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In this News Blog you will news about Brachypelma spp. and other interesting news concerning the smallest among us.

You will also find messages about updates and other things concerning Brachypelma.org here.

After a while it is also possible that I will post some of my notes from my biology studies here, unless they are more relevant in other sections of the site.



ScienceDaily: Rhythmic Vibrations Guide Caste Development in Social Wasps

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Future queen or tireless toiler? A paper wasp's destiny may lie in the antennal drumbeats of its caretaker. While feeding their colony's larvae, a paper wasp queen and other dominant females periodically beat their antennae in a rhythmic pattern against the nest chambers, a behavior known as antennal drumming.

The drumming behavior is clearly audible even to human listeners and has been observed for decades, prompting numerous hypotheses about its purpose, says Robert Jeanne, a professor emeritus of entomology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Many have surmised that the drumming serves as a communication signal.

"It's a very conspicuous behavior. More than once I've discovered nests by hearing this behavior first," he says.

Jeanne and his colleagues have now linked antennal drumming to development of social caste in a native paper wasp, Polistes fuscatus. The new work is described in a study published in the Feb. 8 issue of Current Biology by Jeanne, UW-Madison postdoctoral researcher Sainath Suryanarayanan and John Hermanson, an engineer at the USDA Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wis.

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ScienceDaily: People Aren't Born Afraid of Spiders and Snakes: Fear Is Quickly Learned During Infancy

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There's a reason why Hollywood makes movies like Arachnophobia and Snakes on a Plane: Most people are afraid of spiders and snakes. A new paper published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, reviews research with infants and toddlers and finds that we aren't born afraid of spiders and snakes, but we can learn these fears very quickly.

One theory about why we fear spiders and snakes is because so many are poisonous; natural selection may have favored people who stayed away from these dangerous critters. Indeed, several studies have found that it's easier for both humans and monkeys to learn to fear evolutionarily threatening things than non-threatening things. For example, research by Arne Ohman at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, you can teach people to associate an electric shock with either photos of snakes and spiders or photos of flowers and mushrooms -- but the effect lasts a lot longer with the snakes and spiders. Similarly, Susan Mineka's research (from Northwestern University) shows that monkeys that are raised in the lab aren't afraid of snakes, but they'll learn to fear snakes much more readily than flowers or rabbits.

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ScienceDaily: Identity Theft by Aphids: Research Points to a Need for Possible Reclassification of Aphid Species

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Collaborative research at the University of Guam has people asking: "What IS a species" and entomologists wondering about the relationship between an insect species and the host plant or plants it feeds on.

Western Pacific Tropical Research Center (WPTRC) entomologist Ross Miller has been studying aphids for years and this work has brought him in contact with entomologists in Canada and the US mainland. Aphid systemetist Robert Foottit, DNA expert Eric Maw and aphid authority Keith Pike have been working with Miller on the identification of aphids, particularly the dreaded banana aphid, Pentalonia nigronervosa for nearly ten years. The banana aphid is of interest to researchers and growers worldwide due to its role in transmitting banana bunchy top virus (BBTV).

Using DNA sequencing, this shared project has discovered genetic differences in aphids that resemble banana aphids, but feed on different plants. In their recently published paper, in the journal Zootaxa, the authors present data supporting the idea that Pentalonia caladii may be a species in its own right instead of a form of Pentalonia nigronervosa.

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ScienceDaily: Two New Species of 'Leaping' Beetles Discovered in New Caledonia

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Only five species of these so-called 'flea' beetles, out of a global total of 60, had been found to date in New Caledonia, in the western Pacific. A three-year study has now enabled Spanish researchers to discover two new herbivorous beetles -- Arsipoda geographica and Arsipoda rostrata. These new beetleshold a secret -- they feed on plants that the scientists have still not found on the archipelago.

"The study, financed by the National Geographic, went some way beyond merely classifying species, and investigated the ecology of these herbivorous insects with a prodigious leaping capacity, which they use to avoid their predators," Jesús Gómez-Zurita, lead author of the study and a researcher at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (CSIC-UPF) who is passionate about New Caledonia and collected hundreds of beetles in order to study them, said.

The researchers, from Spain and New Caledonia, used previously-developed molecular tools in order to classify the DNA sequences of the animals' diet, in particular chloroplast DNA (which is exclusive to plants). The team used plant matter remains found in the digestive tract of the insects at the time they were killed in order to extract their DNA at the same time.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 January 2011 10:22
 

BBC: First pictures of rare wetland spider in Cambridgeshire

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A spider that was feared extinct in the UK has been photographed for the first time after a new colony of the species was found.

The Rosser's sac spider, which had not been seen for 10 years, has been discovered at Chippenham Fen in Cambridgeshire.

It makes its home in wetland areas and had been found only once before, at Lakenheath Fen in Suffolk.

Fears were growing that the spider had died out due to loss of habitat.

The light brown spider was first discovered in the 1950s, but the draining of the fens and changing farming practices since the World War II had put it under threat.

Spider enthusiast Ian Dawson spotted a Rosser's sac spider in September at the Cambridgeshire site, and a further search in October revealed 10 spiders.

He said: "I was extremely surprised to find the first one and then when we went back a month later it was great to find more of them.

"If we've managed to find 10 of them, I think there must be quite a sizeable population of Rosser's at that particular site."

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From Buglife: Found – The Spider that was Feared Extinct

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Last Updated on Thursday, 25 November 2010 21:19
 


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