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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

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A Call to Protect Antarctica Better

Antarctica (Credit: cloudzilla/Flickr)Main Point:

With a surge in visitors to Antarctica, Antarctica’s ice-free land needs better protection from human activities, leading environmental scientists say.

Published in:

PLOS Biology

Study Further:

Antarctica has over 40,000 visitors a year, and with more and more research facilities being built in the continent’s tiny ice-free area, the ‘last wilderness on Earth’ is one of the planet’s least-protected regions say Dr Justine Shaw and Professor Hugh Possingham of the National Environmental Research Program’s Environmental Decisions Hub.

“Most of Antarctica is covered in ice, with less than one per cent permanently ice-free. Only 1.5 percent of this ice-free area belongs to Antarctic Specially Protected Areas under the Antarctic Treaty System, yet ice-free land is where the majority of biodiversity occurs,” says Dr Shaw. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by saypeople - June 18, 2014 at 2:00 am

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Tiny plants ride on the coattails of migratory birds

Each year 500,000 American golden-plovers (pictured) fly between Arctic N. America and South America with potentially hundreds of thousands of diaspores trapped in their feathers. (Credit: Jean-François Lamarre, CC BY SA)

Each year 500,000 American golden-plovers (pictured) fly between Arctic N. America and South America with potentially hundreds of thousands of diaspores trapped in their feathers. (Credit: Jean-François Lamarre, CC BY SA)

Main Point:

Evidence that migrant birds may be a virtual dispersal highways for plants.

Published in:

PeerJ

Study Further:

Since the days of Darwin, biologists have questioned why certain plants occur in widely separated places, the farthest reaches of North American and the Southern tip of South America but nowhere in between. How did they get there? An international team of researchers have now found an important piece of the puzzle: migratory birds about to fly to South America from the Arctic harbor small plant parts in their feathers. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by saypeople - June 12, 2014 at 4:00 pm

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Chimpanzees Spontaneously Initiate and Maintain Cooperative Behavior

The chimpanzees performing the reported cooperation task. (Credit: © Yerkes National Primate Research Center)

The chimpanzees performing the reported cooperation task. (Credit: © Yerkes National Primate Research Center)

Main Points:

Without any pre-training or restrictions in partner choice among chimpanzees, researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, found for the first time that chimpanzees housed in a socially complex, contained setting spontaneously cooperate with multiple partners of their choosing. This finding, which addresses long-standing doubt about the level of cooperation chimpanzees are able to spontaneously achieve or understand, is published in the June 12 issue of PeerJ.

Published in:

PeerJ

Study Further:

“Cooperation among primates has attracted considerable research because of the evolutionary implications that such research has for human behavior and the ubiquity of cooperation among wild primates,” says lead author Malini Suchak, PhD. “Cooperation is often regarded as less puzzling than altruistic behavior, but only in an evolutionary sense. In the moment, cooperation often consists of a series of potentially complex decisions involving a choice of partners. When multiple partners are available, an individual must consider with whom to cooperate, if that individual has been a good partner previously, how much to invest in the partner, what to expect in return and if the cooperation will yield more benefits than solitary effort,” Suchak continues.

In the study, which included Yerkes researchers Frans de Waal, PhD, Matt Campbell, PhD, and Tim Eppley, Suchak found the chimpanzees spontaneously cooperated 3,565 times over the course of 94 one-hour sessions. The chimpanzees success rate and efficiency increased over time, whereas the amount of pulling in the absence of a partner decreased, demonstrating the animals had learned they needed a partner to succeed.

Suchak’s study participants were all 11 members of a chimpanzee social group housed at the Yerkes Research Center Field Station in a large outdoor enclosure, which is a more complex environment than typical testing situations. In addition to allowing the chimpanzees to freely choose with which of their group mates they wanted to cooperate, Suchak’s study is unique because it included dyadic and triadic cooperation, and it explored the dynamics of female cooperation, all of which can help provide information on the evolution of cooperative tendencies.

The study apparatus required that one chimpanzee (in the dyadic condition) or two chimpanzees (in the triadic condition) remove a barrier in order for another chimpanzee to simultaneously pull in a tray baited with food. The apparatus was mounted to the outdoor enclosure, allowing the chimpanzees to come and go as they wanted within each one-hour session. Read more…

1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by saypeople - at 4:00 pm

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How will we produce enough food to support the world’s human population in a sustainable and safe way?

Crops (Credit:  Nicholas A. Tonelli/Flickr)Main Point:

PLOS Biology publishes new collection on The Promise of Plant Translational Research to tackle this issue.

Published in:

PLOS Biology

Study Further:

With the world’s human population predicted to reach 9 billion by 2040, the question of how will we produce enough food to support the world’s population in a sustainable and safe way is becoming increasingly urgent. Plant translational research – the leverage of basic scientific plant research discoveries into improving agriculture – has great potential to help address this challenge and ensure a brighter future for humanity.

To raise the importance of this issue and to galvanize the research community into producing high-quality studies aimed at tackling crop improvement, the Open Access journal PLOS Biology is publishing a new Collection of articles on June 10th –The Promise of Plant Translational Research. Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by saypeople - June 11, 2014 at 2:00 am

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