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17 October 2017

Whales and dolphins have rich ’human-like’ cultures and societies [Phys]

Whales and dolphins (Cetaceans) live in tightly-knit social groups, have complex relationships, talk to each other and even have regional dialects - much like human societies.
A major new study, published today in Nature Ecology & Evolution, has linked the complexity of Cetacean culture and behaviour to the size of their brains.

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17 October 2017

An epigenetic key to unlock behavior change [Phys]

When it comes to behaviour, researchers have moved beyond the "nature versus nurture" debate. It’s understood that genes and environment both play a role. However, how they interact at a molecular level to shape behaviour is still unclear.
A new study sheds valuable light on this relationship. The paper, published today in PNAS, reveals how epigenetics - changes in gene expression that do not change DNA - interact with genes to shape different feeding behaviours in fruit flies. This research unlocks the molecular mechanism that leads "rover" flies to forage for food more than "sitter" flies. It is the first study of its kind to show a causal link between epigenetics, genetics and behaviour.

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13 October 2017

Tropical tree roots represent an underappreciated carbon pool [Phys]

Ask someone to draw a tree and s/he will invariably draw a trunk and branches—leaving the roots out of the picture. In a unique study of tropical tree roots at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute published in PLOS ONE, roots accounted for almost 30 percent of the total biomass of young trees. The authors hope that future estimates of carbon storage and water-use by tropical forests will include information on root biomass and architecture.

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12 October 2017

A la Réunion, des moustiques stériles pour faire la guerre au chikungunya [Sciences & Avenir - Nature & Environnement]

Des chercheurs de l’île de la Réunion souhaitent introduire dans la nature des millions de moustiques tigre mâles stériles pour éradiquer cet insecte qui transmet le virus du chikungunya. Reportage.

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12 October 2017

Interspecies Hybrids Play a Vital Role in Evolution [Quantamagazine]

Hybrids, once treated as biological misfits, have been the secret saviors of many animal species in trouble. Reconciling that truth with conservation policies poses a challenge for science.

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