EcoGists: Short audio abstracts giving the essence of a paper

We are introducing a new type of podcast: the EcoGist.  These are short (from 1 to 2 minutes) podcasts in which the author or I briefly describe their paper, with motivating question, how they did it, what they found, and what it means. Consider EcoGists as an elevator pitch for a paper.

What does the name EcoGist mean? The “Eco” part obviously represents “Ecology”, while the “Gist” part is just the word gist, that means the essence of something.

Why EcoGists? We do longer form interviews of 10 to 15 minutes. These dive deeper into each paper, and  you really get a sense for the author and their research. However, these are likely a bit long for some people who don’t have 10-15 minutes to give to a podcast. So these shorter 1-2 minute stories will still give the gist of the paper.

The first EcoGist comes from Maud Bernard-Verdier of Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive in Montpellier, France, in which she describes her paper on community assembly along a soil depth gradient. 

P.S. To give credit where it’s due, EcoGists are modeled after the 60 second science podcasts of Scientific American. If you haven’t heard them before, definitely go have a listen here. In addition, inspiration came from Isabelle Cote’s website, where they very short audio abstracts of papers that they publish.

The text of this audio abstract:

We still have a lot to understand on how environmental conditions shape plant diversity. A common preconception is that in less favorable environments, plants unfit to cope with local constraints will be filtered out, whereas more favorable habitats may harbor a larger diversity of plant functional strategies. In this study we show that it is probably more complicated than that.

We studied rangeland plant communities in Southern France, and tried to understand how plant functional characteristics, or traits, could explain the changes in vegetation observed along a natural gradient in soil resources.

We found that environmental filtering existed not only under harsh conditions, but also in the more favorable habitats. Moreover, we show that this filtering is not necessarily associated with lower functional diversity, and in fact we found in general a higher functional divergence towards the more constraining habitats. Interestingly, different aspects of plant functioning, such as vegetative growth or reproduction, had opposite trends along the gradient, which altogether highlights the need to look at various plant traits individually to understand how the multiple processes shaping community assembly vary with the environment.

2 thoughts on “EcoGists: Short audio abstracts giving the essence of a paper

  1. Reblogged this on durito's blog and commented:
    An interesting way to communicate science not only to scientists but also to the general public who do not have the time or the basic knowledge to fully appreciate all the outcomes of a science paper. Great idea.

  2. Pingback: 60-second audio abstract for the Journal of Ecology blog | Maud Bernard-Verdier

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