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3 May 2017

Cryptic diversity in Amazonian frogs: Integrative taxonomy of the genus Anomaloglossus (Amphibia: Anura: Aromobatidae) reveals a unique case of diversification within the Guiana Shield [Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution]

Jean-pierre Vacher, Christophe Thébaud, Antoine Fouquet

Lack of resolution on species boundaries and distribution can hamper inferences in many fields of biology, notably biogeography and conservation biology. This is particularly true in megadiverse and under-surveyed regions such as Amazonia, where species richness remains vastly underestimated. Integrative approaches using a combination of phenotypic and molecular evidence have proved extremely successful in reducing knowledge gaps in species boundaries, especially in animal groups displaying high levels of cryptic diversity like amphibians. Here we combine molecular data (mitochondrial 16S rRNA and nuclear TYR, POMC, and RAG1) from 522 specimens of Anomaloglossus, a frog genus endemic to the Guiana Shield, including 16 of the 26 nominal species, with morphometrics, bioacoustics, tadpole development mode, and habitat use to evaluate species delineation in two lowlands species groups.(...)

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2 May 2017

Microplastic transport in soil by earthworms [Scientific Reports]

Keywords : ecology, environmental sciences

Despite great general benefits derived from plastic use, accumulation of plastic material in ecosystems, and especially microplastic, is becoming an increasing environmental concern. Microplastic has been extensively studied in aquatic environments, with very few studies focusing on soils. We here tested the idea that microplastic particles (polyethylene beads) could be transported from the soil surface down the soil profile via earthworms.(...)

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2 May 2017

Simple Rules for an Efficient Use of Geographic Information Systems in Molecular Ecology [Frontiers in Ecology & Evolution]

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are becoming increasingly popular in the context of molecular ecology and conservation biology thanks to their display options efficiency, flexibility and management of geodata. Indeed, spatial data for wildlife and livestock species is becoming a trend with many researchers publishing genomic data that is specifically suitable for landscape studies. GIS uniquely reveal the possibility to overlay genetic information with environmental data and, as such, allow us to locate and analyze genetic boundaries of various plant and animal species or to study gene-environment associations (GEA). This means that, using GIS, we can potentially identify the genetic bases of species adaptation to particular geographic conditions or to climate change. However, many biologists are not familiar with the use of GIS and underlying concepts and thus experience difficulties in finding relevant information and instructions on how to use them. In this paper, we illustrate the power of free and open source GIS approaches and provide essential information for their successful application in molecular ecology.(...)

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1 May 2017

Habitat filtering determines the functional niche occupancy of plant communities worldwide [Journal of Ecology]

Keywords : community assembly, habitat filtering, limiting similarity, niche occupancy, species richness, intraspecific trait variability, determinants of plant community diversity and structure

1.How the patterns of niche occupancy vary from species-poor to species-rich communities is a fundamental question in ecology that has a central bearing on the processes that drive patterns of biodiversity. As species richness increases, habitat filtering should constrain the expansion of total niche volume, while limiting similarity should restrict the degree of niche overlap between species. Here, by explicitly incorporating intraspecific trait variability, we investigate the relationship between functional niche occupancy and species richness at the global scale.
2.We assembled 21 datasets worldwide, spanning tropical to temperate biomes and consisting of 313 plant communities representing different growth forms. We quantified three key niche occupancy components (the total functional volume, the functional overlap between species and the average functional volume per species) for each community, related each component to species richness, and compared each component to the null expectations.(...)

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28 April 2017

Mountain landscape connectivity and subspecies appurtenance shape genetic differentiation in natural plant populations of the snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus L.) [Botany Letters]

Benoit Pujol, Juliette Archambeau, Aurore Bontemps, Mylène Lascoste, Sara Marin & Alexandre Meunier

We carried out a population genetic study of 14 populations (692 plants characterised at 23 microsatellite loci) of the plant species Antirrhinum majus L. (Plantaginaceae) across its geographic range. Our results showed that populations of A. majus are genetically differentiated and genetically diverse. We also found a small but statistically significant genetic differentiation between A. majus subspecies pseudomajus and striatum. Genetic diversity was higher in A. majus subspecies pseudomajus. Geographic distance and both latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates had no impact on genetic differentiation and diversity. We therefore did not find any signature of geographical range expansion. Mountains were found to play a role by affecting a small but statistically significant amount of genetic differentiation between populations. Our findings thereby suggest that most A. majus populations are reproductively isolated, and that the landscape and the evolutionary history of species affected their genetic variation.

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