The Forum section is a place where ecological ideas can be kicked around and examined from new angles. Forum papers bring together multiple fields, push boundaries, and offer new ways of interpreting existing data. They should strive for conceptual unification and serve as a point of departure for future work rather than simply summarizing previous bodies of theory and data. Through the Forum we seek to challenge current thinking on ecological issues and provide a high level of synthesis in the field of ecology.
Scroll down to browse some Forum papers (and learn about submitting your manuscript to Oikos).
Inclusive fitness, asymmetric competition and kin selection in plants Bodil K. Ehlers, Trine Bilde
Some plants are less competitive than usual when their neighbours are close relatives.
Does that mean they are cooperating to pass shared genes to the next generation (kin selection)?
Maybe. But to show that kin selection is really happening, this Forum paper argues, you have to measure the fitness of the individual plant plus the fitness it gains from its neighbour's success.
Using that framework (inclusive fitness), the authors simulated interactions between plants and predicted conditions that favor kin selection.
Generalized fire response strategies in plants and animals Juli G. Pausas
How do plants and animals respond to fire?
This Forum paper proposes that they share a set of common strategies: resistance, refugia, avoidance, dormancy, recolonization, crypsis and intolerance.
By using that unified framework we can learn from a great diversity of life forms, exchange expertise between animal and plant biologists, and improve our understanding of the role of fire on biodiversity.
The priority of prediction in ecological understanding
Jeff E. Houlahan, Shawn T. McKinney, T. Michael Anderson, Brian J. McGill
This Forum paper argues that ecologists have nearly abandoned prediction—and along with it, the ability to demonstrate understanding.
The authors explore how a renewed commitment to prediction (the riskier and more quantitative, the better!) would benefit the study of ecology and advance our understanding of the natural world.
Motifs in bipartite ecological networks: uncovering indirect interactions Benno I. Simmons, Alyssa
R. Cirtwill, Nick J. Baker, Hannah S. Wauchope, Lynn V. Dicks, Daniel B. Stouffer, William J. Sutherland
Ecosystems are complicated networks of relationships, full of indirect interactions that drive ecological and evolutionary processes as much as direct interactions between organisms (or even more).
However, we tend to lose those indirect interactions when we describe community structure through standard practices.
This Forum paper presents a framework that accounts for indirect interactions by breaking down ecosystem networks into smaller building blocks or 'motifs.'
Life history and eco‐evolutionary dynamics in light of the gut microbiota
Emilie Macke, Aurélie Tasiemski, François Massol, Martijn Callens, Ellen Decaestecker
Who's in charge, an animal or the bacteria in its gut?
According to this Forum paper, gut microbes provide metabolic functions and flexibility that their host animals depend on—and even influence traits previously thought to be under the hosts' genetic control, such as development and behavior.
These microscopic powerhouses can actually drive the ecology and evolution of their hosts at the individual, population, community, and ecosystem levels.
Artwork by Abby McBride/Sketch Biologist.