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29 June 2017

To what extent can ecosystem services motivate protecting biodiversity? [Ecology Letters - Idea and Perspective]

Keywords : biodiversity conservation, biodiversity-ecosystem services, conservation decisions, ecosystem services, stochastic optimal control, uncertainty

Society increasingly focuses on managing nature for the services it provides people rather than for the existence of particular species. How much biodiversity protection would result from this modified focus? Although biodiversity contributes to ecosystem services, the details of which species are critical, and whether they will go functionally extinct in the future, are fraught with uncertainty. Explicitly considering this uncertainty, we develop an analytical framework to determine how much biodiversity protection would arise solely from optimising net value from an ecosystem service.(...)

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28 June 2017

Epigenetic and chromatin-based mechanisms in environmental stress adaptation and stress memory in plants [Genome Biology]

Plants frequently have to weather both biotic and abiotic stressors, and have evolved sophisticated adaptation and defense mechanisms. In recent years, chromatin modifications, nucleosome positioning, and DNA methylation have been recognized as important components in these adaptations. Given their potential epigenetic nature, such modifications may provide a mechanistic basis for a stress memory, enabling plants to respond more efficiently to recurring stress or even to prepare their offspring for potential future assaults. In this review, we discuss both the involvement of chromatin in stress responses and the current evidence on somatic, intergenerational, and transgenerational stress memory.

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28 June 2017

Connecting Earth observation to high-throughput biodiversity data [Nature Ecology & Evolution]

Keywords : biodiversity, conservation biology, decision making, ecosystem services, environmental impact

Understandably, given the fast pace of biodiversity loss, there is much interest in using Earth observation technology to track biodiversity, ecosystem functions and ecosystem services. However, because most biodiversity is invisible to Earth observation, indicators based on Earth observation could be misleading and reduce the effectiveness of nature conservation and even unintentionally decrease conservation effort. We describe an approach that combines automated recording devices, high-throughput DNA sequencing and modern ecological modelling to extract much more of the information available in Earth observation data. This approach is achievable now, offering efficient and near-real-time monitoring of management impacts on biodiversity and its functions and services.(...)

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28 June 2017

Penetrance of symbiont-mediated parthenogenesis is driven by reproductive rate in a parasitoid wasp [PeerJ]

Keywords : ecology, entomology, evolutionary studies, microbiology

Trichogramma wasps are tiny parasitoids of lepidopteran eggs, used extensively for biological control. They are often infected with the bacterial symbiont Wolbachia, which converts Trichogramma to an asexual mode of reproduction, whereby females develop from unfertilized eggs. However, this Wolbachia-induced parthenogenesis is not always complete, and previous studies have noted that infected females will produce occasional males in the lab. The conditions that reduce penetrance of the parthenogenesis phenotype are not well understood.(...)

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27 June 2017

Agricultural intensification without biodiversity loss is possible in grassland landscapes [Nature Ecology & Evolution]

Keywords : agroecology, biodiversity, conservation biology, ecosystem ecology, grassland ecology

Grassland biodiversity in managed landscapes is threatened by land-use intensification, but is also dependent on low-intensity management. Solutions that allow for both agricultural production and species conservation may be realized either on individual grasslands, by adjusting management intensity, or at the landscape level, when grasslands are managed at different intensities. Here we use a dataset of more than 1,000 arthropod species collected in more than 100 grasslands along gradients of productivity, to assess the reaction of individual species to changes in productivity.(...)

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