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30 November 2016

The influence of life history traits on the phenological response of British butterflies to climate variability since the late-19th century [Ecography]

Many species of plants and animals have advanced their phenology in response to climate warming in recent decades. Most of the evidence available for these shifts is based on data from the last few decades, a period coinciding with rapid climate warming. Baseline data is required to put these recent phenological changes in a long-term context. We analysed the phenological response of 51 resident British butterfly species using data from 83 500 specimens in the collections of the Natural History Museum, London, covering the period 1880–1970.(...)

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29 November 2016

Oral transfer of chemical cues, growth proteins and hormones in social insects [eLIFE]

Social insects frequently engage in oral fluid exchange - trophallaxis - between adults, and between adults and larvae. Although trophallaxis is widely considered a food-sharing mechanism, we hypothesized that endogenous components of this fluid might underlie a novel means of chemical communication between colony members. Through protein and small- molecule mass spectrometry and RNA sequencing, we found that trophallactic fluid in the ant Camponotus floridanus contains a set of specific digestion- and non-digestion related proteins, as well as hydrocarbons, microRNAs, and a key developmental regulator, juvenile hormone.(...)

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29 November 2016

Safeguarding pollinators and their values to human well-being [Nature/Review]

Wild and managed pollinators provide a wide range of benefits to society in terms of contributions to food security, farmer and beekeeper livelihoods, social and cultural values, as well as the maintenance of wider biodiversity and ecosystem stability. Pollinators face numerous threats, including changes in land-use and management intensity, climate change, pesticides and genetically modified crops, pollinator management and pathogens, and invasive alien species. There are well-documented declines in some wild and managed pollinators in several regions of the world. However, many effective policy and management responses can be implemented to safeguard pollinators and sustain pollination services.

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25 November 2016

Ten policies for pollinators [Science/Policy Forum]

Earlier this year, the first global thematic assessment from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) evaluated the state of knowledge about pollinators and pollination (1, 2). It confirmed evidence of large-scale wild pollinator declines in northwest Europe and North America and identified data shortfalls and an urgent need for monitoring elsewhere in the world. With high-level political commitments to support pollinators in the United States (3), the United Kingdom (4), and France (5); encouragement from the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD’s) scientific advice body (6); and the issue on the agenda for next month’s Conference of the Parties to the CBD, we see a chance for global-scale policy change.(...)

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25 November 2016

Obligate plant farming by a specialized ant [Nature Plants]

Keywords : behavioural ecology, tropical ecology

Many epiphytic plants have associated with ants to gain nutrients. Here, we report a novel type of ant–plant symbiosis in Fiji where one ant species actively and exclusively plants the seeds and fertilizes the seedlings of six species of Squamellaria (Rubiaceae). Comparison with related facultative ant plants suggests that such farming plays a key role in mutualism stability by mitigating the critical re-establishment step.(...)

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