Strange Sea Creatures: the Cephalopods

Strange Sea Creatures: the Cephalopods

Horizontal pupils slit the bulbous eyes swivelling in a large alien head, floating above a bizarre tangle of arms rippling with color. Some species glow, others can kill you with a poison they don’t even make, but how much do you know about the basic morphology of these charismatic creatures?  

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What's in a Name?

What's in a Name?

Fungal taxonomy may not be the world's most exciting subject, but those whom it does interest approach it with a passion. Over centuries of identification, classification, intense debate, and re-classification, even the most obscure fungi can end up with colorful histories that raise important philosophical questions about how we deal with the problem of naming things. Take a journey into the past with a shelf fungus called Ganoderma applanatum and see biology evolve from a gentleman's hobby into a complex science.

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Molecule of the Month: Anthocyanins

Molecule of the Month: Anthocyanins

Those of us living in temperate climates are all too familiar with the change of the seasons, but how much do we know about the biochemical changes that result in this vivid change in scenery? This FTDM post describes one of many molecules involved in leaf color composition: anthocyanins.

Photo credit: How Stuff Works

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Following the motion of the ocean

Following the motion of the ocean

For those of us who live near the ocean or a large body of water, we follow the motion of the ocean; we plan our fishing trips around it, we SCUBA dive in, and we also predict on how devastating a potential coastal flooding could be. Governed by the sun, moon, and earth's rotation, natural forces like tides affect not only how us humans plan, but also how marine animals live. Learn about these natural forces and how it sets life by (and in) the ocean to a rhythm and in motion. 

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How to Travel Through Time With DNA

How to Travel Through Time With DNA

An organism's genome is much more than a blueprint for its development. All along the double helix lie remnants of its ancestors, the half-buried and weather-scarred bricks of the evolutionary road its lineage traveled. In this post, learn how genes from modern fungi were used to determine the origin of the white rot group, which was responsible for solving an ancient environmental crisis.

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Swimming with Sharks

Swimming with Sharks

When the tide gets really low in a secluded cove in La Jolla, California, the dorsal fins of leopard sharks loom menacing out of the water – sometimes, a hundred at a time. Despite knowing leopard sharks are harmless, the sight of their 8 feet long bodies darting through the shadows is still way too close for comfort. Learn about sharks, how they gained their popularity (and how they are not as menacing as they look) and how the U.S. is currently working to protect Pacific sharks and the Pacific Ocean.

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Forests: Young and Old

Forests: Young and Old

I’ve touched on the topic of succession in a few of my posts.  Here I will delve a little deeper into the mechanics of an aging plant community. When I began to learn more about forests and trees, I wondered: how it is that an “old” forest has not only bigger and taller trees, but different kinds of trees? Why does a hemlock like to grow in old forests, and a birch like to grow in young ones? 

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Mutualism of the Month: Nectar robbers and pollinating birds

Mutualism of the Month: Nectar robbers and pollinating birds

This month’s mutualism is between the nectar-robbing purple sunbird Nectarina asiatica and a small flowering tree, the desert teak Tecomella undulata, particularly how the purple sunbird impacts the relationship between desert teak and its two pollinating birds: the red-vented bulbul Pycnonotus cafer and the white-eared bulbul P. leucotis.

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"Green thing eaten raw"

"Green thing eaten raw"

Thousands and thousands of years ago, humans began domesticating plants and animals. This happened independently in at least seven areas worldwide as people transitioned from hunter gathering to agrarian societies. Mesoamerica was one of these seven regions, and the birthplace of many beloved foods, including maize, beans, cocoa, cotton and today’s topic: squash.

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