We are very excited by the increasing uptake of our open access option across ecology and evolutionary biology in Royal Society Publishing journals. These are important subject areas in our ‘B-side’ (Biology) journals, and we hope to continue to see a growing proportion of open access literature in these fields. There are too many brilliant open access ecology and evolutionary biology articles in our journals to include them all in a single blog post, but our Publishing Editors have selected a single snapshot article for each of our relevant journals below.
In many species, females prefer high quality males as partners. As one aspect of quality is physical fitness, fitter males are expected to be more attractive. The relationship between attractiveness and endurance performance was tested in a unique sample of the male population, namely eighty professional elite cyclists that raced the 2012 Tour de France. Based on hundreds of attractiveness ratings, it was found that handsome men finish first. This association between looks and performance is in line with human endurance performance having been shaped by selection in our evolutionary past. Image credit: Wikimedia, Igs165. Biology Letters
The wing pattern in female African mocker swallowtail butterflies (Papilio dardanus) is highly diverse, with different discrete forms resembling different poisonous species. This mimetic resemblance deceives predators and protects the species from predation. Only patterns that closely match the poisonous model are protected, and the diversity of wings displayed suggests that a complex genetic mechanism is involved. This research indicates that just a single gene, which orchestrates the activity of many others, acts as a ‘master switch’ and determines the variety of wing pattern. This helps to ensure the various patterns remain distinct and prevents the formation of intermediate forms. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Pharmaceuticals are now widespread in the environment and some have caused major wildlife effects, such as mass mortalities of vultures in Asia. However, little information is available generally on the exposure of higher wildlife (birds and mammals) nor do we understand if pharmaceuticals pose significant risk. This article examines how birds and mammals may be exposed, reviews known and potential effects, and determines how best to detect and assess risk. It concludes that existing contaminant monitoring schemes could and should be used for monitoring exposure to pharmaceuticals and current risk assessment approaches need to be modified if we are to safeguard wildlife. Image credit: Charles Tyler. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
The evolution of synchronous signal displays in male assemblies of insects of the same species has been a conundrum for almost 100 years. This study sheds light on the contribution of cooperation and competition between males of the bushcricket species Mecopoda elongata, famous for its chorus synchrony. Females of this species prefer a periodic signal exhibiting a conspecific signal period over signals that are faster and slower. This preference forces males in a chorus to signal in synchrony, which increases the peak amplitude of communal signal displays and allows females to select males according to signal timing favouring inter-male competition. Royal Society Open Science, our newly launched fully open access journal.
Finally, proving that evolution isn’t just for biologists, we have included the below article from Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
Alone the question “Which are the most common words and phrases of the English language?” has a certain appeal, especially if one is able to use data dating as far back as early 16th century to answer it. Based on approximately 4% of books ever published, this article shows that the English language was governed by the same universal laws as the making of new friends and the growth of the World Wide Web, and reveals why the rankings are unlikely to change, as well as why the language is both mature as well as very popular the World over. Image credit: Raul Ruano Ruiz.
Don’t forget we’re making all of our content free for Open Access Week, so visit the individual journal pages to access all of our content this week. Tomorrow’s OA week blog will be on infectious diseases.