Coexisting finch species change where they go and what they eat when food resources decline

Sydney J. Collett, Tara L. Crewe, Ian J. Radford, Stephen T. Garnett and Hamish A. Campbell This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article that can be found here. How similar species co-exist has long intrigued ecologists. Gouldian, masked and long-tailed finches, three finches from the tropical Australian savannas, are similar in size and feed together through most of the year. … Continue reading Coexisting finch species change where they go and what they eat when food resources decline

Perception of the dead increases reproduction in fruit flies

Quentin Corbel, Pau Carazo This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article that can be found here Animals that perceive a threat to their survival can increase their immediate reproductive effort in order to compensate for the consequences of early death on their lifetime reproduction. This strategy is called terminal investment, and it has been documented in response to various environmental … Continue reading Perception of the dead increases reproduction in fruit flies

Radiation exposure alters bumblebee feeding and metabolism

Jessica E. Burrows, David Copplestone, Katherine E. Raines, Nicholas A. Beresford, Matthew C. Tinsley This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article which is published here. Whilst low level radiation exposure is a natural part of our ecosystem, in some locations organisms are exposed to much higher doses, such as following nuclear disasters. The Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986 is perhaps … Continue reading Radiation exposure alters bumblebee feeding and metabolism

Two polar seabirds adjust their timing of breeding to climate, but it doesn’t match up with their changing world

Shannon Whelan, Scott A. Hatch, Anthony J. Gaston, H. Grant Gilchrist, Kyle H. Elliott This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article which is published here. Polar regions of our planet have experienced rapid climate change in recent decades. Wildlife in these places slowly adapted to the short summers over long evolutionary timescales, but more recent climate change may be too … Continue reading Two polar seabirds adjust their timing of breeding to climate, but it doesn’t match up with their changing world

Costly parasites that malform beaks early in life can have long-term ecological consequences in their avian hosts

Sonia Kleindorfer, Diane Colombelli-Négrel, Lauren K. Common, Jody A. O’Connor, Katharina J. Peters, Andrew C. Katsis, Rachael Y. Dudaniec, Frank J. Sulloway, Nicolas M. Adreani This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article which is published here. Darwin’s finches on the Galapagos Islands are being fed upon by larvae of the avian vampire fly, a parasite that causes beak malformation. The … Continue reading Costly parasites that malform beaks early in life can have long-term ecological consequences in their avian hosts

Reduced food availability and predictability promote competition and decrease social cohesion

Patrícia Beltrão, Ana Cristina R. Gomes, Gonçalo C. Cardoso This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article which is published here. Searching for food in groups allows the sharing of information on food locations between individuals, which is most beneficial when those locations are scarce or unpredictable. Therefore, animals might choose to explore food sources in groups during challenging or changing … Continue reading Reduced food availability and predictability promote competition and decrease social cohesion

A blue whale dives to feed on krill along the shelf break in Monterey Bay, California, USA, before migrating south to breeding grounds. Photo taken by William Oestreich under NMFS Permit #16111.

Blue whales flexibly time feeding and migration to match ocean conditions

William K. Oestreich, Briana Abrahms, Megan F. McKenna, Jeremy A. Goldbogen, Larry B. Crowder, and John P. Ryan This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article. Read the research in full here. Long-distance migration is among the most awe-inspiring biological spectacles on Earth, and is critical to the survival of many species. Many long-distance migrants move seasonally between habitats which are … Continue reading Blue whales flexibly time feeding and migration to match ocean conditions

Male and female decorated crickets (Gryllodes sigillatus) mating. During mating, the male (bottom) transfers a spermatophore to the female (top). This spermatophore (at rear of male and female) consists of a large gelatinous spermatophylax (translucent bulb) and a sperm containing ampulla (white bulb). Photo courtesy of David Funk.

Intralocus sexual conflict over optimal nutrient intake and the evolution of sex differences in lifespan and reproduction

This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article. Read the research in full here. Michael Hawkes, Sarah M. Lane, James Rapkin, Kim Jensen, Clarissa M. House, Scott K. Sakaluk and John Hunt A nutritionally balanced diet is central to the healthy functioning of most organisms but the specific optimal combination for one function (i.e. lifespan) is often different from that required … Continue reading Intralocus sexual conflict over optimal nutrient intake and the evolution of sex differences in lifespan and reproduction

Passion vine butterflies can find their way home

Priscila A. Moura , Giberto Corso, Stephen H. Montgomery, Marcio Z. Cardoso Read the research in full here Some animals live in the same area for their entire lives because dispersal has risks, while if they stay put they may be able to learn where to find food and avoid danger. This also happens with insects like bees and ants, which leave their nest in … Continue reading Passion vine butterflies can find their way home

Shoal of juvenile Pelvicachromis pulcher. Photo taken by Timo Thünken

Resource heterogeneity but not inbreeding affects growth and grouping behaviour in socially foraging juvenile cichlid fish

Rieke F. Schons, Simon Vitt, Timo Thünken Read the full research here In natural habitats, resources are often not equally distributed in space, which can have consequences for the individuals consuming them. Clumped food patches can be more profitable because more food can be consumed in a certain amount of time. Furthermore, such food patches are easier to defend. Studies on fishes and birds have … Continue reading Resource heterogeneity but not inbreeding affects growth and grouping behaviour in socially foraging juvenile cichlid fish