Environmental conditions shape the chemical signal fingerprint of lizards

Simon Baeckens, José Martín, Roberto García-Roa, Panayiotis Pafilis, Katleen Huyghe & Raoul Van Damme   The vast array of signals used in animal communication is a hot topic in behavioural and evolutionary research. One important factor contributing to the signal diversity we witness today is ‘signal efficacy’: the ability of a signal to travel efficiently…

Nectar bacteria affect the survival of nectar-feeding animals

Marijke Lenaerts, Tim Goelen, Caroline Paulussen, Beatriz Herrera-Malaver, Jan Steensels, Wim Van den Ende, Kevin J. Verstrepen, Felix Wäckers, Hans Jacquemynand Bart Lievens When insects visit flowers looking for food, they commonly inoculate floral nectar with bacteria and yeasts. These microbes then gobble sugars and amino acids or convert them into other compounds which could…

Changing your body form to improve your growth

Marc Pépino, Pierre Magnan, and Raphaël Proulx Individual living organisms have the ability to modify their morphology, physiology, or behaviour in response to environmental changes, referred to as phenotypic plasticity. Over the longer term, populations of the same species inhabiting different environments could evolve toward distinct forms, a process called resource polymorphism. For example, brook…

Context-dependent defences in turtle ants: resource defensibility and threat level induce dynamic shifts in soldier deployment

Scott Powell, Matina Donaldson‐Matasci, Augustus Woodrow‐Tomizuka, Anna Dornhaus How do you best defend yourself in a dangerous world, when attacks may occur in many places simultaneously and you only have a limited supply of defensive resources? This is a fundamental problem faced by all organisms, and a common solution is the evolution of sophisticated strategies…

Environment affects the evolution of disease severity in a fish parasite.

Muayad A Mahmud, Janette E Bradley, Andrew D C MacColl Infectious parasites vary greatly in their severity (virulence), e.g. from the common cold to the Ebola virus, but the reasons why are poorly understood. To be successful, parasites have to spread to new victims (hosts), and to do so they use host resources to multiply….

When mothers compete with their offspring: insights into the evolution of family life

Jos Kramer, Maximilian Körner, Janina MC Diehl, Christine Scheiner, Aytül Yüksel-Dadak, Teresa Christl, Philip Kohlmeier and Joël Meunier Decades of research on mammals and birds have taught us that parental care almost always renders the presence of parents beneficial to immature offspring regardless of the prevailing environmental conditions. This is because offspring in these animals…

Diet drives beak diversification in waterfowl

Aaron M Olsen Bird beaks are often cited as a classic example of evolution by natural selection. Over generations, it is thought that beak shapes that are better suited to eating particular foods will outcompete less favourable beak shapes and be passed on to offspring, through a process known as adaptation. Over time this would…