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EcoTone is a blog produced by the Ecological Society of America. The blog showcases ecology and ecologists, focusing on ecological science in the news and its use in policy and education. EcoTone welcomes guest submissions and suggestions of timely, relevant news of importance to the broad ecological community. EcoTone is moderated by ESA’s communications officer, Katie Kline. To submit feedback or suggest a post, please e-mail

Katie Kline
107 posts

Liza Lester
15 posts

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  • September 6, 2013
  • 03:27 PM

Female tiger sharks migrate from Northwestern to Main Hawaiian Islands during fall pupping season

by Liza Lester in EcoTone

A partial migration of adult female tiger sharks coincides with pupping season and the months of increased incidences of shark bite in Hawaii, according to new reseach out of Hawaii’s Shark Lab... Read more »

Yannis Peter Papastamatiou, Carl Gustav Meyer, Felipe Carvalho, Jonathon Dale, Melanie Hutchinson, & Kim Holland. (2013) Telemetry and random walk models reveal complex patterns of partial migration in a large marine predator. Ecology, 94(11). DOI: 10.1890/12-2014.1  

  • July 5, 2013
  • 09:13 PM

In ecology news: bicentenarian rockfish, floating tuna attractors, death tangles for silky sharks

by Liza Lester in EcoTone

THIS STORY about a man and fish (a shortraker rockfish, Sebastes borealis) started as a little local news spot in the Daily Sitka Sentinel in late June – man catches record-breaking 39.08-pound rockfish! Could be 200 years old!... Read more »

ohn David Filmalter, Manuela Capello, Jean-Louis Deneubourg, Paul Denfer Cowley, & Laurent Dagorn. (2013) Looking behind the curtain: quantifying massive shark mortality in fish aggregating devices. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 11(e-View online ahead of print). DOI: 10.1890/130045  

  • June 17, 2013
  • 04:18 PM

Supreme Court rules natural genes not patentable

by Liza Lester in EcoTone

Unanimous decision against BRCA breast cancer susceptibility gene patents in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc.
Plus: a movie about BRCA1 discoverer Mary-Claire King.... Read more »

Hall, J., Lee, M., Newman, B., Morrow, J., Anderson, L., Huey, B., & King, M. (1990) Linkage of early-onset familial breast cancer to chromosome 17q21. Science, 250(4988), 1684-1689. DOI: 10.1126/science.2270482  

Miki, Y., Swensen, J., Shattuck-Eidens, D., Futreal, P., Harshman, K., Tavtigian, S., Liu, Q., Cochran, C., Bennett, L., Ding, W.... (1994) A strong candidate for the breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility gene BRCA1. Science, 266(5182), 66-71. DOI: 10.1126/science.7545954  

Wooster, R., Neuhausen, S., Mangion, J., Quirk, Y., Ford, D., Collins, N., Nguyen, K., Seal, S., Tran, T., Averill, D.... (1994) Localization of a breast cancer susceptibility gene, BRCA2, to chromosome 13q12-13. Science, 265(5181), 2088-2090. DOI: 10.1126/science.8091231  

  • June 7, 2013
  • 05:28 PM

Water for the trees

by Liza Lester in EcoTone

Saving forests from drought as the climate warms.... Read more »

  • May 6, 2013
  • 05:13 PM

Zeal to ensure clean leafy greens takes bite out of riverside habitat in California

by Liza Lester in EcoTone

As consumers, we like to hear that produce growers and distributers go above and beyond food safety mandates to ensure that healthy fresh fruits and vegetables do not carry bacteria or viruses that can make us sick. But in California’s Salinas Valley, some more vigorous interventions are cutting into the last corners of wildlife habitat, without evidence of food safety benefits, creating tensions between wildlife preservation and food safety where none need exist.... Read more »

Sasha Gennet, Jeanette Howard, Jeff Langholz, Kathryn Andrews, Mark D Reynolds, & Scott A Morrison. (2013) Farm practices for food safety: an emerging threat to floodplain and riparian ecosystems. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, e-View ahead of print(May 6th). info:/10.1890/1202443

  • April 10, 2013
  • 09:19 PM

Looking to large tributaries for conservation gains

by Liza Lester in EcoTone

On big rivers like the Mississippi, the infrastructure of modern civilization – dams, locks, dikes, power plants, cities – has made life easier for people, but harder for fish and other denizens of the river. Restoration is a tricky problem. Economic reliance on these big rivers makes fundamental reversals like dam removals unlikely.... Read more »

Pracheil, B., McIntyre, P., & Lyons, J. (2013) Enhancing conservation of large-river biodiversity by accounting for tributaries. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 11(3), 124-128. DOI: 10.1890/120179  

  • March 28, 2013
  • 02:51 PM

Changing climate, changing landscape: monitoring the vast wilderness of interior Alaska

by Liza Lester in EcoTone

What will climate change mean for the forests of southcentral Alaska? A podcast interview with NPS ecologist Carl Roland.... Read more »

  • February 27, 2013
  • 08:20 PM

Vegetables under plastic

by Liza Lester in EcoTone

Weighing the social and ecological costs and benefits of plastic vegetable greenhouses over conventional vegetable production.... Read more »

Chang, J., Wu, X., Wang, Y., Meyerson, L., Gu, B., Min, Y., Xue, H., Peng, C., & Ge, Y. (2013) Does growing vegetables in plastic greenhouses enhance regional ecosystem services beyond the food supply?. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 11(1), 43-49. DOI: 10.1890/100223  

  • January 24, 2013
  • 07:36 PM

Depression-era drainage ditches emerge as sleeping threat to Cape Cod salt marshes

by Liza Lester in EcoTone

Contemporary recreational fishing has intersected with the dormant effects of an old Works Progress Administration mosquito control project and hastened marsh die-off through the relentless chewing of the purple marsh crab.... Read more »

Coverdale, T., Herrmann, N., Altieri, A., & Bertness, M. (2013) Latent impacts: the role of historical human activity in coastal habitat loss. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1890/120130  

  • January 11, 2013
  • 07:23 PM

A yellow perch in murky water

by Liza Lester in EcoTone

Big fish, little fish, hump-shaped foraging curves, and the landscape of fear.... Read more »

  • December 15, 2012
  • 08:00 AM

A coordinated national strategy for wildlife conservation

by Liza Lester in EcoTone

In this guest post, Vicky Meretsky, associate professor at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, propose a national conservation-support program to help knit together state level efforts and larger federal programs and prevent species from falling through the gaps.... Read more »

Vicky J. Meretsky, Lynn A. Maguire, Frank W. Davis, DavId M. Stoms, J. Michael Scott, Dennis Figg, Dale D. Goble, Brad Griffith, Scott E. Henke, Jacqueline Vaughn.... (2012) A State-Based National Network for Effective Wildlife Conservation. BioScience, 62(11), 970-976. DOI: 10.1525/bio.2012.62.11.6  

  • December 10, 2012
  • 01:30 PM

Elk bones tell stories of life, death, and habitat use at Yellowstone National Park

by Liza Lester in EcoTone

Josh Miller is one among a small cadre of ecologists looking at living ecosystems through the relics of their dead.... Read more »

  • November 8, 2012
  • 06:44 PM

Giant turtles all the way down

by Liza Lester in EcoTone

A Colombian coal mine opens a treasure chest of fossils.... Read more »

  • October 7, 2012
  • 10:05 PM

Better a John than a Jennifer

by Liza Lester in EcoTone

On the market for scientific jobs, male applicants enjoy a substantial advantage, say Yale University researchers.... Read more »

Moss-Racusin CA, Dovidio JF, Brescoll VL, Graham MJ, & Handelsman J. (2012) Science faculty's subtle gender biases favor male students. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 22988126  

  • February 3, 2012
  • 06:51 PM

In Ecology News: Python vs the Everglades

by Liza Lester in EcoTone

Are exotic pythons devastating Florida’s Everglades National Park? A waxing population of Burmese pythons has suspiciously paralleled waning sightings of native critters in Florida’s Everglades, says a paper out this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Following on the tail of an announcement two weeks ago (Jan 17th) that the U.S. will ban imports and interstate sales of the exotic python and three other large constrictor snakes, the story has been attracting........ Read more »

Dorcas, M., Willson, J., Reed, R., Snow, R., Rochford, M., Miller, M., Meshaka, W., Andreadis, P., Mazzotti, F., Romagosa, C.... (2012) Severe mammal declines coincide with proliferation of invasive Burmese pythons in Everglades National Park. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1115226109  

  • May 20, 2011
  • 10:44 AM

The story of the fig and its wasp

by Katie Kline in EcoTone

Inside the rounded fruit of a fig tree is a maze of flowers. That is, a fig is not actually a fruit; it is an inflorescence—a cluster of many flowers and seeds contained inside a bulbous stem. Because of this unusual arrangement, the seeds—technically the ovaries of the fig—require a specialized pollinator that is adapted [...]

... Read more »

Jander, K., & Herre, E. (2010) Host sanctions and pollinator cheating in the fig tree-fig wasp mutualism. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 277(1687), 1481-1488. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2009.2157  

  • May 11, 2011
  • 10:10 AM

Fungus makes zombie ants administer ‘death bite’ at noon

by Katie Kline in EcoTone

Researcher David Hughes has expanded research on a parasitic fungus and its carpenter ant host. As explained in an excerpt from a previous EcoTone post: Scientists have found that the parasitic fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis has possibly been invading carpenter ants (Camponotus) for 48 million years. The parasite not only infects the ant, but it manipulates [...]

... Read more »

  • April 21, 2011
  • 03:55 PM

Shrew poo and worm goo are science too

by Katie Kline in EcoTone

Last week I had the pleasure of being a speaker at Buck Lodge Middle School’s Career Day. Several public schools in Maryland, where Buck Lodge is located, and other states organize important events like these to get students thinking about future opportunities. Do you remember what it was like to be in middle school? To [...]

... Read more »

  • January 28, 2011
  • 09:39 AM

Snow fleas: helpful winter critters

by Katie Kline in EcoTone

As the Northeast of the United States was hammered by thundersnow this week, students, parents and perhaps those working from home had the opportunity to indulge in outdoor winter activities. For many, being in the snow again is losing its luster. As an Associated Press article noted, “The Northeast has already been pummeled by winter [...]

... Read more »

LIN, F., GRAHAM, L., CAMPBELL, R., & DAVIES, P. (2007) Structural Modeling of Snow Flea Antifreeze Protein. Biophysical Journal, 92(5), 1717-1723. DOI: 10.1529/biophysj.106.093435  

  • November 19, 2010
  • 04:59 PM

Trust your gut, it controls more than you may know

by Katie Kline in EcoTone

Most people are familiar with the role of DNA: A set of genetic instructions on how a particular living organism should function. This nucleic acid has been widely explored as a way to identify individuals, define illnesses or hereditary diseases and contribute to behavior, among many other clues about an individual. However, there may be another complex feature of human anatomy that influences many surprising aspects of human physiology, immunity and evolution: gut flora.

... Read more »

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