Rapid adaptation in a life history trait

November 8, 2018

Life history traits are closely linked to fitness so that selection often leaves only little room for variation. Take an organism in an environment where the optimal offspring number is ten. Perhaps the organism cannot feed more then ten offspring, and trying to raise more would result in the death of all offspring. On the

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Hosting @realsci_de – science communication via Twitter

October 25, 2017

Lending ants an ear – please welcome our new curator @VolkerNehring over at German-language @realsci_DE! https://t.co/HeEsuLmgg5 — RealScientists Mods (@RealSciMods) October 2, 2017 In October 2017 I tweeted for @realsci_de for a a week, a German derivative (warning: German tweets below) of @realscientists. These are Twitter accounts curated by real scientists and science communicators on

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Chemical strategies of social parasites

August 21, 2015

Social parasites enter social insect colonies and harm their fitness. In case of the leaf-cutting ant parasite Acromyrmex insinuator, the host is essentially castrated. Of course the host colonies try to avoid this type of fate. Their nestmate recognition systems are sensitive enough to detect and reject most intruders (see the image for what happens

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Student assistants wanted

August 20, 2014

Artificial selection in mites Parasitic mite development time is a crucial adaptation to the mite hosts. We will conduct an artificial selection experiment to analyse this trait and its correlation with other important mite traits. I am looking for student assistants who will run the experiment. Daily checks of the mite lines will be required,

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Noise in chemical communication

June 11, 2014

Communication is always constrained by noise. Imagine a finch calling for mates along a busy road during rush hour. Car noise will make it quite difficult for his fellow urban birds to hear him at all. It must be all easier in a peaceful forest, don’t you think? Perhaps not. Forests are full of birds,

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Confirmation bias in behavioural experiments

June 4, 2013

The data confirmed your expectations? That’s great, you were right from the beginning – or where you tricked by what is called confirmation bias – you only saw what you wanted to see? Although the effect is typically strongest with emotionally charged subjects (think gun control), it can be a serious problem in scientific experiments

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