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.

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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.

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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’.

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World Wetlands Day: Wetlands and Water

Post provided by Chloe Robinson

World Wetlands Day 2021 shines a spotlight on wetlands as a source of freshwater and encourages actions to restore them and stop their loss. Credit: Ramsar.org.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that healthy wetland systems are linked with freshwater quality. Wetlands form vital habitats for global biodiversity, help combat climate change through storage of carbon and offer defenses against flooding. Freshwater resources, including wetlands, are under increasing pressure from over-abstraction, pollution and habitat destruction among other threats, which is directly contributing to the current global freshwater crisis that threatens people and our planet.

February 2nd each year is World Wetlands Day, which aims to raise global awareness about the vital role of wetlands. This year, the 2021 campaign highlights the contribution of wetlands to the quantity and quality of freshwater on our planet. Water and wetlands are connected in an inseparable co-existence that is vital to life, our well-being, and the health of our planet. In this blog post, Associate Editor Chloe Robinson, will explore why wetlands are so important and the new DNA-based methods being used to monitor wetland health.

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Detecting Diatoms through Kick-net DNA Metabarcoding

Post provided by Dr. Chloe Robinson

Diatoms may be the only organisms to live in houses made of glass, but some species of diatom are far from fragile. Certain groups of diatoms are highly tolerant of poorer water quality and therefore their presence can be diagnostic for freshwater health estimates. A recent study, featuring MEE Associate Editor, Chloe Robinson, investigated whether communities of freshwater diatoms can be collected via kick-net methodology, which is an approach currently used for collecting benthic macroinvertebrates. In this post, Chloe highlights how applying previously optimised freshwater methods can result in a more holistic understanding of freshwater health.

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Anniversary Volume 9: Estimating Effective Detection Area of Static Passive Acoustic Data

Post provided by Hanna K Nuuttila

To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the launch of Methods in Ecology and Evolution, we are highlighting an article from each volume to feature in the Methods.blog. For Volume 9, we have selected ‘Estimating effective detection area of static passive acoustic data loggers from playback experiments with cetacean vocalisations’ by Nuuttila et al. (2018).  In this post, the authors discuss the background and key concepts of the article, and the application of the article for assessing abundance of cetaceans.

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10th Anniversary Volume 7: The ecologist’s field guide to sequence‐based identification of biodiversity

Post provided by Si Creer, Kristy Deiner, Serita Frey and Holly Bik

To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the launch of Methods in Ecology and Evolution, we are highlighting an article from each volume to feature in the Methods.blog. For Volume 7, we have selected ‘The ecologist’s field guide to sequence‐based identification of biodiversity’ by Creer et al. (2016).

In this post, the authors share their motivation behind the paper and discuss advances in sequencebased identification of biodiversity.

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Individual History and the Matrix Projection Model

Post provided by Rich Shefferson

A single time-step projection of a historical matrix projection model (hMPM), for a 7 life stage life history model of Cypripedium parviflorum, the small yellow lady’s slipper. In this case, the vector of biologically plausible stage pairs in time 2 is equal to the full projection matrix multiplied by the vector of biologically plausible stage pairs in time 1.

Matrix projection modeling is a mainstay of population ecology. Ecologists working in natural area management and conservation, as well as in theoretical and academic realms such as the study of life history evolution, develop and use these models routinely. Matrix projection models (MPMs) have advanced dramatically in complexity over the years, originating from age-based and stage-based matrix models parameterized directly from the data, to complex matrices developed from statistical models of vital rates such as integral projection models (IPMs) and age-by-stage models. We consider IPMs to be a class of function-based MPM, while age-by-stage MPMs may be raw or function-based, but are typically the latter due to a better ability to handle smaller dataset. The rapid development of these methods can leave many feeling bewildered if they need to use these methods but lack sufficient understanding of scientific programming and of the background theory to analyze them properly.

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DNA from Bite Marks: An Amplicon Sequencing Protocol for Attacker Identification

Post provided by Daniela C. Rößler 

© Daniela C. Rößler

Understanding interactions between predators and prey is of interest to a variety of research fields. These interactions not only hold valuable information about ecological dynamics and food webs but are also crucial in understanding the evolution of predatory and anti-predator traits such as vision, visual signals and behavior. Thus, the “who attacks what and why” is key to approach broad evolutionary and ecological questions.

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World Fisheries Day 2020: Cleaning up the Act of Salmon Fisheries?

Post provided by Ben Whittaker and Hannah L. Harrison

Juvenile lumpfish in hatchery facility. Credit: Emily Costello (UK).

World Fisheries Day is celebrated annually on 21st November, to reflect on the ever-increasing knowledge about fishing, fishers, coastal communities, and the status of the oceans and fish stocks. This year, the Canadian Wildlife Federation are highlighting their work towards ending the current practice of salmon aquaculture, via the gradual phasing out of open-pen finfish aquaculture (OPFA) to prevent further negative impacts of the practice on wildlife and marine habitats. One of the major impacts of salmon aquaculture on wildlife, is the transmission of sea lice to wild salmonid populations, which has resulted in mass mortalities of wild fish. The most efficient control method to reduce sea-lice in farms is arguably the deployment of cleaner fish, however, there is little information on how this widely used method impacts individual welfare and worldwide sustainability of cleaner fish stocks. In this blog post, Dr Ben Whittaker and Dr Hannah L. Harrison, discuss the current status of cleaner fish fisheries.

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