Can traits of individuals inform on how populations respond to change?

We are in great need of an integrative framework that allows ecologists to predict life history strategies from functional traits that inform on population performance. The aim of a recent British Ecological Society cross-journal Special Feature is to link organismal functions, life history strategies and population performance. Here I discuss a test published within this Special Feature that shows how a recently developed dynamic energy budget population model can be used to infer from life history traits the population performance of bulb mites (Rhizoglyphus robini) in the lab.

Ecological “bright spots” and the challenge of residuals-based assessment

The bright spots approach aims to assess the performance of managed ecosystems by comparing certain ecological outcomes, while controlling for other known drivers of the outcome via a statistical model; in effect, ranking sites based on their residuals from the fitted model. While the method has the potential to reduce bias in comparing different sites, the resulting assessment may come with high variance.

Reflections on Papers Past: Revisiting Estes et al. 1998

This is a series of posts entitled “Reflections on the Past”, a series by Hari Sridhar.

“In 1998, James Estes, Tim Tinker, Terrie Williams and Dan Doak published a paper in Science providing evidence to suggest that killer whales were behind the sudden declines in sea otter populations in western Alaska in the 1990s. Estes and colleagues also showed in this paper that the otter decline had, in turn, led to an increase in sea urchin numbers and consequent deforestation of kelp forests. Eighteen years after the paper was published, I spoke to James Estes about the observations that motivated this study and what we have learnt since about the killer whale’s role in this system.”

Posts in this series are archived at