number of applications to applied human issues is fascinating.

Posted in A Minor Post, Adaptation, Articles, Climate Change, Coevolution, Community Ecology, Fluidity of Knowledge, Freshwater Ecosystems, Host-Pathogen Evolution, Interactions, Invasive Species, Natural Selection, Pollution, Population Genetics, Predation, Resistance Evolution in Parasites, Rivers & Streams | Leave a comment

Scientific American “Tiny Plants” article provides a primer on the inter-relationship between ecological and evolutionary change

I am always on the lookout for great popular science articles to assign to my students. What makes a popular science article great? Well, to start with it should address concepts that are core to my classes (admittedly, this definition … Continue reading

Posted in A Major Post, Adaptation, Anthropogenic Change, Articles, Biodiversity Loss, Climate Change, Coevolution, Conservation Biology, Ecology, Experiments (General), Extinction, Habitat Destruction, Interactions, Macroevolution, Marine Ecosystems, MSCI-271, Ecology for Architects, Pollution, Resilience, Sustainability, Terrestrial | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Caterpillars weaponize nicotine

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.

Posted in A Minor Post, Adaptation, Articles, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Host-Pathogen Evolution, Interactions, Parasitism, Predation, Resistance Evolution in Parasites | Leave a comment

Should we emulate the cooperative and conservative habits of the sloth?

Inhabitat “The Biomimicry Manual: What Can Sloths Teach Us About Energy Efficiency?“

Posted in A Minor Post, Adaptation, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Coevolution, Green Design, Mutualism, Tropical Forest, Web | Leave a comment

Zero determinant strategy is just another short-term adaptation

The Scientist “A Twist in Evolutionary Game Theory: Biologists demonstrate the instability of employing a selfish strategy in the prisoner’s dilemma game” Nature Communications “Evolutionary instability of zero-determinant strategies demonstrates that winning is not everything” I am so glad to … Continue reading

Posted in A Minor Post, Adaptation, Articles, Behavior, Coevolution, Cooperation, Evolutionary Modeling, Game Theory, Individual-based Models, Phenotypic Plasticity, Punishment, Reciprocity, System Stability | Leave a comment

Sketching as a way of seeing animal anatomy

The Harvard Gazette “Learning through doing“

Posted in A Minor Post, Adaptation, Art & Design | Leave a comment

Isabella Rossellini’s Green Porno

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 … Continue reading

Posted in A Major Post, Adaptation, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Biodiversity Loss, Ecology, Film & Television, Marine Ecosystems, MSCI-362, The Evolution of Sex, Parasitism, Predation | Leave a comment

Is selective rejection of science really a problem?

In a recent short opinion piece (Scientific American “Creation, Evolution and Indisputable Facts“), Jacob Tanenbaum argues that selectively rejecting evolutionary biology is dangerous to the scientific culture of America. He rightly points out that our populace does not reject science … Continue reading

Posted in A Major Post, Adaptation, Altruism, Articles, Belief, Cooperation, Evolution, Gene-Culture Coevolution, Human Evolution, Human Uniqueness, Religion, System Stability | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Do our brains require endurance activity in order to function?

The New York Times “Exercise and the Ever-Smarter Human Brain” While I think that the finding that brain size and capacity for endurance are linked is interesting and important, I am a bit baffled by this article’s take on the … Continue reading

Posted in A Minor Post, Adaptation, Articles, Brain size, Development, Evolution, Gene by Environment Interactions, Gene-Culture Coevolution, Human Evolution, Human Uniqueness, Mismatch theory, Neuroscience, Phenotypic Plasticity | Leave a comment

Multiple Intelligences theory gets some neuroscientific support

Neuron “Fractionating Human Intelligence” What is crazy about these findings is that they are novel. Is this really the first time that anyone decided to tackle the question of what different “intelligence tests” measure? The first time that anyone has … Continue reading

Posted in A Minor Post, Articles, Behavior, Development, Epigenetics, Evolutionary Psychology, Fluidity of Knowledge, Gene by Environment Interactions, Genetics, Human Evolution, Intelligences, Neuroscience, Phenotypic Plasticity | Leave a comment