From the Community: Pika population sees a boost, birds not spreading West Nile and five women honored for their role as environmentalists

Pika found to be flourishing in the Sierra Nevada region, bird migration patterns suggest mosquitoes are to blame for spreading West Nile and mice courtship rituals could shed light on autism. Here are news stories and studies on ecological science from the first week in March.

Read More

Can birds affect tree growth?

Growing conditions, such as water and nutrient supply, are the major determinates of tree growth, but insectivorous birds can also play an important role, say scientists in a study published in the January issue of Ecology. Under the right conditions, birds contribute to whole tree growth by preying on herbaceous arthropods, such as leafhoppers, caterpillars and grasshoppers…

Read More

Laser-imaging bird habitats

A paper out in the October issue of Ecological Applications puts forth a new use for light detection and ranging technology, or LiDAR: the prediction of bird habitats. LiDAR technology uses laser imaging techniques to develop maps of forest vegetation structure by sending laser beams from aircrafts that fly over a study area. In this case, the scientists sampled the Cosumnes River Preserve in central California.  They then can use...

Read More

The state of the union’s birds

A comprehensive analysis of the current condition of birds in the U.S. was released yesterday by The Nature Conservancy, USGS, the Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and many other non-profit groups. Dubbed The State of the Birds, the document reports that of the nation’s approximately 800 bird species, 67 are federally listed as endangered, 184 are of conservation concern and many others are declining due to...

Read More

Climate change may reorganize Western fauna

Bioclimatic models attempt to draw correlations between species distributions and climate patterns.  As ecologists and climatologists hone these models, they become a useful tool for predicting future species distributions based on projected climate patterns. In the March issue of Ecology, Joshua Lawler of the University of Washington and his colleagues undertook a huge task: using a bioclimatic model, they estimated the effects of...

Read More

To fly or not to fly?

Evolution can do funny things. Like producing the amazing feat of flight in a lineage of reptiles, which over time led to an adaptive radiation seldom rivaled in the history of animals. And then producing, in some 30 species of birds, the loss of the adaptation altogether. It would seem a ridiculous thing to do, to give up the power of flight, when you can fly. Certainly, if I could fly, I wouldn’t bother giving it up. That’s Rory...

Read More