Cover image gallery
Click on an image to view a larger version, or on the links below to access articles and online extras.
Our cover image shows a vibrant coral reef in the Red Sea (photo taken by Stephanie Helber). Despite being located in oligotrophic waters, which offer little to sustain life, corals reefs such as this one maintain high productivity, in part due to efficient nutrient cycling. Sponges have recently been shown to recycle dissolved organic matter (DOM) on coral reefs by rapidly taking up DOM and transforming it into particulate detritus that can then be transferred up the reef food web. This "sponge loop" is proposed to play an important role in recycling the large quantities of DOM released by benthic primary producers, such as corals and algae. In their study, Rix et al. compare how reef sponges process the DOM produced by corals and algae and investigate how different DOM sources may influence DOM cycling via the sponge loop (see Rix et al., Differential recycling of coral and algal dissolved organic matter via the sponge loop).
Our latest FE Spotlight by Cleo Bertelsmeier, Functional trait ecology in the Anthropocene: a standardized framework for terrestrial invertebrates , looks at the importance of Moretti et al’s, Handbook of protocols for standardized measurement of terrestrial invertebrate functional traits. Also in this issue (and free to read), is Sheil et al’s Review Does biomass growth increase in the largest trees? Flaws, fallacies and alternative analyses
Our cover shows a Nidua fringe-ﬁngered lizard (Acanthodactylus scutellatus) - a lizard with cryptic pattern (photo by Dror Hawlena). In their paper, Movement correlates of lizards’ dorsal pigmentation patterns, Halperin et al suggested that species that forage less actively should have cryptic patterns while species that actively search for food should have stripes. Using an extensive literature survey, the authors found that lizards with stripes were substantially more active than lizards with cryptic patterns, providing the first quantitative support for the hypothesized relationships between pigmentation-patterns and foraging behaviour.
Also in this issue: in our latest FE Spotlight, New technology highlights the importance of scale in the foraging behaviour of a pelagic predator, Adrian Gleiss highlights the recent work by Adachi et al, Searching for prey in a three-dimensional environment: hierarchical movements enhance foraging success in northern elephant seals. Sperfeld et al’s Review: Bridging Ecological Stoichiometry and Nutritional Geometry with homeostasis concepts and integrative models of organism nutrition
The cover for 31.01 comes from our latest Special Feature: Plant Pollinator Interactions from Flower to Landscape. This special feature examines the mechanisms of specialization and the factors that govern the evolution of plant pollinator relationships. The papers cover the characteristics of floral traits shaped by specialization in plant-pollinator relationships; the nature of the food offered to pollinators; and characteristics of populations of pollinators and plants that make them resilient to anthropogenic change. For more Plant-Pollinator content, you can also read our Virtual Issue: Plant-Pollinator Interactions. and our latest FE Spotlight: Pollinator-mediated selection is better detected when controlling for resource limitation by Yuval Sapir, highlighting Sletvold et al’s paper Resource- and pollinator-mediated selection on floral traits.
also in this issue: 30 Years of Functional Ecology, Koch & Hill’s Review An assessment of techniques to manipulate oxidative stress in animals and our most recent paper on Peer Review at Functional Ecology, Author-suggested reviewers: gender differences and influences on the peer review process at an ecology journal.
Issue 30.12 is out now and includes our new Special Feature: Advances and challenges in the study of ecological networks. Networks are collections of nodes that are connected to each other by links. Food webs, where nodes are species and links are feeding interactions (such as the Silvereye on our cover, Zosterops lateralis feeding on New Zealand ﬂax), are just one type of ecological network (Photograph by Timothée Poisot, CC-BY) (see paper by Poisot, pp. 1878–1882).
This Special Feature presents research at the frontier of what networks can do for ecologists, and outlines an ambitious research agenda to integrate network approaches into the standard ecological toolkit. As networks are becoming more popular generally, tools developed in network science keep increasing. At the same time, new types of ecological data are emerging, placing us at an opportune crossroad to reflect on when and how looking at ecological communities as networks leads to new and useful insights.
In our latest FE Spotlight, André Kessler looks at Inducible plant defences and the environmental context, highlighting Karin Burghardt's paper Nutrient supply alters goldenrod's induced response to herbivory, also in this issue . In a series of experiments with tall goldenrod, Burghardt's work addresses a missing piece in our understanding of the relationship between nutrient availability and resistance and tolerance expression.
Our cover image shows a blue-throated male Urosaurus ornatus basking on a tree. Photo: Cynthia Morris. In their paper Food, temperature and endurance: effects of food deprivation on the thermal sensitivity of physiological performance, Gilbert and Miles, looked at the consequences of fasting on preferred body temperatures and the thermal sensitivity of physiological performance using , Urosaurus ornatus as a model organism.
Neriid flies in Sydney, Australia (photograph by Russell Bonduriansky). Macronutrients (protein and carbohydrate) in maternal and paternal diets can have very different effects on offspring. Using neriid flies, Bonduriansky et al. were also able to show that the effects of parental diets can be highly non-linear, and that different dietary nutrients can interact in their effects on offspring (see paper by Bonduriansky et al.)
Also in this issue, Kimberly L. VanderWaal and Vanessa O. Ezenwa's Review Heterogeneity in pathogen transmission: mechanisms and methodology, explores the impact of behaviour and physiology on variation in the number of new infections produced by an individual, the need for a more holistic approach for in analysing that and describes new tools and methods that can be used to gain an improved understanding of the spread of infectious diseases in natural populations.
After a summer thundershower, a limpet, Cellana toreuma, in its habitat on a rocky shore in Dongshan, Fujian, PR. China. Photo by Yunwei Dong. Rocky intertidal ecosystems face some of the harshest environmental stresses on earth and are also one of the ecosystems most vulnerable to climate change. In order to study cellular energy responses to high temperature, desiccation and freshwater spray (simulated rainfall), Dong & Zhang measured the expression of genes involved in energy sensing, energy production, and energy expenditure in an intertidal limpet, Cellana toreuma. The genes examined in this study provide a validated set of indices (biomarkers) for quantifying environmental stress, including future stress from climate change, in this and, likely, other animals exposed to harsh conditions in the rocky intertidal zone.
In our latest FE Spotlight: Emigration is costly, but immigration has benefits in human-altered landscapes, Brook and Buettel look at Martin & Fahrig's paper Reconciling contradictory relationships between mobility and extinction risk in human-altered landscapes.
This issue contains our latest Special feature: The Functional Role of Silicon in Plant Biology, edited by Julia Cooke, Jane DeGabriel and Sue Hartley. This special feature consolidates our current understanding of plant silicon from a plant functional perspective, encompassing all scales, from geosciences to genes, tracing Si in both soils and plants and fusing knowledge from individual studies into powerful generalized statements. It shows the scale on which plants impact the global Si cycle and our role in cycle modifications. Our cover photo shows siliciﬁed epidermal cells (long cells, stomata) extracted from leaves of modern Arundo donax ssp. versicolor (UWBM no. PR5864) and was taken by Caroline Strömberg, one of the contributors to this Special Feature (see paper by Stromberg, Di Stilio and Song, "Functions of phytoliths in vascular plants: an evolutionary perspective").
You can listen to gues-editor Julia Cooke talk to Ken Thompson about this Special feature in our latest podcast.
This issue's cover photograph is by Joe Bailey and shows Populus angustifolia along the Lamar River in Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Populus angustifolia is a model system for understanding the linkage and feedbacks among plants, the soil microbiome, and ecosystem function. These individual level Plant–Soil interactions vary among populations to link local and landscape level scales across the western United States. These interactions affect plant phenotypes, like phenology and productivity, that are thought to be important to survival in an uncertain climatic future. Very little work to date has focused on the evolutionary mechanisms and consequences of plant soil feedback. Our new Special Feature: Ecosystems, Evolution and Plant–Soil Feedbacks (edited by Joe Bailey and Jen Schweizer) focuses on this topic and highlights important new directions in plant-soil feedback that are just beginning to be examined. These advances in plant-soil feedback research, along with ongoing mathematical/theoretical advances, further demonstrate how important plant-soil feedback research is for understanding not only the ecology, but also the evolution of complex interactions - as well as showing us how much we still have to learn.
Also in this issue, Sharon Bewick's FE Spotlight looks at current and future challenges of predictive insect population modelling, highlighting Johnson et al's Effects of temperature and resource variation on insect population dynamics: the bordered plant bug as a case study (also in this issue).
In our latest FE Spotlight, Ecological significance of thermal tolerance and performance in fishes: new insights from integrating field and laboratory approaches, Ben Speers-Roesch and Tommy Norin discuss Payne et al's Temperature-dependence of fish performance in the wild: links with species biogeography and physiological thermal tolerance (also in this issue), and the importance of integrating of laboratory and field studies for understanding how the changing environment shapes the interconnected physiological and ecological performance of animals.
Our cover image shows dung beetles (Pachylomera femoralis) on a white rhinoceros dung heap near the Balule Private Camp, Kruger National Park, South Africa (photo by Heloise Heyne). Dung beetles provide many ecological functions and services, acting as miniature ecosystem engineers, and have a potentially beneficial role in climate change adaptation and crop protection. In Johnson et al's paper An insect ecosystem engineer alleviates drought stress in plants without increasing plant susceptibility to an aboveground herbivore, the authors tested how dung beetles might alleviate the negative impacts of drought on plants (Brassica oleracea) by enhancing soil water retention. They found that dung beetles increased soil water retention by 10%, increased plant growth by almost three fold under drought conditions and allowed plants to capture more nutrients such as nitrogen and carbon. Contrary to their initial predictions dung beetles did not make the plants more susceptible to an insect herbivore, the diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella), possibly because they increased nutrient content but not the concentration in leaves. These results point to a potential beneficial role for insect ecosystem engineers in climate change adaptation and crop protection.
Manuela Abelho's FE Spotlight, Litter traits and decomposer complexity set the stage for a global decomposition model highlights García-Palacios et al's The importance of litter traits and decomposers for litter decomposition: a comparison of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems within and across biomes, also in this issue.
Our cover image shows fire moving through longleaf pine forests, a diverse, fire-dependent pine savanna. Environmental drivers of community composition across this landscape differed from those explaining trait composition, as Ames et al investigate in their paper "Multiple environmental drivers structure plant traits at the community level in a pyrogenic ecosystem".
Also in this issue are Hasper et al's "Water use by Swedish boreal forests in a changing climate". Authors Thomas Hasper and Johan Uddling discussed their work on this paper with Alan Knapp in a recent FE Podcast:
In our latest FE Spotlight, When every sperm is sacred: the emergence and decline of superorganismal chimeras, Jacobus J. Boomsma discusses Aron et al's paper Sperm production characteristics vary with level of sperm competition in Cataglyphis desert ants, also in this issue.
Our cover image (photograph by Joffrey Jouma'a) is of a female elephant seal and her pup on Kerguelen Island. Due to their annual presence on land for reproduction , Southern Elephant Seals can be easily equipped with Time-Depth-Recorders. In their paper Adjustment of diving behaviour with prey encounters and body condition in a deep diving predator: the Southern Elephant Seal Jouma'a et al were able to gather information on diving behaviour, such as the time spent in the foraging zone, the swimming effort or even the number of prey catch attempts. They showed that elephant seals precisely adjust how long they spend foraging zone depending on the targeted depth, their body condition and prey encounter rate. For instance, an animal with a high body density will usually tend to stay less time in the foraging zone due to the energy required to come up to the surface. This study also highlights that using only the time spent in the foraging zone to estimate foraging success can be seriously misleading in the Southern Elephant Seal.
Also in this issue is a new Review by Maik Bartelheimer and Peter Poschlod Functional characterizations of Ellenberg indicator values – a review on ecophysiological determinants, (free online).
Our cover image shows a red-eyed treefrog metamorph, recently emerged from the water. Long guts induced by tadpole competition in ponds persist through metamorphosis, despite extreme gut shortening and extensive remodelling. These long guts help small froglets maintain high feeding rates and grow faster than larger froglets that emerged from less competitive larval environments. Photograph by Karen M. Warkentin. You can read more about this in Bouchard et al's paperPost-metamorphic carry-over effects of larval digestive plasticity.
Also in this issue is a new Review by Steven L. Chown and Kevin J. Gaston Macrophysiology – progress and prospects, (free online).
Why do Anolis dewlaps glow? Fleishman et al answer that question in their paper their paper, free to read here and in the accompanying video below.
Our latest issues includes two contributions to the BES's cross-journal special feature: Demography Beyond the Population. These papers ( A trait-mediated, neighbourhood approach to quantify climate impacts on successional dynamics of tropical rainforests and Functional traits as predictors of vital rates across the life cycle of tropical trees are both available free online. Also free in this issue is a new Review paper by Kasey Barton Tougher and thornier: general patterns in the induction of physical defence traits.
Our cover image, courtesy of Qinggong Mao, shows an old-growth tropical forest (see Hao et al's paper Nitrogen saturation in humid tropical forests after 6 years of nitrogen and phosphorus addition: hypothesis testing).
This issue also includes Coleman Sheehy et al's paper on The evolution of tail length in snakes associated with different gravitational environments. You can stream or download to Coleman's podcast on this paper below.
Issue one contains our latest Special Feature, Mechanisms and Consequences of Facilitation in Plant Communities. Twenty years after the emergence of facilitation as an important modern research area, this Issue shows its high vitality and potential. This Special Feature goes back to the basics of facilitation, reviewing our knowledge on the main functional mechanisms of facilitation, their implications for community structure and ecosystem functions and services. Our cover image is Retama sphaerocarpa surrounded by a ring of large graminoids in a matrix dominated by Reichardia sp. (Asteraceae) as a consequence of indirect interactions between the shrub and the forbs. Photo credit: Francisco I. Pugnaire.
Also in this issue are two papers on Peer Review at Functional Ecology by Fox et al, Gender differences in patterns of authorship do not affect peer review outcomes at an ecology journal and Editor and reviewer gender influence the peer review process but not peer review outcomes at an ecology journal.
Our cover photo, by Suzana Alcantara, shows a desiccated individual of Velloziaceae (Vellozia hirsutea), a monocot group with contrasting drought-related functional strategies. These desiccation-tolerant organisms are able to recover from long periods of desiccation, during which they acquire a "death-like" appearance and dramatically decrease metabolic rates. Among land plants, this drought-survival strategy, known as resurrection plants, occurs in only a few species mostly spread across distantly related groups. The Velloziaceae family, which comprises ca. 250 species, all of which have been considered resurrection plants to date In their study, is a remarkable exception. In their study, Carbon assimilation and habitat segregation in resurrection plants: a comparison between desiccation- and non-desiccation-tolerant species of Neotropical Velloziaceae (Pandanales), the authors focus on 20 species of Velloziaceae occurring in a small area of Campos Rupestres from Brazil, in order to highlight the variation in the drought survival strategies observed in the field and evaluate the predicted trade-off between desiccation and productivity.
This issue also includes two new commentaries on phylogeneticdiversity: Phylogenetic diversity and productivity: gauging interpretations from experiments that do not manipulate phylogenetic diversity from Marc Cadotte and Further re-analyses looking for effects of phylogenetic diversity on community biomass and stability from Cardinale et al.
In this issue, John Jaenike discusseshow heritable symbionts contribute to host plant adaptation, highlighting the compelling evidence from Facultative endosymbionts mediate dietary breadth in a polyphagous herbivore (Wagner et al, also in this issue) that a heritable endosymbiont can confer dramatically increased fitness on one specific host plant as well as raising a number of questions about the broader role of such symbionts in patterns of host utilization by herbivorous insects.
Our cover image is of a Wandering Gartersnake (Thamnophis elegans). Gartersnakes, such as this male, eat infrequently compared to most vertebrates. In their study, Food restriction and chronic stress alter energy use and affect immunity in an infrequent feederNeuman-Lee et al. examine how infrequent eating and chronic stress alter the stress response in snakes by testing hormonal, immune, and energetic metabolic concentrations.
Our cover photo of a female Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella (photo credit: Robby Stoks). In their paper Larval UV exposure impairs adult immune function through a trade-off with larval investment in cuticular melanin, the authors exposed larvae of the Azure Damselfly to UV radiation to evaluate whether UV affects the accumulation of melanin in the cuticle. As well as finding that larvae exposed to UV accumulated more melanin in their cuticle, they also found that they metamorphosed later and at a smaller mass than animals reared without UV, and that animals that accumulated more melanin in their cuticle as larvae had a more severely impaired immune function as adults.
In our latest FE Spotlight, Sylvain Delzon discusses new insight into drought tolerance, prompted by Marechaux et al's paper , Drought tolerance as predicted by leaf water potential at turgor loss point varies strongly across species within an Amazonian forest, also in this issue.
Buff-tailed bumble bees (Bombus terrestris) live in complex social colonies which are fundamental to almost every aspect of their biology, but little is known about how these colonies are affected by temperature. In their paper "Colony and individual life-history responses to temperature in a social insect pollinator," Jacob G. Holland and Andrew F. G. Bourke investigated this relationship using laboratory colonies. Our cover image (courtesy of Andrew Bourke), is taken from inside the nest of one of these colonies, complete with marked bees.
We also have a new FE Spotlight: Androgen receptor expression could contribute to the honesty of a sexual signal and be the basis of species differences in courtship displays by Kendra B Sewall, highlighting Fuxjager et al's paper Evolutionary patterns of adaptive acrobatics and physical performance predict expression profiles of androgen receptor – but not oestrogen receptor – in the forelimb musculature
Our cover image of the sundew species Drosera arcturi shows the with red prey-trapping leaves. Jürgens et al's paper The effect of trap colour and trap-flower distance on prey and pollinator capture in carnivorous Drosera species shows how this typical red pigmentation of the trapping leaves may be a way to protect pollinators from being attracted and captured by the plant. Photo by Andreas Jürgens.
We also have a new FE Spotlight: Species richness promotes canopy packing: a promising step towards a better understanding of the mechanisms driving the diversity effects on forest functioning by Xavier Morin, highlighting Jucker et al's paper Crown plasticity enables trees to optimize canopy packing in mixed-species forests
Our cover image, "Pelican Taking the High Road at Crissy Field," by Ingrid Taylar (Creative Commons License CC-BY 2.0.under Creative Commons License CC-BY 2.0), illustrates our new Special Feature: Ecology of Organisms in Urban Environments, edited by Amy Hahs and Karl Evans. Urban environments present a unique opportunity to expand our fundamental knowledge related to ecology and evolution due to the presence of intense and often novel selection pressures. Despite this, the potential of combining functional ecological research with urban ecology is a long way from being fully realized as the focus of much urban research to date has involved describing patterns along environmental gradients rather than investigating the mechanistic processes that lie at the heart of functional ecology. The purpose of this special feature is to draw attention to the plethora of opportunities that await researchers investigating the ecology and evolution of organisms in urban environments. The combination of environmental stressors and conditions within urban areas provides a novel opportunity to test and expand our theories related to ecology and evolution of organisms, and some intriguing insights are already beginning to emerge. Thus, urban ecology has the potential to extend our understanding of extremely well-studied ecological and evolutionary problems.
Our cover image (by Sebastian Bugariu, Romanian Ornithological Society) is of a common tern (Sterna hirundo) hovering above the water of the Black Sea. The size and structure of primary feathers appears to vary greatly between species. Birds can differ in the way they fly (different flight types) and have great variation in wing shape (e.g. long and narrow versus short and broad wings) between species. Birds also have differing life history traits i.e., living in different habitats and moulting feathers at different times of year, while some migrate over long distances. In their study, Pap et al examined the primary feathers of 137 European species to determine whether feather structure was related to life history traits and wing shape.
You can read our latest FE Spotlight on this paper, "Comparative analysis points to functionally significant variation in wing feather structure among a large and diverse sample of modern birds", by Luke Butler. This issue also contains our latest Perspective, Challenging the maximum rooting depth paradigm in grasslands and savannas, by Jesse B. Nippert and Ricardo M. Holdo.
Our cover image is an aerial photograph of the E120 (Biodiversity II) experiment performed at the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve (Minnesota). This experiment was designed to determine how the number of plant species affects the dynamics of ecological processes at the population, community, and ecosystem levels. Photo credit: Jacob Miller. This image is part of our new Extended Spotlight: Community Phylogenetics and Ecosystem Functioning. In the light of this growing interest in using phylogenetics in understanding community assembly and ecosystem functioning this extended spotlight aims to critically re-examine the assumptions underpinning phylogenetic approaches to community ecology, and chart a route forward for how to overcome the limitations of current approaches.
Our cover image is taken from Williams et al's Article on A cross-seasonal perspective on local adaptation: metabolic plasticity mediates responses to winter in a thermal-generalist moth" and features a female Hyphantria cunea (Drury) moth laying an egg mass. Adults do not feed, so resources available for egg production are entirely dependent on larval-derived stores retained over winter (see p. 549). Photograph by Andrei Sourakov, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida.
Also in this issue is our latest Perspective, Mason & Singer's Defensive mixology: combining acquired chemicals towards defence, exploring the idea that non-human animals mix compounds of discrete origin to combat predators, parasites and pathogens and Campos et al's paper using 3D printing to show thatShape matters: corolla curvature improves nectar discovery in the hawkmoth Manduca sexta.
Our cover image features a plant community dominated by the long-lived tree Beaucarnea gracilis in the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Valley in South-Central Mexico. In this community young individuals of this species and others fail to regenerate after human disturbance that affected among-plant facilitation interactions and therefore population structure is biased towards adults. Photo credit: Alfonso Valiente-Banuet
The effects of the present biodiversity crisis have been largely focused on the loss of species. However, a missed component of biodiversity loss that often accompanies or even precedes species disappearance is the extinction of ecological interaction. In the accompanying Perspective article Beyond species loss: the extinction of ecological interactions in a changing world the authors propose a novel model that relates the diversity of both species and interactions along a gradient of environmental deterioration and explores how the rate of loss of ecological functions, and consequently of ecosystem services, can be accelerated or restrained depending on how the rate of species loss covaries with the rate of interactions loss.
Moult is critical for fitness for many organisms as it allows growth and maintains the function of the integument for protection, thermoregulation and communication. Feather moult in birds is costly, so typically does not overlap with migration or reproduction. In spring, the rapid succession of pre-alternate moult, migration (if a migrant) and breeding suggests that timing of moult could constrain the initiation of breeding. A trade-off between time spent moulting and breeding might also limit moult quality. In their paper Winter food limits timing of pre-alternate moult in a short-distance migratory bird, Danner et al provide novel experimental evidence that food abundance can both limit pre-alternate moult timing and limit moult timing in the wild. Food limitation of moult timing could allow earlier breeding or production of higher quality feathers and thus cascade through other life-history stages and affect reproductive success. These results indicate that food availability is a cue for moult initiation, possibly acting secondarily to photostimulation.
Our cover photo shows the abdomen of a crab spider after the removal of the cuticle. These spiders possess the ability to alter reflectance in the ultraviolet (UV), violet and blue wavelengths, changing their colour within days. This image shows the guanine crystals underneath the cuticle that reflect ultraviolet light. Photo taken under the dissecting microscope..
The astounding diversity of animal coloration is indicative of a wide variety of selection pressures. Despite great interest in adaptive function, detailed understanding of the constituent elements of colour traits is lacking for many systems. Such information is important in allowing more accurate appraisals of colour variation and its potential production costs. In the paper Dissecting the variation of a visual trait: the proximate basis of UV-Visible reflectance in crab spiders (Thomisidae), Gawryszewski et al ‘dissect’ the dorsal colour of crab spiders (Thomisidae) to examine the mechanistic basis of a polyphenic colour trait.
This issue contains Gill & Raine's Chronic impairment of bumblebee natural foraging behaviour induced by sublethal pesticide exposure, which was also the subject of a podcast and a FE Spotlight from James Cresswell.
It also included Sanderson et al's article on Hormonal mediation of a carry-over effect in a wild cooperative mammal and Galván et al's paper on Chronic exposure to low-dose radiation at Chernobyl favours adaptation to oxidative stress in birds.
Our cover image is a cane toad (Rhinella marina, formerly Bufo marinus), a large toxic anuran from South and Central America currently spreading through its introduced range in Australia. In the McCann et al paper Rapid acclimation to cold allows the cane toad to invade montane areas within its Australian range , the authors show that toads can acclimate to low temperatures after only a few hours exposure. That rapid acclimation enhances the toad’s invasion success, and may allow it to spread into cooler regions than have been predicted by previous bioclimatic models. Photograph by Matt Greenlees.
Also in this issue is Clare McArthur's FE Spotlight Do we ditch digestive physiology in explaining the classic relationship between herbivore body size diet and diet quality?, a commentary on Steuer et al's Does body mass convey a digestive advantage for large herbivores? , Zimmerman et al's Review A vertebrate cytokine primer for eco-immunologists and Chanamet al's Nutritional benefits from domatia inhabitants in an ant–plant interaction: interlopers do pay the rent
Our cover image of fleabane is a close up of fleabane flower heads, courtesy of C. P. Borger, from the paper Orientation and speed of wind gusts causing abscission of wind-dispersed seeds influences dispersal distance (Savage, D., Borger, C. P., Renton, M. 2014). In this paper, Savage et al use Conyza bonariensis (fleabane, a significant weed in Australia) as a case study, and examine the influence of the initial wind gust that removes the seed from the plant on the subsequent distance travelled.
Also in this issue is our Haldane prizewinning paper Smooth bark surfaces can defend trees against insect attack: resurrecting a ‘slippery’ hypothesis. You can listen and download a podcast with author Scott Ferrenberg below.
Hovering hummingbirds are rare among vertebrates in their ability to rapidly make use of ingested sugars to fuel energetically expensive hovering flight, powering up to 100% of their metabolic needs with the sugars they drink, while humans athletes max out at around 30%. Until now, we haven't understood to what extent hummingbirds can use the 50% of the sugar in their nectar meals that is glucose versus the 50% that is fructose. Chen and Welch's study showed that hummingbirds begin using newly ingested sugars to fuel hovering flight within minutes and can fuel as much as 100% of their intense hovering metabolism with either glucose or fructose.
You can read the article are watch the video below for more information on
In this image, taken from our Special Feature: Defensive Symbiosis, the parasitic wasp Aphidius ervi attacks a pea aphid. The goal of this Special Feature is to explore the diversity, mechanisms and consequences of defensive symbiosis mediated by micro-organisms to help organize and interpret the growing body of work and place it within a broader ecological and evolutionary context of mutualism and symbiosis. In the accompanying papers, leading researchers in the field synthesize their own and related research on defensive symbiosis and provide independent perspectives on the current state of the field and future directions – including identifying defensive symbiosis, especially difficult in complex communities of macro- and micro-organisms where it is non-trivial challenge to obtain direct evidence of defensive symbiosis, but also looking at mechanisms of defence, costs and benefits of microbial symbiosis vs. innate defensive mechanisms, dynamics of defensive symbiosis, mechanisms of symbiont transmission and community and ecosystem consequences of defensive symbiosis.This issue also contains our Editorial Functional ecology: moving forward into a new era of publishing.
Flowers and seed of pink sand verbena (Abronia umbellata), the only plant species whose dispersal ability and mating systems have been surveyed towards its range limits. Image taken from Hargreaves and Eckert's Evolution of dispersal and mating systems along geographic gradients: implications for shifting ranges . This paper is part of the Climate change and Species Range Shifts Special Feature. While much research has focused on the evolutionary diversification of species, there is little understanding of how evolutionary dynamics may impact contemporary ecological interactions or ecosystem processes and the study of genetic divergence along ecological gradients is fundamental to understanding adaptive evolution and diversification. This Special Feature heralds a new direction in climate change research and broadens our perspectives on the consequences of gradients to eco-evolutionary dynamics in a changing world.
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