Most predictions of how animals will move in changing climates rely on statistically relating an animal’s current location to environmental conditions. This approach ignores potentially important aspects of an animal’s biology including size, physiology, and behavior.
One of the major components of the world’s biological diversity are the differences between males and females in traits related to mating, including weapons used when competing for mates and display traits used to seduce them. Such gender differences are thought to arise because selection acts differently on each sex. The conflicting interests of males and females in reproduction are thought to be a key source of sex-specific selection on such traits.
Among humans, making yourself smell more alluring than you really are is a fairly harmless, socially accepted habit that maintains a complete perfume industry. However, it is a matter of life and death for caterpillars of large blue butterflies that dupe ant workers into believing them to be one of the ant’s own larvae.
Ecologists generally observe a positive relationship between sizes of predators and their prey, mainly because predators need to be large to eat a larger prey. But does this positive relationship hold for sizes of bacteria and their food molecules? Using a mathematical model, scientists at Michigan State University predict the opposite, an inverse relationship between sizes of bacteria and their resource molecules.
In the gene’s eye view, female mating frequency is difficult to understand. A substantial body of evidence, taken throughout the animal kingdom, demonstrates that females mate frequently, even when bouts of mating decrease offspring production. This finding is counterintuitive because we would expect natural selection to remove mating behaviors which decrease fitness. However, new research suggests that frequent mating females receive fitness benefits from an unexpected source: their daughters.
Obesity is a problem for many American consumers–and now, even our chickens are getting fat! In all animals, obesity results from an energy imbalance that occurs when more food energy (calories) is consumed than the body actually needs. The excess energy is stored mostly as fat. Over the years, poultry breeders have bred chickens that grow faster and produce more meat in response to a growing worldwide consumer demand. But modern broiler/breeder chickens don’t adequately balance their feed consumption to match their energy requirements. When these birds are given unrestricted access to feed, they will overeat and become obese.