Thomas Parmentier is working at TEREC on the ecology of arthropod species associated with ant nests, so-called myrmecophilous species. These taxa show fascinating behavior and adaptation to a live and form symbiotic relations with ants. He recently published a paper entitled “Host following of an ant associate during nest relocation”, and he explains the gist of the paper below.
A recent heated exchange emerged on the dynamic of local species richness. In other words if you track the number of species, say plants, in a specific meadow over 20 years, does this species number go up, go down or stay the same?
Until recently we had no information on these dynamics, most studies to this date have been using so-called space-for-time design to mimic the temporal dynamic. This can be illustrated as comparing the species richness of a protected meadow vs the species richness of a nearby city that was previously a meadow. The key points there is in finding proper reference points for local habitats that experienced changes or are currently under pressure. Two recent influential meta-analaysis (Vellend 2013 and Dornelas 2014) looked instead for studies that tracked the temporal dynamics of species richness. Both studies compiled a large number of sites worldwide and found no detectable changes, on average, in local species richness over time, this goes against some of the current crisis narrative of biological conservation and so sparked quite some heated debate.
In this (long) post I would like to retrace the main points of the papers in the chronological order of their publications and end up with some of my opinions on the topic.
TEREC was well represented at the annual conference from the dutch ecologists in Lunteren, a delegation of 6 people was representing the lab. Below is an account of the conference from old-time-winning-team Femke Batsleer and Lionel Hertzog.
Assessing forest ages can be an important measure for management, yet while temperate forests are generally well studied in this regard tropical systems lack often this knowledge. One would think that simply measuring tree height will already provide a proper estimate, yet the level of uncertainty is particularly high in fast-growing tropical tree species, hence prohibiting reliable estimates to tease apart younger from older successional stages.
In the mid of December 2017, I attended the Ecology Across Borders meeting (organised by the BES, GfÖ, necov and eef) at Ghent: a home match! Terec’s offices and labs were literally right across the street. The week kick-started with a snowstorm.
To be clear: this is not normal in Belgium, not at all…
The North Sea is one of the most intensely used marine areas with over 80 million people living within 150 km from its shore and harboring one of the largest heavy industrial areas in the world. This intense use by humans comes with severe impacts on its manifold ecosystems for centuries but especially since industrial times.
Yet, over the last decades there has been a tremendous effort to protect the local biodiversity ranging from the establishment of a network of national parks to protect the Waddensea in the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark, which later reached UNESCO World Heritage status, to protection of Seabirds and large marine mammals of which the Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus) is the local apex predator.
As part of planning the fieldwork for the upcoming Kenya expedition to sample DNA from highland-lowland lineages of white-eyes we thought that data on gene expression might be a nice additional source of information to be linked to the genomic work we seek. However, none of us has experience in transcriptomics or how we can preserve RNA under tropical field conditions.
Forests are often species rich. Their big trees provide shelter for many other plant species that grow in their shade, forming the so-called understory. Forest ecosystem functioning benefits from species-rich understories. Thus, it is important to find out what influences diversity in this forest layer. Yet, the problem is that factors affecting understory diversity are hard to find out. It could be species composition and diversity of the trees or the size of the forest patch.
Two months ago I had my 1st anniversary as FWO PostDoc fellow here at TEREC and while writing my annual report, I realized that I spend the first six months intensely thinking about and working on grants that will provide the operational money we need to deliver and even expand the proposed goals during my first three years as a PostDoc.
Inspired by the local foraging and sightseeing guides of the annual ESA meetings posted on the Dynamic Ecology blog, we thought we should give you something similar for #EAB17. Since we are based in Ghent (and tried a lot), we present you a selection of TERECs most favorite locations for food, coffee, drinks, and dance so that you can make the most out of your conference stay here in Ghent and enjoy your networking at nice places! While trying some of these places you will already discover a lot of Ghent’s historic city center. For more info on the sightseeing aspects check visit.ghent.be.