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If you’re a #plant, what control do you have over #reproduction? You can’t choose another plant to be pollinated by. A bird or an insect deposits the #pollen and the rest just happens, right? Apparently not. For the first time, it has been shown that a plant can discriminate amongst visiting potential pollinators, and can invest more or less in reproduction based on that discrimination. This work examined the reproduction of the plant Heliconia tortuosa: researchers artificially pollinated the plant, then controlled visits by various natural pollinators, and finally measured how the visit affected reproduction. They found that these tropical plants showed more vigorous signs of reproductive activity after visits from birds that extract the most #nectar, and also those that tend to travel daily over a wider area. The authors hypothesize that the capacity for nectar extraction is the means by which the plants recognize the visitors, and that the tendency to favor those who travel more serves to help maximize the diversity conspecific pollen received. #science #botany #ecology #pnas http://www.pnas.org/content/112/11/3433.full

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Why do so many animals have #eyelashes? Yes, they help keep things out of one’s eyes. However, the authors of this work measured the eyelashes of 22 different #mammalian species, and performed painstaking experiments in a #windtunnel which suggest that eyelash length is optimized, relative to eye size, to divert airflow away from the eye. Not only does this “eyelash length reduces both deposition of airborne particles and evaporation of the tear film by a factor of two.” #science #ethology #jrsocinterface http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2014.1294

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If you’re a glowing #mushroom, how do you decide when to shine? If you’re Neonothopanus gardneri, you just listen to your internal clock, apparently. Recent work shows that the #bioluminescence of this #fungus is regulated by a #circadian rhythm, which is useful because “insects that disperse fungal #spores are attracted to light at night”. #science #biology #currbiol #cell http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822(15)00160-8