Are some individual plants better at saving for difficult times? It appears that where Tamarix grows makes a difference

Randall W Long Tom L Dudley, Carla M D’Antonio, Kevin C Grady, Susan E Bush In each of our lives we can probably think of individuals that are better at saving for rainy days, and those that cannot resist buying that new shiny object. But what about plants? Plants also have a limited resource pool, namely sugars acquired via photosynthesis, that they can either spend … Continue reading Are some individual plants better at saving for difficult times? It appears that where Tamarix grows makes a difference

Tree species promote forest productivity through complementary traits above and belowground

Xin Jing, Bart Muys, Helge Bruelheide, Ellen Desie, Stephan Hättenschwiler, Hervé Jactel, Bogdan Jaroszewicz, Paul Kardol, Sophia Ratcliffe, Michael Scherer-Lorenzen, Federico Selvi, Karen Vancampenhout, Fons van der Plas, Kris Verheyen, Lars Vesterdal, Juan Zuo, Koenraad Van Meerbeek Over the last three decades, numerous studies have been conducted to investigate the consequences of biodiversity loss for ecosystem functioning. The overall conclusion is that diverse plant communities … Continue reading Tree species promote forest productivity through complementary traits above and belowground

Mantid (Stagmomantis sp.) eating a mature male rubyspot (Hetaerina americana). The red wing spot is a sexually selected trait evolved by male-male competition. The pigments behind this conspicuous and costly red colouration are ommochromes, produced from the toxic tryptophan metabolite 3-HydroxyKinurenine. Hence, only males capable of storing large toxic amounts, are able to produce a large red spot. This mechanism is entirely new for colourful and other sexual traits, elucidating a mechanism for the evolution of honest indicators of quality that could have arisen due to natural selection.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger: detoxification ability as mechanism of honesty in a sexually selected signal

G-Santoyo, Isaac; Gonzalez-Tokman, Daniel; Tapia-Rodríguez, Miguel; Cordoba, Alex What is the role of colourful traits in animals? Quite often these traits are used by adult males to assess each other when competing over mating territories. This function is linked to a second question of what such colours are made of. We used to know that these colourful traits contained key dietetic elements also used for … Continue reading What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger: detoxification ability as mechanism of honesty in a sexually selected signal

Savannas are not old fields: functional trajectories of forest expansion in a fire-suppressed Brazilian savanna are driven by habitat generalists

Flake, Samuel; Abreu, Rodolfo; Durigan, Giselda; Hoffman, William Savannas cover much of the tropics, but with widespread fire suppression, forests have begun to encroach on formerly species-rich old-growth savannas. The replacement of savannas by forests has large impacts on ecosystem function, associated with changes in the traits of the trees and shrubs present – their size, resistance to fire, ability to capture light, and their … Continue reading Savannas are not old fields: functional trajectories of forest expansion in a fire-suppressed Brazilian savanna are driven by habitat generalists

The Crested Quetzal (Pharomachrus antisianus) plays an important role for the dispersal of plant species in the montane rainforests along the Andes.

Specialists and generalists fulfil important and complementary functional roles in ecological processes

D. Matthias Dehling, Irene M.A. Bender, Pedro G. Blendinger, Katrin Böhning-Gaese, Marcia C. Muñoz, Eike Lena Neuschulz, Marta Quitián, Francisco Saavedra, Vinicio Santillán, Matthias Schleuning, Daniel B. Stouffer Different species eat different types of food, and therefore each species plays a different role in the ecosystem. For instance, one animal species may feed on other animals, another may consume and disperse the fruits of a … Continue reading Specialists and generalists fulfil important and complementary functional roles in ecological processes

Thermal tolerance of early life stages predict biogeographic limits in marine ectotherms

Collin, Rachel; Rebolledo, Adriana; Smith, Emily; Chan, Kit Yu Karen Increases in the average global temperature, and the frequency of extreme thermal events, are some of the greatest threats to biodiversity. Ectotherms, animals that conform to the environmental temperature, in particular are highly vulnerable to these worsening conditions, since environmental temperature directly affects their body temperature. Body temperature, in turn, affects critical biological functions (e.g., … Continue reading Thermal tolerance of early life stages predict biogeographic limits in marine ectotherms

Humpback whale feeding at an aquaculture release site in Southeast Alaska. Photo by Monique Anderson.

Doing the math to understand tradeoffs in baleen whale prey selection and feeding tactics

Chenoweth E.M., Boswell, K.M. Friedlaender, A.S, McPhee M.V., Burrows J.A., Heintz, R.A., and Straley, J.M. Baleen whales are a group of toothless mammals that include both humpback whales and the largest animals ever to live on earth, blue whales.  These animals feed by engulfing enormous quantities of seawater and prey into their mouth, which can expand almost like a pelican’s.  They then use baleen as … Continue reading Doing the math to understand tradeoffs in baleen whale prey selection and feeding tactics

Illustration of the six sampled forests

Low-quality carbon and lack of nutrients result in a stronger fungal than bacterial home-field advantage during the decomposition of leaf litter

Benito-Carnero, Garazi; Gartxia-Bengoetxea, Nahia; Arias-Gonzalez, Ander; Rousk, Johannes Decomposition of litter is a key ecosystem function that regulates the rate and magnitude of carbon dioxide release from land to the atmosphere and also determines the availability of nutrients that plants need to grow. Earlier research has shown that plant litter decomposes faster in its native compared to a foreign environment, which has been named a … Continue reading Low-quality carbon and lack of nutrients result in a stronger fungal than bacterial home-field advantage during the decomposition of leaf litter

How do frequent hot days alter the relative dominance of two cereal aphids?

Zhu, Liang; Hoffmann, Ary; Li, Shimin; Ma, Chun-sen The relative dominance of coexisting species in a natural community can change with environmental conditions and can also shift under climate warming. Such changes have been documented in a broad range of taxa, including plants, terrestrial and aquatic animals, bacteria and fungi. In our study we investigated dominance changes in two common cereal aphids (Rhopalosiphum padi and … Continue reading How do frequent hot days alter the relative dominance of two cereal aphids?

Invasive lionfish in the Bahamas. Photo credit: Lillian J. Tuttle

Invasive lionfish quickly learn to avoid a ‘spicy’ prey fish in the Caribbean

Tuttle, Lillian; Lamb, Robert; Stringer, Allison Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Lionfish, a highly invasive inhabitant of Caribbean coral reefs, may be learning this lesson the hard way. This spiny predator is infamous for its voracious appetite — lionfish consume an impressive quantity and diversity of prey, with few species able to escape their jaws — until now. … Continue reading Invasive lionfish quickly learn to avoid a ‘spicy’ prey fish in the Caribbean