Researchers at MPYC, led by graduate student Ben Carlson, just published an article in Nature Communication that examines variation in individual environmental niches. This work is significant because it is the first attempt to examine the geometry of individual niches using niche axes such as land cover—conditions that will be directly affected by global change. To date, studies have either ignored individual variation, or focused on difficult-to-scale axes such as diet. The researchers found that environmental niches were configured much differently than predicted by these earlier studies. Although niches were specialized, they were not partitioned into disparate regions of environmental space. Instead, the niches were nested. Some individuals had larger niches than others, but all shared the same core region of niche space. This finding implies that to conserve a population, instead of attempting to conserve a diversity of resources it might be best to identify and conserve the habitat corresponding to the shared core region.
Check out the full article here!