Origins of avian vision • A mating strategy to ruffle some feathers • Boomerang birds? • Microbes in space • A battery of neuropsychological tasks • Bulimia and body image • A need for better definition • Filling in the details on tooth decay risk
Evolution: Origins of avian vision
Male bowerbirds are famed for building elaborate structures from colourful found objects, in order to woo their mates. Because of this, they’ve become something of a model organism for studying the evolution of vision in birds. A new study now analyses the sequences of light-sensitive proteins called opsins to confirm that UV sensitivity in the visual system of the Great Bowerbird has re-evolved from violet-sensitive ancestors several times –representing an …
As the volume of research data increases so does its complexity, and with it the need to find sophisticated solutions for visualisation. In this guest post, Nils Gehlenborg, one of the General Chairs of the organizing committee of the BioVis 2012 Symposium, guides us through some highlights from last year’s meeting. Published as a new Supplement in BMC Bioinformatics, this collection of articles brings together six of the meeting’s most notable submissions, and is co-edited by Organising Committee members Miriah Meyer and Jan Aerts.
Novel approaches for visualization of biological data are becoming ever more relevant in a time when data sets are rapidly growing in size and heterogeneity. Given the complexity of the challenges that …
Who is better at multitasking? • Giant panda genetics • Ethnicity affects experience • Making a game out of science • The tardigrade nervous system • Google Maps for molecular biology • Is Herpes helping HIV?• Housework is not good exercise
Psychology: Who is better at multitasking?
It’s a long-standing question that’s been beset by rumour and stereotype, but it seems that women really do appear to outperform men in multitasking. Female subjects performed better than their male counterparts at both a task-switching computer game and a ‘pencil and pen’ multitasking test, suggesting that they really do have the advantage when it comes to multitasking ability. Why not take the test for yourself, and see how well you perform?
The magnetic resonance image on the right is my heart. It was taken a little while back when I took part in a clinical trial investigating the genetics of heart abnormalities. I was just one of many healthy(ish) volunteers recruited to provide data to be compared against patients whose heart function had gone awry.
I don’t know at what stage the trial is at currently and I don’t know when or where the investigators will choose to publish their results, but I hope that they choose to publish them openly.
Healthy volunteers take part in clinical trials for many reasons. Out of curiosity, sometimes out of benevolence, often because of financial incentives. Regardless of their motivations, it seems likely that …
A few weeks back, staff here at BioMed Central took some time out to turn the tables on publishing science by becoming citizen scientists. Swapping the office environment for the great outdoors (well, a park in London), a small band of dedicated data-gatherers joined organisers of a new initiative lead by Imperial College London to survey the health of the UK’s trees. Here, we talk to Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) about how a new generation of enthusiastic amateurs are helping to crowdsource answers to some of sciences’ most intractable puzzles, and how even an urban jungle can yield useful data on the spread of deadly plant disease.
What is OPAL?
Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) led by Imperial College London, is a …
BMC International Health & Human Rights is excited to be attending the World Health Summit (WHS) 2013 held in Berlin, Germany, from 20-22 October. The WHS will bring together key stakeholders in international health and development, with a vision to improve health worldwide and set the agenda for future research, education and health care policy.
If you are attending the conference and would like to meet to discuss your work and interests, please contact Executive Editor Irene Pala.
We look forward to meeting you in Berlin.
Among the many strategies that prey species use to avoid being eaten is camouflage. But how is this strategy affected if the prey species exists in different colour morphs and different habitat types? A recent experiment from researchers at Linnaeus University in Sweden and Åbo Akademi University in Finland investigated this very question, using pygmy grasshoppers. Rather than use natural predators the researchers looked a little closer to home for their experimental subjects. Here, BMC Ecology talks to the study’s senior author Professor Anders Forsman about how humans might make useful experimental ”predators” in ecological research:
1. Could you tell us a little about the study system used in your research?
As an evolutionary ecologist, I’m interested in how different processes …
BMC Bioinformatics launches its latest article collection today, focusing on Bioimage Informatics.
Edited by Ivo Sbalzarini, Pavel Tomancak and Hanchuan Peng, Section Editor for BMC Bioinformatics (Allen Institute for Brain Science, Seattle, USA), this thematic series focuses on the latest developments in the emerging field of computational analysis, management, visualization, and mining of biological images. In an accompanying commentary by Peng the major issues in computational neuroscience are highlighted along with suggestions on potential solutions based on bioimage informatics, especially automated image computing.
Several articles in this series propose novel segmentation methods for detecting cell nuclei (Azuma and Onami, and Buggenthin et al., Navlakha et al., and Song et al.), determining cell morphology (
Teaching biology is as easy as Pi • Fukushima fallout over butterflies • Probiotics are not to be sniffed at • Bacterial social networks • Image of the month • Farmed salmon make a bid for freedom • ART and death
Bioinformatics: Teaching biology is as easy as Pi
An open access, open learning method for teaching bioinformatics uses the Raspberry Pi computer and a custom operating system to teach early-career researchers key skills in systems administration and computational biology at low cost. The course, developed for teaching undergraduates computational biology at the University of St Andrews (UK) is freely available for anyone wishing to develop their coding skills with this innovative new piece of hardware. Want to know more? Read an …
In the final blog covering the ecological conference INTECOL, BMC Ecology looks back at a day of conservation, policy, and “ecological rockstars”
Yesterday’s post highlighted the problems of space in ecology, and via a rather tenuous link to Milton Mendonca’s (UFRGS) afternoon talk asking whether metapopulation theory can be be used to inform a new science of “astroecology”, today’s post is all about stars.
Kicking off with Georgina Mace’s centenary address as British Ecological Society (BES) president, this was the first of a number of talks throughout the day focusing on questions of conservation and policy, asking the rather thorny question: “who is conservation for?”
With a creative use of wordclouds to illustrate the changing face of conservation science since the 1960’s, …