Review: How do you know an animal is stressed?

Brenna M.G. Gormally, L. Michael Romero             Scientists across disciplines including medicine, psychology, and even wildlife conservation are interested in understanding what it means to be ‘stressed’. As humans, we typically associate stress with negative feelings, usually of anxiety. This characterization, however, is an over-simplification of the phenomenon of ‘stress’ in the scientific world. While long-term stress can lead to harmful side effects including immunosuppression, … Continue reading Review: How do you know an animal is stressed?

Review: How fruits have evolved to “talk” to animals

Kim Valenta and Omer Nevo Wild fruits come in an incredible diversity of colors, shapes, smells, and sizes. This diversity has puzzled scientists for well over a century. Because many animals rely on fruits as important food sources, and many plants rely on animals as seed dispersers, it has been suggested that fruiting plants, and the animals that disperse their seeds, have coevolved. The dispersal … Continue reading Review: How fruits have evolved to “talk” to animals

Review: Microplastics might harm our soils, but how will soil organisms change their impact?

Maxwell S. Helmberger, Lisa K Tiemann and Matthew J.Grieshop, Microplastics—tiny plastic beads, fragments, and fibers released from personal care products, plastic waste, and laundering of synthetic fabrics—have long been understood to contaminate the ocean. Only recently have scientists learned they’re also prevalent in the soils human society depends on. It’s important to understand the threat microplastics pose to soils so we can safeguard them for … Continue reading Review: Microplastics might harm our soils, but how will soil organisms change their impact?

Review: Assessing aging patterns for comparative analyses of mortality curves: Going beyond the use of maximum longevity

Victor Ronget & Jean-Michel Gaillard Actuarial senescence (i.e. the increase of mortality with age) is widespread throughout life but its strength varies a lot across species and even among populations. An increasing number of studies currently investigate the reasons for those differences in actuarial senescence. However, before trying to explain such differences, a reliable picture of patterns is required. Most studies performed to date relied … Continue reading Review: Assessing aging patterns for comparative analyses of mortality curves: Going beyond the use of maximum longevity

Coral reef with diver

Review: Senescence and sex

Matthias Galipaud and Hanna Kokko Anyone who has ever snorkelled above a coral reef has probably wondered how old a coral structure on a reef is. This is not an entirely easy question to answer. Corals reproduce sexually by sending off gametes into ocean water, in the hope that they find each other and fuse, but coral ‘growth’ is also a form of reproduction: new … Continue reading Review: Senescence and sex

Photo of Plantago lanceolata individual marked for senescence study. By: Deborah A. Roach

Review: Aging in plants is not always like aging in animals

Deborah A. Roach and Erin F. Smith Aging, also termed senescence, is manifest as declines in function and an increased risk of death as individuals get older.  All living organisms should experience some level of ‘wear and tear’, thus our theoretical expectation has been that all organisms should experience aging. One of our theories of aging, the Disposable Soma Theory, predicts that aging occurs because … Continue reading Review: Aging in plants is not always like aging in animals

Review: Why leveraging sex differences in immune tradeoffs may illuminate the evolution of senescence

Jessica Metcalf, Olivia Roth and Andrea Graham How might immune function shape aging, the increases in mortality and declines in fertility experienced at late ages by organisms across the tree of life? Classic evolutionary theory tells us that features that increase early life survival (or fertility) at the expense of later survival (or fertility) should spread within populations: such features will increase fitness simply as … Continue reading Review: Why leveraging sex differences in immune tradeoffs may illuminate the evolution of senescence

Review: Changing perspectives on terrestrial nitrogen cycling: the importance of weathering and evolved resource-use traits for understanding ecosystem responses to global change

Rachel Wooliver, Adam F.A. Pellegrini, Bonnie Waring, Benjamin Z. Houlton, Colin Averill, Joshua Schimel, Lars O. Hedin, Joseph K. Bailey and Jennifer A. Schweitzer   Our understanding of how nitrogen (N) enters, cycles through, and exits terrestrial ecosystems is changing because new insights have recently been uncovered. These insights include (i) that significant portions of N enter ecosystems from rocks; (ii) the paradox where soil … Continue reading Review: Changing perspectives on terrestrial nitrogen cycling: the importance of weathering and evolved resource-use traits for understanding ecosystem responses to global change

Plains zebra excluded from experimental plot by fencing. Photo credit: Dr. Hillary Young

Review: The direct and indirect effects of large herbivores on important ecosystem functions

Elizabeth S. Forbes, J. Hall Cushman, Deron E. Burkepile, Truman P. Young, Maggie Klope, Hillary S. Young Large, wild herbivores are declining worldwide; these losses cause changes to ecosystem functions like nutrient cycling, carbon cycling, the resilience of ecosystems to change, plant regeneration, and primary productivity. Even though ecologists have long studied these effects using experimental fencing, there is little consensus about how these herbivores … Continue reading Review: The direct and indirect effects of large herbivores on important ecosystem functions

Coral Reef

Review: Morphological traits can track coral reef responses to the Anthropocene

Kyle J. A. Zawada , Joshua S. Madin, Andrew H. Bair D, Tom C. L. Bridge, Maria Dornelas Corals are responsible for building and maintaining huge areas of habitat for other organisms, but the role each coral plays depends on their shape. Massive boulder-like corals are slow growing but long-lived, and help to build the reef over generations, table-like corals provide shade and hiding spots … Continue reading Review: Morphological traits can track coral reef responses to the Anthropocene