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23 June 2017

Recent human history governs global ant invasion dynamics [Nature Ecology & Evolution]

Keywords : conservation biology, invasive species, macroecology

Human trade and travel are breaking down biogeographic barriers, resulting in shifts in the geographical distribution of organisms, yet it remains largely unknown whether different alien species generally follow similar spatiotemporal colonization patterns and how such patterns are driven by trends in global trade. Here, we analyse the global distribution of 241 alien ant species and show that these species comprise four distinct groups that inherently differ in their worldwide distribution from that of native species.(...)

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22 June 2017

Intrapopulation diversity in isotopic niche over landscapes: Spatial patterns inform conservation of bear–salmon systems [Ecosphere]

Keywords : bears, dietary niche, geographic information systems, isoscapes, kernel-weighted regression, Oncorhynchus, predator–prey systems, salmon, stable isotope analysis, ursus

Intrapopulation variability in resource acquisition (i.e., niche variation) influences population dynamics, with important implications for conservation planning. Spatial analyses of niche variation within and among populations can provide relevant information about ecological associations and their subsequent management. We used stable isotope analysis and kernel-weighted regression to examine spatial patterns in a keystone consumer–resource interaction: salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) consumption by grizzly and black bears (Ursus arctos horribilis, n = 886; and Ursus americanus, n = 557) from 1995 to 2014 in British Columbia (BC), Canada.(...)

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22 June 2017

Experimental species removals impact the architecture of pollination networks [Biology Letters]

Keywords : biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, niche dynamics, diet breadth, rewiring

Mutualistic networks are key for the creation and maintenance of biodiversity, yet are threatened by global environmental change. Most simulation models assume that network structure remains static after species losses, despite theoretical and empirical reasons to expect dynamic responses. We assessed the effects of experimental single bumblebee species removals on the structure of entire flower visitation networks. We hypothesized that network structure would change following processes linking interspecific competition with dietary niche breadth. (...)

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22 June 2017

Family living sets the stage for cooperative breeding and ecological resilience in birds [PLOS Biology]

Subject Areas : social systems, animal sexual behavior, birds, animal phylogenetics, seasons, evolutionary biology, principal component analysis, phylogenetic analysis

Cooperative breeding is an extreme form of cooperation that evolved in a range of lineages, including arthropods, fish, birds, and mammals. Although cooperative breeding in birds is widespread and well-studied, the conditions that favored its evolution are still unclear. Based on phylogenetic comparative analyses on 3,005 bird species, we demonstrate here that family living acted as an essential stepping stone in the evolution of cooperative breeding in the vast majority of species. (...)

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21 June 2017

Phylogenetic rooting using minimal ancestor deviation [Nature Ecology & Evolution]

Keywords : evolution, molecular evolution, phylogenetics

Ancestor–descendent relations play a cardinal role in evolutionary theory. Those relations are determined by rooting phylogenetic trees. Existing rooting methods are hampered by evolutionary rate heterogeneity or the unavailability of auxiliary phylogenetic information. Here we present a rooting approach, the minimal ancestor deviation (MAD) method, which accommodates heterotachy by using all pairwise topological and metric information in unrooted trees. We demonstrate the performance of the method, in comparison to existing rooting methods, by the analysis of phylogenies from eukaryotes and prokaryotes. MAD correctly recovers the known root of eukaryotes and uncovers evidence for the origin of cyanobacteria in the ocean. MAD is more robust and consistent than existing methods, provides measures of the root inference quality and is applicable to any tree with branch lengths.

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