Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider: Sociality in Spiders

By Cameron Jones


Stegodyphus mimosarum rum work together to subdue a grasshopper that flew into their web.

When you think of spiders, the idea of them living or working together is probably the last thing that crosses your mind. After all, aside from when an egg sac has just hatched, we rarely see spiders together let alone interacting with each other. There is good reason for this: in spiders, group behavior, or what scientists call sociality is very rare. In fact, of the more than 45,000 species of spiders known, only about

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Creature Feature: Steamer Ducks


Steamer ducks, consisting of four species of waterfowl, are pretty odd animals. They are unusual for ducks in several ways, including the fact that they weigh many times more than most ducks and are largely incapable of flight,  with the only species capable of flight being the appropriately named “flying steamer duck” (Tachyeres patachonicus). Unlike other animals in our Creature Feature category, however, these are particularly notable for their violent tendencies, facilitated by bony knobs on their wings. Continue reading

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Featured Creature: European Rabbit


I know what you’re thinking: you came here to read a feature about a creature like a pink fairy armadillo or something else you’ve probably never heard of. I bet the fact that you’ve seen a rabbit or maybe even owned one as a pet makes you think you know rabbits pretty well. Right? Well you may know less than you think…

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Examining Ecotourism – Does it stress out the monkeys?

By Dominique Bertrand
YummyLizardEcotourism is a growing industry. In 2001, United States citizens alone spent 32 billion dollars traveling overseas to view wildlife in their native habitats. This amount is expected to triple by 20201. Local populations often benefit financially from this industry due to the demand for lodging, food, and guides. However, this increase in human travel creates problems for native species of interest. In primate species specifically, there is evidence that unavoidable, chronic exposure to tourism can be stressful, as indicated by behavioral and physiological responses, even in sites active for decades2,3.

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Create Feature: Wolverine

If you’re planning on dressing up as Wolverine for Halloween this year, folks here at the Ethogram suggest you start looking for a caribou leg and not retractable nails for your costume. Yep- that’s right- wolverines are not just a Marvel comic book character- they’re one of the most elusive and aggressive mammalian predators of the North!

WolverineWolverines (Gulo gulo) get their scientific name from the Latin word, “gulo”, which means glutton. This name is fitting for the wolverine as they have a voracious appetite. Primarily scavengers, wolverines have a diverse diet which includes moose, caribou, snowshoe hare, beavers, whales, seals, fish, birds and berries. Their gluttonous eating habits are thought to fuel a fast metabolism compared to other mammalian predators. To find food, wolverines can move large distances. One radio-collared wolverine, M3, summited Mt. Cleveland in Glacier National Park in only 90 minutes: a steep ascent of almost 5,000 feet (that’s almost a vertical mile)! Continue reading

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Creature Feature: Cuttlefish


Common cuttlefish. Credit: Jarek Tuszynski.

You’ve most likely heard of squid and octopii, but have you ever seen their close relative, the Cuttlefish (Order: Sepiidae)?!  There are about 120 species of cuttlefish around the world, exhibiting an amazing array of behaviors and fascinating physiological adaptations.


Cuttlebone. Credit: Mariko Goda.

Like other cephalopods, cuttlefish are marine animals with at least 8 Continue reading

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A Murder of Crows: West Nile in the Winter

By Mitch Hinton

Hundreds of Crows departing from their roost in the early morning

Caption: Hundreds of Crows departing from their roost in the early morning

It’s fall and winter is rapidly approaching. For many in Davis this brings to mind mildly cooler temperatures and wetter conditions (we hope). To me however, as a bird enthusiast, fall signals the influx of migratory American Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) and their formation of massive Continue reading

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Creature Feature: Peacock Mantis Shrimp

Photo credit: Michael Bok. Found via National Geographic

Photo credit: Michael Bok. Found via National Geographic

The peacock mantis shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus), sometimes known as the harlequin or painted mantis shrimp, are found in the warmer waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans. While commonly known for their bright coloration, the peacock mantis shrimp has one of the most advanced eyes and vision systems in the animal kingdom, far beyond those we have as humans. While we have three types of photoreceptors (red, green, and blue), the mantis shrimp have anywhere from 12-16. This means that not only can they see more colors than us, but they can also see well into Continue reading

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Deep Connections Might Make Us Nicer

by Curtis Atkisson

That title, right?! Sounds like the most brain-dead obvious thing in the whole world. But, for those of us interested in they study of cooperation, it’s not that obvious, and the fact that deep connections might make us nicer is also pretty darn cool.


Network of human trade alliances

Social network analysis is an amazing tool that allows us to look at how individuals’ relationships impact their behavior… Continue reading

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Field Notes: Life on Monkey Island

I’m finally back after a summer field season studying monkeys in Japan!


IMG_2989My research was conducted on Koshima Island, the birthplace of Japanese Primatology and home to a population of almost 100 Japanese macaques. You may have heard of Continue reading

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