Mating mix-up with wrong fly lowers libido for Mr. Right. Duke Today, March 16, 2017. If you’ve ever suffered a nightmare date and were hesitant to try again, fruit flies can relate. Female flies that have been coerced into sex by invasive males of the wrong species are less likely to reproduce with their own kind later. Invasive species are known to threaten native biodiversity by bringing in diseases, preying on resident species or outcompeting them for food. But these results show invasives pose a risk through unwelcome advances, too. Picked up by The Discovery Files, a podcast from the National Science Foundation.
Lemur DNA paints a picture of Madagascar’s forested past. Duke Today, July 18, 2016. While there’s no question that human activities such as logging and slash-and-burn agriculture have dramatically altered Madagascar’s forests since the first settlers arrived about 2000 years ago, just how much of the island was forested before people got there remains a matter of debate. Now, a DNA study of tree-dwelling mouse lemurs suggests that humans did not arrive to find the island as blanketed by forests as frequently assumed. Picked up by the Daily Mail, the Christian Science Monitor and the Washington Post.
Why bearcats smell like buttered popcorn. Duke Today, April 13, 2016. The bearcat. The binturong. Whatever you call this shy, shaggy-haired creature from Southeast Asia, many people who have met one notice the same thing: it smells like a movie theater snack bar. Most describe it as hot buttered popcorn. And for good reason — the chemical compound that gives freshly made popcorn its mouthwatering smell is also the major aroma emitted by binturong pee, finds a new study. Picked up by Huffington Post, Scientific American, Discovery News, National Geographic, NPR in Boston, New York Magazine, the Daily Mail, Science News and Popular Science.
Fossil expert and primate conservationist Elwyn Simons dies at 85. Duke Today, March 9, 2016. Duke scientist-explorer Elwyn Simons, who studied living and extinct primates for more than 50 years, died in his sleep on Sunday, March 6, in Peoria, Arizona. He was 85. Widely regarded as the founder of modern primate paleontology, Simons was an expert on the history of primates leading up to humans. Simons’ fossil-hunting expeditions and primate conservation work took him all over the globe, from the badlands of Wyoming to the Egyptian desert and the rainforests of Madagascar. From 1961 to 2012, he led more than 90 field expeditions and wrote or coauthored more than 300 books and research articles. Picked up by The New York Times.
No single explanation for biodiversity in Madagascar. Duke Today, October 10, 2014. No single “one-size-fits-all” model can explain how biodiversity hotspots come to be, finds a study of more than 700 species of reptiles and amphibians in Madagascar.By analyzing the distribution of Madagascar’s lizards, snakes, frogs and tortoises, researchers find that each group responded differently to environmental fluctuations on the island over time. The results are important because they suggest that climate change and deforestation in Madagascar will have varying effects on different species.
Matching gifts mean new set of wheels for SAVA Conservation in Madagascar. Duke Lemur Center, June 23, 2014. Lemur researcher Erik Patel will be the first to tell you that driving in Madagascar is not for the faint of heart. Paved roads are rare. Street lights are nonexistent. Torrential rains turn dirt roads to solid mud for many months of the year. Bridges wash out, and just as quickly as they are repaired, seasonal cyclones wipe them out again. A generous matching gift won’t make the road conditions in Madagascar any less rugged, but it will allow members of Duke’s SAVA Conversation initiative to get around and manage a growing number of projects more safely, cost-effectively, and with fewer headaches than before.
N.C. Zoo works without borders. Raleigh News and Observer, September 20, 2010. Researchers at the NC zoo use high tech tracking tools to save wildlife and wild places far beyond the park gates.
Africa’s rarest monkey had an intriguing sexual past, DNA study confirms. National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, November 9, 2009. Results may help to set conservation priorities for this critically endangered species. Picked up by National Geographic and MSNBC.