Latest Articles Include:
- Editorial Board
- Trends Ecol Evol 26(8):i (2011)
- Biodiversity databases should gain support from journals
- Trends Ecol Evol 26(8):377-378 (2011)
- The need for jumpstarting amphibian genome projects
- Trends Ecol Evol 26(8):378-379 (2011)
- Active scepticism must drive biodiversity conservation science
- Trends Ecol Evol 26(8):379-380 (2011)
- Avoiding the fate of Troy: response to Arlettaz et al
- Trends Ecol Evol 26(8):380 (2011)
We agree entirely with Arlettaz et al.  that we face an environmental crisis of extraordinary proportions. However, their analysis of how to respond perfectly illustrates our point. In particular, we would transpose their statement 'Although we agree that communication strategies must accommodate human psychology to succeed, we believe that neglecting or euphemizing the dramatic impact that humans have on the biosphere, just through fear of the Cassandra syndrome when addressing an inconvenient truth, is not an acceptable alternative discourse.' to 'Although acknowledging the dramatic impact humans exert on the biosphere, there is no acceptable alternative discourse; to adopting communication strategies that accommodate human psychology.'
- Toward an integrated concept of the phenotype
- Trends Ecol Evol 26(8):381-382 (2011)
- Importance versus intensity of ecological effects: why context matters
- Trends Ecol Evol 26(8):383-388 (2011)
In any ecological study, target organisms are usually impacted by multiple environmental drivers. In plant interaction research, recent debate has focussed on the importance of competition; that is, its role in regulating plant success relative to other environmental drivers. Despite being clearly and specifically defined, the apparently simple concept of the importance of competition has been commonly overlooked, and its recognition has helped reconcile long-running debates about the dependence of competition on environmental severity. In this review, we argue that extending this formalised concept of importance to other aspects of ecology would be beneficial. We discuss approaches for measuring importance, and provide examples where explicit acknowledgement of this simple concept might promote understanding and resolve debate.
- Magic traits in speciation: 'magic' but not rare?
- Trends Ecol Evol 26(8):389-397 (2011)
Speciation with gene flow is greatly facilitated when traits subject to divergent selection also contribute to non-random mating. Such traits have been called 'magic traits', which could be interpreted to imply that they are rare, special, or unrealistic. Here, we question this assumption by illustrating that magic traits can be produced by a variety of mechanisms, including ones in which reproductive isolation arises as an automatic by-product of adaptive divergence. We also draw upon the theoretical literature to explore whether magic traits have a unique role in speciation or can be mimicked in their effects by physically linked trait-complexes. We conclude that magic traits are more frequent than previously perceived, but further work is needed to clarify their importance.
- Decision-making under great uncertainty: environmental management in an era of global change
- Trends Ecol Evol 26(8):398-404 (2011)
Global change issues are complex and the consequences of decisions are often highly uncertain. The large spatial and temporal scales and stakes involved make it important to take account of present and potential consequences in decision-making. Standard approaches to decision-making under uncertainty require information about the likelihood of alternative states, how states and actions combine to form outcomes and the net benefits of different outcomes. For global change issues, however, the set of potential states is often unknown, much less the probabilities, effect of actions or their net benefits. Decision theory, thresholds, scenarios and resilience thinking can expand awareness of the potential states and outcomes, as well as of the probabilities and consequences of outcomes under alternative decisions.
- Faunal histories from Holocene ancient DNA
- Trends Ecol Evol 26(8):405-413 (2011)
Recent studies using ancient DNA have been instrumental in advancing understanding of the impact of Holocene climate change on biodiversity. Ancient DNA has been used to track demography, migration and diversity, and is providing new insights into the long-term dynamics of species and population distributions. The Holocene is key to understanding how the past has impacted on the present, as it bridges the gap between contemporary phylogeographic studies and those with inference on Pleistocene patterns, based on ancient DNA studies. Here, we examine the major patterns of Holocene faunal population dynamics and connectivity; highlighting the dynamic nature of species and population responses to Holocene climatic change, thereby providing an 'analogue' for understanding potential impacts of future change.
- Using new tools to solve an old problem: the evolution of endothermy in vertebrates
- Trends Ecol Evol 26(8):414-423 (2011)
During the past 30 years, the evolution of endothermy has been a topic of keen interest to palaeontologists and evolutionary physiologists. While palaeontologists have found abundant Permian and Triassic fossils, suggesting important clues regarding the timing of origin of endothermy, physiologists have proposed several plausible hypotheses of how the metabolic elevation leading to endothermy could have occurred. More recently, molecular biologists have developed powerful tools to infer past adaptive processes, and gene expression mechanisms that describe the organization of genomes into phenotypes. Here, we argue that the evolution of endothermy could now be elucidated based on a joint, and perhaps unprecedented, effort of researchers from the fields of genomics, physiology and evolution.
- The contribution of statistical physics to evolutionary biology
- Trends Ecol Evol 26(8):424-432 (2011)
Evolutionary biology shares many concepts with statistical physics: both deal with populations, whether of molecules or organisms, and both seek to simplify evolution in very many dimensions. Often, methodologies have undergone parallel and independent development, as with stochastic methods in population genetics. Here, we discuss aspects of population genetics that have embraced methods from physics: non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, travelling waves and Monte-Carlo methods, among others, have been used to study polygenic evolution, rates of adaptation and range expansions. These applications indicate that evolutionary biology can further benefit from interactions with other areas of statistical physics; for example, by following the distribution of paths taken by a population through time.