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Latest Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Stories

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2010-01-15 09:04:30

Figs and the wasps that pollinate them present one of biologists' favorite examples of a beneficial relationship between two different species. In exchange for the pollination service provided by the wasp, the fig fruit provides room and board for the wasp's developing young. However, wasps do not always pollinate the fig. Fig trees "punish" these "cheaters" by dropping unpollinated fruit, killing the wasp's offspring inside, report researchers working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research...

2009-12-03 21:28:36

Researchers advocate a biodiversity-focused strategy A new strategy for saving tropical forest species was published in the leading journal Science on the eve of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark, by a team of researchers, including William Laurance, senior staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and distinguished professor at James Cook University. The authors state that wealthy countries should adopt a carbon-payment...

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2009-10-19 14:27:35

A workshop at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama has dramatically improved the ability of conservationists and regulatory agencies to monitor the spread of chytridiomycosis"”one of the deadliest frog diseases on Earth. Caused by the chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, this disease is probably responsible for the extinction of nearly 100 frog species since the 1970s. During the past decade, the epidemic swept from the highlands of Costa Rica through western...

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2009-10-13 07:25:22

Smithsonian researchers working in Colombia's Cerrej³n coal mine have unearthed the first megafossil evidence of a neotropical rainforest. Titanoboa, the world's biggest snake, lived in this forest 58 million years ago at temperatures 3-5 C warmer than in rainforests today, indicating that rainforests flourished during warm periods. "Modern neotropical rainforests, with their palms and spectacular flowering-plant diversity, seem to have come into existence in the Paleocene epoch, shortly...

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2009-10-05 13:50:45

A high-speed chase across the Panama Canal in a Boston Whaler may sound like the beginning of another James Bond film"”but the protagonist of this story brandishes a butterfly net and studies the effects of climate change on insect migrations at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. "Our long-term study shows that El Niño, a global climate pattern, drives Sulfur butterfly migrations," said Robert Srygley, former Smithsonian post doctoral fellow who is now a...

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2009-10-02 10:18:15

A long-term, before and after study of Africanized bee invasion of Mexico's Yucatan shows that 'killer bees' may actually increase food resources for native bees Aggressive African bees were accidentally released in Brazil in 1957. As "killer bees" spread northward, David Roubik, staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, began a 17-year study that revealed that Africanized bees caused less damage to native bees than changes in the weather and may have increased the...

2009-08-12 15:58:00

FAIRFAX, Va., Aug. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Electronic Consulting Services, Inc., (ECS), a leading provider of information technology and system engineering services to the U.S. Federal Government, announced today that it was awarded a 5 year $270.6 million SETA contract with the U. S. Army PEO STRI. ECS will provide systems engineering and technical assistance (SETA) in the areas of acquisition and financial management, engineering, modeling and simulation, test planning and management, logistics...

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2009-06-01 11:03:18

Fungus-farming ants have cultivated the same fungal crops for 50 million years. Each young ant queen carries a bit of fungus garden with her when she flies away to mate and establish a new nest. Short breaks in the ants' relationship with the fungus during nest establishment may contribute to the stability of this long-term mutualism, according to a study at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Gamboa, Panama. "We were struck by the paradox that even though the ants transfer a...

2009-05-15 08:43:51

By snipping off parts of male genitalia and reducing genital sensation in both male and female tsetse flies, researchers induced a suite of changes in female reproduction, including reduced ovulation, reduced sperm storage and increased re-mating attempts by the females. "To the best of our knowledge, this was the first study to look at female choice following experimental manipulation of both male and female genitalia," said William Eberhard, staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical...

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2009-04-20 15:47:58

Mites not only inhabit the dust bunnies under the bed, they also occupy the nests of tropical sweat bees where they keep fungi in check. Bees and their young are healthier when mites live-in, report researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and the University of Texas at Austin. Mutually beneficial cleaning relationships have been documented for shrimps and fish that eat parasites on larger fish, but this is the first confirmation of a cleaning relationship...


Word of the Day
omphalos
  • The navel or umbilicus.
  • In Greek archaeology: A central boss, as on a shield, a bowl, etc.
  • A sacred stone in the temple of Apollo at Delphi, believed by the Greeks to mark the 'navel' or exact center-point of the earth.
'Omphalos' comes from the ancient Greek.
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