New insights into the history of Central European steppe grasslands

Spatial patterns of species and haplotypes suggest long-term continuity of steppes in eastern Central Europe. Above: A species-rich meadow steppe near Cristuru Secuiesc (Hungarian: Székelykeresztúr), Harghita County, Transylvania, Romania. Photographed on 29 May 2017 by Wolfgang Willner.. The steppe grasslands of eastern Central Europe have attracted botanists and vegetation scientists for more than two centuries.Continue reading “New insights into the history of Central European steppe grasslands”

Functional redundancy increases in human-modified habitats

Different species do similar things in anthropic environments. Above: Two examples of small mammals with very distinct biologies. The Brazilian gracile opossum Gracilinanus microtarsus (left) is a generalist that forages in the ground and inhabits a broad range of habitat types — from primary to secondary forests and forest edges. Such generalists usually profit fromContinue reading “Functional redundancy increases in human-modified habitats”

Life-form diversity across temperate deciduous forests of Western Eurasia: A different story in the understory

Deconstructing the forest community into three structural components — tree, shrub, ground floor – reveals different origins. Above: Forest in the lowlands of Asturias, Spain (August 2021 by Javier Loidi). Forests have always had a special appeal to ecologists, as they represent the most complex and developed type of terrestrial ecosystem. They are composed ofContinue reading “Life-form diversity across temperate deciduous forests of Western Eurasia: A different story in the understory”

The ecology of reef fishes explains latitudinal gradients of diversity, but how much?

Stochasticity is largely understood as ‘unpredictability’; but for reef fishes, demographic stochasticity is contingent on species ecological traits, including body size and trophic identity, which may subsequently be selected by humans. Above: Reef fish assemblages censused in the remote, understudied, Principe Island (Gulf of Guinea) in the Tropical Eastern Atlantic (photo by @Aketza Herrero). AsContinue reading “The ecology of reef fishes explains latitudinal gradients of diversity, but how much?”

Latitudinal gradient of host breadths in herbivorous butterflies

The combination of accumulated occurrence data and host use records across Japan revealed that the fundamental resource specialization of butterfly communities becomes more specialized toward higher latitudes. Above: Japonica lutea is a butterfly species widely distributed in Japan. Photograph by Ryosuke Nakadai. Are host breadths of herbivorous insects more specialized in the tropics compared toContinue reading “Latitudinal gradient of host breadths in herbivorous butterflies”

Award highlight: Connecting the past with the present

A paper describing two centuries of changes in crop regions is awarded the Humboldt-Caldas medal 2021 for best biogeography paper in Colombia/Ecuador. Above: Original cartography of Caldas’ crop regions showing the colonial profile of the travel route with vertical elevations, towns and the different crops Ali Salim. Ever since I began studying plant biology, IContinue reading “Award highlight: Connecting the past with the present”

Time waits for no one, except in cities

‘Change is the only constant in life’ and in the Anthropocene the nature of change is being altered too. Though we often associate human activities with increasing rates, a new study of urbanization shows that in some places we are in effect slowing down time instead. Above: Seasonal dissimilarity of bird community composition in urbanizedContinue reading “Time waits for no one, except in cities”

Pool diversity shapes unique island communities

Compiling a new island dataset enables a global perspective on the unique diversity of the smallest communities. Above: A group of small islands Pianemo, Raja Ampat, Indonesia. Like many before us, we studied island systems to better understand the drivers community composition.  Photo by Sutirta Budiman on Unsplash. Island biogeography is one of the mostContinue reading “Pool diversity shapes unique island communities”

Are there general principles governing geographical range evolution?

A simple rule that unites geographical range evolution across terrestrial and marine environments. Above: Holacanthus ciliaris (left) is broadly distributed, from the state of Florida (USA) to Santa Catarina (southern Brazil), whereas Hyplopectrus providencialis is endemic to the Caribbean islands of San Andrés and Providencia. Photographs by Osmar J. Luiz.. If one were to askContinue reading “Are there general principles governing geographical range evolution?”

Persistence at the margins of tree life

Species niche differences shape our high-elevation forest communities. Above: Mountain pine beetle and white pine blister rust have heavily impacted this whitebark pine forest in the Mt. Rose Wilderness Area outside of Reno, Nevada, USA. In recent decades, increasing temperatures and prolonged drought have been linked to widespread tree mortality across the western United States.Continue reading “Persistence at the margins of tree life”