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January American Naturalist highlights
Date:1/4/2008

ical western China the tree flowers during the rainy season. To find out the bracts function, scientists at Wuhan University in China observed pollinators and seed set in natural and manipulated flower heads that had their bracts removed or replaced by white or green paper. Davidia flowers are tiny and have no petals; their sole reward is pollen, which is offered over several days and collected by many species of bees. Experimental immersion of pollen grains in water resulted in rapid loss of viability, and flower heads that had their bracts removed lost a lot of pollen to rain. Together with the pollinating bees preference for white-bracted flower heads, these findings suggest that the huge bracts serve as a rain umbrella as well as a pollinator signal. Rain is a surprisingly understudied selective factor on flowers, especially as regards its effects on pollen viability. The results of this study also highlight the difficulty of experimentally dissecting a structures multipurpose function.


"Extending nonlinear analysis to short ecological time series"
Chih-hao Hsieh, Christian Anderson, and George Sugihara (University of California, San Diego)

Animal populations and the stock market are hard to forecast. Both are generated by complicated, interdependent systems. Unlike financial stocks, where trades are meticulously recorded, scientists began estimating animal populations only a few decades ago. But a new technique makes it possible to use the same tools some banks use to forecast the stock market and apply them to ecology. The newly developed Dewdrop Regression can forecast fish populations with 3% the data previously required through other methods, according to Hsieh, Anderson, and Sugihara in an article appearing in The American Naturalist.

The migration of the forecast tools from finance to ecology parallels Dr. Sugiharas own journey. After proposing simplex projection in 1990 with Lord Robert May, later Chief
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Contact: Rudy Faust
rfaust@press.uchicago.edu
773-834-0386
University of Chicago Press Journals
Source:Eurekalert

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