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Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

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: 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

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

Evolution 2014: Day 0

Posted 20 Jun 2014 / 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 attend the Experiencing Evolution workshop. Here’s what this session promised: Evolution is a key biological concept, Read More

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

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

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

Posted 05 Feb 2014 / 0

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 this behavior. But you also need to understand how sloths directly benefit moths and how Read More

A Minor Post, Adaptation, Articles, Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Closed Loop Systems, Coevolution, Community Ecology, Composting, Mutualism, Predation, Quantifying Costs and Benefits, Tropical Forest

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

Posted 25 Jan 2014 / 0

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.

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