I couldn’t decide which paper to cover this week. Instead, I’m going to summarize two neat papers that I read recently, and then you can vote on which cartoon you would like me to make.
Option 1: Life in the fast lane
Social insects vary in their worker turnover rate, with some species having workers who live very short lives and some species having workers who live relatively long lives. Buechel and Schmid-Hempel (2016) manipulated worker pace of life in bumblebees and found that there were fewer infected workers in fast-paced colonies, because parasites couldn’t spread fast enough to keep up with turnover. The cartoon would be something like: parasite invades bumblebee and bumblebee immediately grows gray hair and drops dead amidst much parasite cursing.
Option 2: Rapping, rocking hermit crabs
This paper actually has nothing to do with parasites, but it cracks me up, so I’m including it. Hermit crabs compete for gastropod shells, where attackers use two behaviors to try to evict defenders from their shells: shell rapping and shell rocking. Edmonds and Briffa (2016) put a thin layer of aquarium sealant on defenders shells to reduce the efficacy of shell rapping by the attacker, and found that attackers continued to rap but also rocked more, suggesting that they evaluate their own attack efficacy. Obviously, this cartoon would involve a hermit crab rap star turning into a rock star when his rap career wasn’t successful enough.