• Forest Parasols and a Thirsty Atmosphere

    Have you ever sat down to a cold drink on a hot day and sucked down most of the glass in the first sip? Increasing thirst with increasing temperature also applies to Earth’s atmosphere – as air warms, it can ‘hold’ more water. The difference between the air’s level of moisture and its moisture capacity is dubbed the ‘vapour pressure deficit’ or ‘VPD’, which is essentially a measure of the thirst of the atmosphere. So let’s have a look at how VPD affects fire ecology, and why a warming climate has such dire consequences for our forests.

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  • Like a House of Cards

    This week’s paper tests how the removal of plant species from an ecosystem affects the entire network of interactions which make up that ecosystem’s food web.

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  • How Dead Whales Form Unique Ecosystems

    In nature every death brings new life. A fascinating example are whale-falls: when a whale dies, its carcass will sink down to the ocean floor where it creates a unique ecosystem for bottom-dwelling organisms.

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  • Reframing Evolution to Focus on the ‘Stupid, Icky And Small’

    When we think about evolution, too often our perception of it is that it drives species towards larger, more complex, more beautiful forms. Darwin himself referred to “endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful”, not “most basic and abhorrent”. But the authors of today’s paper want to challenge that preconception.

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  • Tasmanian Devil at the Zoo Duisburg.

    A Beginner’s Guide to Endangered Species Reintroduction

    With the seemingly endless stream of bad news relating to the environment we’re often faced with these days, hearing ecosystem restoration or conservation success stories are always a welcome relief. With the number of species that have been displaced from their native habitats, the news of an endangered species being successfully introduced to a new area should be shouted out. So you cannot blame a conservation geneticist like me for jumping happily when I heard news of the release of the European bison and Tasmanian devil back to their native habitat.

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  • New Neighbors

    Competition impacts many aspects of an organisms life history, and today’s authors showed that it also affects range expansion.

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Current Issues

Forest Parasols and a Thirsty Atmosphere

Have you ever sat down to a cold drink on a hot day and sucked down most of the glass in the first sip? Increasing thirst with increasing temperature also applies to Earth’s atmosphere – as air warms, it can ‘hold’ more water. The difference between the air’s level of moisture and its moisture capacity is dubbed the ‘vapour pressure deficit’ or ‘VPD’, which is essentially a measure of the thirst of the atmosphere. So let’s have a look at how VPD affects fire ecology, and why a warming climate has such dire consequences for our forests.

Tasmanian Devil at the Zoo Duisburg.

A Beginner’s Guide to Endangered Species Reintroduction

With the seemingly endless stream of bad news relating to the environment we’re often faced with these days, hearing ecosystem restoration or conservation success stories are always a welcome relief. With the number of species that have been displaced from their native habitats, the news of an endangered species being successfully introduced to a new area should be shouted out. So you cannot blame a conservation geneticist like me for jumping happily when I heard news of the release of the European bison and Tasmanian devil back to their native habitat.

Stats Corner & Words from the Experts

Consider the Copepod: Researching the Base of the Food Web (with Dr. Nancy Mercado-Salas)

The deep sea is a wondrous world of biodiversity, darkness, and mysteries we still know very little about. Despite the fact that we rely on the deep sea as a sink for carbon dioxide – and increasingly as a source of natural gases and minerals – we have very little understanding of how our actions will affect its intricate food web. Near the base of the food web sits an incredibly diverse group of animals called copepods. They are so abundant and have such sweeping variety that we are still struggling to come up with a way to classify them. Dr. Nancy Mercado-Salas has worked with these tiny creatures since her bachelor’s thesis, both in freshwater and in marine ecosystems, and her message is clear: We need to increase our knowledge on this group of animals before it is too late.

Conference Reviews & Paper of the week

The 2020 Oikos Write-Up: Ecology in the Anthropocene

My lord Iceland is gorgeous. There could not have been a better setting for the 2020 Nordic Oikos Society’s Annual Meeting. Driving through deserts of snow that ring of the kind of quiet isolation you’d expect from a town in a depressing British murder mystery was a wonderful experience. As was the conference itself, of course. So let’s recap some of my highlights from this year’s meeting, titled ‘Ecology in the Anthropocene’.