Many genes, but two major roads to adaptation

In the course of adaptive evolution — evolutionary change via natural selection — gene variants that increase the odds of survival and reproduction become more common in a population as a whole. When we’re only talking about a single gene variant with a strong beneficial effect, that makes for a pretty simple picture: the beneficial… Continue reading Many genes, but two major roads to adaptation

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Is epigenetics totally gay?

In the light of much of what we know about evolution, human homosexuality doesn’t make a lot of sense. Available data suggests that sexual orientation has some inborn, probably genetic, basis. But it’s hard to reconcile that with the fact that gay men and lesbians aren’t, by definition, particularly interested in doing what it takes… Continue reading Is epigenetics totally gay?

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One of these moths is not like the other … but does that matter to Joshua trees?

A huge diversity of flowering plants rely on animals to carry pollen from one flower to another, ensuring healthy, more genetically diverse offpsring. These animal-pollinated species are in a somewhat unique position, from an evolutionary perspective: they can become reproductively isolated, and to form new species, as a result of evolutionary or ecological change in an… Continue reading One of these moths is not like the other … but does that matter to Joshua trees?

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We’re not missing the penis bone, we just lost it

What’s that, you say? Baculum is the technical term for the penis bone. Many mammals have one – presumably to aid in sexual intercourse. For mammals that mate infrequently, prolonged intercourse ups the chances that a particular male sires some babies. For mammals that must mate quickly, the baculum provides immediate rigidity. And for all mammals, keeping… Continue reading We’re not missing the penis bone, we just lost it

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The gold-star creationist?

The Life Sciences building at the University of Idaho. Photo by jby. Academic freedom is a bedrock principle of higher education—part of the point of having classes taught by working scholars is that, at the university level, students should be exposed to the interplay of ideas at the cutting edge of each field of study, and… Continue reading The gold-star creationist?

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In flour beetles, coevolution mixes things up

When evolutionary biologists think about sex, we often think of parasites, too. That’s not because we’re paranoid about sexually transmitted infections—though I’d like to think that biologists are more rigorous users of safer sex practices than the general population. It’s because coevolution with parasites is thought to be a major evolutionary reason for sexual reproduction.… Continue reading In flour beetles, coevolution mixes things up

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The beef I have with The Paleo Diet

I’ve heard a lot about “The Paleo Diet” lately and every time a popular news source (say NPR or ABC or Fox News or New York Times) does a piece, I cringe a little bit. For those of you who have never heard of the Paleo Diet (from Wikipedia): The paleolithic diet…is a modern nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild… Continue reading The beef I have with The Paleo Diet

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In flour beetles, coevolution mixes things up

When evolutionary biologists think about sex, we often think of parasites, too. That’s not because we’re paranoid about sexually transmitted infections—though I’d like to think that biologists are more rigorous users of safer sex practices than the general population. It’s because coevolution with parasites is thought to be a major evolutionary reason for sexual reproduction.… Continue reading In flour beetles, coevolution mixes things up

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How to celebrate Valentine’s Day: A note on the Red Queen and maintaining sexual reproduction

This year’s Valentine’s card of choice HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! As a perpetually single girl this is my favorite holiday of the year. The first and second half of those statements may appear conflicted. However, every year on Valentine’s Day, I send out glorious amounts of Valentine’s to all my single friends (See below for this… Continue reading How to celebrate Valentine’s Day: A note on the Red Queen and maintaining sexual reproduction

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Predatory Open-Access Journals?

Last summer, I worked with NESCent and Google’s Summer of Code to write a small piece of software. I think it’s quite useful for the specific thing it does and some researchers in my immediate peer group who have used it agree. I wrote up a short manuscript describing the program and very quickly got it rejected from Molecular… Continue reading Predatory Open-Access Journals?

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