Martha Munoz settles decades-old evolutionary biology question

From VT News:

Evolution can be both stimulated and halted by an animal’s behavior, it just depends which trait you’re talking about, according to a groundbreaking study led by a Virginia Tech researcher.

The study, published Oct. 25 in the journal American Naturalist, shows behavior can be both a brake and a motor for evolution in a manner where slowing evolution in one trait actually requires accelerating evolution in another, according to Martha Read More →

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Joel McGlothlin’s research on snake resistance to tetrodotoxin featured in the Atlantic Magazine

From VT News

A select group of garter snakes can thank their ancestors for the ability to chow down on a poisonous newt and live to tell the tale.

Common garter snakes, along with four other snake species, have evolved the ability to eat extremely toxic species such as the rough-skinned newt — amphibians that would kill a human predator — thanks to at least 100 million years of evolution, according to Joel McGlothlin, an assistant professor of biological sciences ...

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New in Science: Polar bears fail to adapt to lack of food

From BBC NEWS

Polar bears are unable to adapt their behaviour to cope with the food losses associated with warmer summers in the Arctic. Scientists had believed that the animals would enter a type of ‘walking hibernation’ when deprived of prey. But new research says that that bears simply starve in hotter conditions when food is scarce.

The authors say that the implications for the survival of the species in a warmer world are grim.

Back in 2008 polar bears were  Read More →

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McGlothlin research explores the evolution of toxin resistance in snakes

From VT News:

Snakes in evolutionary arms race with poisonous newt

Blacksburg, November 17, 2014: The rough-skinned newt is easily one of the most toxic animals on the planet, yet the common garter snake routinely eats it. How does a newt which produces enough toxin to kill several grown humans manage to become prey in the food chain?

The answer comes in the form of an evolutionary arms race that pits the toxin of the newt, tetrodotoxin or TTX, against the voltage-gated sodium ...

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