Biology

Skeptical notes on a physics of passage
This paper investigates the mathematical representation of time in physics. In existing theories, time is represented by the real numbers, hence their formal properties represent properties of time: these are surveyed. The central question of the paper is whether the existing representation of time is adequate, or whether it can or should be supplemented: especially, do we need a physics incorp...


Gauging Satisfaction with the New Proposal Process in DEB and IOS at the NSF
The Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) and the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS) at the National Science Foundation recently made three key changes to the core program review process: a new preliminary proposal requirement, a cap on the number of proposals that principal investigators (PIs) submit per cycle, and a switch to an annual deadline. We queried the scientific commu...
How Were Phytoplankton Affected by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill?
A literature review demonstrates that crude oil spills can affect phytoplankton, favoring the growth of some while inhibiting the growth of others. Subsequently, the phytoplankton assemblage can change as a result of exposure to crude oil. Studies of phytoplankton responses to the Macondo (Deepwater Horizon) oil spill indicate that the phytoplankton may have been stimulated by the oil spill, al...


Effects of Oil on Terrestrial Vertebrates: Predicting Impacts of the Macondo Blowout
In addition to external oiling, marine oil spills may affect vertebrate animals through degradation of habitat; alterations in food web structure; and contamination of resources by toxic compounds, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These processes are not well understood for vertebrates breeding and foraging in terrestrial ecosystems affected by oil, such as coastal marshes that were ...
Seaweeds and Decapod Crustaceans on Gulf Deep Banks after the Macondo Oil Spill
The diversity of seaweeds and decapod crustaceans associated with rhodoliths on deep offshore banks in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico decreased dramatically after the Macondo blowout. Decapod crustacean communities declined in both abundance and diversity and exhibited major shifts in species dominance. Rhodoliths appear to serve as seedbanks for biological diversity because dead rhodolith rub...


Coral Communities as Indicators of Ecosystem-Level Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Spill
The Macondo oil spill released massive quantities of oil and gas from a depth of 1500 meters. Although a buoyant plume carried released hydrocarbons to the sea surface, as much as half stayed in the water column and much of that in the deep sea. After the hydrocarbons reached the surface, weathering processes, burning, and the use of a dispersant caused hydrocarbon-rich marine snow to sink into...
Effects of Oil Spills on Terrestrial Arthropods in Coastal Wetlands
Coastal wetlands are important to human well-being and vulnerable to oil spills. Research on biotic effects of oil has been focused on microbes, plants, and benthic invertebrates, neglecting terrestrial arthropods. We review how oil affects terrestrial arthropods in coastal marshes and suggest future research topics. Terrestrial arthropods play important ecological roles in coastal marshes, aff...

Microbial Dynamics Following the Macondo Oil Well Blowout across Gulf of Mexico Environments
The Macondo blowout released roughly 5 million barrels of oil and up to 500,000 tons of natural gas into Gulf of Mexico at a depth of 1500 meters. Inarguably, the gas released from the Macondo blowout remained in the deep water. At least 30% of the oil remained in the deepwater plume, whereas the remainder reached the surface, forming sometimes thick and expansive surface slicks. The hydrocarbo...
The Teaching Practices Inventory: A New Tool for Characterizing College and University Teaching in Mathematics and Science
We have created an inventory to characterize the teaching practices used in science and mathematics courses. This inventory can aid instructors and departments in reflecting on their teaching. It has been tested with several hundred university instructors and courses from mathematics and four science disciplines. Most instructors complete the inventory in 10 min or less, and the results allow m...

Development of the Biological Experimental Design Concept Inventory (BEDCI)
Interest in student conception of experimentation inspired the development of a fully validated 14-question inventory on experimental design in biology (BEDCI) by following established best practices in concept inventory (CI) design. This CI can be used to diagnose specific examples of non–expert-like thinking in students and to evaluate the success of teaching strategies that target conc...
Identification of Threshold Concepts for Biochemistry
Threshold concepts (TCs) are concepts that, when mastered, represent a transformed understanding of a discipline without which the learner cannot progress. We have undertaken a process involving more than 75 faculty members and 50 undergraduate students to identify a working list of TCs for biochemistry. The process of identifying TCs for biochemistry was modeled on extensive work related to TC...

An Evaluation of Two Hands-On Lab Styles for Plant Biodiversity in Undergraduate Biology
We compared learning cycle and expository formats for teaching about plant biodiversity in an inquiry-oriented university biology lab class (n = 465). Both formats had preparatory lab activities, a hands-on lab, and a postlab with reflection and argumentation. Learning was assessed with a lab report, a practical quiz in lab, and a multiple-choice exam in the concurrent lecture. Attitudes toward...
Gender Gaps in Achievement and Participation in Multiple Introductory Biology Classrooms
Although gender gaps have been a major concern in male-dominated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines such as physics and engineering, the numerical dominance of female students in biology has supported the assumption that gender disparities do not exist at the undergraduate level in life sciences. Using data from 23 large introductory biology classes for majors, we exa...
Getting Under the Hood: How and for Whom Does Increasing Course Structure Work?
At the college level, the effectiveness of active-learning interventions is typically measured at the broadest scales: the achievement or retention of all students in a course. Coarse-grained measures like these cannot inform instructors about an intervention's relative effectiveness for the different student populations in their classrooms or about the proximate factors responsible for the obs...
Attention "Blinks" Differently for Plants and Animals
Plants, to many, are simply not as interesting as animals. Students typically prefer to study animals rather than plants and recall plants more poorly, and plants are underrepresented in the classroom. The observed paucity of interest for plants has been described as plant blindness, a term that is meant to encapsulate both the tendency to neglect plants in the environment and the lack of appre...