Learning of fear & eavesdropping in wild birds – field season 2018 is on!

Yesterday (12.04), the first wood warblers arrived at my study area (Wielkopolska National Park, W Poland) – the 2018 field season is officially on!

In this year, I’m starting the new project – Learning of fear and eavesdropping networks in wild birds. In a series of experiments I will study how, in natural conditions, birds learn to recognize predators and how information about immediate risk of predation spreads among con- and heterospecifics within a community, using wood warblers and other forest songbirds as a study system.

Below you can find some photos of first arrivals!




Macroecology and diversity of species interactions – open PhD position!

I’m forwarding the announcement about open PhD position in Dr. Jukka Forsman’s lab (University of Oulu, Finland) in the fascinating project about macroecology and diversity of species interactions. Details below!

PhD position in the project “Macroecology and diversity of species interactions” at the University of Oulu, Finland

Coevolution among species via species interactions is the major driving force of biodiversity. Yet, the concept of and metrics to estimate species interactions is largely missing from biodiversity studies. The project has two major aims. First, our goal is to create a novel community diversity index, which quantitatively grade communities in terms of the sign, strength and variation of interactions. We will then examine how interaction index varies relative to taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional diversity, stability of the communities and the level of disturbance. Second, we aim to estimate a novel species-specific characteristic, which describes species competitive – facilitative interaction abilities. The association of this new metric with species capability to adapt to global changes is then examined. The data to be used in the project is negotiable; comprehensive and long-term bird survey data from Europe and moth data from Finland. We will use a state-of-the-art statistical modelling technique, Joint Dynamic Species Distribution Modelling, developed by one of the PIs of the project, Dr. James Thorson, in extracting species associations from the survey data.

The position is for 4 years. The start date of the position is January 2018, with some flexibility. We aim that the chosen candidate will spend 6 – 12 months at the University of Washington (Seattle, USA) and learn modeling techniques with Dr. Thorson. Funding for the visit will be applied from various sources, such as Fulbright Center. Position involves occasional teaching. The location of the position is at the Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, Finland.

Research Group. Principal Investigators of the project are Dr. Jukka Forsman (University of Oulu, Finland) and Dr. James Thorson (National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, Seattle, USA). Other collaborators of the project are Vincent Devictor (University of Montpellier, France), Mikko Mönkkönen (University of Jyväskylä) and Panu Välimäki (University of Oulu, Finland).

Qualification requirements. Applicants must have a M.Sc. degree in ecology, evolutionary biology, statistical modeling or related areas. The recruited person is expected to be enterprising and have excellent English communication skills, as well as experience in programming in the R statistical environment. Following qualifications and experience is considered as an advantage: managing and analyzing large data sets, species distribution modeling, experience in estimating diversity indexes (taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic), statistical modelling, experience in applying GIS-data on biological systems, and global change studies.

Contact persons for further information. Project leaders Jukka Forsman, email: jukka.forsman(at)oulu.fi, tel.: +358 29 448 1951 and Dr. James Thorson, email: James.T.Thorson(at)gmail.com


Weather, pollen, and masting – new paper in Ecology!

Our recent Ecology paper on system-specific roles of weather and pollination dynamics in driving seed production in European trees is now available online!

In wind-pollinated trees, weather and seed production can mechanistically link through flowering and pollination dynamics in different ways. According to pollen coupling hypothesis, flowering effort of trees is driven by weather and plant resources, which directly translates into the size of seed crop through efficient pollination. In contrast, weather can affect pollination efficiency, leading to occasional high seed crops – this is so-called pollination Moran effect hypothesis. Furthermore, Moran effects can arise because of weather effects on flowering synchrony, which, in turn, drives pollination efficiency (phenology synchrony hypothesis).

Using a 19-year data set from three sites in Poland, we investigated the relationship between weather, airborn pollen, and seed production in two oak species (Quercus petraea and Q. robur) and beech (Fagus sylvatica). We found that for oaks and beech, the warm summers preceding flowering correlated with high pollen abundance and warm springs resulted in high flowering synchrony (short pollen seasons). However, in beech the best predictor of seed crops was pollen abundance, supporting the pollen coupling hypothesis. In contrast, large seed crops in oaks correlated with short pollen seasons, thus supporting the pollination Moran effect and phenology synchrony hypotheses. These findings suggest that fundamentally different proximate mechanisms may drive masting in oaks and beech.

You can read the paper here and on ResearchGate. Read also what Michał Bogdziewicz, the leading author, wrote about this study on his page.


Sessile oak (Quercus petraea) © Jakub Szymkowiak