12 December 2011

scared to death

(from: Vancouver Sun, Dec. 9, 2011, By Margaret Munro, Postmedia News)

" ...Clinchy says cats should not be allowed in wildlife areas as previous studies have shown that feral and domestic cats directly kill 22 per cent of birds in Victoria parks. He says the fear effect is likely reducing the number by another 20 per cent... "

Life on idyllic-looking islands in British Columbia took a noisy and decidedly deadly turn when biologist Liana Zanette set out to measure the effect of fear.
She and her colleagues hung speakers near song sparrow nests and began broadcasting the sounds of hawks, raccoons and other predators.
The sparrows were so scared they experienced something akin to post-traumatic stress. They laid fewer eggs and were so flustered many of their chicks starved to death.
By the end of the four-month experiment the sparrows had produced 40-per-cent fewer young than normal, demonstrating what scientists say is the very real effect of fear.
The results, published today in the journal Science, indicate the mere sound and presence of predators can be just as deadly as their claws and fangs.
"This effect can be as important as direct killing," says Zanette, of the University of Western Ontario.
She and her colleague, Michael Clinchy, a biologist at the University of Victoria, say the fear effect is common in animals and needs to be considered when managing wildlife: be it elk looking over their shoulders for wolves in national parks or birds flitting away from urban rats and cats.
"Wild animals are in peril every moment of every day of being torn limb from limb by any number of predators," says Clinchy, who says the stress response to predators may have parallels with post-traumatic stress disorder in humans.

Read more: The Vancouver Sun

7 December 2011

Aphyosemion elberti JVC 07

 ^^Aphyosemion elberti JVC 07, dominant male
^^dominant male, about 15 weeks after hatching

more killies on stormidae here and here

5 December 2011

beating the bullies 6

To all my friends and supporters,
I made this video 4 months ago just before school was about to start. I was 13. It was a very emotionally dark time in my life. I made the video at 4:00am in the morning; I hadn't been sleeping at night for a long time, too many things going on in my head. I was dreading going back to school and I had not come out to my family yet. Only my closest friends knew. I didn't know how to say what I needed to say. All I could think about were all the bad things that had been happening at school last year, every year for that matter. I just couldn't bare to go through that anymore. I was done being fake happy, pretending hateful words didn't hurt, done hiding it from my family.
So this video was made for my friends that had moved on to High School who were worried for me, to say to them that I was going to take a stand, and to the haters at my middle school that I'm not going anywhere. I am who I am. I posted the video here and told people were to find it. That was it.
My friends were moved by the video and thought I did something important. I was encouraged to upload it to my Facebook page so more people could see it. Maybe it could help someone else going through the same thing. So I linked it Dec. 1st. My Parents saw it for the first time Dec, 2nd.
Then..... all this happened.
I never expected in a million years that it would have such a wonderful impact on so many people. I am truly humbled and truly thankful for all the love, encouragement and support from people all over the world. It's been incredibly overwhelming. I don't know what to say. Thank you so, so much!
Lastly, yes you have seen me happy in a couple short videos replies I posted; I would think that would be a good thing , and yes I do have friends, my High School friends, and I have made friends because when I came out they realized that they had hurt me and that they fealt sorry. The video is real, and true.
In the last few months everything eventually came out in the open, I felt a huge weight off my shoulders; I'm happy, I'm excepted for who I am, I'm more confident and feel stronger every day.
Thank you all, Love and peace to all who are hurting.
Jonah Mowry


1 December 2011

no ethics without god

(from: Vancouver Sun, Dec. 1, 2011, by Randy Shore)

"Religious believers distrust atheists more than members of other religious groups, gays and feminists, according to a new study by University of B.C. researchers.
The only group the study’s participants distrusted as much as atheists was rapists, said doctoral student Will Gervais, lead author of the study published online in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
That prejudice had a significant impact on what kinds of jobs people said they would hire atheists to do.
“People are willing to hire an atheist for a job that is perceived as low-trust, for instance as a waitress,” said Gervais. “But when hiring for a high-trust job like daycare worker, they were like, nope, not going to hire an atheist for that job.”
The antipathy does not seem to run both ways, though. Atheists are indifferent to religious belief when it comes to deciding who is trustworthy.
“Atheists don’t necessarily favour other atheists over Christians or anyone else,” he said. “They seem to think that religion is not an important signal for who you can trust.” ..."

read more at the Vancouver Sun
atheist registry

9 November 2011

Happy Birthday, Dr. Sagan, with thanks

(from: eSkeptic)

Happy Birthday Carl Sagan!

November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996
If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe. —Carl Sagan
FEW CELEBRITIES IN SCIENCE have done more for the promotion of science, reason, rationality, and critical thinking than Carl Sagan, whom we remember today upon the occasion of his birthday: November 9, 1934. Carl would have been 77 years old today. Happy Birthday Carl!

The Measure of a Man
In celebration of Carl Sagan Day, we would like to share with you a free lecture from our Distinguished Lecture Series at Caltech: Carl Sagan: The Measure of a Man. In this lecture, Michael Shermer, William Poundstone and Keay Davidson take an illuminating look back over the life and legacy of one of the 20th Century’s most celebrated astronomers.

Carl Sagan  on YouTube
Carl Sagan on stormidae here and here

4 November 2011

20 October 2011

beating the bullies: spirit day 2011

(from: Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) "Millions of Americans wear purple on Spirit Day as a sign of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth and to speak out against bullying. Spirit Day was started in 2010 by teenager Brittany McMillan as a response to the young people who had taken their own lives. Observed annually on October 20, individuals, schools, organizations, corporations, media professionals and celebrities wear purple, which symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag. Getting involved is easy -- participants are asked to simply "go purple" on October 20 as we work to create a world in which LGBT teens are celebrated and accepted for who they are."


7 October 2011

random sounds 30: hey Mona x5

Bo Diddley 1987 (live)

Homer Henderson date? (live)

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers w/ Bo Diddley 1999  (live)

Craig McLachlan 1990 (music vid)

Timothy L 2011 (karaoke)

1 October 2011

rethinking the birds and bees

 The astounding strength of homosexual bonds in Zebra Finches: Ladies need not apply…

(posted with permission of the author:
Dr. Carin Bondar, biologist with a twist,
posted originally on August 15, 2011)
Certain animal species are both sexually and socially monogamous – meaning that strong pair bonds are formed between two individuals, and these bonds withstand the test of time.  Among the most faithful pair-bonded species are the Zebra finches, who have been shown to forge extremely long-lasting and exclusive partnerships that end only with the death of a partner.  Partners engage in several behaviours outside of those involving direct sexual contact, including mutual preening, nest defense and foraging.  It has been observed that zebra finches are capable of forming both heterosexual partnerships as well as homosexual ones – and researchers recently questioned the role of the sex ratio in determining the frequency of such affiliations.  Not only were they interested in the frequency of same-sex partnerships in skewed sex ratio conditions, but they were also interested in the NATURE of the same sex partnerships.

Are homosexual partnerships as stable as heterosexual ones?

Do homosexual partners engage in the same ritualistic behaviors as heterosexual couples?

How do homosexual VS heterosexual relationships compare when it comes to attentiveness and intensity of interactions?

Captive zebra finches (laboratory reared stock) were placed into experimental setups with varied sex ratios.  Generally speaking, at the population level you can expect a sex ratio of approximately 1:1; however, at local scales the ratios can become rather skewed due to various ecological factors such as emigration, habitat availability or social dynamics.  The sex ratios tested in this study were, 6:6 (male: female), 8:4, and 11:1.  In each case the finches were placed in their experimental setup and observed daily for the formation of partnerships as well as various characteristics relating to them.  The level of interaction between the partners, partner attentiveness, preening, feeding and several other behavioral characteristics were observed and quantified in order to give a sense of not only the quantity of homosexual vs heterosexual partnerships, but the QUALITY of these relationships as well.

The first set of results was not incredibly surprising:  when fewer females were present, males formed partnerships with each other instead.  However, what is extremely interesting about this work is the careful observation of the nature of the partnerships.  When it came down to measures of relationship strength, selectivity, stability and attentiveness between partners, NO DIFFERENCES were found in these qualities between heterosexual or homosexual partnerships.  In other words, the bonds formed between partners appeared to be very similar, regardless of the sex of the partner.  Same sex pairs were found to utilize the same behavioral repertoire as their heterosexual counterparts, including allopreening, nest displays, courtship and even copulation.

The last result from this work is little short of astounding.  Once male: male partnerships had been established, females were re-introduced to the experimental cages in order to assess whether they had the power to ‘break-up’ the homosexual couples.  It turns out that females could do little to tempt males out of their same-sex partnerships – males remained faithful to their homosexual partners REGARDLESS of the presence of extra females!

Establishing a strong partnership (regardless of the sex of your partner) is a critical part of survival for many bird species.  Zuk (2006) proposed the ‘Social Partner Hypothesis’, which states that forming a close bond with a monogamous partner trumps the need for that partner to be one of the opposite sex.  Advantages for survival (including nest defense and foraging) are much greater when one has an established and reliable partner, and in many cases homosexual bonding may be explained by such a phenomenon.  Being in a couple is critical to survival in these socially monogamous birds, and this could be the driving force behind the evolution of homosexual bonding.

I find these results fascinating – especially the last one where male: male partnerships withstood the test of extra female presence.  From a socially monogamous standpoint this certainly makes sense, and is seen in some other species such as waved albatross (where female partners have been observed to form bonds that last for more than a decade).  However, at some point, an opposite-sex partner is required in order to produce offspring.  Female albatross seek out males exclusively for this purpose, and then they return to their female partner to rear and raise the offspring.  So far, this work with zebra finches has not looked at the long-term consequences of homosexual pairing, though I am actively anticipating it.  Seeing as homosexual couples both COURTED and COPULATED with each other, this shows that sexual behaviors between same sex partners are not out of the question.  However, long term studies will shed light on whether males will seek out females for the sole purpose of genetic propagation outside of their homosexual partnerships.  For the sake of their evolutionary future I hope they do :)
Zuk, M. (2006). Family values in black and white Nature, 439 (7079), 917-917 DOI: 10.1038/439917a
Elie, J., Mathevon, N., & Vignal, C. (2011). Same-sex pair-bonds are equivalent to male–female bonds in a life-long socially monogamous songbird Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology DOI: 10.1007/s00265-011-1228-9

27 September 2011

today in the nursery

 ^^long fin White Cloud Mountain Minnows, less than a hour old and not quite ready to swim
^^slightly older siblings (by minutes). Barely 2mm at hatching, the fry congregate in groups at the water's surface.

10 September 2011

random sounds 29: Trunk Drive

Trunk Drive performing at Leigh Square, Port Coquitlam, BC, August 20, 2011.
Video recorded by Storm.

6 September 2011

guest shots: photos by borneodaya@gmail .com

^^33g Corydoras habitat (with bristlenose plecs and minnows)
^^33g Corydoras habitat
^^Simese Algae Eater (SAE) Crossocheilus siamensis
^^White Cloud Mountain Minnow and Corydoras julii
^^Corydoras julii, the leopard cory
  ^^Corydoras aeneus, albino bronze cory
^^white cloud
   ^^White Cloud
 ^^White Cloud
 ^^33g  Zoogoneticus tequila habitat
 ^^10g, more white clouds
how to breed white clouds at home

Storm's aquariums, photographed by  borneodaya@gmail.com on August 30, 2011
(link fixed 13 03 2013)

19 August 2011

derelict housing

^^active nesting site in 2010 and 2011, the entrance gave way around fledging time

more about flickers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology: All About Birds

22 June 2011

logging the Amazon

expanded logging in the Brazilian Amazon   
(photo and text from AVAAZ)
To President Dilma Rousseff : We call on you to take immediate action to save Brazil's precious forests by vetoing the changes to the forest law. We also urge you to prevent further murders of environmental activists and workers by increasing the enforcement against illegal loggers and ramping up protection for people at risk from violence or death. The world needs Brazil to be an international leader on the environment, your strong action now will safeguard the planet for future generations.