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



Tuesday taster: 10/10/2017



Bjorn Robroek is the blog editor for Functional Ecologists.bjorn



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.

Tuesday taster: 19/09/2017

With the new academic year starting, an interesting study shows that small group seminars are most effective in preventing students to drop out of university.

A runner myself, I liked this BBC coverage on running in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands, where (perhaps this week) the oldest snow patch may disappear.

Following up on my blog for Peer Review Week 2017, researchers from Imperial College London, the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, and the University of Michigan, have teamed up to come up with a tool that may safeguard peer review, while making it more effective.

Also, Nature now offers a masterclass on peer review.


Bjorn Robroek is the blog editor for Functional Ecologists.bjorn


Tuesday taster: 05/09/2017

Featured in Functional Ecology this week is a paper by Yunhai Zhang and his colleagues, which describes how mowing reduces the stability of temperate grassland primary production under nitrogen addition. Very interesting read!

If you are following the debate on gender equality and woman in STEM, here are some good recent reads:

… and you can support those who actively voice the problem: https://500womenscientists.org

In the coffee corner of my workplace someone has put up a paper which discusses some lifestyle changes that can help you reduce your carbon emissions (Wynes & Nicholas 2017 Environ. Res. Lett. 12:074024;). In the graph below, you can see the average (and country specific) potentials for reduction for some lifestyle actions.


Family size reduction is number one, but I find that a tricky one. It seems a bit ‘black and white’ to me. The transport/travel actions are thought provoking. A happy bicycle commuter myself, I am all in favour of more bikes on the road (or is it my Dutch genes?), but I understand this is not possible for all of us. One of the things you could think of though is how to travel to your next conference. I will travel to the next British Ecological Society meeting in Ghent by train from Southampton (UK). Why not do the same?

Enjoy your week,


Bjorn Robroek is the blog editor for Functional Ecologists.bjorn


Tuesday taster: 29/08/2017

Writing in Functional Ecology, Wang and his colleagues describe the results of a decomposition experiment focussed on standing litter. Great stuff, and I’m sure their results hold in many more ecosystems.

My long-term collaborator, Vincent Jassey, has written an interesting blog post on protists and their likely importance in the ecology of tank-bromeliads in the tropics. I could not refrain in sharing this with you.

I enjoyed reading a post on the dynamic ecology blog by Abe Miller-Rushing and Richard B Primack on co-author behavior. Bottom line, if you ask me, is to continuously look in the mirror and ask yourself if your behavior matches what you expect from others. And if things still go wrong, communicate!

Last week I saw an unexpected Function of Ecology. In attempt to integrate in to UK society (to be honest, I was looking for a food related TV program) I watched Nadiya’s British Food Adventure. I was amazed to see that you could cook a curry that smells and tastes like an Indian curry with only ingredients from Scotland.


Bjorn Robroek is the blog editor for Functional Ecologists.bjorn



Tuesday taster: 22/08/2017

Hi all,

During my holidays, I have been reading The Angry Chef: bad science and the truth about healthy eating. It’s an absolutely great book if you want to read about food related pseudoscience and a chef’s views on it. Yesterday, I learned about a New Phytologist Tansley review that dives into the role of a healthy diet for our health– a really interesting read!

My holidays were partly in Switzerland, where I spent the past five years of my life. One of my favourite areas, and one I often visit, is the area around Les Diablerets. This year (just before I went there for a trail run race up to the glacier), the retreating ice revealed the preserved bodies of a couple that had disappeared in 1942. Something I definitively will use in lecture about Global Change Biology.

Further, social media made me aware that last Sunday was anniversary of the day (1858) that Charles Darwin & Alfred Russel Wallace’s papers on evolution were published.

For our United States’ based readers who have been watching the solar eclipse; here is how it works and here is how spiders get tricked by it.

Registration for the ‘Ecology Across Borders’ conference (BES-GFÖ-NECOV is now open at the Earlybird rate! If you want to meet up with us, we will be in beautiful Ghent.

Best, Bjorn

Bjorn Robroek is the blog editor for Functional Ecologists.bjorn




Tuesday taster: 15/08/2017

Jennifer Meyer is the Assistant Editor for Functional Ecology DSC_0066



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