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Showing posts from November, 2014

Jen Day: How do Molecular Ecologists use Jaguar Scat for Conservation Science?

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Step One:  Since jaguars cover a lot of ground – we need to too. 
We have surveyed two locations in southern Mexico to date for jaguar and puma scat, in partnership with University of Veracruz’s Centro de Investigaciones Tropicales (CITRO) and the Reserva Ecologica El Eden.  There are not many jaguars left at these sites, so we were not sure what we would find.  It turns out that the Conservation Canines are experts at finding jaguar scat.  In the Uxpanapa Valley of Veracurz, we ended up with 28 jaguar locations confirmed, and 8 unique multilocus genotypes from scat samples (genotypes are genetic information that allow us to tell individuals apart, relatedness between individuals, and to assess genetic diversity).  That may not sound like a big number, but that's potentially a THIRD of the entire population of the valley!

WITH YOUR HELP, we’re headed to the Lacondona region of Chiapas in January, in collaboration with Dr. Rodrigo MedellĂ­n (current president of the Society for …

Yasmeen Hussain: Ciliate vs. Urchin Egg

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One summer day, I was counting sea urchin eggs and saw one moving. Now, the classical delineation of sperm and eggs is that one of them (sperm) moves and the other (egg) does not. When eggs start moving, I get a little concerned. I moved the hemacytometer (a neat device invented over a century ago that helps people count the number of objects per unit volume) with this egg to our lab's bigger microscope, which has better optics and higher magnification. This is what I saw:


A ciliated, single-celled organism appeared to be either trying to break into the egg and eat its nutritious insides or is feeding off of the egg’s jelly layer, which is full of polysaccharides, peptides, and other potentially nutritious substances. While it moves around the egg (in my head this makes a slurping noise), the egg appears to be moving. This is pretty fun!
But, you may ask, why am I in lab, counting sea urchin eggs on an otherwise perfectly nice day? I’m trying to understand how sperm chemotaxis, how …

Rochelle Kelly: Bats and Scat Dogs in the San Juan Islands

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This originally appeared in the FHL newsletter Tide Bites.

In the Santana Lab at the University of Washington, our research focuses on the relationship among ecology, anatomy and behavior in mammals. Much of our labs' research involves bats, as they are one of the most diverse groups of mammals — they comprise nearly a quarter of all mammalian species. Despite the incredible range of shapes, sizes, behaviors, and the ecological importance of bats, two common images seem to be perpetuated in the mainstream media: that of small brown flying rodents, and rabid vampires.

Batting a thousand…and then some: diversity of bats
While it is true that vampire bats exist, they are only three out of over 1,200 species of bats, and they only occur in the new world tropics. Of the remaining bat species, more than 70% feed exclusively on insects. Even though most species are small (less than 60 grams) and sometimes brown, they are far from being flying rodents. Bats evolved around 55 million years…