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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Do sperm like it hot? No, but maybe yes…

Clelia Gasparini, ChuChu Lu, Niels J. Dingemanse, Cristina Tuni Whether a population or a species thrives or goes extinct is likely to be a matter of survival and reproduction. Reproduction is a fundamental aspect of any organism’s biology and determines the success of a population – and ultimately of the species – over generations. Organisms…

Biotic and abiotic modifications of leaf litter during dry periods affect litter mass loss and nitrogen loss during wet periods

Daniel Gliksman, Sabine Haenel, José M. Grünzweig Decomposition of organic matter is a key factor determining the global carbon cycle, and thus affects the on-going changes in climate. The decay of above-ground plant material (litter) in drylands is not well understood, reducing the accuracy of predictions for the carbon cycle.  Recently, water vapour and dew…

Eat more or digest better? Possible responses of micro-crustaceans to low quality food

Alfred Burian, Julia Grosse, Monika Winder, Henricus T. S. Boschker Animals are often faced with non-optimal and very variable feeding conditions. Besides food quantity also the quality of food items can substantially change depending on environmental conditions and the identity of prey species. Successful predators have to respond to those changes. They may either increase…

Soil diversity promotes plant diversity

E.R. Jasper Wubs and T. Martijn Bezemer A long-standing question in ecology is how biodiversity is maintained. While there are many hypotheses, recently plant ecologists have focused their attention on the diversity of organisms in the soil as a key mechanism. The idea is simple and elegant: each plant species has its own specific enemies…

Does the cost of development scale allometrically with offspring size?

Amanda K. Pettersen, Craig R. White, Robert J. Bryson-Richardson, Dustin J. Marshall One of the most fundamental patterns studied in life-history theory is how offspring size links to performance of an individual. Within species, larger offspring generally have higher survival, reproductive output and growth, and lower risk of predation and starvation. One key question that…

Subtle growth has major consequences for turtles

Doug Armstrong, Matt Keevil, Njal Rollinson, Ron Brooks Unlike birds and mammals, many animals continue to grow after sexual maturity. This growth can be imperceptibly slow in long-lived cold-blooded animals such as turtles, potentially leading us to believe either that growth has stopped or that the consequences of it must be trivial. But could this…

Ecological drivers of parasitoid traits

Yannick Outreman , Thiago Oliveira Andrade, Philippe Louâpre, Liliane Krespi, Cyrille Violle, Joan van Baaren The processes involved in species coexistence and community assembly is a hot topic in ecology research. To predict patterns of community assembly in the wild, the analysis of trait differences between species may be helpful. Community assembly theory suggests that…