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The pervasiveness of pyramids: ecological milestones across the curriculum

Posted 3 December 2014 by Christopher Buddle

What are the ecological milestones over the past century? (note: this is a post as part of the Ecological Society's #ESA100 blog carnival) This is a very tricky question, and an exciting question. I’ve given this a great deal of thought over the last while. I also think about this a great deal when I teach ecology, in part because I feel that University students should have some familiarity with basic ecological concepts – they should know about milestones. If... Read more

Splash-cups and tetherball: the astounding biology of Bird’s nest fungi

Posted 3 October 2014 by Christopher Buddle

Another fine example of Bird's nest fungi. (Photo by S. Darbey, reproduced here under CC licence 2.0)

I think if I weren’t interested in spiders I would probably be a mycologist. The world of fungi is a fascinating one, and the natural history of mushrooms (& relatives) intrigues me. Early this week, my love of mushrooms was satisfied while teaching my field biology course. We spent several hours with a mycologist, and had a magnificent collecting trip. As always, I learned a great deal, including a story about the natural history of a truly amazing family of... Read more

Knock, knock: Ten facts about Red-Headed Woodpeckers

Posted 18 September 2014 by Christopher Buddle

Red-headed woodpecker (Photo by B. Frei, reproduced here with permission)

Birds are wonderful - they are diverse, full of personality, and exhibit amazing behaviours and life history. Among our feathered friends, woodpeckers are especially impressive, and ornithologist and conservation biologist Dr. Barbara Frei knows this better than anyone. She completed her PhD on red-headed woodpeckers and their conservation, and she has graciously agreed to provide us with a contribution for the ten fact series here on Expiscor. Here are some things you probably never knew about these hard-headed birds: 1. Wanted: a cavity... Read more

Silken treasures: A gallery of spider egg sacs

Posted 10 September 2014 by Christopher Buddle

Argiope aurantia egg sac. Photo by J. Lapp, reproduced here, with permission.

Spiders are truly magnificent: from the animated personalities of jumping spiders, to the stealthy hunting prowess of wolf spiders, they inspire us, and can sometimes create unwanted fear. We often forget, however, that spiders are more than predators with two body parts and eight legs. Female spiders also produce wonderful structures in which to protect their eggs. Many years ago, when I was rearing wolf spiders as part of my PhD, I recall observing a female making her egg sac.... Read more

The truth about spider bites: “Aggressive” spiders and the threat to public health

Posted 4 September 2014 by Christopher Buddle

A male brown recluse spider. Photo by M. Bertone, reproduced here with permission

This is written and researched by Arachnologist Catherine Scott, with a little help from Chris Buddle. Misinformation about spider bites is everywhere Spiders are polarizing: people tend to be fascinated or fearful, and for some, Arachnophobia can be quite serious. However, spiders are often feared unnecessarily. They are quickly blamed for almost ALL unexplained bites or lesions! It doesn’t help that there is an incredible amount of misinformation and fear-mongering related to spiders in the popular media and all over the internet. What’s... Read more

Giant, fertile city spiders: behind the scenes

Posted 29 August 2014 by Christopher Buddle

I was excited to see the attention around an interesting spider-focused paper published in PLOS last week, titled "Urbanisation at Multiple Scales Is Associated with Larger Size and Higher Fecundity of an Orb-Weaving Spider" by Lizzy Lowe, Shawn Wilder, and Dieter Hochuli. This work ignited creativity in headlings around the world, including things like "City living makes spiders big, fat and fertile, researchers say" or "Our hot, bright cities are spawning gigantic spiders". Lowe et al. looked at how body... Read more

Ten facts about rove beetles (Staphylinidae)

Posted 25 August 2014 by Christopher Buddle

Phanolinus auratus (Photo by S. Chatzimanolis)

This edition of ten facts is courtesy of Stelios Chatzimanolis - he's an evolutionary biologist and entomologist, working at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. You can learn more about Stelios at his website, blog or follow him on twitter. Here are ten facts about some pretty amazing beetles: 1. Rover beetles do not look like other beetles. Unlike most beetles, rove beetles have short fore wings (elytra) and part of their abdomen is exposed. Superficially they look like earwigs but they never have the pincers... Read more

Spiders are scared of things too

Posted 18 August 2014 by Christopher Buddle

I've written a lot about Arachnophobia over the past little while, and it's certainly clear that many people are quite scared of spiders. But what about the spiders? What might they be fearful of...? Well, a picture can say a thousand words, so here goes:   In the photo, the wasp (in the family Pompilidae) is exhibiting its normal behaviour, which involves catching spiders, and in this case removing the legs of its prey, and the wasp prepares to take... Read more

Quiescence

Posted 24 June 2014 by Christopher Buddle

Quiescence is defined as a period of rest; being quiet, still or inactive. It’s often used to describe period of inactivity in insects, but I think also applies well to my current of state of blogging, and what I see as the state of my blogging into the near future. This short post is really just to update my followers and readers, and to explain my current situation. Life has ups and downs, and cycles around a career and work... Read more

Ten Things to Love About Mosquitoes

Posted 20 June 2014 by Christopher Buddle

Here's another in the "ten facts" series - from Dr. Cameron Webb: blogger, entomologist, and expert on mozzies... You can follow Cameron on twitter! Yes, mosquitoes are the most dangerous animals on the planet. Thing is, they’re not all bad. In fact, there are relatively few of the 3,000 or so known mosquito species found throughout the world that actually have a significant impact on humans. The majority of mosquitoes aren’t involved in the spread of pathogens that cause dengue... Read more