What We’re Reading- Dec 4, 2015

Congrats to SNPits blogger Emily on her new paper on the precision and accuracy of spatial assignment methods. She found that while genomic datasets with SNPs have higher accuracy than genetic datasets with microsatellites, that most samples were still poorly assigned within political boundaries, important for enforcement in wildlife trade applications. The full blog post is here.

Gender Equity in Ecology, Because its 2015
A new paper (sub) in Functional Ecology examined gender bias in peer review within that journal over the last decade. The authors found that male editors solicited reviews from fewer female reviewers than did female editors. Additionally, they found that male reviewers were more likely to turn down an invitation to review from a female rather than male editor.

Additionally, The Ecological Society of Australia held its annual conference this week, including a plenary talk by Professors Emma Johnston & Mark Burgman on gender equity in ecology. This session was covered extensively on Twitter, and has now been storified. None of the WildlifeSNPits team were there in person, but from the tweets it seems to have been a fascinating, thought-provoking and important discussion.

Feral Cats are Better Killers in Open Habitats
Not every predation attempt is successful, but what are factors that influence predation success? In Australia, researchers are particularly interested in understanding the impacts of feral cats, because introduced moggies threaten a diversity of native wildlife. This paper (open) shows that hunting success of feral cats depends upon habitat structure: if wildlife have more places to seek refuge they are less likely to get eaten. This is an important piece of research because it demonstrates one mechanism by which multiple threatening processes (e.g. fire, grazing or vegetation clearing that reduce habitat structure, and introduced predators that directly kill wildlife) can together have a greater impact on wildlife conservation than either process alone. It is definitely worth watching the video that accompanies this paper to see how collar-mounted cameras have been used to study predation by cats!

Sensitivity of eDNA Surveys
Environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis is a popular tool for detecting wildlife. As with any new tool, it is important to understand the limitations of eDNA surveys. How much confidence can you have in the sensitivity of your DNA tests? This paper (sub) provides a framework for evaluating the sensitivity of eDNA detection. They demonstrate their approach by investigating factors affecting eDNA detection success of oriental weatherloach (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus), an invasive freshwater fish, from water samples.


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