- Scaling laws predict global microbial diversity — … predict that there are up to 1 trillion microbial species on Earth. These estimates are much greater than previously predicted and emphasise the wealth of microbial biodiversity that remains to be explored on our planet …
- Environmental filtering explains variation in plant diversity along resource gradients — … new evidence to challenge the prevailing theory that resource competition regulates plant diversity along resource gradients …
- The natural history of the South Hills crossbill in relation to its impending extinction — … describes an amazing odyssey, starting with a recent discovery of a new vertebrate species … followed by evidence to show that the species has experienced an 80% decline in its population size in less than ten years due to warming climatic conditions …
- Improvements in ecosystem services from investments in natural capital — … introduces the first national ecosystem assessment in China, with many important discoveries …
- How variation between individuals affects species coexistence — … [the authors] show mathematically that within-population variation in some general situations may have negative effects on the coexistence of two competing species …
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Tags: Anthropocene, bees, biodiversity, carbon, carbon storage, China, climate change, climatic debt, community ecology, competition, coral reefs, decline, defauntation, deforestation, ecosystem services, ecosystems, extinction, Fertiliser, forests, microbes, microbial diversity, mutualism, neonicotinoids, nutrient loading, nutrients, plant diversity, pollination, Soil, species loss, Species richness, sustainability, time series
Categories : conservation
I’ve been out of the social-media loop for a few weeks, hence the abnormally long interval since my last post. As you might recall, I’ve been travelling overseas and most recently blogged from Monterey, California where I was attending a symposium on invasion genetics.
The next phase of my travels couldn’t have been more different.
The reason I couldn’t access the blog was because I was well behind the Great Firewall of China. I was, in fact, in the Tibetan region of Gansu and Sichuan Provinces in western China for most of the last 10 days. While I’ve travelled to China many times before, this was by far the most evocative, interesting and unique experience I’ve ever had in this country. Reflecting on the past 10 days while waiting in Hong Kong for my flight back to Australia, I am still reeling a little from what I saw.
What the hell was I doing at 3500-4000 m elevation on the Tibetan Plateau? Good question. I have been most fortunate to be included in a crack team of Chinese ecologists who have designed and implemented a most impressive set of experiments in plant community ecology. The team, led by Professor Shurong Zhou and Dr. Jiajia Lui of Fudan University, has been working relentlessly to put together some of the sexiest plant ecology experiments going in China.
Having now so far published two papers from the some of the experiments (see here and here), my Chinese colleagues thought it was high time I visited the famous site. Situated at 3500 m in the Tibetan region of Gansu Province in western China, the Lanzhou University research station Azi Shi Yan Zhan is about a 20-hectare area of meadow fenced off from the grazing of the ubiquitous domestic yaks herded by the local Tibetans. If that sounds pretty exotic, let me assure you that it is. Read the rest of this entry »
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Tags: aggregation, asynchrony, biodiversity, biomass, China, community ecology, functional groups, functional traits, phylogenetic diversity, plants, productivity, resilience, Tibet, Tibetan plateau
Categories : Asia, biodiversity, cattle, China, climate change, conservation, ecosystem function, function, genetic diversity, great firewall of China, habitat loss, livestock, recovery, research, science
I fall in love easy. Must be my Latino upbringing. Whatever it is, I have no choice on the matter. So for five years and counting, I have been passionate about lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) and rockfish (Sebastes spp.), upper- and mid-level predatory fishes on rocky reefs of the Northeast Pacific.
Lingcod are beautiful and fierce. Rockfish are cosmic. Both taste mighty good and—surprise, surprise—have been overfished to smithereens throughout much of their range. Howe Sound, my field site near Vancouver, British Columbia, is no exception, although new protective legislation might be starting to give them some slack.
Our dive surveys1 and earlier studies, in combination, have pieced together a story of ecosystem change. In the Howe Sound of today, lingcod rarely exceed body lengths of 80 cm. But up to 30 years ago, when overfishing had yet to inflict the full extent of its current damage, lingcod with lengths of 90 to 100 cm had been common in the area. There is nothing unique about this; most fisheries target the biggest individuals, ultimately reducing maximum body size within each species of predatory fish.
As predators shrink, the vibrant tension of predation risk slips away. The mechanism of change has a lot to do with mouth size. Predatory fishes swallow prey whole, usually head or tail first, so it is impossible for them to eat prey bigger than the width and height of their open jaws. And bigger fishes have bigger jaws, which makes them capable not only of consuming larger prey, but also of scaring bigger prey into using antipredator behaviours, such as hiding in rocky crevices. As predators shrink, big prey enter a size refuge and only small prey remain at risk, which can alter trophic cascades and other indirect species interactions. Read the rest of this entry »
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Tags: Alejandro Frid, community ecology, Fish, fishing down the web, life history, Lingcod, mesopredator release, Overfishing, Predation
Categories : conservation, decline, ecosystem function, exploitation, fish, fisheries, function, harvest, population dynamics, research, trophic cascades