Ecology

Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

Category archives for Ecology

In the movie The Princess Bride, the hero Wesley is attacked by fearsome Rodents Of Unusual Size (ROUS) in the fire swamp. Turns out, ROUS really exist! Example of a Princess-Bride-era ROUS Confirmed ROUS! A new species of rat, the size of a large cat, was confirmed during a scientific expedition earlier this year to…

The People Want Their Phones Green

There’s a discussion I was clued into recently, taking place over at a spiked, a reporting website, which describes it self thusly: spiked is an independent online phenomenon dedicated to raising the horizons of humanity by waging a culture war of words against misanthropy, priggishness, prejudice, luddism, illiberalism and irrationalism in all their ancient and…

Perhaps some of you may remember me mentioning the plight of the Florida manatee a few months back, specifically that their status as an endangered species was being petitioned by the powerful boating lobby. This would have meant that many of the special protections that manatees enjoyed, such as existing in boat-free zones and making…

Good news! Florida is opening a public comment period from May 1-June 14, and the decision about whether to downgrade their status from endangered will be postponed until after that period. The final plan will be presented to commissioners in September. If approved, the state will upgrade the manatee’s status from endangered to threatened. That…

I grew up in Florida, in central Florida to be exact. As a kid we went to Blue Springs and other manatee havens on field trips, to observe these gentle and curious animals. They are huge, and as they tend to inhabit shallow areas of the Florida coastal waterways its easy to see them in…

This is really upsetting, especially to someone who used to study manatees: Florida has been toying with the idea of down-grading manatees’ “endangered” status and relaxing the amount of protection they receive. Protective laws include (and consist mostly of) laws which force boaters to slow down in areas where manatees live and breed. Given that…

Domestic Violence in Chimps

Researchers have recently discovered that male chimps routinely physically abuse female chimps, sometimes even using branches as weapons. But, why would they do that? Chimps don’t form monogamous pairs; rather, mating is dictated by the females’ estrus cycles. During estrus, the competition for access to these few fertile females is intense. The leading theory, albeit…

Last night I became embroiled in an interesting discussion: is the survival of a species (or, insert word here) inherently valuable, in and of itself? Does the fact that it currently exists *right now* somehow entitle it to preservation, or at least restraint when it comes to its demise? The context I was thinking of…

The New York Times was reporting this story like it was surprising in the slightest: A rare, nearly blind white dolphin that survived for millions of years is effectively extinct, an international expedition declared Wednesday after ending a fruitless six-week search of its Yangtze River habitat. The baiji would be the first large aquatic mammal…