Four new papers published in January

Four new papers have been published online this month. These cover a range of topics including ecological modelling, measuring diversity, detecting range shifts and physiological ecology.

In the first paper, Gideon Gal and William Anderson outline a new method for detecting regime shift in ecosystems.  Regime shifts occur when the state of an ecosystem changes markedly and rapidly, usually with a dramatic shift in species composition. Such shifts can be difficult to identify, particularly if the system in question is very noisy. The new method borrows techniques from statistics and econometrics and has the advantage that it does not rely on any pre-determined threshold value. The technique is used to show a regime shift in the zooplankton assemblage of a lake ecosystem.

Jan Beck and Wolfgang Schwanghart look at the problem of estimating species diversity from inventories.  They specifically deal with the issue of undersampling, that is when inventories are incomplete owing to lack of coverage. In their study they simulate data with known levels of undersampling, and ask which estimates of diversity give the least biased estimates of true diversity.

A modelling paper by Clive McMahon, Barry Brook, Neil Collier and Corey Bradshaw describes a spreadsheet-based tool for exploring the strategic management of invasive species. Designed for predicting how different culling strategies affect the densities of invasive ungulates, the tool is aimed at managers and those with little familiarity with theory and modelling. The approach is applied to the control of feral pigs, buffalo and horses in Kakadu National Park Australia – the general framework could easily be applied to any similar system.

Finally for this update, Elizabeth Freeman and colleagues describe a new enzyme immunoassay for monitoring progestagens in elephants. This assay is a step forward as it is relatively easy and cheap, does not require expensive equipment and can be performed in the field. Hormone monitoring is an important conservation tool, allowing for example the reproductive states of animals to be monitored.

This is an exciting, diverse and high quality set of papers – more are on there way, the list of the latest papers to be accepted can be found here.

p.s. The first paper published in the journal by Alain Zuur and colleagues was downloaded over 1100 times in the first month after publication!

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