All men are the same – or not? Discovery of a third male type in the bulb mite

Over the last century, a predominant number of biological investigations utilized either model systems or laboratory populations for experimentation. While model organisms are extensively studied from diverse perspectives (genetics, behaviour, life-history, etc.) it would be imprudent to assume new organism-oriented discoveries are behind us. Most recently, Stewart et al. (2018) revealed the existence of a new male type in the laboratory model organism, the bulb mite Rhizoglyphus robini.

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.