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28 June 2017

Penetrance of symbiont-mediated parthenogenesis is driven by reproductive rate in a parasitoid wasp [PeerJ]

Keywords : ecology, entomology, evolutionary studies, microbiology

Trichogramma wasps are tiny parasitoids of lepidopteran eggs, used extensively for biological control. They are often infected with the bacterial symbiont Wolbachia, which converts Trichogramma to an asexual mode of reproduction, whereby females develop from unfertilized eggs. However, this Wolbachia-induced parthenogenesis is not always complete, and previous studies have noted that infected females will produce occasional males in the lab. The conditions that reduce penetrance of the parthenogenesis phenotype are not well understood.(...)

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27 June 2017

Agricultural intensification without biodiversity loss is possible in grassland landscapes [Nature Ecology & Evolution]

Keywords : agroecology, biodiversity, conservation biology, ecosystem ecology, grassland ecology

Grassland biodiversity in managed landscapes is threatened by land-use intensification, but is also dependent on low-intensity management. Solutions that allow for both agricultural production and species conservation may be realized either on individual grasslands, by adjusting management intensity, or at the landscape level, when grasslands are managed at different intensities. Here we use a dataset of more than 1,000 arthropod species collected in more than 100 grasslands along gradients of productivity, to assess the reaction of individual species to changes in productivity.(...)

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26 June 2017

Cost-effective conservation of amphibian ecology and evolution [Science Advances]

Keywords : conservation planning, land cost-effective, biodiversity assessment, Atlantic Forest hotspot, amphibians

Habitat loss is the most important threat to species survival, and the efficient selection of priority areas is fundamental for good systematic conservation planning. Using amphibians as a conservation target, we designed an innovative assessment strategy, showing that prioritization models focused on functional, phylogenetic, and taxonomic diversity can include cost-effectiveness–based assessments of land values. We report new key conservation sites within the Brazilian Atlantic Forest hot spot, revealing a congruence of ecological and evolutionary patterns.(...)

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23 June 2017

A unified model of Hymenopteran preadaptations that trigger the evolutionary transition to eusociality [Nature Communications]

Keywords : evolutionary theory, social evolution

Explaining the origin of eusociality, with strict division of labour between workers and reproductives, remains one of evolutionary biology’s greatest challenges. Specific combinations of genetic, behavioural and demographic traits in Hymenoptera are thought to explain their relatively high frequency of eusociality, but quantitative models integrating such preadaptations are lacking. Here we use mathematical models to show that the joint evolution of helping behaviour and maternal sex ratio adjustment can synergistically trigger both a behavioural change from solitary to eusocial breeding, and a demographic change from a life cycle with two reproductive broods to a life cycle in which an unmated cohort of female workers precedes a final generation of dispersing reproductives.(...)

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23 June 2017

A dual role for farmlands: food security and pollinator conservation [Journal of Ecology]

Keywords : agroecosystems, bees, floral resources, native plants, nesting habitat, sustainability, wild pollinators

1.We briefly review current understanding of wild pollinators and pollination services on farmlands.
2.We consider how concepts in plant ecology – community assembly and functional trait diversity - may be applied to create diverse, wild pollinator communities across scales in agroecosystems.
3.and create more sustainable food production systems under changing environmental conditions, including creating greater landscape connectivity, embracing pollinator dynamics, and providing incentives and other motivations to support these practices.
4.Synthesis. We highlight the opportunity for agricultural lands to serve a dual role for both food production and pollinator conservation, and conclude by posing unanswered questions and top priorities for future studies.

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