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Archive for August, 2008

Oekologie #18

Let me tell you, this is not the latest “I and the bird” carnival. This is really Oekologie, #18 by the way (edition #17 can be found at Reconciliation ecology). (Given the scarcity of submissions due to August being a somewhat dry month of the blogosphere, more than one post a blog is featured in this edition, and some other liberties were taken -in, not off).

This edition will thus be bird-biased, don’t take it to personality. Well, no, let’s do that. Personality is indeed an important component of fitness, and since in birds it relates to parade and mating, and at the end, is somewhat a determinant of reproduction. And birds are good models for studying this intriguing characteristic of individuals with such an evolutionary importance. To convince you, please hear about the songs of the Male European collared flycatcher, Ficedula albicollis. There’s a study telling you why bad boys are successful when it comes to dating (just perch lowly and sing). Let’s be fair to poor males (and stay ‘collar red’ in some way), not every female will react to bad boys songs (as a side note interspecies singing behaviour is apparently widespread)… And when there are too few bad boys, cooperative polyandry remains a convenient solution. Learn more about this fascinating reproductive behaviour, probably favorised by nesting spots scarcity (something many parrots have to face apparently!). Guindilgii! This might well be part of such songs that pleases (birds) so much, but that’s not. That’s rather good news for once, it’s the species epithet of an endangered parrot, and this species successfully reproduced in captivity, and a pair gave birth to three chicks at Houston zoo.

In the not-so-good news, an introduced parasite may be push the decline of Canadian native bumblebees further. Introducing bumblebees to greenhouses to increase the yields resulted in this parasite jump onto the wild pollinating species. Read more about this STD here, or here. (Just in case you would think this topic isn’t birdy at least, be aware the conclusion of the latter link is “Cover your mouth when you cough. On a chicken“. On the other hand, if you find this not birdy enough, go read about bird parasitism here). Bad times for bees it seems. What’s more, we can count with yet another invasive (if only for bee(tle)s, and wasps).. Along with the more or less pessimistic stances, the question “will the great animal migration disappear?” is raised (well, mosses will still migrate far away, at least, and storks might do it as well, as long as their population stands). On another line, “is human species a virus?“, a surrealist post at an Unreal Blog. Yep, there’s this interaction aspect in virus life, and the question whether or not viruses can be considered alive. If a virus can get sick because it is infected by another virus, does it provide a clue in this heated debate?

Apart from disease spreads, we have a couple of post dealing with the ever ongoing question of speciation (are you kidding?). Of particular interest is the ecology of speciation of course, or what do we learn about the ecological triggers behind speciating. This is sometimes hard to figure out when there’s nothing left from past but modern diversity… How to study speciation burst when fossils are not available? Begins with a phylogeny, then see if speciation rates are seemingly changing over time. Apparently, warblers did and what’s more, because of their ecological opportunism, even if this speciating success eventually decreased as niches saturated (sorry, can’t help jumping into something like “yep, they did a tree for Dendroica). Second, you may learn about yet another example of ring species from Australia: the Rosella species complex. As to ecological implications, these parrots are standing at the cross-road between blending into environment (yellow species) or keep in being sexy (redish of course).

Another very interesting story is to be found at 10 000 Birds. I let you discover where the interaction between blogging and conservation biology can meet, hopefully with a great success. Go read, and if possible, do more than reading…

And to finish with, GrrlScientist provides us with a review of Carl Zimmer‘s book, “Microcosm“, dealing with the ubiquitous and sometimes unkind Escherichia coli, a bacteria that has the guts. This book has to be good.


The next Oekologie host is apparently unknown yet, so “We need hosts for this fall! If you’re interested in hosting Oekologie on your blog, please contact us!” (contact email on the carnival’s site).

Finally, if you enjoyed this edition, I invite you to vote for a species here. I know, it’s plants down, but hey, nevermind!

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Un article intéressant critiquant les critiques franco-françaises faites au fameux classement de Shangaï… En réponse aux trois questions suscitées par son auteur:

  • Est-il possible d’établir un classement mondial objectif, quantifié, qui satisferait tous les pays avec leurs propres définitions de l’université, un classement qui rendrait compte de la qualité pédagogique et scientifique des universités et non de leur prestige?
  • Quand bien même, prestige et performance sont-ils totalement décorrélés?
  • Veut-on en France des universités mondialement prestigieuses?
  • Si oui, peut-on faire les mauvais perdants et disqualifier aussi facilement le classement Shangaï?

Non, non, non et non. Mais est-ce si curieux que cela?

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Orchids have the strangest and most fascinating blooms. Not that gardeners care. Not only that Darwin was right. But because orchids have their share of evolutionary master tricks. When it comes to reproduction, orchids always strike. You may remember how Epipactis helleborine produces a deceiving caterpillar scent to get its pollination service from wasps. Or the most widespread orchidean reproductive strategy: a flower mimicking their pollinator’s female (visually, but also via scenty insect sexual pheromones) and luring those poor male bees and wasps that desparately try to mate with a flower (usually reproducing the orchid, but not their own kind…).

Thus, many orchid flowers are just plain porn (to hymenoptera, I mean). But how far can the little critters be deceived in their mating attempt? In the Australian tongue orchids (Cryptostylis species) [1], the lure is working so far as to have their pollinators ejaculating on the flowers, and thus wasting precious gametes that would have otherwise well served them to an actual reproduction. One has to realise the cost of wasp porn… (though the abused wasps usually don’t get tricked twice).

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Bloom Zoom

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I was thinking doing this as a summary some times ago, and today I notice that it changed a lot compared to the last time I checked, so I put it rough as is, to compare with the next time I’ll consider it. This is basically the readers flow over a year (from today). I only counted the flow between the actual blogs (most probably via blog rolls), not from or to specific posts, as given in the wordpress stats.

So, here are the ten blogs sending most traffic to Seeds Aside (the list is actually ordered):

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Or at least, if it doesn’t actually improve cooking, it allows for saving energy. Read more here.

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Please check summers editions for:

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