Category Archives: Biodiversity

Discovering India in Delhi – 2

It is that time of year again–painting walls ruined by water seepage, or the dreaded सीलन. The painters are from Bihar, they say, from सीतामढ़ी, Mithila, Sita’s birthplace. What do you grow there, I ask, wheat and  rice, they say, so naturally … Continue reading

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Chilgoza and nutcrackers

We became familiar with Pinus gerardiana as undergraduates on field trips in the Himalaya in Himachal Pradesh and, of course, knew it as source of the most delicious chilgoza nut. Pinus gerardiana Wall. 1832; Pinus gerardiana               Well, … Continue reading

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Nectar robbing is not always a bad thing!!

My colleague, Rajesh Tandon (pdf) and his students Vineet (lead author) and Chandan have found that in Tecomella undulata (Bignoniaceae) in Rajasthan, India, sunbirds “rob” flowers of nectar i.e., do not pollinate the flowers they drink from, because they are too … Continue reading

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Climate changes, flowers decline, bees start foraging short flowers…tongues shorten

Miller-Struttman et al. 2015. Functional mismatch in a bumble bee pollination mutualism under climate change (Abstract). Science 349: 1541-1544.  Alpine plants with long tubed flowers are pollinated by long-tongued bees. In this paper, Dr Candace Galen and her collaborators use a combination of historical and … Continue reading

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Giraffes and their necks

The standard story of how the giraffe got its long neck may not be as straightforward as we usually think of it (or teach it): There is a large diversity of giraffe relatives in the fossil record, as the chart shows. This … Continue reading

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Leishmaniasis cure, sterol: Pentalinon andrieuxii, Mayan medicinal plant

Centuries of knowledge explored, exploited and … acknowledged. Should there be more? Do patents trump everything else? Does history mean anything? Does the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing mean anything? Does it apply in this situation (the USA is not a signatory to … Continue reading

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A fake snake caterpillar

A recent study shows the bare minimum mimicry that you need to evolve so that you can fool potential predators. The study was conducted by John Skelhorn, Grace G. Holmes, Thomas J. Hossie and Thomas N. Sherratt, and published in the Journal of Behavioral Ecology. Carl Zimmer, … Continue reading

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