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Abstractions blog

Why Nature Prefers Couples, Even for Yeast

Some species have the equivalent of many more than two sexes, but most do not. A new model suggests the reason depends on how often they mate.


Cores From Coral Reefs Hold Secrets of the Seas’ Past and Future

Layered deposits of coral skeletons hold vast stores of environmental data from thousands of years ago, including annual records of ocean temperatures, water pollution and storm activity.

Art for "A Thermodynamic Answer to Why Birds Migrate"

A Thermodynamic Answer to Why Birds Migrate

New modeling studies suggest that birds migrate to strike a favorable balance between their input and output of energy.

Abstractions blog

Complex Animals Led to More Oxygen, Says Maverick Theory

For decades, researchers have commonly assumed that higher oxygen levels led to the sudden diversification of animal life 540 million years ago. But one iconoclast argues the opposite: that new animal behaviors raised oxygen levels and remade the environment.

520px photo of phytoplankton
Abstractions blog

Evolution Saves Species From ‘Kill the Winner’ Disasters

Modelers find evidence that a combination of competition, predation and evolution will push ecosystems toward species diversity anywhere in the universe.

Tidal pool with ocean life
Abstractions blog

Awash in Sea of Data, Ecologists Turn to Open Access Tools

To assess the ocean’s health, ecology’s “rugged individualists” learned to get with the big data program.


A Timely Fix for a Grand Theory of Nature

A disarmingly simple model of ecology does everything well — except predict how rapidly nature can change. Can it become more realistic while still avoiding all of biology’s messy complexities?

complex systems

Nature’s Critical Warning System

Scientists are homing in on a warning signal that arises in complex systems like ecological food webs, the brain and the Earth’s climate. Could it help prevent future catastrophes?


A Twisted Path to Equation-Free Prediction

Complex natural systems defy analysis using a standard mathematical toolkit, so one ecologist is throwing out the equations.