Methods for Ocean Conservation: World Ocean’s Day 2020

Post provided by Chloe Robinson

 

Whether you refer to them as the ‘briny deep’, the ‘seven seas’ or ‘Davy Jones’ locker’, the world’s oceans play a huge part in all of our lives. Consisting of 70% of the earth’s surface, oceans driving global weather patterns, through regulating a conveyor belt of heat from the equator to the poles. Oceans are also teeming with life, from single-celled organisms to large apex predators, such as the killer whale (Orcinus orca).

Male killer whale exhaling. Photo credit: Chloe Robinson/Sea Watch Foundation.

As with every other ecosystem on earth, the world’s oceans and the marine life they provide a home to, are under increasing pressure from human-related activities. At the 1992 Earth Summit, Canada proposed the concept of a World Ocean Day as a day to celebrate our oceans and to raise awareness about the crucial role the ocean plays in our lives and the important ways people can help protect it. Since 2002, the Ocean Project has been coordinating and promoting of World Ocean Day.

Continue reading

Neo was right—The Matrix explains everything

Post provided by Jody Reimer

One of the unifying themes in ecology may be the acknowledgement that we live in a world of finite resources, and so we also live in a world of tradeoffs. A diverse range of research questions can be distilled into a question about tradeoffs. For example, how should an animal forage in the presence of predation? Which selective forces determine the life history of a flowering perennial? How should we manage a population to maximize the sustainable harvest rate?

Jody

Questions as varied as these can all be addressed using the same method of stochastic programming[1] (SDP) (see McNamara and Houston, 1986; Rees et al. 1999; and Runge and Johnson, 2002, respectively). SDP has been used extensively to study optimal tradeoffs in a wide range of applications in ecology, evolutionary biology, and management. It is a flexible and powerful modelling framework that allows for simultaneous consideration of an individual’s state, how an optimal decision might explicitly depend on time, and for a probabilistic landscape of risks and rewards. 

[1] Also known as Markov Decision Processes

Continue reading

Issue 11.6: goats, camera traps, coral imaging and more!

The June issue of Methods is now online!

June Cover

This month’s issue features articles on designing camera trap studies, measuring coral growth rates, quantifying carbon assimilation by marine calcifiers and much more.

Senior Editor Rob Freckleton has selected six featured articles this month – find out about them below. We’ve also got three Applications and a Practical Tools article which are freely available to everyone – no subscription required!

Continue reading

10th Anniversary Volume 2: Methods for Collaboratively Identifying Research Priorities and Emerging Issues in Science and Policy

Post provided by William J Sutherland, Erica Fleishman, Michael Mascia, Jules Pretty and Murray Rudd

10th anniversary logo

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 2, we have selected ‘Methods for Collaboratively Identifying Research Priorities and Emerging Issues in Science and Policy’ by Sutherland et al. (2011).  In this post, the authors discuss the background and key concepts of the article, and changes in the relation between science and policy since the paper was published.

 

The Knowledge Cycle: an idealistic conceptual model of Science-Policy Interaction. Picture credit: Job Dronkers (2019): Science-Policy Interaction.

Between the late 1990s and early 2000s, recognition of the value of scientific evidence to government decision-making grew. As interest in projecting future issues to inform policy decisions increased, we recognised that ecologists did not have the methods to conduct this type of work effectively. In the United Kingdom, the Government Office for Science established the Foresight programme to support policy making; scientific advisory committees became common, and every Ministry appointed a Chief Scientist. Given this context, we explored the use of horizon scans to assess the future and better understand uncertainties.

Continue reading

Uma breve história sobre o pacote R ‘metan’

Post ESCRITO POR Tiago Olivoto

This post is also available in English

Em nosso recente artigo na Methods in Ecology and Evolution, Alessandro D. Lúcio e eu descrevemos um novo pacote R para análise de ensaios multi-ambientes chamado metan. Ensaios multi-ambientes são um tipo de ensaio em programas de melhoramento de plantas, onde vários genótipos são avaliados em um conjunto de ambientes. A análise desses dados requer a combinação de várias abordagens, incluindo manipulação, visualização e modelagem de dados. A versão estável mais recente do metan (v1.5.1) está disponível agora no repositório CRAN. Então, pensei em compartilhar a história da minha primeira incursão no uso do R criando um pacote e submetendo um artigo para uma revista que nunca havia submetido antes.

Continue reading

A brief history about the R package ‘metan’

Post provided by Tiago Olivoto

Este post também pode ser lido em Português

In our recent paper in Methods in Ecology and Evolution, Alessandro Lúcio and I describe a new R package, metan, for multi-environment trial analysis. Multi-environment trials are a kind of trial in plant breeding programs where several genotypes are evaluated in a set of environments. Analyzing such data requires the combination of several approaches including data manipulation, visualization and modelling. The latest stable version of metan (v1.5.1) is now on CRAN. So, I want to share the history about my first foray into using R, creating an R package, and submitting a paper to a journal that I’ve never had submitted before.

Continue reading

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!

Continue reading

10th Anniversary Volume 1: The Art of Modelling Range-Shifting Species

Post provided by Jane Elith, Mike Kearney and Steven Phillips  

10th anniversary logo

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 1, we have selected ‘The art of modelling range-shifting species’ by Elith et al. (2010).  In this post, first author, Professor Jane Elith, discusses the background and key concepts of the article, and how things have changed since the paper was published.

Illustration of the idea that model settings affect prediction.

We started work on this manuscript around 2008, prompted by increasing use of species distribution models for climate change and invasive species problems. At that stage there was growing recognition of the problems in these applications (e.g. see a recent MEE review on transferability) but relatively few tools for dealing with them. In our view, if correlative models are to be used for such purposes, the data and models require special attention.

Continue reading

Gaining Genetic and Epigenetic Data from a Single Established Next-Generation Sequencing Approach

Post provided by Marco Crotti

How organisms adapt to the environment they live in is a key question in evolutionary biology. Genetic variation, i.e. how individuals within populations differ from each other in terms of their DNA, is an essential element in the process of adaptation. It can arise through different mechanisms, including DNA mutations, genetic drift, and recombination.

Example of how genetic drift can occur over generations via random sampling (i.e. random mating) in a population. (Picture credit: Gringer).

Differences in DNA sequences between individuals can results in differences in the expression of genes. This can therefore determine the organism’s capacity to grow, develop, and react to environmental stimuli. However, a growing body of literature reveals that there are other ways organisms can change the way they interact with the world without mutations in the DNA sequence.

Continue reading

Issue 11.5: Our May issue is now online!

The May issue of Methods is now online!11.5 Cover jpeg

As well as four Application and two Practical Tools articles, the latest issue of Methods in Ecology and Evolution includes six Featured Articles handpicked by our editors – you can find out more about them below.

 

 

Featured Articles

Tree-based inference of species interaction networks from abundance data
To be relevant, any network inference methodology needs to handle count data and to account for possible environmental effects. It also needs to distinguish between direct interactions and indirect associations, and graphical models provide a convenient framework for this purpose. A new method from Momal et al. meets these requirements and compares well with state-of-the-art approaches, even when the underlying graph strongly differs from a tree.

Modifying twisted nematic LCD screens to create dichromatic visual stimuli with LEDsPractical Tools
Didion et al. present a cost-effective way of modifying a twisted nematic LCD screen that utilises coloured LEDs, that allows measuring animals’ sensitivity to, and discrimination between, wavelengths of light. It has the benefit of not requiring a-priori knowledge of animals’ photoreceptor classes. This technique overcomes many of the limitations of RGB-based LCD screens in a cost-effective way, and allows more accurate testing of the role of colour in visually guided behaviours.x

moveVis: Animating movement trajectories in synchronicity with static or temporally dynamic environmental data in rApplication – Available Open Access
moveVis automates the processing of movement and environmental data to turn them into an animation. This includes (a) the regularisation of movement trajectories enforcing uniform time instances and intervals across all trajectories, (b) the frame-wise mapping of movement trajectories onto temporally static or dynamic environmental layers, (c) the addition of customisations, for example, map elements or colour scales and (d) the rendering of frames into an animation encoded as GIF or video file.

streamA simple, reliable method for long-term, in-stream data logger installation using rock-climbing softwarePractical Tools
Long-term deployment of in-stream data loggers provides valuable information about stream conditions, particularly in times when streams are difficult to sample manually. Fogg et al. present a method for data logger installation in streams using rock-climbing hardware that is simple to assemble, economical and minimally invasive.

Exploring density- and frequency-dependent interactions experimentally: An r program for generating hexagonal fan designsApplication
Species interactions and diversity are strongly impacted by local processes, with both the density of a focal species and its frequency in the community being important. Hexagonal fan designs can include a range of both densities and frequencies in a single plot, providing large economies in space and material. Rozins et al. present an R program whereby the user can rapidly view a variety of designs and determine the configurations that work best with their space and material constraints.

Multi-species occupancy models as robust estimators of community richness Understanding patterns of diversity is central to ecology and conservation, yet estimates of diversity are often biased by imperfect detection. Tingley et al. use both simulations and an empirical dataset to evaluate bias, precision, accuracy and coverage of estimates of N from multi-species occupancy models compared to the widely applied iChao2 non-parametric estimator.

Application and Practical Tools articles

We’ve got four Application and two Practical Tools articles in this month’s issue of Methods in Ecology and Evolution. Four of them have been covered in our Featured Articles above, so here are the other two:

GCM compareR: A web application to assess differences and assist in the selection of General Circulation Models for climate change researchice

Climate change research often relies on downscaled general circulation models (GCMs) to project future climate scenarios. As more than 35 GCMs are available at a resolution of 10km and finer, methods are needed to choose which GCM projection is appropriate to use for a region of interest. GCM compareR is a new open-source web app for comparing GCMs, allowing the informed selection from the range of available projections by researchers and policy makers.

AragoJ – A free, open-source software to aid single camera photogrammetry studies Close-range photogrammetry retrieves quantitative information about objects using photography. While software options for extracting information from 3D reconstructions exists, tools for 2D images are scarce, often tailored to specific applications. AragoJ is an open-source software, designed to integrate all steps in 2D close-range photogrammetry in a single program.

 

The flower on the cover

11.5 Cover jpeg

This issue’s cover shows an experimental array of Silene latifolia flowers, used to study the spread of the anther‐smut pathogen, Microbotryum lychnidis‐dioicae. The array contains a mixture of healthy and diseased flowers, where the influence of the pathogen is to replace the pollen with dark‐colored fungal spores that are conspicuous against the white flower background. Pollinators then pick up and distribute the spores during normal foraging visits.

In their article, Rozins et al. address the difficulty in designing experimental arrays that examine species interactions with a combination of density and frequency‐dependent effects. In addition to such vector‐borne disease transmission, local competition within plant communities are strongly influenced by density and frequency‐dependent responses to species composition and abundance. The authors demonstrate the merit of radial hexagonal fan designs over more traditional systematic grid arrays. To facilitate experimental studies and to ease implementation, they present an R program whereby the user can rapidly view a variety of designs and determine the configurations that work best with their space and material constraints. Photo credit: ©Michael E. Hood, Amherst College

To keep up to date with Methods newest content, have a look at our Accepted Articles and Early View articles, which will be showing up in issues later this year.