Bowing down to popular opinion again, I’ve changed this so that only interesting papers are put in. People complained about there being too many frivolous papers that aren’t of general interest outside of a narrow field of specialists. So from now on, I’m attempting to include only papers that aren’t specific case studies and that may be of public or interdisciplinary interest. Please understand that I have a lot of trouble relating to what other people find interesting though, so YMMV! If you prefer the old-style, let me know so I can tally up votes.
These are papers that may be of general interest published this week. No specific case studies or taxonomic papers. Papers ordered only by their appearance in my inbox. For PDFs, e-mail me, I get most of them. You can request an in-depth analysis of any paper and I’ll do it as I get the time.
Open-access papers, those that are free to read/download even without an academic connection, are tagged with [OA] for easy finding with your browser’s text search (Ctrl+F).
12 papers, 2 special issues. Breakdown below.
- Special Issues 
- Arthropods 
- Botany 
- Ecology 
- Education 
- Environmentalism 
- Evolution 
- Palaeontology 
For anyone interested in the effects of climate change on the biosphere, this special issue has several articles worth reading. Personally, I was most interested in Lurgi et al.,Rall et al., and Binzer et al.. One [OA] article, for those interested in the oceans: Blanchard et al..
I will admit that I don’t know why there is such an obsession with trying to artificially replicate photosynthesis, because at the end of the day, it’s a pretty inefficient process. Surely we can come up with something better? Maybe the thought is that once we can replicate photosynthesis, we have the foundation necessary to improve it. I don’t know. Nevertheless, a good special issue to read here. Admittedly, I only read the editorial/introduction because the actual papers are beyond my technical understanding.
- How Varroa Parasitism Affects the Immunological and Nutritional Status of the Honey Bee, Apis mellifera. [OA]
Of the many, many causes being proposed for colony collapse disorder, parasitism by Varroa mites is one of the more plausible hypotheses. They are worldwide pests of honeybees that can kill off a colony within 1 or 2 years noth through its own parasitic effect and by acting as a vector for viruses (see Yang & Cox-Foster, 2005). As such, any research into its effects on honeybees is deemed important. This paper hitns that Varroa affects the maturation of ebes during the pupal stage by limiting their nutritional resources.
You know how your mother always tells you not to run around outside naked when you’re wet? Avoiding doing such stupidity is a form of behavioural immunity – avoiding getting sick through the power of intelligence, not through the power of your internal immune system. Insects also can do this, and this paper is a thorough review of the mechanisms and behaviours they have. As an example, when an ant gets infected by Cordyceps, one of its nestmates will make sure to not let it back into the nest. This is an example of behavioural immunity – they avoid the fungus by making sure the vector never gets a chance to come into contact with them through their behaviour, not through their immune system.
See also this paper published this week for another example of behavioural immunity, also from ants: Social prophylaxis through distant corpse removal in ants.
Of interest for anyone who’s into biomaterials.
Few things are more annoying than stats used by copying from other papers rather than by understanding. This paper examines the differences brought about by different statistical measures for nestedness, so if you’re using these in your research, give this paper a read. For the uninitiated, nestedness refers to a pattern where the species in a geographical subsample are all found in a sample from the total study area. For example, perfect nestedness for an island community means that the species found on the island are all found on the closest mainland as well. See Patterson (1987) for more details.
- Scientific Thinking in Young Children: Theoretical Advances, Empirical Research, and Policy Implications.
- Within-host competition and diversification of macro-parasites.
- Evolutionary medicine: its scope, interest and potential.
A review of the field by one of the leading authorities in it. What more could you ask for?
- FAUNAL SUCCESSION OF NORIAN (LATE TRIASSIC) LEVEL-BOTTOM BENTHOS IN THE LOMBARDIAN BASIN: IMPLICATIONS FOR THE TIMING, RATE, AND NATURE OF THE EARLY MESOZOIC MARINE REVOLUTION.
The Mesozoic Marine Revolution was one of the landmark times in Earth’s history, when the characteristics of modern marine ecology fully emerged. These characteristics include a diversity of predators, infaunalisation, and intensified predator-prey arms races. Since then, the ecology of the oceans hasn’t fundamentally changed; there have only been different players, but the play has been the same (and, to be fair, some players also haven’t changed: bivalves rose to dominance back then, and they still are in that position). See Vermeij (1977) for the details. This paper is relevant and important because it shows that the Revolution has been in full swing earlier than what was previously thought, from the Late Triassic, rather than from the Jurassic. The predators had been diversifying since the Triassic, but this paper shows that their prey had also begun reacting at the same time.
Several year ago, a Devonian anomalocarid was described from the Hunsrück Slates, and in doing so extended the “great appendage arthropod” fossil record by 100 million years, past a supposed ass extinction at the end of the Cambrian. It’s a similar story here, with a “lobopod” found over 100 million years after the Cambrian. It just goes to show that what we refer to as Camrbian freaks weren’t actually evolutionary dead-end experiments; that view, which I supported when I first started studying this stuff, is slowly getting dismantled by these discoveries showing that these morphotypes were actually incredibly successful, and also goes on to stress the influence of exceptional fossil preservation on our view of evolution.
Another one to add to the Herefordshire finds that I’ve blogged about before. Jery Coyne wrote a post about the significance of the find, so I’ll spare myself the trouble. My post and his should give you all the info needed.