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7 November 2017

Evolution of life in urban environment [Science]

Our planet is an increasingly urbanized landscape, with over half of the human population residing in cities. Despite advances in urban ecology, we do not adequately understand how urbanization affects the evolution of organisms, nor how this evolution may affect ecosystems and human health. Here, we review evidence for the effects of urbanization on the evolution of microbes, plants, and animals that inhabit cities. Urbanization affects adaptive and nonadaptive evolutionary processes that shape the genetic diversity within and between populations. (...)

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7 November 2017

Resource availability underlies the plant-fungal diversity relationship in a grassland ecosystem [Ecology]

Keywords : Fungi, resource availability, belowground diversity, community assembly, plant species richness, mineralization, decomposition, extracellular enzymes

It is commonly assumed that microbial communities are structured by ‘bottom-up’ ecological forces, although few experimental manipulations have rigorously tested the mechanisms by which resources structure soil communities. We investigated how plant substrate availability might structure fungal communities and belowground processes along an experimental plant richness gradient in a grassland ecosystem.(...)

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7 November 2017

Variation in recombination frequency and distribution across eukaryotes: patterns and processes [Proceedings of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences]

Keywords : crossing over, meiosis, genetic linkage, evolution, adaptation, genomic architecture

Recombination, the exchange of DNA between maternal and paternal chromosomes during meiosis, is an essential feature of sexual reproduction in nearly all multicellular organisms. While the role of recombination in the evolution of sex has received theoretical and empirical attention, less is known about how recombination rate itself evolves and what influence this has on evolutionary processes within sexually reproducing organisms. Here, we explore the patterns of, and processes governing recombination in eukaryotes. We summarize patterns of variation, integrating current knowledge with an analysis of linkage map data in 353 organisms. We then discuss proximate and ultimate processes governing recombination rate variation and consider how these influence evolutionary processes.(...)

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6 November 2017

Bottom-up and top-down control of dispersal across major organismal groups: a coordinated distributed experiment [BioRxiv]

Julien Cote, Simon Blanchet, Felix Pellerin, Laurane Winandy

Organisms rarely experience a homogeneous environment. Rather, ecological and evolutionary dynamics unfold in spatially structured and fragmented landscapes, with dispersal as the central process linking these dynamics across spatial scales. Because dispersal is a multi-causal and highly plastic life-history trait, finding general drivers that are of importance across species is challenging but highly relevant for ecological forecasting. We here tested whether two fundamental ecological forces and main determinants of local population dynamics, top-down and bottom-up control, generally explain dispersal in spatially structured communities. In a coordinated distributed experiment spanning a wide range of actively dispersing organisms, from protozoa to vertebrates, we show that bottom-up control, that is resource limitation, consistently increased dispersal. (...)

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3 November 2017

Meta-Ecosystems 2.0: Rooting the Theory into the Field [Trends in Ecology & Evolution]

Keywords : resource flow, meta-ecosystem, metacommunity, subsidy, animal movement, landscape

The meta-ecosystem framework demonstrates the significance of among-ecosystem spatial flows for ecosystem dynamics and has fostered a rich body of theory. The high level of abstraction of the models, however, impedes applications to empirical systems. We argue that further understanding of spatial dynamics in natural systems strongly depends on dense exchanges between field and theory. From empiricists, more and specific quantifications of spatial flows are needed, defined by the major categories of organismal movement (dispersal, foraging, life-cycle, and migration). In parallel, the theoretical framework must account for the distinct spatial scales at which these naturally common spatial flows occur. Integrating all levels of spatial connections among landscape elements will upgrade and unify landscape and meta-ecosystem ecology into a single framework for spatial ecology.

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