What will the wasp plague be like this year?

This post is a press release from the authors of Journal of Animal Ecology paper “The long-term population dynamics of common wasps in their native and invaded” by Phil Lester et al.

New research from Victoria University of Wellington has revealed the population of the common wasp is amplified by spring weather, with warmer and drier springs often meaning more wasps and wasp stings in summer. Continue reading

Earlier nesting by generalist predatory bird is associated with human responses to climate change

robpbk9o2086-editThis post is a press release from the authors of Journal of Animal Ecology paper “Earlier nesting by generalist predatory bird is associated with human responses to climate change by Shawn H. Smith et al.

Milder winters have led to earlier growing seasons and noticeable effects on the breeding habits of some predatory birds, according to research by Boise State biologists Shawn Smith and Julie Heath, in collaboration with Karen Steenhof, and The Peregrine Fund’s Christopher McClure. Continue reading

Competitive males are a blessing and a curse

jae-2016-00123-r2-2This post is a press release from the authors of Journal of Animal Ecology paper “Sexual selection can both increase and decrease extinction probability: reconciling demographic and evolutionary factors” by Carlos Martínez-Ruiz and Robert J. Knell Issued by Queen Mary, University of London Press Office.

Showy ornaments used by the male of the species in competition for mates, such as the long tail of a peacock or shaggy mane of a lion, could indicate a species’ risk of decline in a changing climate, according to a new study from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). Continue reading

Research into extreme weather effects may explain recent butterfly decline

common_blue

Common Blue butterfly. Photo by Dr Aldina Franco.

This post is a press release from the authors of Journal of Animal Ecology paper “Sensitivity of UK butterflies to local climatic extremes: which life stages are most at risk?” by Osgur McDermott Long et al. Issued by University of East Anglia.

 

Increasingly frequent extreme weather events could threaten butterfly populations in the UK and could be the cause of recently reported butterfly population crashes, according to research from the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Researchers investigated the impact of Extreme Climatic Events (ECEs) on butterfly populations. The study shows that the impact can be significantly positive and negative, but questions remain as to whether the benefits outweigh the negative effects.

While it is well known that changes to the mean climate can affect ecosystems, little is known about the impact of short-term extreme climatic events (ECEs) such as heatwaves, heavy rainfall or droughts. Continue reading

How climate change could exacerbate the impacts of large mammal declines

Deer in small wooded patches

Deer in small wooded patches on the campus of Princeton University. The photos were taken as part of an undergraduate ecology laboratory course taught by my co-author Rob Pringle, and for which I served as an assistant instructor. Students also captured images of foxes, raccoons, and house cats.

In wintertime, it’s often getting dark in Princeton by the time I head home from the office to scrounge up some dinner. Along the half-mile path, I regularly walk or bike within few meters of the local herd of white-tailed deer. There are at least five or six animals that circulate among the tiny patches of trees and streams at the south end of campus. The university deer are just a fraction of the estimated 450-500 that roam the 16 km2 town of Princeton. That’s almost 40 deer per km2, well above the state of New Jersey’s recommended 20-25 per km2. Indeed, much of the northeast U.S. is forced to deal with dense, growing deer populations thanks to the removal of wolves, forest recovery over the last century following the westward shift of American agriculture, and a suburbanization-associated decline in hunting.

All these extra ungulates come with costs. For one, Princeton has paid hundreds-of-thousands of dollars between 2001 and 2015 to professional sharpshooters who controversially culled over 2700 deer from the population. However, hunting costs pale in comparison to those of the 300-plus deer-vehicle collisions that occurred each year in Princeton before the hunts were organized! Continue reading