18 January 2010

Blogging the white sands

While out of town for Science Online, I got word of a new blog worth following – two other University of Idaho doctoral students, Simone DesRoches and Kayla Hardwick, have started writing about a self-directed course they've set up at The Evolutionary Ecology of White Sands, NM.

Simone and Kayla will be reading three classic evolutionary ecology texts, Dolph Schluter's Ecology of Adaptive Radiation, Jerry Coyne and Alan Orr's Speciation, and Robert MacArthur's Geographical Ecology, and discussing them in the context of their research on the lizards of White Sands, New Mexico. Three distantly related species have all evolved white coloration after colonizing a region of white gypsum sands, each via a different genetic mechanism. (For more details, see Ed Yong's excellent recent article about the White Sands lizards.) It's a fascinating system, and the three books should make a great jumping-off point for discussing what's known about it and what's yet to be learned.

The white sands. Photo by Fabian A.M.

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