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3 October 2017

Ex situ conservation of plant diversity in the world’s botanic gardens [Nature Plants]

Keywords : biodiversity, conservation biology, plant evolution

Botanic gardens conserve plant diversity ex situ and can prevent extinction through integrated conservation action. Here we quantify how that diversity is conserved in ex situ collections across the world’s botanic gardens. We reveal that botanic gardens manage at least 105,634 species, equating to 30% of all plant species diversity, and conserve over 41% of known threatened species. However, we also reveal that botanic gardens are disproportionately temperate, with 93% of species held in the Northern Hemisphere. Consequently, an estimated 76% of species absent from living collections are tropical in origin. Furthermore, phylogenetic bias ensures that over 50% of vascular genera, but barely 5% of non-vascular genera, are conserved ex situ. While botanic gardens are discernibly responding to the threat of species extinction, just 10% of network capacity is devoted to threatened species. We conclude that botanic gardens play a fundamental role in plant conservation, but identify actions to enhance future conservation of biodiversity.

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28 September 2017

Asymmetry hidden in birds’ tracks reveals wind, heading, and orientation ability over the ocean [Science Advances]

Numerous flying and swimming animals constantly need to control their heading (that is, their direction of orientation) in a flow to reach their distant destination. However, animal orientation in a flow has yet to be satisfactorily explained because it is difficult to directly measure animal heading and flow. We constructed a new animal movement model based on the asymmetric distribution of the GPS (Global Positioning System) track vector along its mean vector, which might be caused by wind flow. This statistical model enabled us to simultaneously estimate animal heading (navigational decision-making) and ocean wind information over the range traversed by free-ranging birds. We applied this method to the tracking data of homing seabirds.(...)

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28 September 2017

Do linden trees kill bees? Reviewing the causes of bee deaths on silver linden (Tilia tomentosa) [Biology Letters]

Keywords : bumblebee, ecotoxicology, pollinator decline, urban ecology

For decades, linden trees (basswoods or lime trees), and particularly silver linden (Tilia tomentosa), have been linked to mass bee deaths. This phenomenon is often attributed to the purported occurrence of the carbohydrate mannose, which is toxic to bees, in Tilia nectar. In this review, however, we conclude that from existing literature there is no experimental evidence for toxicity to bees in linden nectar. Bee deaths on Tilia probably result from starvation, owing to insufficient nectar resources late in the tree’s flowering period. We recommend ensuring sufficient alternative food sources in cities during late summer to reduce bee deaths on silver linden. Silver linden metabolites such as floral volatiles, pollen chemistry and nectar secondary compounds remain underexplored, particularly their toxic or behavioural effects on bees. Some evidence for the presence of caffeine in linden nectar may mean that linden trees can chemically deceive foraging bees to make sub-optimal foraging decisions, in some cases leading to their starvation.

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28 September 2017

Priority effects can persist across floral generations in nectar microbial metacommunities [Oikos]

The order of species arrival can influence how species interact with one another and, consequently, which species may coexist in local communities. This phenomenon, called priority effects, has been observed in various types of communities, but it remains unclear whether priority effects persist over the long term spanning multiple generations of local communities in metacommunities. Focusing on bacteria and yeasts that colonize floral nectar of the sticky monkey flower, Mimulus aurantiacus, via hummingbirds and other flower-visiting animals, we experimentally manipulated initial microbial dominance on plants (regarded as metacommunities) to examine whether its effects persisted across multiple generations of flowers (regarded as local microbial habitats).(...)

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28 September 2017

The effect of rivers, streams, and canals on property values [River Research & Applications]

Keywords : aesthetic, canal, hedonic, property value, recreation, river, stream, view

Rivers, streams, and canals support a variety of critical agricultural, industrial, transportation, ecological, and household uses. They also provide important aesthetic, recreational, and sociocultural benefits. This review paper synthesizes the evidence to date regarding the value of these linear water features as aesthetic and recreational resources to adjacent and nearby residents. Specifically, it summarizes 25 studies that have used the hedonic pricing method to calculate the effects of views of and proximity to rivers, streams, and canals on surrounding residential property values. The majority of studies indicated that significant positive property price effects are associated with river, stream, and canal view and proximity, though these effects appear less definitive in rural than urban settings. Implications of the body of evidence for planning, management, and development are discussed, and potential effects of climate change and diversion policies are highlighted. Improvements in measurement facilitated by advanced geographic information systems and rigorous spatially explicit regression techniques are noted.

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