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21 septembre 2018

Why we love bees and hate wasps [Ecological Entomology]

Keywords : aculeate wasps, ecosystem services, pest control, pollinators, social insects

1. Bees and wasps are important facets of natural capital to be valued by human societies : bees pollinate wild flowers and agricultural crops ; wasps regulate arthropod populations, including insect vectors of human diseases and crop pests. Despite the importance of both taxa, bees are universally loved whilst wasps are universally despised. This study explores some of the reasons behind this.
2. Here data are presented from almost 750 members of the public on their perceptions of insects, including bees and wasps. In addition, an analysis is conducted of researcher effort on bees and wasps, using publication numbers of peer‐reviewed papers over the last 37 years, and unpublished conference proceedings at specialist international conferences over the last 16 years.(...)

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21 septembre 2018

Assessing changes in arthropod predator‐prey interactions through DNA‐based gut content analysis – variable environment, stable diet [Molecular Ecology]

Keywords : altitudinal gradient, body mass, interaction probability, lycosidae, metabarcoding, predator‐prey interaction

Analyzing the structure and dynamics of biotic interaction networks and the processes shaping them is currently one of the key fields in ecology. In this paper, we develop a novel approach to gut content analysis, thereby deriving a new perspective on community interactions and their responses to environment. For this, we use an elevational gradient in the High Arctic, asking how the environment and species traits interact in shaping predator‐prey interactions involving the wolf spider Pardosa glacialis. To characterize the community of potential prey available to this predator, we used pitfall trapping and vacuum sampling. To characterize the prey actually consumed, we applied molecular gut content analysis.(...)

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21 septembre 2018

Host defences against avian brood parasitism : an endocrine perspective [Proceedings of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences]

Keywords : avian brood parasitism, host defences, hormones

Host defences against avian brood parasites are the outcome of well-documented coevolutionary arms races, yet important questions about variation in hosts’ antiparasitic response traits remain poorly understood. Why are certain defences employed by some species or individuals and not by others ? Here, we propose that understanding variability in and the evolution of host defences can be facilitated by the study of the underlying physiological mechanisms. Specifically, because antiparasitic strategies involve behaviours that have been shown to be hormonally regulated in other contexts, we hypothesize that host responses to brood parasites are likely to be mediated by related endocrine mechanisms.(...)

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18 septembre 2018

Towards global data products of Essential Biodiversity Variables on species traits [Nature Ecology & Evolution]

Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) allow observation and reporting of global biodiversity change, but a detailed framework for the empirical derivation of specific EBVs has yet to be developed. Here, we re-examine and refine the previous candidate set of species traits EBVs and show how traits related to phenology, morphology, reproduction, physiology and movement can contribute to EBV operationalization. The selected EBVs express intra-specific trait variation and allow monitoring of how organisms respond to global change. We evaluate the societal relevance of species traits EBVs for policy targets and demonstrate how open, interoperable and machine-readable trait data enable the building of EBV data products. We outline collection methods, meta(data) standardization, reproducible workflows, semantic tools and licence requirements for producing species traits EBVs. An operationalization is critical for assessing progress towards biodiversity conservation and sustainable development goals and has wide implications for data-intensive science in ecology, biogeography, conservation and Earth observation.

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18 septembre 2018

EukRef : Phylogenetic curation of ribosomal RNA to enhance understanding of eukaryotic diversity and distribution [PLOS Biology]

Subject Areas : sequence databases, Eukaryota, phylogenetic analysis, taxonomy, sequence alignment, phylogenetics, multiple alignment calculation, species diversity

Environmental sequencing has greatly expanded our knowledge of micro-eukaryotic diversity and ecology by revealing previously unknown lineages and their distribution. However, the value of these data is critically dependent on the quality of the reference databases used to assign an identity to environmental sequences. Existing databases contain errors and struggle to keep pace with rapidly changing eukaryotic taxonomy, the influx of novel diversity, and computational challenges related to assembling the high-quality alignments and trees needed for accurate characterization of lineage diversity. EukRef (eukref.org) is an ongoing community-driven initiative that addresses these challenges by bringing together taxonomists with expertise spanning the eukaryotic tree of life and microbial ecologists, who use environmental sequence data to develop reliable reference databases across the diversity of microbial eukaryotes.(...)

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