From the Community: shark science, reconciliation ecology and Biodiversity 100

An analysis of Shark Week, research on reconciliation ecology from ESA’s annual meeting, flowers that are genetically predisposed to adapting to climate change, endangered, purring tit monkey species found in Colombia amidst violence and the details on the antibiotic-resistant “superbug.” Here is the latest in ecological science from the second week in August.

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From the Community: Baby chimps, fishy behavior and marmot society

Baby chimp takes its first steps, scientists confirm male fireflies flash in sync to attract mates, researchers link parenting and homosexuality in bird species and marmots relearning society as they recover from possible extinction. Here are stories in ecology from the first week in July.

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Flowers make it rain (and then some)

The Amazon rainforest—with its millions of creaking, chirping and buzzing insects, sticky frogs, vibrant birds, and unique fish—may owe its diversity primarily to flowers, said researchers from the University of Chicago. And, they say, just as flowering plants formed the building block of biodiversity in this region, their removal could result in a cascade of declining diversity.

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From the Community: forming a biodiversity body and taxing tomatoes

Representatives from around 90 countries approved the formation of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Nature and Scientific American collaborated on a survey to analyze the public’s interest in science and the history of the tomato’s taxonomy in the United States is reviewed. Here are some stories in ecology from the second week in June.

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Biodiversity is a delicate recipe

Picture a simmering pot of vegetable broth, the condensed flavors the basis for what will become a hearty corn chowder. Looking at the recipe, you know that before the broth was introduced, onions and garlic were sautéed in olive oil until they grew translucent. Then flour was added to form the roux. And you know after the broth is added, potatoes, corn and other assorted vegetables will be left to simmer. But would you have known all of this just by seeing the list of ingredients alone? Unless you enjoy cooking regularly, you probably would not have known the sequence for preparing corn chowder just by the taste. According to a study recently published in Science Express, biodiversity is a similar process. Some scientists go about recreating an ecosystem by adding all of the elements at once into an experiment. The results, however, usually do not replicate the original ecosystem that the researchers were trying to reproduce. Jon Chase from Washington University sought to find out why two ecosystems with the same amount of nutrients and number of organisms could have completely different outcomes. In other words, why does biodiversity vary in ecosystems that have the exact same “ingredients”? The answer, it seems, is in the order in which they are introduced. Chase placed 45 Rubbermaid cattle tanks in a field and added pond water and soil to each. He then introduced nutrients—such as nitrogen and phosphorous—in varying amounts to create a range of productivity. Finally, he collected a number of species (specifically, “zooplankton from each of 15 ponds, 30 insects and small invertebrates such as snails, 9 vascular aquatic plants and 12 kinds of filamentous green algae,” according to a National Science Foundation press release) from nearby ponds to create a species pool. Each year, for three years, Chase introduced a random selection of species from the species pool, but he kept track of what went where. That is, each container received the exact same number of species, just introduced randomly in three segments of time. Chase found that the low productivity mini-ponds all turned out the same in terms of biodiversity. The high productivity ponds, on the other hand, developed into several different ecosystems. It turns out, said Chase, that the sequence of introducing species to the “ponds” with high nutrient levels mattered for its subsequent biodiversity. Chase described the process in a press release: “In our pond study we eliminated physical variations and so the beta diversity that emerged was most likely a result of priority effects.” Priority effects show that different arrival times of species could determine species dominance in an ecosystem. He continued, “Priority...

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From the Community: Biodiversity in urban, isolated, marine and ancient settings

Millions of microbes found buried under the seafloor, fossils reveal the life of giant cockroaches and marine invertebrate struggles, a rare bird haven is explored in Colombia and urban ecologists address pollination in Harlem. Here’s the latest ecological news for the second week in April.

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From the Community: moth’s green islands, poison arrow frog controversy and life in unlikely places

Caterpillars create green islands in leaves, bats navigate long distances using a geomagnetic field and volcanic lake shows unexpected biodiversity. Here is what’s happening in ecology for the first week in April.

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Life between extinctions: cracking open the Cretaceous period

One hundred million years ago, Earth experienced its first great peak in biodiversity. Flowers emerged and with them pollinators, dinosaurs towered over newly evolved mammals and marsupials, the steaming jungles were teeming with newly arrived ants and termites, and the oceans were filled with gigantic, air-breathing reptiles. This was life during the Cretaceous period, Earth between two great extinctions.

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