Tuesday taster: 17/10/2017

  • These days, I am tutoring a few first year Biology students. In search of how to do that in the best and most effective way, I found some helpful information here, and here.
  • Most of us at some point learned about the effect of earthworms in soils and ecological processes. A recently accepted paper in Functional Ecology shows that this effect is largest in ecosystems that have no legacy of earthworm presence.
  • Also recently accepted in Functional Ecology, a neat study on how urine from mammals in a Brazilian lowland rain forest affects microbial community composition and microbial function.
  • After Kelly Ramirez and her colleagues’ paper on distribution of microbes in New York’s Central park, a group of Swiss and French researchers have now assessed the microbial communities in the street gutters of Paris. What’s next?
  • You can find an interesting paper here, published by The Royal Society Open Science, on the role of science blogs.
  • And for those who didn’t keep up with the news on gravitational waves, and the importance of this discovery, the BBC has a good news item on it.



Bjorn Robroek is the blog editor for Functional Ecologists.bjorn



Meet the researcher – Richard Beason

Dear all,

One of the Insite/out bloggers had to unfortunately leave us. In Richard Beason we, however, have found a very worthy replacement. Richard will join the team which now consists of himself, Tracy, Gesche, and Rob. I hope you will continue reading their blogs, and give Richard a warm welcome. Below is a little introduction about Richard and his writing plans; looking forward to his posts.



Continue reading “Meet the researcher – Richard Beason”

Tuesday taster: 10/10/2017



Bjorn Robroek is the blog editor for Functional Ecologists.bjorn



InSite/Out with Rob Mills: Making the most of summer snow

It’s late July, the alpine meadows of the Swiss Alps are in full bloom, and the heat of the summer sun drives a deep sweet smell from the litter of the spruce forest floor as we start our walk up. My friend and colleague Mark leads the way as we move up the tour de Mont Blanc from la Fouly in the Valais, heading for our research site at ~2500m. There, the sun has given rise to abundant flowers, rich meadows, the buzzing of insect and bird life, but still works hard at melting the last of last of the snow. As we reach the site, we are greeted with the familiar, but always astounding, mixture of snowbeds, ridges, meadows, flush wetland, pools and screes of this dynamic and fantastic environment (see picture). Continue reading “InSite/Out with Rob Mills: Making the most of summer snow”

Tuesday taster: 03/10/2017

At my dinner table, we often talk about the environmental issues around eating beef. The information is often ambiguous and the whole issue seems to be a minefield, but cattle farming is evidently contributing to emissions, and eating grass-fed beef is not going to change that, as stated in a blog on the Food Climate Research Network.

If you are interested in regime changes in ecosystems, this paper in BioScience, nicely links biotic changes to changes in ecosystem function.

It is Nobel prize week: four Nobel prize winners explain why the research counts, not the journal.

The 2017 Nobel Prize in physiology is awarded to a threesome (Hall, Rosbash, and Young) for their discovery of the molecular mechanism that controls the circadian rhythm. Here is a short movie on why the circadian clock is important.

Enjoy your week,



Bjorn Robroek is the blog editor for Functional Ecologists.bjorn


Tuesday taster: 26/09/2017

This week’s favourite in Functional Ecology is a newly accepted paper by Martijn Vandegehuchte and colleagues who studied how mammals  –large and small – affected grazing by insects. In their study they also tested if these interactions were moderated by plant functional type identity.

An interesting paper in Nature Ecology & Evolution shows how Cuckoo females produce ‘hawk-like’ calls to mislead host parents and increase successful parasitism.

Normally, airplane magazines do not impress me. I have to make an exception for the September issue of ‘highlife’ by British Airways (note: I am not advertising the company, nor do I advocate flying), which features an interesting article on ‘The fabric of the future’. It highlighted a few companies that made fabrics from:

  • fermenting yeast that produce silk like proteins ready to be spun into fibre: botlthreads,com,
  • plastic waste from Haiti: threadinternational.com,
  • citrus pulp: orangefiber.it,
  • by-products form the wine industry: vegeacompany.com,

and my personal favorite,

  • from cows’ manure: mestic.eu

This article also gave me an idea, one with which I would like to challenge the organizers of the BES meeting in Ghent, coming December. Every year, a Christmas-jumper day is organized; perhaps parallel to that we could also look for the  ‘most-sustainable-jumper’ (which could also mean you do not buy a new one, but wear last years one again)?


Enjoy your week, Bjorn

Bjorn Robroek is the blog editor for Functional Ecologists.


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