Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hot off the presses! Jan 01 Trends in Ecology & Evolution

The Jan 01 issue of the Trends in Ecology & Evolution is now up on Pubget (About Trends in Ecology & Evolution): if you're at a subscribing institution, just click the link in the latest link at the home page. (Note you'll only be able to get all the PDFs in the issue if your institution subscribes to Pubget.)

Latest Articles Include:

  • Editorial Board
    - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(1):i (2011)
  • The social side of Homo economicus
    - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(1):1-3 (2011)
    Many recent experiments in the field of behavioural economics appear to demonstrate a willingness of humans to behave altruistically, even when it is not in their interest to do so. This has led to the assertion that humans have evolved a special predisposition towards altruism. Recent studies have questioned this, and demonstrated that selfless cooperation does not hold up in controlled experiments. As I discuss here, this calls for more economic 'field experiments' and highlights the need for greater integration of the evolutionary and economic sciences.
  • What is long-term in ecology?
    - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(1):3-4 (2011)
  • New technology facilitates the study of social networks
    - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(1):5-6 (2011)
  • Continuing sculpting
    - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(1):6-7 (2011)
  • Selection as a unifying process in the biological and social sciences
    - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(1):7-8 (2011)
  • The most intensively studied area on Earth
    - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(1):8-9 (2011)
  • Horizon scan of global conservation issues for 2011
    - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(1):10-16 (2011)
    This review describes outcomes of a 2010 horizon-scanning exercise building upon the first exercise conducted in 2009. The aim of both horizon scans was to identify emerging issues that could have substantial impacts on the conservation of biological diversity, and to do so sufficiently early to encourage policy-relevant, practical research on those issues. Our group included professional horizon scanners and researchers affiliated with universities and non- and inter-governmental organizations, including specialists on topics such as invasive species, wildlife diseases and coral reefs. We identified 15 nascent issues, including new greenhouse gases, genetic techniques to eradicate mosquitoes, milk consumption in Asia and societal pessimism.
  • Experiments with genitalia: a commentary
    - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(1):17-21 (2011)
    There has been a recent burst of studies of the function of genitalia, many of which share several important shortcomings. Given that further studies on this topic are likely (there are probably millions of species showing rapid genital divergence), I discuss the studies critically to promote clear formulation of hypotheses and interpretation of results in the future. I also emphasize some possibly important but neglected variables, including female stimulation, phylogenetic contexts, and the behavior of male genitalia, and outline simple techniques that could improve future studies.
  • Pleiotropy, apparent stabilizing selection and uncovering fitness optima
    - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(1):22-29 (2011)
    Evolutionary theory has emphasized that the evolution of single traits cannot be understood in isolation when pleiotropy is present. Widespread pleiotropy causes the appearance of stabilizing selection on metric traits owing to joint effects with fitness, and results in the genetic variation being concentrated in relatively few combinations of the measured traits. In this review, we show how trait combinations with high levels of genetic variation can be used to uncover fitness optima that are defined by apparent stabilizing selection. Defining fitness optima in this way could provide one avenue by which researchers can overcome the problem posed by measuring the myriad of traits that must influence fitness, or by measuring total fitness itself.
  • Conservation paleobiology: putting the dead to work
    - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(1):30-37 (2011)
    Geohistorical data and analyses are playing an increasingly important role in conservation biology practice and policy. In this review, we discuss examples of how the near-time and deep-time fossil record can be used to understand the ecological and evolutionary responses of species to changes in their environment. We show that beyond providing crucial baseline data, the conservation paleobiology perspective helps us to identify which species will be most vulnerable and what kinds of responses will be most common. We stress that inclusion of geohistorical data in our decision-making process provides a more scientifically robust basis for conservation policies than those dependent on short-term observations alone.
  • Stoichiogenomics: the evolutionary ecology of macromolecular elemental composition
    - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(1):38-44 (2011)
    The new field of 'stoichiogenomics' integrates evolution, ecology and bioinformatics to reveal surprising patterns of the differential usage of key elements [e.g. nitrogen (N)] in proteins and nucleic acids. Because the canonical amino acids as well as nucleotides differ in element counts, natural selection owing to limited element supplies might bias monomer usage to reduce element costs. For example, proteins that respond to N limitation in microbes use a lower proportion of N-rich amino acids, whereas proteome- and transcriptome-wide element contents differ significantly for plants as compared with animals, probably because of the differential severity of element limitations. In this review, we show that with these findings, new directions for future investigations are emerging, particularly via the increasing availability of diverse metagenomic and metatranscriptomic data sets.
  • Exploring vegetation in the fourth dimension
    - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(1):45-52 (2011)
    Much ecological research focuses on changes in vegetation on spatial scales from stands to landscapes; however, capturing data on vegetation change over relevant timescales remains a challenge. Pollen analysis offers unrivalled access to data with global coverage over long timescales. Robust techniques have now been developed that enable pollen data to be converted into vegetation data in terms of individual taxa, plant communities or biomes, with the possibility of deriving from those data a range of plant attributes and ecological indicators. In this review, I discuss how coupling pollen with macrofossil, charcoal and genetic data opens up the extensive pollen databases to investigation of the drivers of vegetation change over time and also provides extensive data sets for testing hypotheses with wide ecological relevance.

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