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Odor communication in wild gorillas

Gorilla (Credit:  Kjunstorm/Flickr )Main Point:

Wild gorillas signal using odor.

Published in:

PLOS ONE

Study Further:

Silverback gorillas appear to use odor as a form of communication to other gorillas, according to a study published July 9, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Michelle Klailova from University of Stirling, UK, and colleagues.

Mammals communicate socially through visual, auditory, and chemical signals. The chemical sense is in fact the oldest sense, shared by all organisms including bacteria, and mounting evidence suggests that humans also participate in social chemical signaling. However, not much is known about this type of signaling in closely related hominoids, like wild apes. To better understand chemical -communication in apes, scientists in this study analyzed odor strength in relation to arousal levels in a wild group of western lowland gorillas in the Central African Republic, specifically focusing on the male silverback, or the mature leader of the group. Scientists determined the factors that predicted extreme levels of odor emission from the silverback. They hypothesized that if gorilla scent were being used as a social signal, instead of only a sign of arousal or stress, odor emission would depend on social context and would vary depending on the gorilla’s relationship to other gorillas.

According to the results, the male silverback may use odor as a modifiable form of social communication, where context-specific chemical-signals may moderate the social behaviors of other gorillas. The authors predicted extreme silverback odor, where the odor was the only element that could be smelled in the surrounding air, by the presence and intensity of interactions between different gorilla groups such as silverback anger, distress and long-calling auditory rates, and the absence of close proximity between the silverback and the mother of the youngest infant. The authors suggest that odor communication between apes may be especially useful in Central African forests, where limited visibility may necessitate increased reliance on other senses.

Michelle Klailova added, “No study has yet investigated the presence and extent to which chemo–communication may moderate behaviour in non-human great apes.   We provide crucial ancestral links to human chemo-signaling, bridge the gap between Old World monkey and human chemo-communication, and offer compelling evidence that olfactory communication in hominoids is much more important than traditionally thought.” Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by saypeople - July 9, 2014 at 11:00 pm

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Transgender Algae Reveal Evolutionary Origin of Sexes

Volvox carteri - juvenile (photo by Aurora Nedelcu)

Volvox carteri – juvenile (photo by Aurora Nedelcu)

Main Point:

Throughout evolution, living things have repeatedly developed physically distinct sexes, but how does this actually happen? A discovery in the multicellular green alga, Volvox carteri, has revealed the genetic origin of male and female sexes, showing how they evolved from a more primitive mating system in a single-celled relative.

Published in:

PLOS Biology

Study Further

A team of scientists led by James Umen, Ph.D. , Associate Member, Enterprise Institute for Renewable Fuels at the Danforth Plant Science Center, identified the master regulatory gene for sex determination in Volvox and found that it has acquired new functions compared to a related gene in its close relative, the unicellular alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, which does not have physically distinguishable (dimorphic) sexes.  Their findings are publishing in the open access journal PLOS Biology on July 8, and may also provide a possible blueprint for how sexes in other multicellular organisms like plants and animals may have originated.

For plants and animals having male and female reproductive cells or gametes is the norm, and the differences between the two types of gametes are obvious.  Male gametes are small motile sperm or pollen, while female gametes are large egg cells. However, the evolutionary origins of male and female sexes are unclear because the distant unicellular relatives of plants, animals and other multicellular species generally don’t have distinct sexes, but instead have mating types – a system in which gametes of one mating type can only fuse with those with a different mating type, but the cells of each mating type are indistinguishable from each other in size and morphology. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by saypeople - July 8, 2014 at 11:00 pm

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“Land grabbing” could help feed at least 300 million people, study suggests

Land grab (Source: tni.org)Main Point:

Crops grown on “land-grabbed” areas in developing countries could have the potential to feed an extra 100 million people worldwide, a new study has shown.

Published in:

Environmental Research Letters

Study Further:

The improved infrastructure brought about by foreign investment could increase the productivity of subsistence farmlands in countries such as Indonesia and Papua New Guinea and could mean these lands can feed at least 300 million people around the world. This is compared to about 190 million people that could be fed if the land was left tended to by the local population.

The findings have been published today, 27 June, in IOP Publishing’s journal Environmental Research Letters. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by saypeople - June 27, 2014 at 5:01 am

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Finding elusive emperor penguins

Penguins (Photo Credit: Robin Cristofari, CNRS/IPEV)

Penguins (Photo Credit: Robin Cristofari, CNRS/IPEV)

Main Point:

Both surveyors and satellites needed to study remote penguin populations.

Published in:

PLOS ONE

Study Further:

Field surveys and satellites complement each other when studying remote penguin populations, according to research published June 25 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by André Ancel from the CNRS at Strasbourg and colleagues. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by saypeople - June 26, 2014 at 2:00 am

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Fish-eating spiders discovered around the world

Spider (Credit: Peter Liley, Moffat Beach, Queensland)

Spider (Credit: Peter Liley, Moffat Beach, Queensland)

Main Point:

Spiders from eight families prey on fish.

Published in:

PLOS ONE

Study Further:

Spiders from five different families prey on small fish in the wild, according to a systematic review published June 18, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Martin Nyffeler from University of Basel, Switzerland, and Bradley Pusey from The University of Western Australia. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by saypeople - June 19, 2014 at 2:00 am

Categories: Other   Tags: , , , ,

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