The Aztecs were once a great sprawling civilization, until they were brought low by a pestilence that devastated the native population of Mexico. And a pair of studies now suggest that it may have been caused by a deadly form of samonella from Europe.
Read about it over at Nature!
An interesting new article in the Journal of Functional Ecology asks this question, trying to see pollination from a pollinators perspective.
Read about it here!
Yes, you read that correctly. There are bees. In the ocean.
Well, sort of. Similar to land plants, sea grasses need pollinating. But it’s long been assumed that pollination is facilitated by the current, and the pollen just floats from one plant to the next.
But it turns out that some crustaceans are actually pollinating the grass. Making them the bees of the ocean.
Read about it here!
“Rodents Of Unusual Size? I don’t think they exist.” -The Princess Bride
While Wesley might have been on to something, he missed the mark a bit. Despite all the horrors we associate with rats that are blatantly untrue, “the rat problem” still represents a perfect nightmare.
They are intimately associated with humans (wherever we go, rats follow). And despite centuries of trying to eliminate our foe, we are losing this war, in a big way.
One of the big problem is rats fertility. A female rat can copulate dozens of times a day, and ovulates ever 4 days. Left alone, a male and female pair can produce 15,000 offspring in a year. So is it time to put rats on the pill? Scientists may have found one that works!
Read about the war, the disturbing war with rats, and the solutions (fingers crossed) over at the Guardian.
Working with snails was easy. They are easy to catch, easy to keep alive, and people are largely not interested in them.
Bees, however, are a challenge. They are picky about the weather, they fly around and people are coming out of the woodwork to talk to me about them. I’ve never met so many people who are engaged about bees.
So much so that after my recent Notes from the Field post, a friend sent me an article from NPR. That’s right, NPR wrote an article about things I’m working on.
Read about bees and viruses over at NPR!
Friend and sometime contributor, Devin Drown, has recently started up a research program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (Congrats Devin!). And this summer he lead an army of undergraduates on a series of interesting projects near or above the Artic Circle.
Sadly, coordinating and advising an army of undergraduates doesn’t leave too much time for writing blog posts. But he has kindly sent me these interesting snippets from the field. Check them out!
Toolik Field Station to use MinION sequencing.
Fairbanks Permafrost Experiment Station
Gathering Ancient DNA from Permafrost
Have you recently flown into the US from abroad? On the landing card it asks if you’ve been in contact with things should not be brought into the US.
Have you encountered agriculture or been on a farm?
Have you been exposed to people coughing ebola?
And then one slightly odd question that gets overlooked:
Are you carrying snails? (paraphrasing here)
This is because snails are actuallly really deadly. Or more specifically they are a vector for some really deadly parasites. Read about it, and how to control the snail/parasite spread over at Science Friday.