Different plant species mature at different times. Scientists studying plant communities in natural habitats call this phenomenon “complementarity.” It allows species to co-exist because it reduces overlap in the time period when species compete for limited resources. Now, in a study posted online the week of Sept. 4 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, ecologists working at Stanford’s Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve report evidence that climate change may al ter this delicate balance.
In a new study from the American Naturalist, researchers from the University of Zurich studied vocal communication between fallow deer mothers and their offspring. They found that only adult females have individually distinctive calls, meaning that fawns are able to distinguish their mother’s calls from those of other females, but mothers are not able to distinguish between the calls of their own offspring and other fawns. This is in contrast to pre vious studies and provides a novel insight into parent-offspring recognition mechanisms.
The golden age of dinosaur discovery is yet upon us, according to Peter Dodson at the University of Pennsylvania. Dodson revises his groundbreaking 1990 census on the diversity of discoverable dinosaurs upward by 50 percent, offering a brighter outlook about the number of dinosaurs waiting to be found. His findings also add evidence that dinosaur populations were stable, and not on the decline, in the time shortly before their extinction 65 million years ago.
The well-educated are significantly more open to the idea of “designing” babies than the poorly educated, according to a new study by psychologists at the University of East Anglia.
Super-high resolution optical microscopes, with powers that seemed physically impossible a decade ago, are poised to open a new era in imaging in molecular biology, according to a report scheduled for the Sept. 4 issue of Chemical & Engineering News.
A type of protein crucial for the growth of brain cells during development appears to be equally important for the formation of long-term memories, according to researchers at UC Irvine. The findings could lead to a better understanding of, and treatments for, cognitive decline associated with normal aging and diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
The amount of a hunger-fighting hormone can be increased by eating a higher protein diet, researchers report in the September issue of the journal Cell Metabolism, published by Cell Press. The hormone, known as peptide YY (PYY), was earlier found by the researchers to reduce food intake by a third in both normal-weight and obese people when given by injection.
One of the most popular alternatives in the last few years is the edible coating — a transparent film that covers the food item and acts as a barrier to humidity and oxygen. Moreover, these films can be used as a host for additives in the conservation of the properties of the product or simply in order to improve its appearance.
Psychologists have long known that memories of disturbing emotional events — such as an act of violence or the unexpected death of a loved one — are more vivid and deeply imprinted in the brain than mundane recollections of everyday matters.
The brain of the artist is one of the most exciting workplaces, and now an art historian at the University of East Anglia has joined forces with a leading neuroscientist to unravel its complexities.
In a unique approach to inflammation research, a study by researchers at UCSD School of Medicine shows that, in a model of rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation in the joints can be sensed and modulated by the central nervous system (CNS). The research suggests that the CNS can profoundly influence immune responses, and may even contribute to understanding so-called placebo effects and the role of stress in inflammatory diseases.
Using radioactive carbon and genetically modified native tobacco plants, Max Planck Society scientists and colleagues have discovered the first gene mediating tolerance to herbivore attack.
Although it’s unclear why it’s so, scientists at Johns Hopkins have linked a gene that allows for the chemical breakdown of the tough, protective casing that houses insects and worms to the severe congestion and polyp formation typical of chronic sinusitis.
The current issue of Differentiation, guest-edited by Brigid Hogan, highlights several scientific investigations into the complex biological mechanism known as branching morphogenesis. Through a series of seven laboratory reviews, important insights governing this process during animal development are revealed. The articles analyze how branching morphogenesis occurs in different organ systems in the same species. They also compare the process between simple and complex organisms.
How did our evolutionary ancestors make sense of their world? What strategies did they use, for example, to find food? Fossils do not preserve thoughts, so we have so far been unable to glean any insights into the cognitive structure of our ancestors.
However, in a study recently published in Current Biology (September 5, 2006), researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and their colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology were able to find answers to these questions using an alternative research method: comparative psychological research. In this way, they discovered that some of the strategies shaped by evolution are evidently masked very early on by the cognitive development process unique to humans.
Being able to remember and relocate particular places where there is food is an asset to any species. There are two basic strategies for remembering the location of something: either remembering the features of the item (it was a tree, a stone, etc.), or knowing the spatial placement (left, right, middle, etc.). All animal species tested so far – from goldfish, pigeons and rats though to humans – seem to employ both strategies. However, if the type of recall task is designed so that the two strategies are in opposition, then some species (e.g. fish, rats and dogs) have a preference for locational strategies, while others (e.g. toads, chickens and children) favor those which use distinctive features.
Until now, no studies had systematically investigated these preferences along the phylogenetic tree. Recently, however, Daniel Haun and his colleagues have carried out the first research of its kind into the cognitive preferences of a whole biological family, the hominids. They compared the five species of great apes – orangutans, gorillas, bonobos, chimpanzees and humans – to establish which cognitive strategies they prefer in order to uncover hidden characteristics.