Rhythmic bacteria: How measuring daily oscillations of the gut microbiome can help us understand its function

Alice Risely, Dominik Schmid, Pablo Capilla-Lasheras, Davide Dominoni, Nadine Müller-Klein, Simone Sommer This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology perspective which can be found here. Seasonal rhythms in animal physiology and ecology are well understood (e.g., bird migration or seasonal reproduction). In contrast, daily (circadian) rhythms in animal physiology, behaviour and species interactions are often subtler and require advanced methods such as … Continue reading Rhythmic bacteria: How measuring daily oscillations of the gut microbiome can help us understand its function

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

From theory to functional trait

Kearney, Michael; Jusup, Marko; McGeoch, Melodie; Kooijman, Bas; Chown, Steven A functional trait is one that can be connected to the performance of an organism, for example to growth or to reproduction. The idea of a functional trait has a long history. However, recent progress collating and comparing trait measurements for the purpose of modelling responses to environmental change has shown that there is a … Continue reading From theory to functional trait

Damselfishes swim among the coral branches in the mid-day sun at the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. (Photo: Fredrik Jutfelt)

Too hot to eat – why aquatic animals reduce feeding during warming

Fredrik Jutfelt, Tommy Norin, Eirik Asheim, Lauren Rowsey, Anna Andreassen, Rachael Morgan, Timothy Clark, Ben Speers-Roesch Aquatic animals reduce feeding when water temperatures become too warm, but the cause of their reduced appetite is unknown. We propose a new hypothesis that explains the physiological mechanism causing the reduced feeding.Water-breathing animals, such as fish, have the same body temperature as the water surrounding them. Therefore, when … Continue reading Too hot to eat – why aquatic animals reduce feeding during warming

Daylight availability may play an important role in the evolution of avian migration. Photo by Chinmayee Mishra, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_clear_sunset_view.jpg#filelinks

Perspective: A role for daylight in the evolution of migration

Keith W. Sockman and Allen H. Hurlbert Long-distance latitudinal migration exposes individuals to dramatic variation in daylight availability (photoperiod). For example, the Arctic tern, which migrates each year from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back, does not experience the short days of winter due to the timing of its migratory flights. Instead, it experiences roughly three-fourths of its life in daylight. Although the Arctic … Continue reading Perspective: A role for daylight in the evolution of migration

Hypothetical framework for how silicon affects root nodulation and nitrogen fixation (full description is provided in the article).

Is it time to include legumes in plant silicon research?

Rocky Putra, Jeff R. Powell, Susan E. Hartley & Scott N. Johnson In 2016, Functional Ecology published a special issue on “The functional role of silicon in plant biology” featuring 8 exciting papers on diverse areas of ecological research. Papers highlighted how silicon (Si) is a beneficial element that alleviates adverse effects of environmental stresses in plants. However, most studies addressing the ecological significance of … Continue reading Is it time to include legumes in plant silicon research?

Perspective: Conserving the holobiont

Alexandra J.R. Carthey, Daniel T. Blumstein, Rachael V. Gallagher, Sasha G. Tetu, Michael R. Gillings All animals and plants host complex communities of micro-organisms; on their skin and in their guts, on their leaves and among their roots. These micro-organisms are increasingly recognised as important for the health, development, growth and well-being of their hosts. However, as a result of ongoing human disturbance, an increasing … Continue reading Perspective: Conserving the holobiont