Do invasive species shift their niche to invade?

Invasive species are able to take over and vastly change the ecosystems where they invade. On par with climate change and habitat destruction, they are one of the top threats to biodiversity. A recent example in the news, Asian carp, threatens to invade the Great Lakes and decimate fish populations – this species alone could cause a $7 billion fishing industry to collapse, so we can see why it is … Continue reading

Communities Can Be Keystone Too

Since Paine’s classic work in the rocky intertidal describing the effects of Pisaster  starfish on the community as a keystone predator species, the concept has become huge to ecology. A keystone species is one with an important role in the community and has a larger effect on the community than would be expected by its abundance. In the rocky intertidal, when starfish were removed from the system, the population size … Continue reading

How precise is a fig tree’s sanction ability?

Background Mutualism is a relationship between two organisms or species in which both benefit from the association. Flowering plants and pollinator interactions are a classic example of mutualism. Mutualisms are ubiquitous in nature and biologists have been fascinated by them for a long time.  For example, how does mutualism evolve? What maintains mutualism? Theory predicts that mutualism is susceptible to breakdown (May 1981) and vulnerable to anthropogenic environmental change (Six … Continue reading

Sex is for the Greater Good

Allegedly, men think about sex once every seven seconds. While this may seem like an exaggeration, regardless of gender, it’s likely an underestimate if you’re a life history biologist. I grew up as a graduate student in a life history lab, and trust me, there’s no end to the number of sex jokes that can be made when you’re talking about reproductive strategies that involve sneaker males or massive orgies … Continue reading