ASN RSS http://amnat.org/ Latest press releases and announcements from the ASN en-us Wed, 29 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT 60 “Re-examining the causes and meaning of the risk allocation hypothesis” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/JuneLuttbeg.html Prey have to balance avoiding predators and finding food. Periods of lower predation risk can provide prey with the opportunity to forage intensely while risk is relatively low. Lima and Bednekoff in 1999 presented their risk allocation model and showed that as the frequency of high-risk periods increases prey are expected to increase their foraging efforts during both low- and high-risk periods. In a new article appearing in The&nbsp;American Naturalist, Barney Luttbeg of Oklahoma State University presents a model that explores how the predicted behavior of prey is affected by receiving imperfect information about the current state of their environment. Imperfect information has two main effects. It causes mistakes in prey behavior because individuals incorrectly assess the current state of their environment, and this weakens the risk allocation prediction. Long-term evolutionary exposure to imperfect information also changes how much individuals should rely on information they receive. The researcher finds that prey that have evolved in the presence of imperfect information can show a decrease in foraging efforts as the frequency of high-risk periods increases, which is a reversal of the risk allocation prediction. As environments continue to be quickly altered by human activities, a critical question is how individuals will behave and perform in altered environments. Luttbeg’s work highlights that the answer to this question will depend on how past environments have shaped the expectations and cognitive rules of individuals. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">P</span>rey have to balance avoiding predators and finding food. Periods of lower predation risk can provide prey with the opportunity to forage intensely while risk is relatively low. Lima and Bednekoff in 1999 presented their risk allocation model and showed that as the frequency of high-risk periods increases prey are expected to increase their foraging efforts during both low- and high-risk periods. In a new article appearing in <i>The&nbsp;American Naturalist</i>, Barney Luttbeg of Oklahoma State University presents a model that explores how the predicted behavior of prey is affected by receiving imperfect information about the current state of their environment. Imperfect information has two main effects. It causes mistakes in prey behavior because individuals incorrectly assess the current state of their environment, and this weakens the risk allocation prediction. Long-term evolutionary exposure to imperfect information also changes how much individuals should rely on information they receive. The researcher finds that prey that have evolved in the presence of imperfect information can show a decrease in foraging efforts as the frequency of high-risk periods increases, which is a reversal of the risk allocation prediction. As environments continue to be quickly altered by human activities, a critical question is how individuals will behave and perform in altered environments. Luttbeg’s work highlights that the answer to this question will depend on how past environments have shaped the expectations and cognitive rules of individuals. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691470">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT “Why have multiple plastic responses? Interactions between color change and heat avoidance behavior in Battus philenor larvae” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/JuneNielsen.html Color change and heat avoidance behavior complement each other, helping caterpillars stay cool on different timescales Pipevine swallowtail caterpillars cool themselves off in the summer by changing color when they molt from a light-absorbing black to a brighter, cooler red, but they can also cool off by leaving their short host plant to seek a refuge further above the hot ground. However, do these two responses to high temperatures work well together, or is one simply better? As part of his dissertation research, Matthew Nielsen along with his advisor Daniel Papaj at the University of Arizona addressed this question using experiments with both live caterpillars and painted models of them at the Santa Rita Experimental Range in southern Arizona. They found that not only can behavior cool caterpillars much more than color change, but once caterpillars leave their host for a refuge, color hardly affects their temperature or survival at all.Nevertheless, color change reduces the amount of time caterpillars need to spend on refuges, which gives them more time on their host plant to eat. Thus, color change and refuge-seeking each work best on different timescales; refuge-seeking provides a strong, rapid response to daily temperature variation while color change provides a less costly response to temperature changes that persist for multiple days. Interactions between different responses to temperature have received little attention, but similar interactions to these likely occur between behavior and other temperature responses in many other animals. This research improves our understanding of how animals can combine changes in multiple traits when responding to temperature change in their environment, including climate change, and provides a new framework which can be applied to the study of responses to many different environmental changes. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Color change and heat avoidance behavior complement each other, helping caterpillars stay cool on different timescales </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">P</span>ipevine swallowtail caterpillars cool themselves off in the summer by changing color when they molt from a light-absorbing black to a brighter, cooler red, but they can also cool off by leaving their short host plant to seek a refuge further above the hot ground. However, do these two responses to high temperatures work well together, or is one simply better? As part of his dissertation research, Matthew Nielsen along with his advisor Daniel Papaj at the University of Arizona addressed this question using experiments with both live caterpillars and painted models of them at the Santa Rita Experimental Range in southern Arizona. They found that not only can behavior cool caterpillars much more than color change, but once caterpillars leave their host for a refuge, color hardly affects their temperature or survival at all.</p><p>Nevertheless, color change reduces the amount of time caterpillars need to spend on refuges, which gives them more time on their host plant to eat. Thus, color change and refuge-seeking each work best on different timescales; refuge-seeking provides a strong, rapid response to daily temperature variation while color change provides a less costly response to temperature changes that persist for multiple days. Interactions between different responses to temperature have received little attention, but similar interactions to these likely occur between behavior and other temperature responses in many other animals. This research improves our understanding of how animals can combine changes in multiple traits when responding to temperature change in their environment, including climate change, and provides a new framework which can be applied to the study of responses to many different environmental changes. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691536">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT “A water-borne pursuit-deterrent signal deployed by a sea urchin” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/JunShepBren-A.html Unusual defense deployed by a sea urchin Abstract Selection by consumers has led to the evolution of a vast array of defenses in animals and plants. These defenses include physical structures, behaviors, and chemical signals that mediate interactions with predators. Some of the strangest defensive structures in nature are the globiferous pedicellariae of the echinoderms. These are small venomous appendages with jaws and teeth that cover the test of many sea urchins and sea stars. In this study, we report a unique use of these defensive structures by the collector sea urchin Tripneustes gratilla. In both the laboratory and the field, globiferous pedicellariae were unpalatable to fish consumers. When subject to simulated predator attack, sea urchins released a cloud of pedicellaria heads into the water column. Flume experiments established the presence of a water-borne cue associated with this release of pedicellariae that is deterrent to predatory fish. These novel results add to our understanding of how the ecosystem-shaping sea urchin T.&nbsp;gratilla is able to reach high densities in many reef habitats with subsequent impacts on algal cover. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Unusual defense deployed by a sea urchin </b></p><h3>Abstract</h3> <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">S</span>election by consumers has led to the evolution of a vast array of defenses in animals and plants. These defenses include physical structures, behaviors, and chemical signals that mediate interactions with predators. Some of the strangest defensive structures in nature are the globiferous pedicellariae of the echinoderms. These are small venomous appendages with jaws and teeth that cover the test of many sea urchins and sea stars. In this study, we report a unique use of these defensive structures by the collector sea urchin <i>Tripneustes gratilla</i>. In both the laboratory and the field, globiferous pedicellariae were unpalatable to fish consumers. When subject to simulated predator attack, sea urchins released a cloud of pedicellaria heads into the water column. Flume experiments established the presence of a water-borne cue associated with this release of pedicellariae that is deterrent to predatory fish. These novel results add to our understanding of how the ecosystem-shaping sea urchin <i>T.&nbsp;gratilla</i> is able to reach high densities in many reef habitats with subsequent impacts on algal cover. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691437">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Mon, 27 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT “Timing of breeding in an ecologically trapped bird” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MayHollander.html Human-induced environmental change has the capacity to confuse the way organisms perceive their environment and ultimately respond to it. For instance, organisms may prefer to settle and reproduce in anthropogenic habitats of low quality even when higher-quality habitat is available. Such ecological traps lead to fitness loss and are of growing conservation concern worldwide. While the underlying mechanisms are still poorly understood, a recent study shows a functional explanation for ecological traps in seasonally changing environments. Researchers from the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium studied the relationship between timing of breeding, reproductive performance, and food resources to explain the observed ecological trap in the red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio), a long-distant migratory bird breeding in seasonally changing habitats. Their previous work showed that this bird prefers to breed in newly colonized forest clearings, where its reproductive performance is significantly lower than in farmland, which is its original longtime breeding habitat. For three successive years, they sampled data in these two human-modified habitats. The team found a stronger seasonal decrease in the food resources available for rearing nestlings in forest clearings compared to farmland habitat. This provides a functional explanation for why brood size and quality also gradually decreased more strongly in the preferred forest habitat over the course of the season. This is the first time that maladaptive timing of breeding has been found to explain fitness loss in an ecological trap. The same mechanism possibly creates ecological traps for a wide range of organisms breeding in seasonal environments. There is now a need to study how trapped organisms will further cope with their situation and with further environmental change that might arise. The results of this study are also relevant for conservation strategies: Plantation forests may provide less valuable conservation opportunities than previously thought. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">H</span>uman-induced environmental change has the capacity to confuse the way organisms perceive their environment and ultimately respond to it. For instance, organisms may prefer to settle and reproduce in anthropogenic habitats of low quality even when higher-quality habitat is available. Such ecological traps lead to fitness loss and are of growing conservation concern worldwide. While the underlying mechanisms are still poorly understood, a recent study shows a functional explanation for ecological traps in seasonally changing environments. </p> <p>Researchers from the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium studied the relationship between timing of breeding, reproductive performance, and food resources to explain the observed ecological trap in the red-backed shrike (<i>Lanius collurio</i>), a long-distant migratory bird breeding in seasonally changing habitats. Their previous work showed that this bird prefers to breed in newly colonized forest clearings, where its reproductive performance is significantly lower than in farmland, which is its original longtime breeding habitat. For three successive years, they sampled data in these two human-modified habitats. </p> <p>The team found a stronger seasonal decrease in the food resources available for rearing nestlings in forest clearings compared to farmland habitat. This provides a functional explanation for why brood size and quality also gradually decreased more strongly in the preferred forest habitat over the course of the season. This is the first time that maladaptive timing of breeding has been found to explain fitness loss in an ecological trap. </p> <p>The same mechanism possibly creates ecological traps for a wide range of organisms breeding in seasonal environments. There is now a need to study how trapped organisms will further cope with their situation and with further environmental change that might arise. The results of this study are also relevant for conservation strategies: Plantation forests may provide less valuable conservation opportunities than previously thought. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691329">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Thu, 23 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT “Artificial selection reveals high genetic variation in phenology at the trailing edge of a species range” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/2016Sheth.html How will species fare in the face of climate change? Can populations evolve rapidly enough to adapt in situ, or will they need to move across the landscape to track suitable conditions? Genetic variation is the raw material for evolution, so populations with less variation should have a harder time evolving in response to climatic changes compared to populations that are more genetically diverse. Adaptation to climate change often involves shifts in the timing of key events such as flowering. For example, as the climate warms, plant populations may need to flower earlier in the year to match the earlier onset of spring. In this study, Seema Sheth and Amy Angert compare genetic variation in flowering time among populations from the north, south, and center of the geographic range of the scarlet monkeyflower, a perennial herb that grows along seeps and streams from southern Oregon to northern Baja California. Populations near the borders of a species range might have more trouble adapting to new climates than populations at the center, as marginal populations are often small and inhabit the harshest environments. When the authors grew plants from different populations together under controlled conditions, flowering time actually evolved far more rapidly in southern populations compared to central or northern edge populations. This result suggests that while the northern and central populations of the scarlet monkeyflower might have to rely on moving northward to track favorable conditions, the southern edge populations could stay put and adapt to changing conditions. Forecasts of how species will respond to climate change often ignore the potential for populations to adapt. Also, they typically assume that all populations of a species will respond in the same way. This study shows that while some populations can rapidly evolve in response to climate change, other populations may not be able to keep up with the pace of changing climate. More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">H</span>ow will species fare in the face of climate change? Can populations evolve rapidly enough to adapt in situ, or will they need to move across the landscape to track suitable conditions? Genetic variation is the raw material for evolution, so populations with less variation should have a harder time evolving in response to climatic changes compared to populations that are more genetically diverse. Adaptation to climate change often involves shifts in the timing of key events such as flowering. For example, as the climate warms, plant populations may need to flower earlier in the year to match the earlier onset of spring. In this study, Seema Sheth and Amy Angert compare genetic variation in flowering time among populations from the north, south, and center of the geographic range of the scarlet monkeyflower, a perennial herb that grows along seeps and streams from southern Oregon to northern Baja California. Populations near the borders of a species range might have more trouble adapting to new climates than populations at the center, as marginal populations are often small and inhabit the harshest environments. </p> <p>When the authors grew plants from different populations together under controlled conditions, flowering time actually evolved far more rapidly in southern populations compared to central or northern edge populations. This result suggests that while the northern and central populations of the scarlet monkeyflower might have to rely on moving northward to track favorable conditions, the southern edge populations could stay put and adapt to changing conditions. Forecasts of how species will respond to climate change often ignore the potential for populations to adapt. Also, they typically assume that all populations of a species will respond in the same way. This study shows that while some populations can rapidly evolve in response to climate change, other populations may not be able to keep up with the pace of changing climate. <!-- <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/684440">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> --></p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Wed, 22 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT 2017 American Naturalist Student Paper Award http://amnat.org/announcements/ANN2017StuPaper.html The American Naturalist Student Paper Award is for work that was published in 2016 and that was performed primarily by the first author and primarily while she or he was an undergraduate or graduate student. There were over fifty eligible papers.&nbsp; The recipient of the 2017 award is Seema Sheth for her paper "Artificial selection reveals high genetic variation in phenology at the trailing edge of a species range," coauthored with her advisor Amy Angert (Am Nat 187(2):182-193). The question of whether populations at range edges have less potential to adapt to environmental change is important and unresolved. &nbsp;Other studies have made timid approaches to this question; hers took it on boldly and directly. Even though artificial selection is now a standard approach in experimental evolution, her paper stood out because the design was comprehensive (including different regions of the range edge), well-motivated (in choosing to select on phenology and to monitor correlated changes in relevant traits), and strongly linked to empirical phenomena (using genotypes from natural populations). The results were dramatic and some were unexpected. The specific difference between the leading and trailing range edges could not have been predicted, and the incorporation of costs of evolution in phenology help explain this difference. We found the paper’s discussion to be particularly well-composed, adding critical nuance to expectations for differences in adaptive potential at range boundaries and highlighting important implications for a broad area of research. We concluded that Dr. Sheth’s work sets a new standard for empirical studies exploring the role of adaptive potential in range dynamics.&nbsp; See her lay summary here. The award comes with a $500 prize from the ASN, as well as a free year&#39;s membership in the society, and $100 in books of the winner&#39;s choice from the University of Chicago Press.&nbsp; Two authors also earned Honorable Mentions: &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Timoth&eacute;e Bonnet, for his paper Successful by chance? The power of mixed models and neutral simulations for the detection of individual fixed heterogeneity in fitness components (coauthored by Erik Postma). We were impressed by this paper because it bears on a general and important question, the explanation of heterogeneity among individuals in fitness components; it uses theoretical tools to propose a method allowing one to evaluate different hypotheses on the origin of this heterogeneity, then applies them to an empirical case. This is exceptionally sophisticated work. We are convinced that it has long-lasting value that furthers the goals of The American Naturalist, and of evolutionary biology as a whole. &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Diane Lawrence, for her paper The effect of immigration on the adaptation of microbial communities to warming (coauthored by Thomas Bell and Tim Barraclough). We found her microbial evolution experiment, showing that species interactions matter more for more community-level adaptation than does immigration of locally-adapted individual species, to be novel and conceptually rich. It offers an exciting challenge to the way we think about the effects of warming in natural communities. Judith L. Bronstein, Editor-in-Chief Yannis Michalakis, Editor Alice Winn, Editor <p><em>The American Naturalist </em>Student Paper Award is for work that was published in 2016 and that was performed primarily by the first author and primarily while she or he was an undergraduate or graduate student. There were over fifty eligible papers.&nbsp;</p> <p>The recipient of the 2017 award is Seema Sheth for her paper &quot;<a href="http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/684440">Artificial selection reveals high genetic variation in phenology at the trailing edge of a species range,&quot;</a> coauthored with her advisor Amy Angert (Am Nat 187(2):182-193). The question of whether populations at range edges have less potential to adapt to environmental change is important and unresolved. &nbsp;Other studies have made timid approaches to this question; hers took it on boldly and directly. Even though artificial selection is now a standard approach in experimental evolution, her paper stood out because the design was comprehensive (including different regions of the range edge), well-motivated (in choosing to select on phenology and to monitor correlated changes in relevant traits), and strongly linked to empirical phenomena (using genotypes from natural populations). The results were dramatic and some were unexpected. The specific difference between the leading and trailing range edges could not have been predicted, and the incorporation of costs of evolution in phenology help explain this difference.</p> <p>We found the paper&rsquo;s discussion to be particularly well-composed, adding critical nuance to expectations for differences in adaptive potential at range boundaries and highlighting important implications for a broad area of research. We concluded that Dr. Sheth&rsquo;s work sets a new standard for empirical studies exploring the role of adaptive potential in range dynamics.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers/2016Sheth.html">See her lay summary here.</a></p> <p>The award comes with a $500 prize from the ASN, as well as a free year&#39;s membership in the society, and $100 in books of the winner&#39;s choice from the University of Chicago Press.&nbsp;</p> <hr /><p>Two authors also earned Honorable Mentions:</p> <p>&bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<strong>Timoth&eacute;e Bonnet</strong>, for his paper <a href="http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/684158">Successful by chance? The power of mixed models and neutral simulations for the detection of individual fixed heterogeneity in fitness components</a> (coauthored by Erik Postma). We were impressed by this paper because it bears on a general and important question, the explanation of heterogeneity among individuals in fitness components; it uses theoretical tools to propose a method allowing one to evaluate different hypotheses on the origin of this heterogeneity, then applies them to an empirical case. This is exceptionally sophisticated work. We are convinced that it has long-lasting value that furthers the goals of <em>The American Naturalist</em>, and of evolutionary biology as a whole.</p> <p>&bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<strong>Diane Lawrence</strong>, for her paper <a href="http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/684589">The effect of immigration on the adaptation of microbial communities to warming</a> (coauthored by Thomas Bell and Tim Barraclough). We found her microbial evolution experiment, showing that species interactions matter more for more community-level adaptation than does immigration of locally-adapted individual species, to be novel and conceptually rich. It offers an exciting challenge to the way we think about the effects of warming in natural communities.</p> <p><br /> Judith L. Bronstein, Editor-in-Chief<br /> Yannis Michalakis, Editor<br /> Alice Winn, Editor</p> Wed, 22 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT “The influence of early reproductive success on longevity and late reproductive success in an alpine ungulate” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/JunPanagakis.html There’s an old Rolling Stones song that goes, “You can’t always get what you want,” suggesting that compromises are a part of life. Researchers from Université Laval in Québec, Canada, wanted to investigate whether this was the case with adult female mountain goats, an iconic alpine species found in North America. Mountain goats born under favorable environmental conditions and in good physical condition do indeed seem capable of “having it all”: They experience higher rates of reproduction throughout life and longer lifespans than females born under adverse environmental conditions who are in poor physical condition. Ecological theory presumes that organisms must divide what are usually limited resources between three major life processes: reproduction, growth, and survival, all of which contribute to an individual’s main goal: lifetime reproductive success. If an individual devotes some of those resources to reproduction, that implies there will be fewer available for growth and survival—in other words, there will be compromises in life. In terms of reproductive timing, greater early-life reproduction was therefore expected to reduce late-life reproduction and/or survival. The Université Laval research team benefitted from 27 years of data observing mountain goats at Caw Ridge, Alberta, Canada, located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. In addition to the absence of evidence for early-late life compromises in the population, the researchers added to the growing body of research that points to the considerable influence of natal environmental conditions on reproduction and survival. The researchers believe a better understanding of reproductive strategies in long-lived species such as mountain goats will help to provide insight into why wild populations might be increasing, decreasing, or stable in size, thereby contributing to the conservation and management of charismatic mammals such as the mountain goat. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">T</span>here’s an old Rolling Stones song that goes, “You can’t always get what you want,” suggesting that compromises are a part of life. Researchers from Université Laval in Québec, Canada, wanted to investigate whether this was the case with adult female mountain goats, an iconic alpine species found in North America. Mountain goats born under favorable environmental conditions and in good physical condition do indeed seem capable of “having it all”: They experience higher rates of reproduction throughout life and longer lifespans than females born under adverse environmental conditions who are in poor physical condition. </p><p>Ecological theory presumes that organisms must divide what are usually limited resources between three major life processes: reproduction, growth, and survival, all of which contribute to an individual’s main goal: lifetime reproductive success. If an individual devotes some of those resources to reproduction, that implies there will be fewer available for growth and survival—in other words, there will be compromises in life. In terms of reproductive timing, greater early-life reproduction was therefore expected to reduce late-life reproduction and/or survival. </p><p>The Université Laval research team benefitted from 27 years of data observing mountain goats at Caw Ridge, Alberta, Canada, located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. In addition to the absence of evidence for early-late life compromises in the population, the researchers added to the growing body of research that points to the considerable influence of natal environmental conditions on reproduction and survival. </p><p>The researchers believe a better understanding of reproductive strategies in long-lived species such as mountain goats will help to provide insight into why wild populations might be increasing, decreasing, or stable in size, thereby contributing to the conservation and management of charismatic mammals such as the mountain goat. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691388">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Tue, 21 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT “Warming induced changes to body size stabilize consumer-resource dynamics” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/JuneOsmond.html Temperature-size response predicted to stabilize ecological communities under warming Climate warming immediately impacts the metabolism of many species. From theory and experiments, scientists have deduced how such changes in metabolism will scale up to affect rates of birth, death, and food consumption. One important prediction stemming from this work is that climate warming is likely to destabilize interactions between a consumer species (e.g., a predator or herbivore) and its resource (e.g., a prey or plant). This drop in stability will cause larger fluctuations in in species’ abundances and ecosystem function when disturbed, and in extreme cases can lead to local extinctions. A largely separate body of work examines the effect of temperature on the size of adult individuals. This includes what is known as the temperature-size rule, the observation that adult body size tends to decline with the temperature experienced during development. Since body size also affects rates of birth, death, and food consumption, climate warming will also impact the stability of ecological communities indirectly through changes in body size. In their article appearing in The&nbsp;American Naturalist, a team of scientists from the Biodiversity Research Centre at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, unite the influences of warming predicted by metabolic theory and temperature-body size scaling. Using a simple mathematical model, they find that the indirect effect of warming, through changes in body size, can stabilize consumer-resource systems and may even override the direct destabilizing effect of warming brought about by changes in metabolism. The increase in stability with temperature arises because within-species competition increases faster than the strength of between-species interactions as body sizes decline. Thus, the widely observed temperature–size rule may help maintain the structure and functioning of ecological communities as the climate warms and potentially prevent extinctions. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Temperature-size response predicted to stabilize ecological communities under warming </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">C</span>limate warming immediately impacts the metabolism of many species. From theory and experiments, scientists have deduced how such changes in metabolism will scale up to affect rates of birth, death, and food consumption. One important prediction stemming from this work is that climate warming is likely to destabilize interactions between a consumer species (e.g., a predator or herbivore) and its resource (e.g., a prey or plant). This drop in stability will cause larger fluctuations in in species’ abundances and ecosystem function when disturbed, and in extreme cases can lead to local extinctions. </p><p>A largely separate body of work examines the effect of temperature on the size of adult individuals. This includes what is known as the temperature-size rule, the observation that adult body size tends to decline with the temperature experienced during development. Since body size also affects rates of birth, death, and food consumption, climate warming will also impact the stability of ecological communities indirectly through changes in body size. </p><p>In their article appearing in <i>The&nbsp;American Naturalist</i>, a team of scientists from the Biodiversity Research Centre at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, unite the influences of warming predicted by metabolic theory and temperature-body size scaling. Using a simple mathematical model, they find that the indirect effect of warming, through changes in body size, can stabilize consumer-resource systems and may even override the direct destabilizing effect of warming brought about by changes in metabolism. The increase in stability with temperature arises because within-species competition increases faster than the strength of between-species interactions as body sizes decline. Thus, the widely observed temperature&ndash;size rule may help maintain the structure and functioning of ecological communities as the climate warms and potentially prevent extinctions. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691387">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Tue, 21 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT “Convergent reversion to single mating in a wasp social parasite” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/JuneLoope-A.html A wasp social parasite re-evolved single mating, suggesting that social wasps benefit from genetically diverse colonies Abstract While eusociality arose in species with single-mating females, multiple mating by queens has evolved repeatedly across the social ants, bees and wasps. Understanding the benefits and costs of multiple mating of queens is important because polyandry results in reduced relatedness between siblings, reducing kin-selected benefits of helping while also selecting for secondary social traits that reduce intra-colony conflict. The leading hypothesis for the benefits of polyandry in social insects emphasizes advantages of a genetically diverse workforce. Workerless social parasite species (inquilines) provide a unique opportunity to test this hypothesis, since they are derived from social ancestors but do not produce workers of their own. Such parasites are thus predicted to evolve single mating because they would experience the costs of multiple mating but not the benefits, if such benefits accrue through the production of a genetically diverse group of workers. Here we show that the workerless social parasite Dolichovespula arctica, a derived parasite of wasps, has reverted to obligate single mating from a facultatively polyandrous ancestor, mirroring a similar reversion from obligate polyandry to approximate monandry in a social parasite of fungus-farming ants. This finding and a comparison with two other cases where inquilinism did not induce reversal to monandry support the hypothesis that facultative polyandry can be costly and may be maintained by benefits of a genetically diverse workforce. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>A wasp social parasite re-evolved single mating, suggesting that social wasps benefit from genetically diverse colonies </b></p><h3>Abstract</h3> <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">W</span>hile eusociality arose in species with single-mating females, multiple mating by queens has evolved repeatedly across the social ants, bees and wasps. Understanding the benefits and costs of multiple mating of queens is important because polyandry results in reduced relatedness between siblings, reducing kin-selected benefits of helping while also selecting for secondary social traits that reduce intra-colony conflict. The leading hypothesis for the benefits of polyandry in social insects emphasizes advantages of a genetically diverse workforce. Workerless social parasite species (inquilines) provide a unique opportunity to test this hypothesis, since they are derived from social ancestors but do not produce workers of their own. Such parasites are thus predicted to evolve single mating because they would experience the costs of multiple mating but not the benefits, if such benefits accrue through the production of a genetically diverse group of workers. Here we show that the workerless social parasite <i>Dolichovespula arctica</i>, a derived parasite of wasps, has reverted to obligate single mating from a facultatively polyandrous ancestor, mirroring a similar reversion from obligate polyandry to approximate monandry in a social parasite of fungus-farming ants. This finding and a comparison with two other cases where inquilinism did not induce reversal to monandry support the hypothesis that facultative polyandry can be costly and may be maintained by benefits of a genetically diverse workforce. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691405">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Mon, 20 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT Vote AGAIN! Run-Off Election for VP http://amnat.org/announcements/ASNElections.html The ASN 2017 Elections are underway for tha offices of President, Vice President, and Treasurer. The election website randomizes the order for each person voting, but the names below are in alphabetical order.The VICE-PRESIDENT organizes the Vice-President’s Symposium for the annual meeting and edits the special supplement to The American Naturalist that contains the papers derived from the VP Symposium. The Vice-President is also the Society’s liaison for the organizers of the annual meeting. The Vice-President serves as a member of the Executive Council for three years, two as a regular member and one as ex officio member.&nbsp; Douglas J Emlen, University of Montana I am an evolutionary biologist and professor of biology at the University of Montana. My research provides insights into the development and evolution of exaggerated animal weaponry, such as the horns found in scarab beetles. My lab&#39;s current research leverages population genetics, genomics, and "muddy-boots" behavioral ecology to explore how and why the horns of Japanese rhinoceros beetles have changed rapidly and recently in size. From my earliest exposure to science, shadowing my father as he conducted field research on birds in Kenya, to years spent studying dung beetles in Panamanian tropical forests, to mentoring students as they spent long nights watching rhino beetles fighting and mating on the trunks of Asian trees or followed leaf-footed bugs on heliconius inflorescences or frog-legged leaf beetles on kudzu, everything I have done has been grounded firmly in natural history. As my research questions grew increasingly mechanistic, I discovered that there is a natural history to development too - a thrill of discovering how traits grow, how they take shape within the mini milieu of signals and stimuli and other traits that is the body of a developing insect. Exploring development in non-model species turned out to be every bit as adventurous as observing, for the first time, the behavior of previously unstudied species. In addition to my research and mentoring, I am committed to communicating the excitement, importance, and relevance of basic research, especially evolution, to audiences outside of biology. At a time when science literacy is at a frightening nadir and "anti-intellectualism" is rampant, I have found I can make as meaningful a contribution explaining science as I can actually doing science. To that end, I teamed up with Carl Zimmer to craft an undergraduate-level textbook in evolution that we hoped would be vibrant, accessible, colorful, and relevant - a book that students would read because they wanted to, not because they had to. I also explored parallels between arms races in animal and military weapons - parallels that started out merely as vehicles for articulating basic concepts of biology to broad audiences, but which soon turned out to be so real, and so alarming, that they now shape many aspects of my research. This work resulted in a book (Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle), which won the 2015 Phi Beta Kappa Prize in Science, and led to a young adult narrative non-fiction book, which is presently in revision. I have now conducted dozens of interviews for radio (e.g., Science Friday, Fresh Air), Science Blogs, and YouTube outlets like Hank Green&#39;s SciShow, and I just finished filming with BBC Natural History and NOVA on a documentary showcasing extreme animal weapons and parallels with military technology. All of this is motivated by a desire to "spread the word" that basic research in ecology and evolution is vital, exciting, and relevant. I like to think that everything I do embodies the spirit of the American Society of Naturalists, and I am proud to have been awarded two of its accolades, a Jasper Loftus-Hills Young Investigator Award (1997), and the E. O. Wilson Naturalist Award (2013). I have served on the ASN YIA selection committee (2009-2011), and as an elected council member of the Society for the Study of Evolution (2007-2009) and the International Society for Behavioral Ecology (2015-present). Kelly Zamudio, Cornell University I am an evolutionary biologist with interests in the evolutionary processes leading to the origin and maintenance of phenotypic and genetic diversification in vertebrates (especially New World reptiles and amphibians). I integrate field research in population biology, demography, and landscape/habitat change with laboratory research on the genetic underpinnings of population diversification, speciation, and conservation genetics. My most recent work, carried out with US and international collaborators, has focused on diversification in Atlantic Coastal Forest and Cerrado frogs of Brazil, comparative population genomics of New World lineages of the amphibian-killing fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), and the evolution of genetic immunity to Bd in amphibian hosts. My goal, if elected as Vice President of ASN, is to enhance the visibility of the natural history mission of the society. My planned symposium will integrate field natural history, cutting edge genomic methods, and the threats facing biodiversity on a global basis. <p>The ASN 2017 Elections are underway for tha offices of President, Vice President, and Treasurer. The election website randomizes the order for each person voting, but the names below are in alphabetical order.</p><p>The VICE-PRESIDENT organizes the Vice-President&rsquo;s Symposium for the annual meeting and edits the special supplement to <em>The American Naturalist</em> that contains the papers derived from the VP Symposium. The Vice-President is also the Society&rsquo;s liaison for the organizers of the annual meeting. The Vice-President serves as a member of the Executive Council for three years, two as a regular member and one as ex officio member.&nbsp;</p> <h5>Douglas J Emlen, University of Montana</h5> <p>I am an evolutionary biologist and professor of biology at the University of Montana. My research provides insights into the development and evolution of exaggerated animal weaponry, such as the horns found in scarab beetles. My lab&#39;s current research leverages population genetics, genomics, and &quot;muddy-boots&quot; behavioral ecology to explore how and why the horns of Japanese rhinoceros beetles have changed rapidly and recently in size. From my earliest exposure to science, shadowing my father as he conducted field research on birds in Kenya, to years spent studying dung beetles in Panamanian tropical forests, to mentoring students as they spent long nights watching rhino beetles fighting and mating on the trunks of Asian trees or followed leaf-footed bugs on heliconius inflorescences or frog-legged leaf beetles on kudzu, everything I have done has been grounded firmly in natural history. As my research questions grew increasingly mechanistic, I discovered that there is a natural history to development too - a thrill of discovering how traits grow, how they take shape within the mini milieu of signals and stimuli and other traits that is the body of a developing insect. Exploring development in non-model species turned out to be every bit as adventurous as observing, for the first time, the behavior of previously unstudied species.</p> <p>In addition to my research and mentoring, I am committed to communicating the excitement, importance, and relevance of basic research, especially evolution, to audiences outside of biology. At a time when science literacy is at a frightening nadir and &quot;anti-intellectualism&quot; is rampant, I have found I can make as meaningful a contribution explaining science as I can actually doing science. To that end, I teamed up with Carl Zimmer to craft an undergraduate-level textbook in evolution that we hoped would be vibrant, accessible, colorful, and relevant - a book that students would read because they wanted to, not because they had to. I also explored parallels between arms races in animal and military weapons - parallels that started out merely as vehicles for articulating basic concepts of biology to broad audiences, but which soon turned out to be so real, and so alarming, that they now shape many aspects of my research. This work resulted in a book (<em>Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle)</em>, which won the 2015 Phi Beta Kappa Prize in Science, and led to a young adult narrative non-fiction book, which is presently in revision. I have now conducted dozens of interviews for radio (e.g., Science Friday, Fresh Air), Science Blogs, and YouTube outlets like Hank Green&#39;s SciShow, and I just finished filming with BBC Natural History and NOVA on a documentary showcasing extreme animal weapons and parallels with military technology. All of this is motivated by a desire to &quot;spread the word&quot; that basic research in ecology and evolution is vital, exciting, and relevant.</p> <p>I like to think that everything I do embodies the spirit of the American Society of Naturalists, and I am proud to have been awarded two of its accolades, a Jasper Loftus-Hills Young Investigator Award (1997), and the E. O. Wilson Naturalist Award (2013). I have served on the ASN YIA selection committee (2009-2011), and as an elected council member of the Society for the Study of Evolution (2007-2009) and the International Society for Behavioral Ecology (2015-present).</p> <h5>Kelly Zamudio, Cornell University</h5> <p>I am an evolutionary biologist with interests in the evolutionary processes leading to the origin and maintenance of phenotypic and genetic diversification in vertebrates (especially New World reptiles and amphibians). I integrate field research in population biology, demography, and landscape/habitat change with laboratory research on the genetic underpinnings of population diversification, speciation, and conservation genetics. My most recent work, carried out with US and international collaborators, has focused on diversification in Atlantic Coastal Forest and Cerrado frogs of Brazil, comparative population genomics of New World lineages of the amphibian-killing fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), and the evolution of genetic immunity to Bd in amphibian hosts. My goal, if elected as Vice President of ASN, is to enhance the visibility of the natural history mission of the society. My planned symposium will integrate field natural history, cutting edge genomic methods, and the threats facing biodiversity on a global basis.</p> <hr /> Fri, 17 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT Letter to the U.S. Congress on Plant Conservation Legislation http://amnat.org/announcements/LTRplant.html Dear Representatives Quigley and Ros-Lehtinen, We would like to express our strong support for your proposed “Plant Conservation Legislation” (H.R. 1054) and thank you for your efforts to compose and promote it. Plant biodiversity is the keystone to healthy ecosystems.&nbsp; Degradation of plant diversity compromises basic ecosystem function, including soil quality and stability, water quality, coastline stability, carbon fixing capacity, and the ability to resist biological invasions.&nbsp; Plant biodiversity maintains the biodiversity of other organisms, including valuable pollinators upon which many wild and domesticated fruit-bearing plants depend, it sustains rich wildlife and fisheries for sportsmen and -women, and it contributes to the natural beauty that enriches us.&nbsp; It is not a luxury, but a necessity, to maintain the basic function of our watersheds and ecosystems through the preservation of plant biodiversity. Maintaining a force of scientists with botanical expertise is necessary for the effective monitoring and maintenance of biodiversity.&nbsp; We support your initiative to promote the training of botanical researchers and to employ them in the critical services of maintaining and restoring biodiversity.&nbsp; Thank you for your efforts. Sincerely, Dr. Kathleen Donohue President, American Society of Naturalists Dr. Sally Otto President, Society for the Study of Evolution AIBS ANNOUNCEMENT: Plant Conservation Legislation Introduced Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives to support the botanical research capacity of the federal government. H.R. 1054 is sponsored by Representatives Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). The bill emphasizes the importance of protecting native plants and addresses botanical workforce issues. It would create a new program of botanical science research within the Department of the Interior to help increase federal botanic expertise and would allow Interior to hire additional botanical personnel. The bill would create a student loan repayment program for botanists. It would also create a preference for federal agencies to use locally-adapted native plant materials in their land management activities. “One of our nation’s greatest assets is its biodiversity, which is why we must support the health of these ecosystems, as well as the dedicated scientists that have made our earth’s preservation their life’s work,” said Quigley in statement. “I am pleased that this bill will support their mission to sustain native and locally adapted plants so that America remains a vibrant, inspiring, and sustainable place to call home.” “Introducing this bill with my colleague, Mike, is a positive step in ensuring the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native species that characterize our communities and nation,” said Ros-Lehtinen. “We have a responsibility to help maintain a healthy and sound ecosystem that we can all be proud of. I’m glad that this bill will also encourage young people to enter careers in botanical science.” The U.S. is projected to lose roughly half of its botanical experts in the next decade due to retirements. Some federal agencies, including the U.S. Geological Survey and Bureau of Land Management, have already reported a deficiency in their botanical workforce. Meanwhile, fewer advanced degrees in botany are being awarded. <p>Dear Representatives Quigley and Ros-Lehtinen,</p> <p>We would like to express our strong support for your proposed &ldquo;Plant Conservation Legislation&rdquo; (H.R. 1054) and thank you for your efforts to compose and promote it.</p> <p>Plant biodiversity is the keystone to healthy ecosystems.&nbsp; Degradation of plant diversity compromises basic ecosystem function, including soil quality and stability, water quality, coastline stability, carbon fixing capacity, and the ability to resist biological invasions.&nbsp; Plant biodiversity maintains the biodiversity of other organisms, including valuable pollinators upon which many wild and domesticated fruit-bearing plants depend, it sustains rich wildlife and fisheries for sportsmen and -women, and it contributes to the natural beauty that enriches us.&nbsp; It is not a luxury, but a necessity, to maintain the basic function of our watersheds and ecosystems through the preservation of plant biodiversity.</p> <p>Maintaining a force of scientists with botanical expertise is necessary for the effective monitoring and maintenance of biodiversity.&nbsp; We support your initiative to promote the training of botanical researchers and to employ them in the critical services of maintaining and restoring biodiversity.&nbsp; Thank you for your efforts.</p> <p>Sincerely,</p> <p>Dr. Kathleen Donohue<br /> President, American Society of Naturalists</p> <p>Dr. Sally Otto<br /> President, Society for the Study of Evolution</p> <p><br /> AIBS ANNOUNCEMENT:</p> <p>Plant Conservation Legislation Introduced</p> <p>Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives to support the botanical research capacity of the federal government. H.R. 1054 is sponsored by Representatives Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).</p> <p>The bill emphasizes the importance of protecting native plants and addresses botanical workforce issues. It would create a new program of botanical science research within the Department of the Interior to help increase federal botanic expertise and would allow Interior to hire additional botanical personnel. The bill would create a student loan repayment program for botanists. It would also create a preference for federal agencies to use locally-adapted native plant materials in their land management activities.</p> <p>&ldquo;One of our nation&rsquo;s greatest assets is its biodiversity, which is why we must support the health of these ecosystems, as well as the dedicated scientists that have made our earth&rsquo;s preservation their life&rsquo;s work,&rdquo; said Quigley in statement. &ldquo;I am pleased that this bill will support their mission to sustain native and locally adapted plants so that America remains a vibrant, inspiring, and sustainable place to call home.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;Introducing this bill with my colleague, Mike, is a positive step in ensuring the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native species that characterize our communities and nation,&rdquo; said Ros-Lehtinen. &ldquo;We have a responsibility to help maintain a healthy and sound ecosystem that we can all be proud of. I&rsquo;m glad that this bill will also encourage young people to enter careers in botanical science.&rdquo;</p> <p>The U.S. is projected to lose roughly half of its botanical experts in the next decade due to retirements. Some federal agencies, including the U.S. Geological Survey and Bureau of Land Management, have already reported a deficiency in their botanical workforce. Meanwhile, fewer advanced degrees in botany are being awarded.</p> Wed, 15 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT Letter to the U.S. Congress on the Endangered Species Act http://amnat.org/announcements/LTRspecies.html Dear Congress, We write to express our deep concern over the proposed overhaul of the Endangered Species Act (HR 717, the Listing Reform Act).&nbsp; We urge Congress to maintain a commitment to the conservation of biodiversity.&nbsp; The natural world is not a luxury.&nbsp; Healthy ecosystems underlie key industries, including agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and they provide basic services to humanity, including the purification of air, water and soil, and the control of pests and diseases. Diverse species communities causally contribute to these basic services and are the source of discoveries in a variety of fields, from drug development to biomedical engineering. Biodiversity also has intrinsic value, in its beauty and its invitation to engage with nature.&nbsp; We are the custodians of our natural world and would be negligent if we deny future generations the experience of nature’s beauty, the sport of interacting with it, and the knowledge that comes from it. &nbsp; Conservation efforts must be supported to sustain biodiversity and to maintain healthy and livable environments for human populations.&nbsp; Humans cannot live without nature; nature, in turn, needs the mindful curation by human populations to keep a balance between short-term economic benefit and long-term viability.&nbsp; Particularly at risk are endangered species – once lost these cannot be regained; once gone, humans would permanently lose the cultural enrichment these species provide and the benefits they could have granted as sources of new medicines, improved crops, or technological innovations.&nbsp; As efforts are implemented to preserve endangered species, other species and whole ecosystems benefit. Humans are interdependent on nature in a deep and pervasive manner, yet many people are unaware of and undervalue this dependence.&nbsp; This is a dangerous state of affairs.&nbsp; Congress needs to support efforts to sustain the basic systems upon which humans depend, as well as efforts to raise public awareness of those dependencies.&nbsp; We urge congress to support conservation efforts to maintain biodiversity and the health of the environment and of the human populations that depend on it. &nbsp; Sincerely, Dr. Kathleen Donohue President, American Society of Naturalists Dr. Sally Otto President, Society for the Study of Evolution &nbsp; <p>Dear Congress,</p> <p>We write to express our deep concern over the proposed overhaul of the Endangered Species Act (HR 717, the Listing Reform Act).&nbsp; We urge Congress to maintain a commitment to the conservation of biodiversity.&nbsp;<br /> The natural world is not a luxury.&nbsp; Healthy ecosystems underlie key industries, including agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and they provide basic services to humanity, including the purification of air, water and soil, and the control of pests and diseases. Diverse species communities causally contribute to these basic services and are the source of discoveries in a variety of fields, from drug development to biomedical engineering.</p> <p>Biodiversity also has intrinsic value, in its beauty and its invitation to engage with nature.&nbsp; We are the custodians of our natural world and would be negligent if we deny future generations the experience of nature&rsquo;s beauty, the sport of interacting with it, and the knowledge that comes from it. &nbsp;</p> <p>Conservation efforts must be supported to sustain biodiversity and to maintain healthy and livable environments for human populations.&nbsp; Humans cannot live without nature; nature, in turn, needs the mindful curation by human populations to keep a balance between short-term economic benefit and long-term viability.&nbsp; Particularly at risk are endangered species &ndash; once lost these cannot be regained; once gone, humans would permanently lose the cultural enrichment these species provide and the benefits they could have granted as sources of new medicines, improved crops, or technological innovations.&nbsp; As efforts are implemented to preserve endangered species, other species and whole ecosystems benefit.</p> <p>Humans are interdependent on nature in a deep and pervasive manner, yet many people are unaware of and undervalue this dependence.&nbsp; This is a dangerous state of affairs.&nbsp; Congress needs to support efforts to sustain the basic systems upon which humans depend, as well as efforts to raise public awareness of those dependencies.&nbsp; We urge congress to support conservation efforts to maintain biodiversity and the health of the environment and of the human populations that depend on it. &nbsp;</p> <p>Sincerely,</p> <p>Dr. Kathleen Donohue<br /> President, American Society of Naturalists</p> <p>Dr. Sally Otto<br /> President, Society for the Study of Evolution</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed, 15 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT “Mating system evolution under strong pollen limitation: Evidence of disruptive selection through male and female fitness in Clarkia xantiana” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MayBriscRunq.html Divergent selection via male and female fitness of floral traits and the evolution of intermediate outcrossing rates Plants have enormous variation in their sexuality. Most plant species have flowers that function as both males and females (hermaphroditism). Because most plants are hermaphrodites, they have the potential to mate with themselves (selfing) in addition to mating with other individuals via pollinators (outcrossing). Selfing can be particularly beneficial when plants grow in environments where pollinators are uncommon and reproduction often fails. When populations chronically lack sufficient pollinator service, special floral mechanisms can evolve that facilitate selfing, and this has occurred repeatedly in nature. What remains poorly understood is how natural selection causes the evolution of higher selfing rates and how selection acts through the male versus female function of flowers. To examine this conundrum, Briscoe Runquist, Moeller, and colleagues studied Clarkia xantiana, a California wildflower that contains two closely related subspecies that strongly differ in how much they outcross vs. self-fertilize. The authors created an experimental population that included the two extremes found in nature along with intermediate forms generated by crosses between them. They exposed this highly variable population to field conditions where pollinators were uncommon to see how the range of flowers achieved fitness as males versus females, and which forms were favored by natural selection. The authors also used molecular genetics and paternity analysis to determine which plants were the fathers of the seeds produced by the population. Contrary to previous findings, the authors found that natural selection favored the two extremes of the range of mating system variation: those plants that were most highly outcrossing and those most highly selfing. Selection disfavored intermediates between them, particularly because they had poor reproductive success as males. These results highlight that variation in male fitness, which is less commonly quantified, can be critical for understanding how plant sexual systems evolve. Moreover, they help explain why divergent, alternative mating strategies are often maintained in nature. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Divergent selection via male and female fitness of floral traits and the evolution of intermediate outcrossing rates </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">P</span>lants have enormous variation in their sexuality. Most plant species have flowers that function as both males and females (hermaphroditism). Because most plants are hermaphrodites, they have the potential to mate with themselves (selfing) in addition to mating with other individuals via pollinators (outcrossing). Selfing can be particularly beneficial when plants grow in environments where pollinators are uncommon and reproduction often fails. When populations chronically lack sufficient pollinator service, special floral mechanisms can evolve that facilitate selfing, and this has occurred repeatedly in nature. What remains poorly understood is how natural selection causes the evolution of higher selfing rates and how selection acts through the male versus female function of flowers. </p><p>To examine this conundrum, Briscoe Runquist, Moeller, and colleagues studied <i>Clarkia xantiana</i>, a California wildflower that contains two closely related subspecies that strongly differ in how much they outcross vs. self-fertilize. The authors created an experimental population that included the two extremes found in nature along with intermediate forms generated by crosses between them. They exposed this highly variable population to field conditions where pollinators were uncommon to see how the range of flowers achieved fitness as males versus females, and which forms were favored by natural selection. The authors also used molecular genetics and paternity analysis to determine which plants were the fathers of the seeds produced by the population. </p><p>Contrary to previous findings, the authors found that natural selection favored the two extremes of the range of mating system variation: those plants that were most highly outcrossing and those most highly selfing. Selection disfavored intermediates between them, particularly because they had poor reproductive success as males. These results highlight that variation in male fitness, which is less commonly quantified, can be critical for understanding how plant sexual systems evolve. Moreover, they help explain why divergent, alternative mating strategies are often maintained in nature. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691192">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Tue, 14 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT “Predicting responses to contemporary environmental change using evolutionary response architectures” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MayBay.html “Response architecture” for predicting rapid adaptation with population genomics Rapid changes to the Earth’s environment, from climate warming and ocean acidification to agricultural and urban development, could threaten many species of plants and animals with extinction in the near future. These species have adapted via natural selection to their specific environmental conditions over thousands of years, but they are now confronted with stressful new environments, raising the question of whether these species can rapidly adapt to these new conditions, and whether this adaptation can help prevent extinction. Recent advances in genome sequencing technology are allowing researchers to pinpoint the genetic causes, or “genomic architecture,” of environmental adaptation with greater accuracy. These advances led the authors of a new research synthesis appearing in The&nbsp;American Naturalist to wonder if a better understanding of the genetic basis of adaptation can help researchers predict whether species can adapt to rapid environmental change. They assembled a panel of experts in both the theory and empirical study of rapid adaptation at the 2016 meeting of the American Society of Naturalists to discuss this question and came to the conclusion that a better understanding of genomic architecture alone isn’t enough to predict adaptive responses. Instead the authors draw on a growing body of work that shows that many different processes contribute to survival in changing environments to propose that researchers wishing to predict adaptive responses investigate what they term the evolutionary “response architecture.” This response architecture includes not just the genetic causes of adaptation, but also the spatial distribution and abundance of the adaptive genetic variants, the ability of both adapted and non-adapted organisms to reproduce and repopulate after environmental crises, and the ability of organisms to physiologically respond to environmental change without changes in their genetic makeup. Each of these phenomena can contribute to a species avoiding extinction, and each species will have a different response architecture leading to a different way of adapting to rapid environmental change. Researchers hoping to understand the risks of environmental change and prevent the worst outcomes may find solutions by putting together these different pieces of the puzzle of adaptation. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>“Response architecture” for predicting rapid adaptation with population genomics </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">R</span>apid changes to the Earth’s environment, from climate warming and ocean acidification to agricultural and urban development, could threaten many species of plants and animals with extinction in the near future. These species have adapted via natural selection to their specific environmental conditions over thousands of years, but they are now confronted with stressful new environments, raising the question of whether these species can rapidly adapt to these new conditions, and whether this adaptation can help prevent extinction. </p><p>Recent advances in genome sequencing technology are allowing researchers to pinpoint the genetic causes, or “genomic architecture,” of environmental adaptation with greater accuracy. These advances led the authors of a new research synthesis appearing in <i>The&nbsp;American Naturalist</i> to wonder if a better understanding of the genetic basis of adaptation can help researchers predict whether species can adapt to rapid environmental change. They assembled a panel of experts in both the theory and empirical study of rapid adaptation at the 2016 meeting of the American Society of Naturalists to discuss this question and came to the conclusion that a better understanding of genomic architecture alone isn’t enough to predict adaptive responses. </p><p>Instead the authors draw on a growing body of work that shows that many different processes contribute to survival in changing environments to propose that researchers wishing to predict adaptive responses investigate what they term the evolutionary “response architecture.” This response architecture includes not just the genetic causes of adaptation, but also the spatial distribution and abundance of the adaptive genetic variants, the ability of both adapted and non-adapted organisms to reproduce and repopulate after environmental crises, and the ability of organisms to physiologically respond to environmental change without changes in their genetic makeup. Each of these phenomena can contribute to a species avoiding extinction, and each species will have a different response architecture leading to a different way of adapting to rapid environmental change. Researchers hoping to understand the risks of environmental change and prevent the worst outcomes may find solutions by putting together these different pieces of the puzzle of adaptation. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691233">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Tue, 14 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT “Intraspecific competition and inbreeding depression: increased competitive effort by inbred males is costly to outbred opponents” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MayRchrdsn.html Increased competitive effort by inbred individuals is costly to outbred opponents in Nicrophorus Inbred individuals typically have reduced growth, reproductive success and survival compared to outbred individuals. These negative consequences of inbreeding can be exaggerated when there is intense competition over resources because inbred individuals are often weaker competitors. However, inbred individuals might invest more in competition for resources that can be used for a current breeding attempt, if have a low chance of breeding again in the future. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh have tested whether inbred individuals increase their competitive effort in burying beetles. This species is native to the UK and breeds on small vertebrate carcasses, which they protect from other intruding beetles. An intruder that succeeds in usurping the resident will kill the resident’s offspring and use the carcass to raise their own brood. The authors set up contests in which an inbred or outbred resident beetle defended a carcass from an inbred or outbred intruder. They found that inbred beetles were more successful at taking over carcasses than outbred intruders and that inbred beetles were more willing to take risks when competing for a carcass. The increased competitive effort of inbred intruders had negative consequences for outbred beetles even when they successfully defended their carcasses, as they produced fewer and smaller offspring than beetles facing either an outbred intruder or no intruder. This work provides a novel insight on the complex interaction between competition and inbreeding. The results introduce an important twist to the ecology of inbreeding by showing that inbred individuals can increase their reproductive success through increased competitive effort compared to outbred males. Furthermore, this success comes at a cost to outbred individuals interacting with inbred ones. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Increased competitive effort by inbred individuals is costly to outbred opponents in <i>Nicrophorus</i> </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">I</span>nbred individuals typically have reduced growth, reproductive success and survival compared to outbred individuals. These negative consequences of inbreeding can be exaggerated when there is intense competition over resources because inbred individuals are often weaker competitors. However, inbred individuals might invest more in competition for resources that can be used for a current breeding attempt, if have a low chance of breeding again in the future. </p><p>Researchers from the University of Edinburgh have tested whether inbred individuals increase their competitive effort in burying beetles. This species is native to the UK and breeds on small vertebrate carcasses, which they protect from other intruding beetles. An intruder that succeeds in usurping the resident will kill the resident’s offspring and use the carcass to raise their own brood. The authors set up contests in which an inbred or outbred resident beetle defended a carcass from an inbred or outbred intruder. They found that inbred beetles were more successful at taking over carcasses than outbred intruders and that inbred beetles were more willing to take risks when competing for a carcass. The increased competitive effort of inbred intruders had negative consequences for outbred beetles even when they successfully defended their carcasses, as they produced fewer and smaller offspring than beetles facing either an outbred intruder or no intruder. </p><p>This work provides a novel insight on the complex interaction between competition and inbreeding. The results introduce an important twist to the ecology of inbreeding by showing that inbred individuals can increase their reproductive success through increased competitive effort compared to outbred males. Furthermore, this success comes at a cost to outbred individuals interacting with inbred ones. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691328">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Tue, 14 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT “The ecological dynamics of natural selection: Traits and the coevolution of community structure” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MayMcPeek.html Natural selection is caused by the interactions of a population of individuals with their environment and other species, but most studies of natural selection simplify or ignore these ecological causes to focus on the genetic consequences of evolution. In this paper, classic models combining species interactions with quantitative genetics are used to explore how changes in the environment and interactions with other species shape the dynamics and outcome of natural selection. Not surprisingly, the outcome of natural selection changes both as the interaction partners change and as the environmental background changes. However, the analysis of these models provide a sound guide for the ecological dynamics of natural selection on very short and very long time scales. This analysis also generates a number of important testable predictions about the action of natural selection in different ecosystems, including that natural selection should be stronger in more productive and more benign ecosystems, and in ecosystems where interactions among species should be more important. Consequently, natural selection should also cause species that fill the same role in an ecosystem to evolve greater differences from one another in more productive and benign ecosystems. This latter prediction suggests an evolutionary hypothesis for why the tropics harbor many more species than temperate and polar regions of the globe. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">N</span>atural selection is caused by the interactions of a population of individuals with their environment and other species, but most studies of natural selection simplify or ignore these ecological causes to focus on the genetic consequences of evolution. In this paper, classic models combining species interactions with quantitative genetics are used to explore how changes in the environment and interactions with other species shape the dynamics and outcome of natural selection. Not surprisingly, the outcome of natural selection changes both as the interaction partners change and as the environmental background changes. However, the analysis of these models provide a sound guide for the ecological dynamics of natural selection on very short and very long time scales. This analysis also generates a number of important testable predictions about the action of natural selection in different ecosystems, including that natural selection should be stronger in more productive and more benign ecosystems, and in ecosystems where interactions among species should be more important. Consequently, natural selection should also cause species that fill the same role in an ecosystem to evolve greater differences from one another in more productive and benign ecosystems. This latter prediction suggests an evolutionary hypothesis for why the tropics harbor many more species than temperate and polar regions of the globe. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691101">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Tue, 14 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT “How sex-biased dispersal affects sexual conflict over care” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MayKuijper.html The sex that remains at the parental home cares best for its own kids, model predicts Abstract Existing models of parental investment have mainly focused on interactions at the level of the family, and have paid much less attention to the impact of population-level processes. Here we extend classical models of parental care to assess the impact of population structure and limited dispersal. We find that sex-differences in dispersal substantially affect the amount of care provided by each parent, with the more philopatric sex providing the majority of the care to young. This effect is most pronounced in highly viscous populations: in such cases, when classical models would predict stable biparental care, inclusion of a modest sex difference in dispersal leads to uniparental care by the philopatric sex. In addition, mating skew also affects sex-differences in parental investment, with the more numerous sex providing most of the care. However, the effect of mating skew only holds when parents care for their own offspring. When individuals breed communally, we recover the previous finding that the more philopatric sex provides most of the care, even when it is the rare sex. We conclude that sex-biased dispersal is likely to be an important, yet currently overlooked driver of sex-differences in parental care. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>The sex that remains at the parental home cares best for its own kids, model predicts </b></p><h3>Abstract</h3> <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">E</span>xisting models of parental investment have mainly focused on interactions at the level of the family, and have paid much less attention to the impact of population-level processes. Here we extend classical models of parental care to assess the impact of population structure and limited dispersal. We find that sex-differences in dispersal substantially affect the amount of care provided by each parent, with the more philopatric sex providing the majority of the care to young. This effect is most pronounced in highly viscous populations: in such cases, when classical models would predict stable biparental care, inclusion of a modest sex difference in dispersal leads to uniparental care by the philopatric sex. In addition, mating skew also affects sex-differences in parental investment, with the more numerous sex providing most of the care. However, the effect of mating skew only holds when parents care for their own offspring. When individuals breed communally, we recover the previous finding that the more philopatric sex provides most of the care, even when it is the rare sex. We conclude that sex-biased dispersal is likely to be an important, yet currently overlooked driver of sex-differences in parental care. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691330">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Mon, 13 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT “The hawk-eyed songbird: retinal morphology, eye shape, and visual fields of an aerial insectivore” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/JuneTyrrell-A.html Swallows (but not flycatchers) have strikingly similar visual systems to those of hawks and falcons Abstract Swallows are a unique group of songbirds because they are active pursuit predators that execute all aspects of hunting prey in flight: search, detection, pursuit, and capture. We show that swallows have evolved a visual system that is unlike any other studied songbird. Swallows have a bifoveate retina that provides sharp lateral and frontal vision, an unusually long eye that enhances spatial resolution, a large posterior blind area, and a narrow binocular field. We also show that swallows and diurnal raptors (hawks and falcons) have converged on a similar visual configuration, but interestingly, predatory songbirds that ambush prey (flycatchers) have not converged on the same suite of traits. Despite the commonly held belief that predators rely on binocular vision, the temporal (frontally projecting) fovea present in swallows—but not present in other songbirds—is likely not involved in binocular vision. Instead, they have four non-overlapping foveae in a 100° arc around the beak, which can improve the tracking of frontally located aerial prey that are engaging in evasive maneuvers. Overall, vision in pursuit predators’ reflects the complex sensory demands of hunting in the air at high speeds and emphasizes the importance of acute frontal vision in predators. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Swallows (but not flycatchers) have strikingly similar visual systems to those of hawks and falcons </b></p><h3>Abstract</h3> <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">S</span>wallows are a unique group of songbirds because they are active pursuit predators that execute all aspects of hunting prey in flight: search, detection, pursuit, and capture. We show that swallows have evolved a visual system that is unlike any other studied songbird. Swallows have a bifoveate retina that provides sharp lateral and frontal vision, an unusually long eye that enhances spatial resolution, a large posterior blind area, and a narrow binocular field. We also show that swallows and diurnal raptors (hawks and falcons) have converged on a similar visual configuration, but interestingly, predatory songbirds that ambush prey (flycatchers) have not converged on the same suite of traits. Despite the commonly held belief that predators rely on binocular vision, the temporal (frontally projecting) fovea present in swallows—but not present in other songbirds—is likely not involved in binocular vision. Instead, they have four non-overlapping foveae in a 100° arc around the beak, which can improve the tracking of frontally located aerial prey that are engaging in evasive maneuvers. Overall, vision in pursuit predators’ reflects the complex sensory demands of hunting in the air at high speeds and emphasizes the importance of acute frontal vision in predators. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691404">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Fri, 10 Mar 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Variation in growth drives the duration of parental care: a test of the Ydenberg model” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MayElliott.html Solving the mystery of the cliff-jumping chicks: growth not mortality drives the duration of parental care Murres (known as ‘guillemots’ in Europe) and their relatives are the only birds to depart the nest when the offspring are only partly grown (other species leave shortly after hatching, or after reaching at least half of adult size). At two weeks of age and one-quarter of adult body size, young murres leap hundreds of meters off of towering cliffs to follow their fathers to the sea, where they spend the next several years of their life. Why do these tiny chicks make this remarkable leap? Almost 30 years ago, Ron Ydenberg suggested that the behaviour was a tradeoff between safety in the colony and faster growth rates at sea. Once offspring are large enough to defend themselves and too large to be fed at the colony, they head off to sea.To test this idea, a group of researchers from McGill, Memorial, Aarhus, and Lund Universities spread out across the Canadian and Greenlandic Arctic to visit five murre colonies in some of the most remote locations on the globe. They equipped murre fathers with electronic recorders that reported their activity at sea. Surprisingly, mortality rate was similar at the colony and at sea. However, without the need to fly back and forth to the colony, murre fathers were able to feed their offspring far more than at the colony, and the offspring grew roughly twice as fast. A simple model shows that such strategy could evolve without a tradeoff between safety and growth. Rather, higher growth rates at sea coupled with a positive relationship between growth rates and post-departure survival are sufficient to select for such a strategy. The work uses state-of-the-art technology to answer a long-unresolved question in ecology, and provides a glimpse into the life of murres on the high seas. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Solving the mystery of the cliff-jumping chicks: growth not mortality drives the duration of parental care </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">M</span>urres (known as &lsquo;guillemots&rsquo; in Europe) and their relatives are the only birds to depart the nest when the offspring are only partly grown (other species leave shortly after hatching, or after reaching at least half of adult size). At two weeks of age and one-quarter of adult body size, young murres leap hundreds of meters off of towering cliffs to follow their fathers to the sea, where they spend the next several years of their life. Why do these tiny chicks make this remarkable leap? Almost 30 years ago, Ron Ydenberg suggested that the behaviour was a tradeoff between safety in the colony and faster growth rates at sea. Once offspring are large enough to defend themselves and too large to be fed at the colony, they head off to sea.</p><p>To test this idea, a group of researchers from McGill, Memorial, Aarhus, and Lund Universities spread out across the Canadian and Greenlandic Arctic to visit five murre colonies in some of the most remote locations on the globe. They equipped murre fathers with electronic recorders that reported their activity at sea. Surprisingly, mortality rate was similar at the colony and at sea. However, without the need to fly back and forth to the colony, murre fathers were able to feed their offspring far more than at the colony, and the offspring grew roughly twice as fast. A simple model shows that such strategy could evolve without a tradeoff between safety and growth. Rather, higher growth rates at sea coupled with a positive relationship between growth rates and post-departure survival are sufficient to select for such a strategy. The work uses state-of-the-art technology to answer a long-unresolved question in ecology, and provides a glimpse into the life of murres on the high seas. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691097">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Thu, 09 Mar 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Assessing the contributions of reduced immigrant viability and fecundity to reproductive isolation” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MayPorter.html Reduced immigrant fecundity is a stronger driver of speciation than reduced immigrant viability As populations adapt to different environments, opportunities for interbreeding decline if immigrants suffer reduced fitness in their non-native environment. Although such a reproductive isolating barrier could arise from reduced immigrant survival or reduced immigrant fecundity, the former (immigrant inviability) has received the vast majority of study. However, given the often greater resource demands for breeding than for survival, one might expect that reduced immigrant fecundity could act as the stronger reproductive isolating barrier. In a paper appearing in The&nbsp;American Naturalist, a model simulates the evolution of reproductive isolation as populations adapt to different environments, taking into account the greater resource demands of reproduction than for survival alone. This model, along with analyses of published reciprocal transplant experiments, indicate that reduced immigrant fecundity is likely to act as the stronger reproductive isolating barrier, especially when the demands of reproduction are relatively large and during the initial stages of divergence. These results suggest that reduced immigrant fecundity deserves greater attention if we are to understand the important reproductive isolating barriers during the critical early stages of speciation. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Reduced immigrant fecundity is a stronger driver of speciation than reduced immigrant viability </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">A</span>s populations adapt to different environments, opportunities for interbreeding decline if immigrants suffer reduced fitness in their non-native environment. Although such a reproductive isolating barrier could arise from reduced immigrant survival or reduced immigrant fecundity, the former (immigrant inviability) has received the vast majority of study. However, given the often greater resource demands for breeding than for survival, one might expect that reduced immigrant fecundity could act as the stronger reproductive isolating barrier. In a paper appearing in <i>The&nbsp;American Naturalist</i>, a model simulates the evolution of reproductive isolation as populations adapt to different environments, taking into account the greater resource demands of reproduction than for survival alone. This model, along with analyses of published reciprocal transplant experiments, indicate that reduced immigrant fecundity is likely to act as the stronger reproductive isolating barrier, especially when the demands of reproduction are relatively large and during the initial stages of divergence. These results suggest that reduced immigrant fecundity deserves greater attention if we are to understand the important reproductive isolating barriers during the critical early stages of speciation. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691191">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Thu, 09 Mar 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Fear mediates trophic cascades: nonconsumptive effects of predators drive aquatic ecosystem function” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MayBrevigl.html Among animals, fear can change behavior in prey facing predation risk. Prey responses can be triggered by the detection of signals emitted by predators (e.g., visual, sound, or chemical cues). This phenomenon occurs in many predator-prey systems involving vertebrates (e.g., lions and gazelles), invertebrates (e.g., ants and butterflies), and both vertebrates and invertebrates (e.g., lizards and butterflies). However, regardless of the system, the behavioral responses of prey are similar, i.e., affecting their group size and patterns of activity, vigilance and foraging patterns, and often their reproductive success. These effects can be locally confined to one ecosystem, but can also extend to neighboring ecosystems through the relationship between predators and prey with complex life cycles (i.e., organisms exhibiting aquatic and terrestrial life stages). This is precisely what is revealed in a recent study by Crasso Paulo B. Breviglieri, Paulo S. Oliveira, and Gustavo Q. Romero (Campinas State University, Brazil), appearing in The American Naturalist. In Brazilian coastal forests (“restinga”), terrestrial avian predators can influence the oviposition rate of damselflies (such as Leptagrion) in bromeliad systems. Field experiments using stuffed insectivorous birds have shown that adult damselflies can react to the visual presence of their predators and alter their oviposition behavior to avoid them. Because damselfly larvae are top predators in this aquatic system, a decrease in their abundance and biomass changes the composition and other parameters (richness, abundance, and biomass) of the bromeliad-dwelling invertebrate community. Such a change in the composition of the aquatic community accelerates the decomposition of organic matter (e.g., dead leaves), making more nutrients available for bromeliads, which grow more. These results highlight the cascading effects of apex predators across land-water boundaries, influencing ecosystem functions such as productivity, decomposition, and nutrient cycling. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">A</span>mong animals, fear can change behavior in prey facing predation risk. Prey responses can be triggered by the detection of signals emitted by predators (e.g., visual, sound, or chemical cues). This phenomenon occurs in many predator-prey systems involving vertebrates (e.g., lions and gazelles), invertebrates (e.g., ants and butterflies), and both vertebrates and invertebrates (e.g., lizards and butterflies). However, regardless of the system, the behavioral responses of prey are similar, i.e., affecting their group size and patterns of activity, vigilance and foraging patterns, and often their reproductive success.</p> <p>These effects can be locally confined to one ecosystem, but can also extend to neighboring ecosystems through the relationship between predators and prey with complex life cycles (i.e., organisms exhibiting aquatic and terrestrial life stages). This is precisely what is revealed in a recent study by Crasso Paulo B. Breviglieri, Paulo S. Oliveira, and Gustavo Q. Romero (Campinas State University, Brazil), appearing in The American Naturalist. </p><p>In Brazilian coastal forests (“restinga”), terrestrial avian predators can influence the oviposition rate of damselflies (such as <i>Leptagrion</i>) in bromeliad systems. Field experiments using stuffed insectivorous birds have shown that adult damselflies can react to the visual presence of their predators and alter their oviposition behavior to avoid them. Because damselfly larvae are top predators in this aquatic system, a decrease in their abundance and biomass changes the composition and other parameters (richness, abundance, and biomass) of the bromeliad-dwelling invertebrate community. Such a change in the composition of the aquatic community accelerates the decomposition of organic matter (e.g., dead leaves), making more nutrients available for bromeliads, which grow more. These results highlight the cascading effects of apex predators across land-water boundaries, influencing ecosystem functions such as productivity, decomposition, and nutrient cycling. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691262">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Thu, 09 Mar 2017 06:00:00 GMT March for Science http://amnat.org/announcements/March-.html On April 22, scientists throughout the world will be marching in support of science, in Washington DC and in satellite Marches throughout the globe. &nbsp;Find a March near you if you want to participate. https://www.marchforscience.com/ Whether you attend the March for Science or not, you can communicate the value of your science beyond the scientific community during the week following the march (April 24-31), which is dedicated to outreach and sharing science locally. &nbsp;For ideas on how to engage a wider audience, the following website offers some resources. http://www.getoutthescience.org/&nbsp;&nbsp; We encourage our memberships to participate in this march or in other activities that communicate the importance of science. &nbsp;As scientific societies, we need to be vocal about the value of scientific research and the importance of applying scientific evidence in policy and practice. &nbsp; Let’s get ready for a good showing! &nbsp; <p>On April 22, scientists throughout the world will be marching in support of science, in Washington DC and in satellite Marches throughout the globe. &nbsp;Find a March near you if you want to participate.</p> <p><a href="https://www.marchforscience.com/">https://www.marchforscience.com/</a></p> <p>Whether you attend the March for Science or not, you can communicate the value of your science beyond the scientific community during the week following the march (April 24-31), which is dedicated to outreach and sharing science locally. &nbsp;For ideas on how to engage a wider audience, the following website offers some resources.<br /> <a href="http://www.getoutthescience.org/">http://www.getoutthescience.org/</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>We encourage our memberships to participate in this march or in other activities that communicate the importance of science. &nbsp;As scientific societies, we need to be vocal about the value of scientific research and the importance of applying scientific evidence in policy and practice. &nbsp;<br /> Let&rsquo;s get ready for a good showing!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue, 07 Mar 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Behavioral choices lead to social inertia which limits a species ability to track environmental change” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/JuneStodola-A.html Social inertia limits a species ability to repsond to climate change Abstract Multiple biotic, abiotic, and evolutionary constraints interact to determine a species’ range. However, most species are not present in all suitable and accessible locations. Dispersal ability may explain why many species do not occupy all suitable habitat, but highly mobile species also exhibit a mismatch. Habitat selection behavior where individuals are site faithful and settle near conspecifics could create a social pressure that make a species’ geographic range resistant to change. We investigated this possibility using an individual-based model of habitat selection where habitat quality moved each year. Our model demonstrated the benefits of conspecific attraction in relatively stable environments, and its detrimental influence when habitat quality shifted rapidly. These results were most apparent when adult survival was high, because site fidelity led to more individuals occupying poor-quality habitat areas as habitat quality changed. These individuals attracted other dispersing individuals, thereby decreasing the ability to track shifts in habitat quality, which we refer to as social inertia. Consequently, social inertia may arise for species that exhibit site fidelity and conspecific attraction, which may have conservation implications in light of climate change and widespread alteration of natural habitats. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Social inertia limits a species ability to repsond to climate change </b></p><h3>Abstract</h3> <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">M</span>ultiple biotic, abiotic, and evolutionary constraints interact to determine a species’ range. However, most species are not present in all suitable and accessible locations. Dispersal ability may explain why many species do not occupy all suitable habitat, but highly mobile species also exhibit a mismatch. Habitat selection behavior where individuals are site faithful and settle near conspecifics could create a social pressure that make a species’ geographic range resistant to change. We investigated this possibility using an individual-based model of habitat selection where habitat quality moved each year. Our model demonstrated the benefits of conspecific attraction in relatively stable environments, and its detrimental influence when habitat quality shifted rapidly. These results were most apparent when adult survival was high, because site fidelity led to more individuals occupying poor-quality habitat areas as habitat quality changed. These individuals attracted other dispersing individuals, thereby decreasing the ability to track shifts in habitat quality, which we refer to as social inertia. Consequently, social inertia may arise for species that exhibit site fidelity and conspecific attraction, which may have conservation implications in light of climate change and widespread alteration of natural habitats. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691469">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Fri, 03 Mar 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Perceptual ranges, information gathering, and foraging success in dynamic landscapes” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MayFagan-A.html Modeling perceptual ranges shows foragers can exploit non-local information to improve success in dynamic landscapes Abstract How organisms gather and utilize information about their landscapes is central to understanding land-use patterns and population distributions. When such information originates beyond an individual’s immediate vicinity, movement decisions require integrating information out to some perceptual range. Such non-local information, whether obtained visually, acoustically, or via chemosensation, provides a field of stimuli that guides movement. Classically, however, models have assumed movement based on purely local information (e.g., chemotaxis, step-selection functions). Here, we explore how foragers can exploit non-local information to improve their success in dynamic landscapes. Using a continuous time / continuous space model in which we vary both random (diffusive) movement and resource-following (advective) movement, we characterize the optimal perceptual ranges for foragers in dynamic landscapes. Non-local information can be highly beneficial, increasing the spatiotemporal concentration of foragers on their resources up to twofold compared to movement based on purely local information. However, non-local information is most useful when foragers possess both high advective movement (allowing them to react to transient resources) and low diffusive movement (preventing them from drifting away from resource peaks). Non-local information is particularly beneficial in landscapes with sharp (rather than gradual) patch edges and in landscapes with highly transient resources. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Modeling perceptual ranges shows foragers can exploit non-local information to improve success in dynamic landscapes </b></p><h3>Abstract</h3> <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">H</span>ow organisms gather and utilize information about their landscapes is central to understanding land-use patterns and population distributions. When such information originates beyond an individual’s immediate vicinity, movement decisions require integrating information out to some perceptual range. Such non-local information, whether obtained visually, acoustically, or via chemosensation, provides a field of stimuli that guides movement. Classically, however, models have assumed movement based on purely local information (e.g., chemotaxis, step-selection functions). Here, we explore how foragers can exploit non-local information to improve their success in dynamic landscapes. Using a continuous time / continuous space model in which we vary both random (diffusive) movement and resource-following (advective) movement, we characterize the optimal perceptual ranges for foragers in dynamic landscapes. Non-local information can be highly beneficial, increasing the spatiotemporal concentration of foragers on their resources up to twofold compared to movement based on purely local information. However, non-local information is most useful when foragers possess both high advective movement (allowing them to react to transient resources) and low diffusive movement (preventing them from drifting away from resource peaks). Non-local information is particularly beneficial in landscapes with sharp (rather than gradual) patch edges and in landscapes with highly transient resources. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691099">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Thu, 02 Mar 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Ecological release from aquatic predation is associated with the emergence of marine blenny fishes onto land” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MayOrd.html Fish found to leave water onto land in order to escape aquatic predation Fish on the south Pacific island of Rarotonga have evolved the ability to survive out of water and leap about on the rocky shoreline because this helps them escape predators in the ocean, a ground-breaking new study shows. “Avoiding predators might be an explanation for why some animals move from their ancestral homes into starkly different environments, but evidence for this is rare because it is difficult to collect,” says study first author Dr. Terry Ord of UNSW Sydney. “Our study of blennies on Rarotonga is the first to examine the pressures driving fish out of the water. There obviously have to be some major benefits for fish to make the dramatic shift onto land. Otherwise, why would they do it? “It turns out the aquatic environment is a nasty place for blennies, full of enemies wanting to eat these small fish. But life is less hostile on the rocks, with birds their main worry,” he says. The study, by scientists at UNSW and the Australian National University, is published in The&nbsp;American Naturalist. Rarotonga in the Cook Islands provides an extraordinary opportunity to study fish evolution in action because four species of blennies have independently emerged from the water to spend various amounts of time times on land. The researchers observed the behavior of three of these amphibious species, which divide their time between the water, the rock shelf in the intertidal zone, and the exposed land above the high tide mark. “At low tide most of the blennies were on the rock shelf in the intertidal zone. Those remaining in the water actively avoided areas where there were predators, such as flounders, trevallies, wrasses and moray eels,” says Dr. Ord. “As the tide came in and the rock shelf became submerged, most of the blennies moved to higher ground, above the high tide mark, apparently to avoid being eaten by the aquatic predators coming in with the rising water.” The team also created 250 replica blennies out of plasticine, and placed them in the water and on land above the high tide mark. “There were far more attacks on the model fish from predators in the ocean than predators on the shore, showing there are obvious benefits for blennies in becoming fish out of water and colonizing the land,” says Dr. Ord. Other reasons fish might move onto land could be to find new sources of food, to escape competition for resources, or to escape adverse fluctuations in water conditions. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Fish found to leave water onto land in order to escape aquatic predation </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">F</span>ish on the south Pacific island of Rarotonga have evolved the ability to survive out of water and leap about on the rocky shoreline because this helps them escape predators in the ocean, a ground-breaking new study shows.</p> <p>&ldquo;Avoiding predators might be an explanation for why some animals move from their ancestral homes into starkly different environments, but evidence for this is rare because it is difficult to collect,&rdquo; says study first author Dr. Terry Ord of UNSW Sydney. &ldquo;Our study of blennies on Rarotonga is the first to examine the pressures driving fish out of the water. There obviously have to be some major benefits for fish to make the dramatic shift onto land. Otherwise, why would they do it?</p> <p>&ldquo;It turns out the aquatic environment is a nasty place for blennies, full of enemies wanting to eat these small fish. But life is less hostile on the rocks, with birds their main worry,&rdquo; he says. The study, by scientists at UNSW and the Australian National University, is published in <i>The&nbsp;American Naturalist</i>.</p> <p>Rarotonga in the Cook Islands provides an extraordinary opportunity to study fish evolution in action because four species of blennies have independently emerged from the water to spend various amounts of time times on land.</p> <p>The researchers observed the behavior of three of these amphibious species, which divide their time between the water, the rock shelf in the intertidal zone, and the exposed land above the high tide mark. &ldquo;At low tide most of the blennies were on the rock shelf in the intertidal zone. Those remaining in the water actively avoided areas where there were predators, such as flounders, trevallies, wrasses and moray eels,&rdquo; says Dr. Ord. &ldquo;As the tide came in and the rock shelf became submerged, most of the blennies moved to higher ground, above the high tide mark, apparently to avoid being eaten by the aquatic predators coming in with the rising water.&rdquo;</p> <p>The team also created 250 replica blennies out of plasticine, and placed them in the water and on land above the high tide mark. &ldquo;There were far more attacks on the model fish from predators in the ocean than predators on the shore, showing there are obvious benefits for blennies in becoming fish out of water and colonizing the land,&rdquo; says Dr. Ord. Other reasons fish might move onto land could be to find new sources of food, to escape competition for resources, or to escape adverse fluctuations in water conditions. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691155">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a></p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"><span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Thu, 02 Mar 2017 06:00:00 GMT Call for Papers for the American Naturalist at 150 Symposium at ASN2018 http://amnat.org/announcements/CallAN150.html To celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the first publication of The American Naturalist, there will be a special symposium at the stand-alone meeting of the American Society of Naturalists (January 5 - 9, 2018, Asilomar CA, USA). The symposium is titled “On the shoulders of giants: the future of The American Naturalist”. The goal of the symposium will be to show how major advances published in the journal’s history have laid the foundation for exciting new directions in evolutionary ecology and related fields. There will be time for six 30-minute talks, each highlighting a different concept from a classic American Naturalist paper, and where those ideas are headed next. We want the talks to place the original paper into its historic context, trace the subsequent development of the idea, and (crucially) show how the classic ideas connect to today’s cutting-edge research. Potential speakers might wish to examine these special articles (listed here: http://www.amnat.org/announcements/Countdowns.html) both for inspiration and to minimize redundancy.We are requesting proposals for talks. Each proposal should be no more than 250 words. Proposals should: Identify what influential paper(s) from The American Naturalist’s past will be the starting point of the talk. Briefly explain how that past paper influenced the direction of the field generally and the speaker’s career in particular. Indicate how the speaker is using / developing / changing that classic paper’s ideas in their own current and future work. In addition to the 250 word limit, one figure and up to 5 references are allowed. Talk proposals should be sent to Daniel Bolnick&nbsp;&nbsp;by May 1. We expect to notify chosen speakers by June 1. We encourage junior researchers (post-docs, early-career faculty) to apply, and individuals from often under-represented groups. The society does not have the funds to pay for travel or lodging expenses of the chosen speakers. But in exceptional circumstances ASM may consider appeals to waive conference registration fees for junior presenters who lack other means to cover conference costs. In addition to this symposium, the American Society of Naturalists is separately seeking proposals for topics and speakers for two other organized symposia at the 2018 Asilomar meeting (see the details here.) <p>To celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the first publication of <em>The American Naturalist</em>, there will be a special symposium at the stand-alone meeting of the American Society of Naturalists (January 5 - 9, 2018, Asilomar CA, USA). The symposium is titled &ldquo;On the shoulders of giants: the future of <em>The American Naturalist</em>&rdquo;.</p> <p>The goal of the symposium will be to show how major advances published in the journal&rsquo;s history have laid the foundation for exciting new directions in evolutionary ecology and related fields. There will be time for six 30-minute talks, each highlighting a different concept from a classic <em>American Naturalist </em>paper, and where those ideas are headed next. We want the talks to place the original paper into its historic context, trace the subsequent development of the idea, and (crucially) show how the classic ideas connect to today&rsquo;s cutting-edge research.</p> <p>Potential speakers might wish to examine these special articles (listed here: <a href="http://www.amnat.org/announcements/Countdowns.html">http://www.amnat.org/announcements/Countdowns.html</a>) both for inspiration and to minimize redundancy.</p><p>We are requesting proposals for talks. Each proposal should be no more than 250 words. Proposals should:</p> <ol> <li>Identify what influential paper(s) from The American Naturalist&rsquo;s past will be the starting point of the talk.</li> <li>Briefly explain how that past paper influenced the direction of the field generally and the speaker&rsquo;s career in particular.</li> <li>Indicate how the speaker is using / developing / changing that classic paper&rsquo;s ideas in their own current and future work.</li> </ol> <p>In addition to the 250 word limit, one figure and up to 5 references are allowed.</p> <p><a href="mailto:danbolnick@austin.utexas.edu">Talk proposals should be sent to Daniel Bolnick&nbsp;</a>&nbsp;by May 1. We expect to notify chosen speakers by June 1.</p> <p>We encourage junior researchers (post-docs, early-career faculty) to apply, and individuals from often under-represented groups.</p> <p>The society does not have the funds to pay for travel or lodging expenses of the chosen speakers. But in exceptional circumstances ASM may consider appeals to waive conference registration fees for junior presenters who lack other means to cover conference costs.</p> <p>In addition to this symposium, the American Society of Naturalists is separately seeking proposals for topics and speakers for two other organized symposia at the 2018 Asilomar meeting (<a href="http://www.amnat.org/announcements/CallSympASN2018.html">see the details here.</a>)</p> Thu, 02 Mar 2017 06:00:00 GMT Call for Symposium Proposals for the ASN Stand-Alone Meeting in 2018 http://amnat.org/announcements/CallSympASN2018.html The American Society of Naturalists invites symposium proposals for their stand-alone meeting, to be held at Asilomar in Monterey, California 5-9 January 2018. Two symposia will be chosen for this meeting, to run on separate days, in addition to a special symposium celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first publication of the American Naturalist. Paper proposals for the special anniversary symposium are being solicited separately here. Symposium topics should support the Society’s goal to advance the conceptual unification of the biological sciences and further knowledge in evolution, ecology, behavior and organismal biology. Proposals are encouraged on topics that are synthetic, interdisciplinary or that address important emerging issues in evolution, ecology and behavior. Proposals should include a title;&nbsp; a description of the symposium topic (one page); a tentative list of speakers, including institutional affiliations; a justification for the symposium explaining why the topic and speakers are appropriate for an ASN meeting, keeping in mind the broader goals of the society; and&nbsp; a statement that all proposed invited speakers have agreed to participate.&nbsp; Organizers should plan the symposia to run from approximately 1:30-5:30, and can divide this time amongst speakers as they wish, reserving time for a coffee break. Proposals must be submitted by midnight Eastern Standard Time on March 31, 2017 by email to emilies@umn.edu&nbsp;as a single pdf attachment, under subject heading: ASN Asilomar Symposium Proposal. Proposals that include women, young investigators, and individuals from underrepresented groups are especially encouraged.&nbsp; Please note that the society does not have the funds to pay for travel or lodging expenses of the chosen speakers. But, in exceptional circumstances we may consider requests to waive conference registration costs for junior participants in symposia. Regardless, there may be opportunities to seek external symposium funding. The Society’s selection committee will evaluate proposals based on the likelihood of attracting a substantial audience, the significance and timeliness of the topic, and on it being substantively different from recent symposia hosted by the Society. All applicants will be notified of the decision by late April 2017. Emilie Snell-Rood ASN Symposium Committee Chair Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior University of Minnesota &nbsp; <p>The American Society of Naturalists invites symposium proposals for their stand-alone meeting, to be held at Asilomar in Monterey, California 5-9 January 2018. Two symposia will be chosen for this meeting, to run on separate days, in addition to a special symposium celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first publication of the American Naturalist. Paper proposals for the special anniversary symposium are being solicited separately <a href="http://www.amnat.org/announcements/CallAN150.html">here</a>.</p> <p>Symposium topics should support the Society&rsquo;s goal to advance the conceptual unification of the biological sciences and further knowledge in evolution, ecology, behavior and organismal biology. Proposals are encouraged on topics that are synthetic, interdisciplinary or that address important emerging issues in evolution, ecology and behavior.</p> <p>Proposals should include</p> <ol> <li>a title;&nbsp;</li> <li>a description of the symposium topic (one page);</li> <li>a tentative list of speakers, including institutional affiliations;</li> <li>a justification for the symposium explaining why the topic and speakers are appropriate for an ASN meeting, keeping in mind <a href="http://www.amnat.org/about/about-the-society.html">the broader goals of the society</a>; and&nbsp;</li> <li>a statement that all proposed invited speakers have agreed to participate.&nbsp;</li> </ol> <p>Organizers should plan the symposia to run from approximately 1:30-5:30, and can divide this time amongst speakers as they wish, reserving time for a coffee break.</p> <p>Proposals must be submitted by midnight Eastern Standard Time on March 31, 2017 by email to <a href="mailto:emilies@umn.edu?subject=ASN%20Asilomar%20Symposium%20Proposal.%20">emilies@umn.edu</a>&nbsp;as a single pdf attachment, under subject heading: ASN Asilomar Symposium Proposal. Proposals that include women, young investigators, and individuals from underrepresented groups are especially encouraged.&nbsp;</p> <p>Please note that the society does not have the funds to pay for travel or lodging expenses of the chosen speakers. But, in exceptional circumstances we may consider requests to waive conference registration costs for junior participants in symposia. Regardless, there may be opportunities to seek external symposium funding.</p> <p>The Society&rsquo;s selection committee will evaluate proposals based on the likelihood of attracting a substantial audience, the significance and timeliness of the topic, and on it being substantively different from recent symposia hosted by the Society. All applicants will be notified of the decision by late April 2017.</p> <p><br /> Emilie Snell-Rood<br /> ASN Symposium Committee Chair<br /> Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior<br /> University of Minnesota<br /> &nbsp;</p> Thu, 02 Mar 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Testing the terminal investment hypothesis in California oaks” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MayKoenig.html California oaks do not support the terminal investment hypothesis by differentially investing in reproduction prior to dying As they approach the end of their lives, a range of animals from beetles to humans have been found to put more of their resources into reproduction than expected. But until now, there as never been a test of this ‘terminal investment’ hypothesis in long-lived trees. Such a test is particularly difficult given that trees can live hundreds of years. In a paper appearing in The American Naturalist, Walt Koenig of Cornell University and his colleagues use acorn survey data collected on over 1000 mature trees at 20 sites throughout California for periods of up to 37 years to test the terminal investment hypothesis. For a subset of the trees, the authors also used stainless steel bands wrapped around the trunks to measure annual growth. During the course of the study, 70 of their trees died of apparently natural causes. Koenig found no evidence that dying trees increased their expected investment in either acorn production or growth during the six years prior to their demise relative to either other trees of the same species at the same site or compared to the same individual tree during even earlier years. Prior studies have found that dying trees often grow less than expected; the results presented in this paper demonstrate that such a decline in growth is not a consequence of trees ‘giving themselves to love’ just prior to their death. A lot of folklore has been built around acorn production, which typically varies dramatically from year to year—a phenomenon known as ‘masting’ or ‘mast-fruiting’ behavior. Long-term studies such as that of Koenig’s, which has been supported by the National Science Foundation, are critical to testing the extent to which such ideas are in fact backed up by data. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>California oaks do not support the terminal investment hypothesis by differentially investing in reproduction prior to dying </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">A</span>s they approach the end of their lives, a range of animals from beetles to humans have been found to put more of their resources into reproduction than expected. But until now, there as never been a test of this ‘terminal investment’ hypothesis in long-lived trees. Such a test is particularly difficult given that trees can live hundreds of years. </p><p>In a paper appearing in <i>The American Naturalist</i>, Walt Koenig of Cornell University and his colleagues use acorn survey data collected on over 1000 mature trees at 20 sites throughout California for periods of up to 37 years to test the terminal investment hypothesis. For a subset of the trees, the authors also used stainless steel bands wrapped around the trunks to measure annual growth. </p><p>During the course of the study, 70 of their trees died of apparently natural causes. Koenig found no evidence that dying trees increased their expected investment in either acorn production or growth during the six years prior to their demise relative to either other trees of the same species at the same site or compared to the same individual tree during even earlier years. Prior studies have found that dying trees often grow less than expected; the results presented in this paper demonstrate that such a decline in growth is not a consequence of trees ‘giving themselves to love’ just prior to their death. </p><p>A lot of folklore has been built around acorn production, which typically varies dramatically from year to year—a phenomenon known as ‘masting’ or ‘mast-fruiting’ behavior. Long-term studies such as that of Koenig’s, which has been supported by the National Science Foundation, are critical to testing the extent to which such ideas are in fact backed up by data. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691161">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Thu, 02 Mar 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Convergence and divergence in a long-term experiment with bacteria” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/VPLenski.html Abstract Suitably designed experiments offer the possibility of quantifying evolutionary convergence because the fraction of replicate populations that converge is known. Here I review an experiment with Escherichia coli, in which 12 populations were founded from the same ancestral strain and have evolved for almost 30 years and more than 65,000 generations under the same conditions. The tension between divergence and convergence has been a major focus of this experiment. I summarize analyses of competitive fitness, correlated responses to different environments, cell morphology, the capacity to use a previously untapped resource, mutation rates, genomic changes, and within-population polymorphisms. These analyses reveal convergence, divergence, and often a complicated mix thereof. Complications include concordance in the direction of evolutionary change accompanied by sustained quantitative variation among populations, and the potential for a given trait to exhibit divergence on one time scale and convergence on another. Despite these complications, which also occur in nature, experiments provide a powerful way to study evolutionary convergence based on analyzing replicate lineages that experience the same environment. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <h3>Abstract</h3> <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">S</span>uitably designed experiments offer the possibility of quantifying evolutionary convergence because the fraction of replicate populations that converge is known. Here I review an experiment with <i>Escherichia coli</i>, in which 12 populations were founded from the same ancestral strain and have evolved for almost 30 years and more than 65,000 generations under the same conditions. The tension between divergence and convergence has been a major focus of this experiment. I summarize analyses of competitive fitness, correlated responses to different environments, cell morphology, the capacity to use a previously untapped resource, mutation rates, genomic changes, and within-population polymorphisms. These analyses reveal convergence, divergence, and often a complicated mix thereof. Complications include concordance in the direction of evolutionary change accompanied by sustained quantitative variation among populations, and the potential for a given trait to exhibit divergence on one time scale and convergence on another. Despite these complications, which also occur in nature, experiments provide a powerful way to study evolutionary convergence based on analyzing replicate lineages that experience the same environment. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691209">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Thu, 02 Mar 2017 06:00:00 GMT Awards 2017 http://amnat.org/announcements/ANNawards.html The Sewall Wright Award Committee has announced the 2017 recipient: Ruth Shaw. The Sewall Wright Award, established in 1991, is given annually and honors a senior but still active investigator who is making fundamental contributions to the Society&#39;s goals, namely, promoting the conceptual unification of the biological sciences. The 2017 award goes to Ruth Shaw. A list of previous recipients can be found here. The E. O. Wilson Award Committee has announced the 2017 recipient: Edmund D. Brodie III. The award was created in 1998, in recognition of the lifetime of outstanding contributions of Professor E. O. Wilson in the areas of ecology and evolutionary biology, including the study of social insects, biodiversity, and biophilia. This award was established in the year of Professor Wilson&#39;s retirement from Harvard University. The E. O. Wilson Naturalist Award is given to an active investigator in mid-career who has made significant contributions to the knowledge of a particular ecosystem or group of organisms. Individuals whose research and writing illuminate principles of evolutionary biology and an enhanced aesthetic appreciation of natural history will merit special consideration. A list of previous recipients can be found here. <p>The Sewall Wright Award Committee has announced the 2017 recipient: Ruth Shaw.</p> <p>The Sewall Wright Award, established in 1991, is given annually and honors a senior but still active investigator who is making fundamental contributions to the Society&#39;s goals, namely, promoting the conceptual unification of the biological sciences. The 2017 award goes to Ruth Shaw. <a href="http://www.amnat.org/awards.html#Wright">A list of previous recipients can be found here.</a></p> <hr><p>The E. O. Wilson Award Committee has announced the 2017 recipient: Edmund D. Brodie III.</p> <p>The award was created in 1998, in recognition of the lifetime of outstanding contributions of Professor E. O. Wilson in the areas of ecology and evolutionary biology, including the study of social insects, biodiversity, and biophilia. This award was established in the year of Professor Wilson&#39;s retirement from Harvard University. The E. O. Wilson Naturalist Award is given to an active investigator in mid-career who has made significant contributions to the knowledge of a particular ecosystem or group of organisms. Individuals whose research and writing illuminate principles of evolutionary biology and an enhanced aesthetic appreciation of natural history will merit special consideration. <a href="http://www.amnat.org/awards.html#Wilson">A list of previous recipients can be found here.</a></p> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Evolutionary assembly of communities in butterfly mimicry rings” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/AprJoshi-A.html This paper reconstructed evolutionary history of butterfly mimicry rings of the Western Ghats, providing novel insights Abstract Species co-occurrence in ecological communities is thought to be influenced by multiple ecological and evolutionary processes, especially colonization and competition. However, effects of other interspecific interactions and evolutionary relationships are less explored. We examined evolutionary histories of community members and roles of mutualistic and parasitic interactions (Müllerian and Batesian mimicry, respectively) in the assembly of mimetic butterfly communities called mimicry rings in tropical forests of the Western Ghats, India. We found that Müllerian mimics were phylogenetically clustered, sharing aposematic signals due to common ancestry. On the other hand, Batesian mimics joined mimicry rings through convergent evolution and random phylogenetic assembly. Since the Western Ghats are a habitat island, we compared species diversity and composition in its mimicry rings with that of habitat mainland to test effects of biogeographic connectivity. The Western Ghats consisted of fewer mimicry rings and an overall smaller number of aposematic species and mimics compared to habitat mainland. The depauperate mimicry rings in the Western Ghats could have resulted from stochastic processes, reflecting their long temporal and spatial isolation and trickling colonization by the mimetic butterfly communities. These results highlight how evolutionary history, biogeographic isolation and stochastic colonization influence the evolutionary assembly and diversity of ecological communities. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>This paper reconstructed evolutionary history of butterfly mimicry rings of the Western Ghats, providing novel insights </b></p><h3>Abstract</h3> <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">S</span>pecies co-occurrence in ecological communities is thought to be influenced by multiple ecological and evolutionary processes, especially colonization and competition. However, effects of other interspecific interactions and evolutionary relationships are less explored. We examined evolutionary histories of community members and roles of mutualistic and parasitic interactions (Müllerian and Batesian mimicry, respectively) in the assembly of mimetic butterfly communities called mimicry rings in tropical forests of the Western Ghats, India. We found that Müllerian mimics were phylogenetically clustered, sharing aposematic signals due to common ancestry. On the other hand, Batesian mimics joined mimicry rings through convergent evolution and random phylogenetic assembly. Since the Western Ghats are a habitat island, we compared species diversity and composition in its mimicry rings with that of habitat mainland to test effects of biogeographic connectivity. The Western Ghats consisted of fewer mimicry rings and an overall smaller number of aposematic species and mimics compared to habitat mainland. The depauperate mimicry rings in the Western Ghats could have resulted from stochastic processes, reflecting their long temporal and spatial isolation and trickling colonization by the mimetic butterfly communities. These results highlight how evolutionary history, biogeographic isolation and stochastic colonization influence the evolutionary assembly and diversity of ecological communities. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690907">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Maladaptation to acute metal exposure in resurrected Daphnia ambigua clones after decades of increasing contamination” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/AprRogalski.html Daphnia resurrected from egg banks have evolved increased sensitivity to metals following decades of contamination Human activities can drive rapid evolutionary responses in wild animal populations. These evolutionary responses often leave the population better able to cope with human activities, but sometimes populations appear to be maladapted to local conditions. While maladaptation has been observed in multiple systems, it has received much less attention than adaptation. One reason we don’t have a better understanding of maladaptation is that if we uncover a population that appears to be maladapted to local conditions, it is often impossible to determine the trajectory of that population and the environment over time. How have key traits in the population evolved over time? And how does that correspond with changes in the environment? In a new article in The American Naturalist, Dr. Rogalski uses dated lake sediment archives to quantify metal pollution and evolutionary responses to this contamination in three lakes in Connecticut, USA, over the past 50-75 years. She hatched microscopic animals known as Daphnia from long-lived resting eggs from multiple time periods to track their sensitivity to metals through time. In contrast to the predicted trend of adaptation to metal exposure, she found that Daphnia from contaminated time periods were more sensitive to copper and cadmium exposure. In one lake where copper contamination has dramatically declined, the Daphnia remain sensitive to copper 30 years after peak exposure. It is difficult to know what mechanisms are driving this evolutionary pattern or even whether the animals are truly maladapted to their natural environment (that is, to be sure that their fitness has declined over time). However, the release of toxicants (including heavy metals) is widespread and other researchers have also observed local maladaptation to contaminants. Thus, this research suggests that we need to do more to uncover both the drivers and implications of maladaptation in nature. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b><i>Daphnia</i> resurrected from egg banks have evolved increased sensitivity to metals following decades of contamination </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">H</span>uman activities can drive rapid evolutionary responses in wild animal populations. These evolutionary responses often leave the population better able to cope with human activities, but sometimes populations appear to be maladapted to local conditions. While maladaptation has been observed in multiple systems, it has received much less attention than adaptation. One reason we don’t have a better understanding of maladaptation is that if we uncover a population that appears to be maladapted to local conditions, it is often impossible to determine the trajectory of that population and the environment over time. How have key traits in the population evolved over time? And how does that correspond with changes in the environment? </p><p>In a new article in <i>The American Naturalist</i>, Dr. Rogalski uses dated lake sediment archives to quantify metal pollution and evolutionary responses to this contamination in three lakes in Connecticut, USA, over the past 50-75 years. She hatched microscopic animals known as <i>Daphnia</i> from long-lived resting eggs from multiple time periods to track their sensitivity to metals through time. In contrast to the predicted trend of adaptation to metal exposure, she found that <i>Daphnia</i> from contaminated time periods were more sensitive to copper and cadmium exposure. In one lake where copper contamination has dramatically declined, the <i>Daphnia</i> remain sensitive to copper 30 years after peak exposure. It is difficult to know what mechanisms are driving this evolutionary pattern or even whether the animals are truly maladapted to their natural environment (that is, to be sure that their fitness has declined over time). However, the release of toxicants (including heavy metals) is widespread and other researchers have also observed local maladaptation to contaminants. Thus, this research suggests that we need to do more to uncover both the drivers and implications of maladaptation in nature. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691077">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Ecological pleiotropy suppresses the dynamic feedback generated by a rapidly changing trait” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MayDeLong.html Ecological pleiotropy suppresses the dynamic feedback generated by a rapidly changing trait It has long been assumed that evolution is too slow to influence short-term ecological dynamics. More recently, there is growing recognition that not only can traits evolve rather quickly, but their evolution can feed back into the processes generating dynamics. Thus, ecological dynamics may look different when evolution occurs—a process known generally as eco-evolutionary dynamics. But changing traits may influence the ecological dynamics in more than one way. If so, different feedback signals could cancel out or amplify each other, an effect called ecological pleiotropy. John DeLong of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln has recently found evidence for the cancellation of feedback signals in the classic protist predator-prey system of Didinium nasutum foraging on Paramecium Aurelia. Large (tenfold) changes in the predator’s cell volume accompanied the predator-prey cycle, but there was no detectable feedback to the population dynamics. Predator cell volume affects multiple aspects of this predator-prey interaction, and each of these aspects on their own would cause some shift in the dynamics of the system. Yet when taken together, there was nearly a complete suppression of the feedback to the predator-prey dynamics. Thus, even when evolution alters ecological interactions, detecting the downstream ecological consequences depends on the net effects of different types of feedback. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Ecological pleiotropy suppresses the dynamic feedback generated by a rapidly changing trait </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">I</span>t has long been assumed that evolution is too slow to influence short-term ecological dynamics. More recently, there is growing recognition that not only can traits evolve rather quickly, but their evolution can feed back into the processes generating dynamics. Thus, ecological dynamics may look different when evolution occurs—a process known generally as eco-evolutionary dynamics. But changing traits may influence the ecological dynamics in more than one way. If so, different feedback signals could cancel out or amplify each other, an effect called ecological pleiotropy. John DeLong of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln has recently found evidence for the cancellation of feedback signals in the classic protist predator-prey system of <i>Didinium nasutum</i> foraging on <i>Paramecium Aurelia</i>. Large (tenfold) changes in the predator’s cell volume accompanied the predator-prey cycle, but there was no detectable feedback to the population dynamics. Predator cell volume affects multiple aspects of this predator-prey interaction, and each of these aspects on their own would cause some shift in the dynamics of the system. Yet when taken together, there was nearly a complete suppression of the feedback to the predator-prey dynamics. Thus, even when evolution alters ecological interactions, detecting the downstream ecological consequences depends on the net effects of different types of feedback. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691100">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Royal Darwinian demons: enforced changes in reproductive efforts do not affect the life expectancy of ant queens” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/AprSchrempf.html The trade-off between reproduction and longevity appears to be fundamental throughout animals and plants: to optimize their reproductive success, organisms have to find the best way of allocating limited resources to either the production of offspring or the maintenance of their own bodies. Accordingly, increased reproduction usually results in a decrease in lifespan and vice versa. In a study appearing in The American Naturalist, scientists of the university of Regensburg, Germany, report on the extraordinary lack of this trade-off in ant queens. In the study, they were able to show that ant queens actually do not suffer from artificially boosted reproduction: by continuously removing eggs from single-queen colonies of the ant Cardiocondyla obscurior, they induced randomly selected queens to augment their efforts into reproduction. Increased egg laying rate did not result in a decrease of longevity. Instead, they found a positive correlation between mean egg number and the lifespan of the females, suggesting that exhaustive reproduction even extends longevity. The results imply that queens are able to reduce the costs of reproduction without affecting other fitness traits negatively, and that they are able to counter or at least delay senescence. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">T</span>he trade-off between reproduction and longevity appears to be fundamental throughout animals and plants: to optimize their reproductive success, organisms have to find the best way of allocating limited resources to either the production of offspring or the maintenance of their own bodies. Accordingly, increased reproduction usually results in a decrease in lifespan and vice versa. In a study appearing in <i>The American Naturalist</I>, scientists of the university of Regensburg, Germany, report on the extraordinary lack of this trade-off in ant queens. </p><p>In the study, they were able to show that ant queens actually do not suffer from artificially boosted reproduction: by continuously removing eggs from single-queen colonies of the ant <i>Cardiocondyla obscurior</I>, they induced randomly selected queens to augment their efforts into reproduction. Increased egg laying rate did not result in a decrease of longevity. Instead, they found a positive correlation between mean egg number and the lifespan of the females, suggesting that exhaustive reproduction even extends longevity. The results imply that queens are able to reduce the costs of reproduction without affecting other fitness traits negatively, and that they are able to counter or at least delay senescence. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691000">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Mon, 13 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Complex relationships between competing guilds along large-scale environmental gradients” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/AprVegnon-A.html Abstract Despite much research over the past 30 years there is still little general understanding of how the outcomes of interactions vary along environmental gradients, particularly at large geographic scales. A simple expectation is that decreasing environmental quality should reduce densities of competitors and hence the effects of competition should weaken in poorer environments. A counter-intuitive consequence is that associations between densities of competitors might change from negative to positive as environments decrease in quality. Here we test these predictions in a set of vascular plant communities where perennial species share space and resources with less competitive annuals. We surveyed nine grey dune communities annually for 5 years along a cross-European latitudinal gradient of habitat quality. We find that densities of annual and perennial species are negatively correlated at the high-quality end of the gradient, while at the low-quality end guild densities are uncorrelated or positively correlated, consistent with a weakening of competition linked to increasing environmental limitations. Our results suggest that even simple interactions can give rise to non-obvious changes in species associations along environmental gradients. They highlight that understanding the outcome of species interactions may require explicit characterization of their changing intensity with environmental quality, and that the factors limiting species’ co-distribution can vary along environmental gradients. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <h3>Abstract</h3> <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">D</span>espite much research over the past 30 years there is still little general understanding of how the outcomes of interactions vary along environmental gradients, particularly at large geographic scales. A simple expectation is that decreasing environmental quality should reduce densities of competitors and hence the effects of competition should weaken in poorer environments. A counter-intuitive consequence is that associations between densities of competitors might change from negative to positive as environments decrease in quality. Here we test these predictions in a set of vascular plant communities where perennial species share space and resources with less competitive annuals. We surveyed nine grey dune communities annually for 5 years along a cross-European latitudinal gradient of habitat quality. We find that densities of annual and perennial species are negatively correlated at the high-quality end of the gradient, while at the low-quality end guild densities are uncorrelated or positively correlated, consistent with a weakening of competition linked to increasing environmental limitations. Our results suggest that even simple interactions can give rise to non-obvious changes in species associations along environmental gradients. They highlight that understanding the outcome of species interactions may require explicit characterization of their changing intensity with environmental quality, and that the factors limiting species’ co-distribution can vary along environmental gradients. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690765">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Mon, 13 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT Am Nat at 150 http://amnat.org/announcements/Countdowns.html The first American Naturalist appeared in March 1867. In a countdown to the 150th anniversary, the editors have solicited short commentaries on neglected articles from the journal&#39;s past that deserve a second look. "Natural Selection, Coevolution, and the Web of Life," John N. Thompson on Brues 1920, 1921, 1924, and 1951 "Limiting Factors, Competitive Exclusion, and a More Expansive View of Species Coexistence," Mark A. McPeek on Levin 1970 "Bringing the Male Side of Plant Sex into Focus," James D. Thomson on Janzen 1977 and Willson 1979 "The Baldwin Effect: Neglected and Misunderstood," Samuel M. Scheiner on Baldwin 1896 "Observation, Natural History, and an Early Post-Darwinian View of Plant-Animal Interactions," Anurag A. Agrawal on James 1887 "Sexual Stimulation and Sexual Selection," Laurel B. Symes and Trevor D. Price on Huxley 1938 "Competition for Pollination and the Evolution of Flowering Time," Nickolas M. Waser on Robertson 1895 "Hamilton&#39;s Rule," Andy Gardner on Hamilton 1963 "A Naturalist’s Insight into the Evolution of Signal Redundancy,"&nbsp;Manuel Leal and Jonathan B. Losos on Rand and Williams 1970 "Invisible Trade-offs: Van Noordwijk and de Jong and Life-History Evolution,"&nbsp;C. Jessica Metcalf on van Noordwijk and de Jong 1986 "A Visionary Pioneer of Parasite Ecology and Evolution,"&nbsp; Samuel Alizon on Smith 1887 "Breaking Barriers in Evolutionary Biology: A Pioneering Woman in Science and Her Early Theory of Plant Chemical Macroevolution," Eric F. LoPresti and Marjorie G. Weber on Abbott 1887 "Placing the Time of Leaf Emergence in an Evolutionary Context," Susanne S. Renner on Lechowicz 1984 "From Lichens to the Law: Cooperation as a Theme in the Diverse Career of Roscoe Pound," Megan E. Frederickson and Judith L. Bronstein on Pound 1893 "Revisiting Paine’s 1966 Sea Star Removal Experiment, the Most-Cited Empirical Article in the American Naturalist" by&nbsp;Kevin D. Lafferty, Thomas H. Suchanek <p>The first <em>American Naturalist </em>appeared in March 1867. In a countdown to the 150th anniversary, the editors have solicited short commentaries on neglected articles from the journal&#39;s past that deserve a second look.</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/674238">&quot;Natural Selection, Coevolution, and the Web of Life,&quot;</a> John N. Thompson on Brues 1920, 1921, 1924, and 1951</li> <li><a href="http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/675305">&quot;Limiting Factors, Competitive Exclusion, and a More Expansive View of Species Coexistence,&quot;</a> Mark A. McPeek on Levin 1970</li> <li><a href="http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/676990">&quot;Bringing the Male Side of Plant Sex into Focus,&quot;</a> James D. Thomson on Janzen 1977 and Willson 1979</li> <li><a href="http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/677944">&quot;The Baldwin Effect: Neglected and Misunderstood,&quot;</a> Samuel M. Scheiner on Baldwin 1896</li> <li><a href="http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/678590">&quot;Observation, Natural History, and an Early Post-Darwinian View of Plant-Animal Interactions,&quot;</a> Anurag A. Agrawal on James 1887</li> <li><a href="http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/680414">&quot;Sexual Stimulation and Sexual Selection,&quot;</a> Laurel B. Symes and Trevor D. Price on Huxley 1938</li> <li><a href="http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/681255">&quot;Competition for Pollination and the Evolution of Flowering Time,&quot;</a> Nickolas M. Waser on Robertson 1895</li> <li><a href="http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/682082">&quot;Hamilton&#39;s Rule,&quot;</a> Andy Gardner on Hamilton 1963</li> <li><a href="http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/682704">&quot;A Naturalist&rsquo;s Insight into the Evolution of Signal Redundancy,&quot;</a>&nbsp;Manuel Leal and Jonathan B. Losos on Rand and Williams 1970</li> <li><a href="http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/685487">&quot;Invisible Trade-offs: Van Noordwijk and de Jong and Life-History Evolution,&quot;</a>&nbsp;C. Jessica Metcalf on van Noordwijk and de Jong 1986</li> <li><a href="http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/686526">&quot;A Visionary Pioneer of Parasite Ecology and Evolution,&quot;</a>&nbsp; Samuel Alizon on Smith 1887</li> <li><a href="http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/687295">&quot;Breaking Barriers in Evolutionary Biology: A Pioneering Woman in Science and Her Early Theory of Plant Chemical Macroevolution,&quot;</a> Eric F. LoPresti and Marjorie G. Weber on Abbott 1887</li> <li><a href="http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/690020">&quot;Placing the Time of Leaf Emergence in an Evolutionary Context,&quot;</a> Susanne S. Renner on Lechowicz 1984</li> <li><a href="http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/688598">&quot;From Lichens to the Law: Cooperation as a Theme in the Diverse Career of Roscoe Pound,</a>&quot; Megan E. Frederickson and Judith L. Bronstein on Pound 1893</li> </ul><p><a href="http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/688045">&quot;Revisiting Paine&rsquo;s 1966 Sea Star Removal Experiment, the Most-Cited Empirical Article in the <em>American Naturalist</em>&quot;</a> by&nbsp;Kevin D. Lafferty, Thomas H. Suchanek</p> Mon, 13 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics Workshop http://amnat.org/announcements/QuantGenWkshp.html The 1 March deadline is rapidly approaching for the Friday Harbor Workshop on Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics for graduate students, postdocs, and young investigators. &nbsp; This summer (5-9 June 2017) the course will be taught at the University of Washington’s field station in the San Juan Islands. The course is primarily aimed at two audiences: (1) students using comparative methods who wish to understand how quantitative genetics constitutes an underlying theory and constrains those methods, and (2) students with a background in quantitative genetics who wish to apply its approach to evolutionary problems on both short and long time scales. Although some background in statistics and evolutionary biology will be useful, we give a self-contained introduction to relevant disciplines and methods (e.g., matrix algebra, hypothesis testing and estimation with maximum likelihood). The course will also provide an opportunity to learn and use R, a statistical programming language. The workshop format is lectures and in-class computer exercises (consult the 2016 tutorial website for examples). Guest instructors in 2017 will include:&nbsp; Stevan J. Arnold, Integrative Biology, Oregon State University, Corvallis Marguerite Butler, Biology, Univ. Hawai&#39;i, Mānoa&nbsp; Patrick Carter, Evolutionary Physiology, Washington State University, Pullman Joseph Felsenstein, Genome Science, University of Washington, Seattle Adam Jones, Biology, Texas A&M University, College Station&nbsp; Brian O&#39;Meara, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville&nbsp; Josef Uyeda, Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg The $1000 fee for this workshop covers housing and meals at FHL and all other workshop expenses, except travel. Application form and details at http://tinyurl.com/EQG2017. This workshop is sponsored by The American Society of Naturalists. &nbsp;Student members of ASN are eligible for a $200 discount on the workshop fee. &nbsp;FHL will offer this discount to a maximum of 13 participants, first-come, first-serve, based on the date the workshop application is submitted. &nbsp;Apply for an ASN student membership ($20/yr) <p>The 1 March deadline is rapidly approaching for the Friday Harbor Workshop on Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics for graduate students, postdocs, and young investigators. &nbsp;</p> <p>This summer (5-9 June 2017) the course will be taught at the University of Washington&rsquo;s field station in the San Juan Islands. The course is primarily aimed at two audiences: (1) students using comparative methods who wish to understand how quantitative genetics constitutes an underlying theory and constrains those methods, and (2) students with a background in quantitative genetics who wish to apply its approach to evolutionary problems on both short and long time scales. Although some background in statistics and evolutionary biology will be useful, we give a self-contained introduction to relevant disciplines and methods (e.g., matrix algebra, hypothesis testing and estimation with maximum likelihood). The course will also provide an opportunity to learn and use R, a statistical programming language. The workshop format is lectures and in-class computer exercises (consult the 2016 tutorial website for examples).</p> <p>Guest instructors in 2017 will include:&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>Stevan J. Arnold, Integrative Biology, Oregon State University, Corvallis</li> <li>Marguerite Butler, Biology, Univ. Hawai&#39;i, Mānoa&nbsp;</li> <li>Patrick Carter, Evolutionary Physiology, Washington State University, Pullman</li> <li>Joseph Felsenstein, Genome Science, University of Washington, Seattle</li> <li>Adam Jones, Biology, Texas A&amp;M University, College Station&nbsp;</li> <li>Brian O&#39;Meara, Ecology &amp; Evolutionary Biology, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville&nbsp;</li> <li>Josef Uyeda, Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg</li> </ul> <p>The $1000 fee for this workshop covers housing and meals at FHL and all other workshop expenses, except travel. Application form and details at <a href="https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScN6--JeulJfw9E33IPqaS2nnCnuxNYqxLJGwKGp7YRiYCOPw/viewform">http://tinyurl.com/EQG2017</a>.</p> <p>This workshop is sponsored by The American Society of Naturalists. &nbsp;Student members of ASN are eligible for a $200 discount on the workshop fee. &nbsp;FHL will offer this discount to a maximum of 13 participants, first-come, first-serve, based on the date the workshop application is submitted. <a href="http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/journals/subscribe/an.html">&nbsp;Apply for an ASN student membership ($20/yr)</a></p> Mon, 13 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT 2017 Young Investigator Award http://amnat.org/announcements/ANNwinYIA.html The American Society of Naturalist’s Young Investigator Award is in honor of Jasper Loftus-Hill, a young scientist who died tragically 3 years after receiving his PhD. &nbsp; This award goes to applicants who completed their PhD three years preceding the application deadline or are in their last year of a PhD program. This year’s award committee [Rebecca Safran, chair, Jeremy Fox, and Luke Harmon] were tasked with choosing four awardees out of 25 stellar submissions (15 female and 10 male applicants). Narrowing these down to four awardees is always the hard part – each application is inspiring and exciting. There is great science being done by the next generation of leaders in our field! We are pleased to announce that this year’s recipients of the ASN YIA are:&nbsp;Sarah Fitzpatrick, Anna Hargreaves,&nbsp;Martha Mu&ntilde;oz, and Alison Wright.We very much looking forward to their participation in the ASN YIA symposium at the annual meeting in Portland this summer. &nbsp; <p>The American Society of Naturalist&rsquo;s Young Investigator Award is in honor of Jasper Loftus-Hill, a young scientist who died tragically 3 years after receiving his PhD. &nbsp;</p> <p>This award goes to applicants who completed their PhD three years preceding the application deadline or are in their last year of a PhD program. This year&rsquo;s award committee [Rebecca Safran, chair, Jeremy Fox, and Luke Harmon] were tasked with choosing four awardees out of 25 stellar submissions (15 female and 10 male applicants). Narrowing these down to four awardees is always the hard part &ndash; each application is inspiring and exciting. There is great science being done by the next generation of leaders in our field!</p> <p>We are pleased to announce that this year&rsquo;s recipients of the ASN YIA are:&nbsp;<a href="http://swfitz.com//">Sarah Fitzpatrick</a>, <a href="http://annahargreaves.wixsite.com/home">Anna Hargreaves</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.marthamunoz.com/">Martha Mu&ntilde;oz</a>, and <a href="http://www.alisonewright.co.uk">Alison Wright.</a>We very much looking forward to their participation in the ASN YIA symposium at the annual meeting in Portland this summer.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed, 08 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Fitness consequences of boldness in juvenile and adult largemouth bass” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/AprBallew.html Fitness consequences of boldness tradeoff across life stages and may help maintain variation within populations Many, perhaps most, animal species show consistent individual differences in behaviors—often referred to as “animal personalities” or “behavioral types”. While such personality differences between individuals are well-documented, biologists are only beginning to explore the fitness consequences of these behavioral types, especially in the field and across multiple life stages. In this study, three researchers from Michigan State University (Nicholas Ballew, Gary Mittelbach, and Kim Scribner) examined the effects of boldness in largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) on juvenile survival and adult reproductive success in a series of experiments conducted at the Kellogg Biological Station's experimental pond facility in southwest Michigan, USA (see photo). Four experiments conducted in these large outdoor ponds over multiple years produced two important results. First, juvenile bass scoring high in boldness had much lower survival than shy bass. Second, adult male (but not female) bass that were bold had higher reproductive success than their shyer counterparts. Additionally, measures of boldness were highly consistent in individuals measured over multiple years and boldness was significantly heritable as judged by parent-offspring regression. Taken together, these results demonstrate for one of the first times under semi-natural conditions that a heritable personality trait can affect fitness in different ways across an organism's life history. Such fitness tradeoffs provide a potential mechanism for the maintenance of personality variation within a population. These results also have important implications for the conservation and management of fishes. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Fitness consequences of boldness tradeoff across life stages and may help maintain variation within populations </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">M</span>any, perhaps most, animal species show consistent individual differences in behaviors—often referred to as “animal personalities” or “behavioral types”. While such personality differences between individuals are well-documented, biologists are only beginning to explore the fitness consequences of these behavioral types, especially in the field and across multiple life stages. In this study, three researchers from Michigan State University (Nicholas Ballew, Gary Mittelbach, and Kim Scribner) examined the effects of boldness in largemouth bass (<i>Micropterus salmoides</i>) on juvenile survival and adult reproductive success in a series of experiments conducted at the Kellogg Biological Station's experimental pond facility in southwest Michigan, USA (see photo). </p><p>Four experiments conducted in these large outdoor ponds over multiple years produced two important results. First, juvenile bass scoring high in boldness had much lower survival than shy bass. Second, adult male (but not female) bass that were bold had higher reproductive success than their shyer counterparts. Additionally, measures of boldness were highly consistent in individuals measured over multiple years and boldness was significantly heritable as judged by parent-offspring regression. Taken together, these results demonstrate for one of the first times under semi-natural conditions that a heritable personality trait can affect fitness in different ways across an organism's life history. Such fitness tradeoffs provide a potential mechanism for the maintenance of personality variation within a population. These results also have important implications for the conservation and management of fishes. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690909">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Mon, 06 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Ecological and social factors constrain spatial and temporal opportunities for mating in a migratory songbird” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MarKaiser.html Ecological and social factors affect the spatial and temporal opportunities for extra-pair paternity sexual selection In socially monogamous species, extrapair paternity – mating outside of social pair bonds – may increase the strength of sexual selection when males with preferred characteristics monopolize these matings. However, most studies of sexual selection have found weak associations between male sexual traits and their extrapair mating success. New research on a North American songbird shows that environmental heterogeneity generates variation in opportunities for extrapair mating, which could moderate the strength of sexual selection shaping sexual traits in natural populations and thus can explain why such strong associations are rarely found. In a study appearing in The American Naturalist, a team of researchers from Cornell University, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center examine how ecological and social conditions affect a male’s opportunity for extrapair paternity. The authors use genetic parentage data collected from an intensively studied population of black-throated blue warblers at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire to construct spatial networks of breeding individuals, which included over 5,000 possible female–male pairings over four years. The data revealed that most males mated with extrapair females in their local neighborhood and when their social mate was incubating her eggs. These spatial and temporal constraints on extrapair mating opportunities were stronger for males on food-abundant territories. This research sheds new light on the evolution of sexual traits, and shows that the ecological and social conditions under which sexual traits evolve are likely to be more constrained by the environment than previously appreciated. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Ecological and social factors affect the spatial and temporal opportunities for extra-pair paternity sexual selection </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">I</span>n socially monogamous species, extrapair paternity – mating outside of social pair bonds – may increase the strength of sexual selection when males with preferred characteristics monopolize these matings. However, most studies of sexual selection have found weak associations between male sexual traits and their extrapair mating success. New research on a North American songbird shows that environmental heterogeneity generates variation in opportunities for extrapair mating, which could moderate the strength of sexual selection shaping sexual traits in natural populations and thus can explain why such strong associations are rarely found. </p><p>In a study appearing in <i>The American Naturalist</i>, a team of researchers from Cornell University, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center examine how ecological and social conditions affect a male’s opportunity for extrapair paternity. The authors use genetic parentage data collected from an intensively studied population of black-throated blue warblers at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire to construct spatial networks of breeding individuals, which included over 5,000 possible female–male pairings over four years. </p><p>The data revealed that most males mated with extrapair females in their local neighborhood and when their social mate was incubating her eggs. These spatial and temporal constraints on extrapair mating opportunities were stronger for males on food-abundant territories. This research sheds new light on the evolution of sexual traits, and shows that the ecological and social conditions under which sexual traits evolve are likely to be more constrained by the environment than previously appreciated. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690203">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Thu, 02 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT Joint Societies' Letter to the Trump Administration on Travel Restrictions http://amnat.org/announcements/LTRvisa.html Dear President Trump, &nbsp; The success of the scientific endeavor in the United States depends on the free exchange of ideas, information, and training at an international scale. &nbsp;The scientific community is deeply concerned about immigration policy that aims to ban or suspend immigration from target countries. &nbsp;This policy has already led to organized movements to boycott American scientific conferences, and thousands of scientists have already pledged to participate in this boycott (“Inside Higher Ed” January 31, 2017). &nbsp;Restricting movement and communication among scientists will have a devastating effect on scientific and technological progress in the US. &nbsp; International exchange of expertise is in the interest of American science and security. First, to remain competitive in an international arena, the US needs to recruit the best talent globally. &nbsp;To solve persistent scientific challenges, US scientists need to exchange ideas and discoveries with scientists with different training, educational background, and starting premises. &nbsp;Second, such exchange broadens the application of scientific knowledge to meet challenges faced throughout the globe, some of which are now, or will in the future be, a priority for the United States. &nbsp;Being a leader in the application of scientific knowledge to technological, medical, agricultural, and environmental advancements should be a clear priority for the United States. Third, training of foreign scientists by Americans gives those scientists expertise they need to solve challenges in their own countries. &nbsp;When societies can address their own problems with creativity, technical competency, and efficiency, all parties benefit. &nbsp;Finally, as other countries consider reciprocal &nbsp;immigration bans, there is a real risk that researchers from the United States may be prevented from pursing data and collaborations elsewhere that would benefit science in this country. &nbsp; Science needs an international community to advance. &nbsp;Restrictions on international exchange by nation of origin will marginalize American science, cutting scientists off from valuable expertise, resources to conduct their research, creative scientific insight, and practical application of scientific findings. &nbsp;This is not what America needs to maintain its standing, remain competitive, and solve future challenges. &nbsp;We hope you will honor the value of international exchange during your time in office. Sincerely, &nbsp; Dr. Kathleen Donohue President, American Society of Naturalists &nbsp; Dr. Sally Otto President, Society for the Study of Evolution &nbsp; Dr. Luke Harmon President, Society of Systematic Biologists <p>Dear President Trump,<br /> &nbsp;<br /> The success of the scientific endeavor in the United States depends on the free exchange of ideas, information, and training at an international scale. &nbsp;The scientific community is deeply concerned about immigration policy that aims to ban or suspend immigration from target countries. &nbsp;This policy has already led to organized movements to boycott American scientific conferences, and thousands of scientists have already pledged to participate in this boycott (<a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/01/31/protest-trump-entry-ban-some-scholars-are-boycotting-us-based-conferences">&ldquo;Inside Higher Ed&rdquo;</a> January 31, 2017). &nbsp;Restricting movement and communication among scientists will have a devastating effect on scientific and technological progress in the US.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> International exchange of expertise is in the interest of American science and security. First, to remain competitive in an international arena, the US needs to recruit the best talent globally. &nbsp;To solve persistent scientific challenges, US scientists need to exchange ideas and discoveries with scientists with different training, educational background, and starting premises. &nbsp;Second, such exchange broadens the application of scientific knowledge to meet challenges faced throughout the globe, some of which are now, or will in the future be, a priority for the United States. &nbsp;Being a leader in the application of scientific knowledge to technological, medical, agricultural, and environmental advancements should be a clear priority for the United States. Third, training of foreign scientists by Americans gives those scientists expertise they need to solve challenges in their own countries. &nbsp;When societies can address their own problems with creativity, technical competency, and efficiency, all parties benefit. &nbsp;Finally, as other countries consider reciprocal <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iraq-donald-trump-parliament-committee-immigrant-muslim-travel-ban-reciprocal-americans-us-a7552546.html">&nbsp;immigration bans</a>, there is a real risk that researchers from the United States may be prevented from pursing data and collaborations elsewhere that would benefit science in this country.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Science needs an international community to advance. &nbsp;Restrictions on international exchange by nation of origin will marginalize American science, cutting scientists off from valuable expertise, resources to conduct their research, creative scientific insight, and practical application of scientific findings. &nbsp;This is not what America needs to maintain its standing, remain competitive, and solve future challenges. &nbsp;We hope you will honor the value of international exchange during your time in office.</p> <p>Sincerely,<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Dr. Kathleen Donohue<br /> President, American Society of Naturalists<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Dr. Sally Otto<br /> President, Society for the Study of Evolution<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Dr. Luke Harmon<br /> President, Society of Systematic Biologists</p> Wed, 01 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT Joint Societies' Letter to the Trump Administration on Open Science http://amnat.org/announcements/LtrOpenSci.html Dear President Trump, The United States has one of the strongest communities of scientists globally. These scientists are committed to gathering and evaluating the evidence needed for informed decision making. Researchers, policy makers, and indeed citizens depend on access to unbiased information to make informed decisions about their lives. This access is fundamental to our democracy. As scientific societies, we ask that your administration embrace the principles of scientific integrity and openness. Every citizen has the right to make important decisions based on the best available scientific data, results, and conclusions. All scientific data must be made freely accessible to the taxpayers who funded it. On our part, scientists must communicate their results clearly and effectively to all audiences. In light of these principles, we are greatly concerned by the recent restrictions placed on government scientists, preventing them from publishing their results or speaking with the public, unless approved. Impeding public access to information that taxpayers have funded is damaging to the principles of our democracy and to scientific progress. We hope your administration will send a strong signal that citizens and businesses deserve unfettered access to the best available evidence. Science does not always bring good news, but armed with the data provided, everybody can become better prepared for the future. We are all better off when we know the foods that best support our health, the management measures that best protect our natural resources, and the energy alternatives and mitigation efforts that best avert future disasters. It should be a priority for your administration to ensure that government supports the research that will inform the decisions that the public and businesses will need to make about their health and environment. We live in a complex world. The free flow of information and data--always characteristic of the American approach to science--is especially critical heading into the future. We hope that you agree and will commit to open scientific inquiry during your time in office. Sincerely, Dr. Kathleen Donohue President, American Society of Naturalists Dr. Sally Otto President, Society for the Study of Evolution Dr. Luke Harmon President, Society of Systematic Biologists &nbsp; <p>Dear President Trump,</p> <p>The United States has one of the strongest communities of scientists globally. These scientists are committed to gathering and evaluating the evidence needed for informed decision making. Researchers, policy makers, and indeed citizens depend on access to unbiased information to make informed decisions about their lives. This access is fundamental to our democracy.</p> <p>As scientific societies, we ask that your administration embrace the principles of scientific integrity and openness. Every citizen has the right to make important decisions based on the best available scientific data, results, and conclusions. All scientific data must be made freely accessible to the taxpayers who funded it. On our part, scientists must communicate their results clearly and effectively to all audiences.</p> <p>In light of these principles, we are greatly concerned by the recent restrictions placed on government scientists, preventing them from publishing their results or speaking with the public, unless approved. Impeding public access to information that taxpayers have funded is damaging to the principles of our democracy and to scientific progress. We hope your administration will send a strong signal that citizens and businesses deserve unfettered access to the best available evidence.</p> <p>Science does not always bring good news, but armed with the data provided, everybody can become better prepared for the future. We are all better off when we know the foods that best support our health, the management measures that best protect our natural resources, and the energy alternatives and mitigation efforts that best avert future disasters. It should be a priority for your administration to ensure that government supports the research that will inform the decisions that the public and businesses will need to make about their health and environment.</p> <p>We live in a complex world. The free flow of information and data--always characteristic of the American approach to science--is especially critical heading into the future. We hope that you agree and will commit to open scientific inquiry during your time in office.</p> <p>Sincerely,<br /> <br /> Dr. Kathleen Donohue<br /> President, American Society of Naturalists<br /> <br /> Dr. Sally Otto<br /> President, Society for the Study of Evolution<br /> <br /> Dr. Luke Harmon<br /> President, Society of Systematic Biologists<br /> &nbsp;</p> Tue, 31 Jan 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Local adaptation interacts with expansion load during range expansion: Maladaptation reduces expansion load” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/AprGilbert.html Local adaptation to an environmental gradient reduces expansion load during species range expansions We have become increasingly aware of the role that demographic history can play in contributing to varying levels of genetic diversity and fitness of modern populations. In particular, species range expansions create a unique scenario of repeated population bottlenecks that prolong the reduced efficacy of selection in small populations through time and space. This can result in reductions in population fitness due to the expansion process, termed expansion load. The degree to which expansion load contributes to the fitness of populations in the real world is debated, with contrasting results being found in human populations that have expanded out of Africa. To investigate other processes that might contribute to expansion load, researchers from the University of British Columbia, CUNY, and University of Zurich have conducted simulations that combine the presence of deleterious mutations with the presence of an environmental gradient during range expansion to understand the impact and interactions that local adaptation has on load accumulation. They find that as the change in environment becomes greater over space, populations have more difficulty in locally adapting, leading to the slowing of range expansion. As this slowing occurs, less genetic drift acts at the range edges, reducing the potential for buildup of deleterious mutations through a process called allele surfing. Despite this reduction in expansion load, populations are still faced with the difficulty of locally adapting on steeper environmental gradients, so overall fitness is not improved. This research uncovers an important interaction that may explain the absence or reduction of expansion load found in nature compared with predictions from theoretical work. This also highlights an important concern for species undergoing future expansion due to climate change or other anthropogenic forces, where we may expect fitness reduction due to several interacting factors. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Local adaptation to an environmental gradient reduces expansion load during species range expansions </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">W</span>e have become increasingly aware of the role that demographic history can play in contributing to varying levels of genetic diversity and fitness of modern populations. In particular, species range expansions create a unique scenario of repeated population bottlenecks that prolong the reduced efficacy of selection in small populations through time and space. This can result in reductions in population fitness due to the expansion process, termed expansion load. The degree to which expansion load contributes to the fitness of populations in the real world is debated, with contrasting results being found in human populations that have expanded out of Africa. To investigate other processes that might contribute to expansion load, researchers from the University of British Columbia, CUNY, and University of Zurich have conducted simulations that combine the presence of deleterious mutations with the presence of an environmental gradient during range expansion to understand the impact and interactions that local adaptation has on load accumulation. </p><p>They find that as the change in environment becomes greater over space, populations have more difficulty in locally adapting, leading to the slowing of range expansion. As this slowing occurs, less genetic drift acts at the range edges, reducing the potential for buildup of deleterious mutations through a process called allele surfing. Despite this reduction in expansion load, populations are still faced with the difficulty of locally adapting on steeper environmental gradients, so overall fitness is not improved. </p><p> This research uncovers an important interaction that may explain the absence or reduction of expansion load found in nature compared with predictions from theoretical work. This also highlights an important concern for species undergoing future expansion due to climate change or other anthropogenic forces, where we may expect fitness reduction due to several interacting factors. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690673">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Mon, 30 Jan 2017 06:00:00 GMT