Wild Things: Life as We Know It
Hummingbirds, birch trees, queen bees, northern quolls and more...
- By Amanda Bensen, T.A. Frail, Erica R. Hendry, Abigail Tucker and Sarah Zielinski
- Smithsonian magazine, June 2010
Northern quolls, cat-size Australian marsupials (FLPA / David Hosking / AGE Fotostock)
Northern quolls, cat-size Australian marsupials, are driving themselves to extinction by eating toxic cane toads invading their territory. But researchers down under have taught some quolls to save themselves. They applied a nauseating chemical to cane toads too small to be lethal, and then fed those amphibians to quolls, much to the quolls’ disgust. When released into the wild, those quolls survived up to five times longer than untrained animals. The researchers envision deploying batches of chemically treated cane toads to teach quolls the bitter truth.
Learn more about the northern quoll at the Encyclopedia of Life.
“Birch (Betula spp.) leaves adsorb and re-release volatiles specific to neighbouring plants – a mechanism for associational herbivore resistance?” Sari J. Himanen et al., New Phytologist, March 10, 2010
“A seasnake’s colour affects its susceptibility to algal fouling,” R. Shine et al., Proceedings of the Royal Society B, April 7, 2010
“Mate choice and mate competition by a tropical hummingbird at a floral resource,” Ethan J. Temeles and W. John Kress, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, February 3, 2010
“Socially induced brain development in a facultatively eusocial sweat bee Megalopta genalis (Halictidae),” Adam R. Smith et al., Proceedings of the Royal Society B, March 24, 2010
“Conditioned taste aversion enhances the survival of an endangered predator imperiled by a toxic invader,” Stephanie O’Donnell et al., Journal of Applied Ecology, April 13, 2010