Did you see a plant there? Me neither.

At a seminar on sexual selection in frogs I attended recently, an evolutionary ecologist (who studies plants), joked that compared to things like frogs that make noise and move, plants are really pretty dull. I can think of many reasons why plants are in fact the awesomest (being in the plant biology department makes me a little biased), and one particular example that came to mind was from an Am … Continue reading

Can Invaders Become Darwinian Demons?

There are two things I think are really cool and drive most of what I think about (well, I’ll pretend there are only two). The first is trade-offs. They’re pervasive in ecological and evolutionary thinking. The basic idea is that everybody is good at doing something, but also bad at doing something else. This comes into play in ecology because each species has its own little niche in the world, … Continue reading

Race to the Top: Shifting Ranges and Species Interactions

As temperatures increase with climate change, species are expected to expand their ranges to higher latitudes, where it will be warm enough for them to survive. Similarly, many species are predicted to move up in elevation as higher altitudes experience warmer temperatures—we know that some have already started to do so. But we also know that some species can shift their ranges in response to temperature change more quickly than … Continue reading

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies (or how tarweeds lure fruit flies to their doom and use the poor unsuspecting victims to bribe predator defenders) Smell is the sense of memory, and anyone who has walked through a Californian grassland in the heat of summer will never forget the scent of tarweeds. That scent oozes from thousands of glandular trichomes that produce the characteristic sticky stink, and a big question is WHY? … Continue reading