Humpback Whales: Masters of Sound and Show

Whales, along with dolphins and porpoises, are very social animals, with some living in pods, or a group of whales, for their whole lives. One of the most well-known whales is the humpback whale, or Megaptera novaeangliae, or literally “New England big wing”, known for its complex songs and large flippers. Here is a little context on these whales. Humpbacks, like most mysticetes, or baleen whales, do not live in pods for extended periods of time. However, they do form pods when traveling to and from their winter breeding grounds. These whales are known to be very curious creatures, making them excellent for whale-watching; this often makes them change their communication patterns in different, even bizarre ways. Humpbacks use a foraging strategy that is exclusive to their species known as bubble-netting, where they use bubbles to concentrate their prey into a position that is convenient for feeding. Among whales, humpbacks have one of the most complex communication capabilities, as well as the most diverse behavior, in the animal kingdom. I will be discussing their songs, a type of sound known as megapclicks, their pod and surfacing behavior, bubble netting, and their innate curiosity.

Humpback whales are most well-known for their songs, but they also have a large repertoire of other sounds, including moans and grunts. A song is, in the biological sense, nothing more than a string of sounds that are produced in a repetitive fashion. The songs humpbacks sing are, in my honest opinion, better than any song that is played on the radio today. Humpbacks use these songs during the mating season, but the exact purpose of these songs is unknown, as is true with much of the behaviors that humpbacks use. We do know that whales will change the structure and composition of their songs due to coming in contact with other pods. We also know that humpbacks will shorten their songs in the presence of ships; however, we are not sure why they do this. It does make studying their songs really hard to do, since we usually need to use ships to study their songs at all.

Among the humpback whales’ immense collection of sounds is a sound known as a megapclick, a clicking sound named after the scientific name of the humpback, Megaptera novaeangliae. Megapclicks are used during nighttime foraging. These sounds were just discovered recently, so we still do not know the purpose of these sounds. We do know that these sounds are somewhat rare, only being heard twice throughout the continual study process. Some people, including myself, believe that it may be a form of echolocation, similar to what odontocetes, or toothed whales use.

Humpback breaching image

As mentioned previously, humpbacks rarely form long-standing pods. That does not mean that they do not exist. When in pods, these whales will perform in behaviors that are generally well-known, including breaching, in which at least 40% of the whale clears the water’s surface. They communicate through a set of behaviors known universally as surfacing behaviors, many of which, including breaching, are well known. We do not know why humpbacks, or any whale for that matter, will perform most forms of surfacing behavior; we just know that they will use these behaviors when they are in groups. Some scientists, and many people, believe that it is just their way of having fun.

Bubble net image

Bubble-netting is another humpback exclusive behavior. Humpbacks will swim below a school of fish and, as they rise, blow bubbles by producing sounds, corralling the fish into a concentrated area. These bubbles scare the fish into the correct position to maximize the amount of fish caught in one lunge. Some humpbacks prefer to use true bubble nets, where they produce bubbles that form spirals going around in a circle, or bubble clouds, which are collections of small seltzer-like bubbles meant to stun or disorient fish. When multiple humpbacks forage together, this foraging technique becomes much more efficient, as the whales will take turns “casting the nets,” as it were, so everyone gets the chance to eat fish. It is unclear how the whales thought of this unique strategy, but it is clear that it works.

Humpback whales are the most curious of all whales, often approaching ships by themselves. During the days of commercial whaling, this often led humpbacks to their death, earning them the title, “the stupidest of all the whales”. These whales are very unique in that they will act very differently when they are around people than when they are by themselves, which makes direct observations on their behavior nearly impossible. These whales, like dolphins, are highly intelligent, so they may just by trying to mess with the heads of the scientists trying to study them.

Humpbacks are very vocal and expressive creatures, traveling the world’s oceans. On the international scale, these majestic animals are endangered, or at risk of dying out forever. These whales need our protection if they are to survive for future generations to enjoy. If you want to see these majestic creatures yourself, you can easily see them by going whale-watching in the summer and fall, and all you need is a good pair of binoculars and a camera.

Why You Should Care About Algae Bioreactors

Why Should You Care About Algae Bioreactors?

Whether you believe a changing climate is manmade or not, renewable and sustainable means of energy production should be on your radar. It is simply not a sustainable model to continue to use fossil fuels at the rate humanity is right now. One day, the reserves will run dry and our ability of acquiring energy could prove to be much more challenging. Renewable energy systems offer more security and economic independence from other countries because we will not be relying on foreign oil. Also, renewable energy technologies could allow us to be free from oil-related conflict. Some of the current means of renewable energy production are solar, wind, and wave; however, microalgae bioreactors offer a new method of producing energy in a sustainable manner.
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Algae bioreactors work through photosynthesis. This important naturally occurring biochemical process is used by all plants, and without it more carbon dioxide would be built up in the atmosphere and there would be less oxygen available for us to breathe. Photosynthesis uses sunlight to break down carbon dioxide and water to create glucose (a form of energy also used by the human body) and oxygen. The glucose, or resulting biomass, that results from this process can then be used as fuel and burned. This ability to produce fuel is partly what makes algae bioreactors so promising and exciting. Because the bioreactor system is using carbon dioxide that is already in the air, when the product is burned it is essentially the same carbon dioxide being released again. This means that no additional carbon dioxide is being produced. That carbon dioxide will continue to go through the cycle of being taken up by the algae and being released when the biomass is burned. This makes microalgae bioreactors carbon neutral. Fossil fuels on the other hand, have been stored in the Earth’s crust for millions of years. This means that the chemicals produced by burning fossil fuels are being reintroduced to Earth’s cycles. So when burning fossil fuels, we are putting something back into the atmosphere that has not been there for millions of years, and this shifts the current balance of the atmosphere. It is important to realize, that once the atmosphere was very heavy with carbon dioxide, and this is likely not a condition that could sustain human life.
Algae bioreactors are multifunctional because they can be designed as open or closed systems. Open systems are like ponds or fountains, while closed systems are encased in transparent materials like glass. Due to the ability to be open or closed system, algae bioreactors have found a variety of different uses. They can theoretically be used in public spaces like fountains to control carbon dioxide levels, and even produce useable biomass which is stored beneath the system. Algae bioreactors can even be used to provide hydrogen to fuel cells which are incredibly efficient units that currently use fossil fuels.
Perhaps one of the most promising fields for algae bioreactors is in civil engineering andErstbefuellung Algenhaus Wilhelmsburg architecture. Algae bioreactors can actually look very beautiful in contrast to the cold grey metal we are familiar with in many modern buildings. While algae bioreactors are still fairly new, they are already being integrated into building facades and can provide the building with heat and running water. The photo to the left shows a new construction in Hamburg, Germany which is the first residential building of its kind to use algae bioreactors in this way.
Additionally, algae bioreactors can produce biofuel to meet a variety needs. Currently, biofuels are a more controversial matter because the lands used to grow the required crops are areas that many believe should be used for food production. The problem is that these traditional crops like corn will only grow during one season, and food is more essential to sustain life than energy to power cars and other such luxuries. But this is where algae bioreactors become especially interesting. They can produce the needed biomass constantly unlike current crops used for biofuel like corn which grows during a limited time of year. They need less space when compared to corn, and much of the corn plant is not even used in the biofuel. This leads to a large amount of unnecessary waste for a very small gain. Algae bioreactors may be a part of the answer to solve the conflict within the biofuel industry, but until then the bioreactor systems still need to be improved.
While algae bioreactors show a lot of promise, they still have some issues that need to be addressed. First, contamination is a serious problem that lowers the efficiency of the bioreactor system. In energy production it is important that the unit operate at, or at least near maximum efficiency to produce the most useable energy. A second issue is that quite a bit of space may be required, and in cities where buildings cast shadows these large bioreactors will need to be placed high were they can access sunlight. Location is very important, and a great deal of thought must go into installation, especially in cities where it becomes a massive undertaking to install the system. But even though algae bioreactors may have a ways to go, the outlook is good. A lot has changed in the last century, and it was not long ago that people like you and I were heating their homes with nothing more than a central fireplace that filled the home with a smoky air. Who knows what the next few years will bring?

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The Buzz about Honey Bee Decline

To many, bees are deemed a pesky nuisance to be avoided at all costs. They buzz and they sting, which is often met by swatting hands and ducking for cover. Yet, bees are vitally important to many flowering plants for their work as pollinators. Honey bees are an important pollinator of food crops across the world and their value to agriculture is estimated to be worth $14 billion in the United States alone. So, despite the reaction of many of us to say “Ew! Gross! Bugs! No!”, we depend on bees to pollinate the food we eat.

Perhaps, you’re now thinking “I guess bees aren’t so bad, maybe we can come to some sort of mutual understanding”. However, your new found friendship faces a roadblock because our insect friends are vanishing at an alarming rate. In 2006 and 2007, U.S. beekeepers started to notice a startling number of colony losses. What was peculiar about these losses was the absence of adult bees. The hives were usually empty aside from a few immature bees and the queen. Subsequently, this unusual phenomenon was termed colony collapse disorder (CCD).

So what’s causing the disappearances seen in colony collapse disorder? The answer is not so clear. Honey bees are hosts for a variety of pathogens, from viruses to bacteria, to mites and parasites. However, none of these factors alone are enough to explain the widespread losses seen in CCD. Recent research is implicating, instead, a group of pesticides called neonicotinoids that could explain the recent decline. Neonicotinoids are the newest family of insecticides introduced to the market. Therefore it was only within the last decade that scientists began to question whether these chemicals had something to do with honey bee decline and CCD.

Neonicotinoids have been considered a safer alternative to other pesticides because they selectively target the invertebrate central nervous system. They can be applied to crops without posing serious risk to ourselves and other mammals. However, their selectivity among insects is limited because beneficial pollinators, like honey bees, are still susceptible to neonicotinoid toxicity. These chemicals irreversibly bind to insect nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and in high enough exposure lead to paralysis and death.

Honey bees are consistently exposed to neonicotinoids in the field, especially during the sowing season in which seeds are planted using seed drilling machines. Seeds are often coated with neonicotinoids in order to provide pest protection for each plant from the moment it is put into the ground as a seed. However, the process of seed drilling has an unexpected consequence as a route to neonicotinoid exposure for bees. In the machine, the seed coating fragments and turns into a fine dust that is forced out into the surrounding area. Honey bees are subsequently forced to fly through the chemical plume during their foraging from hive to plant.

Another route of neonicotinoid exposure is caused by the systemic characteristics of neonicotinoids. Systemic insecticides are absorbed into all of the plant’s tissues and therefore confer insect protection to the entirety of the plant. This, however, is problematic for our tiny friends. When a honey bee goes to collect pollen or nectar from a treated plant, it is either ingesting the chemical directly or bringing it back to the hive to expose the rest of the colony. Neonicotinoids have been found in non-target areas surrounding agricultural fields.  The chemicals were found in the soil (despite no treatment for two seasons), in collected pollen, and in all dead and dying bees.

It is clear that bees have ample opportunity to come into contact with neonicotinoids, but what happens to them when they do? To answer this question researchers expose their tiny test subjects to various dosages of neonicotinoids and observe the effects. In one experiment bees were exposed to the neonicotinoid clothianidin at a field concentration that was determined as the highest concentration recommended for crop treatment. All of the bees died within three hours. Likewise the other neonicotinoid used, thiamethoxam, killed all bees in six hours, even at 200 times less than the field concentration.

RFID tracking device attached to honey bee

In some cases, however, hazardous effects of neonicotinoids on honey bees are not so blatant as to cause quick death. Neonicotinoids induce abnormal foraging behavior in bees. This means that exposure to these chemicals can disrupt the normal ability of bees to travel far from the hive and find their way back. In one study bees that ingested imidacloprid took a significantly longer time to return to their hive from a feeding site. The travel time of unexposed bees is fairly consistent, but with each increased dosage of imidacloprid the bees took longer to return to the hive. Some bees were never seen again.

It was unclear what actually happened to these bees, however, because the tracking was based solely on first person observation. However, one group of researchers took foraging observation one step further by using radio frequency tracking devices. The devices were attached to the bees as well as in the entrance of their hives. After being treated with sub-lethal doses of thiamethoxam, bees had a significantly reduced rate of being able to return to the hive. These findings seem to offer some insight to the absence of adult bees found in colony collapse disorder. There are no bodies because the bees never make it back to the hive from the field.

Although the future health of our tiny friends may be unclear, the research on the harmful effects of neonicotinoids has not gone unnoticed. In 2013 the European Commission of the European Food Safety Authority implemented a ban on the most widely used and harmful neonicotinoids including: imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and clothianidin. Only time and future research wilI reveal the full extent to which neonicotinoids are impacting honey bee health. However, it remains apparent that the staggering decline of honey bees due to colony collapse disorder is in some way linked to neonicotinoid exposure.

How is Labor Divided in Honeybees?

With spring comes the start of warmer temperatures, and early blossoms. However, spring also brings out the species that hibernate for the winter. One of these species includes the honeybee. The honeybee is one of most fascinating organisms because of the unique behaviors it displays. Honeybees have the ability to create honey with only two ingredients, pollen and nectar. Their ability to make honey though is not the only thing that makes them interesting to study. Honeybees have developed an organized system of dividing labor amongst each other in their societies. Unlike humans, honeybees do not need a degree or give an interview for jobs. This division of labor in honeybee colonies is affected by several factors such as hormones, brain structure, and worker nutrition.

How is labor divided in the colonies?

The division of labor in honeybees is a complicated system. That is why it is important to understand the different jobs that exist in colonies. The division of labor is based on colony development and growth. In humans, we have assigned leaders that help organize the division of labor. However, here is no authority figure that regulates the distribution of jobs in honeybee colonies. Instead, honeybees go through various job stages throughout their lifetime. At a young age honeybees start off as nest workers, and do not travel outside the nest at all. Most honeybees also start off as nurses, and attend to the brood, or offspring, of the colony. At later stages in their life, honeybees become foragers and are responsible for food gathering. They may also continue on to become defenders of the colonies as well.

The Life Cycle of the Honeybee

What are the factors that affect the division of labor? 

All these different jobs that the honeybees perform are affected by several factors. One of these factors is juvenile hormone, which is responsible for behavioral development, metamorphosis regulation, and reproduction. The amount of this hormone has an important role in determining how the labor is divided. When JH-III, a type of juvenile hormone, is injected into honeybee, there were several changes that the honeybee went through. As the honeybee aged, several physiological changes were observed in the bee, especially in foraging honeybees. Compared to other honeybees of the same age, the honeybees with the JH-III injection became foragers earlier. These changes may be due to the increase in the amount of juvenile hormone, especially because the field bees tend to have larger amounts of juvenile hormone.

Juvenile hormone is not the only hormone that effects division of labor in honeybees. The hormone insulin is a regulator of glucose in the blood, and is produced by the pancreas. Insulin is an important hormone that is associated with which jobs honeybees perform in the colonies. When insulin is injected into honeybees, the honeybees transformed from nurses to foragers in less than two days. This is much faster then the usual time it takes for honeybees to make this job transition. It is clear that insulin levels can cause shifts in the division of labor. An increase in the amount of insulin produces more foragers then what would be expected.

A second factor that has an effect on the types of jobs that honeybees take on is brain structure. The brains of the honeybees contain a variety of biogenic amines that can have an effect on the division of labor. Biogenic amines are small molecules that contain one or more amine groups. These biogenic amines include dopamine, octopamine, and serotonin, which are found in the brains of honeybees. There is a direct link between the change in the level of these biogenic and the jobs honeybees perform. When the honeybees are young, only two to three weeks, they are more likely to process food, and care for brood. Once in adulthood, the honeybee has higher levels of the biogenic amines and spends most of its time foraging. In these ways biogenic amines are considered an important factor that contributes to how labor is divided in honeybee colonies.

Another factor that effects the division of labor in honeybee colonies is worker nutrition. Most of the energy in honeybees is stored in abdominal lipid, or fat. Foragers tend to have lower lipid levels compared to nursing bees. Foragers also have lower lipid levels on the first day of foraging compared to other days. The foraging was initiated by a decline in lipid storage. Also, because nurses need to take care of the nest and young, they also need more energy. This helps to explain why nurses tend to have higher lipid levels then foragers. Nutrition is an important factor for dividing labor in colonies.

Why study this complicated system at all?

The division of labor in honeybee colonies is affected by all of these factors, which includes hormones, brain structure, and worker nutrition. Division of labor is important in organisms, such as the honeybee, because it provides a system of order to rather complicated behaviors. Honeybees are model organisms that allow us to extend the study of the division of labor to other organisms like humans. We can compare how the factors that influence honeybee division of labor, might affect the types of jobs we perform. The division of labor is used to divide jobs in a variety of ways in humans. It can be observed in families, politics, and religion, as well as many other places. Without the division of labor, it would be hard to imagine what our societies would look like. Could you imagine what our country would look like without organized government? It may be fun at first, but sooner or later there would be too much chaos. Therefore, it is important that we understand the importance of the division of labor, and how it brings structure and order to a complicated group of organisms.

Homosexuality in Animals: Why does it exist?

Although some people believe homosexuality be a strictly human thing, it has actually been known for quite some time homosexuality exists in a wide array of species other than our own, but two important questions still remain: what exactly is the purpose of homosexual behaviors and why could they have evolved? Note that, in the case of non-human animals, homosexuality refers only to observed behaviors, not the sexuality of a particular animal; since non-human animals cannot directly report on their sexual preference.

One proposed explanation is that these behaviors are an imitation of heterosexuality or are simply heterosexual behaviors performed in a dysfunctional manner. This version of explaining away homosexuality often takes on several forms that are very similar to ways in which human homosexuality is often approached by prejudiced, close-minded individuals. One of such forms would be that animals participating in homosexual interactions take on either the “male” or “female” role in all sexual interactions, as if such interactions couldn’t occur any other way. What this sort of explanation does is state that heterosexual interactions are the default and if any other sort of sexual interactions should occur, they will be modeled based on the default. In humans, this sort of thinking is often employed with questions such as “So, who’s the man and who’s the woman?” or “Who’s more masculine and who’s more feminine?”

In reality, there have been numerous observations of both males and females playing both the “male” and “female” roles in sexual interactions. An excellent example of this can be found in Marion Hall’s 1983 study of Red Deer, which details males and females of the species acting as the “male” and “female” in both heterosexual and homosexual interactions, with males sometimes taking on the “female” role of mountee and females taking on the “male” role of mounter during copulation.

Another proposed explanation for homosexual behavior is that it is only present if not enough of the opposite sex is present, leaving the animals in such populations so sex deprived that they will mate with any nearby member of their species regardless of sex. This has been directly refuted by a number of studies, of particular interest being Paul Vasey’s 1996 and 1998 studies on Japanese Macaques. His studies demonstrate how females often engage in female homosexual partnerships or “consortships” regardless of the number or aggressiveness of males present within the populations studied. Not surprisingly, a similar argument is often made for the higher rates of human homosexual behavior within sex-segregated populations such as bordering schools.

It has also been proposed that homosexual behaviors in animals are just products of sex mis-identification, meaning that animals mistakenly engage in sexual interactions with others of the same sex because they couldn’t tell the difference between the sexes of their own species. As ridiculous as that may sound, it is a common tactic used by many prejudiced scientists in the field of animal behavior to avoid addressing homosexual behaviors for what they are, even more so than the other explanations previously discussed. Once again, this has been disproved by several studies. Hall’s study mentioned earlier demonstrates how homosexual interactions are fairly common in a species in which the sexes are very distinguishable; however that is not the only example, homosexual behaviors have been reported in dozens of species from Giraffes to Ostriches to Woodpeckers, all of which are sexually dimorphic to some degree.

Furthermore, there are many species that have virtually identical sexes in which homosexual behavior has yet to been observed in. In addition, if mistaken identity was truly the case, then why have long-term, same-sex breeding partnerships and/or longtime companions been found in many species, such as the Black Crowned Night Heron? With such a large number of questions with and deficiencies in these popular “explanations” of homosexual behaviors in animals, it becomes quite clear that much time has been spent in avoiding the topic at hand instead of actually investigating it honestly.

Lastly, even outside of homosexual interactions, a plethora of other sexual behaviors exist that provide support for the notion that some animals could have a continuum of behaviors and/or gender expressions comparable to that of the human sphere of sexuality. One category of such behaviors would be non-conceptive behaviors; in other words, behaviors carried out in heterosexual interactions that do not result in reproduction through penetrative intercourse. Examples of these behaviors include: manual genital stimulation, oral genital stimulation, and non-penetrative mounting behaviors. The other major category of behaviors would solitary masturbatory ones, which have been observed to occur in a variety of situations, from purely self-stimulation due to limited mating opportunities or to “prepare” themselves for sexual encounters.

So, all in all, there has been shown to be an enormous amount of collected observations demonstrating a wide range of diverse regarding the sexual behaviors of most “higher” animals such as mammals and birds. Comparatively, there has been little concrete evidence or unanimous agreed upon support for any particular explanation, evolutionarily or otherwise, of said behaviors. When presented with this situation, it seems it would be best to accept that, possibly, the animal kingdom contains just as much variation in sexuality, gender expression, etc. that humanity does, albeit in different, less obvious way.

Fabulous and Born With It

gay


It seems like the number of homosexual people in the modern world is growing rapidly with every year. Just looking at the U.S., from the east coast to the west coast, more and more pride parades pop up every year celebrating gay pride. Full towns have been recognized as gay communities such as Province Town in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. With the establishment of predominately homosexual events and communities, most would believe that the percentage of gay men and women is increasing with their growing stamp on society. This may, however, be merely an “illusion” due to the growing acceptance to alternate lifestyles which allows people to be comfortable with what has always existed. Is homosexuality really a choice more people are making these days or are people born with it? An overwhelming amount of the general public believes people choose to be gay, but this is not the case at all. According to Haider-Markel and Joslyn (2008), homosexuality is caused by numerous factors including an abnormal utero environment and genetics. With more research being done on the topic, the facts are piling up to further support that people are born into this world gay.

Camperio-Ciani et al. (2004) found that a gene on the X chromosome, Xq28, may be a possible carrier of a homosexuality gene and that homosexuality is passed along through maternal lineage. This gene is only believed to affect homosexuality in males. There is thought to be a genetic basis for female homosexuality, but the genes are less clear and it is most likely inherited in a completely different way than in men. The sisters of gay women did show a higher percentage for also identifying as gay, 12-35%, compared to only 2-14% of sisters of straight women. This is evidence that there is some genetic factor working in women, but scientists have not yet been able to hone in on the specific gene.

Camperio-Ciani also found that birth order has an effect on sexual orientation. In other words, with every male child you have, the chances the next male child born into a family will be gay increases significantly by 33%. Birth order having an effect on homosexuality means that the condition of the mother’s uterus, its hormones and the physical characteristics of the mother contribute to a fetus identifying as gay later in life.

Ellis and Ames (1987) documented several factors that can be traced all the way back to the womb. If testosterone or progesterone production are at abnormal levels during gestation, this may cause the developing person to be gay later in life. These two hormones are necessary for normal sexual development so a disturbance in either one may lead to abnormal sexual development. Ellis and Ames came to the conclusion, based on their studies about hormones in utero, that males are more likely to be gay for two possible reasons. The first reason is that because all fetuses start as females until males start differentiating into their separate sex, there is a chance for an incomplete transition from female to male causing the boys to have female-like tendencies. The second possible reason is that females are necessary for carrying offspring, therefore natural selection, a force that selects for or against traits, would favor females maintaining genes that minimally interrupt their reproductive success. Heterosexual women have a higher reproductive rate, therefore natural selection would maintain genes for heterosexuality as much as possible.

There have been experiments done to test what happens with the complete absence of hormones in adults to see if there is a change in sexual behavior. Genital manipulation has been successfully linked to changes in sexual orientation. After castrating male mice, scientists noted their behavior around both male and female mice. These castrated mice mounted the male mice instead of the female mice. In fact, the male mice seemed to ignore the female mice all together and exhibit homosexual tendencies. Based on these results, we can conclude that hormones at any stage in development, even out of the womb, can cause a change in sexual behavior.

Twin studies have played an important role in the study of homosexuality due to their ability to show evidence of both genetic and other biological factors taking effect. An interesting pattern has been discovered with both identical and fraternal twins and their likelihood for being gay. Franz J. Kallmann (1952) noticed that in fraternal twins, if one twin is gay, the other would most likely attest to having homosexual experiences at some point in their life. The other twin could, however be ranked on any level of the Kinsey scale from 1-6, 1 being completely straight and 6 being completely gay. In contrast, when grouping the identical twins of men that identified as gay based on Kinsey rating, every individual was a 3 or higher. Because identical twins come from the same egg, this study may show evidence of genetic basis for homosexuality where the data showing a pattern in fraternal twins may show support for an environmental cause of homosexuality.

According to Ellis and Ames, something as simple as stress level has also shown evidence for effecting sexual orientation. When a mother is put under extreme stress, those stress hormones are carried through the blood and can cross the placenta. Pregnant mice were subjected to high stress levels which led to the fetal testosterone level being affected. The resulting offspring were born with a sexual inversion, meaning they showed characteristics not stereotypical of their sex, such as homosexuality.

It seems like the factors contributing to homosexuality are endless as they emerge with modern research. The hope is that the public can be educated and the theories about homosexuality being a choice will be tossed out the window with the growing evidence supporting that people are born gay and all in all fabulous by nature.

Welcome to Science Communication Station

SciComStation is your go to site for approachable information about diverse biological topics.  Students in WCSU’s biology department will be sharing their knowledge with the public.  Each student in the Scientific Communication class will post a blog about a topic near and dear to them.  If you love a post or think it could be improved, leave a comment or a suggestion.

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