Category Archives: Plants & Animals

First Things First: Moths Evolved Receptors For Plant Fragrance Before And Then Learned To Use Them Find Mates

The researchers studied the leaf miner moth, Eriocrania semipurpurella, and found that this primitive species was likely able to find its host plant, birch, with the help of plant odourant receptors located on its antennae. Subsequently, the receptors of this species evolved a novel function to sense the sex pheromones of a moth of the opposite sex. (Click on title for full story.)

Plants Outrun Pests In Defenses Competition

The results call into question some of the patterns suggested by the current paradigm for plant-herbivore coevolution. The authors propose an alternative hypothesis; while plant defenses may evolve rapidly due to selection by herbivores, herbivores may evolve more slowly. Herbivores tend to maintain the same adaptations for the species of plants that they can consume. Rather than evolve new traits, herbivores may “chase,” track, or switch hosts based on host defenses. (Click on title for full story.)

Flowers Distract Herbivores With Nectar To Protect Reproductive Parts

Nectar, the high-energy ‘honey’ produced by flowers, might be a brilliant distraction technique to help protect a flower’s reproductive parts, according to new research. Rather than merely providing a ‘come-on’ to bees and other insects to attract them to pollinate the flower, nectar could be playing a much more subtle and entrancing role. (Click on title for full story.)

Extermination Of Other Mega Fauna Leaves Parrots As Prime Amazon Seed Dispersers

The consideration of parrots, in addition to tapirs, monkeys, carnivore mammals, corvids, squirrels, large rodents and other large vertebrates as legitimate long-distance endozoochorous and especially stomatochorous dispersers of seeds that adjust to the megafaunal syndrome has deep implications in ecology, evolution and conservation of biodiversity. This evaluation is especially important due to the delicate conservation status of many of these species, both dispersers and large-seeded palms and trees. (Click on title for full story).

Preserving Trees In Pastures Helps Reptiles Survive

They often like woody debris, leaf litter and fallen logs, which further emphasises the importance of trees to ground features and the importance of retaining trees in grazed environments (Click on title for full story).

North America’s Song Birds At Greatest Risk From Central America’s Deforestation

The resulting analysis found that 21 species of eastern-flyway forest birds well known to U.S. birders—including Least Flycatchers, Tennessee Warblers, and Indigo Buntings—spend up to 200 days per year, on average, at their wintering grounds in Central America. And they really crammed into those southern forests: The migrants occurred in densities three times higher than at their summertime nesting areas. The researchers then modeled how changes in land-use (like converting forest to farmland or homes) and climate (like changes in temperature and rainfall) might affect both breeding and wintering areas by 2050. The computer models showed that, within 40 years, deforestation on wintering grounds will pose the greatest threat to these migratory species—even more so than habitat loss where they breed. (Click on title for full story.)

First Plant To Use Cockroach For Seed Dispersal Discovered

In forest ecosystems, cockroaches are known as important decomposers that consume dead and decaying plants. Quite unexpectedly, however, researchers have found that they also provide seed dispersal “services” for the plant Monotropastrum humile, a forest-floor herb belonging to the azalea family (Ericaceae). This entirely new mode of plant–insect interaction (Click on title for full story).

Night Pollinators Turned Off When Lights Turned On

When the sun goes down, moths, beetles and other nocturnal insects that spread pollen between plants go to work. But the latest research reveals that these creatures might be at risk from artificial lighting. (Click on title for full story.)

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Planting For Monarchs: Helpful Or Really A Threat To The Species?

Planting milkweed in your garden is a really feel-good thing, but it’s not really the conservation solution, (Click on title for full story.)

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Crops Control Pests By Turning Them Into Cannibals

It is not unusual for insect pests to feast on each other as well as on their staple veg, but it’s now been shown that tomato plants can team up to directly push caterpillars into cannibalism. “This is a new ecological mechanism of induced resistance that effectively changes the behaviour of the insects,” (Click on title for full story.)