Friday, August 12, 2011

Thursday at #ESA11

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Interesting talks/posters:

Richard Lankau presented research on trade-offs and competitive ability. He suggests that during range expansion selection for increased intraspecific competitive ability in older populations leads to loss of traits for interspecific competitive traits due to trade-offs between these traits.

Ellner emphatically states that rapid evolution DOES matter for ecological responses, and longer-term evolutionary patterns as well. [His paper on the talk he was giving came out prior to his talk, which he pointed out, good form sir]

Lauren Sullivan gave an interesting talk on bottom up and top down effects on plant reproduction in one site of a huge network of sites doing similar nutrient and herbivory manipulations around the globe - NutNet (go here:

Laura Prugh shows in California that the engineering effects (i.e., the mounds that they make) of giant kangaroo rats are more important for the associated food web than the species interaction effects (the proxy used was just density of rats).

Kristy Deiner suggests that chironomids are more phylogenetic similar in lakes with stocked fish relative to fishless lakes, in high elevation lakes in the Sierra Nevada. She used barcode data to generate her phylogeny of chironomids. If you have barcode data and want to search BOLD Systems site, one option is doing it from R using rbold, a package under development at rOpenSci (code at Github).

Jessica Gurevitch presented a large working group's methods/approach to a set of reviews on invasion biology. We didn't get to see a lot of results from this work, but I personally was glad to see her explaining to a packed room the utility of meta-analysis, and comparing to the medical field in which meta-analysis is sort of the gold standard by which to draw conclusions.

Following Jessica, Jason Fridley told us about the Evolutionary Imbalance Hypothesis (EIH) (see my notes here). He posed the problem of, when two biotas come together, what determines which species are retained in this new community and which species are left out. He listed a litany of traits/responses to measure to get at this problem, but suggested that with a little bit of "desktop ecology", we could simply ask: Is the invasability of X region related to the phylogenetic diversity of that region? In three destination regions (Eastern Deciduous Forests, Mediterranean California, and the Czech Republic) out of four there was a positive relationship between proportion of invasive plant species in a source region and the phylogenetic diversity of the source regions.

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