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.

Climate change and alpine plant communities

Loïc Pellissier, Patrice Descombes, Oskar Hagen, Loïc Chalmandrier, Gaétan Glauser, Alan Kergunteuil, Emmanuel Defossez, Sergio Rasmann This paper is part of the Special Feature: A Mechanistic Understanding of Global Change Ecology. Predicting how the composition and dynamics of plant and animal communities will be affected by climate change remains a fundamental challenge nowadays. We here…

Invading shrimp mitigates the human-induced growth of algal biomass

Ulrika Candolin, Elina Bertell & Jarkko Kallio   The shrimp Palaemon elegans has recently invaded the Northern Baltic Sea, a heavily disturbed ecosystem. We investigated how the invasion of this species interacts with other disturbances occurring in the sea, in particular with the increased abundance of medium-sized predators (mesopredators). Mesopredators have increased because of the…

Transient epigenetics helps protect against ice in the Antarctic intertidal zone

Melody S. Clark, Michael A.S. Thorne, Michelle King, Helen Hipperson, Joseph I. Hoffman, Lloyd S. Peck Marine invertebrates in the intertidal region are subject to many different forms of environmental stress, such as wave action, variable temperatures, desiccation and predation. In Antarctica there is the additional challenge of continual battering by ice. Some species, such…

Electronic acceleration recorders reveal the fitness of Antarctic penguins

David Gremillet, Amelie Lescroel, Grant Ballard, Katie M. Dugger, Melanie Massaro, Elizabeth L. Porzig, David G. Ainley Some animals are just fitter than others, with fitness defined as the ability to survive, reproduce and contribute to the gene pool of the next generation. Fitness is determined by genetics and the environment. Strong links between fitness…

Similar trophic and functional diversity in Indo-Pacific coral reef damselfishes

Laura Gajdzik, Eric Parmentier, Loïc N. Michel, Nicolas Sturaro, Keryea Soong, Gilles Lepoint and Bruno Frédérich Although coral reefs face drastic environmental changes, little is known about the relative importance of the ecological and evolutionary factors that shape their fish communities. Ecological factors include diet and feeding interactions (who eats whom) and represent ‘trophic diversity’….

Why waste water at night? Understanding nocturnal water loss in tallgrass prairie plants

Kimberly O’Keefe & Jesse B. Nippert Plants lose water from their leaves through the process of transpiration. While transpiration primarily occurs during the day, recent research has discovered that many plant species also lose water at night. This “nocturnal transpiration” can have substantial consequences on plant functioning and on ecosystem water budgets. However, what causes…

Rewilding reveals the missing ecological functions of granivores

Charlotte Mills, Christopher Gordon and Mike Letnic, A seed predator’s preference for seeds can change the number and types of plants in an area by eating seeds of a particular species. In many places, mammals are considered the most important seed predators in arid ecosystems. However, in Australia, ants are considered the most important seed…

Rapid development reduces adult lifespan by increasing oxidative damage

Lizanne Janssens and Robby Stoks In nature animals don’t develop at the maximum possible rate. The reason is the occurrence of trade-offs, reflecting that is not possible to maximize all traits simultaneously. A key trade-offs is the one between larval development rate and adult lifespan. The underlying physiological mechanisms are important for understanding the reasons…