Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Category Archives: Journal Club

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

Categories: Animal Behavior | Ecology | Journal Club | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Categories: Animal Behavior | Cell Biology | Journal Club | Neuroscience | Psychological and Cognitive Sciences | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cooperative defense against disease may have helped insects evolve complex societies

The lifestyles of insects, such as bees and wasps, range from simple solitary arrangements to more recently evolved, highly complex family social structures. One major factor that allowed social complexity to evolve may have been insects’ ability to defend their … Continue reading

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Models shift blame for Neanderthal extinction away from modern humans

Neanderthals vanished about 40,000 years ago, but the reasons for their demise remain shrouded in mystery and a source of debate among archaeologists. The timing coincides with the arrival of modern humans in Europe, which has led some researchers to … Continue reading

Categories: Anthropology | Ecology | Evolution | Genetics | Journal Club | Population Biology | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mediating conflict helps community forestry schemes succeed

Empowering people to manage the forests near their homes is one tool of sustainable development. Widely known as “community forestry,” the notion originated in the 1970s with the dream of fair, equitable, and sustainable forest use. But achieving those aims … Continue reading

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Potentially key gene has big role in natural variation of chloroplast size

Worldwide populations of Arabidopsis thaliana all have the same genes, but they vary in many traits, including the size of their chloroplasts. A recent study in Plant Physiology identified one of the genes, FtsZ2-2, contributing to the natural variation in … Continue reading

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Mouse gut bacteria cure rotavirus infection, pointing to treatment for humans

Despite available vaccines, over 200,000 children die annually from severe diarrhea cause by rotavirus, which infects intestinal cells. A recently published study, facilitated by a research team’s lucky break, suggests bacteria in the mouse gut microbiome could actually help prevent … Continue reading

Categories: Infectious disease | Journal Club | Medical Sciences | Microbiology | Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Hydrogel uses biology and light to release proteins on demand, advancing hopes for synthetic tissues

A wiggly cylinder of protein, hydrogel, and human cells, about the size of a wristwatch battery, could one day serve as a building block for synthetic tissues. The implications could be big for biological research and even organ transplants, according … Continue reading

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Common features of domestic animals suggest caveats to evolutionary theory

White patches on fur coats, floppy ears, and curly tails are some of the traits frequently seen in domesticated animals. A group of researchers has now put forth a theory as to why these traits so often evolve in association … Continue reading

Categories: Agriculture | Developmental Biology | Evolution | Genetics | Journal Club | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Categories: Animal Behavior | Evolution | Journal Club | Neuroscience | Psychological and Cognitive Sciences | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smarter birds speciate faster

Evolution favors brainier birds. The most crowded branches of the avian tree of life generally hold the most intelligent birds because larger-brained birds split into new species faster than smaller-brained ones, according to recent work published in Evolution. “Being smart … Continue reading

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