Carnival of Evolution, February 2012

Cross-posted from Denim and Tweed.

A new edition of the Carnival of Evolution is online over at The Atavism. Highlights of the monthly roundup of online writing on all things relating to descent with modification include John Wilkins on evolutionary novelty, Anne Buchanan on disgusting evolutionary storytelling, and Bjørn Østman on Michael Behe. Also represented: recent work from this very blog, by Noah Reid and Sarah Hird. Go check it out!

Notes From the Field: Going to where the snails are, because they are not going to come to me

Lake Gunn in the fiordlands. Lots of tetraploids and triploids in there!

Hello from the land of Kiwis (the fruit, the bird and the people)! As I mentioned in my last post, I’m a coevolution nut, and down here with all the kiwis there is also an excellent system for studying coevolutionary interactions between hosts and parasites. So during the most frigid part of the terrible winter in Washington state, I take off to the sunshine and summer of the southern hemisphere to do my field work! It’s a rough job, I know.

A little over a quarter century ago, Curt Lively, noted this adorable little New Zealand snail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) has sexual and asexual forms that coexist at varying frequencies in lakes across New Zealand. This variation suggests that there are some environments where it is advantageous to reproduce asexually and some environments where it is better to be sexual.

From then on P. antipodarumhas become an excellent system to study the evolution and maintanence of sexual reproduction, a long standing debate in evolutionary biology (See Maynard Smith 1978, Williams 1975, Bell 1982, Kondershov 1988).

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