Issue 6.6 is now online!
This month’s issue contains one Applications article and one Open Access article.
– VirtualCom: A simple and readily usable tool that will help to resolve theoretical and methodological issues in community ecology. VirtualCom simulates the evolution of the pool of regionally occurring species, the process-based assembly of native communities and the invasion of novel species into native communities. One of the authors of this Application is the 2014 Robert May Young Investigator Prize Winner, Laure Gallien.
Calibrating animal-borne proximity loggers, this month’s only Open Access article, comes from Christian Rutz et al. The authors calibrated a recently developed digital proximity-logging system (‘Encounternet’) for deployment on a wild population of New Caledonian crows. They show that, using signal-strength information only, it is possible to assign crow encounters reliably to predefined distance classes, enabling powerful analyses of social dynamics. Their study demonstrates that well-calibrated proximity-logging systems can be used to chart social associations of free-ranging animals over a range of biologically meaningful distances.
This month’s cover image is a photograph taken during a survey of seafloor habitats and associated groundfish species, conducted by NOAA Fisheries from an occupied submersible on a Southern California bank at a depth of 80 m (262 ft). The species shown are Rosy rockfish (Sebastes rosaceus), Starry rockfish (Sebastes constellatus), California Scorpionfish (Scorpaena guttata), Blackeye goby (Rhinogobiops nicholsii) under the jaw of the Rosy rockfish, and an unknown Sculpin (Cottidae) under the pelvic fins of the Rosy rockfish.
Multispecies surveys frequently record presence/absence or counts for multiple species at each survey location, and the distribution of abundant species is likely to be informative about the distribution of rare species whenever these species’ distributions are correlated due to similar habitat preferences. Distribution models for multiple species (“joint species distribution models”) can now be analyzed using spatial factor analysis (as shown in ‘Spatial factor analysis: a new tool for estimating joint species distributions and correlations in species range‘) to simultaneously estimate a low-rank approximation to the distribution of all species in a community. Spatial factor analysis builds upon recent advances in estimation for Gaussian random fields, and is shown to improve estimates of next year’s catches using a single year of count data for rockfishes in the California Current (such as those shown here).
Photo © Mary Nishimoto (UCSB/NOAA Fisheries).