Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Sweeping study finds big landscape changes on the fringes of Europe’s protected areas

Quaint cobblestone towns and green pastures dot the Pyrenees Mountains, at the gates of Catalonia’s Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park. Hike a few miles into the park, though, and the Spanish landscape of trickling rivers and montane … Continue reading

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Nitrogen-fixing bacteria talk to soybean roots via tiny RNAs, suggesting new avenue to improve yields

In order for soybean plants to get their necessary dose of nitrogen, they partner with bacteria called rhizobia, which can convert atmospheric nitrogen into organic forms the plant can use. But scientists don’t have the full picture of what facilitates … Continue reading

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By separating life stages, metamorphosis may circumvent harmful evolutionary tradeoffs

  There’s no guarantee evolution will bestow the best version of every trait. The benefits of one trait may impose a cost when an unfavorable trait, correlated genetically, comes along for the ride. In a recent study on wood frogs (Rana sylvatica) … Continue reading

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Climate disasters fuel only a small boost in green energy investments

  In the wake of devastating floods in Germany in 2013, some affected householders recognized the connection between extreme weather and climate change and sought out green energy sources, according to analyses of insurance payouts and Internet searches conducted by … Continue reading

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Honeybee queens influence offspring caste through egg size

Queen bees have surprising sway over the future development of their eggs, a recent study reports. The reigning bee matriarch lays larger eggs in the wax honeycomb cells where workers raise new queens as compared with the eggs laid in … Continue reading

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New protein structure reveals hotspot for cystic fibrosis drug binding

  The newly revealed structure of a cystic fibrosis drug, captured in tandem with its target channel protein, could help scientists design better medications for the condition. Cystic fibrosis results from mutations in the gene for the cystic fibrosis transmembrane … Continue reading

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Predators can harm rather than help biodiversity

  Rich biodiversity depends on the ability of species to coexist. And yet, ecologists are still grappling with the requisite mechanisms. Recent findings published in Nature suggest that predators might not be as helpful a driver of species coexistence as … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Psychological tasks in the lab are poor predictors of real-world self-regulation

Skipping dessert to stay healthy, saving money for a rainy day, not shouting at your boss even when there might be good reason—psychologists group these and other human behaviors under the large umbrella of “self-regulation.” That is, despite the near-term … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Protozoan predators help pinpoint how evolution and ecology shape predator-prey dynamics

A hungry lynx bounds after a scampering hare. Occasionally the lynx secures its catch. Often, it doesn’t. For ecology students, this back and forth battle is the textbook example of an ecological process driving predator–prey population dynamics. The predator population … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Neurons fire in sync, helping elucidate the biological basis of learning

Our brains change as we learn. But how exactly does a cluster of neurons change their activity or connections? It seems the phenomenon is due, at least in part, to neurons starting to fire in sync, according to a recent … Continue reading

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