Voltage Gate

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18 posts · 30,791 views

The Voltage Gate is a blog about ecology and the creative process, a look at two disciplines both in isolation and through the lens of the other. Here you will find reviews of current and foundational ecological research, original illustrations as well as commentary on environmentalism, aesthetics and culture.

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  • August 25, 2010
  • 01:00 PM

The history of the Joshua tree, threats new and old

by Jeremy in Voltage Gate

And the LORD said unto Joshua, Stretch out the spear that is in thy hand toward Ai; for I will give it into thine hand. And Joshua stretched out the spear that he had in his hand toward the city. And the ambush arose quickly out of their place, and they ran as soon as [...]... Read more »

Cole, K., Ironside, K., Eischeid, J., Garfin, G., Duffy, P., & Toney, C. (2010) Past and ongoing shifts in Joshua tree support future modeled range contraction. Ecological Applications, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1890/09-1800.1  

  • August 3, 2010
  • 12:55 PM

Communicating environmental realities: framing and fiction

by Jeremy in Voltage Gate

I finally found the time yesterday evening to read through a few of the papers from the latest Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, which is focused on science/environmental communication this time around. The majority of the articles are driven by Nisbet’s ideas about framing in general, but I don’t really want to dive back [...]... Read more »

Groffman, P., Stylinski, C., Nisbet, M., Duarte, C., Jordan, R., Burgin, A., Previtali, M., & Coloso, J. (2010) Restarting the conversation: challenges at the interface between ecology and society. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 8(6), 284-291. DOI: 10.1890/090160  

Nisbet, M., Hixon, M., Moore, K., & Nelson, M. (2010) Four cultures: new synergies for engaging society on climate change. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 8(6), 329-331. DOI: 10.1890/1540-9295-8.6.329  

  • June 15, 2010
  • 05:29 PM

A hobbit's contemporaries: Biogeography and insular evolution on Flores

by Jeremy in Voltage Gate

Painters create networks. The subject of the piece, even if it’s a simple splotch of color, garners the most attention, but without a descriptive background or other kinds of supporting elements to contextualize the portion of the painting where the artist wants you to look, the intended focus is...

... Read more »

Meijer, H., Van Den Hoek Ostende, L., Van Den Bergh, G., & De Vos, J. (2010) The fellowship of the hobbit: the fauna surrounding Homo floresiensis. Journal of Biogeography, 37(6), 995-1006. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2010.02308.x  

  • June 9, 2010
  • 06:03 PM

Southeast Asia in the Pleistocene, from grassland to rain forest

by Jeremy in Voltage Gate

I’ve been trying to keep up with the Gulf situation, so most of my reading of late has been dominated by those details, and the unread numbers in my RSS folders were a little intimidating, but I finally found some time to read some of the papers I’ve earmarked in the past month or so.

This study...

... Read more »

  • April 30, 2010
  • 04:30 PM

Defining edge effects by resource and sensitivity

by Jeremy in Voltage Gate

Considering the number of studies published describing habitat fragmentation and edge effects, why has the pattern and framework of these effects on ecosystems not been described? Ries and Sisk proposed a conceptual model in that paper that can account and predict, to some extent, the variability of an organism’s responses to different edges, usually indicated through an increase or decrease abundance at the edge, or no change at all.... Read more »

  • April 12, 2010
  • 02:45 PM

History of land use determines threat and rarity in mangrove tree species

by Jeremy in Voltage Gate

A new study from PLoS ONE was published last week assessing the threat to mangrove tree species around the world based on IUCN Red List data. At first glance the paper might seem to be just another bleak walk through the anthropogenic dismantling of a fragile biome, but there are some excellent issues presented regarding our relationship between the land and its inhabitants and the interconnectedness of rarity and threat level.... Read more »

Polidoro, B., Carpenter, K., Collins, L., Duke, N., Ellison, A., Ellison, J., Farnsworth, E., Fernando, E., Kathiresan, K., Koedam, N.... (2010) The Loss of Species: Mangrove Extinction Risk and Geographic Areas of Global Concern. PLoS ONE, 5(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010095  

  • April 1, 2010
  • 12:15 PM

Demonstrating synergy between functional groups: Burrowing mammals and megaherbivores

by Jeremy in Voltage Gate

Davidson et al. published another study a few weeks ago in Ecology further exploring the relationships between black-tailed prairie dogs and their much maligned neighbors, Bos taurus, cattle. Prairie dogs have been generally regarded as a danger to cattle by ranchers and removed through poisoning or other means. Overgrazing can lead to desertification, further threatening these animals. But that's a relatively new trend in a long and complex history of interaction between prairie dogs and m........ Read more »

Davidson, A., Ponce, E., Lightfoot, D., Fredrickson, E., Brown, J., Cruzado, J., Brantley, S., Sierra, R., List, R., Toledo, D.... (2010) RAPID RESPONSE OF A GRASSLAND ECOSYSTEM TO AN EXPERIMENTAL MANIPULATION OF A KEYSTONE RODENT AND DOMESTIC LIVESTOCK. Ecology, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1890/09-1277  

  • March 22, 2010
  • 12:15 PM

Reconstructing full-glacial Europe

by Jeremy in Voltage Gate

When Charles Lyell first used the term Pleistocene in 1839 to replace the "long and awkward" use of Newer Pliocene (preceded by, of course, the Older Pliocene), it was done in the interest of streamlining the terminology, but the split of Newer and Older Pliocene was based on the fossil evidence of the time. Lyell designated the split of the Pliocene by recognizing a higher percentage of extant snails and other mollusks found in strata from this Newer Pliocene or, now, Pleistocene period. About ........ Read more »

  • March 3, 2010
  • 02:00 PM

How do taxonomic preferences shape conservation and science?

by Jeremy in Voltage Gate

...an analysis of the frequency and depth of research based on the mammal, reptile, amphibian and bird species in southern Africa. The study questions scientific priorities, highlighting the massive inequality of attention received by differing groups of organisms.... Read more »

TRIMBLE, M., & VAN AARDE, R. (2010) Species Inequality in Scientific Study. Conservation Biology. DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2010.01453.x  

  • February 24, 2010
  • 06:37 PM

Ancient caribou DNA suggests replacement triggered by climate change and/or volcano eruption

by Jeremy in Voltage Gate

I’ve become increasingly interested in the practice of paleoecology of late, trying to find and gather bits and pieces when I have time. This study from Molecular Ecology came to me, which, based on the probability that you can assign probabilities to cosmic events, I’m going to carefully and tentatively (and gentlemanly) attribute to Providence, or Wiley Interscience press releases.In the Yukon, there are several distinct caribou herds that inhabit and move within certain, definable regions........ Read more »

  • February 19, 2010
  • 06:19 PM

Island biogeography: State and case of spider diversity in Macaronesia

by Jeremy in Voltage Gate

Some of the first organisms found on a newly risen or recently destroyed island are spiders. On mainlands, spiderlings of smaller species weave a tiny drag chute, perched atop the highest point in their immediate area – the leaf of an herb or the very tip of a blooming meadow grass – and let the breeze, even the slightest one, carry them away. Most only travel short distances, remaining in the ecosystem in which they were born, but some are spun upwards in varying winds, and swept into jet s........ Read more »

  • February 12, 2010
  • 02:49 PM

For Darwin Day: The Biogeography of Darwin's Gourd

by Jeremy in Voltage Gate

In September of 1835, Charles Darwin was visiting an island of Floreana, one of the smaller islands in the Galapagos archipelago where he came across crawling beds of Sicyos villosus, a fairly typical member of the squashes and cucumbers (Cucurbitaceae). Darwin noted that the cucurbit was "injurious" to the surrounding vegetation, referring to its prolific takeover of the landscape nearby.Darwin sent a sample of S. villosus (pictured above) back to Great Britain along with 209 other plants from ........ Read more »

  • February 3, 2010
  • 12:55 PM

Forest fragmentation and the isolation of the giant panda (a goodbye to Tai Shan and Mei Lan)

by Jeremy in Voltage Gate

In recent surveys, researchers have shown that the number of individual pandas has increased due to conservation efforts in the country, but the populations remain disparate. A recent study published in the Journal of Biogeography takes a look at how exactly these pandas are distributed in the forests of Southwest China, in relation to the level of fragmentation.... Read more »

  • January 30, 2010
  • 03:08 PM

Climate change, invasives and extinction in Thoreau's Woods

by Jeremy in Voltage Gate

The data that Thoreau collected is meticulous enough to be considered a viable, useful data source by modern researchers. Thoreau's records of the area's wildlife have been carried on by others, providing us with over 150 years of data regarding the phenology of Northeast American flora; that is, life cycle events like fruiting or flowering days or migration and how these events are influenced by the seasons and the climate. Simply put, after 150 years of suffering the effects of distu........ Read more »

Willis CG, Ruhfel B, Primack RB, Miller-Rushing AJ, & Davis CC. (2008) Phylogenetic patterns of species loss in Thoreau's woods are driven by climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105(44), 17029-33. PMID: 18955707  

  • January 28, 2010
  • 12:00 PM

Climate change drying up streams, reducing the reproductive success of bats in the Rockies

by Jeremy in Voltage Gate

Bats, as this article in Ecology explains, are particularly sensitive to these changes and, due to their enormous numbers, are integral to food webs as predator and prey. They may be that indicator ecologists are looking for.... Read more »

  • January 22, 2010
  • 06:14 PM

Coastal dune ecology: Invasive grass driving native herb to extinction through direct and apparent competition

by Jeremy in Voltage Gate

I was reading through this study from Ecology yesterday, which tells the interesting story of how coastal dune ecology in northern California was invaded in the 19th century and subsequently disrupted. In order to stabilize the ever-shifting sand dunes, a grass called Ammophila arenaria, the European beachgrass, was planted along the coastline. A. arenaria grows from a strong, thick network of branching rhizomes, allowing it create a fast hold on loose soil and, as the coastal managers intended,........ Read more »

  • January 14, 2010
  • 01:06 PM

Irreplaceable natural services: A look at the plight of the Chihuahuan grasslands and the black-tailed prairie dog

by Jeremy in Voltage Gate

This article from PLoS ONE, provides a very clear, apt example of just how delicate this biome can be, and illustrates the services that native animals can provide in an ecosystem that would cost considerable sums to replace.... Read more »

Ceballos, G., Davidson, A., List, R., Pacheco, J., Manzano-Fischer, P., Santos-Barrera, G., & Cruzado, J. (2010) Rapid Decline of a Grassland System and Its Ecological and Conservation Implications. PLoS ONE, 5(1). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008562  

  • December 31, 1969
  • 08:33 PM

A hobbit’s contemporaries: Biogeography and insular evolution on Flores

by Jeremy in Voltage Gate

Painters create networks. The subject of the piece, even if it’s a simple splotch of color, garners the most attention, but without a descriptive background or other kinds of supporting elements to contextualize the portion of the painting where the artist wants you to look, the intended focus is lost. The subject loses a certain [...]... Read more »

Meijer, H., Van Den Hoek Ostende, L., Van Den Bergh, G., & De Vos, J. (2010) The fellowship of the hobbit: the fauna surrounding Homo floresiensis. Journal of Biogeography, 37(6), 995-1006. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2010.02308.x  

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