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By Tom Wassmer Assistant Professor of Biology at Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan
K Rysava, R A R McGill, J Matthiopoulos, J G C Hopcraft
RATIONALE: Nutritional bottlenecks often limit the abundance of animal populations and alter individual behaviours; however, establishing animal condition over extended periods of time using non-invasive techniques has been a major limitation in population ecology. We test if the sequential measurement of δ(15) N values in a continually growing tissue, such as hair, can be used as a natural bio-logger akin to tree rings or ice cores to provide insights into nutritional stress. METHODS: Nitrogen stable isotope ratios were measured by continuous-flow isotope-ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) from 20 sequential segments along the tail hairs of 15 migratory wildebeest...
July 15, 2016: Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry: RCM
Matthias C Rillig, Janis Antonovics, Tancredi Caruso, Anika Lehmann, Jeff R Powell, Stavros D Veresoglou, Erik Verbruggen
Microbial communities are enigmatically diverse. We propose a novel view of processes likely affecting microbial assemblages, which could be viewed as the Great American Interchange en miniature: the wholesale exchange among microbial communities resulting from moving pieces of the environment containing entire assemblages. Incidental evidence for such 'community coalescence' is accumulating, but such processes are rarely studied, likely because of the absence of suitable terminology or a conceptual framework...
August 2015: Trends in Ecology & Evolution
Kirk O Winemiller, Daniel B Fitzgerald, Luke M Bower, Eric R Pianka
Ecology is often said to lack general theories sufficiently predictive for applications. Here, we examine the concept of a periodic table of niches and feasibility of niche classification schemes from functional trait and performance data. Niche differences and their influence on ecological patterns and processes could be revealed effectively by first performing data reduction/ordination analyses separately on matrices of trait and performance data compiled according to logical associations with five basic niche 'dimensions', or aspects: habitat, life history, trophic, defence and metabolic...
August 2015: Ecology Letters
M K Steele, J B Heffernan
The size, shape, and connectivity of water bodies (lakes, ponds, and wetlands) can have important effects on ecological communities and ecosystem processes, but how these characteristics are influenced by land use and land cover change over broad spatial scales is not known. Intensive alteration of water bodies during urban development, including construction, burial, drainage, and reshaping, may select for certain morphometric characteristics and influence the types of water bodies present in cities. We used a database of over one million water bodies in 100 cities across the conterminous United States to compare the size distributions, connectivity (as intersection with surface flow lines), and shape (as measured by shoreline development factor) of water bodies in different land cover classes...
July 2014: Ecological Applications: a Publication of the Ecological Society of America
Joscha Beninde, Michael Veith, Axel Hochkirch
Understanding varying levels of biodiversity within cities is pivotal to protect it in the face of global urbanisation. In the early stages of urban ecology studies on intra-urban biodiversity focused on the urban-rural gradient, representing a broad generalisation of features of the urban landscape. Increasingly, studies classify the urban landscape in more detail, quantifying separately the effects of individual urban features on biodiversity levels. However, while separate factors influencing biodiversity variation among cities worldwide have recently been analysed, a global analysis on the factors influencing biodiversity levels within cities is still lacking...
June 2015: Ecology Letters
Callum R Lawson, Yngvild Vindenes, Liam Bailey, Martijn van de Pol
Species' responses to environmental changes such as global warming are affected not only by trends in mean conditions, but also by natural and human-induced environmental fluctuations. Methods are needed to predict how such environmental variation affects ecological and evolutionary processes, in order to design effective strategies to conserve biodiversity under global change. Here, we review recent theoretical and empirical studies to assess: (1) how populations respond to changes in environmental variance, and (2) how environmental variance affects population responses to changes in mean conditions...
July 2015: Ecology Letters
Arian D Wallach, William J Ripple, Scott P Carroll
Novel assemblages of native and introduced species characterize a growing proportion of ecosystems worldwide. Some introduced species have contributed to extinctions, even extinction waves, spurring widespread efforts to eradicate or control them. We propose that trophic cascade theory offers insights into why introduced species sometimes become harmful, but in other cases stably coexist with natives and offer net benefits. Large predators commonly limit populations of potentially irruptive prey and mesopredators, both native and introduced...
March 2015: Trends in Ecology & Evolution
Amanda S Gallinat, Richard B Primack, David L Wagner
Autumn remains a relatively neglected season in climate change research in temperate and arctic ecosystems. This neglect occurs despite the importance of autumn events, including leaf senescence, fruit ripening, bird and insect migration, and induction of hibernation and diapause. Changes in autumn phenology alter the reproductive capacity of individuals, exacerbate invasions, allow pathogen amplification and higher disease-transmission rates, reshuffle natural enemy-prey dynamics, shift the ecological dynamics among interacting species, and affect the net productivity of ecosystems...
March 2015: Trends in Ecology & Evolution
Brian K Hand, Winsor H Lowe, Ryan P Kovach, Clint C Muhlfeld, Gordon Luikart
Extrinsic factors influencing evolutionary processes are often categorically lumped into interactions that are environmentally (e.g., climate, landscape) or community-driven, with little consideration of the overlap or influence of one on the other. However, genomic variation is strongly influenced by complex and dynamic interactions between environmental and community effects. Failure to consider both effects on evolutionary dynamics simultaneously can lead to incomplete, spurious, or erroneous conclusions about the mechanisms driving genomic variation...
March 2015: Trends in Ecology & Evolution
Sarah A Orlofske, Robert C Jadin, Pieter T J Johnson
Understanding the effects of predation on disease dynamics is increasingly important in light of the role ecological communities can play in host-parasite interactions. Surprisingly, however, few studies have characterized direct predation of parasites. Here we used an experimental approach to show that consumption of free-living parasite stages is highly context dependent, with significant influences of parasite size, predator size and foraging mode, as well as environmental condition. Among the four species of larval trematodes and two types of predators (fish and larval damselflies) studied here, parasites with larger infective stages (size >1,000 μm) were most vulnerable to predation by fish, while small-bodied fish and damselflies (size <10 mm) consumed the most infectious stages...
June 2015: Oecologia
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