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11 April 2017

Gene flow from domesticated escapes alters the life history of wild Atlantic salmon [Nature Ecology & Evolution]

Keywords : conservation biology, genetic hybridization

Interbreeding between domesticated and wild animals occurs in several species. This gene flow has long been anticipated to induce genetic changes in life-history traits of wild populations, thereby influencing population dynamics and viability. Here, we show that individuals with high levels of introgression (domesticated ancestry) have altered age and size at maturation in 62 wild Atlantic salmon Salmo salar populations, including seven ancestral populations to breeding lines of the domesticated salmon. This study documents widespread changes to life-history traits in wild animal populations following gene flow from selectively bred, domesticated conspecifics. The continued high abundance of escaped, domesticated Atlantic salmon thus threatens wild Atlantic salmon populations by inducing genetic changes in fitness-related traits. Our results represent key evidence and a timely warning concerning the potential ecological impacts of the globally increasing use of domesticated animals.

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8 April 2017

Plant–pollinator networks in semi-natural grasslands are resistant to the loss of pollinators during blooming of mass-flowering crops [Ecography]

Mass-flowering crops lead to spatial redistributions of pollinators and to transient shortages within nearby semi-natural grasslands, but the impacts on plant–pollinator interactions remain largely unexplored. Here, we characterised which pollinator species are attracted by oilseed rape and how this affected the structure of plant–pollinator networks in nearby grasslands. We surveyed 177 networks from three countries (Germany, Sweden and United Kingdom) in 24 landscapes with high crop cover, and compared them to 24 landscapes with low or no oilseed rape during and after crop blooming.(...)

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7 April 2017

Epigenetics and the evolution of instincts [Science - Perspective]

An animal mind is not born as an empty canvas: Bottlenose dolphins know how to swim and honey bees know how to dance without ever having learned these skills. Little is known about how animals acquire the instincts that enable such innate behavior. Instincts are widely held to be ancestral to learned behavior. Some have been elegantly analyzed at the cellular and molecular levels, but general principles do not exist. Based on recent research, we argue instead that instincts evolve from learning and are therefore served by the same general principles that explain learning.

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7 April 2017

Non-additive effects of simulated heat waves and predators on prey phenotype and transgenerational phenotypic plasticity [Global Change Biology]

Arnaud Sentis et Jean-Louis Hemptinne

Understanding the effects of extreme climatic events on species and their interactions is of paramount importance for predicting and mitigating the impacts of climate change on communities and ecosystems. However, the joint effects of extreme climatic events and species interactions on the behaviour and phenotype of organisms remain poorly understood, leaving a substantial gap in our knowledge on the impacts of climatic change on ecological communities. Using an aphid–ladybeetle system, we experimentally investigated the effects of predators and heat shocks on prey body size, microhabitat use, and transgenerational phenotypic plasticity (i.e., the asexual production of winged offspring by unwinged mothers).(...)

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7 April 2017

Towards a functional understanding of species coexistence: Ecomorphological variation in relation to whole-organism performance in two sympatric lizards [Functional Ecology]

Keywords : community structure, functional diversity, coexistence, locomotor performance, bite force, morphology

1.We examined intra- and interspecific variation in functional morphology and whole-organism performance in a sympatric lizard species pair, Iberolacerta horvathi and Podarcis muralis, in the area with a high potential for competition.
2.The biggest variation between species was found in two functional traits, bite force and climbing speed, linked with corresponding morphological traits.
3.The species with larger and taller heads, P. muralis, exhibited correspondingly stronger bite forces. The other species exhibited smaller and flatter head.(...)

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