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18 April 2017

Aquatic environmental DNA detects seasonal fish abundance and habitat preference in an urban estuary [Plos One]

Keywords : marine fish, estuaries, freshwater fish, fresh water, surface water, DNA filter assay, sea water, shores

The difficulty of censusing marine animal populations hampers effective ocean management. Analyzing water for DNA traces shed by organisms may aid assessment. Here we tested aquatic environmental DNA (eDNA) as an indicator of fish presence in the lower Hudson River estuary. A checklist of local marine fish and their relative abundance was prepared by compiling 12 traditional surveys conducted between 1988–2015.(...)

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13 April 2017

Urbanization erodes ectomycorrhizal fungal diversity and may cause microbial communities to converge [Nature Ecology & Evolution]

Keywords : environmental impact, microbial ecology, urban ecology

Urbanization alters the physicochemical environment, introduces non-native species and causes ecosystem characteristics to converge. It has been speculated that these alterations contribute to loss of regional and global biodiversity, but so far most urban studies have assessed macro-organisms and reported mixed evidence for biodiversity loss. We studied five cities on three continents to assess the global convergence of urban soil microbial communities. We determined the extent to which communities of bacteria, archaea and fungi are geographically distributed, and to what extent urbanization acts as a filter on species diversity.(...)

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12 April 2017

Seasonal variation in environmental DNA in relation to population size and environmental factors [Scientific Reports]

Keywords : ecological genetics, freshwater ecology, molecular ecology

Analysing DNA that organisms release into the environment (environmental DNA, or eDNA) has enormous potential for assessing rare and cryptic species. At present the method is only reliably used to assess the presence-absence of species in natural environments, as seasonal influences on eDNA in relation to presence, abundance, life stages and seasonal behaviours are poorly understood. A naturally colonised, replicated pond system was used to show how seasonal changes in eDNA were influenced by abundance of adults and larvae of great crested newts (Triturus cristatus).(...)

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12 April 2017

Removal of an exotic fish influences amphibian breeding site selection [The Journal of Wildlife Management]

Keywords : amphibian conservation, exotic fish, Gambusia holbrooki, green and golden bell frog, Litoria aurea, mosquitofish, pond draining, tadpole predation

For pond-breeding species, the distribution of larvae is a reflection of habitat suitability and adult breeding site selection. Some species preferentially breed in ephemeral ponds, which can provide benefits for larvae. An alternative strategy used by adults to increase offspring survival is to detect aquatic predators and avoid them when selecting breeding sites. We investigated whether either of these types of breeding site selection are contributing to the negative correlation between the distributions of tadpoles of the threatened green and golden bell frog (Litoria aurea) and the introduced eastern gambusia (Gambusia holbrooki) in Sydney, Australia.(...)

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11 April 2017

Contentious relationships in phylogenomic studies can be driven by a handful of genes [Nature Ecology & Evolution]

Keywords : molecular evolution, phylogenetics

Phylogenomic studies have resolved countless branches of the tree of life, but remain strongly contradictory on certain, contentious relationships. Here, we use a maximum likelihood framework to quantify the distribution of phylogenetic signal among genes and sites for 17 contentious branches and 6 well-established control branches in plant, animal and fungal phylogenomic data matrices. We find that resolution in some of these 17 branches rests on a single gene or a few sites, and that removal of a single gene in concatenation analyses or a single site from every gene in coalescence-based analyses diminishes support and can alter the inferred topology.(...)

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