1,118,645 research outputs found

    Call for Papers: Special/Thematic Issue on SOCIETY AND CLIMATE CHANGE (extended deadline)

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    The Maine Woods - Forest Ecology Network - Spring 2015

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    Habitat structure: a fundamental concept and framework for urban soil ecology

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    Habitat structure is defined as the composition and arrangement of physical matter at a location. Although habitat structure is the physical template underlying ecological patterns and processes, the concept is relatively unappreciated and underdeveloped in ecology. However, it provides a fundamental concept for urban ecology because human activities in urban ecosystems are often targeted toward management of habitat structure. In addition, the concept emphasizes the fine-scale, on-the-ground perspective needed in the study of urban soil ecology. To illustrate this, urban soil ecology research is summarized from the perspective of habitat structure effects. Among the key conclusions emerging from the literature review are: (1) habitat structure provides a unifying theme for multivariate research about urban soil ecology; (2) heterogeneous urban habitat structures influence soil ecological variables in different ways; (3) more research is needed to understand relationships among sociological variables, habitat structure patterns and urban soil ecology. To stimulate urban soil ecology research, a conceptual framework is presented to show the direct and indirect relationships among habitat structure and ecological variables. Because habitat structure serves as a physical link between sociocultural and ecological systems, it can be used as a focus for interdisciplinary and applied research (e.g., pest management) about the multiple, interactive effects of urbanization on the ecology of soils

    Protracted speciation revitalizes the neutral theory of biodiversity.

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    Understanding the maintenance and origin of biodiversity is a formidable task, yet many ubiquitous ecological patterns are predicted by a surprisingly simple and widely studied neutral model that ignores functional differences between species. However, this model assumes that new species arise instantaneously as singletons and consequently makes unrealistic predictions about species lifetimes, speciation rates and number of rare species. Here, we resolve these anomalies - without compromising any of the original models existing achievements and retaining computational and analytical tractability - by modelling speciation as a gradual, protracted, process rather than an instantaneous event. Our model also makes new predictions about the diversity of incipient species and rare species in the metacommunity. We show that it is both necessary and straightforward to incorporate protracted speciation in future studies of neutral models, and argue that non-neutral models should also model speciation as a gradual process rather than an instantaneous one

    Michel Serres: From restricted to general ecology

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    Michel Serres's relation to ecocriticism is complex. On the one hand, he is a pioneer in the area, anticipating the current fashion for ecological thought by over a decade. On the other hand, 'ecology' and 'eco-criticism' are singularly infelicitous terms to describe Serres's thinking if they are taken to indicate that attention should be paid to particular 'environmental' concerns. For Serres, such local, circumscribed ideas as 'ecology' or 'eco-philosophy' are one of the causes of our ecological crisis, and no progress can be made while such narrow concerns govern our thinking. This chapter intervenes in the ongoing discussion about the relation of Serres to ecology by drawing on some of Serres's more recent texts on pollution and dwelling, and this fresh material leads us to modulate existing treatments of Serres and ecology. I insist on the inextricability of two senses of ecology in Serres's approach: a broader meaning that refers to the interconnectedness and inextricability of all entities (natural and cultural, material and ideal), and a narrower sense that evokes classically 'environmental' concerns. Serres's recent work leads us to challenge some of the vectors and assumptions of the debate by radicalising the continuity between 'natural' and 'cultural' phenomena, questioning some of the commonplaces that structure almost all ecological thinking, and arguing that the entire paradigm of ecology as 'conservation' and 'protection' is bankrupt and self-undermining. After outlining the shape of Serres's 'general ecology' and its opposition to ecology as conservation, this chapter asks what sorts of practices and values a Serresian general ecology can engender when it considers birdsong, advertising, industrial pollution and money to be manifestations of the same drive for appropriation through pollution. A response is given in terms of three key Serresian motifs: the world as fetish, parasitic symbiosis, and global cosmocracy

    Complexity, Collective Effects and Modelling of Ecosystems: formation, function and stability

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    We discuss the relevance of studying ecology within the framework of Complexity Science from a statistical mechanics approach. Ecology is concerned with understanding how systems level properties emerge out of the multitude of interactions amongst large numbers of components, leading to ecosystems that possess the prototypical characteristics of complex systems. We argue that statistical mechanics is at present the best methodology available to obtain a quantitative description of complex systems, and that ecology is in urgent need of ``integrative'' approaches that are quantitative and non-stationary. We describe examples where combining statistical mechanics and ecology has led to improved ecological modelling and, at the same time, broadened the scope of statistical mechanics.Comment: 11 pages and 1 figur

    Mechanisms in ecology

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    New mechanistic philosophy has not examined explanations in ecology although they are based extensively on describing mechanisms responsible for phenomena under scrutiny. This chapter uses the example of research on the shrub Lonicera maackii (Amur honeysuckle) to scrutinize individual-level mechanisms that are generally accepted and used in ecology and confronts them with the minimal account of mechanisms. Individual-level mechanisms are for a phenomenon, are hierarchical, and absent entities play a role in their functioning. They are distinguished by the role played by properties in determining activities and organization. The chapter also considers the experimental methods for discovery of individual-level mechanisms, the possibility of group-level mechanisms in ecology, and suggests further research problems