Foraging Flexibility of Two Shark Species

Sharks are top predators in marine ecosystems, so small changes in shark populations can ripple down and affect entire marine communities. Understanding how sharks adapt to ecosystem changes may help scientists predict how other marine life could react to a changing ocean. Researchers from the Florida Coastal Everglades (FCE) LTER investigated how juveniles of two similar… Read more »

Fire-driven Changes to Gap Regeneration

Arctic wildfire

Interior Alaska: black spruce and mosses as far as the eye can see. New research suggests that image may change dramatically over the next century. As the intensity of fires in interior Alaska increases, forest regrowth is shifting from spruce to deciduous species such as trembling aspen and Alaska paper birch. But intense fires also… Read more »

The landscaping culture behind ecological change

suburban neighborhood

Credit: Henk Sijgers. CC BY-NC 2.0The American residential landscape is a product of culture, reflecting social practices through its managed plant composition. As a result of urbanization and globalization, residential ecosystems are increasingly homogeneous, with the potential to impact ecological dynamics at ever-expanding scales over the next 50 to 100 years. Despite this trend, researchers… Read more »

Tracking the king of the swamp

Alligator, close-up

Credit: Alexander Montuschi. CC BY-NC 2.0.Radio transmitters have moved beyond the days of talking to your friends through walkie talkies. They are now being used to track alligators, the rulers of the swamp, to learn more about their movements between freshwater and marine environments. Once attached, the GPS and radio transmission devices can track the… Read more »

Winter Conditions Vital to Year-Round Lake Dynamics

This month’s Ecology Letters features the first global quantitative synthesis of under-ice lake ecology. In their analysis of 36 abiotic and biotic variables across 101 lakes, the authors issue a call to arms for more winter lake research—currently the focus of only 2% of freshwater publications. As the climate warms, they warn, temperate ecosystems are losing ice, and limnologists remain unsure what ecological processes are at stake. Though winter has long been understood as an inactive period, some data suggests that winter foodwebs and physical processes remain vigorous and that winter ecology can drive subsequent summer conditions.

Coastal Everglades in the Cold: Mapping Ecological Sensitivity

How sensitive are coastal ecosystems to sharp changes in temperature? Using a detailed spatial analysis in the Florida Everglades, researchers found that cold snaps reduced ecosystem productivity most dramatically in areas with low water levels that were located away from the coast. With more extreme weather events predicted in the future, knowing the likely effects of low temperature events on subtropical wetlands systems can inform management of these important ecosystems.

Finding the Hidden Phytoplankton Blooms

In stratified lakes, a large portion of phytoplankton biomass is found—not at the surface, where sampling is easiest—but somewhere down the water column, in what is known as a subsurface chlorophyll maximum (SSCM). Researchers in Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON) compared automated high-frequency chlorophyll fluorescence (ChlF) profiles with surface samples and discrete depth profiles. In 7 of the 11 lakes studied, automated sampling captured the presence of SSCM’s that would have been missed by conventional sampling.

What (and when) is the point-of-no-return?

How-and when-do ecosystems change character? Are those shifts reversible? And what signs might precede them? Such questions are hard enough to answer in a single place. One might think that incorporating different kinds of ecosystems would only complicate the problem. But a group of scientists in the Long-Term Ecological Research Network is finding a remarkably consistent pattern by combining models and data across several long-term ecological experiments.

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