Journal Club

Highlighting recent, timely papers selected by Academy member labs

Category Archives: Animal Behavior

To find zoonotic viruses, researchers seek genomic signatures of virus adaptations to hosts

In light of the ongoing pandemic, researchers have stepped up efforts to identify new zoonotic threats—viruses that could make the leap from animals to humans and cause future epidemics. Studies aiming to identify such viruses often focus on a novel … Continue reading

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Using helpers, desert birds hedge their bets to weather variable conditions

Unpredictable environments can help explain the evolution of cooperative behavior, according to a decade-long study of birds in the Kalahari Desert. The research showed that white-browed sparrow-weavers (Plocepasser mahali) work to raise the offspring of other birds as a strategy … Continue reading

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Robot swarms communicate best when messages spread neighbor to neighbor

In the not-so-distant future, swarms of robots could help contain environmental disasters such as wildfires, by locating and dousing the most dangerous patches, even as flames move and spread. But how would these individual robots coordinate effectively to pull off … Continue reading

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Newly observed forces help geckos stick to surfaces

Even the most advanced glues can’t match the remarkable toe of the gecko: Its impressive stickiness can be quickly deactivated and can support much more than the animal’s weight as it runs across surfaces smooth or rough, wet or dry, … Continue reading

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How an animal’s teeth can reveal where it’s been

  A careful measurement of isotope ratios in animals’ teeth could offer a new way to closely track their movements, according to a recent study that showed how the approach would work in Mongolian sheep and goat herds. Tooth enamel … Continue reading

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Model suggests how evolution shapes ecological networks among species

The natural world is filled with networks. Predator and prey, flower and pollinator—each interacting pair forms a link in a networked community of organisms. Now, a French research team has developed a model that explores how evolution may help shape … Continue reading

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For camouflaged animals, a quick dash is best to avoid detection

A hunting falcon flying over a field might not see a camouflaged rabbit hidden in the grass. But if that rabbit loses its nerve and runs, then the falcon will see its meal. Movement gives away even the best disguises. … Continue reading

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Dopamine-making neurons, an ongoing mystery, play a bigger role in reinforcing learning than in initiating action

Deep in the midbrain, one type of neuron has two crucial jobs when it comes to acting while anticipating a reward—a state also known as Pavlovian conditioning. Called dopaminergic (DA) neurons, they can link a signal, such as a sound … Continue reading

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For choices involving uncertainty, the brain simplifies the math that drives our decisions

Every day, people make countless decisions, big and small: Should I buy that new house? Do I want chocolate or vanilla ice cream? A recent study suggests that when faced with uncertainty regarding a choice, how a person evaluates their … 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: Researchers catch the mouse brain in the act of learning something new

Neurobiologists have captured, for the first time, the moment in a mouse’s brain when it first learns something new: in this case, that a beep signals a delicious droplet of sugar water. The results, recently reported in Nature Neuroscience, support a famous … Continue reading

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