Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Category Archives: Ecology

Cheaters always prosper, to a point

Is it better to cooperate or cheat? To work for the good of others, or focus on yourself? This classic self vs. group conflict is a common musing of game theorists and experimental economics known as the “public goods dilemma.” … Continue reading

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Plant toxins help fight pest insects

Forests regularly get devastated by outbreaks of pest insects, whose numbers can go from virtually undetectable to extraordinarily high. Plants can release toxins as protection, but these were largely believed to play little role in fighting such outbreaks, since the … Continue reading

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Top predators can restore the health of an ecosystem

Seagrass beds are key homes for fish and many other ocean species, help protect coasts from storms and waves, and soak up carbon dioxide from seawater and the atmosphere. However, seagrass meadows are declining worldwide, often due to algae smothering … Continue reading

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Amoeba that cultivate an ecosystem of edible and inedible bacteria

The smallest farmer discovered yet is the amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum, which cultivates edible bacteria that it harvests like crops. Now scientists reveal this amoeba also raises bacteria that pump out chemical weapons that protect the farmers, report findings detailed this … Continue reading

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Refocusing needed for conservation efforts for many species

A new map of the global biodiversity of terrestrial vertebrates that is 100 times more detailed than earlier projects is now revealing where conservation efforts for mammals, amphibians, and birds might best be focused, findings detailed this week in the … Continue reading

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Reconstructing the effects of fishing on the ecology of petrels

Reconstructing long-term ecological records is always a challenge, but for the open ocean the problem can be especially vexing because animal remains don’t last, and even if they did they’d be so deep as to be very difficult to access. … Continue reading

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Bats found to host hepatitis C family of viruses

Bats can be hosts to a host of dangerous viruses, such as Ebola, SARS, Marburg, Nipah and Hendra. Now researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences report that bats are reservoirs of relatives of the hepatitis C … Continue reading

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Dams not cause of salmon decline, study suggests

In their first months at sea, salmon that have migrated through the eight dams of the Snake River are no more likely to perish than juveniles that traversed fewer dams, according to a new PNAS Early Edition paper. The finding … Continue reading

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Harvard Research Forest–Fertile soil for scientists and artists

[slideshow_deploy id=’673′]   The Harvard Research Forest might not seem like the most obvious or attractive location for creating nature photography. The trees are wrapped in cables, shrubs enclosed in plastic, and unsightly pipes run from here to there. The forest, … Continue reading

Categories: Ecology | Environmental Sciences | Plant Biology | Visual Science | Leave a comment

Sex and poison: A closer look at plant mating strategies

Plant sex just got a little more interesting. By switching mating systems, casting off the normal, play-it-safe requirement to cross breed and adopting the ability to self-fertilize, plants are more likely to evolve the ability to ramp up chemical defenses … Continue reading

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