The Return of the Jedi

The last year has been extremely busy for me, with (unfortunately) very little time to think about, and draft, new posts for the blog. A lot of interesting things happened, with many changes in the lab and still pending some important news about our research plans and prospects. Besides, it has been a difficult year- especially in summer, with the loss of my mother, a lovely person. So, I very much hope I’ll find more time to keep posting. My apologies for the long silence.
Several interesting items are in the pipeline, including posts about extinct ecological services of Pleistocene megafauna, metanetworks, unveiling long-distance dispersal, multiplex networks and their ecological applications, natural history of junipers, giant lizards, the coevolution of multispecific interactions, and many other themes related to research in the lab. So please stay tuned…

Extant Megafauna Frugivores

The end-Pleistocene mega-mammal extinction (also including other vertebrate groups) likely had a severe effect on present-day megafauna assemblages and impaired important functions associated with ecological interactions involving megafauna taxa. The extant mega-mammal faunas around the world are impoverished versions of the Pleistocene biota on most continents except- perhaps- Africa. In addition, mega-mammals are particularly hard hit by ongoing human-driven disturbances like deforestation, hunting, pollution, and animal trade.

Extinct species (black) and extant species (green) of mammal megafauna in different continents, illustrating the main higher taxa. Stuart, A.J. (2014) Late Quaternary megafaunal extinctions on the continents: a short review. Geological Journal, 50, 338–363.

Extant frugivorous mega-mammals are represented in a few orders and families: Carnivora, Artiodactyla, Perissodactyla, Marsupalia, Proboscidea, and Primates. Yet they span a high diversity of body sizes, digestive systems, movement patterns, and foraging modes, presumably defining a wide range of ecological functions for plant dispersal.
The representation of extant mega-birds is much more restricted- strictly speaking, to the large Ratites (emus, cassowaries, ostrich) most of them consuming fruits to variable extents.

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Then, herps and fish have also a reduced representation, with large iguanas, varanid lizards and giant turtles, on one hand, and a few genera of very large frugivorous fishes.
The population densities, distribution areas, and even body sizes of these extant megafauna species are being severely reduced by both direct and indirect human influences. This is what we call the anthropocene, and the defaunation events associated to global change drivers such as deforestation. We are just starting to grasp the delayed consequences of this dramatic loss of biodiversity for the persistence of forests worldwide.

Illustration: Pedro Jordano, based on Stuart (2014). Photos: Kulpat Saralamba, Alicia Solana, Néstor Pérez-Méndez, Dennis Hansen.

Number One

This is my note #1. Created 01/01/2011 @ 00:35. Really a few minutes after the Biodiversity year has ended. What do we have? Probably a few thousands more extinct species, many of them we yet don’t know. But we have also more knowledge to fight this fast-paced trend of biodiversity loss. Let’s hope the best…

I have imported my previous posts of my blog.

Updated Equipo57 photo album

Equipo 57

I’ve updated the photo gallery with a special section dedicated to my favorite Equipo 57 sculptures. Equipo 57 was a group of artists based in Córdoba that had a close interaction with my father, Diego Jordano Barea, because of their shared interests in topological geometry and the possibilities of “computable art”. Please visit the web site of a recent exhibition.

New frugivory and seed dispersal book

New book on Fruits and Frugivores

I’ve just received the copy of the new book edited by CABI that summarizes the communications to the 4th International Conference on Frugivory and Seed dispersal, held in Brisbane, Australia, 2005. The book is very nicely edited. You can find a sample chapter here. The book offers a great overview of how studies of frugivory and seed dispersal by animals are advancing all over the world. In some sense it’s a continuation of the now classics Estrada and Fleming 1986, Fleming and Estrada 1993, and Levey et al. 2002. We are now setting up the 5th conference for 2010 in Montpellier, France. So, stay tuned!!!

Some updates after summer

After summer

Well, it has been a long time without news in the blog, but here we are again. 😉 Summer has been quiet; I’ve been at Cadiz coast with Myriam and Perico, with a short visit by Diego. It has been a great time to read, think and write but, again, no painting at all… 😦
After summer the group has been plenty of news. Geno Schupp and Janis Boettinger arrived in Sevilla for a new sabbatical year. We have plenty of time ahead to start new projects and revisit old ideas, besides enjoying the ‘tapas’ landscape around us.
We (Jordi, Jens and myself) got the Mercer Award of the Ecological Society of America for the Science paper; and Jordi, Jessica and Miguel Angel went to the meeting in San Jose (California) and enjoyed a splendid ceremony. This award is in recognition for the paper in Science (2006) on interaction asymmetries in mutualistic networks.
We have a new incorporation of Rocío Rodríguez, to start her PhD project on long-distance seed dispersal in Laurus nobilis and Frangula alnus. In addition, Itziar Sarasa also arrived to the group for a short-term stay until December with an introductory grant from CSIC.
Additional good news include the new grant-contracts that Arndt Hampe and Kimberly Holbrook obtained for the next 2 years in the group. Arndt is getting back to work on relict oak populations and Kimberly will keep going with the genetic analysis she started with Virola for her PhD, within a comparative project with Prunus.
Now I’m concentrating on the revision of the megafauna paper with Paulo and Mauro as well as in mss with Alfredo and Martin (fruit colors) and Jordi and Jens (networks); besides there is pending work with Geno on dispersal effectiveness and dispersal limitation that we want to finish. We really have a lot of things going on here, all great fun.

New paper on coextinction cascades in plant-animal mutualistic networks

New paper in Nature

Three days ago we had the good news of our manuscript on coextinction cascades in plant-animal mutualistic networks being finally accepted in Nature. These are very good news for the group, especially for our efforts in the last 4 years working on complex webs of interactions. Enrico did a superb job leading this ms. Here is the abstract:

Rezende, E., Lavabre, J., Guimarães Jr., P.R., Jordano, P. and Bascompte, J. 2007. Non-random coextinctions in phylogenetically structured mutualistic networks. Nature 00: 000-000.

The interactions between plants and their animal pollinators and seed dispersers have molded much of Earth’s biodiversity. Recently, it has been shown that these mutually beneficial interactions form complex networks with a well-defined architecture that may contribute to biodiversity persistence. Little is known, however, about which ecological, evolutionary, and coevolutionary mechanisms contribute to generate these network patterns. Employing phylogenetic comparative statistical tools, here we show that the evolutionary history of plants and animals significantly predicts the number of interactions per species, and the identity of the species with whom they interact. As a consequence of phylogenetic resemblance on interaction patterns, simulated extinction events tend to trigger coextinction cascades across related species. This results on a non-random pruning of the evolutionary tree and a more pronounced loss of taxonomic diversity than expected in the absence of phylogenetic signal. Our results emphasize how the simultaneous consideration of phylogenetic information and network architecture can contribute to the conservation of species rich communities.