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Synthetic Biology and Conservation

Mon, 07 Jul 2014 16:20:18 +0000

Synthetic biology, a hybrid between Engineering and Biology, is an emerging field of research promising to change the way we think about manufacturing, medicine, food production, and even conservation and sustainability. A review paper released this month in Oryx, authored by Dr Kent Redford, Professor William Adams, Dr Rob Carlson, Bertina Ceccarelli and CBER’s Professor [...]

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Measure Twice, Cut Once: Quantifying Biases in Sexual Selection Studies

Wed, 25 Jun 2014 10:44:30 +0000

Bateman’s principles are conceptually quite simple, but form the basis of our understanding of sexual selection across the animal kingdom. First proposed in 1948, Bateman’s three principles posit that sexual selection is more intense in males than in females for three reasons: 1) males show more variability in the number of mates they have (mating [...]

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Technology for Nature?

Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:23:54 +0000

Many of our greatest technological advances have tended to mark disaster for nature. Cars guzzle fossil fuels and contribute to global warming; industrialised farming practices cause habitat loss and pollution; computers and mobile phones require harmful mining procedures to harvest rare metals. But increasingly, ecologists and conservation biologists are asking whether we can use technology [...]

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Nice Flies Don’t Finish Last: Meiotic Drive and Sexual Selection in Stalk-Eyed Flies

Thu, 12 Jun 2014 15:54:47 +0000

While it might seem as though our genes are all working together for our own good, some of them are actually rather selfish. Scientists have known about ‘selfish genetic elements’ for nearly a century, but research to understand their behaviour and effects is ongoing. Recent research in GEE reveals how sexually selected traits are signalling [...]

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Finding a Place to Call Home: Translocation and the Plight of the Hihi

Fri, 16 May 2014 13:13:56 +0000

Climate change alters how climate is distributed both geographically and temporally. Over the coming decades, for species sensitive to climatic variables, it may become a case of ‘relocate or die’ – those species that are not able to shift their populations from old, unsuitable habitat into newly emerging suitable habitat, in line with climate change, [...]

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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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