Tuesday, 14 December 2010

November review for F1000

This month we decided to review a novel application of network theory to the horticultural industry.  This paper is on work that is still very much evolving, however it shows great potential for further studies of plant trade networks. 

Disease spread in small-size directed trade networks: the role of hierarchical categories  M. Pautasso, X. Xu, M.J. Jeger, T.D. Harwood, M. Moslonka-Lefebvre and L. Pellis Journal of Applied Ecology. 2010 Dec; 47(6):1300-1309
DOI:  10.1111/j.1365-2664.2010.01884.x

Our Review:
Lonsdale M: 2010. F1000.com/6722956

This article is a novel theoretical application of network theory to the horticultural industry, which might ultimately contribute to a better understanding of the way in which plant diseases may spread.

This article demonstrates that structural change in the trade in plants may have an influence on the chances that a disease epidemic will occur. For example, increasing the number of producers and retailers relative to the number of wholesalers will tend to increase epidemic spread in some kinds of networks. In other kinds of networks (called 'scale-free'), which are characterised by super-connected individuals, the relative number of producers and retailers to wholesalers is not a key driver of epidemic spread.

Monday, 6 December 2010

More evidence of earlier flowering times under climate change

A UK-based paper has recently put together a 'meta-analysis' of data from the past 200 years to show that British Flowering plants have been flowering 2-12 days earlier over the last 25 years than at any time in the past two centuries, on average.  Although this doesn't contrast natives and invasives (it would be interesting to know if that would be possible with this data), it complements the first paper we reviewed for F1000 on the Thoreau's wood data (Concord, Massachusetts (USA)) that demonstrated evidence of earlier flowering dates for both natives and non-natives, however with non-natives flowering 11 days earlier on average than natives over the last 100 year.  I would be curious to know if a similar study could be conducted with the UK data by Amano et al. to that of Willis et al. to provide further evidence for the interesting findings in that paper (see our review here). 

T. Amano, R.J. Smithers, T.H. Sparks and W.J. Sutherland (2010) A 250-year index of first flowering dates and its response to temperature changes Proc. R. Soc. B vol. 277 no. 1693, 2451-2457 

A review of the Amano et al paper for F1000 by Sandra Knapp can be read here, she rated this paper 'exceptional': Faculty of 1000: 2010. F1000.com/6560956