From the Community: fish-mimicking octopuses, aquanauts and the evolution of ecology

An octopus that mimics toxic sea creatures, the tobacco plant sends out an SOS when attacked, the genetic differences between ant social castes, unusually high records of jellyfish swarms this summer and Simon Levin discusses the evolution of ecology and where it is headed next. Here are stories in ecology wrapping up the month of August.

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Guest Blog: Simon Levin on holistic ecology

Princeton University Press has a new ecology book out, edited by Simon Levin, titled The Princeton Guide to Ecology. The book includes chapter contributions from more than 120 ecologists, and although its contents span the regular suspects — autecology (apparently this term is enjoying a revival) and population, community, ecosystem and landscape ecology — about a third of the book is devoted to applied ecology. In particular, 13 chapters deal entirely with ecosystem services, a sign that ecologists are realizing the importance of their field in the context of human markets. They’ve begun working with economists — and learning the ropes of economics themselves. We’re delighted to have the below guest blog by Levin himself. by Simon Levin, Editor, The Princeton Guide to Ecology Ecology has experienced remarkable maturation as a discipline over the past century, growing in importance as society becomes more aware of Earth’s environmental problems, and advancing as a science through its own development as well as its cross-fertilization with other disciplines, from mathematics and the physical sciences to molecular biology to the social sciences and humanities.  That growth necessarily has carried with it an expansion in breadth, bringing increasing challenges to the maintenance of ecology as a coherent subject, and to the easy exchange of ideas and knowledge across the spectrum from evolutionary biologists to biogeochemists to environmental economists.  At the same time, the need to maintain and develop those exchanges has never been greater, as the nature of ecosystems and societies as complex adaptive systems has received increased currency, as natural systems and civilizations have become more interlinked, and as the value of an evolutionary perspective on ecosystem dynamics have grown more apparent. Against this background, Princeton University Press has produced in one volume, The Princeton Guide to Ecology, an integrated view of the subject, and one that can serve multiple audiences.  Princeton’s Monographs in Population Biology (MPB) has been one of the most important forces for integrating theory and empirical work in ecology for more than 40 years, since MacArthur and Wilson’s landmark Theory of Island Biogeography appeared in 1967. Ecology, as well as the MPB series, has a very different face today than it did in 1967, and the obvious value of this Guide made the task of recruiting distinguished authors an easy one.  The resultant authoritative nature of the articles will therefore provide specialists with a needed invaluable reference work, documenting how the subject has developed in the last century, and laying out challenges for the next century.   On the other hand, the expository style the authors have achieved will also make the articles accessible to a diverse lay audience.  The...

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