Functional Ecology

Copyright © 2014 British Ecological Society

A Journal of the British Ecological Society

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

Latest Videos & podcasts

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

Semi-arid grassland in Inner Mongolia of China (Image provided by Qingmin Pan). Chen et al Soil acidification exerts a greater control on soil respiration than soil nitrogen availability in grasslands subjected to long-term nitrogen enrichment

In this Mediterranean pineland, parasitized trees, constituting the only (or most abundant) nutritive resource offered on the canopy layer, are particularly noticeable for frugivorous birds. Frugivores respond to mistletoe patchiness by visiting parasitized trees preferentially to unparasitized ones, driving a differential deposition of mistletoe and co-fruiting species seeds towards parasitized trees. Photo by Ugo Mellone. Mellado & Zamora Mistletoe influences community seedfall patterns

Lolium multiflorum and Rhopalosiphum padi. Ueno et al Interactions under novel global change scenarios: How does ozone affect the triple interaction grass-endophyte-herbivore?

A Stripe-headed Round-eared Bat (Tonatia saurophila). Photo credit: Sharlene Santana. Santana Open wide! How and why gape reduces bite force in bats

Manly Dam, image provided by authors. Kazerouni et al Swimming in UV


The milkweed aphids Aphis nerii and Aphis asclepiadis sharing their host plant, the common milkweed Asclepias syriaca. T. Züst. Züst & Agrawal Population growth and sequestration of plant toxins along a gradient of specialization in four aphid species on a common milkweed

Photo by Louis Santiago. Pivovaroff et al What features do plants use to survive drought?

Image provided by authors. Larsdotter-Mellström et al Butterfly males can smell the mating status of females and use this information to design their ejaculate

The thorny-headed worm Polymorphus minutus : larvae dissected from the crustacean host, and infective to the definitive host, a waterbird. Perrot-Minnot et al Breath of death: how a parasite favours its transmission through hijacking its host’s hypoxia-acclimation processes

Female elephant seal and her pup on Kerguelen Island. Photograph by Joffrey Jouma’a. Jouma’a et al Are elephant seals optimal divers?

 View of typical steppe, Inner Mongolia, China (left) and experimental site of nitrogen addition (right). Photo by Qingmin Pan. Tian et al Nonlinear responses of ecosystem carbon fluxes and water use efficiency to nitrogen addition

Connectedness food web visualizing qualitative feeding relationships in the investigated arable soil (Photo credit: B. Lang). Pausch et al Small but active – pool size does not matter for carbon incorporation in belowground food webs

A pot with one individual of each of the four species competing in soil. McNickle et al Nutrient foraging behaviour of four co-occuring perennial grassland plant species alone does not predict behaviour with neighbours

A Hoverfly visiting a Black Mustard flower. Photograph credits: Dani Lucas-Barbosa. Lucas-Barbosa et al Visual and odour cues: how plants change after herbivore damage and pollination

Cushion of Thylacospermum caespitosum facilitating beneficiary species in the Qilian Shan range (China). Michalet et al The dark side of facilitating grasses

Tiliqua rugosa (sleepy lizard) in a South Australian agricultural landscape. Macrophysiology provides a means to understand life’s responses to such impacts at broad scales. Chown and Gaston Macrophysiology – a decade of novel insights

European starling. Image provided by authors. Fronstin et al Experimental reduction of hematocrit affects reproductive performance in European starlings

Beata Ujvari and Thomas Madsen catching water pythons in the “good old days” when the snakes were common. Ujvari et al Climate-induced collapse of a tropical predator-prey community

Red-eyed treefrog, Agalychnis callidryas, metamorph.  Photo credited to Karen M. Warkentin. Bouchard et al How tadpole competition affects frog guts and feeding

Female northern elephant seal with suckling pup. Photo provided by authors. Peck et al Immune response in breeding elephant seals

Shorebirds gather in large numbers at tidal flats of Bijagós archipelago, Guinea-Bissau. Catry et al Structure and functioning of intertidal food webs along a shorebird flyway

Drosophila melanogaster. Photo provided by authors. Hangartner & Hoffmann Assessing the ability of flies to adapt to heat

Juvenile barramundi. Photo by Timothy Clark. Norin et al Individual plasticity of fish metabolic rate

A glowing dewlap. Photo Credit: Manuel Leal. The lizard Anolis lineatopus inhabits shaded forests throughout the island of Jamaica.  Territorial males extend a colorful throat fan – the dewlap – in visual displays that attract females and repel male rivals. The dewlap is translucent: it transmits and diffuses light striking its back surface.  In this picture the sun is located behind the animal, and the sunlight transmitted through the dewlap makes it appear to glow.  The translucent properties of the dewlap make its colors more vivid and easier to see. Fleishman et al Why do lizard dewlaps glow?

Harvesting a study of the impact of barley mixtures on rare and common weed species. Brooker et al Plants helping plants for sustainable agriculture

Songnen Grassland. Photo provided by authors. Huang et al How should the number of leaves along branches in a plant canopy change with leaf size?

Image provided by authors. Ferrari et al The effects of background risk on behavioural lateralization in a coral reef fish

Research crane at the San Lorenzo Canopy Crane Site in Panama (left). Prosthechea sp. (Orchidaceae) in flower; leaves of Serpocaulon wagneri (Polypodiaceae) and Stenospermation angustifolium (Araceae; right, from top to bottom). (Photos by G. Petter). Petter et al Leaf traits of vascular epiphytes shift with height above the forest floor

Hawaiian prickly poppy. Photo provided by author. Barton Plants respond to herbivory by producing more prickles, thorns, and spines

Grass layer of the savanna in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. Photo provided by authors. Barot et al Evolution of nutrient acquisition: when space matters

Photo credit: Paul Kardol. De Long et al Defenders in the Tundra: Plant defense is determined by nutrient availability and elevation

Blue tit brood. Photo credit: Wendt Müller. Lucass et al Parent-offspring co-adaptation in a wild bird

The eyes of  Megalagrion n. nigrolineatum, an example of a Hawaiian damselfly that breeds along pools. Scales & Butler The relationship between microhabitat use, allometry, and functional variation in the eyes of Hawaiian Megalagrion damselflies

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