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Recognition that climate change could have negative consequences for agricultural production has generated a desire to build resilience into agricultural systems. One rational and cost-effective method may be the implementation of increased agricultural crop diversification. Crop diversification can improve resilience in a variety of ways: by engendering a greater ability to suppress pest outbreaks and dampen pathogen transmission, which may worsen under future climate scenarios, as well as by buffering crop production from the effects of greater climate variability and extreme events. Such benefits point toward the obvious value of adopting crop diversification to improve resilience, yet adoption has been slow. Economic incentives encouraging production of a select few crops, the push for biotechnology strategies, and the belief that monocultures are more productive than diversified systems have been hindrances in promoting this strategy. However, crop diversification can be implemented in a variety of forms and at a variety of scales, allowing farmers to choose a strategy that both increases resilience and provides economic benefits.
It has been proposed that the molecular and physiological systems that regulate biological functions impose costs and constraints that are fundamental to the understanding of variation in life histories. In particular, studies of oxidative stress emphasize how evolutionary contingency can impose novel trade-offs for organisms, and how this may create or eliminate functional linkages between traits. Here, we critically assess the conceptual and empirical basis for these claims and what they mean for the study of life-history variation. Two key challenges are to go beyond the current focus on single components of regulatory systems, assessed at single points in time, and to establish the importance of trait- and stage-specific nutrient requirements for the functional linkage between life-history traits. Furthermore, future progress will critically depend on the replication of laboratory studies in natural settings to target the complexity of trade-off regulation in the wild.
This article presents a unifying theory of soundscape ecology, which brings the idea of the soundscape—the collection of sounds that emanate from landscapes—into a research and application focus. Our conceptual framework of soundscape ecology is based on the causes and consequences of biological (biophony), geophysical (geophony), and human-produced (anthrophony) sounds. We argue that soundscape ecology shares many parallels with landscape ecology, and it should therefore be considered a branch of this maturing field. We propose a research agenda for soundscape ecology that includes six areas: (1) measurement and analytical challenges, (2) spatial-temporal dynamics, (3) soundscape linkage to environmental covariates, (4) human impacts on the soundscape, (5) soundscape impacts on humans, and (6) soundscape impacts on ecosystems. We present case studies that illustrate different approaches to understanding soundscape dynamics. Because soundscapes are our auditory link to nature, we also argue for their protection, using the knowledge of how sounds are produced by the environment and humans.
Exogenous nutrients do not diffuse throughout the body like a drop of dye in a beaker of water. Rather, they are allocated among tissues according to physiological rules determined by evolutionary history, physiological status, and environmental conditions. These rules also determine how endogenous nutrients are differentially mobilized and oxidized during the periods between meals. Metabolic tracers are emerging as powerful tools to address classic questions about the nutritional bioenergetics of animals. For example, which nutrients will be oxidized and which will be stored in the body? How are stored nutrients divided among the different organs and tissues? Which nutrients are mobilized between meals? When does an animal switch from one type of metabolic fuel to another? The answers to these questions surely differ among species, but also depend on complex interactions between the animal and its environment. Here I review the conceptual framework for using isotopically labeled tracers.
Without public trust of climate change science, policymaking in a democratic society cannot address the serious threats that we face. Recent calls for proposals to increase “climate literacy” from federal agencies such as NASA, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), and the National Science Foundation illustrate the urgency of this crisis. Although more climate change education is certainly needed, focusing solely on climate literacy will not garner public trust and may leave out high-impact media literacy education. Climate change deniers have been more effective “educators” than scientists and science educators because their messages are (a) empowering, built on the premise that every individual can quickly learn enough to enter public discourse on climate change; and (b) delivered through many forms of media. A more effective strategy for scientists and science educators should include not only discourse approaches that enable trust, with emphasis on empowerment through reasoning skills, but also approaches that embrace the maturing discipline of media literacy education.