Tag Archives: dragonfly

Bad Neighbors

Image Credit: ksblack99, Public Domain, Image Cropped

Exposure to potentially cannibalistic conspecifics induces an increased immune response (2020) Murray et al., Ecological Entomology, https://doi.org/10.1111/een.12806

The Crux

Plasticity is a powerful force in nature that allows organisms to change the way they look, the way they act, and even their own physiological processes. Prey species commonly exhibit plastic responses when they are exposed to predators, and recent studies have shown that these predator-induced effects can affect the immune function of the prey species. Because of this, predators have the potential to modify disease dynamics, either increasing disease/parasite infection by reducing the prey’s immune function, or decreasing disease by increasing immune function.

Interestingly, predators are not the only organisms that consume prey species. Some prey species eat both members of their own trophic level (an intraguild predator, see Did You Know) and members of their own species (a cannibal). Because they act like a predator (by eating a prey organism), there’s a possibility that these cannibalistic individuals may have the same effect on their potential victims. Today’s authors used larval dragonflies to investigate that exact question.

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10 Great (And Not-So Great) Social Distancers of the Animal Kingdom

In the time of a global crisis like the one we’re in now, it’s more important than ever that we pay attention to what scientists are saying.

However, my colleagues and I are ecologists, and as such don’t really have as much practical advice for you as epidemiologists and sociologists do right now. All we can really say is stay at home, and practice physical distancing (NOT social distancing, we need each other more than ever right now).

However not all species have the comfort of being social without being close to each other. So in the name of providing some entertainment in difficult times, I gathered a bunch of colleagues together to figure out how some of their study organisms would cope if the need to socially distance was imposed on them.

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If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get Out of the Pond

Dragonflies like this Western Pondhawk female are particularly vulnerable to warming due to climate change. (Image Credit: Eugene Zelenko, CC BY-SA 4.0, Image Cropped)
Simulated climate change increases larval mortality, alters phenology, and affects flight morphology of a dragonfly (2018) McCauley et al., Ecosphere, doi:10.1002/ecs2.2151

The Crux

Climate change is something that we hear about on a daily basis. The dire warnings tend to concern sea levels rising and temperatures varying so much that we have more intense and deadly storms than before, but these are all direct effects of the climate. Another thing that climate change can do is have indirect effects on organisms.

Organisms with complex life cycles spend the juvenile part of their lives in one environment before moving on to the adult stage in another environment. The researchers in this study wanted to know how simulated climate change during the juvenile stage of the organisms lifetime could affect the adult stage.

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