Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Papers for discussion weds 3 Feb

Erik suggested that I pick next weeks’ lab meeting papers to discuss, and so I have.
My main topic of study is mate choice learning and evolution, and I have done experimental work on birds and fish regarding this topic. Though I don’t think there is fundamentally anything different about this topic regarding vertebrates and invertebrates, I have chosen two papers that deal with insect learning behavior. This is to hopefully convince you (if you weren’t already) that this is an interesting topic, and potentially fruitful to study in damselflies. The first paper is a review, by Reuven Dukas , about the different types of learning known in insects and the evolutionary implications. The second paper is an experiment that shows some very interesting interactions between circadian clocks and male mate preference learning.

here are links to the two papers:

Monday, January 25, 2010

TREE-article about antagonistic coevolution, resistance and tolerance

Together with my colleague Lars Råberg, I have recently published an "Opinion"-article in Trends in Ecology & Evolution, that has just come out on "early view". This article deals with the different roles of resistance and tolerance in antagonistic coevolutionary interactions involving animals.

Basically, we argue that the evolution of victim tolerance, instead of resistance, might halt coevolutionary arms races and make them less probable, in contrast to if the victim evolves resistance instead. This idéa has been floating around for quite a while in the plant litterature, but we extend the idéa to animals and to other types of enemy-victim interactions. We illustrate this using a variety of empirical examples from several different types of antagonistic enemy-victim interactions involving animals. Here is the abstract and link if you are interested:

Erik I. Svensson and Lars Råberg

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Joint lab meeting with the Animal Flight Lab

On behalf of Sophia Engel:

Next week we’ll have a joint lab meeting with the Animal Flight Lab. Please note: It will take place Monday (25 January) at 9:00h in “Argumentet” (not 9:30h!). We will discuss flight performance of insects and the effect of ambient temperature. Ectotherm animals are, of course, much more sensitive to ambient temperature than endotherms, with important consequences not only for activity patterns but also for body proportions, muscle physiology, and aerodynamics. Berwaerts and van Dyck (Oecologia (2004) 141: 536–545) studied take-off performance of butterflies under different thermal conditions and found that a certain wing shape is more beneficial at optimal than at cold temperatures. Frazier et al. (2008, The Journal of Experimental Biology 211, 2116-2122) show that in drosophila flies even the thermal history of an individual may affect flight capabilities later on in life. Based on their results, they suggest that developmental plasticity may push the thermal performance envelope farther in the direction of the stress (in this case, cold temperatures), rather than optimizing performance to the exact rearing conditions. I think these papers will give us plenty of discussion material.

Please contact Sophia by email if you wish to have a pdf version of the papers, since it is impossible to include them in this post:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Interesting video about dragonfly migration over the oceans

Whatch this very interesting video by Charles Anderson, that is well worth watching. It deals with the newly discovered trans-continental dragonfly migration between India and Africa and describes how it was discovered. Enjoy!

This week there will not be a lab-meeting the coming Wednesday (20 January), since I will be in Germany, giving an invited lecture at Museum fur Naturkunde in Berlin, which is part of the famous Humboldt University. This university has had many famous students during its 200 year existence, among them Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx, Max Planck, Albert Einstein and Karl Liebknecht. The natural history part of the museum is well known for its paleontological collections, particularly one of the finest specimens of Archaeopteryx - the "missing link" between dinosaurs and birds. I will of course return with a detailed report when I get back.

For next week (25-29 January), the aim is to have a lab-meeting on Monday 25 January at 09.30 in "Argumentet" about insect flight and wing morphology. Sophia Engel will be responsible for announcing this seminar by putting up a bloggpost with a link to the paper(-s) that we will discuss. This will be a joint meeting with Anders Hedenströms group "Animal Flight Lab". Sophia should put up the post well ahead of Monday, preferably later this week, with some help of more experienced bloggers in the group, if necessary.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

PLoS ONE gets listed in Web of Science and will get its impact factor (IF)

Some good news for the Open Acess-movement in general, and for those who have published in PLoS one in particular, particularly Tom Gosden and Fabrice Eroukhmanoff (alongside with me): PLoS ONE will now be listed in Web of Science, meaning that your articles, as well as all future articles in this journal, will now be searchable and appear in ISI:s databases. This is very good news, as the lack of inclusion by PLoS ONE in ISI has been somewhat negative when trying to convince people to publish there: scientists are quite conservative and hesitant to publish if they are not absolutely confident that their papers will be read widely and cited.

It does not matter to argue, in my experience, that Web of Science, is not the only database and not necessarily the best or most inclusive one. PubMed, for instance, is much faster and better, and Scopus covers many more journals than WoS. Many scientists do not seem aware of the fact that these search engines and data-bases are commercially driven, and thus not driven and organized by scientists, with the primary goal of helping scientists. Thompson/ISI simply happen to be one of the oldest data-bases, and the one which claims credit for the term "Impact Factor"(IF), and very questionable measure of journal impact which has recently been criticized by many.

Putting these issues against IF aside for a moment, PLoS ONE will, as a side-effect, soon also get its first IF, since it was needed to be included in ISI before that was possible. It will of course also be interesting to see which IF PLoS ONE will get, although I would not primarily use that as the only or most important criterion where to publish. It is interesting that it took three years before ISI accepted to include PLoS ONE in their data-bases, given that there are many low-impact journals like Odonatologica which has long been included in ISI.

I suspect, although I do not have any proof for this, that ISI are nervous for the new publication model that PLoS ONE advocates, where perceived impact and "novelty" is played down and there is more emphasis on technical quality. In the end, this might hurt the commercial interests of ISI if scientists start to increasingly become more critical to journal-level IF:s (rightly so!). In a better future, there will hopefully be more emphasis on scientific content and article-level metrics of authors, rather than on journal-level metrics, which largely belongs to the pre-internet era and sends out a message that journals like (say) Evolution or American Naturalist are not as important as we, in the field of evolutionary biology, generally think that they are.

Lab-meeting on good genes and ecological speciation January 13 2009

It is time for lab-meetings again, and what would be more suitable to start with than a theoretical paper about "good genes" and speciation? You will find this paper here, and it has recently been published in Science by van Doorn et al. You will find the abstract below:

On the Origin of Species by Natural and Sexual Selection

G. Sander van Doorn,1,2,*,{dagger} Pim Edelaar,3,4,5,* Franz J. Weissing3

Ecological speciation is considered an adaptive response to selection for local adaptation. However, besides suitable ecological conditions, the process requires assortative mating to protect the nascent species from homogenization by gene flow. By means of a simple model, we demonstrate that disruptive ecological selection favors the evolution of sexual preferences for ornaments that signal local adaptation. Such preferences induce assortative mating with respect to ecological characters and enhance the strength of disruptive selection. Natural and sexual selection thus work in concert to achieve local adaptation and reproductive isolation, even in the presence of substantial gene flow. The resulting speciation process ensues without the divergence of mating preferences, avoiding problems that have plagued previous models of speciation by sexual selection.

Time and place as usual: "Darwin" at 10.15 (immediately after the "Pheromone group"). It would be great if you could respond below if you will come (or not!), as I am not sure how many are back in town. Any fika-volunteer?