Editor's Choice MarchSubmitted by editor on 4 March 2016.
Chris Lortie and I explain in an editorial how important and non-trivial synthesis is to advance the field of ecology. At Oikos, we see meta-analyse as important avenue to promote synthesis, together with novel, and often multidisciplinary approaches that integrate data and theory. Editor’s choice of this March issue are –logically- two meta-analysis papers.
Scaling research has experienced a remarkable progress in the past several decades. Many scaling relationships were discovered within and across individual and population levels, such as species–abundance relationship, Taylor's law, and density mass allometry. Xu extends and integrates the latter two and derives a new variance allometry between individual body mass and population abundance. The research was based on data from 57 Long-Term Ecological Research data sets. The derived scaling relationships suggest new ways to study the underlying mechanisms of Taylor's law and have profound implications for fisheries and other applied sciences.
The second EC highlights the impact of mast-seeding on vertebrate demography and population dynamics. Bogdziewicz and colleagues synthesised responses of 122 species of vertebrates based on nearly 200 articles. The overall aim was to gain more systematic insights on the impact of masting on vertebrate responses than the typically studied cascading effects on generalist rodents. Besides documenting the diversity of species impacted by masting, they are able to generalize predictions that low-fecund species are more likely to show aggregative spatial responses to mast-seeding than species with a high reproductive effort. Demographic responses through changes in fecundity are more typical for small than larger mammals. None of these relationships were found in birds. The impact of masting on higher trophic consumers appeared much more dependent on the type of resource pulse than those of direct consumers. This meta-analysis highlights consequently that responses to mast-seeding are much more taxonomically and ecologically diverse than past reviews have recognized so far.
Dries Bonte, EiC, Oikos