Competition among different animals in a natural ecosystem is ubiquitous and determines many characteristics of the ecosystem. Ecologists use different mathematical models to estimate population of animals in the wild and help determine those species that are on the verge of being endangered or extinct. A new study by undergraduates at IISc has proposed a modification to an existing mathematical equation that takes competition of species into account, thus helping ecologists make accurate predictions along with actual field data.
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Foot and Mouth Disease is a highly infectious viral disease affecting hoofed animals like cattle, deer, sheep and goats. The disease is often fatal, mostly affecting domesticated animals and causing huge losses to their owners. The contagious nature of the virus quickly destroys entire herds. The culprit behind the disease, the Foot and Mouth Disease Virus (FMDV) or picornavirus, tweaks the cells of the infected animals and forces it to make copies of the virus.
Have you ever wondered what billions of years of evolution has left us with? Incredible answers to some of the toughest questions, say scientists. In fact, it has given rise to a new field called biomimicry that aims to provide some of the incredible solutions to design problems inspired by nature. Think of the aeroplanes, super fast bullet trains, artificial glues for bones, climate controlled buildings -- all these are a result of us looking close into nature’s way of dealing with problems and drawing an inspiration from them. But there are more such examples that are gamechangers. Read more to know how biomimicry is all set to influence our lives more than ever.
Our lifestyles influence our behaviour in a big way -- or so we think. But did you know our activities have a major influence on other creatures living around us? In an interesting study, scientists have uncovered how urbanization has influenced the courtship behaviour among south Indian rock agamas and their escape strategies. The study found that these agamas use change of colour of their body as communication signal during courtship and aggression and human activities and urbanization have a great influence in the everyday lives of these lizards.
Figs and wasps have a give and take relationship where figs need wasps to pollinate while wasps lay their eggs inside the fig fruits. However, not all fig-wasp relationships are this cordial. There are a set of parasitic wasps that cause more harm to the fig plant than good! A new study has uncovered some of the fascinating abilities of such wasps, especially their ability to sense smell. Ovipositors, specialized organs developed to lay eggs in wasps, have been found to act as a ‘nose’ in sniffing out the best position to lay their eggs, say the researchers. These organs can also detect many chemicals, potentially inspiring new kind of sensors, they claim.
Leopards are one of the majestic cats in the wild who are in the news recently for all the wrong reasons. There are increasing reports of them mauling people, killing livestock and posing a danger in human dominated areas. In many cases, the leopards are unfortunately killed out of panic among people. In an interview with Mr. Nikit Surve, we present the reasons behind the rising human-leopard conflicts and how they must be handled in order for both to coexists peacefully in the same planet we both call home.
Survival of the fittest has been the norm in nature. Every organism that has to survive, has to find ways to escape from its predators or develop skills to adapt to the adversities of its environment. But, how does the immobile and defenseless pupa of a butterfly survive from being caught by predators? A new study has now explored strategies used by the pupa during its developmental stages to hide from the prying eyes of the predators. It says that based on environmental factors, the pupal colors change, which might help them survive by camouflage.
Migration of birds is a fascinating story. Many birds across the world travel to different locations in search of food and a warm place to breed. A new study has now found a dark side of the fascinating tale of migration -- the risk of spread of diseases. The researchers have studied two species of migratory birds and have identified the presence of two strains of parasites in them that could potentially spread the disease to the local bird population, which do not have the required immunity to fight against them. The researchers warn that their finding could put the entire local bird population at the risk of contracting the diseases.
The theory of evolution has long been an interesting subject for scientists around the world, ever since Darwin’s proposal. Many new findings have shaped our understanding of evolution and some have changed what we knew thus far. Now a new study by scientists on fruitflies might further change how we have understood the importance of ‘trade-offs’ in evolution. The study has discovered that fruitflies develop immunity to a type of bacteria over a few generations without losing any other desirable trait, prompting scientists to believe that they have obtained immunity for free, a concept that was always associated with trade-offs.
The oceans make up 75% of our Earth and is home to a wide range of plants and animals that thrive in marine ecosystems around the world. Thanks to human actions, these ecosystems face a mounting threat, far too inconspicuous, for us to observe. Ocean pollution, raise in its temperature and rampant overfishing have threatened many species and have pushed them to the brink of extinction. On World Oceans Day, perhaps it is time to reflect what roles these oceans play in helping life on the land and think about how our activities have disturbed the fragile balance nature maintains in the deep blue seas.