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Wouldn't it be great if we could tell the state of an ecosystem or the like - healthy or heading for a crisis - by keeping track of a few key signals? Thanks to the theory of ‘tipping points’, that’s not unthinkable. Now a team of researchers led by Alena Gsell of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) has tested early warning signals: in lakes. In the Early Edition of PNAS online, they conclude that predicting works...but not yet in all cases.
The extinction of large herbivores such as mammoths could explain massive prehistoric changes in vegetation and landscape structure, with major implications for our understanding of present-day ecosystems. Modern and paleo-ecologists joined forces in an international study led by the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW). The results are being published online by PNAS this week.
WAGENINGEN – In the animal kingdom, travel is key: that is the conclusion of Silke Bauer’s research in a nutshell. The NIOO-ecologist and an Australian colleague list the numerous species that migrate from one location to another. According to the two researchers, the effects of these migrations on world ecosystems have been overlooked. Time to give the billions of geese, locusts, butterflies, herrings and wildebeest that wander the globe their proper due.
WAGENINGEN – Insects are choosier than you might think: whether or not they end up feeding on a particular plant depends on much more than just the species to which that plant belongs. The quality of the individual plant is an important factor as well. As is the variety of other plants growing around it. But what, ultimately, makes an insect choose one plant over another?