The global extent of peatlands continues to decline as degradation, conversion and removal occurs from human land-use activities and industrial practices. Concern for these losses has stimulated and increase in compensation measures to restore some degree of the pre-existing community structure and functions. For peatland ecosystems, this can include the recovery of species diversity, hydrologic regime and peat-accumulation processes. Andrea Borkenhagen's paper titled "Creating fen initiation conditions: a new approach for peatland reclamation in the oil sands region of Alberta," co-authored with GDPE faculty David Cooper, discusses moss establishment on various substrates, in various environments, and what that means for the reclamation process. Andrea and David's work was included in the British Ecological Society virtual issue. This issue includes all the award winning and highly commended papers published by early career scientists in the society's five journals in 2016, and was originally published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.
#SaveTheElephants has become a cause celebre in recent years. But for Colorado State University's George Wittemyer, an associate professor in the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, studying elephants and the effects of poaching on them started when he was an undergraduate at Colorado College in the 1990s. Wittemyer is now a world-renowned expert on elephants. He was the lead author of a landmark study published in 2014 that found an estimated 100,000 elephants in Africa were killed for their ivory between 2010 and 2012. The majestic animals, which Wittemyer describes as one of the most iconic species on the planet, are killed for the ivory in their tusks and teeth. "It's conspicuous consumption, a demonstration of wealth or art," he said. "The art is beautiful, but it's really not necessary in any way. The amount of disruption poaching causes to elephants is a disaster. They are highly social animals, with roles in their societies that progress with age. Killing for ivory removes the oldest individuals in the population, disrupting their populations in many ways. It's really terrible what is happening to the species."
The recipient of the 2017 award is Seema Seth for her paper "Artificial selection reveals high genetic variation in phenology at the trailing edge of a species range." coauthored with her advisor Amy Angert (Am Nat 187(2): 182-193). The question of wheather populations at range edges have less potential to adapt to environmental change is important and unresolved. Other studies have made timid approaches to this question; hers took it on boldly and directly. Even though artificial selection is now a standard approach in experimental evolution, her paper stood out because the design was comprehensive (including different regions of the range edge), well-motivated (in choosing to select on phenology and to monitor correlated changes in relevant traits), and strongly linked to empirical phenomena (using genotypes from natural populations). The results were dramatic and some were unexpected. The specific difference between the leading and trailing range edges could not have been predicted, and the incorporation of costs of evolution in phenology help explain this difference.[Archive]