Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Category Archives: Ecology

Trends in conservation funding track popular narratives about the illegal wildlife trade

Trends in conservation funding are changing, according to a recent study in World Development. “We see a shift toward funding conservation work that’s increasingly about combatting wildlife trafficking,” says coauthor Jared Margulies, a human-environment geographer at the University of Alabama … Continue reading

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Variation in a single gene increases plant yield in groups but not in pairs

Groups of diverse plant species often produce more seeds than monocultures. But whether plants ramp up yield in response to genetically distinct, direct neighbors, as opposed to a broader neighborhood of diverse plants, remains an open question in ecology. “It’s … Continue reading

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A combination of living and nonliving selective forces drive local adaptation across species

Both living and nonliving factors can interact to shape local adaptation, according to a recent study in The American Naturalist. The metaanalysis also entailed the use of a method, borrowed from the social and medical sciences, that identified common themes and research gaps … Continue reading

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For camouflaged animals, a quick dash is best to avoid detection

A hunting falcon flying over a field might not see a camouflaged rabbit hidden in the grass. But if that rabbit loses its nerve and runs, then the falcon will see its meal. Movement gives away even the best disguises. … Continue reading

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Cooperative defense against disease may have helped insects evolve complex societies

The lifestyles of insects, such as bees and wasps, range from simple solitary arrangements to more recently evolved, highly complex family social structures. One major factor that allowed social complexity to evolve may have been insects’ ability to defend their … Continue reading

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Models shift blame for Neanderthal extinction away from modern humans

Neanderthals vanished about 40,000 years ago, but the reasons for their demise remain shrouded in mystery and a source of debate among archaeologists. The timing coincides with the arrival of modern humans in Europe, which has led some researchers to … Continue reading

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Pollen frozen in a glacier reveals the legacy of human impacts in the heart of the Inca Empire

The Illimani glacier sits between the urban sprawl of La Paz, Bolivia, on one side, and the roads and plantations of the Amazon basin on the other. It was no doubt a very different landscape some 550 years ago, when … Continue reading

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Sweeping study finds big landscape changes on the fringes of Europe’s protected areas

Quaint cobblestone towns and green pastures dot the Pyrenees Mountains, at the gates of Catalonia’s Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park. Hike a few miles into the park, though, and the Spanish landscape of trickling rivers and montane … Continue reading

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By separating life stages, metamorphosis may circumvent harmful evolutionary tradeoffs

  There’s no guarantee evolution will bestow the best version of every trait. The benefits of one trait may impose a cost when an unfavorable trait, correlated genetically, comes along for the ride. In a recent study on wood frogs (Rana sylvatica) … Continue reading

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Predators can harm rather than help biodiversity

  Rich biodiversity depends on the ability of species to coexist. And yet, ecologists are still grappling with the requisite mechanisms. Recent findings published in Nature suggest that predators might not be as helpful a driver of species coexistence as … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Protozoan predators help pinpoint how evolution and ecology shape predator-prey dynamics

A hungry lynx bounds after a scampering hare. Occasionally the lynx secures its catch. Often, it doesn’t. For ecology students, this back and forth battle is the textbook example of an ecological process driving predator–prey population dynamics. The predator population … Continue reading

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