Tuesday taster: 31/10/2017

Published today in Functional Ecology:

  • a study by Griffiths et al. on the links between traits, demography and species abundance in a predator-prey-resource background
  • a study by Lea et al. describing the use of non-invasive physiological markers to identify the population dynamics in Zebra.

And again…consider travelling to ‘Ecology without Borders’ by train. Ecologists need to set the example; one conference paper at the moment is estimated to represent 800 kg of CO2; that is driving an average car for 31 hours non-stop.

It was hard to miss it as my Twitter feed was full of it: BluePlanet II is on air.

The debate on the usefulness of summer- and winter-time keeps going on. But apparently changing the clock is good for your brain.

Tuesday taster: 24/10/2017

[Eds note: The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that this Tuesday taster has actually gone online on a Thursday… Sorry everyone, especially Bjorn – Jennifer and I were out of the office and unable to post on the right day. Normal service will be resumed next week! – Emilie, Functional Ecology Managing Editor.]

  • Ecology without Borders registration closed! More than a day before closure of ‘early bird’ registration, the Ecology without Borders meeting in Ghent is fully booked. Me and Jennifer will be there, so if you want to talk about the blog, come and see us!

EAB reg closed


  • All over the news last week: an alarming decrease in insects has been reported by Dutch and German ecologists in PlosOne. Are we poisoning and isolating our pollinator populations? For background information, see here, here and here.

plosONE insect decline fig

Strong decline in daily biomass of insects in malaise traps. Hallmann et al. (2017) PLoS ONE12(10): e0185809. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0185809


  • If this news alarms you, but not yet ready to give up your Sunday roast; read here how you could do cook a more sustainable one. As a quick summary:
    • Cut down the meat: meat accounts for up to 70% of the environmental impact of a Sunday roast.
    • Turn down the heat: 20-30% energy saved by cooking less long
    • Use alternative cooking methods


  • Why did the sky turn red last week? If you want to know the science behind this event, Dr David Moore of the National Centre for Earth Observation in Leicester has written an excellent summary of it.


Bjorn Robroek is the blog editor for Functional Ecologists.

InSite/Out with Richard Beason: If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it… it does make a sound!

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” was a philosophical question posed by George Berkeley to explore various concepts relating to perception; is a sound only a sound if someone hears it, how much can we truly know about the unobserved world and so forth. I’m not looking to start a metaphysics debate (honestly!) but, for me, the answer is decidedly ‘yes, it does’. At least that’s the case if you happen to have an acoustic recorder somewhere in the vicinity of said tree when it falls. Continue reading “InSite/Out with Richard Beason: If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it… it does make a sound!”

International peatland workshop: Carbon Cycling in Boreal Peatlands and Climate Change II – Hyytiälä revisited

by Bjorn Robroek

25 years ago, from September 28 to October 1st 1992, about 50 peatland scientists got together in the Hyytiälä Forestry Station in Southern Finland to discuss the latest knowledge on carbon cycling in peatlands. 25 years later, on September 25 to September 28, 2017, a group of over 80 peatland scientists – including some of the 1992 participants: Harri Vasander, Nigel Roulet, Dicky Clymo, Line Rochefort, et al.­–  travelled (back) to Hyytiälä with a similar set of aims. The conference not only looked back at the first peatland meeting in Hyytiälä 25 years ago, but also celebrated the 100th anniversary of Finland.

Continue reading “International peatland workshop: Carbon Cycling in Boreal Peatlands and Climate Change II – Hyytiälä revisited”

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”


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