BREAKING GROUND: Bringing back the lions and zebras
REVIVING AN AFRICAN PARK Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique was once one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems. Its 1,525 square miles supported populations of elephants, antelopes, zebras, buffalo, and lions, making it among the most densely populated large-mammal areas in Africa. Then 16 years of civil war, starting in 1977, devastated the park. The large mammals were almost completely wiped out by humans. But a 20-year conservation effort, funded mainly by the U.S.-based Gregory C. Carr Foundation in cooperation with the national government, is under way to restore the ecosystem and create a self-sustaining ecotourism industry. Some animals, such as wild buffalo, were relocated from other African parks to
Duncan Menge, Lars Hedin, and Stephen Pacala receive ESA Award for Outstanding Theoretical Ecology Paper
The Theoretical Ecology Section of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) has awarded its 2012 prize for an outstanding theoretical ecology paper to “Nitrogen and Phosphorus Limitation over Long-term Ecosystem Development in Terrestrial Ecosystems” by Duncan Menge (Princeton EEB, Ph.D. 2008), Lars Hedin, and Stephen Pacala, published in PLoS One (2012) vol. 7(8): e42045. This paper formulates a mathematical model for looking at nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) dynamics over multiple timescales. Analyzing their model through techniques of timescale separation, Menge, Hedin, and Pacala determine whether N or P is more likely to limit net primary productivity (NPP) at short, intermediate, and long timescales. While some of their results provide support for already well-established ideas on NPP limitation, others are counter intuitive, thereby nicely demonstrating the importance of quantitative models for understanding dynamics at the level of the ecosystem. Finally, the work is elegant in that it nicely integrates disparate observations into one cohesive framework. A blog post about this article can be found here: http://blogs.plos.org/everyone/2013/05/06/balancing-nutrient-diets-determines-how-ecosystems-age/
Study casts light on deadly immune response
Examining a case study of near-death experiences for six healthy men who volunteered to test an experimental drug in London has yielded important insights into potentially deadly over-reactions of the human immune system.