Crop species and wild plants differ in their ecological roles and traits

Rubén Milla This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology review article which can be found here. The bulk of our food supply ultimately depends on a few species of agricultural plants: corn, wheat, legumes, fruit trees and vegetables, among others. In total, a few hundred species. But where do they come from and how did they become agricultural plants? All of them … Continue reading Crop species and wild plants differ in their ecological roles and traits

Passive Acoustic Monitoring provides a fresh perspective on fundamental ecological questions

Samuel R.P-J. Ross, Darren P. O’Connell, Jessica L. Deichmann, Camille Desjonquères, Amandine Gasc, Jennifer N. Phillips, Sarab S. Sethi, Connor M. Wood, Zuzana Burivalova This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology review article which can be found here. From a bleary-eyed dawn chorus, to magnificent symphonies of whale song, to deafening choruses of tropical insects, the natural world is awash with the … Continue reading Passive Acoustic Monitoring provides a fresh perspective on fundamental ecological questions

A fresh look at seed dormancy reveals three pathways enable seeds to germinate

Byron B. Lamont and Juli G. Pausas This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology review article which can be found here. Seeds are fine-tuned to accept only certain environmental stimuli to break dormancy and cause them to germinate at once or allow them to germinate later. Some seeds germinate as soon as the soil is moist, warm, and aerated. Their dormancy had … Continue reading A fresh look at seed dormancy reveals three pathways enable seeds to germinate

Challenges for continued forest cover persistence under contemporary climate and wildfire in the western USA

Shuang Liang, Matthew D. Hurteau This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology review article which can be found here. Fire plays a key role in the distribution of forest ecosystems in the western US. Fire alters tree demography and tree species composition, creating heterogeneous landscape structure that feeds back to influence fire behavior and subsequent impacts on vegetation. The fire-vegetation interaction occurs … Continue reading Challenges for continued forest cover persistence under contemporary climate and wildfire in the western USA

Ghosts of animals, plants, and microbes: How organisms affect the environment after they’re gone

Lindsey K. Albertson, Leonard S. Sklar, Benjamin B. Tumolo, Wyatt F. Cross, Scott F. Collins, H. Arthur Woods This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology review article which can be found here. Living organisms change the environment in many ways. Beavers create dams for themselves, and these small impoundments and pools they form are habitat for many other organisms. Corals build reefs that … Continue reading Ghosts of animals, plants, and microbes: How organisms affect the environment after they’re gone

The effect of diet on melanin pigmentation

Sarah Britton and Goggy Davidowitz This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology review article which can be found here. Melanin is a common pigment that is found in many types of external animal tissue including skin, fur, hair, feathers, and cuticle. This pigment can create coloration that ranges from gray and black to tan and yellow. Across the animal kingdom melanin is … Continue reading The effect of diet on melanin pigmentation

Invertebrate traits, diversity and the vulnerability of groundwater ecosystems

Grant Hose, Anthony Chariton, Michiel Daam, Tiziana Di Lorenzo, Diana Maria Paola Galassi, Stuart Halse, Ana Sofia Reboleira, Anne Robertson, Susanne Schmidt, Kathryn Korbel This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology review which can be found here. The invertebrates living in groundwater have adapted to a harsh environment where food and oxygen are limited, but other factors, such as temperature and darkness, … Continue reading Invertebrate traits, diversity and the vulnerability of groundwater ecosystems

Exposure and Susceptibility: The Twin Pillars of Infection

Amy R. Sweeny, Gregory F. Albery This is a plain language summary of a Functional Ecology research article which is published here. The disease burden for an individual organism is determined by two fundamental processes, the Twin Pillars of infection. The first, exposure, is the host’s encounter with an infectious pathogen and the second, susceptibility, is how successful that infection will be once the host … Continue reading Exposure and Susceptibility: The Twin Pillars of Infection

Microscopic image of a natural phytoplankton assemblage showcasing the vast ranges of sizes co-occurring. Photograph by Patrick Thomas.

Size matters for phytoplankton

Helmut Hillebrand, Esteban Acevedo-Trejos, Stefanie D. Moorthi, Alexey Ryabov, Maren Striebel, Patrick Thomas, Marie-Luise Schneider Read the Review in full here Half of the oxygen produced by photosynthesis on Earth each year originates from phytoplankton, a highly diverse group of mainly single-celled algae that inhabit the sunlit parts of oceans, lakes, and rivers. Part of the diversity of phytoplankton is reflected by their size difference … Continue reading Size matters for phytoplankton

Examples of mathematical representations of functional diversity.

Review: Diving into the multiple ways to measure how species function

Stefano Mammola, Carlos P. Carmona, Thomas Guillerme, Pedro Cardoso Organisms, species, and sets of species interact and perform functions in the environment in ways that we are just starting to unravel. Quantifying how much such functions and interactions contribute to our own well-being through so-called ecosystem services is growing in importance. Scientists are doing so by measuring species traits, defined as any characteristic of a … Continue reading Review: Diving into the multiple ways to measure how species function