Tag: evolution

Heritability: what it means and why it’s important

In a previous post, I briefly discussed something called genetic correlation and how this might be important for the evolution of a trait. Now, I hope to further clarify that concept and add to that a discussion of a very important concept in evolutionary biology—heritability—and tie it back to my initial discussion of the evolution… Read more »

“Freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men’s minds”[1]: Topic modeling Darwin’s reading at Indiana University.

In our December 27th post  “On On the Origin of Species: An ode to science writers”, Clara Boothby explored how clear, compelling science writing can increase circulation of scientists’ ideas among the general public. While our previous post saw the Origin of Species as a model for scientific writing, here we explore how researchers at IU… Read more »

For a hybrid species of ribbon worm, it only takes one to tango

Along the eastern Atlantic coasts of France, at some point in the last 100,000 years, two ribbon worms of different species engaged in worm intercourse (do not fear, I will not discuss the mechanics here). The two species were Lineus sanguineus and L. lacteus. Interspecies sex is uncommon in itself, but what’s especially surprising in this case… Read more »

On On the Origin of Species: An ode to scientist-writers

Sometimes, when we read about science in textbooks or newspaper articles, it can be easy to slip into thinking that after the scientists make their discovery, the writing is someone else’s job. Not so! In addition to being researchers and experimenters, scientists must also be writers if they wish to share their findings with the… Read more »

Hands, tools, and words, oh my!

It is relatively easy to list things that make our species, Homo sapiens, unique. From modest biological traits like hairless bodies and walking on two feet, to amazing things like culture, technology, and language, it is quite clear that we became some pretty quirky animals over the course of our evolution. Exactly how and why… Read more »

Proactively combating the continuing threat of pesticide resistance

Consider briefly the process of evolution and you might imagine a lumbering process, splitting lineages and bringing new species forth from old, or the gradual formation of morphological novelties like wings. While it’s true that evolutionary processes such as  the formation of new species are generally slow by our standards, other effects of evolution that… Read more »

Perks of the Job

What does summer vacation look like for a scientist? For some, summer break is much-needed time to catch up on research projects and writing, but for many of us, summer centers around one thing: field work. Quite often, much of the data that scientists rely upon can only be collected in natural settings outside the… Read more »

Safety in Diversity?

Disease epidemics can be devastating. How can the spread of infectious disease be controlled? It is believed that more genetically diverse host populations have lower prevalence of infectious diseases. This pattern is particularly strong in agricultural systems where diverse mixtures of crops are less susceptible to epidemics than single species (the “monoculture effect”). But how… Read more »

Adaptation and the importance of hybrids

How do species adapt to new conditions? For a couple hundred years, the answer has been that incremental change in parents trickles down to offspring over generations in a population, giving us the process of biological evolution. That is just as true as ever, but it appears to be a bit more complicated. Where once… Read more »