On a recent trip to meet the Species File development team I had the privilege of visiting the University of Illinois Pollinatarium. This is a great outreach project geared to educate school groups (and others!) about pollinators. Of course there is plenty about bees (see video below - they have live ones) but also information about birds, bats and other creatures.
This is certainly one of the most exciting outreach projects I've seen, and the enthusiasm of the staff for this resource is infectious.
The first issue of Beetle News is available now. Haven't had time for a proper read but certainly seems pretty interesting (the focus is on UK beetles). The contents are as follows:
Editorial Review: British Scraptiidae Warwickshire Coleoptera- an update Somerset beetle records wanted Some observations on the Orange Ladybird Vivarium heat mats : a few suggested uses for the coleopterist Cassida nebulosa Linnaeus (Chrysomelidae) in flight News from recording schemes (Tenebrionoidea, Scirtidae, Stenini, Silphidae) Beetle publications for free download Beginner’s Guide Silphidae 1: Nicrophorus
The Beetle publications for free download may be worth a look, although the links are to home pages and not to the page you want.
This week Hojun Song visited the Natural History Museum, London (after also visiting Philadelphia and Paris). Hojun's website (schistocerca.org) has a lot of information on this genus. It's well worth a visit.
There is a key to 43 Schistocerca species and a photo gallery in addition to background information on ecology, plagues, taxonomy and biogeography.
The image below if of Schistocerca obscura from Hojun's site.
Saying that Daddy Long Legs are arachnids causes some issues! In North America harvestmen (order Opiliones) are known as daddy long legs, and are arachnids. In the UK the term Daddy Long Legs applies to certain crane files (family Tipulidae) which are insects.
These small crabs carry around two small anemones for self-defense. Pom pom crabs are fairly common in the aquarium trade and apparently live well in captivity, with or without their anemones. The crab shown here is Lybia tessellata, the anemones are usually of the genus Bunodeopsis or Triactis.
This is the second post I have made on peer-reviewed research. I did intend to make them more regular, and I will endeavor to do more soon.
This paper essentially deals with sexual selection (females choose the males they want to mate with) and some 'tricks' used by males to increase the likelihood of their sperm being used to fertilise the female's eggs.
The male's sperm is delivered within the seminal fluid. The seminal fluid contains a mixture of energy and nutrient rich chemicals to ensure the survival of the sperm outside of the male's body. In addition to these chemicals are proteins designed to alter the behaviour of the female. In insects these seminal fluid proteins are known to have a range of effects including "promoting sperm storage, temporarily increasing female egg-laying rate and decreasing female sexual receptivity". The effect of these (in isolation and combined) is to increase the reproductive fitness of the male by decreasing the chances of other males successfully reproducing with that female.
What the paper by Wigby et al shows is that the concentration of certain seminal fluid proteins depends on the presence of potential rivals. The researchers studied two seminal fluid proteins: ovulin (known to increase egg production) and sex peptide (known to increase egg production and reduce the probability of a female accepting a mate). The presence of a competing male caused the duration of mating to be extended and the amount of seminal fluid protein transferred to the female to be increased.
References Wigby, S., Sirot, L., Linklater, J., Buehner, N., Calboli, F., Bretman, A., Wolfner, M., & Chapman, T. (2009). Seminal Fluid Protein Allocation and Male Reproductive Success Current Biology DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.03.036
The Natural History Museum (London) recently raised over £150,000 through donations to buy the hawkmoth collection of Dr Jean-Marie Cadiou. Some of these specimens are currently on display at the museum - click here for the press release.
As any of you who keep snails as pets know, snails require a source of calcium in the diet in order to grow their shells. In captivity this id usually provided by giving the snails cuttlefish 'bone' or powdered chalk in addition to their usual diet. In the wild snails mainly get their calcium requirements from calcium slats in the soil. This explains the relatively higher concentration of slugs (compared to snails) in areas with low soil calcium.
On the suggestion of a fellow blogger I have added a link to the menu (right hand column) that gives you the option of donating money to support this blog. Blogging is not lucrative financially but does take a fair amount of time. Instead of plastering the blog with adverts I have decided to give you the option to throw some money my way if you enjoy the blog.
I don't want your life savings - just your spare change. In compensation for your donation I will accept ideas for topics to blog about. I won't make any promises - but if I know enough, or can research enough in my spare time I will write about them.