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.

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The larger sex shows increased body size plasticity

Patrick T. Rohner, Tiit Teder, Toomas Esperk, Stefan Lüpold and Wolf U. Blanckenhorn Being large can boost an individual’s reproductive success if larger body size increases strength in competition for mates, attractiveness to potential mates, or defense against predators and parasites. Animals should thus attain the largest size possible. In insects, however, the hard outer…

Predicting directional change in community properties: genotypic covariance between the performance of a resident species and community assembly in the field

Arthur M. Riedel, Keyne Monro, Mark W. Blows, Dustin J. Marshall Ecologists have long known that the species that arrive a site first may influence the communities of organisms that assemble around them – some species are facilitated by particular resident species while others are suppressed. Recently biologists, especially plant biologists, have identified that even…

High tolerance of tropical sapling growth and gas exchange to moderate warming

Martijn Slot and Klaus Winter Tropical forests are tremendously important reservoirs of biodiversity, and tropical forests contain more live biomass than any other biome in the world. However, the effects of global warming on tropical forests and growth of tropical trees are uncertain. While observations on canopy trees suggest that warming will reduce growth, some…

Earthworms increase plant biomass more in soil with no earthworm legacy and favor late successional species in competition

Ondřej Mudrák and Jan Frouz Earthworms greatly affect plant communities. They create persistent soil structures enriched by nutrients that improve the conditions for plant growth and modify competition between plant species. We therefore hypothesized that earthworm activity would be more important in early stages of the primary succession (development of ecosystem on bare substrate), when…

Mammals and bacteria in a rain forest: temporal dynamics of soil bacteria in response to simulated N pulse from mammalian urine

Erika Buscardo, József Geml, Steven K. Schmidt, Artur L. C. Silva, Rommel T. J. Ramos, Silvanira M.R. Barbosa, Soraya S. Andrade, Ricardo Dalla Costa, Anete P. Souza, Helena Freitas, Hillândia B. Cunha, Laszlo Nagy Medium- and large-sized animals in tropical forests concentrate considerable amounts of the organic matter they consume by depositing faeces and urine…

Linking intra-specific trait variation to community abundance dynamics improves ecological predictability by revealing a growth-defence trade-off.

Jason I. Griffiths, Owen L. Petchey, Frank Pennekamp & Dylan Z. Childs   Trait change in one species can influence the population dynamics of another, by modifying the strength of ecological interactions between them. For example, inducible defences such as thorns, toxins and armament reduce predation rates, allowing prey populations to increase. In turn, population…

Fungal inoculants in the field – is the reward greater than the risk?

Miranda M. Hart, Pedro M. Antunes, V. Bala Chaudhary and Lynette K. Abbott Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are root dwelling fungi that are marketed as biofertilizers to improve plant growth. Despite the increased use of AMF inocula by growers around the world, there is little evidence that they promote plant or soil health in all…