Tuesday taster: 11/07/2017

The low volume of emails in my inbox indicates that summer holidays are approaching– time to think of buying your summer-reads. The financial times may help you make this choice a bit easier. They have compiled a list of science books that they consider worth reading. If you’re heading to the mountains and already thinking of those challenging uphills, check out this podcast by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA on the metabolic adaptation of Sherpas that allow them to take in more oxygen at high altitudes.

Myself, I am preparing for field work. This time, for the first time a bachelor summer student from my new University will join me. Over the next weeks I hope to inform you a bit more about my own work and the involvement of my student. Please also look in the InSite/Out for updates on the fantastic work of Stacey, Rob and Gesche.

In the light of the latest G20 discussions on fighting climate change, this recently accepted paper in Functional Ecology is definitively worth a read.

Last, just as a reminder there are only three weeks left to apply for the position as a senior editor at Functional Ecology.


Enjoy your week,


Bjorn Robroek is the blog editor for Functional Ecologists.bjorn


Tuesday taster: 04/07/2017

Last week, I was at a conference (Trait covariation: structural and functional relationships in plant ecology) organised by the New Phytologist Trust. I liked it very much; I especially liked the versatility of the ecological community in approaching big open ecological questions. I will soon give a more elaborate update about the symposium, but if you cannot wait click here to see the abstract book.

A good example of the versatility of the ecological community is the recently accepted paper by Kuppler et al. in Functional Ecology, describing the difference in resource space use by insects that visit native plants and those that visit invasive plants on Hawaii.  Interestingly, invasive species were much more effectively exploited, potentially giving them a fitness advantage over native plants.

Staying with insects; you will probably have read about Science’s latest report on the effects of pesticides on pollinators. If not, here is the link to the paper that has caused much discussion already (see f.e. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/29/pesticides-damage-survival-of-bee-colonies-landmark-study-shows, or https://www.nature.com/news/largest-ever-study-of-controversial-pesticides-finds-harm-to-bees-1.22229)

Last but not least, Prof. Stephen Hawking alleges that the USA’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreements on Acting Against Climate Change could have consequences as drastic as turning our planet into one with conditions as found on Venus. But according to Figueres and colleagues in the latest issue of Nature, it is not yet too late. They set an interesting, but challenging plan to start decarbonizing the world’s economy, thereby significantly reducing carbon dioxide emissions by the end of next decade.

And with that positive perspective, I wish you all a good and productive week.

Bjorn Robroek

Tuesday taster: 27/06/2017

Today’s post is largely focused on sustainability and conservation, but first two papers that caught my eye last week:

Functional Ecology published a very interesting paper describing the use of drones to record turtle demography and breeding behaviour.

In Nature Ecology & Evolution, Lars Gamfeld and Fabian Roger (University of Göteborg), published a perspective paper that counters current consensus on biodiversity-multifunctionality relationships. A very interesting read!

I was further really interested by an opinion piece in naturejobs. Academic travelling (e.g. fieldwork, symposia, conferences) is a very high burden on our carbon footprint. Not so surprising, but very embarrassing when you actually see the numbers.


Finally, two conservation related issues. First, last week I visited Finland for a PhD defence at the University of Eastern Finland. While travelling there, I learned (again) about the Saimaa ringed seal, an endemic to Lake Saimaa. It is closely related to the ringed seal, from which it became isolated after the land rise following the retreat of Finland’s glacier. The Saimaa seal is highly threatened by climate change and net fishing; only just over 350 remain. In an attempt to raise awareness about this interesting species, the WWF has devoted a website to the Saimaa ringed seal which also shows footage from a live cam that was in place last year.

Second, the Białowieża forest in Poland and Belarus is the last significant area of the primeval forests that once dominated lowland Europe, and a UNESCO world heritage site. It is also one of last refuges for the European Bison. Over a year ago, the Polish government decided to recommence logging. The official reason: bark beetle. Now, last weekend thousands have demonstrated in the streets of Warschau to protect this valuable last stretch of pristine forest.

Bjorn Robroek.


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