Showing posts with label BES meeting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BES meeting. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

150 years of 'ecology'

The word ‘ecology’ was coined 150 years ago by Ernst Haeckel in his book Generelle Morphologie der Organismen published in 1866. Mike Begon gave a fascinating talk at the British Ecological Society meeting in Liverpool on what ecology as meant over these past 150 years and what it should mean in the future. The description of ecology that follows, is largely taken from Begon’s remarks.

Ernst Haeckel, 1860
Haeckel defined ecology as ‘the science of the relations of organism to its surrounding outside world (environment)’, which is in obvious contrast to the then burgeoning science of physiology, which was concerned with the world inside of an organism. Interestingly, the first 50 years of this new field of ecology was dominated by the study of plants. In America, Clements, while in the UK, Tansley, both saw ecology as the description of patterns of plant in relation to the outside world. In many ways, this conception of ecology was what Haeckel had envisioned.

Frederic Clements

However, by the 1960s, the domain of ecology began to grow rapidly. Ecologists like Odum used ‘ecology’ to mean the structure and function of ecosystems, while others focussed on the abundance and distribution of species. By this time ecology had grown to encapsulate all aspects of organismal patterns and functions in nature.

The post-60s period saw another expansion -namely the value of ecology. While Begon points out that text books, including his, focussed on the science of ecology in its pure form, many were ignoring the fact that ecology had/has important repercussions for how humanity will need to deal with the massive environmental impacts we’ve had on Earth’s natural systems. That is, the science of ecology can provide the foundation by which applied management solutions can be built. I personally believe that applied ecology has only just begun its ascension to being the most important element of ecological science (but I’m biassed -being the Executive Editor of the Journal of Applied Ecology). Just like how human physiology has become problem oriented, often focussed on human disease, ecology will too become more problem oriented and focus on our sick patients.

Begon went on to say what ecology should be in the near future. He juxtaposed the fact and truth based necessity of science to the post-truth Brexit/Trump era we now find ourselves in. If ecologists and scientists are to engage the public, and alter self-destructive behaviours, it cannot be with logic and evidence alone. He argued that we need to message like those post-truthers. Use metaphors, simple messages that are repeated, repeated, and repeated.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Who should communicate the policy implications of ecological research?

Ecology is a science that tries to understand the world. How is the diversity of organisms distributed around the world? How do extreme climate events influence populations of animals and plants? How does the diversity of organisms in a landscape influence its function and the delivery of services to humanity? These are all questions routinely asked by ecologists and, importantly, are topics that most academic ecologists would believe are necessary for providing evidence for policy and management of habitats and natural resources. Yet policy makers, managers and practitioners seldom access ecology research. There is a research-policy divide that needs to be overcome.

Spanning the chasm between academic research and policy (from
Many ecologists are reluctant to promote the policy implications of their research because they do not feel comfortable or connected enough to talk to non-academics. But if not them, then who is responsible to communicate the policy repercussions of their research?

The romanticized view of an untouched, pristine ecosystem no longer exists. We now live in a world where every major ecosystem has been impacted by human activities. From pollution and deforestation, to the introduction of non-native species, our activity has influenced every type of habitat. But this is where management and applied ecology have relevance. The study of human physiology has direct relevance for health science –that is, the value of this basic biological science is measured in its ability to help sick people, and not necessarily in its ability to better understand how healthy people function. So to does ecology need to be relevant for our ‘sick people’, that is, human-impacted landscapes. We have spent much of our collective effort studying intact, semi-natural systems, and this is necessary to understand the basic operations of nature. But now we are required to apply this understanding to improve ecological integrity and human wellbeing. We are surround by sick ecosystems and ecology is desperately needed to influence policy and management.

I just attended the joint symposium “Making a Difference in Conservation: Improvingthe Links Between Ecological Research, Policy and Practice”, put on by the British Ecological Society and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative. This meeting was attended by a nice mix of academic researchers and practitioners, and covered a broad range of ideas, issues and solutions to overcoming barriers to implementing evidence-based policy. Overcoming these barriers requires communication, and scientists need to be at the table. In arguing the case that scientists need to communicate the policy implications of their research below, I take ideas and information passed on in a number of excellent talks, including from: John Altringham, Malcolm Ausden, John Beddington, Ian Boyd, Fiona Fox, Georgina Mace, Andrew Miller, E. J. Milner-Gulland and Des Thompson, and my own workshop on communicating research to maximise policy impact.

A guy who probably doesn't know what he is talking about, talking about policy. Perhaps a bit outside my comfort zone. (photo by Martin Nunez)

The Hurdles

The hurdles to the uptake of research and evidence into policy decisions are complex and multifaceted. On the scientists’ side, the hurdles are mainly a lack of training, experience and comfort promoting the policy implications of their work. In graduate school, very few scientists-in-training take journalism and media courses, and so are not well versed in the ways to communicate in a broadly approachable way. Instead, we are taught to communicate in technically precise ways that can only be understood by similarly trained experts.

On the practitioner side, there are a number of pragmatic and systemic limitations to the uptake of evidence into policy and management decisions:

1.       Structural: There is a lack of resources and time to read and synthesize scientific research. A lack of access because of expensive subscription fees, is a pervasive problem for individuals and small organizations.
2.       Systemic: Big organizations and agencies are complex and communication of best practices or idea sharing might be lacking. Frequent staff turnover means that research understanding and institutional memory is lost.
3.       Relevance: Practitioners need research relevant to their problem and trolling the impossibly large literature is not an efficient way to find the necessary information.
4.       Timescale: Practitioners and policy makers work at a variety of speeds, dictated by priorities, contracts, etc., and looking for resources may not work within these timeframes.

These limitations and the lack of relevant research uptake result in policies and management strategies that are not adequately informed by research, which can waste money and may not produce in the desired results. We heard about the requirement to build bat crossings across new highways (to avoid car collisions), costing millions of dollars, but research has not supported their efficacy. 

Random bat picture to break up the flow (from

Should scientists engage policy makers? 

I do think that scientists have a responsibility to communicate, and perhaps advocate, for evidence to be used in policy decision-making. There is a line between being seen as objective versus as an advocate, and scientists need to do what they are comfortable with, but remember:

  1. You are an expert on your research; you are uniquely position to comment on it.
  2. Related to the previous point, you may not want other, untrained, people to represent and communicate your work.
  3. You have an obligation to the public. You are likely paid by tax dollars and your research is funded by public grants. A part of the responsibility then is to not only do research but to ensure that it is communicated and if the people who ultimately pay you would benefit from learning about your findings, you owe it to them to communicate it.
  4. There are positive feedbacks for your career. Being seen as a scientist who engages and does relevant work will mean that you achieve a higher profile.

Citizens and policy-makers get the most out of their new information (which forms the basis for their opinions) from media news. If the only voices being heard are advocates and interest groups, then evidence will be lacking or misrepresented. Scientists’ voices are needed in the media, and here you can educate many concerned people. The former British Education minister, Estelle Morris, when speaking about the Fukushima reactor meltdown, said that she learned more about radiation from scientific experts in the media than she had during her education.

Of course it is important to remember that science is only a part of the solution, human needs, economics and social values are also important. But without scientists’ involvement, evidence will not be an important part of solutions to crises. 

How to communicate

Scientists are often driven by immediate career concerns and they need to publish high profile, impactful papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals. And this won’t change. But as Georgina Mace said in her presentation, overselling the implications of research in papers diminishes their value and confuses practitioners and policy makers. Policy implications contained within publications is one avenue to influence policy makers, but rather than tacking on broad policy recommendations, consider consulting them before writing the paper, or even better, include them in the planning stage of the study. One speaker commented that instead of asking for a letter of support for a grant proposal from a non-academic partner at the 11th hour, discuss the ideas with them at the outset.

How should scientists communicate their research?
  1. Discuss finings with local interest groups (e.g., park managers).
  2. Give a public lecture to community organizations (e.g., naturalist club).
  3. Talk to local politicians.
  4. Use social media –create a persona that acts as an information broker.
  5. Write opinion articles for magazines or newspaper editorials.
  6. Be accessible to journalists (e.g., get yourself listed in your university expert database).

The UK as a model

The UK provides one of the best examples of meaningful interactions between scientists and policy makers. Perhaps a better way to state it, is that there is a gradient of engaged individuals from pure scientist to local practitioner. There are robust organizations that span government agencies, NGOs, and universities that bring scientists and practitioners into contact with one another. They have Chief Scientific Officers and advisory groups at multiple levels of government. These groups develop the risk registry that estimates the likelihood and the potential repercussions of environmental and biological disasters or emergencies (e.g., influenza pandemic, severe drought, etc.). There is a well respected and effective Science Media Centre that organizes briefing sessions that bring scientists together with journalists on timely and important topics. These briefings result in influential news stories that sometimes challenge government policy or public sentiment (e.g., badger culls, links between vaccines and autism, etc.). This is a system to be emulated.

So, should scientists communicate their findings and engage policy makers, managers and the public. Absolutely. It may seem like you are entering uncharted territory, but believe me, your voice is desperately needed.

If you want advice, encouragement or more information, feel free to contact me.

Friday, December 12, 2014

A changing world: Themes from the 2014 BES-SFE meeting in Lille #BESSfe

I attended the joint British Ecological Society/Société Française d’Ecologie (BES/SFE) meeting held in Lille, France, Dec. 9-12. I quite enjoy BES meetings, but this one felt just a little more dynamic and exciting. The meeting did a great job of bringing people together who otherwise might not attend the same meetings. The overall quality of talks was excellent and the impression was that labs were presenting their best, most exciting results. One thing that always fascinates me about meetings is the fact that emergent themes arise that reflect what people are currently excited about. Over the three days of talks, I felt that three emergent themes seemed particularly strong among the talks I attended:

1) Pollinators in a changing world

Photo by Marc Cadotte
There were a surprising number of talks focusing on human-caused changes to landscapes affect pollinator abundance and diversity. I am an Editor of a British Journal (Journal of Applied Ecology) and work on pollinator diversity has always been stronger in the UK, but there were just so many talks that it is obvious that this is an important issue for many people in the UK and Europe. Nick Isaac examined whether butterfly abundance was related to the abundance of host plants –which should be a measure of habitat quality. Plants that serves as hosts for caterpillars were more important than those that supply nectar to adults, presumably because the adults can better find resources. And specialist species were especially sensitive to host plant diversity.

Adriana De Palma gave a great talk on reanalyzing global patterns of bee responses to land-use and showed that biases in where research is done is influencing generalities. Bee communities in some well-studied regions appear more sensitive to land-use change and those regions with many bumblebees mask effects that on other types of bees. Bill Kunin examined patterns at a regional scale (UK) where a pollinator crisis was identified in the late 2000s and causes have been attributed to everything from land-use change to pesticide use to cell phones -to the second coming of Jesus. Habitat quality and flora resources do not seem to be that important at large scales, but there seems to be a strong effect of pesticide use. But at a smaller landscape scale, Florence Hecq showed that habitat heterogeneity within agricultural landscapes and the size of semi-natural grasslands were important for maintaining pollinator diversity. Changes in pollinator diversity have consequences for crop yield, as shown nicely by Colin Fontaine.
Photo by Marc Cadotte
 In a really interesting study, Olivia Norfolk showed that traditional agriculture practices by Bedouin minorities in Egypt enhanced pollinator abundance. Because their agricultural practices support high plant diversity, both wild and domestic plant species, pollinators fare better than in intense agriculture. Moreover, one of the most important crops, almonds, sees higher yield with higher plant diversity –though this effect is lost when there are a lot of introduced honeybees.

2) Effects of land-use on biodiversity

A number of other talks examined how human-caused changes influence biodiversity patterns and resulting functions across a number of taxa. Jonathan Tonkin examined a number of different types of species (plants, beetles, spiders, etc.) that occur along riparian habitats and showed that there weren’t concordant changes in richness, but there were simultaneous shifts in composition. Human stressed caused multiple communities to shift to very nonrandom community types. In Agricultural systems, Colette Bertrand showed that agriculture that changed frequently (e.g., crop rotation) supported more beetle species that systems where the same crops are planted year after year.

Human deforestation greatly changes many biodiversity patterns and we need to better understand these make sound conservation decisions. Cecile Albert examined land-use change and fragmentation in southern Quebec and showed that we can determine the importance of forest patches in human-dominated landscapes for the ability of species to move between large forested areas. Using her model she can identify where conservation and habitat protection should be focused. Nicolas Labriere studied how different forest changes influenced the delivery of ecosystem services, including carbon storage, diversity and soil retention. He showed that only intact forests were able to maximally deliver all ecosystem services.
From WWF

3) Species differences and dynamics at different scales

A major theme is how species differences are important for ecological processes, ecosystem function and conservation. I’ve argued elsewhere that we are heading into a paradigm shift in ecology, where we've moved from counting species to accounting for species. Wilfried Thuiller asked how well European reserves conserve different forms of biodiversity, namely functional and phylogenetic diversity. He prioritized species by their distinctiveness and range size so that the most important were functionally or phylogenetically unique and have a small range. Distinct mammals tend to not be well protected and the modern reserve system does not maximally protect biodiversity. This is most acute in eastern Europe where there is a order of magnitude less protected area than in western Europe.

Georges Kunstler argued that trait approaches to understanding competition are valuable because they can reduce the dimensionality of students, from all pairwise species interactions to relative simple measures of trait differences. He showed, using an impressive global forest dataset, that competition appears stronger when neighbour trees are more similar in their traits.

A number of talks examined if measures of species differences can explain biodiversity patterns. At very large scales, Kyle Dexter showed that phylogenetic diversity does not explain where species are across the neotropics. In some places species are in the same habitat as a close relative and sometimes with a distant relative. At smaller scales, talks explored trait or phylogenetic patterns Andros Gianuca, Anne Pilière and Lars Götzenberger all assessed the relative contributions of trait and phylogenetic differences to explain community patterns and all showed that phylogeny may be a stronger explanation than the traits they measured.

4) Species dynamics, coexistence and ecosystem function

Understanding tree growth and dispersal are key to predicting how forests will respond to environmental change and to successfully managing and conserving them. Sean MacMahon showed that the seasonality of tree growth is critical to modelling carbon flux in forests. He developed an ingenious set of modelling approaches to analyze daily tree diameter change and showed that growth is highly concentrated in the middle of the growing season, which is at odds with traditional conceptual models where tree growth is constant from spring to fall. Noelle Beckman examined tree dispersal and the consequence of losing vertebrate seed dispersers. She showed that reducing the number of seed dispersers results in low seeding survival because seedlings are locally very dense, instead of being dispersed, and seed predators and other enemies have an easier time finding them.

The mechanism most often cited by plant community ecologists is competition, but Christian Damgaard states that this simple mechanism is almost never tested. Further, models of competition are often based on numbers of individuals, but plants make such counts notoriously difficult. Instead he developed a very elegant model showing how plant height and horizontal cover feedback to competition. What he calls vertical density is a predictor of the following season’s horizontal cover. Competition is also key to observing a relationship between species richness and ecosystem function. Rudolf Rohr showed, using a series of Lotka-Volterra models that randomly assembling communities always results in a positive relationship between richness and function –which is why experiments often support this pattern. In natural communities, this relationship often disappears, and he shows that simulations with competitive sorting break this relationship.

Finally, Florian Altermatt examined whether the physical structure of stream networks influences the distribution of diversity in streams using protozoan and bacterial communities in series of connected tubes that look like a branch, and compared these to linear tubes. He found that diversity is highest in the interior branches (see image to the left), much like real rivers, and the linear system had no such pattern of diversity. He attributed part of this diversity gradient to competitive differences among species and differences in movement of the organisms.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Quotes that stick. #INT13

I'm back in Toronto now, and here are some quotes from talks that have really stuck with me. INTECOL was a great meeting, it was very interesting to hear about all the research from around the world. I hope all the attendees had a great time.

Sandra Diaz: “We just don't know enough to understand how functional diversity links to environmental change and ecosystem services.”

Erika Edwards: “big phylogeny, big trait data set analyses leave me feeling a little empty”

Erika Edwards: “carbon economy is part of the whole organism, not single traits.”

Joel Cohen: “Mathematics is like sex, you can talk about it but you shouldn't do it in public.”

Enrique Chaneton, Describing what happen during a study looking at the effects of grazing on ecosystem decomposition rates: “A volcano erupted during the study and sometimes shit happens, ….. the volcano killed many of the cattle.”

Carsten Meyer, Talking about global data availability in large databases: “Countries that under report are large emerging economies (china, India, Brazil, Russia) which could finance these efforts but for some reason do not.”

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, ‘To get change we need to reach more than the brain, but the human heart”

INTECOL & the future of community ecology for infectious diseases – August 21st 2013 - #INT13

This year's conference has a strong focus on infectious disease which included today's symposium Community ecology for infectious diseases organized by Joanne Lello.

Throughout the symposium a great deal of interesting questions related to host-parasite interactions being addressed with a diverse set of methods ranging from the mathematical biology of Andy Dobson, to the experimental C. elegans / pathogenic bacteria systems of Olivier Restif and Gregg Hurst, the wild rodent systems of Heike Lutermann, Andy Fenton, and Owen Petchey, and the next generation molecular techniques employed by Serge Morand.

However, it was Robert Poulin the keynote speaker who set the theme of the symposium to which many of the speakers kept returning: What are the future directions of parasite community ecology? Dr. Poulin began the session with an overview of the recent trends in parasite ecology over the last few decades and Lawton's view that community ecology is a mess (Oikos 1999 – 84: 177-192). The initial research done on host-parasite interactions was centred within the one host – one parasite framework, often dealing solely with the effect of the parasite on its host. This was then expanded to the one host – multi-parasite level, often investigating drivers of parasite species richness among hosts via comparative analyses and occasionally extending to parasite-parasite interactions though the use of null models. Although the data were available beforehand, only recently has the field moved into the domain of multi-host – multi-parasite interactions, now focusing on questions of infection dilution, meta-analyses of parasite richness, and describing the networks of interactions within these communities.

Looking ahead into the future of this discipline, Poulin suggested that researchers should expand beyond simple topological networks of associations to include the strength of interactions, potentially via energy flow, and the use of network analyses on smaller scales using individual hosts. Serge Morand also highlighted the need to develop and incorporate parasite phylogenies into these multi-host - multi-parasite communities. His talk highlighted recent advances in next generation sqeuenceing and how these techniques can be applied to parasite communities. One obvious advantage is that through molecular phylogenetics researchers will be able to define and quantify a higher degree of parasite diversity, but additionally molecular markers can be used to uncover unexpected host diversity or identify species that may be difficult to distinguish through traditional taxonomic keys. Morand continued to press the application of new techniques in immunogenetics and the integration of methods in molecular epidemiology with the theory of transmission and community ecology.

Finally Andy Dobson posited that in addition to pressing forward with our research into infectious disease, it is imperative that contemporary researchers revist the “best hits” of the past and address important issues that have fallen to the wayside. Primarily Dobson pointed out that mathematically, aggregation and virulence of parasites have been shown as important factors for determining parasite co-existence. However, the concept of aggregation is often left out of contemporary discussions although it will be important to determine natural forms of the aggregation distribution and also to attempt to make the link between immunity and aggregation of parasites in a multi-host – multi-parasite community.

Whether incorporating novel molecular and statistical techniques, exploring previously unstudied model systems, or revisiting the context of contemporary research, it is clear that community ecology and infectious disease has a promising future and that it has progressed greatly from the mess Lawton made it out to be in 1999.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

INTECOL day 2: Plenaries to rock you. #INT13

Today I had a number of journal related obligations (for the Journal of Applied Ecology -which is celebrating its 50th anniversary here at the conference) and I had time to attend just a few talks. I saw some great talks -especially by Tad Fukami on evolutionary priority effects, but I decided to only post my (inadequate) notes about two of the plenary talks today. They were great talks, and both of them really expanded my perception of human-caused effects on natural systems, in very different types of habitats. 

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg. Corals reefs and global climate change. Coral reefs occupy less that one percent of ocean area but one in four fish caught come from reefs, supporting 400 million people. In the Caribbean coral cover has drastically declined from 80 percent cover to about 10 percent. This has happened elsewhere too, Asia and Australia. In Australia, where coral reefs are well protected and financed, they are still declining. Human development, pollution from agriculture and over harvesting are the common local causes, but global warming and ocean acidification are major global changes. Marine systems are greatly warming, more than land, but very few studies in marine systems. Increases in sea temperature can result in mass coral bleaching and death of corals. Major bleaching events over the past two decades, killing significant proportions of coral. Even though temperature is the best predictor of bleaching, mortality is more variable and other factors may help corals recovery, and these other factors are what managers can influence. In the coming decades, warming temperatures will mean common widespread bleaching events, with some areas becoming too warm for corals. Based on large mesocosms that track local ocean temperature and co2 concentrations. With warming, the mesocosm reefs change into algal dominated systems, with fewer other types of species (e.g., sea cucumbers). Two scenarios to deal with climate change -mitigate or adapt. We need to mitigate within twenty years, reduce co2 emissions. To get change we need reach more than the brain, but the human heart. Partnered with Google to have street view for reefs (this is completely awesome -check it out here). This initiative is both science (mapping reefs) and important outreach, letting people experience diving. One billion people have visited with almost two million people 'dived' in the first week.

Nancy Grimm. Water systems in urban habitats. Populations around the world are moving to cities, and projections have over 650 cities with over a million people by 2025. Creates multiple stressors in urban ecosystems, and there is a new need to build knowledge capacity. Large proportions of people already live in urban areas with limited water supply, quality and delivery capacity. Eighty percent of the population lives in areas under threat of water scarcity, but some people have access to technological solutions that minimize this (e.g., arid USA). For others, ecological knowledge may help reduce this threat. Areas around the world are experiencing more heavy rainfall and flooding. The way municipalities deal with storm water is building hard channels and surfaces, but building ecological systems can better handle water and pollution. In the arid southwest, there are opportunities to retain storm water in semi-natural systems. Provides ecosystem services and denitrification.

Sorry for the brevity of the talk summaries -I'm working on a very full schedule!

Monday, August 19, 2013

INTECOL day 1: A day full of ecosystems #INT13

Note: These are some thoughts from the first day of INTECOL. –Sorry for the abruptness and lack of polish on these entries, there were many talks and I have little time for a proper composition.

*acronyms: BEF = Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function; GBIF = Global Biodiversity Information Facility

It is clear to me that INTECOL is the premiere ecological meeting. There are delegates from countries all over the world from 67 countries , with especially strong European contingents. The next INTECOL meeting will be in Beijing in 2017. This is a special INTECOL as this is the 100th anniversary of the British Ecological Society. The opening talk by Sandra Diaz was held in an immense auditorium at the ExCeL centre, with a couple of thousand in attendance.

Morning plenary:

Sandra Diaz: functional traits are at the core for understanding changes in biodiversity and how species contribute to ecosystem function. Theophrastus, Greek philosophers, created first functional groups. Looks at key traits for tens of thousands of species, only possible through TRY data base. Most variation explained by size ( height, seeds, etc.), second was leaf economy ( leaf N, Leaf area, etc). These traits define plant functional design. Densities low on the fringes of this trait space -physical challenges, and many of these species use human help for success (crops and weeds). Two dense areas in the trait space -big slow growing trees, and small species. Effect and response traits are important for linking environmental change to ecosystem services. These traits can be linked or decoupled, and could change management options.
Linking trait dispersion and values to ecosystem function is a new area, and so few studies. We just don't know enough to understand how functional diversity links to environmental change and ecosystem services.

 Sandra Diaz giving her plenary lecture

Tree of life in ecosystems symposium:

Lisa Donovan: how selective pressures influence evolution of biogeochemical cycling. Traits appear evolutionary labile, and reported on a common garden experiment to find genetic differences controlling traits. Nitrogen has phylogenetic signal but few differences between close relatives. Major differentiation within species and especially for different agricultural lines.

Erika Edwards: Need to move down to small scale to truly understand the evolution of traits that affect ecosystem function. She looks at the genus Viburnum. Need to think about whole organism traits. E.g., branching and growth pattern. This originates from tropics and reinvaded temperate regions repeatedly, and a mix of different and similar strategies emerged. growth patterns highly conserved, but leaf spectrum traits were not. Flowering time seems linked to carbon economy traits.

Amy Zanne: Evolution and biogeography of leaf and stem traits. Angiosperms originated in the tropics and understory woody species and spread everywhere and all types of morphologies. Most species are woody and not exposed to freezing, and lineages move back and forth in climate species but less so with growth form. lineages shift growth form first, followed by climate changes.

Cornwell. Evolution of decomposition. Differences in decomposition rates among different phylogenetic lineages. Did plant life go from fast cycling world to slow one during evolution. Experiment in common garden for decomposition rates. basal angiosperms (magnolias) has lower decomposition than eudicots, which has fast decomposition rates.

Afternoon plenary:

Joel Cohen. Taylor's law after half a century. Taylor's law has been verified but we don't understand it. Taylor's law states that the variance of a population is positively related to the mean population size. Further mean population size is correlated with body size. He showed that tree data supports a body size-variance relationship. Does it apply to food webs? Data from aquatic systems show this pattern across species. Why do we care about Taylor's law? Used for understanding fluctuations in epidemiology, conservation of endangered species and management of forestry resources. Can see the same variance-mean relationships in nonbiological data -computer data packets, weather data and stock market trades. No underlaying theory to explains these. Previous attempts, such as affects of competition, do not seem to affect pattern.

Biodiversity & Ecosystem function session:

Enrique Chaneton. Movement of large herbivores around the world, introduction of cattle versus reintroducing native extirpated herbivores. Little is know how these large herbivores influence forests. Multiple pathways of effect from changing plant composition and waste excretion, affects decomposition. Within an Argentinean park, sites on lake islands do not have introduced herbivores and compared to nearby mainland sites. Herbivores reduce vegetation cover by sixty percent. Trees and shrubs were particularly affected. Distinct composition shifts. Litter layer was substantially different. In dry sites, higher decomposition in ungrazed sites. Volcanic eruption during research 'sometimes shit happens' killed many of the cattle.

Carsten Meyer. Examined the completeness of species point data inventories. Looked at GBIF records and compare to known distribution maps. GBIF records are highly biased to North America, Europe and Australia. Species rich areas are almost absent from GBIF records. Not adequate for research or conservation. Funding, accessibility and human safety all at play for biases. These factors seem to differ among taxonomy, interestingly. Countries that under report are large emerging economies (china, India, Brazil, Russia) which could finance these efforts but for some reason do not.

Julia Koricheva. Tree species richness and genetic diversity on leaf miners. What is the relative importance of these two effects. Two experiments, one manipulating tree richness -up to five species, and another with up to eight clones of silver birch. Silver birch was in both experiments, so was the focus of leaf miner surveys. Tree richness affects miner richness, but not abundance. More leaf miner species with higher tree richness in first year, but not second. For genetic diversity, miner richness also increased with number of clones. Looked at effect sizes of two experiments and genetic diversity appeared to have a stronger effect on leaf miner richness.

Tommaso Jucker. Complementarity in functional groups enhances wood production. He noticed that there were eighty talks on BEF at INTECOL. Four species combinations two pines and two oaks. Biomass increased with richness, but looked at more detail, growth over the past ten years from wood cores. Both pines grew much better in mixture, but oaks only increase growth when other oak is present. Tree that benefit the most are small trees. For pines, wet year showed largest increase in growth, most room for complementarity.

Eric Allen. Direct and indirect effects of landuse on multifunctionality. Landuse intensity changes functions, it increases biomass but reduces bird diversity, flower cover, increases pathogens, etc. Used path analysis to compare landuse and biodiveristy as well as environmental variables. from this analysis, plant richness seems negatively correlated with multifunctionality. looked at groups of functions (e.g., production, soils, cultural). some plots shows strong indirect effects of richness for some functions.

Siobhan Vye. Responses to multiple stressor change. Examined stressors in coastal systems. Looked at how an invasive species affected community response to stress by experimentally combining species in mesocosms and manipulated nutrient enrichment and temperature. Invader increases productivity. The presence of the invader determined how the stressor influenced community functions.

Sebastian Meyer. BEF changes over time. A number of studies show that BEF experiments increase in strength over time. Examined how functions change over time using Jena experiment. How many different functions show changes over time? Over half of functions are influenced by diversity generally. He regressed the richness-function slopes across time, and about one third of functions showed increasing diversity effects over time. What are the mehanisms? The stronger relationships are driven by a combination of changes in high diversity treatments and changes in low diversity treatments.