Functional Ecology

Copyright © 2014 British Ecological Society

A Journal of the British Ecological Society

Edited by: Charles Fox, Duncan Irschick,  Alan Knapp, Ken Thompson and Craig White

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Islands are often considered ideal biological laboratories as they are isolated and vary tremendously in size, structure, and habitats, imposing different selective pressures that can drive adaptations of organisms on islands. This study capitalizes on an island-size gradient in the Greek Archipelago to investigate inter-island divergence in the body size, head shape, and bite force of a lizard, Podarcis erhardii.
Donihue, C. M., Brock, K. M., Foufopoulos, J., Herrel, A. (2015), Feed or fight: testing the impact of food availability and intraspecific aggression on the functional ecology of an island lizard. Functional Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12550

Robbie Wilson talks to Amy Hahs about using urban ecosystems to expand fundamental ecological knowledge. Amy Hahs guest-edited our latest Special Feature: Ecology of Organisms in Urban Environments with Karl Evans. You can read the Special Feature here.

In this study, Isabelle Marechaux and her co-authors looked at leaf water potential at wilting or turgor loss point (πtlp), which determines tolerance of leaves to drought stress. Using a new method based on a demonstrated association between πtlp and another trait, the leaf osmotic water potential at full hydration, they were able to estimate πtlp for 165 trees of 71 species. This dataset is a significant increase in information for tropical tree species and indicates a potential for highly diverse species responses to drought within given forest communities.
Read the full paper online here: Maréchaux, I., Bartlett, M. K., Sack, L., Baraloto, C., Engel, J., Joetzjer, E., Chave, J. (2015), Drought tolerance as predicted by leaf water potential at turgor loss point varies strongly across species within an Amazonian forest. Functional Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12452 or the lay summary here.

Anolis lizards are well known for their colorful, expandable throat fan, called the dewlap, which they use to attract mates and repel rivals. The dewlap is a very thin structure and some of the light that strikes its surface shines through it, becoming colored and spreading in all directions as it does. Researchers Leo J. Fleishman, Brianna Ogas, David Steinberg and Manuel Leal look at why some Anolis lizard dewlaps glow in their video.
You can read their paper "Why do Anolis lizard dewlaps glow? An analysis of a translucent visual signal" free online here or the lay summary here.

Alan Knapp talks to Anita Narwani and Patrick Vernail about their new Extended Spotlight: Community Phylogenetics and Ecosystem Functioning.
Read the Extended Spotlight online here.

Duncan Irschick talks to Coleman M. Sheehy III about how arboreality and the associated gravitational stress on blood circulation have influenced the evolution of tail length in snakes.
Read the full paper online here: Coleman M. Sheehy, C. M., Albert, J. A., Lillywhite, H. B. (2015), The evolution of tail length in snakes associated with different gravitational environments. Functional Ecology, DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.124725 or the lay summary here

Alan Knapp talks to the 2014 Haldane Prizewinner Scott Ferrenberg about his paper, "Smooth bark surfaces can defend trees against insect attack: resurrecting a ‘slippery’ hypothesis". See the winner's Virtual Issue here:

Ken Thompson talks to Katie Field about her Virtual Issue Mycorrhizal networks in ecosystem structure and functioning. The vast majority of land plants form mutualistic symbioses with soil-dwelling fungi known as mycorrhizas, which can link many plants through fungal hyphae in a common mycelial network. This Virtual Issue highlights three major themes in mycorrhizal research: the movement of plant-fixed carbon, reciprocal exchange of nutrients, and the wider impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem function.

In this study, the authors measured song frequency content and hearing sensitivity for nine species of songbird over a broad range of frequencies. If hearing correlates to song characteristics, then open habitat bird species should have higher sensitivity to high-frequency sounds than forest species. Surprisingly, although song frequency was highest in species from open habitats and lowest in forest species (as expected), song frequency and habitat were not correlated with high-frequency hearing sensitivity.
You can read the paper free online Vélez, A., Gall, M. D., Fu, J., Lucas, J. R. (2014), Song structure, not high-frequency song content, determines high-frequency auditory sensitivity in nine species of New World sparrows. Functional Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12352 or the lay summary here.

Survival of the weakest seems an unlikely title for an ecology paper, but that is exactly what Haldane prizewinner Kyle Demes and his co-authors found in their, as Kyle Demes explains in this podcast on his paper, Demes, K. W., Pruitt, J. N., Harley, C. D.G., Carrington, E. (2013), Survival of the weakest: increased frond mechanical strength in a wave-swept kelp inhibits self-pruning and increases whole-plant mortality. Functional Ecology, 27: 439–445. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12067

Now online

Cover of Functional Ecology 28.1. Fox et al Gender differences in patterns of authorship do not affect peer review outcomes at an ecology journal

Song Sparrow. Image provided by authors. Losdat et al Additive genetic variance and effects of inbreeding, sex and age on heterophil to lymphocyte ratio in song sparrows

Yunhai Zhang worked in the field for simulation wet nitrogen deposition. Zhang et al Fewer new species colonize at low frequency N addition in a temperate grassland

Seed germination experiment in a plant growth chamber in which we provided a R: FR ratio by stick-type light-emitting diode lamps. Xia et al Environmental cue to germinate in gaps is closely associated with seed sizes

Rain exclusion shelters at the DRI-GRASS research platform. Johnson et al Dung beetles reduce drought stress in plants without increasing plant susceptibility to an aboveground herbivore

Left photo: Our field site in Santa Barbara County, CA, with bush lupine. Right photo: adult bordered plant bugs on bush lupine in the laboratory; note the yellow egg cluster on the bottom-right and adults preparing to mate on the top-left. Photo credits: Christopher A. Johnson Johnson et al Seasonal changes in temperature and bush lupine availability drive bordered plant bug abundance

Septate hyphae emanating from a microscopic leafy liverwort rhizoid following resynthesis with the ericoid mycorrhizal fungus isolate. Kowal et al Liverworts to the rescue: an investigation of their efficacy as mycorrhizal inoculum for vascular plants

Family of Isle of May shags, Phalacrocorx aristotelis. ©Lucie Bernardova. Herborn et al Old birds become worn and rusty too

Recently disturbed TDF in Sector Santa Rosa of Area de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG) in northwestern Costa Rica. Photo credited to Catherine Hulshof. Buzzard et al Re-growing a tropical dry forest: functional plant trait composition and community assembly during succession

 Removal of fish carcasses from ocean beaches, a key ecological function, is maintained across a continental scale via functional species replacement: scavenger assemblages on tropical beaches were dominated by raptors, such as white-bellied sea eagles (left image), and substantially different from temperate scavenger assemblages, which were dominated by red foxes (right image). Photographs taken while scavengers were actively removing beach carrion during the experiments. Credits: C. Huijbers.. Huijbers et al Functional replacement across species pools of vertebrate scavengers separated at a continental scale maintains an ecosystem function

A brown lemur (Eulemur fulvus) searches for fruits under daylight conditions in Ankarafantsika National Park, Madagascar. Photo credit: Travis Steffens. Valenta et al Visual ecology of Eulemur suggests a cathemeral origin for the primate cone opsin polymorphism

Female cricket housed in a flow-through respirometry chamber used to measure carbon dioxide production and oxygen consumption.  Photo by S.T. Behmer. Clark et al Food as fuel: How food protein-carbohydrate content affects resting metabolic rates

The wasp pollinator, Neozeleboria cryptoides, exhibiting the Forward orientation during attempted copulation with the orchid Chiloglottis trapeziformis, by Rod Peakall. De Jager and Peakall Does morphology matter in sexual deception?

Photo provided by authors. Sendall et al Trade-offs in juvenile growth potential vs. shade tolerance among subtropical rainforest trees on soils of contrasting fertility

Mimic (silver slipper orchid Paphiopedilum micranthum, centre) and its co-occurring food flowers on a background of their habitat, framed in bee hexagonal vision.  Image courtesy of Xiaokai Ma. Ma et al Colour pattern mimicry in flowers- the functional importance of complex floral colour pattern in a food-deceptive orchid

Root systems of six grasses widely distributed in the Inner Mongolia grassland. Cheng et al How do precipitation gradient and evolutionary history shape the variations in leaf and root traits in the Inner Mongolia grassland?

Horsetail plant (Equisetum arvense) in the field (left). Scanning electron micrograph of horsetail leaf (top right) and X-ray microanalysis mapping of silicon presence (bottom right). Deshmukh and Bélanger Molecular evolution of aquaporins and silicon influx in plants

This photo shows different fruit flies along a cold tolerance gradient, and how the phospholipid fatty acids in the membrane are expected to become more unsaturated with increasing cold tolerance. Photo provided by Heath A. MacMillan. Slotsbo et al Cold adaptation in insects involves adaptive modifications of the cell membrane phospholipid composition

Male Gnatocerus cornutus fight using an enlarged mandible which is a secondary sexual trait. Photo credit: Matthew Silk. House et al Macronutrients, weapons and genital traits in male broad horned beetles

Sometimes bird nests are not easily reachable, and creative thinking is required to access their contents. Photo provided by authors. Ton & Martin Why baby birds differ in the speed at which they grow?

Image provided by authors. Dial et al Effects of neonatal size on maturity and escape performance in the Trinidadian guppy

Zhang Shubin is sampling decaying wood from a living tree hollow for measurement of its decay rate by CO2 release, in the Ailao Mountain Forest of China. Picture by Zheng Zheng. Zheng et al Wood decomposition inside living trees shows that hollows develop slowly but cause a considerable loss of forest biomass

Photo by Matt Tillett. Flickr: via Wikimedia Commons. CC BY 2.0. Henschen et al Black and yellow plumage signals resistance to oxidative stress in a bird

Four different Arabidopsis genotypes competing whilst under disease pressure. Creissen et al Every plant needs good neighbours

Podarcis erhardii from the Greek Islands with tell-tale bite scar on its belly. Donihue et al Feed or fight: Testing the impact of food availability and intraspecific aggression on the functional ecology of an island lizard

© Studio Asparagus. Fontana et al Individual-level trait diversity indices

Swedish boreal landscape (left; © Thomas B. Hasper) and Flakaliden Whole-Tree Chamber Experiment (right; © Bengt-Olof Vigren). Hasper et al Water use by Swedish boreal forests in a changing climate

Pinus sylvestris forests at the Southern limit of its distribution area, such as in this photo in a Pyrenees valley, are subject to several stresses, from drought to excess light, that threaten their survival. The impacts of these stresses on plant-soil nutrient cycles and nutrient ratios can be crucial for the future of this species in several parts of Europe. Credit Dr. Oriol Grau. Sardans et al Nitrogen deposition affects Scots pine stoichiometry

Corn farm in central Pennsylvania. Photo: fishhawk via Flickr (CC BY). Carey & Fulweiler The Importance of Agriculture in Global Biogenic Silicon Production

Zebras. Photo provided by authors. Young et al Unseen consequences of losing large wildlife: increases in rodent immune function following large mammal defaunation

 Laretia acaulis cushion harbouring native grasses in the high alpine of central Chile Andes. Cavieres et al Facilitation among plants as an insurance policy for diversity in Alpine communities

Male (left) and female (right) three-spined sticklebacks. Lee et al Perturbations in growth trajectory due to early diet affect age-related deterioration in performance

Black kite feeding its young. Photo credit: Fabrizio Sergio. López-Jiménez et al Ambient temperature, body condition and sibling rivalry explain feather corticosterone levels in developing black kites

Pink flowers of Costus arabicus, presumably avoiding bee-pollination.  Photo credit: Camila Silva Oliveira.Bergamo et al Flowers avoiding bees? The case of Costus arabicus colour variation sheds light on bee sensorial exclusion hypothesis for hummingbird red-flowers

A longleaf pine savanna experiencing a prescribed burn, Fort Bragg, NC. Photo by Gregory Ames, 2012. Ames et al Multiple environmental drivers structure plant traits at the community level in a pyrogenic

Photo credit: Philip J Bergmann. Mitchell & Bergmann Frog habitat preferences do not maximize jumping performance

Unattended black-legged kittiwake hatchling. Credit: Sabrina Tartu. Tartu et al Mercury could reduce parental care behaviour by disrupting parenting hormones in Arctic seabirds

A shrub-animal interaction captured using an animal camera at Panoche Hills Ecological Reserve, California. Lortie et al Functional assessment of animal interactions with shrub-facilitation complexes: a formal synthesis and conceptual framework

A view of the EucFACE study site from the top of a crane inside one of the study rings taken while making a gas-exchange measurement campaigns by Teresa E. Gimeno. Gimeno et al Tracking woodland water use efficiency under future atmospheric conditions

Cataglyphis hispanica worker ant collecting pollen of Spergularia purpurea (Caryophyllaceae). Aron et al Sperm production characteristics vary with level of sperm competition in Cataglyphis desert ants

Controlled screening experiment to relate Ellenberg Indicator Values for soil moisture to species plasticity in rooting depth. Photo by Jessica Rossow. Bartelheimer & Poschlod Functional characterizations of Ellenberg Indicator Values – a review on ecophysiological determinants

Issues of Functional Ecology. Photo Credit: Jennifer Meyer. Fox et al Editor and reviewer gender influence the peer review process but not peer review outcomes at an ecology journal

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