Luca Disbrow / Daily Nexus

Drosophila Diapause

Model organisms like Drosophila melanogaster — also known as the common fruit fly — provide important insights into the human body, answering questions that arise both when examining the body of a human and that of a fly. One of these questions is why and under what conditions does aging reduce female fertility. Scientists know that D. melanogaster enters a phase called adult reproductive diapause, which is a state in which reproduction is suspended in response to a stressful environment. It is known what genetic and external changes impact reproductive diapause, but what is not known is what precisely facilitates diapause and subsequent recovery after this process. This was precisely the focus of postdoctoral scholars belonging to the Denise Montell Lab of the molecular, cellular, and developmental biology department. The researchers documented the stages of ovarian development during and after diapause and found that an effect on even earlier stages of that development were impacted by diapause, which was not formerly known. Although other stressors to the fly, such as predator exposure or excessive heat, affect these stages, diapause had a profound effect on those stages, specifically in egg chamber development. The factors that impact fertility preservation can lead to further research on maintaining and prolonging longevity, mainly in terms of the fertile stage of organisms, small and large.

Contrived Confirmation

What we define as truth may be more externally and subjectively influenced than we think. A research team – including professor Jonathan Schooler and postdoctoral researcher John Protzko, who both belong to the psychological & brain sciences department — studied what they defined as the “insight misattribution” effect. In an experiment consisting of approximately 4,500 participants, the researchers observed that after experiencing moments of insight or epiphany unrelated to a specific worldview, the participants found that worldview to be more truthful. In their first experiment, their method of study was to ask participants to rate their beliefs of the world when they experienced “aha” moments after solving anagrams. Their second experiment revealed that the “aha” moment and the worldview belief statement had to be perceived simultaneously for the effect to occur. They ultimately found that these manufactured moments of epiphany could make certain beliefs seem truer, concluding that humans rely on such feelings to determine whether or not an idea is true or not — in short, they gathered that feelings influence not only our decisions to act, but our decisions to believe in something.

Tree Species Sum Total

It has been acknowledged that there are many trees on our planet, as well as many kinds of trees. The diversity of the trees that inhabit forests and other biomes is essential to species diversity and other factors that comprise the stability of an ecosystem. However, the task of determining exactly how many tree species truly exist on planet Earth was only recently undertaken by a research team consisting of hundreds of academics from around the world, including individuals from the ecology, evolution, and marine biology department at UCSB. Due to the difficulties of undertaking this task, mainly logistical and fiscal constraints, this determination remained only an estimation based on global data. It was estimated that total tree species richness stands at approximately 73,000 tree species globally. Among these, 12.3%, or approximately 9,000 species, have yet to be discovered. A third of these species can be considered rare, which, according to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America report, highlights the vulnerability of global tree diversity due to land use and climate change.