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Evolution of correlated complexity in the radically different courtship signals of birds-of-paradise

PLOS Biology (new articles) - 3 hours 28 min ago

by Russell A. Ligon, Christopher D. Diaz, Janelle L. Morano, Jolyon Troscianko, Martin Stevens, Annalyse Moskeland, Timothy G. Laman, Edwin Scholes III

Ornaments used in courtship often vary wildly among species, reflecting the evolutionary interplay between mate preference functions and the constraints imposed by natural selection. Consequently, understanding the evolutionary dynamics responsible for ornament diversification has been a longstanding challenge in evolutionary biology. However, comparing radically different ornaments across species, as well as different classes of ornaments within species, is a profound challenge to understanding diversification of sexual signals. Using novel methods and a unique natural history dataset, we explore evolutionary patterns of ornament evolution in a group—the birds-of-paradise—exhibiting dramatic phenotypic diversification widely assumed to be driven by sexual selection. Rather than the tradeoff between ornament types originally envisioned by Darwin and Wallace, we found positive correlations among cross-modal (visual/acoustic) signals indicating functional integration of ornamental traits into a composite unit—the “courtship phenotype.” Furthermore, given the broad theoretical and empirical support for the idea that systemic robustness—functional overlap and interdependency—promotes evolutionary innovation, we posit that birds-of-paradise have radiated extensively through ornamental phenotype space as a consequence of the robustness in the courtship phenotype that we document at a phylogenetic scale. We suggest that the degree of robustness in courtship phenotypes among taxa can provide new insights into the relative influence of sexual and natural selection on phenotypic radiations.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Reproducible research practices, transparency, and open access data in the biomedical literature, 2015–2017

PLOS Biology (new articles) - 3 hours 28 min ago

by Joshua D. Wallach, Kevin W. Boyack, John P. A. Ioannidis

Currently, there is a growing interest in ensuring the transparency and reproducibility of the published scientific literature. According to a previous evaluation of 441 biomedical journals articles published in 2000–2014, the biomedical literature largely lacked transparency in important dimensions. Here, we surveyed a random sample of 149 biomedical articles published between 2015 and 2017 and determined the proportion reporting sources of public and/or private funding and conflicts of interests, sharing protocols and raw data, and undergoing rigorous independent replication and reproducibility checks. We also investigated what can be learned about reproducibility and transparency indicators from open access data provided on PubMed. The majority of the 149 studies disclosed some information regarding funding (103, 69.1% [95% confidence interval, 61.0% to 76.3%]) or conflicts of interest (97, 65.1% [56.8% to 72.6%]). Among the 104 articles with empirical data in which protocols or data sharing would be pertinent, 19 (18.3% [11.6% to 27.3%]) discussed publicly available data; only one (1.0% [0.1% to 6.0%]) included a link to a full study protocol. Among the 97 articles in which replication in studies with different data would be pertinent, there were five replication efforts (5.2% [1.9% to 12.2%]). Although clinical trial identification numbers and funding details were often provided on PubMed, only two of the articles without a full text article in PubMed Central that discussed publicly available data at the full text level also contained information related to data sharing on PubMed; none had a conflicts of interest statement on PubMed. Our evaluation suggests that although there have been improvements over the last few years in certain key indicators of reproducibility and transparency, opportunities exist to improve reproducible research practices across the biomedical literature and to make features related to reproducibility more readily visible in PubMed.
Categories: Biology, Journals

Can gravitational waves go through extra dimensions? Einstein says no

HIV and AIDS - Tue, 2018-11-20 19:30
General relativity has survived its latest test after observations of a violent collision between neutron stars tallied perfectly with Einstein’s theory

Searching for Antarctica’s penguins, lost meteorites, and oldest ice

HIV and AIDS - Tue, 2018-11-20 18:30
As winter approaches in the northern hemisphere, hundreds of scientists are heading to Antarctica to study the solar system’s past and predict Earth’s future

Car assembly is heavy work – this exoskeleton can boost your strength

HIV and AIDS - Tue, 2018-11-20 16:45
Factory workers at Ford’s car assembly plants are using exoskeletons to help with their gruelling work. Leah Crane visited the factory to try one out  

NASA has chosen the landing site for its life-hunting 2020 Mars rover

HIV and AIDS - Tue, 2018-11-20 15:05
Jezero crater on Mars is thought to have once had a river flowing along its rim and could hold signs of ancient life

Silencing a gene may prevent deadly pre-eclampsia in pregnancy

Genetics - Mon, 2018-11-19 18:00
Pre-eclampsia affects up to 10 per cent of pregnancies and can have serious complications. A single injection may one day be enough to lower blood pressure
Categories: Biology

Complex stone tools in China may re-write our species’ ancient history

Genetics - Mon, 2018-11-19 18:00
A cache of sophisticated stone tools from a cave in China date back 170,000 years – perhaps a sign that our species arrived in East Asia earlier than we thought
Categories: Biology

Silencing a gene may prevent deadly pre-eclampsia in pregnancy

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) - Mon, 2018-11-19 18:00
Pre-eclampsia affects up to 10 per cent of pregnancies and can have serious complications. A single injection may one day be enough to lower blood pressure
Categories: Science and society

Complex stone tools in China may re-write our species’ ancient history

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) - Mon, 2018-11-19 18:00
A cache of sophisticated stone tools from a cave in China date back 170,000 years – perhaps a sign that our species arrived in East Asia earlier than we thought
Categories: Science and society

Silencing a gene may prevent deadly pre-eclampsia in pregnancy

HIV and AIDS - Mon, 2018-11-19 18:00
Pre-eclampsia affects up to 10 per cent of pregnancies and can have serious complications. A single injection may one day be enough to lower blood pressure

Complex stone tools in China may re-write our species’ ancient history

HIV and AIDS - Mon, 2018-11-19 18:00
A cache of sophisticated stone tools from a cave in China date back 170,000 years – perhaps a sign that our species arrived in East Asia earlier than we thought

How to 3D-print a living, beating heart

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) - Mon, 2018-11-19 14:00
Think 3D printing is all about obscure plastic widgets? Think again – bioprinting pioneer Jennifer Lewis has a plan to make living, breathing human organs
Categories: Science and society

How to 3D-print a living, beating heart

Genetics - Mon, 2018-11-19 14:00
Think 3D printing is all about obscure plastic widgets? Think again – bioprinting pioneer Jennifer Lewis has a plan to make living, breathing human organs
Categories: Biology

Einstein was wrong: Why ‘normal’ physics can’t explain reality

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) - Mon, 2018-11-19 14:00
The most ambitious experiments yet show that the quantum weirdness Einstein famously hated rules the roost – not just here, but across the entire universe
Categories: Science and society

Einstein was wrong: Why ‘normal’ physics can’t explain reality

Genetics - Mon, 2018-11-19 14:00
The most ambitious experiments yet show that the quantum weirdness Einstein famously hated rules the roost – not just here, but across the entire universe
Categories: Biology

Termites in Brazil have covered an area the size of Britain in mounds

Genetics - Mon, 2018-11-19 13:50
A vast network of termite tunnels and 2.5-metre-tall mounds that covers 230,000 square kilometres may be the biggest engineered structure built by an insect
Categories: Biology

Termites in Brazil have covered an area the size of Britain in mounds

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) - Mon, 2018-11-19 13:50
A vast network of termite tunnels and 2.5-metre-tall mounds that covers 230,000 square kilometres may be the biggest engineered structure built by an insect
Categories: Science and society

Termites in Brazil have covered an area the size of Britain in mounds

HIV and AIDS - Mon, 2018-11-19 13:50
A vast network of termite tunnels and 2.5-metre-tall mounds that covers 230,000 square kilometres may be the biggest engineered structure built by an insect

Nonfacial Portrait review: art fights to save faces and paint over AI

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) - Mon, 2018-11-19 13:00
Artists play cat and mouse with face-recognition software at a South Korean exhibition in the battle to retain a division between humanity and machines
Categories: Science and society