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科学美国人60秒: 自身口感差 懒惰一点也无妨

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Moths Flee or Face Bats, Depending on Toxicity

自身口感差 懒惰一点也无妨

About 12,000 species of tiger moth exist on Earth. Some of them swoop and dive out of harm’s way when a hungry bat tries to make them a meal. But other tiger moth species are more blasé—they just don’t bother to flee from the hungry bats.

地球上大约有12000种虎蛾。当一只饥饿的蝙蝠试图饱餐一顿时,一些虎蛾些会俯冲并潜到安全的地方。但是其他的虎蛾种类更令人厌烦——它们懒得躲避饥饿的蝙蝠。

“And I really just wanted to know why. Why the difference? What factors might be influencing whether a species is more or less likely to perform these evasive maneuvers?”

我只是想知道为什么。为什么会有这样的差异呢?什么因素可能影响一个物种执行或不执行这些规避策略?”

Wake Forest University behavioral ecologist Nick Dowdy. He says it’s a matter of taste—some of the moths are delicious, but others are toxic and taste terrible. When the airborne predators catch these unappetizing moths, they’ll spit them out, giving the insects a new lease on life.

维克森林大学的行为生态学家尼克·道迪说。他说,这只是口味的问题——有些飞蛾很好吃,但有些有毒,味道很糟糕。当空中的捕食者捕捉到这些令人倒胃口的蛾子时,会把昆虫吐出来,让它们获得新生。

In a field experiment, Dowdy and his colleague William Conner filmed how five different species of tiger moths responded to bat attacks.

在一次野外实验中,道迪和他的同事威廉·康纳拍摄了五种不同种类的虎蛾对蝙蝠攻击的反应。

“And what we found was that those species which were really toxic—so when the bats captured them, they almost never ate them—those species were much more likely to be what we call nonchalant, species that do not perform evasive maneuvers very often.

“我们发现,那些真正有毒的物种——当蝙蝠捕捉到它们时,蝙蝠几乎从不吃这些昆虫——那些物种更可能是我们所说的若无其事,它们不经常执行规避动作。

On the other hand, species that were really palatable were much more likely to perform those evasive maneuvers, almost, in a sense, sort of hedging their bets. Because if they don’t make that escape, if they are captured by a bat, those species are more likely to be eaten.”

另一方面,真正美味的物种更有可能进行规避操作,在某种意义上,几乎是一种两面下注。因为如果它们没有成功逃脱,被蝙蝠捕获,这些物种更有可能被吃掉。”

Another factor is that evasive maneuvers have their own set of risks, which may be why unpalatable moths tend to avoid them. For example, diving away from bats burns fuel, gives the insects less time to seek out mates and could expose them to other perils, such as getting stuck in water. “Or there could be predators on the ground like mice and other mammals.”

另一个因素是,规避策略有其自身的风险,这可能就是为什么口感不好的飞蛾往往会避开它们。例如,远离蝙蝠会燃烧燃料,减少寻找配偶的时间,并可能使它们面临其他危险,如陷入水中。“或者在地面上有捕食者,比如老鼠和其他哺乳动物。”

The study is in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. [Nicolas J. Dowdy and William E. Conner, Nonchalant flight in tiger moths.

这项研究发表在《生态学和进化前沿》杂志上。

Dowdy is now trying to identify the chemical compounds responsible for making some tiger moths taste bad. Once those findings are in, chemical analysis of museum specimens could help reveal how rare, endangered or even extinct insects have behaved around predators.

Dowdy现在正试图找出导致虎蛾味道变差的化合物。一旦有所发现,那么将有助于揭示稀有、濒危甚至灭绝的昆虫是如何在捕食者周围活动的。

“We can still study animal behavior even without a living organism. That’s, I think, pretty amazing.”

“即使没有生物,我们仍然可以研究动物行为。我认为,这很神奇。”

Other animals with conspicuous warning signals, such as garishly colored poison dart frogs and foul-smelling skunks are also known to be slow movers. Perhaps if you’re deadly, toxic or just plain stink, it can pay to be lazy.

其他具有明显警告信号的动物,如色彩艳丽的毒箭蛙和气味难闻的臭鼬,也被认为是行动迟缓的动物。也许如果自身致命的,有毒的,或者只是有臭味,那么懒惰一点也无妨。

Moths Flee or Face Bats, Depending on Toxicity

About 12,000 species of tiger moth exist on Earth. Some of them swoop and dive out of harm’s way when a hungry bat tries to make them a meal. But other tiger moth species are more blasé—they just don’t bother to flee from the hungry bats.

“And I really just wanted to know why. Why the difference? What factors might be influencing whether a species is more or less likely to perform these evasive maneuvers?”

Wake Forest University behavioral ecologist Nick Dowdy. He says it’s a matter of taste—some of the moths are delicious, but others are toxic and taste terrible. When the airborne predators catch these unappetizing moths, they’ll spit them out, giving the insects a new lease on life.

In a field experiment, Dowdy and his colleague William Conner filmed how five different species of tiger moths responded to bat attacks.

“And what we found was that those species which were really toxic—so when the bats captured them, they almost never ate them—those species were much more likely to be what we call nonchalant, species that do not perform evasive maneuvers very often. On the other hand, species that were really palatable were much more likely to perform those evasive maneuvers, almost, in a sense, sort of hedging their bets. Because if they don’t make that escape, if they are captured by a bat, those species are more likely to be eaten.”

Another factor is that evasive maneuvers have their own set of risks, which may be why unpalatable moths tend to avoid them. For example, diving away from bats burns fuel, gives the insects less time to seek out mates and could expose them to other perils, such as getting stuck in water. “Or there could be predators on the ground like mice and other mammals.”

The study is in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. [Nicolas J. Dowdy and William E. Conner, Nonchalant flight in tiger moths

Dowdy is now trying to identify the chemical compounds responsible for making some tiger moths taste bad. Once those findings are in, chemical analysis of museum specimens could help reveal how rare, endangered or even extinct insects have behaved around predators.

“We can still study animal behavior even without a living organism. That’s, I think, pretty amazing.”

Other animals with conspicuous warning signals, such as garishly colored poison dart frogs and foul-smelling skunks are also known to be slow movers. Perhaps if you’re deadly, toxic or just plain stink, it can pay to be lazy.


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