Thu 21 August 2014
C. Titus Brown
finds another sucker^W^W^W organizes a Carnival of Evolution blog post, that does a
roundup of blogs on evolution from a previous month. This month, I'm
hosting it -- it's a bit late, due to some teaching duties, so
Trigger warning: This blog post contains discussions of evolution,
which may cause anxiety in those who don't want to be exposed to ideas
with which they are pretty sure they disagree.
My favorite blog post from July was the Marc Srour's post on
snail venoms and their awesomeness.
Marc reviews a paper, Dutertre et al. (2014), that discusses how one cone
snail venom duct manufactures different kinds of defensive and
offensive venoms, presumably in response to the different needs of
defense and predation.
Jane Hu's post on
how the largest known flying dinosaur avoided
reviews Han et al., 2014,
which describes how the long feathers on a raptor helped stabilize it
I found this post on
why there are no ring species
by Jerry Coyne to be interesting from two perspectives. First, I'd
never read about the ring species concept before; and second, I
thought it was interesting to devote so much discussion to why no
actual examples of this concept seemed to exist :).
Bjorn's post on
death of the fittest
is a nice example of how simple bottom-up simulations can help you
understand evolutionary concepts. I'm mildly disappointed that Bjorn
didn't make the MATLAB code available as a link in the blog, though -
what's with that?
Craig Benkman's blog on
the outsized impact of a small mammal
explores his PNAS paper, Talluto and Benkman (2014) on selection pressures
from seed predation and fire. The short version is that pine
squirrels prefer to harvest hard woody pine cones that also help
repopulate the forest quickly after fires. In what I think is the
best line in the blog post, "when squirrel densities exceed one and a
half squirrels per hectare", the anti-hard-woody-pine-cone selection
pressure from squirrels eating them dominates over the
pro-repopulate-after-fire selection pressure.
Turning to humans, Bradly Alicea
has a nice discussion
of how dual process models that take into account both genetic fitness
and cultural adaptation could be a better way to understand human
Veering to something much smaller, Viking wannabe Jeff Morris wrote a
nice blog post on microbial ecosystems and the Black Queen Hypothesis,
talking about how the Black Queen Hypothesis can foster certain kinds
of apparent "cooperation".
Next, returning to Jerry Coyne and Why Evolution is True, check out
great blog post
on Poelstra et al. 2014, looking at the
genomic and transcriptomic underpinnings of two closely related crows.
Despite very little genetic variation, these crows maintain distinct
appearance and territories. tl; dr? The closer we look at the concept
of "species", the harder it is to draw clear lines. Also, the primary
point of difference between the two ...subspecies? seems to be located
at one very small portion of their chromosome 18. How odd!
Wrapping up my Carnival, Samuel Perez
about stamen size in some populations of Arabidopsis thaliana. There
is a mystery here: what is causing populations at low altitudes to lose
their short stamens?
And that's it for this month! From a personal perspective, it was
nice to compare and contrast so many different topics and styles of blog
posts -- it's clear there are many ways to blog, and this is a fine
selection of blogs! Thanks for roping me in, Bjorn!
The next host: the September edition will be at Sam Hardman's blog