Linking infection, feeding behavior, and pathogen transmission

Jim Adelman and Francis Tillman This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology perspective article which can be found here. When animals get sick, their behavior often changes. While such changes can include gross alterations to activity levels and food consumption, subtler effects on the ability to find food or food preference may also arise. Each of these behavioral changes has important implications … Continue reading Linking infection, feeding behavior, and pathogen transmission

Can parasites manipulate the capacity of hosts to change?

Chris Paveya, Ajai Vyasb This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology perspective article which can be found here. Individual plants and animals, starting from the same set of genes, develop a range of different tissues. A seed becomes stalk, flowers, and leaves. A fetus slowly grows to make limbs and lungs. Similarly, animals change their behavior within their lifetime according to the … Continue reading Can parasites manipulate the capacity of hosts to change?

Can your body prepare to get sick?

Patricia C Lopes This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology perspective article that can be found here. Imagine the following scenario: you are at work, and the two people working on either side of your desk keep sneezing and blowing their noses. You have the strong feeling that you will be next in line to be sick, but you can’t ask for … Continue reading Can your body prepare to get sick?

Do ants and plants see the world the same way?

Heloise Gibb, Tom R. Bishop, Lily Leahy, Catherine L. Parr, Jean-Philippe Lessard, Nathan J. Sanders, Jonathan Z. Shik, Javier Ibarra-Isassi, Ajay Narendra, Robert R. Dunn, Ian J. Wright This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology perspective article that can be found here. An ecological strategy describes the way a species interacts with other species and its environment and determines its evolutionary fitness. … Continue reading Do ants and plants see the world the same way?

Towards an animal economics spectrum for ecosystem research

Robert R. Junker, Jörg Albrecht, Marcel Becker, Raya Keuth, Nina Farwig, Matthias Schleuning This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article which is published here. Animals strongly vary in size, appearance, and metabolism, which limits the comparability of ecological strategies across the animal kingdom. However, functional assessments of whole ecosystems and their response to global change may benefit from a set … Continue reading Towards an animal economics spectrum for ecosystem research

Demography matters. Inference from measurements on individuals to conclusions about populations requires demography of those populations to be taken into account. Original linocut by Jitka Klimešová

Demographic correction – a tool for inference from individuals to populations

Adam Klimeš, Jitka Klimešová, Zdeněk Janovský, Tomáš Herben This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article which is published here. A large part of ecological research consists of comparisons of sets of species across environmental conditions. Such comparisons help us understand how characteristics of these species influence their well-being. For example, we compare alien invaders with natives, or herbs with trees, … Continue reading Demographic correction – a tool for inference from individuals to populations

The eight steps that occur in a trophic interaction. The bird first searches for and detects the fish (pink box), then decides to attack (green box), then pursues the fish and subdues it (purple box), and finally ingests and digests it, and allocates the nutrients to growth (orange box). With each step, the probability that the interaction successfully occurs decreases (shown by the decreasing width of the circular arrow).

Break it down then build it up: a modular approach to understanding and modelling feeding interactions

Kate. L. Wootton, Alva Curtsdotter, Tomas Roslin, Riccardo Bommarco, and Tomas Jonsson Read the full article here When a predator eats a prey, a series of steps occur. First, the predator searches for the prey. Then, the predator has to detect the prey and decide to eat it. The predator then needs to pursue the prey and subdue it. The predator then ingests the prey, … Continue reading Break it down then build it up: a modular approach to understanding and modelling feeding interactions

Conceptual diagram on the main shifts found for aridity thresholds and the major mechanisms that may play a role for each. In the vegetation decline phase several concurrent changes related with physiological adaptation to water stress seem to take place close to 0.5 aridity. In the soil disruption phase a change from fertile stress-tolerant communities (FST) into unfertile shrublands (USh) is paralleled with a weakening of plant-soil interactions pointing to plant-soil feedbacks as key drivers of the changes depicted. In the systemic breakdown phase a transitions towards plant-devoid states is probably related with physiological limits of plants but previously discussed in relationship with plant-plant and plant-atmosphere feedbacks.

Ecological mechanisms underlying aridity thresholds in global drylands

Miguel Berdugo, Blai Vidiella, Ricard V. Solé, Fernando T. Maestre Read the full article here Recent research in drylands, the largest biome on Earth, has revealed that, as we move to places that are progressively more arid, different ecosystem attributes and functions experience abrupt changes involving, among others, drastic declines in productivity, soil fertility and vegetation cover. Moreover, those abrupt changes are organized into three … Continue reading Ecological mechanisms underlying aridity thresholds in global drylands

Conceptual figure showcasing the four processes of evolutionary biology (selection, gene flow, genetic drift and mutation) and community ecology (species sorting, dispersal, ecological drift and speciation). Each of these processes influences either genetic or community diversity, respectively. An eco-evolutionary view on community ecology envisions pairwise interactions between evolutionary and community processes resulting in a dynamical interplay between evolution and community dynamics.

Perspective: Integrating fundamental processes to understand eco-evolutionary community dynamics and patterns

Govaert, Lynn; Altermatt, Florian; De Meester, Luc; Leibold, Mathew; McPeek, Mark; Pantel, Jelena; Urban, Mark cumulating evidence for rapid and fine-scale evolution has made it clear that evolutionary and ecological processes should be studied together. Earlier work on the interaction between evolutionary and ecological dynamics mainly focused on the effect of evolution on population abundances, but lately, more and more studies demonstrate the potential for … Continue reading Perspective: Integrating fundamental processes to understand eco-evolutionary community dynamics and patterns