Mum knows best: female lizards choose warm, moist nests to produce better offspring

Shu-Ran Li, Xin Hao, Yang Wang, Bao-Jun Sun, Jun-Huai Bi, Yong-Pu Zhang, Fredric J. Janzene Wei-Guo Du In egg-laying animals, the nest sites chosen by a mother can determine the quality and survival of offspring because nest environments can profoundly affect embryonic development and hatchling traits. However, field studies identifying the long-term effects of nest-site…

Diet drives beak diversification in waterfowl

Aaron M Olsen Bird beaks are often cited as a classic example of evolution by natural selection. Over generations, it is thought that beak shapes that are better suited to eating particular foods will outcompete less favourable beak shapes and be passed on to offspring, through a process known as adaptation. Over time this would…

REVIEW: Seed predation & plant community theory

Loralee Larios, Dean E. Pearson and John L. Maron Community ecologists seek to understand the relative strength of local processes in determining the identity and number of species that establish in any given location. Increasingly, plant ecologists have focused on plant traits and how these may determine which species can live together and which species…

Prairie species differ in the timing of rainfall necessary for flowering

Nathan P. Lemoine, John D. Dietrich, Melinda D. Smith The first European settlers of the midwestern United States were awestruck by the productivity of tallgrass prairies. The fertility of this region was apparent from the number and density of flowering stalks, which can reach over 1.5 m in height for many tallgrass species. Yet species…

Drought resistance traits in Bromeliaceae

Jamie Males & Howard Griffiths The bromeliads are one of the world’s most diverse plant families, with species occurring in an extremely broad range of habitats across the tropical and subtropical Americas. The colonisation of new habitat types by different bromeliad lineages is known to have involved transitions in growth form (functional type), including switches…

Intraspecific variability and reaction norms of forest understory plant species traits

Julia I. Burton, Steven S. Perakis, Sean C. McKenzie, Caitlin E. Lawrence and Klaus J. Puettmann Plant traits are recognized as being increasingly important for understanding plant community assembly processes and predicting responses to changes in climate and disturbance regimes. Most approaches ignore trait variation within species, assuming individual species can be represented by a…

Predicting the consequences of disperser extinction: richness matters the most when abundance is low

Beatriz Rumeu, Mariano Devoto, Anna Traveset, Jens M. Olesen, Pablo Vargas, Manuel Nogales and Ruben Heleno The ongoing rapid loss of biodiversity often entails replacement of disturbance-sensitive species by disturbance-tolerant ones and thus disruption of the ecosystem functions they provide. In this line, the loss of fruit-eating (frugivorous) animals may negatively affect the long-term persistence…

How specialized is a diet specialist? Not as specialized as you might think.

Rebecca C. Terry, Megan E. Guerre, David S. Taylor How species respond to environmental change is shaped in part by what they eat.  Dietary specialists consume a narrow range of resources, often exhibiting morphological and behavioral adaptations to their diet resulting in reduced niche flexibility.  Thus ongoing environmental change can place dietary specialists at particularly…