A era atual está profundamente marcada por alterações causadas por forças antropogênicas severas, provocando alterações ecológicas e geológicas evidentes. As altas taxas de extinção de espécies e mudanças no clima estão entre as principais consequências antrópicas que agridem e modificam os ecossistemas. O aquecimento, por exemplo, predito para as próximas décadas, pode afetar diretamente a biodiversidade devido às limitações fisiológicas dos organismos ou através de alterações nas relações tróficas (e.g., interações predador-presa), alterando os padrões de diversidade local e regional das espécies além do funcionamento de ecossistemas. Entretanto, alguns grupos biológicos chaves, como predadores, podem ser mais sensíveis a esses impactos, e suas extinções podem reorganizar ou reconectar as interações da cadeia alimentar com uma variedade de efeitos indiretos em cascata no funcionamento do ecossistema.
Considerando que os ecossistemas estão conectados pelo fluxo de matéria e energia, muitas vezes através de organismos que transitam entre os diferentes compartimentos, os efeitos antropogênicos podem se propagar entre os múltiplos níveis tróficos, dentro e entre ecossistemas. Por exemplo, mudanças nos ecossistemas aquáticos podem afetar as espécies aquáticas de diferentes níveis tróficos, bem como a interação entre eles. Além disso, como muitos organismos aquáticos (e.g., insetos), possuem ciclo de vida complexo, com fase larval aquática e adulta terrestre, tais alterações no ecossistema aquático podem diminuir ou aumentar a emergência desses organismos para o ecossistema terrestre, o que afetaria os consumidores terrestres que se alimentam desses insetos (e.g., aranhas e formigas). Assim, as alterações antropogênicas podem ser mais intensas do que se imaginava, com efeitos diretos e indiretos que se estendem a múltiplos níveis tróficos dentro e entre ecossistemas.
Ambientes de água doce são sensíveis às alterações climáticas e perda de biodiversidade, além de possuírem alta diversidade e altas taxas de extinção de espécies. Diante desse cenário, é crítica a necessidade de estudos que abordem, de maneira empírica e objetiva, o efeito das alterações ambientais e bióticas na biodiversidade em sistemas de água doce, e sua conexão com sistemas terrestres. Uma das grandes limitações da realização de estudos empíricos sobre o impacto das mudanças climáticas nos ecossistemas é a dificuldade de conduzir a experimentação em campo (i.e., com realismo), ao mesmo tempo em que seja possível a identificação dos mecanismos ecológicos que ocorrem no sistema. As bromélias-tanque (Bromeliacea), uma planta quase exclusivamente neotropical, são microecossistemas naturalmente adequados para tais investigações, pois suportam uma rica fauna de microrganismos (por exemplo, bactérias, algas, fungos e microfauna) e metazoários (vários grupos de invertebrados, principalmente artrópodes) em uma teia alimentar baseada em detritos. Além disso, as bromélias-tanque são compostas por dois compartimentos diferentes – o aquático e o terrestre – que são interligados pela emergência de insetos, que por sua vez são utilizados como recursos por vários predadores terrestres com estratégias variadas de caça (por exemplo, aranhas cursoriais e construtoras de teia, formigas, centopéias) (Figura 1).
Nosso estudo avaliou experimentalmente, utilizando bromélias-tanque como sistema de estudo (Figura 2), como o aumento na temperatura, previsto para as próximas décadas, e a simplificação trófica causada pela perda de predadores de topo, afetam as relações tróficas em três compartimentos conectados da teia alimentar: i) microbiota aquática (algas, ciliados, flagelados e zooplâncton), ii) macroorganismos aquáticos (macroinvertebrados) e iii) múltiplos predadores terrestres de diferentes grupos funcionais, por exemplo, predadores mais ativos (cursoriais) e estacionários (e.g., construtores de teias). Nós descobrimos que os impactos do aquecimento e da simplificação trófica em cada compartimento aquático (macro e microorganismos) e terrestre da cadeia alimentar dependem do grupo funcional, nível trófico e do componente da comunidade investigado, ou seja, abundância ou riqueza.
Figura 2. (1-4) Bromélias-tanque experimentais em um sub-bosque de Mata Atlântica, bem como os detalhes da vista superior da bromélia, os aquecedores de aquário e sensor de temperatura dentro dos tanques. Créditos da foto: Pablo Antiqueira. (5) Pablo Antiqueira coletando água dos tanques de uma bromélia para avaliar as comunidades da microfauna e algas. Créditos da foto: Gustavo Migliorini. (6) Uma larva de libélula (Leptagrion andromache), um predador de topo que habita o ecossistema de bromélia-tanque, predando uma larva de besouro da família Scirtidae, um grupo de detritívoros comum que habita microecossistemas de bromélia-tanque. Créditos da foto: Pablo Antiqueira.
A simplificação trófica, causada pela perda do predador aquático de topo, impactou substancialmente os três compartimentos da cadeia alimentar. A simplificação trófica aumentou a riqueza e a abundância de organismos filtradores (larvas de mosquitos – Culicidae) no compartimento da macrofauna aquática, direta e indiretamente, por meio de um aumento na riqueza de detritívoros, provavelmente por meio de uma interação facilitadora. Por exemplo, a atividade dos detritívoros gera partículas finas de matéria orgânica, fezes e microrganismos que se alimentam desse material, que, por sua vez são consumidos pelos filtradores. Assim, o aumento de detritívoros aquáticos após a extinção dos predadores de topo também beneficiou os organismos filtradores, aumentando sua riqueza e abundância. Por outro lado, o rebaixamento trófico diminuiu a riqueza de algas no compartimento da microfauna, diminuindo a entrada de nutrientes das atividades biológicas dos predadores (através das fezes e carcaças de presas).
Além disso, o aumento dos filtradores aquáticos devido à perda de predadores de topo aquáticos desencadeou um aumento nos predadores terrestres por meio do efeito cascata nos ecossistemas. Os predadores terrestres mais ativos responderam mais à simplificação trófica aquática, por meio de um aumento na riqueza de espécies da macrofauna, do que os predadores terrestres mais estacionários. O aquecimento não afetou os micro-organismos ou macroorganismos aquáticos, mas aumentou a abundância de predadores terrestres construtores de teias. Nossos resultados fornecem novas evidências sobre como o aquecimento e a simplificação trófica podem afetar a cadeia alimentar de macro e micro-organismos, não apenas no ecossistema aquático, mas também no ecossistema terrestre adjacente por meio de efeitos entre ecossistemas.
Pablo é um ecólogo interessado nos fatores que regulam a estrutura da comunidade e o funcionamento de ecossistemas. A pesquisa de Pablo visa aprofundar a compreensão de como os elementos críticos das mudanças globais alteram a biodiversidade e o funcionamento de ecossistemas. Pablo é pesquisador de pós-doutorado no departamento de Biologia Animal da Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp), Brasil. @Pablo Antiqueira
The current era is profoundly marked by anthropogenic changes, causing ecological and geological alterations. High species extinction rates and climate change are among the main anthropic consequences that harm and modify ecosystems. Warming, for example, predicted for the following decades, may directly affect biodiversity due to the physiological limitations of organisms or through changes in trophic relationships (e.g., predator-prey interactions), altering the patterns of species diversity and ecosystem functioning. However, some important biological groups, such as predators, may be more sensitive to these impacts, and their extinctions can reorganize or rewire the food web interactions with a variety of cascading indirect effects on the ecosystem functioning.
Considering that the flow of matter and energy connect ecosystems, often through organisms that move between different compartments, anthropogenic effects can propagate between multiple trophic levels within and across ecosystems. For example, changes in aquatic ecosystems can affect aquatic species of different trophic levels, as well as the interaction between them. In addition, many aquatic organisms (e.g., insects) have complex life cycles, with an aquatic larval phase and a terrestrial adult phase – and any alterations in the aquatic ecosystem may decrease or increase the emergence of these organisms to the terrestrial ecosystem, thus affecting terrestrial consumers that feed on them (e.g., spiders and ants). Therefore, anthropogenic changes may be more intense than previously thought, with direct and indirect effects that extend to multiple trophic levels within and across ecosystems.
Freshwater environments are susceptible to climate change and biodiversity loss, with high species extinction rates. Given this scenario, there is a critical need for studies that empirically and objectively address the effect of environmental and biotic changes on biodiversity in freshwater systems and their connection with terrestrial ecosystems. However, one of the significant limitations of carrying out empirical studies on the impact of climate change on ecosystems is the difficulty of conducting field experiments (i.e., realistically) while identifying the ecological mechanisms that occur in the system. Tank-bromeliads (Bromeliacea), an almost exclusively neotropical plant, are naturally well-suited micro ecosystems for such investigations as they support a rich fauna of micro-organisms (e.g., bacteria, algae, fungi, and microfauna) and metazoans (multiple groups of invertebrates, mainly arthropods) in a detritus-based food web (Figure 1). Furthermore, tank-bromeliads are composed of two different compartments—the aquatic and terrestrial —which are interconnected by insect emergence used as resources by various terrestrial predators with varying strategies of hunting that use bromeliads as foraging sites (e.g., cursorial and web-building spiders, ants, centipedes) (Figure 1).
Our study evaluated experimentally, using tank bromeliads as a study system (Figure 2), how the increase in temperature, predicted for the following decades, and trophic downgrading caused by top predator losses, affect the trophic relationships in three connected compartments of the food web: i) aquatic microbiota (algae, ciliates, flagellates, and zooplankton), ii) aquatic macro-organisms (macroinvertebrates) and iii) multiple terrestrial predators from different functional groups, from more active (cursorial spiders and ants) to stationary ones (e.g., web-building spiders). We found that impacts of warming and trophic downgrading on each aquatic (macro and microorganisms) and terrestrial food web compartments depended on the functional group, trophic level, and the community component investigated, i.e., abundance or richness.
Figure 2. Images from top left to bottom right: 1. Pablo Antiqueira sampling water from tank-bromeliad to evaluate communities of aquatic microfauna and algae community. Photo credits: Gustavo Migliorini. 2-5. Experimental bromeliads in an Atlantic Rainforest understorey, as well as the details of tank-bromeliad top view and the aquarium heaters and temperature sensor inside the tanks. Photo credits: Pablo Antiqueira. 6. A damselfly larva (Leptagrion andromache), a top predator inhabiting tank-bromeliad ecosystem, preying on a beetle larva (Scirtidae, a common detritivore group inhabiting this ecosystem). Photo creditz: Pablo Antiqueira
The trophic downgrading substantially impacted all three compartments of the food web. In the aquatic macrofauna compartment, trophic downgrading increased the richness and abundance of filter-feeding organisms (mosquito larvae – Culicidae), directly and indirectly, through increased detritivore richness, probably through a facilitative interaction. For example, detritivore activity generates fine particles of organic matter, feces, and microorganisms that feed on this material, which filter feeders consume. Thus, the increase in aquatic detritivores after the extinction of top predators also benefited filter-feeding organisms, increasing their richness and abundance. On the other hand, the trophic downgrading decreased algal richness in the microfauna compartment by decreasing nutrient input from the predators’ biological activities (e.g., feces and prey carcasses).
Furthermore, the increase in aquatic filter feeders due to trophic downgrading triggered an increase in terrestrial predators through a cascade effect across ecosystems. The more active terrestrial predators responded more to aquatic trophic downgrading via an increase in the macrofauna species richness than more stationary terrestrial predators. Warming did not affect aquatic micro-organisms or macro-organisms but increased the abundance of web-building terrestrial predators. Our results provide novel evidence on how warming and trophic downgrading can affect the food web of macro- and micro-organisms, not only in the aquatic ecosystem but also in the adjacent terrestrial ecosystem through cross-ecosystem effects.
About the Author
Pablo is an ecologist interested in the factors that regulate community structure and ecosystem functioning. Pablo’s research aims to further understanding of how critical elements of global change alter biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Pablo is a postdoctoral researcher in the Animal biology department at the University of Campinas (Unicamp), Brazil. @Pablo Antiqueira
Congratulations to all of our shortlisted candidates! We have received a high volume of excellent applications – those selected above should be extremely proud of their work! Thank you to all authors who submitted an application for the award.
Proposals will be assessed by the journal Editors and successful applicants will be invited to submit a manuscript to Journal of Animal Ecology. Submitted manuscripts will then go through our usual peer review process and, of those published, an overall winner will be selected.
The British Ecological Society and Journal of Animal Ecology have long-championed the research of early career* ecologists and, through the Sidnie Manton Award, we aim to continue this tradition. Meet the most recent winners of the award, Diego Ellis Soto and Kristy M. Ferraro, here. Following on from their winning paper, Diego and Kristy also collated the Virtual Issue, Animal-vectored subsidies.
The winning paper will feature prominently in the journal and the recipient of the award will receive £250, a 12-month membership of the British Ecological Society (BES) and free registration for the BES Annual Meeting if they choose to attend to present their current research.
*Early career is defined as less than five years post- Ph.D. or -D.Phil. experience according to the date of your graduation certificate. Reasonable exceptions will be considered (e.g. for parental leave or a substantial shift in research area).
Looking ahead to 2023, we are excited to announce that Nate Sanders is stepping into the role of Executive Editor.
Professor & Director of the E.S. George Reserve at University of Michigan, Nate has been a Senior Editor with the journal since September 2015 and has led on a number of exciting initiatives in that time; most recently an upcoming Special Feature, ‘Leveraging natural history collections to understand the impacts of global change’. His research interests include macroecology, global change ecology and community ecology. He tends to work on ants but dabbles with other taxa when necessary.
Get to know Nate in our ‘meet the editor’ Q&A below.
Nate takes on the Executive Editor role from Jean-Michel Gaillard (Directeur de Recherche, Research Unit ‘Biométrie et Biologie Evolutive’, CNRS, University of Lyon). Jean-Michel has shown fantastic commitment to the journal and has steered us through the globally unprecedented times of recent years. His understanding, not only of the field but of the journal’s scope and reach, have been of tremendous value. We thank Jean-Michel for his time as Executive Editor and are pleased to confirm that he will be staying on as a Senior Editor into next year.
Meet the Editor: Nate Sanders
What do you remember of the first paper you published? Three key memories stick out: (1) the first time I plotted the results of the experiment and saw that, sure enough, neighbouring ant colonies affect resource use and behaviour, (2) getting the acceptance letter in the mail, and (3) getting a box of reprints that I quickly mailed out to colleagues around the world. Strange that that was only 22 years ago!
When was the last time you had a paper rejected? Ha! Good question. I have a colleague who claims to have never had a paper rejected. I have had many rejections, including several this fall.
If you could wake up tomorrow with a new skill, what would it be? I’d love to be a skilled banjo player. My older son is, and I’m jealous.
Are you a good cook? What’s your signature dish? I think I am a good cook (but a not-so-good baker)! My mother-in-law gave me a Jamie Oliver cookbook many years ago, and that started me on my path. I don’t think I have a signature dish, but one of the only things everyone in my family eats is fresh pesto from our garden.
Which small thing irritates you the most at work? Hearing how busy, busy, busy everyone is.
How do you deal with stress? Walks with my wife and our yellow lab Rosalind (named after Rosalind Franklin, FYI), getting beat at FIFA 22 by my younger son, piddling around in our yard.
Who inspired you most as a student? It’s too hard to name one person, so I’ll name several: Dave Dussourd, Deane Bowers, Deborah Gordon, and Dan Simberloff. Many people still inspire me.
If you could recommend one place for people to travel on holiday, where would it be and why? Northern Michigan is pretty spectacular. The forests, lakes, and small towns offer up something for nearly everyone. But please, don’t everyone go visit all at once.
You can meet more of our Editorial board here on the journal website.And, if you’re attending British Ecological Society’s 2022 Annual Meeting in Edinburgh, Nate will be there, so do say hi.
Following Black History Month, the British Ecological Society (BES) journals continue to celebrate the work of Black ecologists from around the world and share their stories. The theme for UK Black History Month this year has been Time for Change: Action Not Words. César Marín—a professor at Universidad Santo Tomás, Valdivia, Chile—shares his story below.
How did you get into ecology?
My name is César Marín and my main research interests are soil & mycorrhizal ecology, soil biota applications, and Southern temperate rainforests. Two things attracted me to study the natural world: first, for many years I was a competitive, long-distance fin-swimmer. I even participated in two world junior championships representing Colombia. Swimming in the ocean and lakes is just fascinating—especially in places like San Andrés Island in the Caribbean, or Gorgona Island in the Pacific. The immense biodiversity that you see while swimming in these places is just breath-taking. Second, the work of my parents. For many years my mother worked as a human rights lawyer in indigenous reservations located in the Páramo ecosystem—filled with fantastic flora and fauna like condors, ocelots, tapirs, and so on. I was lucky to join her many times. My dad was a coffee farmer leader, so I spent almost all of my weekends at the coffee farms of my father-side family. He gained national prominence for his advocacy for farmers and, for many years, lead a process that guaranteed land rights to thousands of families in southwest Colombia. In the context of our political war, he was assassinated by the right-wing paramilitary in 2008, two months after I started my BSc in Environmental Biology, which I completed in 2013, in Bogotá, Colombia.
Under the supervision of Dr. Jacob Weiner from the University of Copenhagen, I completed my bachelor`s thesis on the effects of increased density and spatial uniformity on maize yield and weed biomass. This was my first (2014) paper, and it is still one of my most cited papers. The maize was sown with help of my family on my farm, in a place that my father had previously sown with cassava, before his death—I couldn’t help but think that everything is connected.
After this, I completed a PhD in Ecology and Evolution at the Austral University of Chile in 2018 under the supervision of Dr. Roberto Godoy. I investigated the geological, biogeochemical, and soil fungal community drivers of biogenic weathering (of Earth`s crust) by fungal hyphae in an ecosystem age-gradient. This was done in the Andes and Coast Mountain systems of northern Chilean Patagonia. From the first moment, I was in love with mycorrhizas! When I first arrived in Valdivia, Chile (February 2014, where I did my PhD), Roberto was the only one (characteristically) working during holidays—he had just arrived from Antarctica. Therefore, Roberto was the first professor I talked to, and, after almost 9 years, we still collaborate strongly in spite of the fact that he is now retired. Everyone that knows Roberto—of course including me—admires his unpaired human qualities and how kind, respectful, and generous he is. The most important thing I have learned from him is that one can be a very productive, collaborative scientist but one must never be so busy that they forget their friends, family, and life.
Following on from this, I completed a Diploma in the Philosophy of Biology and a couple of postdocs in central Chile and in the Institute of Botany of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic (2018–2021). My study focus for this was related to soil health recovery after fires and mycorrhizal-soil-plant reciprocal transplants. Over the years I have also done six research stays in places such as the University of Hannover (Germany), the University of Tartu (Estonia), and Lund University (Sweden). I have also taught dozens of courses in several countries and I serve on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Sustainable Agriculture and Environment and on the Evolutionary and Genomic Microbiology section of the Frontiers journals.
In short, I think that it was inevitable I would be an ecologist. Life has been not easy for many years—health issues and other victimizing events have occurred, but right now I feel quite well and happy at my work. I value a lot the schedule and intellectual freedom that I have right now. As I have mentioned in a Spanish article I wrote, science, and particularly ecology, has provided a sort of therapy for me, given my difficult past.
What are you researching / working on right now?
In 2022, at 31 years old, I started a new position as a Full Professor at the Center for Research and Innovation for Climate Change, Santo Tomas University, Chile. I teach courses to our PhDs in Conservation and Biodiversity Management. I am also a Guest researcher at the Department of Ecological Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
In addition to analyzing data and writing papers from past projects on topics such as: fungal biogenic weathering; soil fire ecology; mycorrhizal reciprocal transplants; or the effects of plant mycorrhizal gradients on soil chemistry and biodiversity; I am also currently working on three main projects. The first is related to the effects of precipitation and altitudinal gradients on soil chemistry, biodiversity, and ecosystem multifunctionality of forests and peat bogs in Tierra del Fuego. The second project is related to the application of arbuscular mycorrhizal biofertilizers in Chilean vineyards, which every year are being sown at more southern latitudes. The third project is related to the Society for the Protection of Underground Networks—SPUN—where I am a Science Associate. In this project, we are analyzing, among several additional things, the mycorrhizas of possibly the oldest tree in the world. This last project/sampling campaign, given the importance of SPUN, was recently highlighted by The New York Times.
Finally, I am also applying to several other projects related to a myriad of topics, related but not limited to agroecology, fire prediction, multilevel selection, avocado production, etc. I truly love interdisciplinary work and interdisciplinary teams!
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Undoubtedly scientific networking! I founded and coordinate the South American Mycorrhizal Research Network which has more than 300 members from 45 countries. We created this Network in 2017, and have organized two international symposiums—one in Valdivia, Chile, 2017, and another in Bariloche, Argentina, 2019). We have also written two Springer books (Eds: Marcela Pagano & Monica Lugo—1 & 2), published several articles, organized workshops and events during established conferences, and connected dozens of students, professors, scientists, citizen scientists, and people from the industry. Right now, four colleagues are leading an effort to build a database on South American mycorrhizas. We even have a YouTube channel with interviews about recent mycorrhizal papers, and we are currently organizing our III Symposium in the Colombian Amazon for August 2023. We do not have any annual fee or official funding, but, in my opinion, we have achieved a great deal in our 5 years of existence. The friendship, openness of ideas, horizontality, labor division (literally dozens and dozens of people have taken different tasks), and non-formality of this and other networks fill me with energy and joy!
In addition to our South American Network—and to the above-mentioned SPUN—my lab constitutes one of the network laboratories of the Soil Biodiversity Observation Network (SoilBON), being the only Latin American lab. This initiative was created in 2018 by Carlos A. Guerra (Germany) and soil ecology legend, Diana H. Wall (USA). This aims to monitor soil biodiversity and ecosystem functions through time in 1000 plots across the world. This is being done because, with regards to soil biodiversity, we do not know how the extent of what exists, and, worryingly, how fast we are losing it. Finally, I am also on the Board of Directors and Editor-in-Chief of the Newsletter of the International Mycorrhiza Society.
I am also very interested in promoting diversity, inclusion and equity in ecology and beyond. In a recent short essay, I emphasized the need for cooperation and global scientific networking, of a warmer and more inclusive treatment, openness in terms of schedules and ideas, and in building a healthier work-life balance. In addition to my essay, I also highly recommend this article by Fernando Maestre.
Besides networking and collaborations in my main areas of research (soil and mycorrhizal ecology, biogeochemistry, understanding plant holobionts, applications of soil biota, etc.), I am looking for two things: 1) scientific work related to peacebuilding in my home country, Colombia, and in countries at war in general; and 2) working to combat racial discrimination in science, especially in and towards the Global South.
To this day, sadly, I do not feel completely safe when returning to either my farm or Colombia in general. Just a few days ago, one of the remaining guerrillas threatened to burn all buses that go to the region where my farm is located. It is still very unsafe and working conditions in general for Colombian farmers—even coffee farmers—are beyond hard. Despite this, I would like to contact and connect with other scientists from countries at war for three reasons: 1) to those who are victims of conflict, I want to understand how science has helped them to cope with grief; 2) I want to use science to solve the problems manifested by war (ie. deforestation, pollution, etc.); and 3) to show children in war zones that science has the potential to change lives and that being surrounded by kind and generous people is something worth pursuing.
Now, I’d like to turn my attention to systematic racism in academia. Sadly, racial discrimination, inside and outside Academia, is something that happens to me almost every week. I would like pursue methods to combat this dreadfully common and widespread experience, specifically in the Global South. One thing that upsets me is that because of my dreadlocks, skin color, and/or nationality, many people do not believe I am a scientist—I wrote a short correspondence about this in Nature. In addition to this, many others believe that my career success is attributed to a ‘special scholarship’ or positive discrimination… In reality, it is quite the opposite. Here, immigrants, especially from developing countries, usually need to publish more articles and have more projects to get academic jobs. This is something that needs urgent change and action. Especially, as research has shown that underrepresented groups innovate at higher rates in science, but such novel contributions are discounted and less likely to earn academic jobs. In a country like Chile—and many others in the region (including more diverse countries)—racism, colorism, and xenophobia is so widespread, yet racial discrimination in Academia is not even on the radar of institutions. To provide an all-too-familiar instance of structural racial prejudice, I once attended a seminar on the topic of racism in Academia here in Chile, where none of the guest speakers were people of color or indigenous academics.
I think black and indigenous scientists from the Global South, especially Latin America, should begin to organize and network in order to bring to light these issues in our universities, governments, and funding agencies.
Who are your role models – within ecology and beyond?
My dad, who had my same name, is of course a huge inspiration in my life. Sadly, the crime against him and us remains unsolved. My mother and I created a rural library in his honor. Many non-famous afro leaders from Colombia inspire me a lot. Some became famous, like Francia Márquez, the first black woman Vice-President of Colombia. Her story is impressive. She is from the same region as me, Cauca, and talks with the same cadence as some of my aunts. I am sure that there are some personal political differences with her or things that she does which I believe to be wrong; however, that someone like her—an environmental and social leader living under very poor conditions and fighting against illegal mining—is now Vice-President of Colombia is truly amazing and inspiring.
Another inspiration of mine is Manuel Zapata Olivella. He was a black Colombian writer who was a pioneer in understanding what it means to be black in Colombia. I devoured his book “Changó, el gran putas” while in high school. Furthermore, the stoic readings and spirit of Nelson Mandela will be always an inspiration, especially for a Colombian.
Now I would like to turn my attention to shout outs, and of these there are many! A massive shoutout to the inspiring Dr. Bala Chaudhary (Darmouth University) and her work related to fungal dispersion, defining mycorrhizal traits, and her activism against racism in academia. I am always excited to see what Bala does next! Also, in my subject area, the work of Dr. Tesfaye Wubet (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research) is remarkable. The work of Distinguished Professor Dr. Brajesh Singh (Western Sydney University) is crucial to understand the global-scale relationships between soil biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. He has gone further and applied these concepts to crop systems, presiding over the Global Initiative of Crop Microbiome and Sustainable Agriculture. And of course, one cannot talk about global sustainable soil management without mentioning the fundamental, world-changing work of Distinguished University Professor Dr. Rattan Lal (Nobel Peace Prize Certificat 2007 as part of the IPCC and World Food Prize 2020).
As for Afro-Colombian ecologists, I want to shout out the work of Dr. Ricardo Torres-Palma (Universidad de Antioquia) on water treatment is recognized worldwide. A former colleague from my PhD (also from Colombia), Dr. Suany Quesada-Calderón—now a postdoc at the Austral University of Chile—does remarkable population genomics and bioinformatics work.
We are delighted to announce that we have integrated the language editing software, Writefull, into the online submission system of Journal of Animal Ecology.
Writefull is an automatic proofing and editing AI tool trained on published articles from STEM subject areas. It screens text for correctness of grammar, spelling, vocabulary and punctuation, as well more subtle language issues such as style, word order, and phrasing. Submitting authors will be able to use this service free of charge at the initial point of submission via our submission site, or manuscripts can be recommended for screening by Writefull when a final decision is sent out.
The expectation for authors to publish in English can be a significant barrier for researchers whose native language is not English. It can also lead to significantly longer times in peer review if Editors also have to return papers to authors where the language isn’t of the required standard.
By integrating Writefull into our submission system, we will be able to offer greater language and writing support for those that need it and, by offering it earlier in the review process, provide training opportunities and greater confidence for author groups without a fluent English-speaker.
We are constantly looking at ways to improve the experiences of our authors, reviewers, Associate Editors and Senior Editors – we hope that this change will benefit these audiences whilst at the same time contribute to our ongoing work to support a more diverse community of ecologists.
“Black History Month is a time to celebrate black history, heritage and culture, and the iconic figures that have contributed so much, but this year, let’s make it about so much more. If you’re serious about allyship, it’s Time for Change: Action Not Words.” – Catherine Ross, Black History Month Editor.
This year, the autumn issue of our membership magazine, The Niche, was taken over by the REED Network, and we will be publishing their articles online for all to read throughout October.
In addition to this, we are excited to announce a month-long blog series, as we did back in 2020, from our journals which aims to promote and profile the work of Black ecologists and ecological practitioners. The aim of the series is for you to showcase your ecology and connect…
This summer, we’re pleased to welcome both a new Associate Editor, Kate Pereira Maia, and a new Research Highlights Editor in Mariano A. Rodriguez-Cabal. Get to know them here.
Research Highlights Editor: Mariano A. Rodriguez-Cabal
Grupo de Ecologia de Invasiones, INIBIOMA – CONICET – Universidad del Comahue, Patagonia, Argentina.
Mariano is a community ecologist with broad interests in the factors that generate, maintain and threaten biodiversity. He uses observational, experimental, meta-analytical and theoretical approaches to understand how the loss of some species and the gain of others influence plant-animal interactions, vertebrate and ant seed dispersers, the diversity and structure of communities, and ecosystem processes.
Recently an Associate Editor on our board, Mariano moves into the role of Research Highlights Editor, in which he will work to commission and edit the Research Highlight features published in each issue of the journal.
Keywords: community ecology, invasive species, frugivory, seed dispersal by animals
Associate Editor: Kate Pereira Maia
University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
Kate is interested understanding the mechanisms affecting the structure of ecological communities, and the effects of such structures on ecological dynamics, community resilience and coevolution. She does so using network tools and empirical data on interactions between species. Kate is also interested in combining these tools with applied questions on species invasions, restoration, habitat loss and fragmentation.
Celebrating the best Review or Long-term Studies in Animal Ecology paper by an early career researcher, the Journal of Animal Ecology Editors are pleased to announce the winners of the third (2022) Sidnie Manton Award as Diego Ellis Soto and Kristy M. Ferraro.
Couched in meta-ecosystem theory, the paper outlines a roadmap illustrating how future empirical studies could integrate data from spatial trophic structure, habitat structure, resource selection, and animal and resource movement. Importantly, it also highlights two case studies that illustrate the power of the approach.
The Journal of Animal Ecology Editors see the work of these early career ecologists and their colleagues as an important guide for future research on how animals influence the structure and dynamics of ecosystems.
Get to know the winners and the story behind their research in our Q&A below.
If you’re an early career researcher with an idea for a Review or Long-term Studies in Animal Ecology paper, submit a proposal now. You could be in line for the next Sidnie Manton Award!
Winner Q&A: Diego Ellis Soto and Kristy M. Ferraro
Congratulations on your award! Can you share a bit of background about yourselves and how you got into ecology?
Diego: Coming from an itinerant family, I have been fortunate to experience and relish a variety of cultures and landscapes. As an aspiring undergraduate in environmental sciences, I had the opportunity to travel to the Galápagos. Exploring the volcanic landscape that harbors lethargic giant tortoises, flightless cormorants and Darwin finches became a life-changing experience that fueled my desire and passion to become an ecologist and naturalist. I have always been on the move, which led to my passion for travel and desire to learn how animals do it across the world – otherwise known as movement ecology – and how they affect and interact with ecosystems.
Kristy: I’ve always been interested in the ways animals matter; from their roles in ecosystems to how humans think about and interact with them. This passion led me to ecology, and specifically to zoogeochemistry. Now I get to study fascinating animals and explore the intricate relationship they have with the world around them. I also believe that, as we learn more about ecosystems and animals, we begin to appreciate their complexity. And when we view something as complex, we’re more likely to treat it with respect.
Animals are always on the move and, through what they eat, where they die, and where they urinate and defecate, they move nutrients with them. Only recently has the role of larger animals in nutrient cycles been recognised as significant. This is especially relevant under climate change, as rewilding certain areas with animals could be a nature-based solution to offset carbon emissions.
The challenge is understanding where, when, and how much, animals distribute nutrients across ecosystem. It relies on methods and concepts from a variety of scientific disciplines and there is a lot to consider.
To help guide ecologists, we developed a roadmap, demonstrating how to integrate the necessary disciplines of animal ecology, ecosystem ecology, remote sensing, and biogeochemistry, to conduct robust research to understand, quantify, and estimate animal contributions to nutrient cycles.
What did you enjoy most about conducting this research?
This paper was a great opportunity for us to dive into how to best quantify the ways in which animals move nutrients across ecosystems, also known as zoogeochemical research. As early career scientists, we are trying to take a critical and intentional approach to the study of animal-ecosystem interactions. Here we’ve made a roadmap for ourselves and others, paving the way for an integrative approach to this type of work.
This project also gave us the opportunity to work with a diverse team. Bridging together desperate fields, including ecosystem ecology, animal ecology, biogeochemistry, and remote sensing was extremely rewarding, and allowed us all to learn from each other. Despite tackling zoogeochemical research in a slightly different ways and across locations and species, it was fascinating to find certain commonalities in some of the tools we used, and limitations of others.
Have you continued this research and if so, where are you at now with it?
We have both begun implementing the roadmap – on completely different ecosystems, contexts and species!
Diego: I am exploring the effects that Galapagos giant tortoises have on ecosystems. This ranges from understanding how giant tortoises migrate up and down volcanoes, to linking this voyage with the seed dispersal of endemic and introduced species into the Galápagos National Park; up to understanding how they may connect terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. I believe that giant tortoises can be seen as a combination of hippos and elephants in the Galápagos due to the ecosystem services they provide. After my PhD, I am interested in linking ecosystem services provided by animals to an entire community of species in a regional study site.
Kristy: I am working on several projects that look at how northern ungulates (caribou, elk, white-tailed deer, and mule deer) are impacting ecosystem nutrient distribution, nitrogen cycling, and carbon storage. By combining field experiments with GPS data informed agent based models, I aim to first quantify the ways in which these mammals are impacting nutrient cycling and then model how these impacts are distributed at the landscape scale. This integrative approach directly applies the roadmap we propose in our paper, and sheds light on the way animals are moving vital nutrients around their home range.
Early career researchers: apply for the next Sidnie Manton Award
To be considered for the next Sidnie Manton Award, submit your proposal for a Review or a Long-term Studies in Animal Ecology paper by 17 February 2023.
Applications will be assessed by the journal Editors and successful applicants will be invited to submit a manuscript to Journal of Animal Ecology. Submitted manuscripts will then go through our usual peer review process and, of those published, an overall winner will be selected.