Montserrat Vilà and her colleagues are honoured with the George Mercer Award of the Ecological Society of America

This year's Mercer Award goes to the authors of "Disentangling the abundance–impact relationship for invasive species.", including Montserrat Vilà of the Biological Station of Doñana-CSIC.

This paper is the first meta-analysis to win the Mercer Award. Meta-analyses have become an important ecological research tool since their introduction into ecology in the early 1990s, and the work by Bethany A. Bradley and colleagues identified a novel general pattern that likely could not have been discovered or confirmed except via meta-analysis.

Their comprehensive global meta-analysis of 1258 studies addresses how the impacts of invasive species scale with their abundances. The analysis revealed striking general pattern across trophic levels: invasive species' impacts on lower trophic levels increase steeply but nonlinearly with their abundances, so that per-capita impact declines with increasing invader abundance, while invasive species' impacts within their own trophic level increase less steeply and linearly with their abundances. Their findings are valuable for managers, who need to decide whether it is worthwhile to attempt eradication of undesirable invasive species.

The Mercer Award is given for an outstanding ecological research paper published by a younger researcher (the lead author must be 40 years of age or younger at the time of publication). If the award is given for a paper with multiple authors, all authors will receive a plaque, and those 40 years of age or younger at the time of publication will share the monetary prize.

Bradley, B.A., Laginhas, B.B., Whitlock, R., Allen, J.M., Bates, A.E., Bernatchez, G., Diez, J.M., Early, R., Lenoir, J., Vilà, M. and Sorte, C.J. 2019. Disentangling the abundance–impact relationship for invasive species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(20): 9919-9924.

Source: Ecological Society of America


Size increase without genetic divergence in the Eurasian water shrew Neomys fodiens

Size increase without genetic divergence in the Eurasian water shrew Neomys fodiens

When a population shows a marked morphological change, it is important to know whether that population is genetically distinct; if it is not, the novel trait could correspond to an adaptation that might be of great ecological interest. Here, a subspecies of water shrew, Neomys fodiens niethammeri, which is found in a narrow strip of the northern Iberian Peninsula was studied. This subspecies presents an abrupt increase in skull size when compared to the rest of the Eurasian population, which has led to the suggestion that it is actually a different species. Skulls obtained from owl pellets collected over the last 50 years allowed performing a morphometric analysis in addition to an extensive multilocus analysis based on short intron fragments successfully amplified from these degraded samples. Interestingly, no genetic divergence was detected using either mitochondrial or nuclear data. Additionally, an allele frequency analysis revealed no significant genetic differentiation. The absence of genetic divergence and differentiation revealed here indicate that the large form of N. fodiens does not correspond to a different species and instead represents an extreme case of size increase, of possible adaptive value, which deserves further investigation. informacion[at] Balmori-de la Puente et al (2019) Size increase without genetic divergence in the Eurasian water shrew Neomys fodiens. Sci Rep doi:10.1038/s41598-019-53891-y