A bird that has been declared extinct in the wild for more than 30 years could see a return to its natural habitat on the Pacific island of Guam, thanks to the work of a University of Tennessee, Knoxville, researcher.
Researchers at UT Explore Causes of Biodiversity in Perching Birds
New research by a global team of scientists has resulted in significant strides in ornithological classification and identified possible causes of diversity among modern bird species.
The study, coauthored by researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focuses on perching birds, or passerines. Comprised of over 6,000 species, this group—which constitutes over half of all known bird species—includes familiar birds such as robins, jays, bluebirds, finches, and sparrows.
The report also includes an analysis of the impact some events in Earth’s history could have had on passerines’ biodiversity.
Read more about the study at news.utk.edu.
Species at the Extremes of the Food Chain Evolve Faster, Study Says
Reef fish species at the extremes of the food chain—those that are strict herbivores or strict fish predators—evolve faster than fish species in the middle of the food chain with a more varied diet, according to a new study published in Nature Ecology and Evolution.
The paper, co-authored by Samuel Borstein, a PhD candidate in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, could challenge the way scientists think about evolution in relation to the position a species holds on the food chain.
Up until now, scientists thought that species that eat a wide variety of different foods might evolve quicker and show more variations in morphology—physical aspects such as size, shape, and color.
Graduate Student Spotlight: Shelby Scott
In 2016, Louis Gross, a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, presented to his Math Ecology students an article about the lack of gun violence research conducted in the United States.
He assigned his class to use mathematical modeling, a method of using equations to describe and predict phenomena in biology, to assess gun violence. When the project was over, one of his graduate students, Shelby Scott, decided to continue researching gun violence. She hasn’t stopped since.
“It was like there was a voice in my head telling me to pursue the topic,” said Scott. “Except the voice in my head was the media, my friends, and the government. It was the new stories of mass shootings every day—the stories of interpersonal violence and fatalities.”
Recognitions, February 7
Coble Named Southern Company Faculty Fellow
Jamie Coble has been named the Tickle College of Engineering’s first Southern Company Faculty Fellow in recognition of her work as an assistant professor of nuclear engineering.
“I’m honored and grateful to have been selected for this recognition and to be associated with Southern Company, given it operates and is expanding its nuclear power operations,” Coble said. “This will enable me to focus even more on the issues surrounding the safety, sustainability, and economic competitiveness of nuclear power as a key carbon-free energy source.”