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Handicaps, Honesty and VisibilityWhy Are Ornaments Always Exaggerated?

Thu, 23 Oct 2014 13:30:30 +0000

Sexual selection is a form of natural selection that favours traits that increase mating success, often at the expense of survival. It is responsible for a huge variety of characteristics and behaviours we observe in nature, and most conspicuously, sexual selection explains the elaborate ornaments such as the antlers of red deer and the tail […]

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Why Are Ornaments Always Exaggerated?
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PREDICTS Project: Land-Use Change Doesn’t Impact All Biodiversity Equally

Mon, 13 Oct 2014 09:17:53 +0000

Humans are destroying, degrading and depleting our tropical forests at an alarming rate. Every minute, an area of Amazonian rainforest equivalent to 50 football pitches is cleared of its trees, vegetation and wildlife. Across the globe, tropical and sub-tropical forests are being cut down to make way for expanding towns and cities, for agricultural land […]

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Calculated Risks: Foraging and Predator Avoidance in Rodents

Fri, 03 Oct 2014 10:07:08 +0000

Finding food is one of the most important tasks for any animal – most animal activity is focused on this job. But finding food usually involves some risks – leaving the safety of your burrow or nest to go out into a dangerous world full of predators, disease and natural hazards. Animals should therefore be […]

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Foraging and Predator Avoidance in Rodents
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Applying Metabolic Scaling Laws to Predicting Extinction Risk

Thu, 25 Sep 2014 10:32:49 +0000

The Earth is warming. That much were are now certain of. A major challenge for scientists hoping to ameliorate the effect of this on biodiversity is to predict how temperature increases will affect populations. Predicting the responses of species living in complex ecosystems and heterogenous environments is a difficult task, but one starting point is […]

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The Importance of Size in the Evolution of Complexity in Ants

Tue, 16 Sep 2014 10:14:37 +0000

Ants are amongst the most abundant and successful species on Earth. They live in complex, cooperative societies, construct elaborate homes and exhibit many of the hallmarks of our own society. Some ants farm crops, others tend livestock. Many species have a major impact on the ecosystems they live in, dispersing seeds, consuming huge quantities of […]

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Dr Anjali Goswami lead author in Royal Society Proceedings B

24 November 2010


Marsupial carnivores, including bizarre pouched lions, wolves, and sabretooths, were once as diverse in their appearance as their placental counterparts are today, according to new research.

Millions of years ago large marsupial carnivores dominated both Australasia and South America.  Today, the Tasmanian Devil is the largest marsupial carnivore left, and is on the brink of extinction. Why these large pouched predators have dwindled is a mystery, but one explanation is that they couldn’t compete with their placental counterparts, like ordinary lions and tigers, because of the constraints of marsupial development. 

Marsupial Sabretooth

Now, by looking at the skulls of living and  fossil marsupial and placental carnivores from around the world, scientists have shown that the diversity between species in marsupial carnivores was in fact slightly greater than it is in more familiar placental carnivores, even though there were fewer species overall.  The research is published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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