Conserving the Ecological Diversity of Crocodylians

Phoebe Griffith, Jeffrey W. Lang, Samuel T. Turvey, Rikki Gumbs This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article that can be found here. Crocodylians have surprisingly diverse ecological roles, from the huge, highly aquatic and mostly fish-eating gharial to the tiny African dwarf crocodiles which can catch prey on land below the rainforest canopy. Sadly, over half of all crocodylians are … Continue reading Conserving the Ecological Diversity of Crocodylians

Being fat or flexible in highly seasonal environments pay substantial dividends to survival

Kristin Denryter, Mary M. Conner, Thomas R. Stephenson, David W. German, Kevin L. Monteith This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article which can be found here. Animals living in seasonal environments have evolved various adaptations, including accumulation of body fat and migration, to cope with seasonal highs and lows in resource availability and quality. In populations wherein only some individuals … Continue reading Being fat or flexible in highly seasonal environments pay substantial dividends to survival

Integration of thermal traits with long term environmental temperatures predicts constraints in activity and loss of suitable habitat for a vulnerable tortoise

Rafael A. Lara-Reséndiz, Donald B. Miles, Philip C. Rosen, Barry Sinervo This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article which can be found here. We studied a vulnerable species of gopher tortoise (Gopherus evgoodei), whose primary habitat is the tropical dry forests in northwestern Mexico. This keystone species was used as a model to estimate daily and annual thermal constraints on … Continue reading Integration of thermal traits with long term environmental temperatures predicts constraints in activity and loss of suitable habitat for a vulnerable tortoise

The effect of temperature on performance changes predictably with elevation in a lizard

Rory S. Telemeco, Eric J. Gangloff, G. Antonio Cordero, Essie M. Rodgers, Fabien Aubret This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article which can be found here. Unlike mammals and birds, the body temperature of most animals varies with their environment. The body temperatures they experience affects all aspects of their biology, from growth and development, to digestion, to running. Typically, … Continue reading The effect of temperature on performance changes predictably with elevation in a lizard

Honey bees need dietary protein to learn and remember

Sofia Bouchebti, Geraldine A. Wright,  Sharoni Shafi This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article that can be found here. Malnutrition in vertebrates, including humans, affects brain development. Specifically, protein deprivation in early stages of life is known to dramatically impair cognitive abilities in vertebrates. In insects, however, the effect of protein deprivation on cognitive abilities is unknown. We fed newly … Continue reading Honey bees need dietary protein to learn and remember

A hidden cost of climate change? Cold weather increases the sensitivity of birds to future challenges

Maren N. Vitousek, Jennifer L. Houtz, Monique A. Pipkin, David A. Chang van Oordt, Kelly K. Hallinger, Jennifer J. Uehling, Cedric Zimmer, Conor C. Taff This a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article that can be found here. Despite the rise in global temperatures, some populations and species have also begun to experience more frequent or more extreme cold weather. This can … Continue reading A hidden cost of climate change? Cold weather increases the sensitivity of birds to future challenges

Opportunity for thermoregulation accelerates development but not growth in newt larvae

Lumír Gvoždík This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article that can be found here. Organisms are often exposed to variation in environmental temperature. Many cold-blooded species buffer this variation by adopting various thermoregulatory behaviours, such as basking in lizards. However, the effectiveness of behavioural thermoregulation is limited by the availability of environmental temperatures that allow them to reach their target … Continue reading Opportunity for thermoregulation accelerates development but not growth in newt larvae

As polar ice melts, narwhals become more vulnerable to the noise of human activities

Terrie M. Williams, Susanna B. Blackwell, Outi Tervo, Eva Garde, Mikkel-Holger S. Sinding, Beau Richter, Mads Peter Heide-Jørgensen This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article that can be found here. For millions of years narwhals, the unusual, iconic high Arctic tusked whale, have lived in relative isolation from noise associated with human activities. Today, the protection once provided by polar … Continue reading As polar ice melts, narwhals become more vulnerable to the noise of human activities

Cold tolerance in a Fungus-Gardening Ant and its symbiotic fungus

Katrin Kellner, Sarah Senula, Joseph Scavetta, Ulrich Mueller, Jon Seal This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article that can be found here. Organisms that are in obligate partnerships with other organisms (symbioses) are potentially vulnerable to environmental stress, since if the tolerance of one organism is exceeded, the other organisms in the symbiosis may also go extinct. We examined the … Continue reading Cold tolerance in a Fungus-Gardening Ant and its symbiotic fungus

Why do fence lizards bask in the sun? Turns out, it’s not just to warm up!

Dane A. Conley, Matthew S. Lattanzio This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article which can be found here. In nature, many lizards spend the day moving between sun and shade, behaviours we always thought were driven just by temperature. However, sunlight provides more than just warmth, it also provides exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. As humans, we often relate UV … Continue reading Why do fence lizards bask in the sun? Turns out, it’s not just to warm up!