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Latest American Naturalist Stories

Predators Drive Evolution Of Poison Dart Frogs' Skin Patterns
2011-11-22 04:10:01

Natural selection has played a role in the development of the many skins patterns of the tiny Ranitomeya imitator poison dart frog, according to a study that will be published in an upcoming edition of American Naturalist by University of Montreal biologist Mathieu Chouteau. The researcher's methodology was rather unusual: on three occasions over three days, at two different sites, Chouteau investigated the number of attacks that had been made on fake frogs, by counting how many times that...

2011-10-04 12:15:46

As climate change causes temperatures to rise, the number of herbivores will decrease, affecting the human food supply, according to new research from the University of Toronto. In a paper being published this month in American Naturalist, a team of ecologists describe how differences in the general responses of plants and herbivores to temperature change produces predictable declines in herbivore populations. This decrease occurs because herbivores grow more quickly at high temperatures...

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2011-04-19 10:30:09

Precipitation and predators key in ecological regulation of infectious disease A little information can go a long way when it comes to understanding rodent-borne infectious disease, as shown by a new study led by scientist John Orrock of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and colleagues. The researchers studied wild deer mouse populations on the Channel Islands off the southern coast of California.  The mice carry a variant of hantavirus--a disease spread by rodents--called Sin Nombre...

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2010-12-02 07:48:55

What sets mankind's closest relatives "” monkeys, apes, and other primates "” apart from other animals? According to a new study, one answer is that primates are less susceptible to the seasonal ups and downs "” particularly rainfall"” that take their toll on other animals. The findings may also help explain the evolutionary success of early humans, scientists say. The study appeared online in the November 30 issue of American Naturalist. "Wild animals deal with a...

2010-11-17 13:30:32

The nine-month pregnancy in humans is influenced by the structure of the placenta, according to new research into the evolution of reproduction in mammals which ends a 100-year mystery. The study, by Durham and Reading universities, shows that babies grow twice as fast in the wombs of some mammals compared to others. The difference in growth rates appears to be due to the structure of the placenta and the way it connects mother and baby. The research has found that the more intimate the...

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2010-06-29 12:50:00

According to new research, several prehistoric creatures developed elaborate body traits in order to attract members of the opposite sex. The reason for the exaggerated crests and sails found in many fossil animals has been controversial for a while. Scientists said sails helped to regulate body temperature and that head crests helped flying reptiles steer during flight. A study said that these traits became so big because of sexual competition. An international team of researchers...

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2009-10-28 13:10:00

Scientists have discovered that one species of starfish has a remarkable strategy to avoid overheating in the sun, BBC News reported. Experts say the ochre starfish or sea star (Pisaster ochraceus) pumps itself up with cold seawater to lower its body temperature when exposed to the sun at low tide, something scientists say is equivalent to a person drinking seven liters of water before heading into the midday sun. But the researchers warn that global climate change may drastically interfere...

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2008-12-15 16:21:57

MIT researchers have created a microbial ecosystem smaller than a stick of gum that sheds new light on the plankton-eat-plankton world at the bottom of the aquatic food chain. The work, reported in the January print issue of American Naturalist, may lead to better predictions of marine microbes' global-scale influence on climate. Through photosynthesis and uptake of carbon compounds, diverse planktonic marine microorganisms "” too small to be seen with the naked eye "” help...

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2008-08-29 11:35:00

Birds and others sing; anoles are first species known to mark time through visual displays What does Jack LaLanne have in common with a Jamaican lizard? Like the ageless fitness guru, the lizards greet each new day with vigorous push-ups. That's according to a new study showing that male Anolis lizards engage in impressive displays of reptilian strength -- push-ups, head bobs, and threatening extension of a colorful neck flap called a dewlap -- to defend their territory at dawn and dusk. The...

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2008-08-18 16:43:44

Researchers trying to determine whether nature or nurture determines an ant's status in the colony have found a surprising answer. Both. Nature (that is, the ant's genetic makeup) and nurture (what it eats, for example) play a role in determining the fate of the Florida harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex badius, a resilient creature found in many parts of the southeastern United States. The research team included scientists from the University of Illinois, the University of Arizona, Linfield College...