The land-dwelling blenny from Mauritius, Alticus monochrus, courts females using displays that present their exaggerated head crests and elaborated dorsal fins. Photo credit: Terry Ord, UNSW Sydney.

Fish out of water evolve extravagant ornaments, whereas those in water do not

Thomas C. Summers and Terry J. Ord Read the full article here Bigger is better when it comes to ornaments that attract mates, but only the best and biggest males usually have the capacity to develop the largest ornaments. Yet large ornaments can also impede movement and in turn limit the capacity of a male to forage and escape predators effectively. For example, fish tend … Continue reading Fish out of water evolve extravagant ornaments, whereas those in water do not

Artistic rendering of adult Brachionus calyciflorus. Artwork by Margo Alleman of Margo Alleman Art (https://www.margoallemanart.com/).

Contrary to popular belief, rapid heritable adaptation can occur without genetic variation

Kimberley D. Lemmen, Koen J.F. Verhoeven, and Steven A.J. Declerck Read the research in full here Environmental change presents a fundamental challenge to populations because the traits that previously allowed individuals to grow, survive, and reproduce may not be suitable in the new conditions. One way that organisms can persist in the face of changing environments is through heritable adaptation – a change in traits … Continue reading Contrary to popular belief, rapid heritable adaptation can occur without genetic variation

Maize seed at small seed company Bidasem. Photo credit: X. Fonseca/CIMMYT.

Solving the evolutionary puzzle of big seeds

Simpson, Kimberley; Atkinson, Rebecca; Mockford, Emily; Bennett, Chris; Osborne, Colin; Rees, Mark Seeds come in a huge variety of sizes. However, the production of large seeds is an evolutionary puzzle. Small seeds are associated with faster growth than large seeds, and can be made in larger quantities due to their lower cost. So why would a plant species produce a few, slow-growing big seeds rather … Continue reading Solving the evolutionary puzzle of big seeds

Completely plated (upper) and low plated (lower) threespine sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Fish have been stained with Alizarin Red S to help visualise lateral plates and spines. Image credit: Carl Smith.

Elevated temperatures drive the evolution of armour loss in the threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus

Smith, Carl; Zieba, Grzegorz; Przybylski, Miroslaw Sticklebacks are small fishes, related to seahorses, that are found in fresh, brackish and seawater. Notably, the three-spined stickleback is a ‘model’ research animal of huge significance that has been used by scientists for over a century in research to understand animal behaviour, evolution and, latterly, genetics. While three-spined sticklebacks can live in a wide variety of habitats, they … Continue reading Elevated temperatures drive the evolution of armour loss in the threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus

Targeting changemakers: within a plant species, it depends on your treatments

Ava M. Hoffman and Melinda D. Smith If you’ve ever played parent to a houseplant or started your own garden, you know that not everything is fixed in DNA. For example, the same hydrangea can produce blue or pink flowers depending on your garden’s soil pH and aluminum content. Nearly all plants, wild and domesticated species alike, will look different during a drought. In biology, … Continue reading Targeting changemakers: within a plant species, it depends on your treatments