Category Archives: Adaptation

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, Ecology for Architects, 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

National Geographic feature on penguin propulsion

This month’s National Geographic features a valuable article called “Escape Velocity” that chronicles how Emperor Penguins reach incredible velocities to launch through holes in the ice and out into safety. Mostly a pictorial featuring Paul Nicklen’s amazing underwater photography, the article shows … Continue reading

Posted in A Minor Post, Adaptation, Articles, Behavior, Coevolution, Marine Ecosystems, Polar Marine, Predation | Leave a comment

Slate article explores the big brain, big society connection

Slate “Tool use and exploration may be just side effects of social skills” Great examples in this short piece of how scientists quantify the benefits of social connection in terms of survival and reproduction. It will be interesting to see … Continue reading

Posted in A Minor Post, Articles, Brain size, Evolution, Human Evolution, Human Uniqueness, Hypothesis Testing, Neuroscience, Quantifying Costs and Benefits, Web | Leave a comment

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

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!

Posted in A Minor Post, Adaptation, Behavior, Coevolution, Competition, Cooperation, Evolution, Interactions, Keystone Species, Mutualism, Parasitism, Predation, Public Outreach, Social Networks, Tropical Forest | Leave a comment

New PNAS special issue explores the developmental effects of early social environment

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences “Biological Embedding of Early Social Adversity: From Fruit Flies to Kindergartners Sackler Colloquium“

Posted in A Minor Post, Articles, Behavior, Development, Gene by Environment Interactions, Phenotypic Plasticity, Psychology, Sociology | Leave a comment

Think that the DNA transfer is only from parents to offspring? Think again!

Science Now “Bearing Sons Can Alter Your Mind” Once again, epigenetic effects complicate our understanding of biological evolution! Two interesting omissions in this article: The fail to point out that female fetuses might also be donating DNA to mom: it … Continue reading

Posted in A Minor Post, Epigenetics, Evolution, Gene by Environment Interactions, Genetics, Health & Medicine, Human Evolution, Phenotypic Plasticity, Sex and Reproduction, Web | Leave a comment

Can playing games make the world a better place?

One of the very talented students I work with in the Envirolutions club, Rhett Bradbury, pointed me towards the work of Jane McGonigal, a game designer and evangelist for the idea that games can save the world. For Rhett, her work is … Continue reading

Posted in A Major Post, Cooperation, Cultural Evolution, Development, Emotion, Evolutionary Psychology, Happiness, Health & Medicine, Human Evolution, Mismatch Theory, Phenotypic Plasticity, Play, Psychological Adaptation, Psychology, Radio & Podcasts, Social Networks, Subsistence, Web | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Rachel Carson still under attack for bringing her values to bear on her science

Slate “Rachel Carson Didn’t Kill Millions of Africans: How the 50-year-old campaign against Silent Spring still distorts environmental debates” There is a lot of interesting stuff here, including a fascinating view into how scientific findings get processed by the public (both … Continue reading

Posted in A Minor Post, Adaptation, Articles, Biodiversity Loss, Biography, Chemistry, Coevolution, Ecology, Environmental Justice, Evolution, Health & Medicine, Pollution, Public Outreach, Public Policy, Resistance Evolution in Parasites, Web | Leave a comment