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Poorly camouflaged insects can kick off a cascade of ecological impacts

Posted in Science on 29th Dec, 2013 01:19 AM by AlexMuller

The scientists found that a walking stick insect that is not well camouflaged is more likely to be eaten by birds, and in turn, those birds are then also more likely to feast on the spiders, caterpillars, plant hoppers, ants and other arthropods living on the same plant.


The resulting overall reduction in bugs living on the plant also means that the plant itself was less likely to be attacked by sap-feeding insects.

“Our study shows that the evolution of poor camouflage in one species can affect all the other species living there and affect the plant as well,” said Tim Farkas, lead author of the study published in the journal Current Biology. “It’s intuitive, but also really surprising.”
Farkas led the study as an ecology and evolutionary biology doctoral student in Assistant Professor Patrik Nosil’s lab at CU-Boulder. Nosil and CU-Boulder doctoral student Aaron Comeault are also study co-authors. All three have since moved to the University of Sheffield in England.
Evolution is often thought of as a process that unfolds slowly over centuries if not millennia, as individuals with genetic advantages have a greater chance of surviving to pass down their genes to the next generation.
But scientists are increasingly identifying instances when evolution works on a much shorter time scale. An oft-cited example of rapid evolution is the peppered moth. The light-colored moths were historically able to camouflage themselves against lichen-covered tree bark in England. A darker variant of the moth existed but was more rare, since birds were able to easily spot the dark moth against the light trees. But during the industrial revolution, when soot blackened the trees, natural selection favored a darker variation of the moth, which began to flourish while the light-colored variant became less common.

Tags: evolutioncamouflageecologynatureenvironmentanimalsinsects

Read original article » Back to category


Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-29
Nice study describing evolution at work with some interesting examples- story about dark variant of English moth is one of them
1 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-29
Yes, they combined experimental and observational data with mathematical modeling to show that evolution causes ecological effects and that it does so under natural conditions Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-12-29
This is interesting and, as they say in the article, evolution on such a rapid scale opens up the possibility that the process could have ecological effects in the short term. They propose very appropriate term for this: “eco-evolutionary dynamics.” Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-06-30
The MintChip digital currency will work on the internet,Officially part of the challenge! Really excited to start playing with this new technology-- matt (@BeardedInventor) Just got word that my MintChip dev kit is in the mail And my old mobile developer hat still fits-- Alex W (@malexw) Developers have until July to submit their concept and submissions will be judged by public voting and a panel of judges including Google and eBay executives and CBC's senior business correspondent Amanda LangThe grand-prize winning application will receive about $17000 in gold from the Mint The winners will be announced mid-September Would you use virtual currency Why or why not Do you make low-value transactions on the internet Why or why not What do you buy Let us know in the comments section be Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-09-22
STORY WRITTEN FOR & USED WITH PERMISSIONPosted: June 19, 2014 Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev conducted an extended seven-hour 23-minute spacewalk outside the International Space Station Thursday, installing a telemetry antenna, repositioning an experiment and jettisoning a mounting fixture after moving another experiment to a recently installed payload boom. One of the cosmonauts is seen outside the space station during Thursday's spacewalk. Photo credit: NASA TV/Spaceflight Now"We had fun today," one of the cosmonauts said from inside the Pirs airlock."That is for sure," someone else said. A Russian flight controller offered apologies "if we made you work too hard."The excursion began at 10:10 a.m. EDT (GMT-4) and ended at 5:33 p.m. when the cosmonauts returned to the Pirs airlock and docking compartment. The spacewalk ran longer than the expected six-and-a-half hours because of minor but time-consuming problems with a balky latch and a tight bolt holding the jettisoned mounting fixture in place.The new phased array antenna was mounted on the hull of the Zvezda command module to facilitate high-speed telemetry between the space station and flight controllers at the Russian mission control center near Moscow.Skvortsov and Artemyev had problems getting one of three latches secured and in the end used cable Reply


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