This post highlights zoology-related articles which have been featured in the news in the last two weeks.
Plants can communicate with insects via chemical cues. Research published in Science reveals that caterpillars’ saliva triggers leafy tobacco plants (Nicotiana attenuata) to release a chemical signal which attracts predatory Geocoris insects. These insects eat the caterpillar larvae and the eggs, and protect the plant from being eaten. Read the news articles on the BBC and The Scientist websites.
One of the world’s smallest frogs, Microhyla nepenthicola, has been discovered in the Kubah National Park in Borneo. These tiny frogs range in size from 10.6mm to 12.8mm and live in and around carnivorous pitcher plants, Nepenthes ampullaria. The discovery is published in Zootaxa and you can read the news articles on the Sky News and Guardian websites.
Killer whales, or orcas, appear to be evolving into two different species. Research published in Biology Letters provides genetic support for the suggestion that orcas are rapidly diverging into a large and a pygmy form. The study reveals the two orca forms have different variants of the mitochondrial gene, cytochrome B which may result in functional changes in the metabolic requirements of the two forms. Read the news articles on the BBC here.
In a migratory swarm of locusts, the highest density of locusts are found at the front of the swarm. This is different from fish, where the highest density is in the middle of the school and from birds, where the highest density is found at the edges of the flock. The results of this study, published in Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, could help specialists to predict how swarms will move and find ways to prevent these swarms from destroying such wide areas of crops and natural vegetation. Read the BBC news article here.
by Anne Braae