The Ecological Society of America is pleased to announce its 2023 Fellows. The Society’s fellowship program recognizes the many ways in which its members contribute to ecological research, communication, education, management and policy. This year, the ESA Governing Board has confirmed seven new Fellows and ten new Early Career Fellows.
Fellows are members who have made outstanding contributions to a wide range of fields served by ESA, including, but not restricted to, those that advance or apply ecological knowledge in academics, government, non-profit organizations, and the broader society. They are elected for life.
Protected areas are critical to mitigating extinction of species; however, they may also be in conflict with efforts to feed the growing human population.
Paul Armsworth, professor of ecology and researcher with the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) is the co-author of a new study showing croplands are prevalent in protected areas, which challenges their efficacy meeting conversation goals. Varsha Vijay, a researcher at the University of Maryland’s National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) is the lead author.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that 6% of all global terrestrial protected areas are already made up of cropland, a heavily modified habitat that is often not suitable for supporting wildlife. Worse, 22% of this cropland occurs in areas supposedly enjoying the strictest levels of protection, the keystone of global biodiversity protection efforts.
In order to comprehensively examine global cropland impacts in protected areas for the first time, the authors synthesized a number of remotely sensed cropland estimates and diverse socio-environmental datasets.
Read more about the study at sesync.org.
UT is home to a new Center for the Dynamics of Social Complexity (DySoC), led by Director Sergey Gavrilets. Other EEB faculty involved in the center include Nina Fefferman and Lou Gross.
“The goal of the Center is to promote connections and collaborations between different researchers focusing on various aspects and levels of human social behavior. We use theoretical and empirical methods and work at the interface of mathematical, biological, social, and computational sciences. Our topics of interest include cooperation, conflict, cultural evolution and dynamics, mass behavior and psychology, human origins, emergence and evolution of human societies, social norms, and societal resilience and (in) stability to various shocks. We are interested in combining system thinking, modeling tools, and big data to develop testable predictions and practical agendas.”
A distinguished professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and mathematics at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT), Gross is also the founding and current director of the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) and director of UT’s Institute for Environmental Modeling. His research focuses on computational and mathematical ecology, with applications to plant ecology, conservation biology, natural resource management, and landscape ecology.
The popular Scientific American Blog has posted an article about bat research done by grad student Jessica Welch (McCracken and Simberloff labs) and NIMBioS postdoc Jeremy Beaulieu.
Tennessee Today also did an article covering the blog post.
Sergey Gavrilets is co-organizing a workshop on warfare this week at NIMBioS, called “Evolutionary approaches to the understanding of decentralized warfare.“He was recently interviewed on NPR because of the workshop. Gavrilets’s research on warfare has attracted other media attention in the past, including Huffington Post, Popular Mechanics, and Nature.
His interview was featured in Tennessee Today.
Jiang Jiang (NIMBioS fellow and Classen Lab postdoc) and Don DeAngelis (adjunct) have received the Ecological Society of America’s 2014 Outstanding Ecological Theory Paper Award. Their winning paper, “Strong species-environment feedback shapes plant community assembly along environmental gradients,” was published in the journal Ecology and Evolution in 2013 (3: 4119–4128).
“In their clearly-written paper, the authors make direct linkages to problems in plant ecology, while building a general theoretical model that addresses a key issue, not just in plant ecology, of feedbacks between organisms and their environment. Through well-designed analyses of an elegant model, they found that “ecological engineers” (species that modify the environment to their own benefit) can affect the diversity of the competitive community they inhabit, and that the direction of this effect depends critically on the extent to which the community is closed to immigration and on the spatial heterogeneity of the environment. These novel results should are likely to foster further theoretical research and generate some fine hypotheses that will motivate experimental and field studies.”
“The Theoretical Ecology Section of the Ecological Society of America sponsors an annual award for an outstanding published paper in ecological theory. Papers with a print or electronic publication date in either of the two years preceding the year of the award are eligible.”
Sergey Gavrilets has a new open-access paper in PNAS, which is getting a great deal of media attention in places like Nature (links below). The paper is entitled, “War, space, and the evolution of Old World complex societies.”
Significance: How did human societies evolve from small groups, integrated by face-to-face cooperation, to huge anonymous societies of today? Why is there so much variation in the ability of different human populations to construct viable states? We developed a model that uses cultural evolution mechanisms to predict where and when the largest-scale complex societies should have arisen in human history. The model was simulated within a realistic landscape of the Afroeurasian landmass, and its predictions were tested against real data. Overall, the model did an excellent job predicting empirical patterns. Our results suggest a possible explanation as to why a long history of statehood is positively correlated with political stability, institutional quality, and income per capita.
|The Conversation||Pacific Standard|
|El Mundo||Popular Mechanics|
|Huffington Post||Science World Report|
|Los Angeles Times||Smithsonian|
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $18.6 million to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, for the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) to continue its interdisciplinary efforts in developing new mathematical approaches to problems across biology, from the level of the genome to individuals to entire ecosystems. EEB’s Lou Gross has been the director of NIMBioS since its inception in September 2008.