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Understanding cooperation is a central challenge in biology, because natural selection should favor "free-loaders" that reap benefits without reciprocating. For interspecific cooperation (mutualism), most approaches to this paradox focus on costs and benefits of individual partners and the strategies mutualists use to associate with beneficial partners.(More)
Despite conceptual recognition that indirect effects initiated by large herbivores are likely to have profound impacts on ecological community structure and function, the existing literature on indirect effects focuses largely on the role of predators. As a result, we know neither the frequency and extent of herbivore-initiated indirect effects nor the(More)
The finding that regular spatial patterns can emerge in nature from local interactions between organisms has prompted a search for the ecological importance of these patterns. Theoretical models have predicted that patterning may have positive emergent effects on fundamental ecosystem functions, such as productivity. We provide empirical support for this(More)
Mutualisms are key components of biodiversity and ecosystem function, yet the forces maintaining them are poorly understood. We investigated the effects of removing large mammals on an ant-Acacia mutualism in an African savanna. Ten years of large-herbivore exclusion reduced the nectar and housing provided by plants to ants, increasing antagonistic behavior(More)
Once, when I was about 12, I tried to argue with a guy who was handing out anti-environmentalist leaflets in an airport. He asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I replied that I wanted to be a herpetologist, and that if he got his way, there would be no animals left for me to study. He shrugged and said, 'Be a palaeontologist,' which I thought was(More)
The Nile perch is a large (up to two metres), piscivorous fish native to the River Nile and to Lakes Albert in Uganda and Turkana in Kenya. During the 1950s and early 1960s, hundreds of these fish were introduced into Lake Victoria and its adjoining rivers and lakes. This was part of a bifurcated effort by colonial fisheries officials in Uganda to widen the(More)
Because temperature affects the growth, development, and survival of embryos, oviparous mothers should discriminate carefully among available nesting sites. We combined a radiotelemetric study of animal movements with a spatial mapping of environmental temperatures to test predictions about the nesting behavior of the eastern fence lizard (Sceloporus(More)
The future of biodiversity and ecosystem services depends largely on the capacity of human-dominated ecosystems to support them, yet this capacity remains largely unknown. Using the framework of countryside biogeography, and working in the Las Cruces system of Coto Brus, Costa Rica, we assessed reptile and amphibian assemblages within four habitats that(More)
The oft-repeated claim that Earth's biota is entering a sixth "mass extinction" depends on clearly demonstrating that current extinction rates are far above the "background" rates prevailing between the five previous mass extinctions. Earlier estimates of extinction rates have been criticized for using assumptions that might overestimate the severity of the(More)
1. Herbivores influence the structure and composition of terrestrial plant communities. However, responses of plant communities to herbivory are variable and depend on environmental conditions, herbivore identity and herbivore abundance. As anthropogenic impacts continue to drive large declines in wild herbivores, understanding the context dependence of(More)