A sneak peek at the opening splash of ESPN The Magazine’s NBA Preview special.
The issue features art by some of Marvel’s top artists, including this piece by Greg Horn. Head to Marvel.com for a really kickass look behind the scenes on this Marvel/ESPN team-up and to see Greg’s full piece.
If the city attorney asks you to smoke marijuana and perform a series of driving tests, do you refuse?
Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez and KABC radio host Peter Tilden sure didn’t.
As part of the experience, Lopez and Tilden then were put through the paces in a car of weaving around traffic cones, parking, and following traffic signals. Then they were asked to smoke marijuana and do it again.
Lopez’s buds were called “Train Wreck,” which may have explained the rationale for having an emergency crew standing at the ready.
Dude - stop bogarting the Pulitzer.
EXACTLY LIKE HIM. Until you see the smile (:
I swear he has that shirt. sigh…I wish I wasn’t so familiar with his wardrobe. ##obsession
Wow…that takes a lot. I had to lookup Westboro Baptist Church
You know you’re a bunch of assholes when…
For community ecologists, the species isn’t a particular interesting occurence. While taxonomists may care about various species, ecologists care more about interactions, that is how the various trophic levels affect each other; and they spend quite a bit of time searching for a metric quantifying interactions that is analogous to the species.
When discussing the diversity of interactions, ecologists attempt to create chains of consumption. Keep in mind that there are ~180,000 described species of Lepidoptera (moths), but <90,000 of their immature species (larva/caterpillars) have been described. (NB: we learned later that the Lepidoptera account for more biomass than any other insect). Ecologists like Dr. Dyer investigate and record the number of interactions/unit area and make a plot.
If one were to make a graph of of diversity of interactions vs. latitude, one would notice three interesting trends. First, the number of species increases exponentially as one moves from either pole towards the equator, thus, the logarithm of this graph is a negatively-sloped line. Next, one notices that the diet breadths of predators increases logarithmically as one moves from the poles to the equator. Finally, the diversity of interactions among trophic levels is almost sinusoidal as one goes from the poles to the equator. As a result of this, it seems that tropical caterpillars are more specialized than ones that dwell in more temperate climates, which is an extremely important question to address.
Using a technique called “phylogenetic correction,” which examines the genetic distance between host plants, the paper, “Why are there so many species of herbivorous insects in tropical rainforests?” Novotny, et al. (2006) estimate the number of herbivourous insects based on the their specialization to host plants. According to Dyer, there is a major flaw in Novotny’s methodology, specifically that Novotny’s sample size is not large enough, since he compares Europe and Papua New Guinea. This stands in stark contrast to Dyer and his EarthWatch teams’ work, which has sites in Ecuador, Costa Rica, Arizona, New Orleans, Nevada and Connecticut. Thus, instead of Novotny’s direct variation, Dyer argues that there is more of a gradient.
The gradient takes the shape of an inverse relation beetween the number of host genera and latitude. In order to elucidate this relationship, Dyer applies the concept of beta-diversity. Alpha-diversity refers to the number of species in a given habitat, while beta-diversity refers to the turnover between host plants and species. For example, if caterpillars A, B, and C feed on plant 1 and these same caterpillars also feed on plant 2, they are generalists, and the beta-diversity is low. Conversely, if caterillars A, B, and C feed on plant 1, and caterpillars, D, E, and F feed on plant 2, then beta-diversity is high, species turnover is high, and these caterpillars are said to be specialists.
If one plotted turnover between plants (beta-diversity) as a function of latitude, one would see a near-linear relationship, with there being extremely low turnover in Canada and temperate regions, and extremely high turnover in Ecuador and more tropical climates.
Apparently there’s a libertarian sub-culture in Arizona that keeps it on its own timezone. This has wreaked havoc on my sleep schedule, but in a good way, as the state is 3 hours behind DC, making it extremely easy for me to wake up at 5:30 am to impress the other fellows in the expedition.
At 7 this morning, we reported to La Quinta’s gazebo for a primer on the research that our Principal Investigator, Lee Dyer, is performing at multiple sites including the Nevada, New Orleans, Ecuador, Costa Rica and the Southwest Research Center in Arizona. What follows is my attempt to recapture the highlights of the talk.
Lee’s research primarily concerns the multitrophic view of biodiversity that is characterized by four levels:
- Plant (resource) - 1st trophic level
- Caterpillar (consumer) - 2nd trophic level
- Parasitoid - 3rd trophic level
- Hyperparasitoid - 4th trophic level
While the first two levels are somewhat self-explanatory, I find the third and fourth levels particularly interesting. In these habitats, there are several species of diptera and hymenoptera (flies and wasps, respectively) that lay eggs via an ovipositor in caterpillars. The larva ultimately hatch and consume the caterpillar host; parasites such as these comprise the third trophic level. The fourth trophic level is an amazing occurance. Certain flies and wasps will land on a parasitized caterpillar and listen with their feet to determine the exact location of an egg. Following the egg’s location, they will pierce the caterpillar and parasitoid egg with their ovipositor and insert eggs into the parasite that will consume the parasite upon its hatching. Grotesque, but awesome.
Anyway, Dr. Dyer is interested in how interactions between trophic levels vary across latitudinal gradients along with climate and biodiversity. We’ll get into more details with this later…
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