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Latest Herbivore Stories

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2009-11-02 07:12:31

Moose eat plants; wolves kill moose. What difference does this classic predator-prey interaction make to biodiversity? A large and unexpected one, say wildlife biologists from Michigan Technological University. Joseph Bump, Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich report in the November 2009 issue of the journal Ecology that the carcasses of moose killed by wolves at Isle Royale National Park enrich the soil in "hot spots" of forest fertility around the kills, causing rapid microbial and fungal growth...

2009-08-04 09:51:37

Chemicals camouflage bugs, pitcher plant colors don't help attract prey, specialist caterpillars survive better than generalistsAnimals and plants communicate with one another in a variety of ways: behavior, body patterns, and even chemistry. In a series of talks at the Ecological Society of America's annual meeting, to be held August 3-7 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, ecologists explore the myriad adaptations for exchanging information among living things.Bugs pretending to be ants are...

2009-07-22 09:38:23

Many animal species such as snakes, insects and fish have evolved camouflage defenses to deter attack from their predators. However research published in New Phytologist has discovered that trees in New Zealand have evolved a similar defense to protect themselves from extinct giant birds, providing the first evidence of this strategy in plant life."Plants are attacked by a bewildering array of herbivores and in response they have evolved a variety of defenses to deter predators such as thorns...

2009-07-15 14:27:37

U.S. biologists say they've determined some sexually produced plants better withstand insect attacks than do asexually produced plants. North Carolina State University and Duke University researchers said the finding is an important step toward learning more about how plants have evolved defenses against insect herbivores. In the study, the researchers performed laboratory and field experiments on evening primrose (Onagraceae), a plant family that has 259 different species -- 85 percent of...

2009-07-13 17:13:32

Why do some plants defend themselves from insect attacks better than others? New evidence shows that the difference might be due to whether they're getting any plant love.In research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists from North Carolina State University and Duke University discovered that sexually produced evening primrose plants withstand attacks from plant-eaters like caterpillars better than plant relatives that reproduce by themselves.The findings...

2009-06-24 09:04:27

U.S. and Japanese scientists have discovered plants can communicate danger to their clones or genetically identical cuttings planted nearby. University of California-Davis Professor Richard Karban and Kaori Shiojiri of Kyoto University found sagebrush responds to cues of self and non-self without physical contact. Karban said the sagebrush communicated and cooperated with other branches of themselves to avoid being eaten by grasshoppers. The scientists said they suspect the plants warn their...

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2009-06-20 08:22:43

"To thine own self be true" may take on a new meaning"”not with people or animal behavior but with plant behavior. Plants engage in self-recognition and can communicate danger to their "clones" or genetically identical cuttings planted nearby, says professor Richard Karban of the Department of Entomology, University of California, Davis, in groundbreaking research published in the current edition of Ecology Letters. Karban and fellow scientist Kaori Shiojiri of the Center for Ecological...

2009-04-14 10:31:20

U.S. entomologists say a careful choice of nitrogen-fixing bacteria might provide soybean farmers protection against an invasion of soybean aphids. Pennsylvania State University researchers said soybeans are legumes -- plants that can have a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria called rhizobia and therefore do not need additional nitrogen fertilizer. Each type of legume -- peas, beans, lentils, alfalfa -- have their own rhizobia. Soybeans are from Asia and so there were...

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2009-03-01 09:02:53

Ever since insects developed a taste for vegetation, plants have faced the same dilemma: use limited resources to out-compete their neighbors for light to grow, or, invest directly in defense against hungry insects. Now, an international team of scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the Institute of Investigaciones Fisiol³gicas y Ecol³gicas Vinculadas a la Agronomía (IFEVA) has discovered how plants weigh the tradeoffs and redirect their...

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2008-12-22 14:50:00

Scientists are discovering that bees can be good for plants in more ways than one. German researchers have discovered that the flapping of bees' wings scares off caterpillars, reducing leaf damage. Many wasp species lay their eggs in caterpillars, and so caterpillars have evolved to avoid them. The sounds of bees' and wasps' wings are similar. Researchers suggest this is an added bonus of having bees around, as well as the pollination they provide. The scientists wrote in the journal Current...


Word of the Day
grass-comber
  • A landsman who is making his first voyage at sea; a novice who enters naval service from rural life.
According to the OED, a grass-comber is also 'a sailor's term for one who has been a farm-labourer.'