The EcoNetLab Science Weblog

Andrew D. Barnes1, Amrei Binzer1, Christoph Digel1, Roswitha B. Ehnes1,
Katarina Fußmann1, Christian Guill1, Malte Jochum1, Gregor Kalinkat1,
Birgit Lang1, David Ott1, Björn C. Rall1, Florian D. Schneider1,2,
Florian Schwarzmüller1, Miriam Teuscher1, and Ulrich Brose1,3

This is a brand-new science weblog about life, the universe and everything. More specifically it's about ecological networks, so called food webs. This Blog is presented by the Systemic Conservation Biology Group at the Georg-August-University Göttingen, Germany, headed by Ulrich Brose. For detailed information on our recent work, please visit our website.

keywords: group news | new ecology papers | indonesia | pictures | food web ecology | ecological modelling |
biodiversity | global change biology | bodymass and allometry | general science topics

    Monday, February 27, 2012

    Summary of the first week in Angers

    With a bit of a delay due to the non-working wifi, I now can give you a short summary of what we’ve done so far. As I said, the first two days were covered by the introduction into the general modelling topics. After that, we went on exploring examples of individual-based models from very different scientific fields: social-sience (we created a model about traffic jams), hydrology (rainfall and its runoff according to the topology), urban dynamics and of course biology (wolves feeding on sheep). We experimented a lot with these models. For example, the wolves became dragons, feeding on humans — unless there are enough humans to subdue the dragon.
    So, we’re all doing great. Saturday was free, so we went to the beautiful town of Angers and on Sunday we visited the Loire-valley including some very good food and, of course, some wine-tasting.

    For this week, we will work on our own projects. Each one of us on one out of each scientific-field. So that by friday we will have some very good results for presentation.
    That’s it for now..I’ll keep you updated. Greetings from France.

    Wednesday, February 22, 2012

    Days 1 and 2 in Angers

    After two days of introduction to the field and teaching the basal paradigms of modelling (“all models are wrong” and “complex does not mean complicated”), the group is now well prepared for passing over to the “dark side”. The next three days we’ll be introduced to the modelling platform (NetLogo) by following some application examples.

    Monday, February 20, 2012

    Greetings from Angers

    I’m very proud to take part in the EU-funded Intensive Program “Agents-based modelling for spatial processes in landscape geography” here at the university of Angers-France. Courses will start tomorrow and I will keep you up to date. Stay tuned.

    Saturday, February 4, 2012

    Occupy Elsevier!

    Something important is going on in science. The system of scientific publishing is ill. That’s for sure. The prices for journal subsriptions are rising, while the range of journals also rises, against the law of supply and demand. This is due to the publishing companies which monopolize valuable copyrights on knowledge, while not respecting the interests of the authors. They now aim at doubling their bargain from taxpayers money by selling universities knowledge that was achieved by universities. So, why do we still need them? In consequence to the commotion against SOPA and PIPA, the copyright claims of the scientific publishers are recently questioned 1,2. This hit the nerve of many scientists and caused a mass subscription of an online declaration on against Elsevier, one of the mightiest and apparently wealthiest publishers in the scientific world. More than 3.500 scientists of all fields declared on that list that they will not publish, referee or do editorial work for Elseviers journals. Beneath subscribing this list, more is neccessary to improve the system of publishing in a sustainable way. Especially, open access agreements in most journals is still far too expensive for the authors. There is a need for new ideas on how to publish high quality peer-reviewed work and cutting out the middleman. (FDS)

    1 e.g. Weblog of Timothy Gowers, Mathematician, Fields Medal laureate.

    2 PolyMath Wiki A lot of links on journal publishing reform.

    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    Predatory beetle selects prey for nutritional balance

    Kim Jensen and colleagues1 found out that a predatory carabid beetle selects its prey actively for required nutrient types. They showed that the ground beetle Anchomenus dorsalis balances its lipid and protein uptake by chosing the respective diet to maximize egg production. According to the authors, this kind of stoichiometric foraging was never shown before for strictly predatory species. This is an encouraging perspective for models that include stoichiometry into multi-prey feeding rates or food web structure.(FDS)

    1 Jensen, K. et al. (2012) Optimal foraging for specific nutrients in predatory beetles, Proceedings B, online pre-print, doi:10.1098/rspb.2011.2410 

    Monday, December 26, 2011

    Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year 2012

    On behalf of the whole group - I actually didn’t ask them but simply assume they all agree - I wish all of our readers a merry and calm Christmas and a very happy and exciting year 2012. Thank you for following us during 2011, our first blogged year, and you can expect even more interesting posts in 2012. New papers will be read and written, the next conferences are not that far ahead and a lot of upcoming projects are allready knocking at the office door. Unfortunately, no one is there for the next 10 days
    So, once again: have a very nice time and all the best to you and your families. (FS)

    Friday, December 2, 2011

    Global Change: Size structure of food webs collapse!

    Jeremy Fox of the Oikos Blog promoted an amazingly scientific article on The Onion1, reporting a new phenomenon of global change: food-chains are seriously shaken-up by turning the predator-prey size ratio upside down; An osprey devours a lion.
    As satiric as this is meant to be: It shows intriguingly that the allometric size structure underlying food webs2 is an obvious fact. Ignoring this fact in a random model of food web structure would mean to assume food webs as described by the Onion article. However, if body size structure holds, zebras should hunt cheetas! (FDS)

    1 Osprey Devours Lion In Massive Food-Chain Shake-Up The Onion, December 1, 2011 | ISSUE 47•48 

    2 Petchey, O.L., Beckerman, A.P., Riede, J.O. & Warren, P.H. (2008). Size, foraging, and food web structure. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 105, 4191-4196.

    Sunday, November 27, 2011

    The Dark Side of the Internet: Our Facebook Page

    As it behoves for a group of geeky theoretical ecologists, working on “the dark side” of science, we just launched our own facebook page . All posts of this glorious blog will be synced there, giving you the opportunity to feedback.
    We know very well that facebook is evil: X-raying our personal information, exhausting our privacy, feeding on our identity. Anyhow, we decided to take this step, because blogging is no real fun if you do not get something in return. So please feel invited to follow and comment our blog on facebook!

    Thursday, November 24, 2011

    New Paper in Journal of Animal Ecology

    EcoNetLab proudly presents: Warming effects on consumption and intraspecific interference competition depend on predator metabolism a new paper by Birgit Lang and colleagues looking at how interference competition is influenced by increasing temperatures. Reading and citing strongly recommended. (FS)

    Thursday, November 24, 2011

    Rock, Paper, Scissors

    Why are there so many coexisting species? Stefano Allesina explains how the simple principle of “rock, paper, scissors” structures life on a radio show on WBEZ 91.51. This bases on a modelling approach that he and José Rojas-Echenique promoted in a recent paper in Ecology2. (GK and FDS)

    1 Clever Apes #22: Paper covers rock by Gabriel Spitzer | | Nov. 22, 2011 

    2 José Rojas-Echenique & Stefano Allesina (2011) Interaction rules affect species coexistence in intransitive networks Ecology 92:1174-1180 

    Thursday, November 24, 2011

    Clever Apes #22: Paper covers rock
    by Gabriel Spitzer | Nov. 22, 2011

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    Busy lab

    We apologize for not refreshing our weblog recently. In Göttingen and Darmstadt practical student courses use up all our creativity. And some of us are preparing manuscripts and theses. However, we did not forget posting on the blog! We are just busy. In the meantime I recommend reading the OIKOS blog by Jeremy Fox. (FDS)

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1J.F. Blumenbach Institute of Zoology and Anthropology
University of Göttingen
Berliner Str. 28
D-37073 Göttingen, Germany

2to whom technical issues and comments should be adressed:
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3supervising author:
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