Click to learn more about author Don Boxley. Regardless of computing environment, workload, or OS, availability is an essential part of operational success. Outages, system or application failures, and unplanned downtime are simply not acceptable for today?s pace of business in which even 10 minutes of inoperability translates to substantial data loss. What organizations are [?]
Click here to learn more about author Jon Pilkington. The Data Analytics market, as we know it, is about to be disrupted (again). The new year will evolve from full self-service Data Preparation and Analytics with a governed, collaborative Enterprise Data Intelligence platform with an integrated Data Marketplace and Enterprise Data Preparation, that will result in [?]
Although birds' eggs are generally ovoid in shape, there is considerable variation in the degree to which they are symmetrical, round, or bottom-heavy. Many hypotheses have been put forward to explain what has driven this variation, with many accepting life history or nesting explanations. Stoddard et al. looked at nearly 50,000 eggs from more than 1400 species from morphological, biophysical, and evolutionary perspectives and found little support for previous hypotheses (see the Perspective by Spottiswoode). Instead, their results suggest that selection for flight adaptations is most likely to be responsible for the variation.
Science , this issue p. ; see also p. 
Every bird egg serves the same function: to protect and nourish the offspring within while it grows from two cells to a fully formed chick. Yet this identical function is served by a striking diversity of egg shapes. Explanations for both the origin and function of this diversity have remained little more than anecdotal ( 1 ). On page 1249 of this issue, Stoddard et al. ( 2 ) marry biophysics and ecology to provide a general theory that explains how and why diverse egg shapes arose. Based on a mathematical model, the authors predict that simple changes in the forces experienced by the shell membrane as the egg develops in the female's oviduct are sufficient to generate the observed egg-shape diversity across all birds. The selection pressure that best explains its evolution comes from the characteristic we most associate with birds: flight.
Although birds' eggs are generally ovoid in shape, there is considerable variation in the degree to which they are symmetrical, round, or bottom-heavy. Many hypotheses have been put forward to explain what has driven this variation, with many accepting life history or nesting explanations
Although rare among existing birds, the loss of flight appears to have occurred multiple times in evolutionary history. However, the genetic changes that ground avian species are not well understood. Burga et al . sequenced genomes from three cormorant species and compared them with that of the flightless Galapagos cormorant (see the Perspective by Cooper). They identified variants in genes involved in primary ciliogenesis. Functional analyses of these variants suggest that the impaired function of the genes may be responsible for skeletal changes associated with the Galapagos cormorant?s loss of flight.
Science , this issue p. [eaal3345]; see also p. 
Imagine a world created by the quest for beauty, filled with colorful dancing and governed by the principle of autonomous sexual freedom. To access this world, according to Richard Prum, you need only take a stroll outside and watch the avian rites of spring. Departing from the economic metaphors of evolutionary theory in which female choice represented a mechanism devoid of desire, in The Evolution of Beauty , Prum argues that mate choice, and the beauty it has created, are important?even central?mechanisms of evolutionary change at almost every stage of bird evolution.
Perovskite oxides exhibit potential for use as electrocatalysts in the oxygen evolution reaction (OER). However, their low specific surface area is the main obstacle to realizing a high mass-specific activity that is required to be competitive against the state-of-the-art precious metal?based catalysts. We report the enhanced performance of Ba0.5Sr0.5Co0.8Fe0.2O3?? (BSCF) for the OER with intrinsic activity that is significantly higher than that of the benchmark IrO2, and this result was achieved via fabrication of an amorphous BSCF nanofilm on a surface-oxidized nickel substrate by magnetron sputtering. The surface nickel oxide layer of the Ni substrate and the thickness of the BSCF film were further used to tune the intrinsic OER activity and stability of the BSCF catalyst by optimizing the electronic configuration of the transition metal cations in BSCF via the interaction between the nanofilm and the surface nickel oxide, which enables up to 315-fold enhanced mass-specific activity compared to the crystalline BSCF bulk phase. Moreover, the amorphous BSCF?Ni foam anode coupled with the Pt?Ni foam cathode demonstrated an attractive small overpotential of 0.34 V at 10 mA cm?2 for water electrolysis, with a BSCF loading as low as 154.8 ?g cm?2.
In a recent article, vonHoldt and colleagues ( 1 ) use whole-genome sequence data to address the relationships and evolutionary origins of several North American canid taxa. The authors conclude that two taxa, the red wolf ( Canis rufus ) and the eastern wolf ( Canis lycaon ), are not long-diverged lineages as other researchers have concluded from genetic ( 2 ? 7 ) and fossil evidence ( 8 , 9 ) but are, rather, populations resulting from recent admixture between gray wolves ( Canis lupus ) and coyotes ( Canis latrans ). They use this conclusion to argue that endangered species policy should better account for hybridization and admixture. We agree that hybridization and admixture are widespread in the natural world and that the conservation policy needs to be updated to account for this biological reality. However, we strongly disagree with their conclusion that red and eastern wolves are of recent hybrid origin and we conclude that their analysis does not actually test the hypothesis of a recent hybrid origin. Their data are consistent with multiple hypotheses for the origins of red and eastern wolves, including relatively old origins of these taxa. Furthermore, we argue that their data do not support ?a lack of unique ancestry in red and eastern wolves? ( 1 ); rather, substantial evidence still supports the conclusion that red and eastern wolves represent genetically distinct taxa among North American canids. Below, we detail this perspective and argue for further analyses that would directly test competing hypotheses for the evolutionary origins of these groups.
Analysis of whole-genome sequence data necessarily relies on a relatively small number of individual samples that are taken to be representative of larger populations or taxa. In this case, the choice of representative samples is problematic in several respects. First, of the three individuals chosen as representative nonadmixed coyotes, ?
Habitat loss is the most important threat to species survival, and the efficient selection of priority areas is fundamental for good systematic conservation planning. Using amphibians as a conservation target, we designed an innovative assessment strategy, showing that prioritization models focused on functional, phylogenetic, and taxonomic diversity can include cost-effectiveness?based assessments of land values. We report new key conservation sites within the Brazilian Atlantic Forest hot spot, revealing a congruence of ecological and evolutionary patterns. We suggest payment for ecosystem services through environmental set-asides on private land, establishing potential trade-offs for ecological and evolutionary processes. Our findings introduce additional effective area-based conservation parameters that set new priorities for biodiversity assessment in the Atlantic Forest, validating the usefulness of a novel approach to cost-effectiveness?based assessments of conservation value for other species-rich regions.
Ever since plants colonized land, they have evolved a range of mutualistic associations with bacteria and fungi. Indeed, such associations were probably required for plants to grow on harsh, nutrient-poor surfaces. Martin et al. review the spectrum of plant-microbe symbioses and their evolution, including evidence from the Rhynie Chert of the Devonian period and modern associations. Surprisingly, diverse functional plant-microbial symbioses have several common conserved features, including signaling pathways, immune evasion, and root development.
Science , this issue p. [eaad4501]
Ever since plants colonized land, they have evolved a range of mutualistic associations with bacteria and fungi. Indeed, such associations were probably required for plants to grow on harsh, nutrient-poor surfaces. Martin et al. review the spectrum of plant-microbe symbioses and their
Despite ardently defending his theory of natural selection, Alfred Russel Wallace felt that evolution alone could not account for our species' unique features, including our big brains, mental abilities and moral sentiments. In the past decade, a new hypothesis has matured that suggests that another "power" may indeed have helped drive natural selection in humans, although it is rather different from the one Wallace imagined. In Darwin?s Unfinished Symphony , Kevin Laland makes a powerful case that what began as a small increase in the fidelity of social learning may have made all the difference in human evolution.