Breakthroughs

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Archive for the ‘Zoology’ Category

Lionfish Outcompete the Natives on Coral Reefs

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on May 1, 2011

To get more information about the F.A.  Gilfillan Memorial Award Lecturer Mark Hixon and his research on Lionfish, please read Nick Houtman’s story Lionfish Outcompete the Natives on Coral Reefs in terra magazine.

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Dr. Mark Hixon to give Gilfillan Memorial Award Lecture, Thursday, May 5th

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on April 29, 2011

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Halloween horror story – tale of the headless dragonfly

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on November 2, 2010

Headless dragonfly

In a short, violent battle that could have happened somewhere this afternoon, the lizard made a fast lunge at the dragonfly, bit its head off and turned to run away. Lunch was served.

But the battle didn’t happen today, it happened about 100 million years ago, probably with dinosaurs strolling nearby. And the lizard didn’t get away, it was trapped in the same oozing, sticky tree sap that also entombed the now-headless dragonfly for perpetuity.

OSU News Release: Halloween horror story – tale of the headless dragonfly

Discovery News: Lizard Entombed With Dragonfly Head in Mouth

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Ancient “Monster” Fly Discovered

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on October 27, 2009

unicorn fly

Photo by George Poinar

A single, incredibly well-preserved specimen of the tiny but scary-looking fly was preserved for eternity in Burmese amber, and it had a small horn emerging from the top of its head, topped by three eyes that would have given it the ability to see predators coming. But despite that clever defense mechanism, it was apparently an evolutionary dead end that later disappeared.

OSU News Release: Ancient “monster” insect offers Halloween inspirations

Science Daily: Ancient ‘Monster’ Insect: ‘Unicorn’ Fly Never Before Observed

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Grant awarded to Zoology Faculty for work on Alzheimer’s research and Circadian clocks

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on September 3, 2009

The committee for the Oregon Partnership for Alzheimer’s Research announces the recipients of the 2009 – 2010 OPAR grants.

Congratulations OPAR Grant Recipients!

The Oregon Partnership for Alzheimer’s Research Committee is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2009- 2010 OPAR grants. These grants are made possible through the Oregon Tax Checkoff program.  You can support this program when you file your state income tax.  Support researchers who are entering the field of Alzheimer’s disease research or who are pursuing new directions in Alzheimer’s research.

Jadwiga M. Giebultowicz, Ph.D. – “The Role of the Circadian Clock in Alzheimer’s Disease”
Humans and other animals have an internal clock system that regulates sleep-wake patterns.  This internal system is called a circadian clock.  Circadian clocks synchronize biological processes within an organism and coordinate them with the solar day/night cycle. Deregulation of circadian synchronization leads to sleep disturbances and age-related diseases. Recent data suggest that disruption of the circadian system and age-related pathologies are not understood. We recently showed that disruption of the circadian clock leads to increased levels of oxidative damage in the model organism, Drosophila melanogaster. Since impaired circadian rhythms and oxidative stress are linked to Alzheimer’s disease (AD), we initiated a novel study aimed to decipher how the circadian clock protects against age-related oxidative damage.

http://www.ohsu.edu/xd/research/centers-institutes/neurology/alzheimers/news-events/news-story.cfm

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Biological clocks of insects could lead to more effective pest control

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on August 21, 2009

“We found that it took triple the dose of one pesticide to have the same lethal effect on fruit flies at the time of day their defenses were strongest, compared to when they were weakest,” said Louisa Hooven, a postdoctoral fellow in the OSU Department of Zoology and lead author on the study. “A different pesticide took twice the dose. This makes it pretty clear that the time of day of an exposure to a pesticide can make a huge difference in its effectiveness.”

The new findings, the OSU researchers said, are also another example of how circadian rhythms are important in other detoxification systems in biology.

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Birds not likely descended from dinosaurs

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on June 10, 2009

chickenFrom Science Daily:

Warm-blooded birds need about 20 times more oxygen than cold-blooded reptiles, and have evolved a unique lung structure that allows for a high rate of gas exchange and high activity level. Their unusual thigh complex is what helps support the lung and prevent its collapse.

“This is fundamental to bird physiology,” said Devon Quick, an OSU instructor of zoology who completed this work as part of her doctoral studies. “It’s really strange that no one realized this before. The position of the thigh bone and muscles in birds is critical to their lung function, which in turn is what gives them enough lung capacity for flight.”

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FrogWatch USA

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on May 22, 2009

Andrew Blaustein, Zoology Professor and Director of the Environmental Sciences Graduate Program at OSU, says amphibians are experiencing mass extinctions:

Oregon State University zoologist Andrew Blaustein says monitoring amphibians is important because they are especially sensitive to environmental changes. They have no hair or feathers and their eggs have no shells, and they also have to survive both on land and in water— what Blaustein calls, “a double-whammy.”

To read more about Andrew and check out some fun pictures from the Blaustein Lab, click here!

Posted in Environmental Sciences, Zoology | Leave a Comment »

Oldest example of mutualism found

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on May 15, 2009

termiteOSU’s George Poinar — a researcher and international expert on life forms found in amber — has discovered the oldest example of mutualism ever found.  (Mutualism is a type of symbiotic relationship in which two species help each other… in this case, termites and protozoa.)

From Science Daily:

The analysis of a termite entombed for 100 million years in an ancient piece of amber has revealed the oldest example of “mutualism” ever discovered between an animal and microorganism, and also shows the unusual biology that helped make this one of the most successful, although frequently despised insect groups in the world.

Click here to read the entire article.

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Where, oh Where?

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on May 7, 2009

Today’s article on the Cyber Diver News Nework asks the question:

Where have all the big fish gone?

And gives us the answer (spoiler, sorry!):  In our stomachs.

“We have already eaten most of the big fish in the Caribbean according to a new study [by OSU alumnus Dr. Chris Stallings] that links the decline of sharks, groupers and other big fish to a rise in human population.”

Mark Hixon was Chris’ doctoral advisor here at OSU, and was quoted in the article regarding the Lionfish population:

“Lionfish are minor players on their native Pacific reefs, yet they are undergoing a population explosion and overeating small fishes in the greater Caribbean region. Preliminary evidence suggests that lionfish are less invasive where large predatory native fishes are abundant, such as in marine reserves.”

See full size image

We write about Mark and his work on Breakthroughs because A) he’s a world renowned expert in coral reef ecology, B) his work is vital to OSU’s strategic plan, and C) he’s a great teacher and mentor — and a nice guy to boot.

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