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


A new subspecies of Manx shearwater to the Canary Islands

A new subspecies of Manx shearwater to the Canary Islands

The taxonomy of Procellariiformes, particularly petrels and shearwaters, is still unresolved. The Manx shearwater Puffinus puffinus is one of the best studied seabirds worldwide. Most of the information known on this seabird is focused on the northern core populations where the species is abundant. However, the species shows a high number of peripheral populations, which are extremely small and difficult to study in comparison to central populations. Using an integrative approach, this studies provides significant evidence of phenological, morphological, acoustic, plumage colour, and genetic differentiation of the Canarian Manx shearwaters (the most southern population) from the northern breeding colonies, which is compatible with a long period of isolation. Birds from the Canary Islands breed around 2-3 months earlier, are smaller and lighter, and show darker underwing plumage than those from northern populations. In addition, Canarian call features are different from the northern populations. Finally, genetic analyses of the mitochondrial control region indicate an incipient genetic differentiation of Canarian Manx shearwaters from the other breeding populations. The Canarian population holds a small number of breeding colonies and it is declining, so accurate taxonomic recognition critically affects conservation efforts. For all the aforementioned reasons, the Canarian breeding population is proposed to rank as a new taxon by presenting the formal description of a new subspecies Puffinus puffinus canariensis ssp. nova (available at EBD-CSIC scientific collections). informacion[at] Rodriguez at al (2020) Cryptic differentiation in the Manx Shearwater hinders the identification of a new endemic subspecies. J Avian Biol Doi 10.1111/jav.02633