Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Interdisciplinary study brings a humanist perspective to research on land use change

Decades ago, Brazil’s northeastern State of Bahia produced much of the world’s cocoa for chocolate. Most farms grew their cacao trees interspersed with other native trees, in dense agricultural forests. Children played at the forest edges. Today those children are … 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

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

Plants sense temperature with help of elegant protein

How plants sense temperature is a longstanding and little-understood question. Researchers have discovered some of the mechanisms involved. A recent study in Nature adds a new mechanism—among the first in which the biophysical behavior of a single protein regulates the … Continue reading

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Inner Workings: Researchers race to develop in-home COVID-19 testing, a potential game-changer

For most people, a COVID-19 test entails a swab up the nose in a doctor’s office or drive-in site. The sample then goes out to a lab. Results come back within a few days to a week—a waiting period that’s … Continue reading

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The hippocampus has brief but critical role in early task learning

How the brain learns new tasks is among the biggest and oldest questions in neuroscience. A recent study in Nature Neuroscience offers a new, potentially key part of the answer: the dorsal hippocampus is involved in the earliest stages of … Continue reading

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Insects, not just wind, offer an ancient mechanism of orchid seed dispersal

On Yakushima Island, at the southern tip of Japan, an orchid employs a very unusual strategy to disperse its seeds. Crickets visit the orchid at night, eat its fruits, and defecate the seeds in the vicinity. The discovery, reported recently … Continue reading

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Satellite monitoring may help preserve the Chesapeake Bay by improving farming practices

  Restoring the Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s largest estuary, has for decades proven to be a fraught enterprise, beset by the interests of researchers, farmers, anglers, multiple governments, and a host of others. A new approach, recently reported in Remote … Continue reading

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Deep-sea mussels still show biological rhythms tracking sunlight, tides

Like many land animals, marine organisms follow daily and seasonal clocks—in the water, those clocks are set by the cadence of the sun and the moon. But researchers hadn’t known if deep-sea creatures also exhibit biological rhythms, tucked away in … Continue reading

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Future choices may be guided by our memories of past ones

When it comes to making choices, past decisions may play a surprisingly large role. The traditional view of decision-making is that our choices are guided by what we remember about the outcomes of previous choices we’ve made. But in recent … Continue reading

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People who are likely to dismiss journalism as “fake news” tend to believe the world is predictable

The notion of “fake news” spread like wildfire in the United States after the 2016 election. Recent research in Psychological Science tried to determine what psychological factors drove this concept—generally defined as the suspicion that politically-biased news outlets produce deliberately … Continue reading

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PREVIEW Editorial: Scientific versus Public Debates: A PNAS Case Study

Douglas S. Massey1 and Mary C. Waters2,3 1. Office of Population Research, Princeton University, Wallace Hall, Princeton, NJ 08544 USA 2. To whom correspondence may be addressed. Email: mcw@wjh.harvard.edu 3. Department of Sociology, Harvard University, 540 William James Hall, 33 … Continue reading

Categories: Editorial | Social Sciences | Statistics | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments