Second day London, first day Intecol – #INT13

Attending ecological meetings is always fun. Meeting friends and colleagues from over the world and corroborating networks with a beer, rather than establishing new ones, especially on the first day. I do like small meetings or workshops, and I like huge conferences like this one. Plenty of interesting talks, excellent keynotes, but there is also the danger of overlooking inspiring talks, or even worse, missing talks from your own students. Such things can happen, especially when talks are scheduled in symposia that are not obviously linked to the content of the talk – unless biotic homogenisation is an ecosystem function of course… However, I did notice that at the same time, one of my other students gave a talk in climate change ecology; I attended that presentation and she performed excellently, but I could be using that as an excuse!
Sandra Diaz’s plenary seemed to be intriguing when reading and trying to understand the title. I am happy to know Theophrastus now, and happy to use the insight from large database analyses on plant traits that herbs and small trees rule the world. Not surprising at all but sure, more detailed functional trait analyses will be necessary to recognise and identify vulnerability syndromes. Life seems simple when synthesising large databases, but sure trait syndromes are less robust when studying functional variation at smaller spatial scales, with less species present. 
This blog is the proof that I am making progress in using new media. I have not been Twittering, so could not ask any questions. I admit, I was reluctant when Georgina Mace announced that questions will be forwarded by Twitter only, but it worked. It worked very well, efficient handling, no fights with microphones.
Oikos is a journal of synthesis in Ecology. I adore synthetic talks. David Tilman’s talk was one to enjoy. Is there a single trade-off rule that mediates coexistence at different spatial scales? Based on quite some paleological and ecological data, such a pattern exists, and surprisingly, this rule appears to be related to the finding that historical invasions (large mammals colonising North America during the last ice age, molluscs from the pacific invading palearctic systems) did not lead to species extinctions. The rule appears to be more universal and can be coupled to the BDEF theory. David deserved more time, and a larger room for sure. The relationship between the mean and variance of species densities is an established law. Joel Cohen surely made me look into our artificial metapopulation data to see whether spatial structure generates different slopes of Taylor’s law. Look out for my talk, where I will demonstrate how changes in metapopulation structure impact eco-evolutionary dynamics and gene expression in mites. Actually, mites are becoming a model system in ecology. Tom Cameron’s presentation on evolutionary rescue was great, and I am looking forward for Isabelle Smallegange’s (Oikos subject editor) talk.

So far, so good.

Dries Bonte,