Genetic Drift vs. Inbreeding

I got this question as part of my preliminary exam: “What effect does genetic drift have on inbreeding?”

It is a difficult question to answer, and one that I’ve thought on often over the years. So imagine my delight when over at the Molecular Ecologist (If you aren’t reading the Molecular Ecologist every week, you are missing out. Seriously. Go read all of it. Now) Patricia Pecnerova wrote an article addressing the complexities of this very question.

Check it out here. And read all their stuff.

merch

They are also doing a fundraising campaign, and have a cool logo (see above) which you can get on a tshirt or Mug.

The Lady Gaga of ferns, and the Spartacus of ants

Friend of the blog (and former contributor) Devin Drown is wrapping up his first year on the faculty of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he’s been teaching the Principles of Evolution course. As a final assignment, Devin’s students are contributing posts to a class blog, Evolution, Naturally — and the first couple are great!

Margaret Oliver digs into the phylogenetic data used to support the renaming of a genus of desert-adapted, clonally reproducing ferns — after Lady Gaga. It turns out that the singer’s stage name is literally encoded in the DNA sequence that helps differentiate the new genus from its closest relatives, as Oliver illustrates in the best. Phylogeny. Figure. Ever.

(Evolution, Naturally)

Oliver’s Figure 3. (Evolution, Naturally)

Meanwhile, Alexandria Wenninger explains how some species of ants steal larvae from other ant colonies and raise them as workers — and how entomologists are discovering that those kidnapped workers can resist this unasked-for reassignment.

However, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the [captured workers] are not always so oblivious to their origins, as researchers observe more and more situations of what they are calling “slave (host) rebellion”. Czechowski and Godzinska, in their recent review article, “Enslaved ants: not as helpless as they were thought to be”, identify four types of rebelling behaviors, which range from aggressive acts by individual ants to a collective uprising against the parasites.

Carnival of Evolution, April 2013

Tomorrowland at Dusk

What kind of sequencing capacity do they have in Tomorrowland? Photo by Big DumpTruck.

The April 2013 edition of the Carnival of Evolution is online over at Synthetic Daisies. This issue of the monthly collection of online writing about all things evolution-y is organized around the theme of the future of evolution—which looks to be full of exciting possibilities. There’s experimental phylogenetics and speculation about radio-sensing animals and species coming back from the dead, so maybe you should go peruse the whole thing.

Carnival of Evolution, March 2013

Carnival of Venice 2010

Welcome, readers, to the 57th Carnival of Evolution. This past month, the 204th birthday of Charles Darwin just happened to fall on Mardi Gras, a celebration of life’s exuberant excesses. So put on your most dazzling mask, and join us for an exploration of the endless forms most beautiful to be found in the living, evolving world.

Evolutionary science

In addition to Darwin Day and Mardi Gras, February is the month of Valentine’s Day. So it’s maybe appropriate that evolutionary bloggers had sex on the brain. Joachim describes new research on the specific forms of natural selection that might have supported the evolution of sexual reproduction. Right here at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense!, Amy Dapper writes about one consequence of sex, among grass gobies: “sneaker” males with specialized sperm. And Jeremy Yoder (yours truly) takes a look at daisies that attract pollinators by fooling them into mating with deceptive flower petals.

Meanwhile, Hannah Waters explains why sociable weaver birds nest together—because it pays to stay home and help their parents.

While most songbird species breed before they even turn a year old, sociable weavers rarely breed before the age of two. Instead, these younger birds help raise other nestlings–their siblings as well as unrelated chicks–by gathering food and maintaining the nest’s fluffy interior chambers and external sticks and grass.

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