Plain language summaries

For every paper published in Functional Ecology, the authors write a lay summary, which explains the research -and its importance- in a more generally accessible way.

Departure decisions from thermal columns by soaring birds

Roi Harel and Ran Nathan While soaring in warm rising-air columns (thermals) birds reduce their movement costs dramatically, but increase their dependency on environmental resources to obtain energy required to move across the landscape. A basic set of decisions, such as how steeply to glide between thermals and how long to climb in each thermal,…

Faster fattening females lay larger clutches

Holly L. Hennin, Cody J. Dey, Joël Bêty, H. Grant Gilchrist, Pierre Legagneux, Tony D. Williams, Oliver P. Love In migratory species breeding in seasonal environments, two of the biggest factors affecting reproduction are the timing of arrival and body condition on arrival at the breeding grounds; arriving earlier and in higher body condition results…

Where am I? Anthropogenic noise disorients mate detection in female anurans

Masayuki Senzaki, Taku Kadoya, Clinton D. Francis, Nobuo Ishiyama, Futoshi Nakamura Anthropogenic noise pollution is widespread, and growing evidence suggests that noise can alter animal behaviors through multiple mechanisms. Most well studied is masking, whereby human-made noise shares the same frequency as a biologically relevant signal, such as a mating call, and interferes with a…

Stress and parasite affect root voles’ survival in winter

Yan-Bin Yang, Guo-Zhen Shang, Shou-Yang Du, Xin Zhang, Yan Wu, Jiang-Hui Bian Cyclic fluctuations in animal numbers are well-known in populations of small animals. But what factors determine these fluctuations? And how do these factors affect the fluctuations? In other words, what are the mechanisms involved in these fluctuations? Some studies have suggested that individuals…

Increased maternal corticosterone influences growth and development of nestlings in a wild songbird

Beth M. Weber, E. Keith Bowers, Kimberly A. Terrell, Josephine F. Falcone, Charles F. Thompson and Scott K. Sakaluk The hormone corticosterone controls the physiological and behavioural responses of birds to changes in their environment, but becomes elevated during particularly stressful situations (e.g. competitive interactions with other birds or attacks by predators). In breeding females,…

How metabolic adjustments in response to food scarcity can have long-term negative effects.

Karine Salin, Eugenia M. Villasevil, Graeme J. Anderson, Sonya K. Auer, Colin Selman, Richard C. Hartley, William Mullen, Christos Chinopoulos and Neil B. Metcalfe Many animals experience periods of food shortage in their natural environment. Some animals can reduce their metabolic requirements to preserve their limited resources. However, recent research suggests that, although metabolic reduction…

Interspecific variation in ploidy as a key plant trait outlining local extinction risks and community patterns in fragmented landscapes

Jan Plue, Adam Kimberley, Tanja Slotte Historical habitat loss is today causing declines in plant species diversity, as our current, modified landscapes hold only a fraction of suitable natural habitats available in the past. Those remaining habitat fragments are often isolated and of poor environmental quality, proving difficult barriers for the long-term survival of many…