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Journals & Publications
Often used in agricultural settings to help maintain water quality, forested riparian buffers have become valued for their role in protecting biodiversity. In areas adjacent to oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) plantations within Malaysian Borneo, species diversity and abundance generally declined in riparian buffers relative to nearby undisturbed forests. However, within these forest remnants, the diversity and abundance of certain taxa, including functionally important dung beetles (Scarabaeoidea), increases as buffer width expands, but only up to a threshold. In the October issue of Frontiers, Deere et al. describe how in light of taxon-specific responses to buffer widths, context-dependent management decisions will be needed to facilitate biodiversity conservation in highly modified landscapes.
Easily recognizable by their black bodies and shining red eyes, periodical cicadas (Magicicada spp.) emerge in vast numbers every 13 or 17 years over much of eastern North America. During the growing season, their dead bodies fall to the soil surface and become incorporated into forest foodwebs. In a field experiment, Setälä et al. investigated whether these acute resource pulses affect tree productivity and belowground foodwebs. Their results are published in the October issue of Ecology.
Tree islands are patches of forest surrounded by a matrix of herbaceous marsh. In Everglades National Park in Florida, USA, the number and area of tree islands have been roughly halved due to scarce or excessive water levels, leading to fires or persistent flooding, respectively. Pictured here is a tree island constructed as part of a field-scale experiment at the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in southern Florida, where researchers have created an Everglades landscape that includes ridges, sloughs, and tree islands. In their paper in the September issue of Ecosphere, Stoffella et al. studied the effects of flooding, planting density, and neighbors on the performance of native tree species. They concluded that tree island restoration can benefit from targeted mixed-species plantings at variable densities, as the heterogeneity promoted by these measures may increase adaptability and resilience to future uncertainties.
In their study published in the October issue of Ecological Applications, Davy et al. used morphometric data from 5,312 individual little brown myotis (Myotis lucifugus) in Yukon, Canada, collected over a 15-year mark–recapture study, to test for trends in body size and survival. Body size declined over the study period and the decline was associated in part with increased rainfall, which reduces hunting opportunities for this obligate aerial insectivore. Larger bats experienced higher survival rates, indicating potential fitness consequences of declining body size. Rainfall is predicted to increase in the study area, suggesting that climate change poses a potential threat to this endangered bat.
Using a meta-analysis, Stephens et al. demonstrate that trophic discrimination factors (TDFs)—offsets between the isotopic composition of diet and animal tissues—are strongly influenced by consumer type and diet source, particularly for carbon (TDF-δ13C). Using field-collected data from a variety of small mammal species (including the pictured deer mouse Peromyscus maniculatus) the authors also show that using incorrect TDFs result in inaccurate estimates of diet. Their study is published in the August issue of Ecological Monographs.
Many funders, societies, and publishers have adopted policies to facilitate the broadest reuse of research data and to support open science. Publishing data in a data repository can be a new, unfamiliar task. To reduce the learning curve, the Environmental Data Initiative has developed user-friendly software to make capturing and submitting data and metadata a simple process. An article in the October issue of the ESA Bulletin introduces ezEML to researchers who publish data and information managers who update data sets.