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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: habitat, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 5 of 5
1. Population ecologists scale up

“Life is a train of moods like a string of beads, and, as we pass through them, they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue, and each shows only what lies in its focus.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, Experience, 1844.

The concept of looking at nature through multiple lenses to see different things is not new and has been long recognized. As always, the devil is in the details. Recent developments in analytical tools and the embracement of an integrative metapopulation concept and the newly emergent field of functional biogeography, are allowing exciting new insights to be made by population ecologists that have direct bearing on our understanding of the effects of environmental change on biodiversity patterns.

The metapopulation concept posits that isolated populations of organisms are connected through dynamics of dispersal and extinction. Across a landscape, areas of suitable habitat occur, which at one point in time may or may not host a viable population of a particular species.  I study this concept with terrestrial plants, and have asked what environmental conditions determine suitable habitat for metapopulations.

Much of the foundational work in this topic was conducted on butterfly populations in meadows across otherwise forested habitat. Regardless of study organism, embracement of this concept has been enough to make population ecologists realize that studying single populations may give only a limited view on generalities of ecology and evolution. Indeed, taking this concept on board, has led population ecologists to want to predict in which areas of suitable habitat across the landscape a new population may establish.

“There’s no getting away from field work!”

There are obvious conservation and management implications that result from being able to predict the geographical distribution of a species, whether an invasive exotic spreading across the globe, or an endangered organism. Unfortunately, just knowing where a species or a group of species may occur across the landscape is not enough. Individuals in some populations may have low fitness and their populations may be barely hanging on. For some species such as potential island colonizers, it has been proposed that limited ability to colonize vacant habitat patches may be due to the occurrence of closely related species occupying a similar niche.

Important ‘missing pieces’ from a full understanding of the metapopulation puzzle have been through inclusion of population growth rate estimates and incorporation of species evolutionary relationships (i.e., their phylogenic ancestry). Population ecologists have been toiling away making fitness estimates of their species of interest in the field. Systematists, on the other hand, have been grinding it out in the lab to generate the molecular data necessary to construct phylogenetic trees to help classify their species.

Larch Forest in Autumn Skarbin Laerchen Mischwald 03CC BY-SA 3.0, Johann Jaritz (own work) via Wikimedia Commons
Larch Forest in Autumn. Skarbin Laerchen Mischwald. By Johann Jaritz. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Community ecologists studying multispecies assemblages, as a third-dimensional angle to this question, have been working with geographers to develop species distribution models.  It is only recently that the analytical tools have emerged that allow these groups of scientists to collaborate and address questions of common interest about metapopulations.For example, Cory Merow and colleagues have recently shown how Bayesian models can be used to propagate uncertainty estimates in the application of integral projection models (IPMs) to forecast growth rates as part of predictive demographic distribution models (transition matrix models could also be used). In other words, species geographic distribution predictions can be improved by accounting for population-level fitness estimates.

In another study, Oluwatobi Oke and colleagues have shown how phylogenetic relationships among 66 co-occurring species in populations across a metapopulation structured landscape of Canadian barrens can improve understanding of species distribution patterns. The basis for Oke et al.’s phylogenetic patterns among their species was the large angiosperm supertree based upon nucleotide sequence data of three genes from over 500 species.

The basis for all of the work described above are precise and accurate estimates of individual fitness and population growth rates. There’s no getting away from field work! Methods for carrying out the field work component of these studies, to allow the use of modern statistical methods including Bayesian analysis, IPMs, and transition matrix models, have to be planned and carried out with care. We have come a long way in the last decade in enabling population studies to scale up to address fundamental questions at higher levels of the ecological hierarchy.

The field of population demography is moving fast. For example, the recent launch of the COMPADRE Plant Matrix Database, with accurate demographic information for over 500 plant species in their natural settings worldwide, will make addressing these scale-related types of comparative evolutionary and ecological questions even more tractable in the future.

The post Population ecologists scale up appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. A Time For Friendship

December is a time for friendship, and what better way to demonstrate friendship to children, than through a picture book?  Here are a few of Sylvan Dell’s favorite books about friendship with fun and easy activities that you can do this holiday season.

 

Newton and MeNewton and Me – While at play with his dog, Newton, a young boy discovers the laws of force and motion in his everyday activities. Told in rhyme, Lynne Mayer’s Newton and Me follows these best friends on an adventure as they apply physics to throwing a ball, pulling a wagon, riding a bike, and much more. With the help of Sherry Rogers’ playful illustrations, children will learn that physics is a part of their world. They will realize that Newton’s Laws of Motion describe experiences they have every day, and they will recognize how forces affect the objects around them.

 

Activity: Help you child get to know their friends. Start a conversation and learn about their family pet or favorite toy. Encourage your child to ask questions.

 

Moose and Magpie_COVER2Moose and Magpie – It isn’t easy being a moose. You’re a full-grown adult at the age of one, and it itches like crazy when your antlers come in! In Bettina Restrepo’s Moose and Magpie, young Moose is lucky to find a friend and guide in the wisecracking Magpie. “What do the liberty bell and moose have in common?” the Magpie asks as the seasons begin to change. Then, when fall comes: “Why did the moose cross the road?” Vivid illustrations by Sherry Rogers bring these characters to life. Laugh along with Moose and Magpie, and maybe-just maybe-Moose will make a joke of his own!

 

Activity: Comedy hour – give your child and friends a “microphone” and encourage them to tell jokes. Make sure they know not to tell jokes at their friend’s expense.

 

Home in the CaveHome in the Cave – Baby Bat loves his cave home and never wants to leave it. While practicing flapping his wings one night, he falls, and Pluribus Packrat rescues him. They then explore the deepest, darkest corners of the cave where they meet amazing animals—animals that don’t need eyes to see or colors to hide from enemies. Baby Bat learns how important bats are to the cave habitat and how other cave-living critters rely on them for their food. Will Baby Bat finally venture out of the cave to help the other animals?

 

Activity: Prepare a winter scavenger hunt for your child and friends. They can go on an adventure together and the reward can be a cup of hot coco and talking about their fun adventures of the day.

 

HabitatSpy_187Habitat Spy – Let’s spy on plants, insects, birds, and mammals in 13 different habitats. Told in rhyming narrative, Habitat Spy invites children to search for and find plants, invertebrates, birds, and mammals and more that live in 13 different habitats: backyard, beach, bog, cave, desert, forest, meadow, mountain, ocean, plains, pond, river, and cypress swamp. Children will spend hours looking for and counting all the different plants and animals while learning about what living things need to survive.

 

Activity: While running those busy errands this season turn off the radio and play “I Spy” in the car while driving around town.

 

Giraffe_187The Giraffe Who was Afraid of Heights – Imagine if the one thing that keeps you safe is what you fear the most. This enchanting story tells of a giraffe who suffers from the fear of heights. His parents worry about his safety and send him to the village doctor for treatment. Along the way, he befriends a monkey who is afraid of climbing trees and a hippo that is afraid of water. A life-threatening event causes the three friends to face and overcome each of their fears. The “For Creative Minds” section includes fun facts and animal adaptation information, a match-the-feet game and a mix-n-match activity.

 

Activity: Sending out holiday cards? Help your child make a holiday card thanking their friends for their help and friendship throughout the year.

 

ChampCancerCompanion-2Champ’s Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too! – Children facing cancer—whether their own, a family member’s, a friend’s, or even a pet’s—will find help in understanding the disease through this book. A young boy discovers his dog’s lump, which is then diagnosed with those dreaded words: “It’s cancer.” The boy becomes a loving caretaker to his dog, who undergoes the same types of treatments and many of the same reactions as a human under similar circumstances (transference). Medical writer and award-winning children’s author, Sherry North artfully weaves the serious subject into an empathetic story that even young children can understand.

 

Activity: If a good friend is sick and children do not understand Champ’s Story is a great conversation starter. Give your child crayons and a piece of paper help them express their feelings through art.

 

These and many other fun books and lessons are available for the holidays at www.sylvandellpublishing.com.


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3. Prairie Storms Giveaway on Good Reads

Note: Fiction Notes is on vacation until August 1. See you then!

Last year, I interviewed Joelle Anthony about her use of a GoodReads giveaway to promote her book. One of her biggest reasons to go with GoodReads is that she had 1348 people enter the giveaway.

Here are some other interesting statistics from GoodReadshere and here:

  • 21% of members have a book blog
  • 750-785 people enter the average giveaway.
  • 8% of those who enter will add the book to their to-read list.
  • 50 books added to user’s TO-READ shelf
  • 45% of the winners will review the book.
  • 8 reviews (1% of entrants & 42% of winners)

Wow, that sounds good to me. Let’s try it!

So–ENTER! It’s FREE!

I’ll report back on the results of the giveaway after it closes on August 10.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Prairie Storms by Darcy Pattison

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4. The Zoo Within

This post stems from the Thought Ripples over on Two Voices, One Song. Sometimes when you change a process for one thing, it sticks and bleeds over into other work, as well. That’s what happened here. I hope you enjoy it.

Once in a while, I take a trip through a zoo or sanctuary. While I gaze upon the residents within the confines of the area, taking note of mundane considerations, my mind focuses on the what-might-have-beens. Those are the natural landscapes and living conditions of whatever animal I’m viewing.

Take this guy, for instance. He was brought into man’s arena very early in his life. He worked for a living, hence his missing horn. And when his work was done, he was fortunate enough to find sanctuary on the Olympic Peninsula with other animal actors that had been retired.

He’s a sweetheart, who likes treats and people’s voices. He’s enclosed to keep him safe from those who would taunt and tease and stress him unduly. I think it’s sad that we have lock up the wild things to keep them safe from us, the civilized ones.

Because he’d not been allowed to be wild, he will never know his ancestors’ natural habitat. Then again, at least here he can live a peaceful existence without fear of someone taking his life, as well as his horn. And without his horn, he could have never survived in his natural habitat anyway.

Herds of elk and fallow deer have free run of many more acres of this wild animal park. The bison keep them company as they watch cars go by, occupants snapping and whirring with their cameras. Thankfully, no one can get out of their cars to aggravate the ones trying to eat or rest.

Peacocks keep order. Rabbits watch from the sidelines. Those in the petting zoo take little hands in stride. And everywhere are the sounds of human voices, rather than those of the residents.

Within the shadows cast by trees lurk yaks and zebras, not usual neighbors, though they seem to get along quite well.

The occasional small scene gives an idyllic glimpse of how life in the wild could be if allowed.

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5. The Zoo Within

This post stems from the Thought Ripples over on Two Voices, One Song. Sometimes when you change a process for one thing, it sticks and bleeds over into other work, as well. That’s what happened here. I hope you enjoy it.

Once in a while, I take a trip through a zoo or sanctuary. While I gaze upon the residents within the confines of the area, taking note of mundane considerations, my mind focuses on the what-might-have-beens. Those are the natural landscapes and living conditions of whatever animal I’m viewing.

Take this guy, for instance. He was brought into man’s arena very early in his life. He worked for a living, hence his missing horn. And when his work was done, he was fortunate enough to find sanctuary on the Olympic Peninsula with other animal actors that had been retired.

He’s a sweetheart, who likes treats and people’s voices. He’s enclosed to keep him safe from those who would taunt and tease and stress him unduly. I think it’s sad that we have lock up the wild things to keep them safe from us, the civilized ones.

Because he’d not been allowed to be wild, he will never know his ancestors’ natural habitat. Then again, at least here he can live a peaceful existence without fear of someone taking his life, as well as his horn. And without his horn, he could have never survived in his natural habitat anyway.

Herds of elk and fallow deer have free run of many more acres of this wild animal park. The bison keep them company as they watch cars go by, occupants snapping and whirring with their cameras. Thankfully, no one can get out of their cars to aggravate the ones trying to eat or rest.

Peacocks keep order. Rabbits watch from the sidelines. Those in the petting zoo take little hands in stride. And everywhere are the sounds of human voices, rather than those of the residents.

Within the shadows cast by trees lurk yaks and zebras, not usual neighbors, though they seem to get along quite well.

The occasional small scene gives an idyllic glimpse of how life in the wild could be if allowed.

2 Comments on The Zoo Within, last added: 6/26/2012
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