Here's the second edition of Segments - a weekly feature on Expiscor, bringing you short stories, links and photographs about arthropods. Here are a few highlights from the past week....hope you enjoy!
- Watch out for that Scorpion! Arie van der Meijden and coauthors did a fascinating project on scorpions, assessing the relationship between morphology and behaviour in their defensive behaviour. Bottom line: these amazing animals use their 'strongest' defence mechanisms, either their stinger or their pincers, when required. As the authors state, their work corroborates "the anecdotal rule that dangerously venomous scorpions can be recognized by their chelae and metasoma". A species with thick chela, for example, is a species more likely to pinch you than sting you.
- Natural history collections are valuable for so many reasons, and in this paper, Heather Kharouba and co-authors use museum data to explore climate change effects on butterflies. The historical data showed that the flight seasons of many species shifts earlier as the climate warms.
- Are these wolf spiders really different species? This is a pretty common question with those of us who have spent time looking through a microscope at Pardosa species. Slowick & Sikes published a study in the Journal of Arachnology highlighting this exact problem, and in their words: "We found no reliable morphological characters to separate the four species, P. groenlandica, P. tristis, P. prosaica, and P. dromaea,". The species were undiagnosable without geography.
- A wee little (new) custacean. Despite more than a few errors in this science daily release, I like it when new species are described. In this case, Liropus minusculus. Awesome name.
- Speaking of crustaceans, Nash Turley took some lovely photos of a wood louse, and wrote a terrific blog post on the species. It's nice to see 'common' things looked at as being animals worthy of our attention. Nice work, Nash!
- On the blogging front - Bug Girl's post at Wired Science is all about arthropods at a rave... bioluminesence is certainly one of nature's wonders. Gwen provides a really nice explanation of why so many bugs "glow".
- What do spiders and velcro have in common? A terrific post (on a brand new blog about spiders) about sound production in Theraphosa blondi. Nicely done, Cataranea.
- Doctor knows best? But which one? It's a controversy in Australia! Cameron Webb pointed me to this story about redback spider anti-venom in Australia. It seems that recent research suggests that anti-venom is not all that effective, but the medical community doesn't agree.
- On art & science, check out these wonderful creations of insects (and other animals) over at Why Evolution is True. Stunning!!
- Get to know your ants. Especially Camponotus --> As Alex Wild tweeted, they are among the most important ants for non-specialists to recognize.
- I have often noticed "wildlife photography" often excludes arthropods, despite insects, spiders and their relatives being the most common animals on the planet - they are wild! Is it that 'wildlife' must be things with fur, feather or fins? Bugman Jones wrote about this issue a little while ago, and he suggests perhaps "wildlife" photographer competitions ought to be renamed "The Cuddly-Wildlife Photographer of the Year".
- Tweet of the week goes to....Terry McGlynn. Wow.