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13 May 2016

Antagonistic interactions between an invasive alien and a native coccinellid species may promote coexistence [Journal of Animal Ecology]

Keywords : aphid, behaviour, biocontrol, intraguild predation, ladybird, ladybug, natural enemies, non-consumptive interactions

1.Despite the capacity of invasive alien species to alter ecosystems, the mechanisms underlying their impact remain only partly understood. Invasive alien predators, for example, can significantly disrupt recipient communities by consuming prey species or acting as an intraguild predator (IGP).
2.Behavioural interactions are key components of interspecific competition between predators, yet these are often overlooked invasion processes. Here, we show how behavioural, non-lethal IGP interactions might facilitate the establishment success of an invading alien species.
3.We experimentally assessed changes in feeding behaviour (prey preference and consumption rate) of native UK coccinellid species (Adalia bipunctata and Coccinella septempunctata), whose populations are, respectively, declining and stable, when exposed to the invasive intraguild predator, Harmonia axyridis.(...)

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13 May 2016

Body shrinkage due to Arctic warming reduces red knot fitness in tropical wintering range [Science]

Reductions in body size are increasingly being identified as a response to climate warming. Here we present evidence for a case of such body shrinkage, potentially due to malnutrition in early life. We show that an avian long-distance migrant (red knot, Calidris canutus canutus), which is experiencing globally unrivaled warming rates at its high-Arctic breeding grounds, produces smaller offspring with shorter bills during summers with early snowmelt. This has consequences half a world away at their tropical wintering grounds, where shorter-billed individuals have reduced survival rates. This is associated with these molluscivores eating fewer deeply buried bivalve prey and more shallowly buried seagrass rhizomes. We suggest that seasonal migrants can experience reduced fitness at one end of their range as a result of a changing climate at the other end.

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13 May 2016

Why are some species older than others? A large-scale study of vertebrates [BMC Evolutionary Biology]

Keywords : species age, intraspecific diversification, latitude, viviparity, oviparity, colour polymorphism

Strong variations are observed between and within taxonomic groups in the age of extant species and these differences can clarify factors that render species more vulnerable to extinction. Understanding the factors that influence the resilience of species is thus a key component of evolutionary biology, but it is also of prime importance in a context of climate change and for conservation in general. We explored the effect of extrinsic and intrinsic factors on the timing of the oldest diversification event in over 600 vertebrate species distributed worldwide. We used phylogenetic comparative methods to show that color polymorphism, latitude and reproduction (the latter through its interaction with latitude) affected the timing of the oldest diversification event within a species.

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11 May 2016

How reliably can we infer diversity-dependent diversification from phylogenies? [Methods in Ecology and Evolution]

Keywords : Birth–death model, conditioning, diversity dependence, extinction, parametric bootstrap, simulations

1.Slowdowns in lineage accumulation in phylogenies suggest that speciation rates decline as diversity increases. Likelihood methods have been developed to detect such diversity dependence. However, a thorough test of whether such approaches correctly infer diversity dependence is lacking.
2.Here, we simulate phylogenetic branching under linear negative diversity-dependent and diversity-independent models and estimate from the simulated phylogenies the maximum-likelihood parameters for three different conditionings – on survival of the birth–death process given the crown age, on tree size (N) and on tree size given the crown age. We report the accuracy of recovering the simulation parameters and the reliability of the model selection based on the χ2 likelihood ratio test.(...)

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10 May 2016

Scaling laws predict global microbial diversity [PNAS]

Keywords : biodiversity, microbiology, macroecology, microbiome, rare biosphere

Scaling laws underpin unifying theories of biodiversity and are among the most predictively powerful relationships in biology. However, scaling laws developed for plants and animals often go untested or fail to hold for microorganisms. As a result, it is unclear whether scaling laws of biodiversity will span evolutionarily distant domains of life that encompass all modes of metabolism and scales of abundance. Using a global-scale compilation of ∼35,000 sites and ∼5.6⋅106 species, including the largest ever inventory of high-throughput molecular data and one of the largest compilations of plant and animal community data, we show similar rates of scaling in commonness and rarity across microorganisms and macroscopic plants and animals. We document a universal dominance scaling law that holds across 30 orders of magnitude, an unprecedented expanse that predicts the abundance of dominant ocean bacteria. In combining this scaling law with the lognormal model of biodiversity, we predict that Earth is home to upward of 1 trillion (1012) microbial species. Microbial biodiversity seems greater than ever anticipated yet predictable from the smallest to the largest microbiome.

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