Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Science In The News

Researchers get warm in quest to solve evolutionary mystery:
Scientists believe they have cracked one of the most enduring mysteries since Charles Darwin returned from the Galapagos islands: why is there such a variety of life in the tropics?

The bunching up of much of the world's biodiversity along the equatorial regions contrasts with the rapid drop-off in organisms that eke out a living in more temperate and polar regions. But well-known as the pattern is, a full explanation has so far proved elusive.
The greenbeards have blue throats in a breakthrough study of the evolution of altruistic behavior:
A new study of side-blotched lizards in California has revealed the genetic underpinnings of altruistic behavior in this common lizard species, providing new insights into the long-standing puzzle of how cooperation and altruism can evolve. The study, led by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, offers the first evidence in vertebrates of an important theoretical concept in evolutionary biology known as "greenbeard" altruism.
The paper is here and John Lynch has more.

It's incredible how often we're surprised by findings! Tara and Ewen yawn.

16,000 Species Said to Face Extinction:
Polar bears and hippos are among more than 16,000 species of animals and plants threatened with global extinction, the World Conservation Union said Tuesday.
The list includes one in three amphibians, a quarter of the world's mammals and coniferous trees, and one in eight birds, according to a preview of the 2006 Red List. The full report is published later this week.
People are the main reason for most species' decline, mainly through habitat destruction, according to IUCN.

Chad Orzel and Phillip Johnson comment on the Nature article and a similar NYTimes piece: For Science's Gatekeepers, a Credibility Gap:
Recent disclosures of fraudulent or flawed studies in medical and scientific journals have called into question as never before the merits of their peer-review system.

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