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Life Sciences - Ecology | Oecologia - incl. option to publish open access (Societies)

Oecologia

Oecologia

Editors-in-Chief: C.L. Ballaré; R. Brandl; K.L. Gross; R.K. Monson; J.C. Trexler; H. Ylönen

ISSN: 0029-8549 (print version)
ISSN: 1432-1939 (electronic version)

Journal no. 442

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Welcome to the Oecologia Journal Cover Gallery

You are invited to contact Dr. Carlos Ballare, Editor-in-Chief, at ballare@ifeva.edu.ar if you would like to submit a photo for consideration as the journal cover.

September 2017 

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Small, shallow lakes may have crystal clear water and dense growth of submerged macrophytes, notably charophytes as shown on this underwater photograph from a South Scandinavian lake. In this issue, Kragh et al., report extensive increases of oxygen, temperature, and pH values, and dramatic depletion of dissolved inorganic carbon and CO2 from the morning to the afternoon, which generated afternoon depression of primary production on virtually every day. Charophyte species appear to be particularly tolerant to anoxia and high sulfi de concentrations in the bottom waters during daytime stratifi cation in small lakes.
Photo credit: Theis Kragh.

August 2017 

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Small carnivores are arguably under the greatest competitive pressure among all carnivores. In this issue, de Satgé et al. utilise camera-trap data to show that a guild of five African small carnivores – African wildcat Felis silvestris lybica (shown in the picture), grey mongoose Galerella pulverulenta, small-spotted genet Genetta genetta, striped polecat Ictonyx striatus, and yellow mongoose Cynictis penicillata– partition their activity along spatial, temporal and dietary axes, likely as a means to reduce their competitive interactions.
Photo credit: The Cape Leopard Trust.

July 2017 

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Juvenile resources can crucially shape adult life-histories, often via alteration in body mass. In this issue, Rosa and Saastamoinen show that larval food stress induces diff erential responses between the sexes in the Glanville fritillary butterfly (Melitaea cinxia). In females larval food stress reduces body mass and subsequently impacts reproductive output, whereas in males body mass remains unaffected. In males territorial behavior is nevertheless affected by food stress, potentially reducing their reproductive output.
Photo credit: Elena Rosa.

June 2017 

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The abundance of plants with crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) is increasing worldwide. In this issue, Yu et al. show that under drought and saline conditions a facultative CAM species (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum) had a competitive advantage over grasses (Bromus mollis). In wet environments, M. crystallinum adapted to the moderate competition with Bromus mollis by switching from C3 photosynthesis to CAM photosynthesis. These results demonstrate the ability of facultative CAM plants to capitalize on their photosynthetic plasticity to cope with biological stress from competition with grasses. CAM plants, like Carnegiea gigantea shown in this picture, feature water storage, photosynthetic plasticity and a high water usage effi ciency, which can off er a competitive advantage under certain ecological conditions.
Photo credit: Kailiang Yu.

May 2017 

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Stream features such as tree trunks and undercut banks provide habitat and protection for many species in freshwater streams but what do they do for returning adult salmon? In this issue, Andersson and Reynolds examine whether these features can provide refuge for spawning salmon from size-biased predation imposed by hunting bears. Streams with large amounts of wood and undercut banks limited size-selective predation pressure from bears, and streams with these features had larger salmon. Thus, habitat features can indirectly influence the body size of salmon by influencing size-selective predation pressure that salmon populations otherwise encounter. The photo shows an example of a tangled stream section in Hooknose Creek, on the central coast of British Columbia, Canada.
Photo credit: Aaron Gaffney.

April 2017 

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Habitat diversity within agricultural landscapes can have direct and indirect eff ects on the reproductive success of birds. In this issue, Michel et al. show that the habitat configuration influences parental home-range dimensions and reproduction of little owls (Athene noctua). Experimental food supplementation improved nestling survival and condition. Paternal home-range size was positively correlated with nestling survival and negatively with condition at fl edging. This study shows how habitat characteristics influence individual behaviour, thereby determining spatial variation in reproductive performance. The photo shows a radio-tagged male little owl with the antenna sticking out of the plumage above the bird’s tail.
Photo credit: Silvio Bartholdi

March 2017 

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As charismatic megafauna, nesting and foraging sea turtles are increasingly the focus of ecotourism activities. In this issue of Oecologia, Griffi n et al. quantify the behavioral responses of immature green turtles (Chelonia mydas) to disturbance by snorkelers and document a variation in personality types across individual turtles. This photo, taken at the study site Culebra Island, Puerto Rico, shows a turtle fl eeing after a snorkeler encounter.
Photo credit: Jacob W. Brownscombe

February 2017 

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Classic hypotheses regarding the regulation of avian clutch size do not account for variation in nutrients among females at the end of egg laying, strong right truncations in clutch size distributions, or the fact that many species with precocial young are determinate layers. One solution is that there is a maximum clutch size, above which the number of fl edged young declines. In this issue, Sedinger et al. show through experimental manipulations that the most productive brood size in Black Brent (Branta bernicla nigricans) is larger than that typically produced. Therefore, reduced gosling survival in large broods is not by itself the sole mechanism limiting maximum clutch size in brent. The image shows a female brent and her gosling on the Tutakoke River Colony in western Alaska.
Photo credit: David Stimac

January 2017 

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Using stable isotope composition in plant materials as indicators of palaeoclimate relies on a mechanistic understanding of the drivers of isotopic enrichments in leaf water and associated organic compounds. Munksgaard et al. assessed the isotopic compositions in eucalypt leaf and stem water and leaf cellulose across Australian aridity gradients, demonstrating that 18O enrichment in leaf water is determined by the leaf to air water vapour pressure diff erence, which is also a strong predictor of leaf cellulose O-isotope composition.
Photo credit: Ansgar Kahmen; Corymbia aparrerinja near Alice Springs.

December 2016 

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Climate change enhances the eff ects of eutrophication and forces Lake Victoria cichlids to respond morphologically. In this issue, van Rijssel et al. report that during a period of severe eutrophication, reduced wind speeds coincided with low oxygen levels and an increased gill surface area of three cichlid species. The photo shows the research transect in the Mwanza Gulf of Lake Victoria which has been monitored by the Haplochromis Ecology Survey Team (HEST) since the 1970s.
Photo credit: Crista van Geest.

November 2016 

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It is commonly assumed that whole-tree carbon gain is optimized when leaf photosynthetic capacity varies in proportion to vertical light gradients, yet observed photosyntheticprofi les do not follow this prediction. In this issue, Ambrose et al. show that this apparent discrepancy can be explained by increasing hydraulic constraints with height in giant sequoia trees in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. The study found that within-crown adjustments partially compensate for increasing hydraulic constraints, leading to the largest ever reported daily whole-tree water use rates, consistent with immense growth rates observed in these massive trees (pictured).
Photo credit: A.R. Ambrose.

October 2016 

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The ability of plants to alter the life span and biochemical properties of their leaves in response to resource availability has been well documented and is the basis for theoretical predictions concerning the optimization of photosynthesis and carbon gain. Predictions of this theory have not been tested for non-vascular autotrophs such as macroalgae. In this issue of Oecologia, Rodriguez et al. show that the life span, size, thickness, pigment concentrations and photosynthetic performance of vegetative blades of the habitat forming marine alga Macrocystis pyrifera varied across a strong light gradient in a manner that was generally consistent with the prevailing theory of leaf life span in plants. Shown in the image is the apical meristem of the giant kelp M. pyrifera.
Photo credit: Ron H. McPeak.

September 2016 

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Sea otter (Enhydra lutris) predation on herbivorous urchins in kelp forests is one of the classic examples of a top predator benefi tting a vegetated ecosystem through a trophic cascade. But what is the sea otter’s role in estuarine ecosystems? It has been documented that bloom-forming algae when stimulated by anthropogenic nutrient loading can drive the loss of important seagrass habitats. In this issue, Hughes et al. show how sea otters, through the consumption of crabs, can create a trophic cascade that influences the interaction between seagrass (Zostera marina) and bloom-forming green algae (Ulva spp.), which ultimately drives the resilience of seagrass.
Photo credit: Robert Scoles.

August 2016 

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Plant species from the high Andes are able to survive very low temperatures, particularly under drought conditions, but this freezing tolerance could be affected by climate change. In this issue, Sierra-Almeida et al. show that warmer and moister growing seasons could threaten plant survival and persistence of alpine species in dry mountains. The image shows a close up of a Phacelia secunda (Boraginaceae) plant during a freezing temperature event in the central Chilean Andes.
Photo credit: Lohengrin A. Cavieres.

July 2016 

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Invasive species can present new challenges to the ecological communities they invade. Can native species adapt to overcome these challenges? In this issue, Herr et al. show that native Eastern Fence Lizards cope with dangerously venomous invasive fire ants by consuming them. Both within the lifetime of individual lizards and across multiple generations, previous exposure to fire ants results in lizards that consume them at a greater rate than their fire ant naïve counterparts. This photo shows an Eastern Fence Lizard in the process of consuming its invasive prey.
Photo credit: Tracy Langkilde and Travis Robbins

June 2016 

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Montane forests of southern Patagonia are one of the few natural landscapes of the world dominated by a single species, in this case Nothofagus pumilio (lenga). Lenga can flourish in a broad range of temperature and precipitation regimes and is often the dominant species along mountain slopes in the region. In this issue of Oecologia, Mathiasen and Premoli report on the evolutionary potential for adaptation of lenga at contrasting elevations of an altitudinal gradient. Using a reciprocal transplant experiment, the authors show that low-elevation plants outperform high-elevation plants even at high elevation, suggesting that under global warming scenarios the former may drive the high-elevation variants to local extinction. These results suggest that the upslope migration process may be led by low elevation trees, and not the upper treeline forests as previously thought. The photo shows both high- and low-elevation lenga trees growing near treeline at the Challhuaco Valley, Rio Negro, Argentina
Photo credit: Paula Mathiasen

May 2016 

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Winter conditions are believed to play an important role in the population dynamics of northern temperate stream fi sh, challenging the ability of fi sh to physiologically and behaviourally adapt. In this issue, Watz et al. show that brown trout (Salmo trutta) that spent the winter under ice cover grew more and used a broader range of habitats than trout in uncovered stream sections. These results indicate that the presence of surface ice may function as overhead cover against terrestrial piscivores and improve the energetic status of stream fi sh during winter.
Photo credit: Johan Watz

April 2016 

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Functional traits have been used to group ecologically similar species, but their potential goes far beyond: the Special Section of nine articles in this issue illustrates how functional traits are linked to species coexistence and to key ecological services and processes. Thus, trait-based ecology is becoming a powerful conceptual and operative tool. The photo shows a highly diverse shrub-perennial plant community developed on calcic gypsisols in central Spain where the functional structure of the community was controlled at fine scales by both biotic filtering and resource partitioning. The site was used by Chacon-Labella et al. for their study.
Photo credit: Julia Chacon-Labella

March 2016 

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Coral reefs are some of the most productive and biodiverse ecosystems in the world, yet we still know little about the food web architecture maintaining these vital ecosystems. In this issue, McMahon et al. used a compound-specific stable isotope fingerprinting approach to quantify carbon fl ow from key baseline end members to coral reef fi shes in the Red Sea. The study suggests that the tremendous diversity in food web architecture on coral reefs likely plays a critical role in maintaining coral reef productivity and biodiversity.
Photo credit: Tane Sinclair-Taylor.

February 2016 

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Climate change may be driving lizard population declines in tropical rainforests. In this issue, Brusch IV et al. uset hermal physiology metrics to make predictions about what lizard species may be at greatest risk. They show that habitat specialists may be most impacted by future warming. This photo shows a Jesus-Christ Lizard (Basiliscus plumifrons), a species from lowland tropical forests.
Photo credit: Ellen B. Sperr.

January 2016 

Oecologia
Peatlands dominated by peat mosses are important sinks of atmospheric carbon, but their role is potentially at stake as climate change promotes the encroachment of vascular plants. In this issue, Gavazov et al. demonstrate the competitive strategies for nutrient acquisition of dominant vascular plant species.Along an altitudinal gradient (in the photo the highest altitude peatland at 1885 m a.s.l.), foliar isotopic signatures of vascular plants reveal the intimate association of shrubs with their mycorrhizae and the intensified transfer of nitrogen via this symbiosis under warmer and drier climate.
Photo credit: Konstantin Gavazov

December 2015 

Oecologia
Galapagos sea lions (Zalophus wollebaeki) are endemic to the geographically small extend of the Galapagos Islands, yet recent work has shown genetic and morphological differences between sea lions from the western and the central archipelago. In this issue, Jeglinski et al. show that these differences align with differences in foraging habitat, diving behaviour and dietary composition, and already exist between juvenile sea lions from both regions that just started to forage independently. These results highlight a case of incipient ecological speciation in a highly mobile marine top predator and suggest a role of early learning in driving the ecological and ultimately genetic differences in the population.

November 2015 

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How do plant water use strategies contribute to ecosystem scale drought eff ects? In this issue, Roman et al. develop a framework for classifying water use strategies and evaluate the impact of a severe drought on carbon cycling in the Morgan-Monroe State Forest in south-central Indiana (pictured). The study is based on a long term (1999–2013) eddy covariance record of carbon fluxes, and a 3 year (2011–2013) record of weekly leaf-level gas exchange and water potential measurements. Their results show that drought tolerant species, such as oaks (Quercus spp.), play a critical role in mitigating the impacts of drought on the forest carbon sink, which is of particular concern given that oaks are declining in many eastern US forests.
Photo credit: D. Tyler Roman

October 2015 

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Predation by introduced mammals has driven declines of New Zealand forest birds. In this issue, Parlato et al. show that cavity nesting was the key trait associated with more extensive range contraction, suggesting that cavity nesting species are the most vulnerable to predation. This photo shows an adult kakapo (Strigops habroptilus) with two chicks. The kakapo is a critically endangered cavity-nesting species that has been completely extirpated from the New Zealand mainland.
Photo credit: Don Merton, Department of Conservation.

September 2015 

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How are herbivorous insects able to subsist on a diet that is often rich in toxic chemical compounds? In this issue, Hammer and Bowers argue that symbioses with gut microorganisms may help insects overcome plant chemical defenses. Many bacteria and fungi in soil, leaves, and the mammalian gut can withstand and degrade plant toxins, but the importance of such microbial activity to the ecology and evolutionary diversification of insect herbivores is just beginning to be unveiled. Shown is the caterpillar Citheronia lobesis consuming Spondias mombin leaves, which contain a variety of secondary metabolites.
Photo credit: Tobin Hammer

August 2015 

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The North Adriatic Karst is covered by species-rich grasslands, but land abandonment has resulted in
their replacement by woodlands. In this issue, Batalha et al. Show that grasslands and woodlands are assembled by different rules, with environmental filtering being the dominant force in the former and competitive exclusion becoming more important in the latter. Understanding community assembly rules in grasslands and woodlands could contribute to improve conservation efforts.
Photo credit: Mitja Kaligarič.

July 2015 

Oecologia
White-collared Manakins (Manacus candei) are tropical birds that feed almost exclusively on fruit in Young and mature forest. In this issue, Wolfe et al. show that dry El Niño events were associated with strikingly low manakin survival in young forests, while El Niño events had little effect on survival in mature forests. These results suggest that mature forests may serve as refugia for fruit-eating birds during periods of climatic instability.
Photo credit: Chris Jiménez.

June 2015 

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Chemotactile spider cues alter food web structure and reduce local herbivory in the field. In this issue, Bucher et al. show that changes in insect communities due to the predation risk of nursery web spiders (Pisaura mirabilis) can reduce herbivory pressure on nettle plants (Urtica dioica), which in turn reduces leaf damage. These results suggest that non-consumptive effects can be very important within predator guilds.
Photo credit: Roman Bucher.

May 2015 

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This issue includes a special section of 11 articles on Individual-level niche specialization. The papers in this volume illustrate a growing body of literature that asks: what has been overlooked by focusing on population-level mean phenotypes in ecology, and how might ecological systems and evolutionary processes be better understood by explicit recognition of phenotypic variation among individuals? These studies suggest that population-level means may be more appropriately viewed as emergent properties than principal entities of interest. Rosenblatt et al. investigate the prevalence, causes, and consequence of individual-level niche specialization in foraging behaviors across different populations of American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis), the dominant aquatic apex predator across the southeast US, using stomach contents and stable isotope data.
Photo credit: Garrett Miller.

April 2015 

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Coordinated approaches to global change research: This issue includes a Special Section of ten articles that highlight key requirements to advance integrated ecological research to study ecosystem responses to global changes. Such requirements include long-term studies, combinations of observational and experimental research, and reference to large-scale context. The photo shows Ramat Hanadiv Park in the coastal plane of Israel, with a patchwork of habitats and land-uses representing the complexity and diversity of the Mediterranean ecological reality. This is an extensively investigated research site, and It was the site of the Batsheva workshop that led to this special section.
Photo was taken by Albatross; skyline@albatross.co.il

March 2015 

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Phenology and abundance influence species interactions. For amphibians and many other taxa, these factors are primarily investigated in experimental settings, leaving the applicability to natural populations unknown. In this issue, Anderson et al. (pp. 761–773) provide evidence from natural populations that both recruitment and demographic traits of two pondbreeding salamanders are correlated with complex intra-Zand interspecific processes. Important factors include the timing of breeding, the abundance of breeding adults, and metamorph survival and body size. Shown is an adult spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum), one of the species under investigation.
Photo credit: William E. Peterman.

February 2015 

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Fruit secondary compounds protect fruits from
plant enemies, but how do they influence beneficial animals like seed dispersers? Studying bat-dispersed pepper plants (Piper spp.) in Costa Rica, Baldwin and Whitehead (pp., 453–466) showed that amides, a nitrogen-based class of compounds that are typical to many tropical pepper plants, decreased the retention times of seeds in the guts of the main bat disperser, Seba’s Shorttailed Fruit Bat (Carollia perspicillata). Their results suggest that fruit secondary compounds not only defend fruits against pests, but can also mediate seed disperser physiology and patterns of dispersal in tropical forests.
Photo credit: Susan Whitehead.

January 2015 

Oecologia
Nitrogen Deposition Reassessed. This special feature includes six articles that focus on the effects of chronic atmospheric N deposition in contrasting ecosystem types ranging from acidic grasslands in Europe, boreal forests in Canada, alpine grasslands in China, to temperate forests in the Midwest and Northeastern USA. The articles deal specifically with two distinct topics: the effects of N deposition on species composition; and the responses of pools and fluxes of N. The photo shows one of the atmospheric deposition collectors at the Tirasse site about 120 km north of Saint-Félicien, Quebec, Canada.
Image courtesy of Charles Marty.

December 2014 

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Cover illustration Is the fate of North American ash sealed? The emerald ash borer (EAB, shown in the pictures at the adult and larval stages) continues to spread and kill ash trees through larval feeding on the inner bark. However, Whitehill et al. (pp. 1047–1059) show that application of the phytohormone methyl jasmonate (MeJA) reduces EAB attack rates while inducing accumulation of a phenolic compound, verbascoside, in the inner bark. Furthermore, when supplied at MeJA-induced levels in artificial diet, verbascoside decreased growth, development, and survival of EAB larvae. This suggests that exploitation of MeJA based defences could conceivably become part of future integrated management strategies for this pest.

November 2014 

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Special Issue on “Ecophysiological effects of predation risk: an integration across disciplines”. The threat of predation has wide-spread consequences for prey behavior, morphology and development which must be generated by changes in prey physiology. However, the physiological mechanisms that underlie the costs and benefits of responding to predators have not been well studied. In this issue, 8 articles consider the effects of predation risk on prey digestive physiology, thermal ecology and neurobiology at the scale of individual hormonal pathways to ecosystem effects. Shown in the photo is a Colorado potato beetle being attacked by a predaceous stink bug. Photo credit: Ellen Woods.

October 2014 

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Impacts of secondary succession on ecosystem fluxes. In this issue of Oecologia, Scartazza et al. show that the transition from the herbaceous vegetation of abandoned agricultural land to the Mediterranean shrub vegetation is associated with increased ecosystem water use efficiency at the beginning of the dry season, which might eventually translate into increased ecosystem carbon sequestration. Shown here is a false color aerial image of the Island of Pianosa in the Northern Tyrrhenian Sea (Italy), where the study was carried out, along with a sunset view of one of the flux towers used to measure biogeochemical cycling and water use.
Photo by: Franco Miglietta.

September 2014 

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Massive expansion of Lupinus nootkatensis in Iceland. Cold high elevation and high latitude ecosystems are known for their slow nitrogen cycle and highly adapted biota. Widespread invasions by symbiotic N2 fixing species of the genus Lupinus and Alnus are currently putting this biota at risk. In this issue, Hiltbrunner et al. summarize the evidence demonstrating that increased nitrogen input by such taxa reduces biodiversity, acidifies soils, enriches groundwater and runoff with nitrate, and augments the emissions of N2O (a potent greenhouse gas).
Photo by: Christian Körner.

August 2014 

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Why have plants evolved the ability to detect sound and vibration? In this issue, Appel and Cocroft (pp. 1257–1266) show that feeding by caterpillars (Pieris rapae) produces distinctive vibrations that propagate rapidly through the stems and leaves of Arabidopsis plants. Exposing plants to feeding vibrations in the absence of other herbivore cues caused the plants to produce more chemical defenses when later attacked by caterpillars. Defenses were primed by feeding vibrations, but not by vibrations from wind or insect song. This study shows for the first time that plants can mount a selective and ecologically meaningful response to an acoustic cue relevant to their fitness.
Photo by: Carlos F. Pinto.

July 2014 

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Stressed by crowding? In this issue, Viblanc et al. (pages 763–772) show how the spatial location of breeding territories can affect the stress levels of colonial seabirds. In breeding king penguins, their results reveal that spatial variation in social density, rather than weather conditions or predation risk, has strong effects on the baseline stress hormones of those animals. Both during incubation and chick-rearing, crowded penguins indeed appear to have higher stress levels than their less-crowded conspecifics.

June 2014 

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How do nitrogen and phosphorus interact to influence primary productivity? On pages 667– 676 of this issue, Perini and Bracken demonstrate through observation and experimentation that the availability of nitrogen can limit the uptake and storage of phosphorus in an important intertidal foundation species, the seaweed Fucus vesiculosus. On the wave swept rocky shores pictured here (East Point, Nahant, MA, USA), nitrogen availability varies throughout the year. As nitrogen levels fluctuate and phosphorus levels remain constant, seaweeds take up and store phosphorus only when adequate nitrogen is available, providing evidence of an intrinsic linkage between these essential nutrients in the cellular machinery of primary producers.
Photo by: Christopher Marks.

May 2014 

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Can plants, like animals, learn and remember? On pages 63–72, Gagliano et al. address this question and demonstrate experimentally that the sensitive plant Mimosa is capable of learning in a matter of seconds and most remarkably, remembering what has been learned for several weeks. In an animal-like fashion, this plant is able to learn through direct experience, yet it does it all without a brain. Shown in the photo Mimosa pudica plants.
Photo by Monica Gagliano.

April 2014 

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Seasonality and life history: On pages 1197–1204 Cox and Cresswell demonstrate that across 40 savannah species, the body mass gained during breeding positively correlates with adult survival and is a reflection of seasonal variation in food availability. A species that occupies a highly seasonal foraging niche such as this red-cheeked cordonbleu (Uraeginthus bengalus) will have a super
abundance of food available during breeding and so will store fewer body reserves. They are thus able to raise more chicks, but at a cost to their own survival.
Photo by Martin Stervander.

March 2014 

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Can small grazers damage large, fast growing kelps? In this issue, Poore et al. (pages 789-801) demonstrate that low levels of consumption by grazing crustaceans can result in unexpectedly large reductions in the growth of intertidal kelps due to the selective removal of photosynthetically active tissues. Clockwise from top left: blades and pneumatocysts of Macrocystispyrifera; the grazing isopod Amphoroidea typa; grazing damage by A. typa to a blade of Lessoniaspicata; beds of L. spicata in the rocky intertidal of northern-central Chile.
Photos by Ivan Hinojosa Toledo and Alistair Poore.

February 2014 

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Photosynthesis in the shadow of giants. Coastal California redwood trees are the tallest trees in the world. Consequently the shade cast by redwood trees is severe, producing low light conditions for understory plants. Yet, most of the plant diversity in California redwood forests consists of tiny understory herbs growing under the redwood monocanopy. On pages 351 - 363 of this issue, Santiago and Dawson explain how plant use of water and nitrogen deposited by coastal summer fog contribute to utilization of fluctuating light in the deep forest. Shown here is Oxalis oregana catching an early morning sun fleck of light in the dappled light of the redwood forest understory.
Photo by: Louis S. Santiago.

December 2013 

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Hunting under predation risk. On pages 1227-1235 of this issue, Haapakoski et al. report results from an experimental outdoor study on weasel predation on voles in fragmented landscapes. Hunting efficiency by small mammals should decrease in fragmented habitats due to small predator's own risks of avian predation in the open matrix area. As predicted, weasels killed more voles in the non-fragmented habitat which provided cover from raptors and owls during prey search.
Shown here is the small snake-like mammalian predator, the least weasel (Mustela nivalis nivalis), in its summer habitat in central Finland.
Photo by: Marko Haapakoski

January 2014 

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An insectivorous bat switches to nectar diet. Although many animals change their diets with the seasons, supplementing insectivorous diets with nectar and fruit is extraordinarily rare in bats, the second largest order of mammals. In this issue, Frick et al. (pp 55-65) use stable isotopes to demonstrate strong seasonal reliance on cactus nectar by the insectivorous pallid bat (Antrozous pallidus) in desert habitats of Baja California Sur, Mexico. Pallid bats switch from a diet indistinguishable from other sympatric insectivorous bat species in winter, when no cactus nectar is available, to a diet intermediate between insectivorous and nectarivorous bats during the spring bloom of a bat-adapted cactus. The study establishes the first known plant-pollinator mutualism between a plant and a temperate bat.
Photo credit: Merlin Tuttle

November 2013 

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What animals do during metamorphosis matters. For frogs, the awkward stage between forlimb emergence and tail resorption has long been recognized as a high-risk period, yet we know little of how risk changes with the move from water to land, or if metamorphs compensate behaviorally for their morphological handicaps. In this issue, Touchon et al. (pages 801-811) show that risk of mortality for red-eyed treefrogs in the water with predatory bugs rises sharply with forelimb emergence. Metamorphs reduce activity in response to bug cues, but this is insufficient to protect them. Long-tailed metamorphs can substantially improve their survival prospects by climbing onto land to face spiders instead. Once in air, metamorphs become even less active, as they need not move to breathe. This inactivity reduces attack rates, more than compensating for their poor escape ability. Depending on predator cues, red-eyed treefrogs emerge from ponds with short or long tails; shown is a long-tailed metamorph recently emerged from a pond in Gamboa, Panama.
Photo by: Randall Jiménez

October 2013 

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Should we stay or should we go? On pages 409-420 of this issue of Oecologia, van Beest et al. report that predation risk by wolfes and forage abundance are important scale-dependent determinants of temporal variation in site fidelity of non-migratory female elk and that their combined effect is most apparent at short temporal scales. Shown in the photo is a group of vigilant female elk in Riding Mountain National Park (MB, Canada), a long-established elk-wolf system, where the study was carried out.
Photo by Ryan K. Brook

September 2013 

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Regulation of indirect defenses (extrafloral nectaries, EFNs) under competition. Plants often balance resource allocation between competition and defense, but the underlying mechanisms are unclear. On pages 213/221 of this issue, Izaguirre et al. demonstrate that the activity of EFNs in passionfruit (Passiflora edulis) is induced by simulated herbivory and jasmonate treatment, and strongly suppressed by a low ratio of Red to Far-Red radiation (R:FR), which is a key signal of competition in plant canopies. Strikingly, EFN responses to herbivory and light quality were restricted to the branches that received the treatments. These results demonstrate that the R:FR ratio is an important regulator of indirect defenses, which helps the plant to concentrate defense resources on those branches that are less likely to be shaded by competitors. Clockwise from top right: P. edulis flower; EFNs located in the petioles; EFNs located in the abaxial side of the sepals; close-up of a petiolar EFN visited by Argentine ants.
Photos by: Miriam M. Izaguirre.

August 2013 

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Benevolent mistletoes dispersers? Representatives from six of the eight lineages considered mistletoe-specialist frugivores, clockwise from top left: Tyrannulus elatus, Tyrannidae (Roger Ahlman), Euphonia violacea, Fringillidae (Dario Sanches); Phainopepla nitens, Ptilogonatidae (Elaine R Wilson); Pogoniulus bilineatus, Lybiidae (Krzysztof Blachowiak); Grantiella picta, Meliphagidae (Chris Tzaros); Dicaeum hirundinaceum, Nectariniidae (Peter Menkhorst). Rather than coevolved dispersers, Watson and Rawsthorne (DOI 10.1007/s00442-013-2693-9) suggest that these specialists may be better considered exploitative, intensifying existing infections into more concentrated, reliable, and defendable resources.

July 2013 

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Interplant communication: Damage to the leaves of a willow can decrease herbivory experienced by its close neighbors. On pages 869-875 of this issue of Oecologia (10.1007/s00442-013-2610-2), Pearse et al. report strong evidence for the importance of interplant volatile cues in mediating herbivore interactions with willows. Shown in the photo are willow bushes following a riparian corridor in the Sierra Nevada Mountains (CA, USA).
Photo by Kaori Shiojiri.

June 2013 

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Getting ready for a date: A male orchid bee (Euglossa viridissima) collecting perfumes for his courtship display (in this case, p-dimethoxybenzene from a treated log). On pages 417-425 of this issue of Oecologia (10.1007/s00442-013-2620-0), Pokorny et al. investigate how these insects collect fragrant substances from environmental sources and balance the perfume composition in the face of seasonal, local, and habitat-dependent variations in compound availability.
Photo by Tamara Pokorny.

May 2013 

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Indirect biotic interactions under water: A perch (Perca fluviatilis) in a lake near Uppsala, Sweden feeding among zebra mussels attached on the underside of a foot bridge. On pages 245-256 of this issue of Oecologia (10.1007/s00442-013-2611-1), Hirsch et al. investigate how the presence of invasive zebra mussels in Swedish lakes can indirectly trigger phenotypic changes in a native fish by altering the availability of pelagic and benthic food resources.
Photo by Philipp Hirsch and Katharina Büchel.

April 2013 

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Ecosystem ecology: Terrestrial subsidies have important impacts on biogeochemistry and nutrient cycling in river and lake ecosystems. Lake Meliquina surrounded by temperate forests in Patagonia, Argentina.
Photo by: Amy T. Austin.

March 2013 

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Studying the ecological impacts of increased atmospheric CO2. The image shows CO2 tanks used for the alpine treeline FACE experiment in Stillberg (Switzerland) after a summertimesnow event.
Photo by: Frank Hagedorn.

February 2013 

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Seed dispersal by frugivorous birds is the basis for regeneration of fleshy-fruited plants in numerous ecosystems. A fieldfare (Turdus pilaris) feeds upon fruits of hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)."
Photo: © by S. Rösner | pixeldiversity.com

January 2013 

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Plant-insect interactions. A larva of the Passiflora specialist insect, Agraulis vanillae (Gulf fritillary), chewing a branch of "mburucuyá" (Passionflower, Passiflora caerulea).
Photo by: Carlos L. Ballaré.

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