Archive for January, 2009

A new plants blog. Edible. (HT Further Thoughts).


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In hard times, when monney dries out insane, budgets equilibria theory ends up threatening real positions. Universities are no exception. This is apparently what’s going to happen at the university of Leiden, where academic positions will eventually disappear soon. And guess what? All the threatened positions concern evolutionary biologists (and no molecular biologists for example). To the point that the evolutionary ecology classes will also dramatically regress  or disappear.

There’s a petition to sign, if you want to save evolutionary biology (from extinction) in the Netherlands:


Hopefully this will reverse the trend and ponder crisis effects globally among disciplines, not just this unfairly on a single one.


The following evolutionary biologists will be fired or cannot continue their research: Jacques van Alphen, Tom Van Dooren, Frietson Galis, Sacha Gultyaev, Patsy Haccou, Ken Kraaijeveld, Femmie Kraaijeveld, Hans Metz (retired, but still very active) and Rino Zandee. This list contains a Marie Curie professor of Excellence (JVA), the president of the European Society for Evolutionary Developmental Biology (FG) and the executive vice-president of the European Society of Evolutionary Biology (PH).

Although evolutionary biology will be heavily cut, molecular biology will be spared. This is part of an alarming national trend. As a result in Utrecht, which has the largest biology teaching program, hardly any evolutionary biologist is left since Gerdien de Jong retired. As a result many biology students will lack the necessary basic training in biology. Most research into the effects of climate change and biodiversity losses will need to be carried out abroad.

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This time, seeds are really aside. You may read my latest shorty posted at  the wonderful Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog… Thanks to Jeremy and Luigi, taking notice on a seedy affair and asking for my grain of salt. Amazing, for this is happening only 17 km from home (and huh, 291 km from workplace).

When I “guest-blog”, I don’t do anything in here…  Jeremy edited my draft  for the best, because it was awfully unEnglishy and filled with quite baroque sentences, I’m not in a bloggy state these days.

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Vaviblog. All around Vavilov and plant genetic resources. Check out this one too, I guess another interesting thing to keep track of!

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An, interesting, sort, of, new, collective, blog about people & labs involved in Heliconius research. Heliconius is a very interesting Genus of South American butterflies that turned into a model to study the evolution of mimicry (many species are aposematic and unpalatable, and others are mimicking the poisonous ones (while the latter are or are not unpalatable themselves).

The blog is apparently tuned so that the different teams of researchers can contribute posts so there might be many interesting readings up coming… Go check and drift around, it At heliconius.org!

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Evolving specialized pollination, where you eventually develop a complete dependence to a single pollinator species, is both a risky bet and a win-win path to success. That is, dependence is critical to your reproduction, since you will only succeed to make seeds when your pollinating pet lives around. Mind you, this is not only tricky  because you need to adjust to its needs and way of life, it’s also that you’ll only be able to expand within its own ecological niche.


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It’s so hard to just say « no! », when you happen to be a pollinator.

Because, you know, nectar is not only food. It is not only highly sweet, nor just energetic like corn syrup. Because of its high sugar contents (many oses at many doses), nectar also happens to make the delight of microbes that made the trip to the flower via insect transportation. For this reason, nectar is often getting fermented.

In other words, don’t trust pollinators when then assure you it’s just « feeding » behaviour.  They constantly understate their actual need for nectar. It’s making little lights in their reward limbic system. They’re irremediably addicted, but they would never acknowledge it.

But would it be so true as to classify some pollinators as junkies?


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