Category Archives: Plants & Animals

Move Over Birds, In Pacific Northwest Bears Are Primary Seed Dispersers

This is the first instance of a temperate plant being primarily dispersed by mammals through their gut, and suggests that bears may influence plant composition in the Pacific Northwest. It was well-known that bears were dispersing seeds through their scat, but it was not known that they were dispersing more seeds than birds, or the relative contribution of brown and black bears to seed dispersal, or whether the two species bears were eating berries at different times of the year. (Click on title for full story.)

African Savanna Trees Protected From Elephant Damage By Beehives

Wire-netting protected trees against bark-stripping but did not prevent elephants from breaking branches. Beehives proved to be the more effective mitigation method for elephant impact on large trees, although the presence of beehives did not prevent elephants from moving through the study site. The financial cost and maintenance required for the beehive mitigation method are greater than that of wire-netting, but the beehives can provide honey as an additive benefit on a small-scale usage level. (Click on title for full report.)

Plants, Choosing Adaptations That Will Lessen Reproduction, Benefit Their Community

“We looked at how chemical defense cues from plants, meant to deter herbivores, can also deter pollinators, The surprising model result is that while this can lead to fitness losses for individuals, the population effects can be positive for pollinators and plants under some circumstances.” (Click on title for full story.)

When Both Caterpillars And Aphids Attack Plants, The Plant Has To Make Defense Choices

Scientists describe two surprising discoveries: that plants prioritise the protection of flowers over leaves, and that simultaneous attack by aphids, caterpillars and bacteria leaves plants vulnerable to aphids but more protected from caterpillars. (Click on title for full story.)

When Trees Have Ants As Defenders Their Partners May Be Heroes Or Something Much Less

Each colony could be characterized by a behavioral type score along a docile-aggressive axis, with higher scoring colonies being more active, responsive, and aggressive than those with lower scores. Furthermore, colony behavioral types were correlated with their host plants’ health such that trees containing more aggressive colonies also exhibited less leaf damage. (Click on title for full story.)

Mysterious Pollination Story Of Otherwise Common Houseplant Discovered

The mysterious flowers of Aspidistra elatior are found on the southern Japanese island of Kuroshima. Until recently, scientists thought that A. elatior has the most unusual pollination ecology among all flowering plants, being pollinated by slugs and amphipods. However, direct observation of their ecosystem has revealed that they are mainly pollinated by fungus gnats, probably thanks to their resemblance to mushrooms. (Click on title for full story.)

New Seed Dispersal Strategy In non-photosynthetic Plants Discovered: Crickets Ingesting Seeds

Insects have not been considered as internal seed carriers before because due to the small size of their bodies and mandibles, it was thought that they chewed up the seeds. However, the seeds of non-photosynthesizing plants are extremely small, so they can pass through the digestive system unharmed (Click on title for full story.)

To Monarch Butterflies, My Milkweed Patch May Be More Attractive Than Yours

A team of researchers has discovered that milkweed plants in farmland have 3 ½ times more monarch butterfly eggs than milkweed growing in urban gardens, natural areas and roadsides. They also found that monarchs prefer small patches of the plant to larger ones. (Click on title for full story.)

The Smallest Bees May Hold The Biggest Hope For Trees Facing Climate Change

To the biologists’ surprise, the smallest bees managed to cover distances just as far as their larger pollinating cousins, frequently acting as tiny matchmakers for trees separated by more than a mile (>2 km). In fact, in half of the cases where a pair of trees separated by a significant distance created a fruit together, the pollen had been carried by a bee no bigger than a grain of rice. (Click on title for full story.)

Agricultural Fields With Cover Crops A Haven For Wildlife

We think cover crops, such as cereal rye, likely provide migrating birds with more vegetation and a safe area to escape from the elements and from predators, Cover crops also increase insect abundance, another food source for birds. The increased number of insects allows migrants to fuel up faster and move on to their breeding grounds. (Click on title for full story.)