Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Category Archives: Ecology

Model suggests how evolution shapes ecological networks among species

The natural world is filled with networks. Predator and prey, flower and pollinator—each interacting pair forms a link in a networked community of organisms. Now, a French research team has developed a model that explores how evolution may help shape … Continue reading

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Insects, not just wind, offer an ancient mechanism of orchid seed dispersal

On Yakushima Island, at the southern tip of Japan, an orchid employs a very unusual strategy to disperse its seeds. Crickets visit the orchid at night, eat its fruits, and defecate the seeds in the vicinity. The discovery, reported recently … Continue reading

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Satellite monitoring may help preserve the Chesapeake Bay by improving farming practices

  Restoring the Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s largest estuary, has for decades proven to be a fraught enterprise, beset by the interests of researchers, farmers, anglers, multiple governments, and a host of others. A new approach, recently reported in Remote … Continue reading

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Deep-sea mussels still show biological rhythms tracking sunlight, tides

Like many land animals, marine organisms follow daily and seasonal clocks—in the water, those clocks are set by the cadence of the sun and the moon. But researchers hadn’t known if deep-sea creatures also exhibit biological rhythms, tucked away in … Continue reading

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Seasonality shapes coevolution of parasites and hosts

Parasites and their hosts coevolve in an arms race influenced by environmental conditions. Seasonal change, for example, can shape the course of evolution, but precisely how has been something of a mystery. A recent study used lab experiments and mathematical … Continue reading

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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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