Meet the SIG! Tropical Ecology Special Interest Group

Functional Ecology supports the British Ecology Society’s Special Interest Groups, volunteer groups that provide a focus of activity in specific areas of ecology. In this post, we’re introducing our readers to the Tropical Ecology Special Interest Group. Find out what they do, how you can get in involved and where to find them at this year’s British Ecological Society Annual Meeting


Hello, Functional Ecology readers and tropical ecology enthusiasts!

This blog post is really to introduce you to the Tropical Ecology Special Interest Group (SIG) of the British Ecological Society. We are a diverse bunch of folk with interests in all areas of tropical ecology, from animals to plants, aquatic to terrestrial, and everything else in between. So for the tropical inclined readers amongst you (and others too, of course) please do read on!

The year 2019 will be very exciting for us! We are co-organising the joint BES/gtö symposium ‘Unifying Tropical Ecology’ (#UTE2019) in Edinburgh from 8-12 April 2019. This is poised to be the largest European gathering of tropical ecologists of the year, so don’t miss it. We have a very exciting programme of thematic sessions and interesting plenary speakers. Registration and submission for abstracts and workshops are currently open online.


Tropical Ecology at #BES2018

If you are coming to the BES annual meeting in Birmingham and want to know more, be on the lookout for us. We will be at the welcome meeting on Sunday the 16th December, so do come and say hi. We have organised a social in collaboration with the Parasites and Pathogens and Quantitative SIGs, catered to having fun, some drinks, and looking at the beautiful (accidental) art on display on Monday 17th December at 7.30 pm in the ICC. With this social, we would like to embrace the visual side of science, in whatever form that may take. If you have done some accidental aRt, have you got photos of your science or want us to show your flair with some #SketchMyPaper? Please do take part. You can email us your contribution. If you just want to join us for a chat and see the art show, we’d love to see you there.

There are also some sessions at the BES annual meeting that feature tropical research that may interest you. There are several tropical talks in the ‘Ecosystem and Functional Ecology’ sessions taking place over the three days of the conference. The thematic session on ‘Upscaling biodiversity-ecosystem functioning research, on Wednesday 19th December at 1 pm may also be of wide-interest for those of you wanting to combine functional with tropical ecology.

If you like tropical and functional ecology…

Functional Ecology has published many papers within the field of tropical ecology this year. Here we highlight some material that may be of particular interest to members of the BES Tropical Ecology Group.


TE SIG1In a podcast posted in April 2018 Lara Ferry speaks to Daniel Fitzgerald to discuss his highly commended 2017 paper by Fitzgerald and colleagues: Using trophic structure to reveal patterns of trait-based community assembly across niche dimensions. In this paper, tropical fish assemblages within the Zingu River, Brazil, were used to test whether traits associated with resource acquisition played a stronger role in niche segregation relative to other traits. The study concluded that traits strongly associated with tropic ecology were more influential in niche differentiation compared to weakly associated traits.


Firstly, González‐Castro et al. 2018. How does avian seed dispersal shape the structure of early successional tropical forests? This paper examined the influence of frugivores in shaping plant communities through the use of experimental treatments. The authors concluded that treatments with seeds added by birds had the highest species richness and a higher proportion of rare plant species; an important finding for tropical forest regeneration.

TE SIG2Secondly, Architectural differences associated with functional traits among 45 coexisting tree species in Central Africa by Loubota Panzou et al. This study assessed how interspecific variation in architectural traits related to functional traits, such as light requirements, wood density, leaf habit and dispersal mode. Results showed a continuum of species from small, understory species that were shade-tolerant and animal-dispersed; to large, canopy trees that were wind dispersed and demanded high light. This study highlighted the strong architectural differences among coexisting tropical tree species in Central Africa.

Lastly, a review paper by Perry & Alvarez-Filip, Changing geo-ecological functions of coral reefs in the Anthropocene. The authors describe the rapid changing conditions of reefs such as becoming structurally flatter from reduced vertical growth rates. The authors suggest that enforcement of effective marine protection or benefits from geographic isolation may offer hope for coral reefs in some locations. This paper is part of an upcoming Special Feature to be published in 2019.


Interested in the SIG?

If you want to get in touch, we are on Twitter and Facebook and you can sign up to receive our newsletter. We are also on the lookout for some new committee members. Are you enthusiastic about tropical ecology? Would you like to join a fun and active group of people? Send us an email to express your interest. We’re looking for blog, newspaper and social media reps in particular.

We hope to hear from you!

The BES Tropical Ecology Group


Geertje van der Heijden, Chris Chandler, Stephanie Martin, Lindsay Banin and Aisyah Faruk


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