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Genetic and epigenetic relationships across evolutionary and ecological timescales in Icelandic stickleback

The ability of organisms to colonize or adapt to new and changing environments is of critical interest in biology, especially considering the threats and advances of human-induced environmental change. Certain traits may play a key role in determining population persistence or decline in the face of climate change, habitat fragmentation, and the like. In the […]

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Surviving cyanide – one path or many?

Cyanide is deadly – to most things. In high enough doses it blocks the body’s ability to create energy by interrupting cellular respiration. But even at non-lethal doses it has knock-on effects throughout the body. Despite this, a few mammals eat it regularly. In my last post, I described how I found multiple ways in […]

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Surviving Cyanide – Part One

Eating is dangerous. Are you drinking a glass of wine? Perhaps planning pesto for dinner? The very flavors that attract us to those foods come from toxins plants produce to protect themselves. We humans know to the deadly ones. But imagine you’re a wild herbivore – every bite you take is a risk. Bamboos, and […]

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Revealing ancient hybridization’s role in diversification

Hybridization between closely related species is a rapidly emerging field of interest for evolutionary biologists, and the more scientists look for signals of hybridization (with ever fancier tools), the more we learn that hybridization is the norm rather than the exception (Payseur & Rieseberg 2016). While young species pairs tend to hybridize more readily than […]

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Reproductive Isolation and the ‘Hockey Assist’ – How a shift to self-compatible mating systems can bring about reproductive isolation

The first steps in the process of speciation are a bit paradoxical when you think about it…how does one freely interbreeding species make the transition to two reproductively isolated, independent species? More specifically, how do intraspecific mating barriers become interspecific? And why even are there intraspecific mating barriers? Well, that last question is easier to […]

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Jumping genes help resolve obscure species relationships

Figuring out evolutionary relationships between species is hard enough when they diversified recently, but what if they rapidly diversified many millions of years ago? A group of baleen whales, the rorquals (Balaenopteridae), for example, diversified starting about 10.5 million years ago (Figure 1; Árnason et al. 2018). Within this group, the evolutionary relationship of the […]

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