Tracking the fate of fish

Post provided by David Villegas Ríos

David Ríos tells us about investigating the movement of aquatic animals using telemetry technology and the new Methods article ‘Inferring individual fate from aquatic acoustic telemetry data’.

Photo by Carla Freitas

Aquatic animal telemetry has revolutionized our understanding of the behaviour of aquatic animals. One of the important advantages of telemetry methods, including acoustic telemetry, is that they provide information at the individual level. This is very relevant because it enables investigating the natural variability in behaviour within populations (like here or here), but also because one can investigate what happens to each individual animal and relate it to its natural behaviour. Knowing “what happens to each individual” is normally referred to as “fate” and it can take many forms: some fish may end-up eaten by predators, other may be fished, some of them may disperse, etc. Knowing the fate of each individual fish is crucial as it links ecological processes at the individual level to evolutionary outcomes at the population level.

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10th Anniversary Volume 6: Nondestructive estimates of above‐ground biomass using terrestrial laser scanning

Post provided by Kim Calders, Glenn Newnham, Andrew Burt, Pasi Raumonen, Martin Herold, Darius Culvenor, Valerio Avitabile, Mathias Disney, and John Armston

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 6, we have selected ‘Nondestructive estimates of above-ground biomass using terrestrial laser scanning by Calders et al. (2014).

In this post, the authors discuss the background and key concepts of the article, and changes in the field that have happened since the paper was published.

Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) calculates 3D locations by measuring the speed of light between a transmitted laser pulse and its return. Firing hundreds of thousands of pulses per second, these instruments can represent the surroundings in detailed 3D, displaying them as virtual environments made up of high density points. The main applications of commercial instruments in the early 2000s were engineering or mining, but their application in natural forested environments was in its infancy. Forest ecosystems are structurally complex; clear reference points used to register multiple scans are rare and trees move due to wind creating artefacts in the data.

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10th Anniversary Volume 3: Phylogenetics Editor’s Choice

To celebrate our 10th Anniversary, we are highlighting a key article from each of our volumes. For Volume 3, we selected ‘paleotree: an R package for paleontological and phylogenetic analyses of evolution‘ by David W. Bapst (2012).

In this post, three of our Associate Editors with expertise in phylogenetics Simone Blomberg, Will Pearse and Michael Matschiner share their favourite MEE papers in the field of phylogenetics and beyond.

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How to Sample Nectar of Flowers at Height

Post provided by Daniela Scaccabarozzi, Tristan Campbell and Kenneth Dods.

Daniela Scaccabarozzi, Tristan Campbell and Kenneth Dods tell us about the logistical challenges of sampling flowers at height and their new ground-based method for overcoming these problems.

Operational maneuvers while using the practical ground-based tool for nectar collection, prior to placing the organza bag over the inflorescence. Picture credit: Tristan Campbell.

Sampling flower nectar from forest canopies is logistically challenging, as it requires physical access to the canopy at a height greater than can be achieved by hand. The most common solutions comprise the use of cherry pickers, cranes or tree climbers, however these techniques are generally expensive, complex to organise, and often involve additional safety risk assessment and specialised technicians.

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The tripod frame: mooring acoustic receivers on the seabed

Post provided by Jolien Goossens

Jolien Goossens tells us about the challenges of installing acoustic receivers on the seabed and the tripod they designed to overcome them.

sea

Installing scientific instruments in the marine environment comes with many challenges. Equipment has to withstand the physical forces of tides, currents and storms. Researchers have to take into account the effects of biofouling, corrosion and human activities. Even access to the study site can pose its difficulties, as diving is limited by depth and weather conditions. Practical deployment mechanisms are therefore needed to sustain consistent data flows.

Acoustic telemetry enables the observation of animal movements in aquatic environments. Individual animals are fitted with a transmitter, relaying a signal that can be picked up by acoustic receivers. To facilitate a convenient installation of these instruments, we developed and tested a new design, mounting a receiver with an acoustic release on a tripod frame. This frame enables the recovery of all equipment and better yet, improves the quality of the data.

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An interview with the editors of “Population Ecology in Practice”: Part II

Post provided by Daniel Caetano

Today we bring the second part of an interview with Dennis Murray and Brett Sandercock about their brand new book in population ecology methods: “Population Ecology in Practice.” This time we talked about their experience as editors, including some useful advice for new editors.

If you missed the first part of the interview, check it out here.

Population Ecology in Practice introduces a synthesis of analytical and modelling approaches currently used in demographic, genetic, and spatial analyses. Chapters provide examples based on real datasets together with a companion website with study cases and exercises implemented in the R statistical programming language.

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An interview with the editors of “Population Ecology in Practice”: Part I

Post provided by Daniel Caetano

Today we bring the first part of an interview with Dennis Murray and Brett Sandercock about their brand new book in population ecology methods: “Population Ecology in Practice.” The editors were kind enough to share some interesting backstage information with us.

Snowshoe hare in winter

Population Ecology in Practice introduces a synthesis of analytical and modelling approaches currently used in demographic, genetic, and spatial analyses. Chapters provide examples based on real datasets together with a companion website with study cases and exercises implemented in the R statistical programming language.

Stay tuned for the second part of this interview, where we talk about some of the challenges of editing a large book and the editors share essential advice for anyone looking into leading such a project!

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Methods behind the Madness: Ecology at the Poles

Post provided by Chloe Robinson, Crystal Sobel and Valerie Levesque-Beaudin

Aurora Borealis in the polar north. Photo: Noel Bauza, Pixabay

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the coldest months of the year are upon us. A combination of post-holiday ‘blues’ and the cold, dark mornings make the daily trudge to work all that less inspiring. Recent snow storms in locations such as Newfoundland (Canada), have made it nearly impossible for many people to leave their homes, let alone commute to work. Now cast your mind to a little over 2,000 km north of Newfoundland and imagine the challenges faced with carrying out a job during the coldest, darkest months of the year.

As with every other biome on the planet, polar biomes contain a variety of different species, from bugs to baleen whales. To better understand the different species at our poles, scientists need to collect ecological data, but this is far from a walk in the park.

Iceberg in the Gerlache Strait, Antarctica. Photo: Liam Quinn, flikr.

With the year 2020 marking 200 years since the discovery of Antarctica and the Centenary of ‘vital’ Scott Polar Research Institute (Cambridge, UK), we wanted to highlight some of the polar research published in the journal, featuring challenges faced and current research being undertaken at the poles.

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