118 posts · 94,668 views
EcoTone is a blog produced by the Ecological Society of America. The blog showcases ecology and ecologists, focusing on ecological science in the news and its use in policy and education. EcoTone welcomes guest submissions and suggestions of timely, relevant news of importance to the broad ecological community. EcoTone is moderated by ESA’s communications officer, Katie Kline. To submit feedback or suggest a post, please e-mail email@example.com.
As consumers, we like to hear that produce growers and distributers go above and beyond food safety mandates to ensure that healthy fresh fruits and vegetables do not carry bacteria or viruses that can make us sick. But in California’s Salinas Valley, some more vigorous interventions are cutting into the last corners of wildlife habitat, without evidence of food safety benefits, creating tensions between wildlife preservation and food safety where none need exist.... Read more »
Sasha Gennet, Jeanette Howard, Jeff Langholz, Kathryn Andrews, Mark D Reynolds, & Scott A Morrison. (2013) Farm practices for food safety: an emerging threat to floodplain and riparian ecosystems. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, e-View ahead of print(May 6th). info:/10.1890/1202443
On big rivers like the Mississippi, the infrastructure of modern civilization – dams, locks, dikes, power plants, cities – has made life easier for people, but harder for fish and other denizens of the river. Restoration is a tricky problem. Economic reliance on these big rivers makes fundamental reversals like dam removals unlikely.... Read more »
Pracheil, B., McIntyre, P., & Lyons, J. (2013) Enhancing conservation of large-river biodiversity by accounting for tributaries. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 11(3), 124-128. DOI: 10.1890/120179
What will climate change mean for the forests of southcentral Alaska? A podcast interview with NPS ecologist Carl Roland.... Read more »
Roland, C., Schmidt, J., & Nicklen, E. (2013) Landscape-scale patterns in tree occupancy and abundance in subarctic Alaska. Ecological Monographs, 83(01), 19-48. DOI: 10.1890/11-2136.1
Weighing the social and ecological costs and benefits of plastic vegetable greenhouses over conventional vegetable production.... Read more »
Chang, J., Wu, X., Wang, Y., Meyerson, L., Gu, B., Min, Y., Xue, H., Peng, C., & Ge, Y. (2013) Does growing vegetables in plastic greenhouses enhance regional ecosystem services beyond the food supply?. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 11(1), 43-49. DOI: 10.1890/100223
Contemporary recreational fishing has intersected with the dormant effects of an old Works Progress Administration mosquito control project and hastened marsh die-off through the relentless chewing of the purple marsh crab.... Read more »
Coverdale, T., Herrmann, N., Altieri, A., & Bertness, M. (2013) Latent impacts: the role of historical human activity in coastal habitat loss. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1890/120130
Big fish, little fish, hump-shaped foraging curves, and the landscape of fear.... Read more »
Pangle, K., Malinich, T., Bunnell, D., DeVries, D., & Ludsin, S. (2012) Context-dependent planktivory: interacting effects of turbidity and predation risk on adaptive foraging. Ecosphere, 3(12). DOI: 10.1890/ES12-00224.1
In this guest post, Vicky Meretsky, associate professor at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, propose a national conservation-support program to help knit together state level efforts and larger federal programs and prevent species from falling through the gaps.... Read more »
Vicky J. Meretsky, Lynn A. Maguire, Frank W. Davis, DavId M. Stoms, J. Michael Scott, Dennis Figg, Dale D. Goble, Brad Griffith, Scott E. Henke, Jacqueline Vaughn.... (2012) A State-Based National Network for Effective Wildlife Conservation. BioScience, 62(11), 970-976. DOI: 10.1525/bio.2012.62.11.6
Josh Miller is one among a small cadre of ecologists looking at living ecosystems through the relics of their dead.... Read more »
Miller, J. (2012) Spatial fidelity of skeletal remains: elk wintering and calving grounds revealed by bones on the Yellowstone landscape. Ecology, 93(11), 2474-2482. DOI: 10.1890/12-0272.1
A Colombian coal mine opens a treasure chest of fossils.... Read more »
Cadena, E., Ksepka, D., Jaramillo, C., & Bloch, J. (2012) New pelomedusoid turtles from the late Palaeocene Cerrejón Formation of Colombia and their implications for phylogeny and body size evolution. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, 10(2), 313-331. DOI: 10.1080/14772019.2011.569031
On the market for scientific jobs, male applicants enjoy a substantial advantage, say Yale University researchers.... Read more »
Moss-Racusin CA, Dovidio JF, Brescoll VL, Graham MJ, & Handelsman J. (2012) Science faculty's subtle gender biases favor male students. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 22988126
Are exotic pythons devastating Florida’s Everglades National Park? A waxing population of Burmese pythons has suspiciously paralleled waning sightings of native critters in Florida’s Everglades, says a paper out this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Following on the tail of an announcement two weeks ago (Jan 17th) that the U.S. will ban imports and interstate sales of the exotic python and three other large constrictor snakes, the story has been attracting........ Read more »
Dorcas, M., Willson, J., Reed, R., Snow, R., Rochford, M., Miller, M., Meshaka, W., Andreadis, P., Mazzotti, F., Romagosa, C.... (2012) Severe mammal declines coincide with proliferation of invasive Burmese pythons in Everglades National Park. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1115226109
Inside the rounded fruit of a fig tree is a maze of flowers. That is, a fig is not actually a fruit; it is an inflorescence—a cluster of many flowers and seeds contained inside a bulbous stem. Because of this unusual arrangement, the seeds—technically the ovaries of the fig—require a specialized pollinator that is adapted [...]
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Jander, K., & Herre, E. (2010) Host sanctions and pollinator cheating in the fig tree-fig wasp mutualism. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 277(1687), 1481-1488. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2009.2157
Researcher David Hughes has expanded research on a parasitic fungus and its carpenter ant host. As explained in an excerpt from a previous EcoTone post: Scientists have found that the parasitic fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis has possibly been invading carpenter ants (Camponotus) for 48 million years. The parasite not only infects the ant, but it manipulates [...]
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Hughes, D., Andersen, S., Hywel-Jones, N., Himaman, W., Billen, J., & Boomsma, J. (2011) Behavioral mechanisms and morphological symptoms of zombie ants dying from fungal infection. BMC Ecology, 11(1), 13. DOI: 10.1186/1472-6785-11-13
Last week I had the pleasure of being a speaker at Buck Lodge Middle School’s Career Day. Several public schools in Maryland, where Buck Lodge is located, and other states organize important events like these to get students thinking about future opportunities. Do you remember what it was like to be in middle school? To [...]
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Sackett, A., Meyvis, T., Nelson, L., Converse, B., & Sackett, A. (2009) You're Having Fun When Time Flies: The Hedonic Consequences of Subjective Time Progression. Psychological Science, 21(1), 111-117. DOI: 10.1177/0956797609354832
As the Northeast of the United States was hammered by thundersnow this week, students, parents and perhaps those working from home had the opportunity to indulge in outdoor winter activities. For many, being in the snow again is losing its luster. As an Associated Press article noted, “The Northeast has already been pummeled by winter [...]
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LIN, F., GRAHAM, L., CAMPBELL, R., & DAVIES, P. (2007) Structural Modeling of Snow Flea Antifreeze Protein. Biophysical Journal, 92(5), 1717-1723. DOI: 10.1529/biophysj.106.093435
Most people are familiar with the role of DNA: A set of genetic instructions on how a particular living organism should function. This nucleic acid has been widely explored as a way to identify individuals, define illnesses or hereditary diseases and contribute to behavior, among many other clues about an individual. However, there may be another complex feature of human anatomy that influences many surprising aspects of human physiology, immunity and evolution: gut flora.
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Lombardo, M. (2007) Access to mutualistic endosymbiotic microbes: an underappreciated benefit of group living. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 62(4), 479-497. DOI: 10.1007/s00265-007-0428-9
Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, was once quoted as saying: “In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is Freedom, in water there is bacteria.” While there is certainly some truth to this quote, especially considering water quality in the 1700s, it should be noted that beer’s long history is also fraught with microorganisms—both helpful and harmful in the eyes of the brewer.
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Nelson, M., Dinardo, A., Hochberg, J., & Armelagos, G. (2010) Brief communication: Mass spectroscopic characterization of tetracycline in the skeletal remains of an ancient population from Sudanese Nubia 350-550 CE. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.21340
It may be difficult to picture just one locust singled out from a swarm. But believe it or not, desert locusts—insects infamous for their contribution to plagues and famine—are naturally solitary creatures. So what causes the group uprising that farmers are so familiar with? Research has shown that the internal workings of a solitary locust can affect the swarming behavior of the entire group.
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Anstey, M., Rogers, S., Ott, S., Burrows, M., & Simpson, S. (2009) Serotonin Mediates Behavioral Gregarization Underlying Swarm Formation in Desert Locusts. Science, 323(5914), 627-630. DOI: 10.1126/science.1165939
Bazazi, S., Romanczuk, P., Thomas, S., Schimansky-Geier, L., Hale, J., Miller, G., Sword, G., Simpson, S., & Couzin, I. (2010) Nutritional state and collective motion: from individuals to mass migration. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.1447
Scientists have known for decades that the human intestinal tract is home to an abundance of diverse bacteria. This microbial rainforest is introduced incrementally to infants as they grow—primarily from their mothers during birth and breastfeeding and from everyday encounters. Many of these microbes aid in digestion and fight off pathogens, but until recently, researchers were not certain if phages, viruses that infect bacteria, were also present in the human gut.
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Reyes, A., Haynes, M., Hanson, N., Angly, F., Heath, A., Rohwer, F., & Gordon, J. (2010) Viruses in the faecal microbiota of monozygotic twins and their mothers. Nature, 466(7304), 334-338. DOI: 10.1038/nature09199
urrently, research on the possible causes of limb deformities in amphibians is expansive, with evidence supporting parasite infection, chemical contaminants, UVB radiation and amputation as possible factors. However, as Mari Reeves from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and colleagues explained in an article in the August issue of Ecological Monographs, the most likely cause of amphibian abnormalities is a combination of several stressors.
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Reeves, M., Jensen, P., Dolph, C., Holyoak, M., & Trust, K. (2010) Multiple stressors and the cause of amphibian abnormalities. Ecological Monographs, 80(3), 423-440. DOI: 10.1890/09-0879.1
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