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Everything ecology and evolutionary biology

Marc Cadotte
41 posts

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  • October 30, 2012
  • 08:50 AM

The contrasting effects of habitat area and heterogeneity on diversity

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

recent paper from Omri Allouche and colleagues published in the Proceedings ofthe National Academy of Science. The paper presents a simple conceptual model, in the same vein as Connell’s classic intermediate disturbance hypothesis, which accounts for large-scale diversity patterns based on aspects of species niche requirements as well as classic stochastic theory. Merging these two aspects is a critical step forward, as in ecology, there has been a tension in explaining diversity patterns ........ Read more »

Allouche, O., Kalyuzhny, M., Moreno-Rueda, G., Pizarro, M., & Kadmon, R. (2012) Area-heterogeneity tradeoff and the diversity of ecological communities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(43), 17495-17500. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1208652109  

  • April 29, 2011
  • 05:01 PM

Ecological interactions and evolutionary relatedness: contrary effects of conserved niches

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

Over the past several years a multitude of papers linking patterns of evolutionary relatedness to community structure and species coexistence. Much of this work has looked at co-occurrence patterns and looked for non-random patterns of relatedness. The key explanations of patterns has been that communities comprised of more distantly-related species is thought to be structured by competitive interactions, excluding close relatives. Alternatively, communities comprised of species that are closely........ Read more »

  • January 20, 2011
  • 11:40 PM

The evolutionary story of ecosystem function

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

Twenty years of research has repeatedly shown that communities with greater diversity result higher functioning -namely greater production of biomass. One of the major mechanisms producing this relationship is that different species use differing resources, such that their complementary use of resources uses the total resource pool more thoroughly, thus converting more resources into biomass. Resource preference is the product of evolution and how organisms have adapted to using various resource........ Read more »

  • January 11, 2011
  • 10:43 PM

Who is a scientist, I am a scientist: the bees of Blackawton

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

In discussions of the larger societal implications of scientific findings, the question of who is a scientist is frequently asked. I've talked with with creationists who invoke the authority of someone who has a PhD in a scientific discipline and happens to share their belief of supernatural origins, as a scientific authority. Does the fact that I have a PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology make me scientist or is being scientist something more?This is an important question. It goes to the co........ Read more »

Blackawton, P., Airzee, S., Allen, A., Baker, S., Berrow, A., Blair, C., Churchill, M., Coles, J., Cumming, R., Fraquelli, L.... (2010) Blackawton bees. Biology Letters. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2010.1056  

  • November 5, 2010
  • 02:33 PM

The effects of forest fragmentation after 30 years

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

Large-scale alteration of nature landscapes has had profound implications for biological diversity. The single biggest contributor to the current extinction crisis is the wholesale destruction of habitats. As habitats are destroyed, formerly contiguous landscapes become fragmented into smaller patches. But what exactly the effects of fragmentation are, independent of habitat destruction, is not always so clear (e.g., Simberloff 2000. What do we really know about fragmentation? Texas Journal of S........ Read more »

Laurance, W., Camargo, J., Luizão, R., Laurance, S., Pimm, S., Bruna, E., Stouffer, P., Bruce Williamson, G., Benítez-Malvido, J., & Vasconcelos, H. (2010) The fate of Amazonian forest fragments: A 32-year investigation. Biological Conservation. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2010.09.021  

  • October 17, 2010
  • 10:44 PM

Grassland diversity increases stability across multiple functions

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

As ecological systems are altered with cascading changes in diversity, the oft-asked question is: does diversity matter for ecosystem function? This question has been tested a multitude of times, with the results often supporting the idea that more diverse assemblages provide greater functioning (such as productivity, nutrient cycling, supporting greater pollinator abundance, etc.). Besides greater functioning, scientists have hypothesized that more diverse systems are inherently more stable. Th........ Read more »

Proulx, R., Wirth, C., Voigt, W., Weigelt, A., Roscher, C., Attinger, S., Baade, J., Barnard, R., Buchmann, N., Buscot, F.... (2010) Diversity Promotes Temporal Stability across Levels of Ecosystem Organization in Experimental Grasslands. PLoS ONE, 5(10). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013382  

  • July 27, 2010
  • 11:11 AM

Enhanced biodiversity-ecosystem function relationships in polluted systems

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

*note: this text was adapted from an Editor's Choice I wrote for the Journal of Applied Ecology.In this era of species loss and habitat degradation, understanding the link between biodiversity and functioning of species assemblages is a critically important area of research. Two decades of research has shown that communities with more species or functional types results in higher levels of ecosystem functioning, such as nutrient processing rates, carbon sequestration and productivity, among........ Read more »

  • July 7, 2010
  • 12:02 PM

Organic farming and natural enemy evenness

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

The basic reality of agricultural activity is that it reduces biological diversity, and these reductions in diversity potentially impact ecosystem services. But do some agricultural practices impact these services less than others? In a recent paper in Nature by David Crowder and colleagues, the question of how organic versus conventional farming affects predator and herbivore pathogen diversity and how this cascades to pest suppression. They show through a meta-analysis, that organic farms tend........ Read more »

Crowder, D., Northfield, T., Strand, M., & Snyder, W. (2010) Organic agriculture promotes evenness and natural pest control. Nature, 466(7302), 109-112. DOI: 10.1038/nature09183  

  • June 1, 2010
  • 11:00 PM

Experimental test of Darwin's naturalization hypothesis

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

Among the numerous and still informative ecological predictions made by Darwin, one posits that when species are introduced into regions where they were not formerly found, the most successful tend to not have close relatives already occupying the region. This is known as Darwin's Naturalization Hypothesis, and his logic was that among close relatives, where ecological requirements should be most similar, the struggle for existence is most severe. Thus the modern formulation is that invader succ........ Read more »

Jiang, L., Tan, J., & Pu, Z. (2010) An Experimental Test of Darwin’s Naturalization Hypothesis. The American Naturalist, 175(4), 415-423. DOI: 10.1086/650720  

  • May 11, 2010
  • 10:37 AM

Picante's coming out party

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

This past decade has seen a rapid expansion of the use of evolutionary phylogenies in ecological studies. This expansion is largely due to the increased availability of phylogenies, but has resulted in new types of hypotheses and statistics aimed to test the phylogenetic patterns underpinning ecological communities. The main computational tool used has been phylocom, created by Cam Webb, David Ackerly and Steve Kembel, which has its own binaries to be installed on one’s computer. However, a ne........ Read more »

Kembel, S., Cowan, P., Helmus, M., Cornwell, W., Morlon, H., Ackerly, D., Blomberg, S., & Webb, C. (2010) Picante: R tools for integrating phylogenies and ecology. Bioinformatics. DOI: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btq166  

  • April 14, 2010
  • 02:28 PM

Teaching a quoll that cane toads are bad

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

Often, species become endangered because of multiple stressors, with habitat destruction taking the prize as the most egregious. However, often what pushes a species into extinction is not the main driver of endangerment. For example, passenger pigeon numbers were decimated by unabated hunting, but the proximate cause of extinction was likely an inability to thrive in low densities. Yet, seldom is the case where a known single species interaction is the primary cause of engangerment and maybe ex........ Read more »

  • April 8, 2010
  • 11:26 PM

Plant rarity: environemtal or dispersal limited?

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

In order to promote the persistence and possible spread of extremely rare plant species, ecologists need to know why a species is rare in the first place. In 1986, Deborah Rabinowitz identified seven forms of rarity, where rarity could mean several things depending on range size, habitat specificity and population sizes. When considering rarity, it often feels intuitive to look for environmental causes for these different forms of rarity. Habitat alteration is an obvious environmental change tha........ Read more »

  • March 22, 2010
  • 10:25 PM

Predicting endangered carnivores: the role of environment, space and phylogeny

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

For conservation biology, there are several research thrusts that are of critical importance, and one of these is to find predictors of species' extinction risk. Oft-cited is the particular susceptibility of large-bodied organisms, with their large ranges and slow reproductive rates. But there should be other predictors too, especially within larger mammals. In a forthcoming paper in Global Ecology and Biogeography, Safi and Pettorelli use just a few variables to predict extinction risk in carni........ Read more »

  • March 9, 2010
  • 10:44 AM

Ecology and industry: bridging the gap between economics and the environment

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

Applied ecology is the science of minimizing human impacts and of supporting ecological systems in an economic landscape. Often though, applied ecologists work in isolation from those economic forces shaping biological landscapes, not really knowing what businesses would like to accomplish for habitat protection or sustainability. At the same businesses are seldom aware of the knowledge, tools and insight provided by ecologists. And perhaps, greater interaction could help turn ecology into a sci........ Read more »

Armsworth, P., Armsworth, A., Compton, N., Cottle, P., Davies, I., Emmett, B., Fandrich, V., Foote, M., Gaston, K., Gardiner, P.... (2010) The ecological research needs of business. Journal of Applied Ecology, 47(2), 235-243. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2010.01792.x  

  • February 22, 2010
  • 07:30 PM

How can evolution inform conservation decisions?

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

First of all, let me apologize for the lack of blog posts over the past 2 weeks, I've been busy visiting the Olympics and reading a couple of hundred blog, judging them for the Research Blogging awards.

The conservation of biological diversity is a major imperative for biologists. International agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and intergovernmental exercises, such as the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, call upon scientists to provide evidence on the current state of bi........ Read more »

Hendry, A., Lohmann, L., Conti, E., Cracraft, J., Crandall, K., Faith, D., Häuser, C., Joly, C., Kogure, K., Larigauderie, A.... (2010) EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY IN BIODIVERSITY SCIENCE, CONSERVATION, AND POLICY: A CALL TO ACTION. Evolution. DOI: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2010.00947.x  

  • February 3, 2010
  • 10:38 PM

The evolution of a symbiont

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

The evolution of negative interactions seems like a logical consequence of natural selection. Organisms compete for resources or view one another as a resource, thus finding ways to more efficiently find and consume prey. However, to me, the natural selection of symbiotic or mutualistic interactions has never seemed as straight forward (expect maybe the case where one species provides protection for the other, such as in ant-plant mutualisms). A specific example is the rise of nitrogen-fixing pl........ Read more »

Marchetti, M., Capela, D., Glew, M., Cruveiller, S., Chane-Woon-Ming, B., Gris, C., Timmers, T., Poinsot, V., Gilbert, L., Heeb, P.... (2010) Experimental Evolution of a Plant Pathogen into a Legume Symbiont. PLoS Biology, 8(1). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000280  

  • January 19, 2010
  • 10:47 PM

Timing is everything: global warming and the timing of species interactions

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

While an obvious affect of climate change will be changes in the distributions or range sizes of species, more insidious and likely more consequential will be how species interactions are affected by changes in the timing of growth and reproduction. These changes in an organism's life cycle, or phenology, can create mismatches between an organism's need and resource availability or the readiness of coevolved partners -such as plants and pollinators.In an 'Idea and Perspective' paper in Ecology L........ Read more »

  • January 14, 2010
  • 11:28 PM

Plant genotypic diversity supports pollinator diversity

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

Research over the past 20 years has shown that plant communities with greater diversity maintain higher productivity, greater stability and support more diverse arthropod assemblages. More recently, several experiments have shown that interspecific diversity (namely genotypic differences) also affects community functioning. Pollination is often considered an essential function, and does plant genotypic diversity affect pollinator diversity and frequency?In a recent paper in PLoS ONE, Genung and ........ Read more »

Genung, M., Lessard, J., Brown, C., Bunn, W., Cregger, M., Reynolds, W., Felker-Quinn, E., Stevenson, M., Hartley, A., Crutsinger, G.... (2010) Non-Additive Effects of Genotypic Diversity Increase Floral Abundance and Abundance of Floral Visitors. PLoS ONE, 5(1). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008711  

  • January 5, 2010
  • 01:50 PM

Predicting invader success requires integrating ecological and land use patterns.

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

Disclaimer, this was modified from an editorial I wrote for the Journal of Applied Ecology.In the quest to understand species invasions, we often try to link the abundance and distribution of invaders to underlying ecological processes. For example, oft-studied are the links between exotic diversity and native richness or environmental heterogeneity. Seemingly independently, research into how specific land use or management activities affect invasion dynamics is also fairly common. While both re........ Read more »

  • December 16, 2009
  • 10:51 PM

Parastie competition enhances host survival

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

Contracting a parasite is bad. But is getting colonized by multiple parasitic species worse? This is an interesting and important question. The host is a resource, which can support a limited number of parasitic individuals, and so how does competition affect parasitic species and host mortality?This was the premise of a recent paper by Oliver Balmer and colleagues, studying trypanosome infection of mice hosts. They engineered two transgeneic strains of the protozoan parasite, Trypanosoma brucei........ Read more »

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