About this Research Topic
Until the middle of the last century, ecological studies considered spatial heterogeneity as an unwanted complication and, for simplification used methods that assumed and reinforced the occurrence of spatial homogeneity in the environment. Only with the subsequent understanding that spatial heterogeneity is an ecological variable just as important as is temporal heterogeneity, new areas of knowledge have emerged within ecology’s realm. Landscape ecology, formed by the intersection of ecology and geography, and strongly influenced by biogeography and evolutionary biology, focuses on how the landscape affects the flow of matter and energy at different scales (i.e., populations, communities, and ecosystems).
In parallel, sensory ecology, formed by the intersection of ecology and sensory physiology, developed to understand which information is produced by signalers, or their surrounding biotic and abiotic environments, how it propagates through the natural medium, and which adaptations are required for information gathering by receivers.
Anthropogenic environmental changes have caused disturbances in ecosystems that directly impact the efficiency of information flow among animals, which may have consequences on both the population and community levels. Among others, (a) boosts in acoustic noise interfere with acoustic landscapes, imposing detrimental effects on animal communication; (b) dumping of chemical compounds in water bodies affect the chemical communication of aquatic species; and (c) artificial illumination dramatically interferes in animal orientation. Considering the speed at which ecosystems have been modified by human action, it is imperative that we also investigate whether populations and communities have been able to adjust their sensory systems to these new landscapes or whether they have abandoned these anthropomorphized environments in search of landscapes that privilege communication.
Thus, sensory ecologists may benefit from insights into the adaptive nature of sensory systems in populations living in heterogeneous environments as well as from investigating whether and to which extent variation in these sensory systems may contribute to the evolution and distribution of interacting organisms at different spatial and temporal scales.
This Research Topic is inspired by this integrative approach and invites academics working on different aspects of ecology, and that are also interested on how environmental spatial-temporal heterogeneity and animal communication interact, to contribute with the following types of manuscripts:
• Original Research or Brief Research Report articles, bringing original data;
• Systematic Reviews, summarizing the history of the two thematic areas and how they have evolved
over the past few decades;
• Methods articles suggesting how new protocols or established techniques already applied to
landscape ecology might improve the study of sensory ecology;
• Reviews or Mini-Reviews, focusing on which are the intersection points between sensory and landscape ecology.
All manuscripts are expected to present data on how signals, signal transmission, and/or sensory systems, from at least one sensory modality (e.g., visual, acoustic, seismic, tactile, electric, magnetic), are influenced by environmental variation.
The Editors would like to acknowledge Dr. Pedro de Moraes (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil), who also collaborated in the development of this project and will be actively engaged as a reviewer.
Keywords: Animal Communication, Anthropogenic Changes, Biogeography, Spatial Heterogeneity, Spatial-Temporal Scales
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.