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12 January 2017

Critical catchments for freshwater biodiversity conservation in Europe: identification, prioritisation and gap analysis [Journal of Applied Ecology]

Keywords : alliance for zero extinction, dragonfly, fishing and fishery, key biodiversity area, Marxan, reserve design, snail, mussel and clam, systematic conservation planning, threatened species, watershed management and restoration

1.The conservation of freshwater ecosystems has lagged behind that of marine and terrestrial ecosystems and often requires the integration of large-scale approaches and transboundary considerations. This study aims to set the foundations of a spatial conservation strategy by identifying the most important catchments for the conservation of freshwater biodiversity in Europe.
2.Using data on 1296 species of fish, mollusc, odonate and aquatic plant, and the key biodiversity area criteria (species Red List status, range restriction and uniqueness of species assemblages), we identified a network of Critical Catchments for the conservation of freshwater biodiversity. Applying spatial prioritisation, we show how the prioritised network differs from the ideal case of protecting all Critical Catchments and how it changes when protected areas are included, and we also identify gaps between the prioritised network and existing protected areas.(...)

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11 January 2017

Herpetofauna of the Northwest Amazon forest in the state of Maranhão, Brazil, with remarks on the Gurupi Biological Reserve [ZooKeys]

Keywords : amphibians, Belém Center of Endemism, inventory, new records, reptiles

Understanding the biodiversity of an area is the first step for establishing effective interventions for conservation, especially when it comes to herpetofauna, since 4.1% and 9.2%, respectively, of Brazilian amphibians and reptiles are endangered. The aim of this study is to identify the composition of the herpetofauna occurring in the Northwest Amazonian state of Maranhão, with a focus on the Gurupi Biological Reserve and surrounding areas.(...)

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11 January 2017

Uncertain-tree: discriminating among competing approaches to the phylogenetic analysis of phenotype data [Royal Society Open Science - Biological Sciences]

Keywords : phylogeny, Bayesian, parsimony, cladistics, morphology, palaeontology

Morphological data provide the only means of classifying the majority of life’s history, but the choice between competing phylogenetic methods for the analysis of morphology is unclear. Traditionally, parsimony methods have been favoured but recent studies have shown that these approaches are less accurate than the Bayesian implementation of the Mk model. Here we expand on these findings in several ways: we assess the impact of tree shape and maximum-likelihood estimation using the Mk model, as well as analysing data composed of both binary and multistate characters. We find that all methods struggle to correctly resolve deep clades within asymmetric trees, and when analysing small character matrices.(...)

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11 January 2017

Working with what you’ve got: unattractive males show greater mate-guarding effort in a duetting songbird [Biology Letters]

Keywords : sexual selection, mating tactics, polymorphism, vocal duet, acoustic mate guarding

When mates are limited, individuals should allocate resources to mating tactics that maximize fitness. In species with extra-pair paternity (EPP), males can invest in mate guarding, or, alternatively, in seeking EPP. Males should optimize fitness by adjusting investment according to their attractiveness to females, such that attractive males seek EPP, and unattractive males guard mates. This theory has received little empirical testing, leaving our understanding of the evolution of mating tactics incomplete; it is unclear how a male’s relative attractiveness influences his tactics.(...)

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10 January 2017

Plastomes on the edge: the evolutionary breakdown of mycoheterotroph plastid genomes [New Phytologist/Tansley insight]

Keywords : comparative genomics, convergent evolution, mixotrophy, mycoheterotrophic plants, photosynthesis genes, plastid function, plastid translation apparatus

We examine recent evidence for ratchet-like genome degradation in mycoheterotrophs, plants that obtain nutrition from fungi. Initial loss of the NADH dehydrogenase-like (NDH) complex may often set off an irreversible evolutionary cascade of photosynthetic gene losses. Genes for plastid-encoded subunits of RNA polymerase and photosynthetic enzymes with secondary functions (Rubisco and ATP synthase) can persist initially, with nonsynchronous and quite broad windows in the relative timing of their loss. Delayed losses of five core nonbioenergetic genes (especially trnE and accD, which respectively code for glutamyl tRNA and a subunit of acetyl-CoA carboxylase) probably explain long-term persistence of heterotrophic plastomes. The observed range of changes of mycoheterotroph plastomes is similar to that of holoparasites, although greater diversity of both probably remains to be discovered. These patterns of gene loss/retention can inform research programs on plastome function.

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