The worldwide use of wildlife detection dogs – and how they became part of our life

Post provided by Annegret Grimm-Seyfarth

Border Collie Zammy is trained to search for Eurasian otter scat and pond, alpine and great crested newts. Photo: André Künzelmann.

For those not directly working with them, using wildlife detection dogs always sound like a new fancy idea that should be tested somehow. However, this method is neither new nor rare, and people working with wildlife detection dogs often call them their best method in finding their target species. In this post, Annegret Grimm-Seyfarth discusses her paper ‘Detection dogs in nature conservation: A database on their worldwide deployment with a review on breeds used and their performance compared to other methods’, which shows the broad and worldwide applications of wildlife detection dogs.

Continue reading

March Issue Out Now!

Our third issue of the year is now online!

This month we have five Applications and two Practical Tools articles, all of which are completely free to read!

Senior Editor Rob Freckleton has selected six featured articles, including methods for defining and evaluating predictions of joint species distribution models, inferring extinction date of a species and choosing cost‐effective indicators for conservation decisions. Find out all about them below.

Continue reading

How to assess seed bank effect in a plant metapopulation

Post provided by Apolline Louvet

Tree base in an urban area, partly occupied by spontaneous vegetation. Picture credit: Apolline Louvet.

Seed banks play a key role in plant metapopulations, however, detecting seed banks remains challenging. The current method of assessing the effect of seed banks on plant metapopulation dynamics focuses on the presence of standing vegetation. This has direct implications for plant metapopulation models, which require data on the absence of a seed bank to understand plant dynamics.

Our paper, ‘Detecting seed bank influence on plant metapopulation dynamics’ in Methods in Ecology and Evolution, introduces a new metric on plant metapopulations, which assesses the seed bank contribution to the global observed dynamics. In this post, we recall what led us to develop this metric.

Continue reading

What happens to our understanding of functional diversity when we ignore intraspecific trait variability?

Post provided by Mark Wong

Impressive variability sometimes occurs within a species, such as between these sister ants from the same Carebara sp. colony. Credit: Francois Brassard.

Throw a rock at a conference and you’ll likely hit an ecologist who examines the variation among organisms’ functional traits for one reason or another. From understanding the assembly of communities and their responses to environmental change, to the effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functions, and – well, why not – modelling the global spectrum of ecological form and function, assessments of functional diversity have quickly become the bread and butter of community, ecosystem and macro ecology.

In this blog post, Mark Wong discusses his paper ‘Including intraspecific trait variability to avoid distortion of functional diversity and ecological inference: lessons from natural assemblages’, recently published in Methods in Ecology & Evolution.

Continue reading

Open Call for Papers: Special Feature on Realising the Promise of Large Data and Complex Models

In an era of rapid global change, ecologists are increasingly asked to provide answers to big, urgent questions of global concern. On the one hand, responding to such requests seems increasingly feasible – given the rapid increase in the ability to collect ecological data at ever-higher spatio-temporal scales, new, unsolved questions can be tackled and increasingly realistic models can be developed, pushing the boundaries of the questions which can be answered. However, large datasets and complex models can lead to ”big” trouble, in terms of handling and manipulating the data, in addition to fitting complex models to data and interpreting the output. 

Continue reading

Searching for snow leopards

Post provided by Ian Durbach and Koustubh Sharma

Snow leopard captured via camera trap in Mongolia. Picture credit: Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation/Snow Leopard Trust/Panthera (OR SLCF/SLT/PF).

Snow leopards are notoriously elusive creatures and monitoring their population status within the remote, inhospitable habitats they call home, can be challenging.  In this post, co-authors Ian Durbach and Koustubh Sharma discuss the applications of their Methods in Ecology and Evolution article, ‘Fast, flexible alternatives to regular grid designs for spatial capture–recapture’, for monitoring snow leopard populations.

Continue reading

MEDI: Macronutrient Extraction and Determination from Invertebrates

Post provided by Jordan Cuff and Maximillian Tercel

MEDI can be applied to a broad range of small invertebrate specimens, including parasitoid wasps. Credit: Jordan Cuff.

Are you kept awake at night wondering how you would measure the macronutrient content of small invertebrates? Perhaps you have tried but are haunted by the disappointment that you have had to rely on conversion factors, analogues and pooled samples. Get ready to sleep soundly, entomological entrepreneur!

In this blog post, Jordan Cuff and Maximillian Tercel will discuss their latest study published in Methods in Ecology and Evolution, concerning their brand-new method for measuring macronutrient content in invertebrates: MEDI.

Continue reading

Cover Stories: How many animals do we need to track for a robust distribution analysis?

Post provided by Takahiro Shimada and Mark G. Meekan

Natator depressus leaving a nesting beach, fitted with an accurate Fastloc-GPS tag. Picture credit: C.J.Limpus.

The cover of our February issue shows a flatback sea turtle (Natator depressus) leaving a nesting beach, fitted with an accurate Fastloc‐GPS tag. In this post, Takahiro Shimada and Mark G. Meekan explain how they analysed turtle tracking data to demonstrate their new method for assessing appropriate sample sizes in the articleOptimising sample sizes for animal distribution analysis using tracking data’.

Continue reading