Functional Ecology

Copyright © 2015 British Ecological Society

A Journal of the British Ecological Society

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

Our new Special Feature: The Functional role of Silicon in Plant Biology is out now! Read the lay summaries free online here or listen to the podcast. with Ken Thompson and Julia Cooke. Also check out our new cross-journal Virtual Issue: Novel Ecosystems in the Anthropocene for ESA.


Latest Videos & podcasts

Julia Cooke talks to FE editor Ken Thompson about our latest Special Feature: The Functional Role of Silicon In Plant Biology. Browse the lay summaries here or read the articles in the August Issue of Functional Ecology.

Joe Bailey talks to Alan Knapp about his special feature (guest-edited with Jen Schweizer)on Ecosystems, Evolution and Plant–Soil Feedbacks, out in the July Issue of Functional Ecology.

Each year the BES awards a prize for the best paper, in each of its journals, by an author at the start of their research career. In this podcast, Alan Knapp talks to Brian Steidinger, winner of the 2015 Haldane Prize for Early Career Research, about his prizewinning paper Variability in potential to exploit different soil organic phosphorus compounds among tropical montane tree species. Read the Virtual issue containing all the winning and highly commended papers here..

How do lizards adjust to life in the city? Lizards may use fences, posts and walls as they do trees in natural forests, but they may not find walls as easy to walk up as trees. Jason Kolbe discusses his recent paper City slickers: poor performance does not deter Anolis lizards from using artificial substrates in human-modified habitats with Duncan Irschick. Read the full paper here.

Emma Sayer and Ken Thompson talk about Emma's virtual issue: Making the Most of Microbes.

Thomas Hasper and Johan Uddling talk to FE Editor Alan Knapp about their recent paper "Water use by Swedish boreal forests in a changing climate.Hasper, T. B., Wallin, G., Lamba, S., Hall, M., Jaramillo, F., Laudon, H., Linder, S., Medhurst, J. L., Räntfors, M., Sigurdsson, B. D. and Uddling, J. (2015), Water use by Swedish boreal forests in a changing climate. Funct Ecol. doi:10.1111/1365-2435.12546

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.

Now online

Colonization of artificially created gap bounded by mesh after one year of monitoring. Photo provided by authors. Vítová et al How plant species colonize open spaces in meadows

Image provided by authors. White et al Aphid toxicity to ladybeetles is not a function of host plant or facultative bacterial symbionts

A fossil shell of a water flea (taxon Chydorus cf. sphaericus) extracted from lake sediment deposits. Photo credit: Liisa Nevalainen. Nevalainen et al Diversity of ecological tasks in water fleas acts as a health insurance of lakes

Trees changing colour. Photo provided by authors. Fischer et al Tree genetics strongly affect forest productivity, but intraspecific diversity-productivity relationships do not

Image provided by authors. Rinne-Garmston et al Accumulation of external nitrogen in decaying Norway spruce wood

Decay begins before life ends. Wood decomposer fungi Fomes fomentarius (white rot) and Piptoporus betulinus (brown rot) emerge from the same standing birch tree in Alaska. Jonathan Schilling. Song et al Healthy trees contain fungi that can recycle them back to soil

Image provided by authors. Wolf et al Organic macromolecules and ultraviolet radiation combine in freshwater ecosystems to damage water flea DNA

Antarctic fur seals. Image provided by authors. Jeanniard-du-Dot et al Accelerometers can measure total and activity-specific energy expenditure in free-ranging marine mammals only if linked to time-activity budgets

Photo credit: Alexandre Robert. Robert et al De-extinction and evolution

Image provided by authors. Hardesty-Moore et al A mammoth undertaking: harnessing insight from functional ecology to shape de-extinction priority setting

Photograph provided by authors. Christina et al Importance of deep water uptake in tropical eucalypt forest

Image provided by authors. Pierce et al A global method for calculating plant CSR ecological strategies applied across biomes worldwide

Tigriopus californicus (female). Kelly et al Adaptation to heat stress reduces plasticity in a marine copepod

Huge lianas in tropical forest (photo by Chen YJ). Chen et al Stomatal regulation and efficient xylem water transport regulate diurnal water and carbon balances of tropical lianas

The Huia (Heteralocha acutirostris), is an extinct New Zealand bird species with an interesting dimorphism such that the female has a dramatically longer bill than the male. The last individuals may have survived until as recently as the 1960s. Species such as this are often suggested as candidates for de-extinction: they are recently lost species of significant conservation interest, and the threats that caused their extinction are known. This paper discusses how using a decision theory approach to conservation prioritization can help managers decide if de-extinction of such species is a good idea.   – photographer J.L . Kendrick. Photo courtesy of the New Zealand Department of Conservation. Iacona et al Conserving rare species when de-extinction is an option

Roots in arctic forest in a minirhizotron image (13.5 x 18 mm). Photo by S. Träger. Träger & Wilson Root heterogeneity along an arctic elevational gradient: the importance of resolution

Photo provided by authors. Rivers et al Stress hormones may help handicapped moms produce young

View of the considered flooding gradient from the mudflats (photo credit: Estelle Langlois-Saliou). Abgrall et al Effects of flooding on relationships between plants and soil fauna

 The Stockholm archipelago from above (Photo: S. Cousins); Common Hepatica (Hepatica nobilis) responded well to grassland abandonment (Photo: A. Auffret);  However, Mountain Everlasting (Antennaria dioica) disappeared completely from the 27 islands  (Photo: A. Auffret); Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia) has characteristics of plants both able to persist and able to disperse (Photo: A. Auffret). Auffret et al In, out or staying put? The landscape and the plant both have their say.

Simulating deer browsing by clipping a tree sapling’s apical bud and applying deer saliva on the fresh cut (here on Acer pseudoplatanus). Photo by Bettina Ohse. Ohse et al Salivary cues: Simulated deer browsing induces changes in plant hormones and defense compounds in tree saplings

Magnified pea aphids (Acyrthosiphon pisum) feeding on an experimental lucerne (Medicago sativa) leaf. Ryalls et al Climate and atmospheric change impacts on sap-feeding herbivores: a mechanistic explanation based on functional groups of primary metabolites

Subsample of the Mediterranean plant –pollinator community studied. Montero-Castaño et al The honeybee leads the effect of an exotic plant on resident plant-pollinator communities

The water flea Daphnia magna (photo: Silvia Heim), the grasshopper Locusta migratoria (adapted photo by Ferran Turmo Gort, CC BY 2.0), and the caddisfly larvae Pycnopsyche gentilis (courtesy of Bob Henricks).. Sperfeld et al Bridging frameworks to better understand the nutrition of animals in their environment

Climate manipulation experiment in a semiarid grassland, with Achnatherum hymenoides (Indian ricegrass) as the focal plant species; photo by TM Wertin. Wertin et al Experimental warming in a dryland community reduced plant photosynthesis and soil CO2 efflux, but didn't change the relationship between the fluxes

 A researcher prepares a fragment of mammoth bone for DNA extraction in the Paleogenomics Lab at UC Santa Cruz. Credit: Beth Shapiro. Shapiro How close can we get to bringing an extinct species back to life?

A food web consisting of a single top predator (bird), some intermediate species (parasitic wasp, caterpillar, and grasshopper) and a single primary producer (plant). The network is a quick way of illustrating the feeding relationship between the species. Trøjelsgaard and Olesen Species and their interactions

Detail of one of the agricultural fields included in the study. Carmona et al Assessing vulnerability of functional diversity to species loss: a case in Mediterranean agricultural systems

A shoot of splendid feathermoss with fertile organs (sporophytes) protruding from the green shoot segments, which are partly blurred. Photo credit: Jarle W. Bjerke. Bjerke et al Long-lasting effects from previous winter warming events suggest that an important sub-Arctic moss will be disadvantaged in a future sub-Arctic climate

Ecologist at work. Photograph provided by authors. Bruneaux et al Joint effects of climate change and parasite infection on host in the wild

Gumleaf Grasshopper from Australia’s Dry Eucalypt Forest. This grasshopper resembles a dry gum leaf and lays its eggs in the leaf litter. Photograph by James Maino. Maino et al The effect of egg size on hatch time and metabolic rate: theoretical and empirical insights on developing insect embryos

Old growth red spruce (Picea rubens) stand, typical of eastern Canadian temperate forest.  Photo Credit: Anthony Taylor. Zhang et al Positive species diversity and above-ground biomass relationships are ubiquitous across forest strata despite interference from overstorey trees

Andean cock-of-the-rock. Image provided by authors. Londoño et al Do thermoregulatory costs limit altitude distributions of Andean forest birds?

Image provided by authors. Ali & Agrawal The plant you choose to make your home isn't always the one that protects you best

Photo provided by authors. Halperin et al Movement correlates of lizards' dorsal pigmentation patterns

Image provided by authors. Escallón et al Testosterone and the cloacal microbiome in a free-living bird

Mature aspen trees during late summer, when leaves are fully expanded and photosynthesizing at full capacity. Carbon allocation to ectomycorrhizal fungi is likely high during this phenological stage. Photo credit: Erin Wiley. Hupperts et al Host phenology and potential saprotrophism of ectomycorrhizal fungi in the boreal forest

Photo by Luisa A. Marcelino. Swain et al New ranking algorithm can identify overall pattern from incomplete surveys, providing critical insight into complex problems

Image provided by authors. Soong et al Fire impacts on soil organisms

The parasitic wasp Cotesia glomerata, parasitizing on 1st instar larvae of the large cabbage white butterfly, Pieris brassicae. Photo copyright Hans Smid / Ponzio et al Phytopathogens affect plant volatile emissions and the attraction of parasitoid wasps

Measuring respiration of a piece of sporocarp of Lactarius sp. using the the oxygraph: a chamber containing the silver electrode which detects oxygen consumption; photo captured by Lidia Trocha. Trocha et al Linking the respiration of fungal sporocarps with their nitrogen concentration: variation among species, tissues, and guilds

Photograph provided by author. van Heerwaarden et al Limited flexibility in heat tolerance suggests vulnerability to climate change

Female northern elephant seals during moulting season at Año Nuevo State Reserve, CA, USA. Photo taken by T. Adachi in the morning on May 23, 2011. Adachi et al Searching for prey in a three-dimensional environment: hierarchical movements enhance foraging success in northern elephant seals

Photograph provided by authors. Evans et al Eco-evolutionary feedbacks in an invasive plant

Meliquina Valley, Argentina, several months after the massive eruption of the Puyehue volcano in December, 2011.  This site is approximately 70 km from the epicenter of the eruption.  The area is a mixture of natural woodland vegetation and exotic ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) plantations.  Inset shows depth of ash deposition in the woodland ecosystem. Photo courtesy of P. Berenstecher. Berenstecher et al Litter microbial and soil faunal communities stimulated in the wake of a volcanic eruption in a semiarid woodland

Southern mouthbrooder (Pseudocrenilabrus philander- foreground) and banded tilapia (Tilapia sparrmanii- background). Photo provided by authors. Wasserman et al Using functional responses to quantify interaction effects among predators

Photo credit: Karin T. Burghardt. Burghardt Fertilization changes goldenrod’s defensive response to grasshoppers

Photo provided by authors. Tsai et al Predator-prey mass ratio revisited: Does preference of relative prey body size depend on individual predator size?


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