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1 June 2017

Linking the influence and dependence of people on biodiversity across scales [Nature]

Subject terms : ecology

Biodiversity enhances many of nature’s benefits to people, including the regulation of climate and the production of wood in forests, livestock forage in grasslands and fish in aquatic ecosystems. Yet people are now driving the sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history. Human dependence and influence on biodiversity have mainly been studied separately and at contrasting scales of space and time, but new multiscale knowledge is beginning to link these relationships. Biodiversity loss substantially diminishes several ecosystem services by altering ecosystem functioning and stability, especially at the large temporal and spatial scales that are most relevant for policy and conservation.

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1 June 2017

Frequency dependence limits divergent evolution by favouring rare immigrants over residents [Nature]

Two distinct forms of natural selection promote adaptive biological diversity. Divergent selection occurs when different environments favour different phenotypes, leading to increased differences between populations. Negative frequency-dependent selection occurs when rare variants within a population are favoured over common ones, increasing diversity within populations. These two diversifying forces promote genetic variation at different spatial scales, and may act in opposition, but their relative effects remain unclear because they are rarely measured concurrently. Here we show that negative frequency-dependent selection within populations can favor rare immigrants over locally adapted residents. We reciprocally transplanted lake and stream ecotypes of threespine stickleback into lake and stream habitats, while manipulating the relative abundance of residents versus immigrants.(...)

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31 May 2017

Optimal climate for large trees at high elevations drives patterns of biomass in remote forests of Papua New Guinea [Global Change Biology]

Keywords : carbon, elevation transect, forest biomass, large trees, natural disturbance, optimal climate condition, steep slopes, tropical montane forest

Our ability to model global carbon fluxes depends on understanding how terrestrial carbon stocks respond to varying environmental conditions. Tropical forests contain the bulk of the biosphere’s carbon. However, there is a lack of consensus as to how gradients in environmental conditions affect tropical forest carbon. Papua New Guinea (PNG) lies within one of the largest areas of contiguous tropical forest and is characterized by environmental gradients driven by altitude; yet, the region has been grossly understudied. Here, we present the first field assessment of aboveground biomass (AGB) across three main forest types of PNG using 193 plots stratified across 3,100-m elevation gradient.(...)

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31 May 2017

Effects of plant and pollinator traits on the maintenance of a food deceptive species within a plant community [Oïkos]

Model-mimic plant systems are well known. However, the conditions promoting the existence of such systems are still an enigma. We suggest that by focusing on floral similarity between model and mimic, reward levels offered by models, and pollinators’ ability to adjust foraging accordingly, the conditions can be better understood. Using spatially-explicit modelling, we examined trait combinations that lead to the survival of deceptive species under a large range of mimic strategies, from Batesian mimicry to general food deception. Unlike previous models studying such systems, we examined model-mimic interactions in the presence of a third, dissimilar species, thus generating a more realistic scenario where pollinators may avoid the model-mimic system altogether.(...)

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31 May 2017

Ancestral alliances: Plant mutualistic symbioses with fungi and bacteria [Science]

Ever since plants colonized land, they have evolved a range of mutualistic associations with bacteria and fungi. Indeed, such associations were probably required for plants to grow on harsh, nutrient-poor surfaces. Martin et al. review the spectrum of plant-microbe symbioses and their evolution, including evidence from the Rhynie Chert of the Devonian period and modern associations. Surprisingly, diverse functional plant-microbial symbioses have several common conserved features, including signaling pathways, immune evasion, and root development.

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