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


Deep genetic divergences between the lowland Sunda tree squirrels

Deep genetic divergences between the lowland Sunda tree squirrels

A surprising amount of hidden phylogenetic diversity exists in the small to medium size, drab colored squirrels of the genus Sundasciurus. This genus is endemic to Sundaland and the Philippines, where it is widespread. An earlier revision of this genus found that the high elevation ‘populations' of the widespread, lowland slender squirrel (S. tenuis) were different species. Previous phylogenies based on mitochondrial cytochrome b sequences also suggested that the widespread, lowland Low's squirrel (S. lowii) and the narrow endemic Fraternal squirrel (S. fraterculus) are not reciprocally monophyletic. Additionally, deep divergences have been identified between lineages within Low's squirrel that date to the early Pliocene. This new study has focused on evaluating the relationships and differences within and between populations of these two nominal species using whole mitochondrial genome sequences, nuclear intron sequences, and morphology. The taxonomy of this group was reassessed, the species status of Robinson's squirrel (Sundasciurus robinsoni Bonhote, 1903) was revalidated, the species level recognition of the Natuna squirrel (Sundasciurus natunensis Thomas, 1895) was supported and three other lineages that require further study were identified. Times of divergence and integrate geologic history was estimated to find that most of the divergences are pre-Pleistocene, and thus predate the Pleistocene flooding of Sundaland. Biogeographic, and ecological factors may have played a more important role than climatic factors in generating these patterns. While divergence in allopatry seems to be the main process driving speciation in lowland Sundaland squirrels (Sundasciurus), ecomorphological and behavioral adaptations in this clade suggest an important role of niche divergence. informacion[at] Hinckley et al (2020) Ancient Divergence Driven by Geographic Isolation and Ecological Adaptation in Forest Dependent Sundaland Tree Squirrels. Front. Ecol. Evol. 8: 208 DOI 10.3389/fevo.2020.00208