The flattop mountains (tepuis, pictured above left) of South America are ancient remnants of the Precambrian Guiana Shield plateau. The tepui summits, isolated by their surrounding cliffs that can be up to 1000 m tall, are thought of as “islands in the sky,” harboring relict flora and fauna that underwent vicariant speciation due to plateau fragmentation. However, in a paper in a recent issue of the journal Evolution, biology professor Brice Noonan and colleagues showed that the tepui summits harbor young rather than old lineages of endemic frogs. Read more: New York Times
In a paper in the January 2012 issue of the journal Current Biology, biology professor Ryan Garrick and colleagues published a paper showing that a giant tortoise species previously thought to be extinct may still be alive and breeding in the Galapagos Islands. Read more: LA Times, Discover Magazine, nature.com blog
In March, 2011, Dept. of Biology graduate student Edward Hanlon headed to La Milpa Field Station in Rio Bravo Conservation Area in NW Belize, to study male mating strategies in the Ocellated Turkey (the only near relative of the North American wild turkey). Edward is investigating the adaptive nature of male mating strategies and contrasting this species with what his advisor Dr. Rich Buchholz and others have learned about the mating system of the wild turkey. In support of his research, Edward has obtained funding from Sigma Xi, the American Pheasant and Waterfowl Society, and the Ole Miss Graduate School.
In a recent issue of the Journal of Comparative Physiology A (available online October, 2010), Ole Miss Biology assistant professor Dr. Christopher Leary and colleagues published a paper that examines the mechanisms by which neurons in the auditory pathway of frogs and toads encode specificity for pulse repetition rate of their calls - an acoustic feature that is critical in mate selection and in distinguishing among heterospecific and conspecific calls.
In the August, 2010 issue of Ecology, Ole Miss Biology assistant professor Dr. Jason Hoeksema and his collaborator Dr. Michael Booth (Principia College) published a paper demonstrating that interactions among trees in Monterey pine forests have two components: a negative component due to root competition, and a facilitative component due to redistribution of water by common mycorrhizal networks.
In the January, 2010 issue of Hydrobiologia, Ole Miss Biology professor Dr. Cliff Ochs and graduate students Heath Capello and Nok Pongruktham published the first study of heterotrophic bacterial production in the main channel of the Lower Mississippi River.
Iguanas walked to Fiji, according to a new paper in The American Naturalist by Dr. Brice Noonan.