Bitterness on the Brain
by: Alex Baryiames, Cassie Daisy, Mohini Patel & Olivia Peterson (Stonehill College Evolution Fall 2017)
Eating something bitter isn’t a great experience. The moment the taste hits your mouth can be an unpleasant one, and often causes you to avoid that particular food in the future. In an effort to understand this phenomenon, researchers discovered that the ability to detect these bitter tastes might have some evolutionary benefits! Read on to discover how the ability of vertebrates to detect bitter tastes can be a protective mechanism against toxic materials, and greatly contributes to our survival!
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Fig and fig wasp coevolution
By: Caroline Colbert, Brianne Horton, and Brianna Salah (Stonehill College Evolution Fall 2017)
I’m sure you’re all familiar with the sweet and delicious taste of a Fig Newton, but did you know that the mutualistic relationship between fig plants and their pollinator wasps is to thank for this delicious snack. Also, did you know that this relationship is the result of millions of years of coevolution? Read on to learn more about this unique relationship!
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The Evolution of PMS
by: Lydia Blodgett, Alexandra Calafiore, Rachel O’Donnell (Stonehill College Evolution Fall 2017)
Premenstrual syndrome, commonly known as PMS, affects the majority of women and can cause an array of unwanted symptoms. Although up to 80% of women are affected by the symptoms of PMS, not much is known about exactly why it began and continues to happen in humans. Our podcast, “Evolution of PMS”, attempts to highlight the evolutionary basis of PMS. Using Michael Gillings’ article, “Were there evolutionary advantages to premenstrual syndrome?”, as a foundation, we explore the idea that the persistence of PMS is an outcome of its selective advantage to women. Although PMS has previously been considered maladaptive—with severe forms being classified as a diagnosable mental disorder—-Gillings proposes three main hypotheses that there are reproductive advantages for its persistence throughout evolutionary history.
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Divorce in Savannah Sparrows of Kent Island
by: Michael Calcagno, Meghan Ghazal, Lizzie Poyant & Zarir Sidhwa (Stonehill College Evolution Fall 2017)
In Savannah sparrows (Passerculus sandwichensis) that reside on Kent Island, New Brunswick, Canada an understanding of divorce rates within the species was analyzed to determine the molecular basis of the phenotypic trait. As well as, to determine if divorce is an adaptive strategy for greater fitness for females. In this species, approximately 47% of pairs in which both partners survived to the following breeding season ended in divorce. Neither the lifetime number of divorces nor whether an individual had ever divorced affected the fitness of either sex, thus suggesting little to no sexual selection for the trait. Divorce in the Savannah sparrows appeared to be an inheritable behavior in which expression depending primarily upon an individual’s age, mating status, sex, and size.
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Dad’s social status effects offspring personality in zebrafish
By: Colleen O’Donnell, Lauren Smith, and Courtney Walsh (Stonehill College Evolution Fall 2017)
Ever wonder if fish have personality? If fish have a social hierarchy?
Well, news flash, they do! Dr. Susanne Zajitschek had the opportunity to study Zebrafish, otherwise known as Dario reno, and manipulate their social hierarchy in order to determine whether or not this would affect the offspring of the Zebrafish. She focused on the paternal aspect of rearing offspring. Dr. Zajitshek combined this manipulation with the genetic onset of personality traits of the fathers. As a result of her research, she was able to find that both social status and personality traits do in fact affect the behavior of the offspring.
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This time Batman needs help … with whitenose syndrome
by: Junior Andrade, Azariah Boyd, Kasey Dietzman, Zachary Fanara (Stonehill College Evolution Fall 2017)
Many people forget that bats are not just there for inspiring big-name superheroes. Bats play a critical role in pollination of many commercial products throughout the world such as bananas and peaches just to name a few. Bats also play an essential role in crop growth by maintaining the populations of common pests. However, bats in North America are in a time of crisis and it all began with fungus. Pseudogymnoascus destructans (P. destructans), a cold loving fungus, is able to grow in hibernating bats when their bodies reach a temperature of 39 to 68 degrees. This fungus grows and makes the bats ill and spiked a recent decline in North American bats. The disease was named White-nose syndrome due to the fungal growth resulting in white substance on the muzzle of the bats. White-nose syndrome has specifically hurt the North American little brown myotis bat which has been driven to the endangered species list in under ten years due to the syndrome.
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