Pinpointing extinction risks for ocean animals. National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, October 23, 2012. What makes some ocean animals more prone to extinction? An analysis of roughly 500 million years of fossil data for marine invertebrates reveals that ocean animals with small geographic ranges have been consistently hard hit — even when populations are large, the authors report. Picked up by LiveScience.
Birds that live with varying weather sing more versatile songs. National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, August 3, 2012. A new study of North American songbirds reveals that birds that live with fluctuating weather are more flexible singers. Mixing it up helps birds ensure that their songs are heard no matter what the habitat, the researchers say. Picked up by the UK Daily Mail.
Extinction risk factors for New Zealand birds today differ from those of the past. National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, August 2, 2012. What makes some species more prone to extinction? A new study of nearly 300 species of New Zealand birds — from pre-human times to the present — reveals that the keys to survival today differ from those of the past. The results are important for the growing number of studies that try to predict which species could be lost in the future based on what kinds of species are considered most threatened today, the researchers say.
Why not marry your cousin? Millions do. National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, April 25, 2012.The health risks of marrying a cousin have been grossly overstated, says a new book that examines common misconceptions about cousin marriage. A better understanding of the health effects of cousin marriage could mean more appropriate marriage laws and better medical care for cousin couples and their children, says author and NESCent visitor Alan Bittles. Picked up by West Australia Today and The West Australian.
New study traces the evolutionary history of what mammals eat. National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, April 16, 2012. The feeding habits of mammals haven’t always been what they are today, particularly for omnivores, finds a new study. Some groups of mammals almost exclusively eat meat — take lions and tigers and other big cats. Other mammals such as deer, cows and antelope are predominantly plant-eaters, living on a diet of leaves, shoots and bark. But particularly for omnivores, the situation wasn’t always that way, researchers report. Picked up by NSF and NPR.
How did human brains get to be so big? Scientific American Guest Blog, February 21, 2012. New research points to an ancient energy tradeoff that meant more fuel for brains, and less fuel for muscles.
Birds in uncertain climates are more likely to stray from their mates. National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, February 16, 2012. Married people may pledge to stay faithful through good times and bad, but birds sing a different tune — when weather is severe or uncertain, a new study finds that birds are more likely to stray from their mates. The results could mean more marital strife for birds coping with climate change, the researchers say. Picked up by Discovery News, Huffington Post, Scientific American, Globe and Mail, the New York Times, and MSNBC.
The future of a fog oasis. Scientific American Guest Blog, August 19, 2011. In a fast-disappearing desert oasis, scientists are trying to bring a forest back to life – and discovering the imprint of a lost civilization amidst the vanishing trees.
Prevent invasive plant species from taking over the Eno. Duke Today, August 28, 2008. A Duke biologist is arming citizens with hand-held GPS navigation devices to mark the locations of non-native plants along state park trails while they enjoy the park.