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biodiversity

ecology

A Physicist’s Approach to Biology Brings Ecological Insights

October 13, 2020

The physicist Jeff Gore tests theories about microbe communities experimentally and finds new rules governing ecological stability.

Stalks and spore bodies of a slime mold rise above a smooth surface.
Abstractions blog

Out-of-Sync ‘Loners’ May Secretly Protect Orderly Swarms

May 21, 2020

Studies of collective behavior usually focus on how crowds of organisms coordinate their actions. But what if the individuals that don’t participate have just as much to tell us?

An illustration that represents the big differences in size and diversity in the microbiomes of six species.
microbiology

Some Animals Have No Microbiome. Here’s What That Tells Us.

April 14, 2020

To stay healthy, humans and some other animals rely on a complex community of bacteria in their guts. But research is starting to show that those partnerships might be more the exception than the rule.

A mother armadillo, lying on her side, nurses four baby armadillos.
developmental biology

Nature Versus Nurture? Add ‘Noise’ to the Debate.

March 23, 2020

We give our genes and our environment all the credit for making us who we are. But random noise during development might be just as important.

A rock, a piece of paper and a pair of scissors, each formed from a mass of microbes, are arranged in a cycle.
ecology

Biodiversity May Thrive Through Games of Rock-Paper-Scissors

March 5, 2020

Recent findings add weight to the evidence that the intransitive competitions between species enrich the diversity of nature.

Abstractions blog

Biodiversity Alters Strategies of Bacterial Evolution

January 6, 2020

In evolution, context is everything: Bacteria with neighbors evolve to rebuff viruses in a different way.

Cichlid fish of diverse colors and shapes swim together.
evolution

New Hybrid Species Remix Old Genes Creatively

September 10, 2019

Clues from fish diversity suggest that interbreeding between species could be a major mechanism of fast speciation.

Art for "What’s in a Name? Taxonomy Problems Vex Biologists"
taxonomy

What’s in a Name? Taxonomy Problems Vex Biologists

June 24, 2019

Researchers struggle to incorporate ongoing evolutionary discoveries into an animal classification scheme older than Darwin.

Art for "Rapid Oxygen Changes Fueled an Explosion in Ancient Animal Diversity"
Abstractions blog

Rapid Oxygen Changes Fueled an Explosion in Ancient Animal Diversity

May 9, 2019

Skyrocketing animal diversity a half-billion years ago was linked to spikes and dips in marine oxygen levels, according to a detailed geological study.