It’s Friday and that means that it’s time for our Friday link dump, where we highlight some recent papers (and other stuff) that we found interesting but didn’t have the time to write an entire post about. If you think there’s something we missed, or have something to say, please share in the comments section!
Georgina Mace just published a comment in Nature called “Ecology must evolve”. She argues that a “new kind of ecology is needed that is predicated on scaling up efforts, data sharing and collaboration”. Mace is the former president of the British Ecological Society and one of the most interesting points of her comment is her view on the hole that scientific societies may play in this “evolution” of the field.
Kevin Gross et al. tackles a subject that has been boggling ecologists for decades now, the relationship between species diversity and ecological stability. In their new paper “Species richness and the temporal stability of biomass production: a new analysis of recent biodiversity experiments”, they investigated the effect of species richness on the temporal stability of biomass production by re-analyzing data from 27 experiments, that were published in the past years. They found that temporal correlations in species biomass are lower when species are grown in a polyculture systems than when grown alone in monocultures and suggested that interspecific interactions tend to stabilize community biomass in diverse communities.
At last, Sandrine Pavoine and Janos Izsák proposed a new diversity metric, combining species abundance, functional and/or phylogenetic intraspecific and interspecific components, in their new paper “New biodiversity measure that includes consistent interspecific and intraspecific components”. -Vinicius Bastazini
I’m doubling up with Vinicius this week. Sorry if it’s overly redundant. On Thursday, I saw a fantastic seminar by Kevin Gross about the AmNat paper that Vinicius highlighted above. One of the findings that I think was so striking was that despite continued efforts to experimentally manipulate diversity, the authors were only able to acquire data from two experimental systems – Grasslands and freshwater algae. That the results between these two systems were so inconsistent makes me wonder what we would expect if we were able to manipulate diversity in other systems. They also found no evidence that stability in polycultures is controlled by individual species responses to environmental conditions. This is important because (1) It’s sort of intuitive that species that benefit from certain conditions could compensate for losses from species that suffer in those conditions, and (2) there is good theory underlying this intuition.
Other things I spotted this week:
- The Log from the Sea of Cortez is one of my favorite books, so I’m pretty excited to read the forthcoming blog from the Sea of Cortez.
- Alex Werneke at Deep Sea News has a great way of describing “the talking trees hypothesis”.
- Dirk Steinke at the DNA Barcoding Blog highlights the unique ecology of pyrogenic geoxylic suffrutices, which are underground trees with just the tips of the branches sticking above the ground. It includes a great video about a really cool group of organisms.
- David Haskell gives a firsthand account of the Asian ladybug invasion, complete with some really interesting bits of information about the unique biology of this introduced species.
- Samuel Scheiner has followed up his provocative Ecology Letters paper about the role of theory in ecology with a post on the Oikos Blog suggesting some ways that ecologists can increase their engagement with theory.
Both Vicinius and Fletcher mentioned the call to increase scale and scope of ecological research. This goal is increasingly being addressed with large-scale citizen science projects that enable researchers to collect far more data than they otherwise would be able to, while simultaneously enhancing public engagement in science and scientific literacy. In Finland, children watch poop rot, for God and Country, and for Science! In this issue of Ecology, citizen scientists quantified a major ecosystem service (decomposition of poop) over a large spatial scale (Finland) to help determine the effects of climate on decomposition rate – all at an estimated cost savings of 75%! With this plethora of observational data, the authors were able to discern that decomposition was facilitated by allowing a greater richness of invertebrates to access the poop, and decreased with increasing latitude. -Emily Grason
15 November, 2013