FRONHOFER Emanuel A.'s profile
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FRONHOFER Emanuel A.

  • Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution (ISEM, UMR 5554), CNRS, Montpellier, France
  • Biological invasions, Community ecology, Competition, Dispersal & Migration, Evolutionary ecology, Experimental ecology, Food webs, Foraging, Landscape ecology, Life history, Population ecology, Preregistrations, Spatial ecology, Metacommunities & Metapopulations, Species distributions, Theoretical ecology
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Recommendations:  3

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Recommendations:  3

30 Mar 2021
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Do the more flexible individuals rely more on causal cognition? Observation versus intervention in causal inference in great-tailed grackles

Recommended by based on reviews by Laure Cauchard and 1 anonymous reviewer

From cognition to range dynamics – and from preregistration to peer-reviewed preprint

In 2018 Blaisdell and colleagues set out to study how causal cognition may impact large scale macroecological patterns, more specifically range dynamics, in the great-tailed grackle (Fronhofer 2019). This line of research is at the forefront of current thought in macroecology, a field that has started to recognize the importance of animal behaviour more generally (see e.g. Keith and Bull (2017)). Importantly, the authors were pioneering the use of preregistrations in ecology and evolution with the aim of improving the quality of academic research.

Now, nearly 3 years later, it is thanks to their endeavour of making research better that we learn that the authors are “[...] unable to speculate about the potential role of causal cognition in a species that is rapidly expanding its geographic range.” (Blaisdell et al. 2021; page 2). Is this a success or a failure? Every reader will have to find an answer to this question individually and there will certainly be variation in these answers as becomes clear from the referees’ comments. In my opinion, this is a success story of a more stringent and transparent approach to doing research which will help us move forward, both methodologically and conceptually.

References

Fronhofer (2019) From cognition to range dynamics: advancing our understanding of macroe-
cological patterns. Peer Community in Ecology, 100014. doi: https://doi.org/10.24072/pci.ecology.100014

Keith, S. A. and Bull, J. W. (2017) Animal culture impacts species' capacity to realise climate-driven range shifts. Ecography, 40: 296-304. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/ecog.02481

Blaisdell, A., Seitz, B., Rowney, C., Folsom, M., MacPherson, M., Deffner, D., and Logan, C. J. (2021) Do the more flexible individuals rely more on causal cognition? Observation versus intervention in causal inference in great-tailed grackles. PsyArXiv, ver. 5 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer community in Ecology. doi: https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/z4p6s

13 Mar 2021
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Investigating sex differences in genetic relatedness in great-tailed grackles in Tempe, Arizona to infer potential sex biases in dispersal

Recommended by based on reviews by 2 anonymous reviewers

Dispersal: from “neutral” to a state- and context-dependent view

Traditionally, dispersal has often been seen as “random” or “neutral” as Lowe & McPeek (2014) have put it. This simplistic view is likely due to dispersal being intrinsically difficult to measure empirically as well as “random” dispersal being a convenient simplifying assumption in theoretical work. Clobert et al. (2009), and many others, have highlighted how misleading this assumption is. Rather, dispersal seems to be usually a complex reaction norm, depending both on internal as well as external factors. One such internal factor is the sex of the dispersing individual. A recent review of the theoretical literature (Li & Kokko 2019) shows that while ideas explaining sex-biased dispersal go back over 40 years this state-dependency of dispersal is far from comprehensively understood.

Sevchik et al. (2021) tackle this challenge empirically in a bird species, the great-tailed grackle. In contrast to most bird species, where females disperse more than males, the authors report genetic evidence indicating male-biased dispersal. The authors argue that this difference can be explained by the great-tailed grackle’s social and mating-system.

Dispersal is a central life-history trait (Bonte & Dahirel 2017) with major consequences for ecological and evolutionary processes and patterns. Therefore, studies like Sevchik et al. (2021) are valuable contributions for advancing our understanding of spatial ecology and evolution. Importantly, Sevchik et al. also lead to way to a more open and reproducible science of ecology and evolution. The authors are among the pioneers of preregistering research in their field and their way of doing research should serve as a model for others.

References

Bonte, D. & Dahirel, M. (2017) Dispersal: a central and independent trait in life history. Oikos 126: 472-479. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/oik.03801

Clobert, J., Le Galliard, J. F., Cote, J., Meylan, S. & Massot, M. (2009) Informed dispersal, heterogeneity in animal dispersal syndromes and the dynamics of spatially structured populations. Ecol. Lett.: 12, 197-209. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1461-0248.2008.01267.x

Li, X.-Y. & Kokko, H. (2019) Sex-biased dispersal: a review of the theory. Biol. Rev. 94: 721-736. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/brv.12475

Lowe, W. H. & McPeek, M. A. (2014) Is dispersal neutral? Trends Ecol. Evol. 29: 444-450. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2014.05.009

Sevchik, A., Logan, C. J., McCune, K. B., Blackwell, A., Rowney, C. & Lukas, D. (2021) Investigating sex differences in genetic relatedness in great-tailed grackles in Tempe, Arizona to infer potential sex biases in dispersal. EcoEvoRxiv, osf.io/t6beh, ver. 5 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer community in Ecology. doi: https://doi.org/10.32942/osf.io/t6beh

31 Jan 2019
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Do the more flexible individuals rely more on causal cognition? Observation versus intervention in causal inference in great-tailed grackles

Recommended by based on reviews by 2 anonymous reviewers

From cognition to range dynamics: advancing our understanding of macroecological patterns

Understanding the distribution of species on earth is one of the fundamental challenges in ecology and evolution. For a long time, this challenge has mainly been addressed from a correlative point of view with a focus on abiotic factors determining a species abiotic niche (classical bioenvelope models; [1]). It is only recently that researchers have realized that behaviour and especially plasticity in behaviour may play a central role in determining species ranges and their dynamics [e.g., 2-5]. Blaisdell et al. propose to take this even one step further and to analyse how behavioural flexibility and possibly associated causal cognition impacts range dynamics.
The current preregistration is integrated in an ambitious long-term research plan that aims at addressing the above outlined question and focuses specifically on investigating whether more behaviourally flexible individuals are better at deriving causal inferences. The model system the authors plan on using are Great-tailed Grackles which have expanded their range into North America during the last century. The preregistration by Blaisdell et al. is a great example of the future of scientific research: it includes conceptual models, alternative hypotheses and testable predictions along with a sound sampling and analysis plan and embraces the principles of Open Science. Overall, the research the authors propose is fascinating and of highest relevance, as it aims at bridging scales from the microscopic mechanisms that underlie animal behaviour to macroscopic, macroecological consequences (see also [3]). I am very much looking forward to the results the authors will report.

References
[1] Elith, J. & Leathwick, J. R. 2009. Species distribution models: ecological explanation and prediction across space and time. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst. 40: 677-697. doi: 10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.110308.120159
[2] Kubisch, A.; Degen, T.; Hovestadt, T. & Poethke, H. J. (2013) Predicting range shifts under global change: the balance between local adaptation and dispersal. Ecography 36: 873-882. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0587.2012.00062.x
[3] Keith, S. A. & Bull, J. W. (2017) Animal culture impacts species' capacity to realise climate-driven range shifts. Ecography, 40: 296-304. doi: 10.1111/ecog.02481
[4] Sullivan, L. L.; Li, B.; Miller, T. E.; Neubert, M. G. & Shaw, A. K. (2017) Density dependence in demography and dispersal generates fluctuating invasion speeds. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 114: 5053-5058. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1618744114
[5] Fronhofer, E. A.; Nitsche, N. & Altermatt, F. (2017) Information use shapes the dynamics of range expansions into environmental gradients. Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 26: 400-411. doi: 10.1111/geb.12547

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FRONHOFER Emanuel A.

  • Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution (ISEM, UMR 5554), CNRS, Montpellier, France
  • Biological invasions, Community ecology, Competition, Dispersal & Migration, Evolutionary ecology, Experimental ecology, Food webs, Foraging, Landscape ecology, Life history, Population ecology, Preregistrations, Spatial ecology, Metacommunities & Metapopulations, Species distributions, Theoretical ecology
  • recommender

Recommendations:  3

Reviews:  0