Flu evolving in the human body ecosystem

The field of disease ecology is a fast-evolving one as ecologists realize more and more that the insides of animals and plants are really like small-scale ecosystems, encompassing the same rules as large-scale ecosystems, like species interactions, environmental variability and evolutionary change. Katia Koelle of Duke University gave a talk yesterday about evolution in the H3N2 virus — not to be confused with the H1N1 swine...

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Reduced tilling improves soil microbe biodiversity

The theme of this year’s ESA meeting is “Ecological Knowledge and a Global Sustainable Society, and the program shows it: there are at least six sessions devoted completely to sustainable agriculture and agroforestry.  Most studies approach the problem of increasing cropland productivity while causing little harm to the environment by assessing above-ground processes, like cropland biodiversity or the use of pesticides....

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Meet the Press: Scientists talk ecology with the media

Last night the worlds of science and journalism collided at the ESA Annual Meeting in a session to help scientists learn how to communicate with the media. Fittingly called Meet the Press: Talking Ecology with the Media, the interactive session played out like a science American Idol, with scientists pitching their research to a panel of “judges”: two journalists and a media-savvy scientist. The three panelists first...

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Master-of-one caterpillars dodge bird predation

Insect herbivore species often specialize on the host plants that they eat, evolving adaptations to use a plant’s unique set of resources.  But like any time you throw all your eggs in one basket, these caterpillars put themselves at risk. Michael Singer of Wesleyan University gave a talk today at the ESA Annual Meeting that evaluated these tradeoffs in caterpillars. “A lot of evolutionary ecologists have pondered the...

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Food for fish dwindling on developed lakes

A pulse of midges swarms over Lake Malawi in Africa. Photo credit: The Daily Mail. Freshwater fish often rely on terrestrial insects as a portion of their food supply. In lakes, the size and shape of the lake can determine how much the fish rely on terrestrial insects for food. But with humans’ love of lakefront property, the resulting development of lakeshores could have an impact on these insect subsidies. Tessa Francis, a...

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