Wednesday, January 19, 2011

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

The Feb 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(2):i (2011)
  • Basic research in evolution and ecology enhances forensics
    - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(2):53-55 (2011)
    In 2009, the National Research Council recommended that the forensic sciences strengthen their grounding in basic empirical research to mitigate against criticism and improve accuracy and reliability. For DNA-based identification, this goal was achieved under the guidance of the population genetics community. This effort resulted in DNA analysis becoming the 'gold standard' of the forensic sciences. Elsewhere, we proposed a framework for streamlining research in decomposition ecology, which promotes quantitative approaches to collecting and applying data to forensic investigations involving decomposing human remains. To extend the ecological aspects of this approach, this review focuses on forensic entomology, although the framework can be extended to other areas of decomposition.
  • Academic strategies in a funding crisis: research competitor, ruderal or university teacher?
    - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(2):56-57 (2011)
  • Recent developments in sociobiology and the scientific method
    - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(2):57-58 (2011)
  • 'Linguistic injustice' is not black and white
    - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(2):58-59 (2011)
  • Conservation science must engender hope to succeed
    - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(2):59-60 (2011)
  • Data archiving in ecology and evolution: best practices
    - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(2):61-65 (2011)
    Many ecology and evolution journals have recently adopted policies requiring that data from their papers be publicly archived. I present suggestions on how data generators, data re-users, and journals can maximize the fairness and scientific value of data archiving. Data should be archived with enough clarity and supporting information that they can be accurately interpreted by others. Re-users should respect their intellectual debt to the originators of data through citation both of the paper and of the data package. In addition, journals should consider requiring that all data for published papers be archived, just as DNA sequences must be deposited in GenBank. Data are another valuable part of the legacy of a scientific career and archiving them can lead to new scientific insights. Archiving also increases opportunities for credit to be given to the scientists who originally collected the data.
  • Hypothesis testing in biogeography
    - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(2):66-72 (2011)
    Often, biogeography is applied only as a narrative addition to phylogenetic studies and lacks scientific rigour. However, if research questions are framed as hypotheses, biogeographical scenarios become testable. In this review, we explain some problems with narrative biogeography and show how the use of explicit hypotheses is changing understanding of how organisms came to be distributed as they are. Developing synergies between biogeography, ecology, molecular dating and palaeontology are providing novel data and hypothesis-testing opportunities. New approaches are challenging the classic 'Gondwana' paradigm and a more complicated history of the Southern Hemisphere is emerging, involving not only general drivers such as continental drift and niche conservatism, but also drowning and re-emergence of landmasses, biotic turnover and long-distance colonization.
  • Vacant habitats in the Universe
    - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(2):73-80 (2011)
    The search for life on other planets usually makes the assumption that where there is a habitat, it will contain life. On the present-day Earth, uninhabited habitats (or vacant habitats) are rare, but might occur, for example, in subsurface oils or impact craters that have been thermally sterilized in the past. Beyond Earth, vacant habitats might similarly exist on inhabited planets or on uninhabited planets, for example on a habitable planet where life never originated. The hypothesis that vacant habitats are abundant in the Universe is testable by studying other planets. In this review, I discuss how the study of vacant habitats might ultimately inform an understanding of how life has influenced geochemical conditions on Earth.
  • Animals and the invention of the Phanerozoic Earth system
    - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(2):81-87 (2011)
    Animals do not just occupy the modern biosphere, they permeate its structure and define how it works. Their unique combination of organ-grade multicellularity, motility and heterotrophic habit makes them powerful geobiological agents, imposing myriad feedbacks on nutrient cycling, productivity and environment. Most significantly, animals have 'engineered' the biosphere over evolutionary time, forcing the diversification of, for example, phytoplankton, land plants, trophic structure, large body size, bioturbation, biomineralization and indeed the evolutionary process itself. This review surveys how animals contribute to the modern world and provides a basis for reconstructing ancient ecosystems. Earlier, less animal-influenced biospheres worked quite differently from the one currently occupied, with the Ediacaran–Cambrian radiation of organ-grade animals marking a fundamental shift in macroecological and macroevolutionary expression.
  • The evolution of the worldwide leaf economics spectrum
    - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(2):88-95 (2011)
    The worldwide leaf economic spectrum (WLES) is a strikingly consistent pattern of correlations among leaf traits. Although the WLES effectively summarizes variation in plant ecological strategies, little is known about its evolution. We reviewed estimates of natural selection and genetic variation for leaf traits to test whether the evolution of the WLES was limited by selection against unfit trait combinations or by genetic constraints. There was significant selection for leaf traits on both ends of the WLES spectrum, as well as significant genetic variation for these traits. In addition, genetic correlations between WLES traits were variable in strength and direction. These data suggest that genetic constraints have had a smaller role than selection in the evolution of the WLES.
  • Dynamic disequilibrium of the terrestrial carbon cycle under global change
    - Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26(2):96-104 (2011)
    In this review, we propose a new framework, dynamic disequilibrium of the carbon cycles, to assess future land carbon-sink dynamics. The framework recognizes internal ecosystem processes that drive the carbon cycle toward equilibrium, such as donor pool-dominated transfer; and external forces that create disequilibrium, such as disturbances and global change. Dynamic disequilibrium within one disturbance–recovery episode causes temporal changes in the carbon source and sink at yearly and decadal scales, but has no impacts on longer-term carbon sequestration unless disturbance regimes shift. Such shifts can result in long-term regional carbon loss or gain and be quantified by stochastic statistics for use in prognostic modeling. If the regime shifts result in ecosystem state changes in regions with large carbon reserves at risk, the global carbon cycle might be destabilized.

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