The great E.O Wilson talking abut the meaning of life….

Interesting 6 minute excerpt from a recent interview from the great man himself.

Here is the link: http://grist.org/living/watch-e-o-wilson-explain-the-meaning-of-human-existence-in-6-minutes/

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Our beetle functional trait invited review is in early view in Ecological Entomology!

I am very excited that this paper is finally getting out there after nearly 4 years of work! I really should thank the 20+ reviewers which definitely improved this paper over the years (I was even considering adding one as an author!).

Here is the link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/een.12158/abstract

and the abstract……

1. New logical and analytical frameworks for studying functional traits have led to major advances in plant and freshwater ecology at local and global scales. The ecological and taxonomic diversity of terrestrial adult beetles (Coleoptera) means that functional trait approaches should have considerable power to illuminate the function not only of these animals but also of the ecosystems in which they occur.

2. Even though the functional trait concept is not new in ecology, it is still plagued with inconsistencies in methodology and terminology. Plant-based studies have shown that an integrated and relatively consistent functional trait approach facilitates comparisons between studies, and allows the full utility and predictive capacity of trait-based approaches to be realised.

3. This review outlines a logical framework for adult beetle functional trait studies using uniform terminology and methodology similar to those used by plant ecologists. Beetle life-history and ecomorphological trait studies are synthesised and it is shown that a combination of both is analogous to the functional trait approach. A general functional trait list for beetles and potential functional links is outlined, as are potential analysis approaches. A consistent functional trait approach, coupled with advances in molecular techniques, has the capability to provide deeper insights into beetle community assembly and how beetles impact ecosystems and will enable worldwide comparisons and predictions to be made.

Interesting paper on trait-environment relationships

It is nice to see Animal Ecology publishing invertebrate community trait work. Here is the link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2656.12249/abstract

I really like that this paper deals with a good variety of traits – including phenological traits which is great. A side from the obvious problems with the experimental design and the fact that the dataset was phylogenetically autocorrelated, all  acknowledged by the the authors, I still feel like this paper had a few extra problems. Firstly they talk about community assembly  – but really they didn’t assess assembly in an explicit way – they just assumed that environmental effects of disturbance would be the most important. They also really didn’t capture many of the environmental variables that are likely to change and be important for carabids, spiders and plants e.g. canopy cover. If they had done so, the fourth corner analysis would have been more useful. Measuring quantitative morphological traits on the beetles/spiders, such as robustness (ala Barton et al 2011) would have strengthened this paper too.

Nonetheless, this paper provides more evidence for the usefulness of measuring body length and dispersal traits in understanding community responses to disturbance.