Origin of Life

While Darwin and Wallace’s theory of evolution explains the vast diversity of species we see today, their theory doesn’t offer an explanation as to HOW life came to be on our planet 3.2 billion years ago.

We know from looking at extant species today that certain properties of life are maintained and thus have been results of the process of natural selection, i.e. adjusting and balancing the internal environment known as homeostasis, the ability to maintain discrete parts known as structural organization, the ability to control chemical reactions within the internal environment known as metabolism, growth and reproduction, and the ability to actively respond to environmental cues.

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Episode 7: History of Evolution and Natural Selection

Episode 7 of the Ecology Podcast. This week we’re talking about the history of evolutionary theory and the debate between natural selection and group selection.

Traulsen, A., Nowak, M.A., (2006) Evolution of cooperation by multilevel selection. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0602530103

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The Most Terrifying Bird To Ever Live?

From the extinction of the Tyrannosaurs came the era of the Terror Birds.

The History of Evolution and Natural Selection

Within much of western science prior to the 6th century BC, creation myths pervaded much of the answers to the creation of the universe and the species within it.

Aristotle had proposed a taxonomy of nature. Amongst the Ancient Greeks, Empedocles had proposed an early form of spontaneous generation, where individuals were assembled from parts that, if unable to function together, became extinct, while Aristotle detailed the diversity of life in his Great Chain of Being, in which all species existed on a fixed landscape in which one would eventually become the next, with humanity positioned at it’s peak.

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Natural Selection and Adaptation

Natural selection is the key mechanism through with evolutionary change occurs and has led to the near infinite modifications that we see in the biological diversity of the world today.

In order for natural selection to occur, three conditions must be met. First, there must be variation – individuals differing from each other – within the population. Second, these differences must be inheritable, that is, they can be passed down from one generation to the next. Thirdly, there must be differential reproductive success among individuals in the population. In other words, individuals with some sets of traits must be more successful at surviving and reproducing in their environment that some other individuals of the same species.

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Episode 6: Natural Selection

Episode 6 of the Ecology Podcast. This week we’re talking about natural selection, managing forest fires, and selection on humans.

Pausas, J.G. (2015) Evolutionary fire ecology: lessons learned from pines. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tplants.2015.03.001

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Slavery, Kidnapping, and Murder

Unlike most ant species, slavemaker ants kidnap, murder, and bathe in the blood of their victims to get their way.

Nutrient Cycling and Decomposition

The source of all essential nutrients is either in the atmosphere or in the form of rocks and minerals around us.

These nutrients make their way through living and inorganic forms through nutrient cycling. As organisms are develop, they take in these nutrients and store them in their tissues and/or use them for life’s processes, effectively locking them up until such a time as they are released back into the global pool of nutrients from which other organisms can draw from through a process known as decomposition.

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Episode 5: Decomposition and Nutrient Cycling

Episode 5 of the Ecology Podcast. This week we’re talking about decomposition and nutrient cycling, how we define “natural,” and impacts on biodiversity.

Mlambo, M.C., Paavola, R., Fritze, H., Louhi, P., Muotka, T. (2019) Leaf litter decomposition and decomposer communities in streams affected by intensive forest biomass removal. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1470160X19300512

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Afraid to Fall Asleep?

For those who suffer from sleep paralysis, falling asleep can be a literal nightmare!