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Common disinfectants impair mouse fertility

Posted 11 November 2014 by Anne-Marie Hodge

Hey everyone, I recently wrote an article on a new toxicology study for The Conversation, and they have kindly allowed me to repost the piece on SciLogs in its entirety. Read on to find out about how two research labs that shared an annoying mouse attrition problem joined forces to make an important discovery about chemicals found in nearly every home in the U.S. Mice possess a notable talent: they are excellent at making more mice. Their ability to reproduce... Read more

The Poop Scoop: Using Feces to Track Ebola Infection and Survival Wild Apes

Posted 29 September 2014 by Anne-Marie Hodge

Prologue: In case you have been completely isolated from the news in recent months, here’s a recap: West Africa (principally Sierra Leone, Liberia, Senegal, Guinea and Nigeria) is experiencing an unprecedentedly wide outbreak of Ebola, and the epidemic continues to snowball with each passing day. Medical treatments in most developed countries could likely contain or limit such an outbreak (we hope), but under-resourced West and Central African countries have not been able to curb the spread of the virus. Historically, the mortality rate... Read more

Promiscuity Breeds Efficiency: Mouse Mating Systems Affect Sperm Sprints

Posted 17 August 2014 by Anne-Marie Hodge

Sperm is constant joke-fodder. From the opening credits of the movie "Look Who's Talking" to various Shakespeare passages, we humans never seem to tire of laughing at hordes of competitive little sperm powering past each other in the race towards their final destination. They're unbelievably tiny, simple entities, and yet the outcome of their performance is huge. Or perhaps we just stay fascinated by the dramatic fact that all of our lives began when one of those little guys won a race that has been going on since... Read more

Bad New Benzos: Anti-Anxiety Drugs Increase Fish Survival . . . Why is This a Problem?

Posted 12 August 2014 by Anne-Marie Hodge

This question seems unnecessary, but let's ask it anyway: Why do we care about water pollution? There are myriad reasons, of course, but a common answer is that we are concerned about poisoning wildlife. Chemicals in both industrial and residential wastewater are potentially toxic to an array of species and can alter the functionality of entire food webs. We should not toxify nature. Of course poisoning wildlife is bad. We are (rightfully) so concerned about how many animals die as a result of human... Read more

Stress Promotes Skin-Healing in Mice

Posted 10 August 2014 by Anne-Marie Hodge

Everyone has experienced the effects of stress: fidgeting, sweating, inability to focus, gain or loss of appetite, racing heartbeat, and so on. All of these things can happen to us when the adrenal system releases "stress hormones," a process that often disrupts many aspects of daily life. We don't like it. Our aversion to stress has sparked a cottage industry of self-help books, seminars, podcasts, videos, and various therapies that claim to teach us how to chill out and stay calm.   Although the "symptoms" of stress make... Read more

The Enemy of My Enemy Means More Food–Monkeys Use Human Shields

Posted 29 July 2014 by Anne-Marie Hodge

The human species is a major driver of biodiversity loss across the globe. Occasionally, however, that propensity for extermination can become an advantage for animals that associate with us. What could be better protection from competing species than the presence of a menace that threatens wildlife? Sometimes, being the enemy of an enemy can turn us into a "friend"--or at least the lesser of two evils. This issue was highlighted in recent study involving the samango monkey (Cercopithecus mitis erythrarcus),... Read more

Does Sloth Fur Fungus Hold the Next “Wonder Drug?”

Posted 28 January 2014 by Anne-Marie Hodge

Throughout human history, humans have included wild animals in their folklore, mythology, and daily vocabulary. Animals with especially distinctive traits have likewise become ensconced in modern popular culture and language. Leonine features are considered striking and sexy, outfoxing someone is a demonstration of cleverness, and it is obnoxious to parrot someone in a conversation. Being slothful is unlikely to gain you any respect. Sloths spend the vast majority of their lives nearly sedentary, moving through the canopy at incremental paces.... Read more

Life in the slow lane: Primate metabolisms run at half the pace of other mammals

Posted 22 January 2014 by Anne-Marie Hodge

  Western society is obsessed with metabolism. Magazines bombard us with splashy headlines offering hyperbolic advice on how to boost, rev, fire up, jump-start, enhance, or otherwise maximize our metabolic rates. You should eat six meals a day, or fast two days a week, or drink green tea before every meal, or sleep 9 hours a night, or hang upside down, or use company X’s proprietary powder/capsule/plant-extract to ensure that your metabolism is purring along like a jet. We are... Read more

Parasite-Swapping Between Two Introduced Species: The Cane Toad Strikes Again

Posted 10 September 2013 by Anne-Marie Hodge

  Aliens are among us, and they don't have to come in the form of little green humanoids to cause problems. Non-native species create major headaches, whether they are introduced intentionally or arrive at far-flung places as stowaways. These "alien" invasive plants and animals can (and often do) wreak havoc on native species, because local organisms often lack the adaptations to deal with a novel predator and/or competitor to which they've never before been exposed. Entire ecosystems have been disrupted... Read more

“Casanovas are Liars” and the launch of a new open-access science journal

Posted 28 August 2013 by Anne-Marie Hodge

It is well known that higher quality items tend to be more desired, and often more expensive, than their lower quality counterparts. This applies to everything from tomatoes to cell phones to sexual partners. Social species face a quandary if the quantity of preferred items is limited, however, and competition is especially intense if members of that species commonly mimic each other's choices. For example, if you express a preference for something, you are indicating that you think it's relatively... Read more