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14 December 2017

Maternal-by-environment but not genotype-by-environment interactions in a fish without parental care [Heredity]

Keywords : ecological genetics, evolutionary ecology

The impact of environmental conditions on the expression of genetic variance and on maternal effects variance remains an important question in evolutionary quantitative genetics. We investigate here the effects of early environment on variation in seven adult life history, morphological, and secondary sexual traits (including sperm characteristics) in a viviparous poeciliid fish, the mosquitofish Gambusia holbrooki. Specifically, we manipulated food availability during early development and then assessed additive genetic and maternal effects contributions to the overall phenotypic variance in adults.(...)

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14 December 2017

Mapping multi-scale vascular plant richness in a forest landscape with integrated LiDAR and hyperspectral remote-sensing [Ecology]

Keywords : predictive vegetation mapping, vascular plant species richness, essential biodiversity variables (EBVs), remote sensing, hyperspectral remote-sensing, LiDAR, North Carolina Piedmont, scale-dependence, spectral variation; structural complexity

The central role of floristic diversity in maintaining habitat integrity and ecosystem function has propelled efforts to map and monitor its distribution across forest landscapes. While biodiversity studies have traditionally relied largely on ground-based observations, the immensity of the task of generating accurate, repeatable, and spatially-continuous data on biodiversity patterns at large scales has stimulated the development of remote-sensing methods for scaling up from field plot measurements. One such approach is through integrated LiDAR and hyperspectral remote-sensing. However, despite their efficiencies in cost and effort, LiDAR-hyperspectral sensors are still highly constrained in structurally- and taxonomically-heterogeneous forests - especially when species’ cover is smaller than the image resolution, intertwined with neighboring taxa, or otherwise obscured by overlapping canopy strata.(...)

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13 December 2017

Global variation in the cost of increasing ecosystem carbon [Nature Climate Change]

Keywords : biogeochemistry, climate-change mitigation, environmental economics

Slowing the reduction, or increasing the accumulation, of organic carbon stored in biomass and soils has been suggested as a potentially rapid and cost-effective method to reduce the rate of atmospheric carbon increase. The costs of mitigating climate change by increasing ecosystem carbon relative to the baseline or business-as-usual scenario has been quantified in numerous studies, but results have been contradictory, as both methodological issues and substance differences cause variability.(...)

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13 December 2017

Evolution of reproductive parasites with direct fitness benefits [Heredity]

Keywords : biological models, evolutionary biology, evolutionary genetics, population genetics

Maternally inherited symbionts such as Wolbachia have long been seen mainly as reproductive parasites, with deleterious effects on host fitness. It is becoming clear, however, that, frequently, these symbionts also have beneficial effects on host fitness, either along with reproductive parasitism or not. Using the examples of cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) and male-killing (MK), we here analyze the effect of direct fitness benefits on the evolution of reproductive parasites. By means of a simple theoretical framework, we synthesize and extend earlier modeling approaches for CI and MK, which usually ignore fitness benefits.(...)

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13 December 2017

Genome of the Tasmanian tiger provides insights into the evolution and demography of an extinct marsupial carnivore [Nature Ecology & Evolution]

Keywords : evolutionary genetics, genome evolution, molecular evolution

The Tasmanian tiger or thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus) was the largest carnivorous Australian marsupial to survive into the modern era. Despite last sharing a common ancestor with the eutherian canids 160 million years ago, their phenotypic resemblance is considered the most striking example of convergent evolution in mammals. The last known thylacine died in captivity in 1936 and many aspects of the evolutionary history of this unique marsupial apex predator remain unknown. Here we have sequenced the genome of a preserved thylacine pouch young specimen to clarify the phylogenetic position of the thylacine within the carnivorous marsupials, reconstruct its historical demography and examine the genetic basis of its convergence with canids.(...)

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