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

How precise is a fig tree’s sanction ability?

Background Mutualism is a relationship between two organisms or species in which both benefit from the association. Flowering plants and pollinator interactions are a classic example of mutualism. Mutualisms are ubiquitous in nature and biologists have been fascinated by them for a long time.  For example, how does mutualism evolve? What maintains mutualism? Theory predicts that mutualism is susceptible to breakdown (May 1981) and vulnerable to anthropogenic environmental change (Six … 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