Category Archives: Plants & Animals

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How Trees Determined The Outrageous Color Difference Between Male And Female Eclectus Parrots

Eclectus parrots are making important contributions to our understanding of the complex and subtle relationships between resource allocation, ecology and evolution. Additionally, plumage color is a powerful way to gain a clearer insight into the natural history of bird species. (Click on title for full story.)

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Moth Uses Plant Toxin To Protect Mate And Off-Spring

Once he has ingested the toxin from the plant, the male is no longer tasty to his common predators, particularly spiders and bats. After gathering the poison, the moth goes in search of a female. When he finds his insect bride, they mate for nine hours. But, just before mating, the moth releases the toxin like a cloud of miniature confetti that sticks to the female. The toxin protects her while she is mating and while she lays her eggs. The female moth then passes the toxin to her eggs. The toxin deters egg-eating insects like ants and ladybugs from devouring her young. (Click on title for full story.)

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When Herbivores Attack, Plants Emit Odors Specific To The Attackers’ Predators

When they are chewed by insects or other small animals, many plants react by releasing odours to attract the insects’ enemies. A new study published in the scientific journal New Phytologist reveals that the odour bouquet changes depending on the type of herbivore that eats the plant. This helps the plant to specifically attract natural enemies that feed on the herbivores eating them. To the surprise of the researchers involved, native plants can even recognise when they are eaten by exotic herbivores. In this case, they emit a specific odour bouquet. (Click on title for full story.)

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How Forest Trees Eat Tiny Animals

But are the pine trees in this experiment “predatory plants”? In my judgment, distinctly un-sexy Eastern white pine — a common tree in the vast northern forests of this planet — might just belong on that sexy list of deadly plants too, at least with an asterisk. (Clcik on title for full story.)

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Flower Color Attracts Bees By Creating Warmer Microenvironment

A professor and research scientist , using thermocouples, and a hypodermic tissue probe, learned that these dark petals are up to 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the surrounding atmosphere when they stand in a pool of Spring sunlight. Bees, especially fuzzy females of Carlin’s bee (Andrena carlinii), prefer to forage upside down on these flowers so their hind legs and bee butts are warmed by the dark petals as they drink nectar and collect pollen (Click on title for full story.)

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A Successful Strategy To Control Asian Longhorned Beetle Infestation

The Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) is one of the 10 most dangerous quarantine pests in the world. More than 30 ALB infestations have been reported in eight European countries to date; six of these infestations have now been eradicated. In most cases, it took more than 10 years to wipe out the beetle population in large outdoor infestations. The pest has killed millions of poplar trees in China. Winterthur (Switzerland) has recently shown that it is possible, however, to eradicate even large outdoor infestations within the statutory minimum period of four years. This requires decisive action right at the start of an outbreak, because only the best and most experienced people on the ground can isolate the infested area in the first year. (Click on title for full story.)

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Birds Select Best Trees To Use As Refrigerators For Winter Food Storage

Another interesting element to note is that grey jays cache perishable food items into cracks in tree bark during the summer and autumn months. In fact, grey jays are the only bird species that we know about that routinely cache large amounts of perishable food items for long periods of time. How do these food items survive the warm summer months until the freezing temperatures of winter, when the birds consume their caches? Contrary to what you might expect; these birds are not merely caching food so they can survive harsh winters: grey jays nest and raise their chicks in the dead of winter, too. (Click on title for full story.)

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Why Would A Perfectly Nice Carnivorous Plant Subsist On Feces Instead Of Meat?

Pitcher plants grow on nutrient-poor soils, but whereas N. rafflesiana copes with this lack of nutrients by using fluid-filled pitchers to catch insect prey, N. hemsleyana has abandoned carnivory in favour of a unique and intimate relationship with the woolly bat. To provide the bat with an ideal roost, the pitchers of N. hemsleyana have evolved to perfectly fit the bat’s body. Unlike other pitcher plants they contain very little fluid. And most striking of all, the backwall of the pitcher forms a parabolic dish that aids the bat’s echolocation. In return for its roost, the bat hunts and pre-digests the insects, depositing them as faeces in the pitcher. To measure the costs and benefits of this mutualism, Schöner selected plants from both species in the field. When they produced new pitchers, she blocked them with cotton wool and cling-film to prevent bats or insects from entering. (Click on title for full story.)

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The Unsung Seed Disperser: The Galápagos Land Iguana

We knew that female iguanas on this island cover large distances, around 10 kilometres, and climb up to 1,500 metres of altitude to lay their eggs at the island’s volcanic crater. The researchers were able to collect 160 iguana faeces samples. They were able to identify 5,705 seeds from 32 plant species. (Click on title for full story.)

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African Farmers Tend Cacao Planted By Wild Chimpanzees

This research has highlighted the possibility that the dispersal of crops by animals at other sites has the potential to positively impact the ability of wildlife to coexist in human-impacted habitats, especially if farmers gain economic benefits through the wildlife’s dispersal of crops. (Click on title for full story.)