Saturday, February 16, 2008

Oekologie #14

Amateur naturalists like myself can be a parochial bunch. Many of us write mostly about birds. Some prefer invertebrates. Others admire trees. The one constant that unites all of our preferred taxa is that all exist and interact together in their natural ecosystems. The scientific study of these interactions is ecology, or oekologie in the original German.

I find that the more I read and write about birds, the more I become interested in ecology. For example, who would have guessed that shorebirds could have become so dependent on a single species for food that they could go extinct without it? And yet, such an outcome is possible. Interactions like these are fascinating, even though they are sometimes poignant as well.

Luckily for us amateur naturalists, we have a year-old blog carnival to read about ecology. After reading and submitting to several editions, I am finally hosting the fourteenth Oekologie. Let's get to the submissions.


Grrlscientist describes conflicting evidence for the origin of modern birds from the fossil record and molecular biology in Rocks vs Clocks: When Did Modern Birds Really Appear?

Climate Change

Greg Laden explores the climate of the Miocene Period in The Evolution of the Modern Climate: New Evidence from Plant Remains.


Coffee and Conservation contrasts different conditions for growing coffee along with their impact on biodiversity - specifically their effect on birds - in What shade coffee looks like.

Mike from 10,000 Birds celebrates the species from urban habitats in Most Beloved Backyard Birds of 2008.

Species Interaction

Ian from Further Thoughts describes how Seed-eating mammals increase tree species diversity by reducing seed survival and density.

Kevin from The Other 95% finds a new way to serve leftovers when he describes how Assassin Bugs Use Corpses to Avoid Predators.

Ed Young explains how the Loss of big mammals breaks alliance between ants and trees and why this is important.

Rachel Walden at Women's Health News shows how humans propagate mercury through fish and ultimately back to humans in On Sushi, Mercury, and Women’s Health: Can’t See the Pollution for the Fish.


GrrlScientist reports on a new subspecies of bird discovered in Nepal, the Nepal Rufous-vented Prinia (Prinia burnesii nipalensis).

Luigi at Agricultural Diversity Weblog has a modest proposal for tracking whether a species is still at a particular location.

Greg Laden introduces us to the early parts of Darwin and the Voyage.

Threatened Species

For my own contribution, I asked that readers write letters to stop the horseshoe crab harvest in New Jersey to protect a rare shorebird that may disappear.

This concludes the February 2008 edition of Oekologie. Thanks to all who contributed posts. The next edition will appear at The Other 95% on March 15.

Finally, in case you haven't heard, there's a bird count this weekend!