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1 April 2017

Patterns of cross-contamination in a multispecies population genomic project: detection, quantification, impact, and solutions [BMC Biology]

Keywords : RNAseq, transcriptome, animals, SNP calling, genotyping, within-species

Contamination is a well-known but often neglected problem in molecular biology. Here, we investigated the prevalence of cross-contamination among 446 samples from 116 distinct species of animals, which were processed in the same laboratory and subjected to subcontracted transcriptome sequencing.(...)

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31 March 2017

Biodiversity redistribution under climate change: Impacts on ecosystems and human well-being [Science]

Distributions of Earth’s species are changing at accelerating rates, increasingly driven by human-mediated climate change. Such changes are already altering the composition of ecological communities, but beyond conservation of natural systems, how and why does this matter? We review evidence that climate-driven species redistribution at regional to global scales affects ecosystem functioning, human well-being, and the dynamics of climate change itself. Production of natural resources required for food security, patterns of disease transmission, and processes of carbon sequestration are all altered by changes in species distribution. Consideration of these effects of biodiversity redistribution is critical yet lacking in most mitigation and adaptation strategies, including the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

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30 March 2017

Generalist social bees maximize diversity intake in plant species-rich and resource-abundant environments [Ecosphere]

Keywords : functional complementarity, functional redundancy, Meliponini, nutritional ecology, plant–insect interactions, pollinator decline

Numerous studies revealed a positive relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, suggesting that biodiverse environments may not only enhance ecosystem processes, but also benefit individual ecosystem members by, for example, providing a higher diversity of resources. Whether and how the number of available resources affects resource collection and subsequently consumers (e.g., through impacting functions associated with resources) have, however, been little investigated, although a better understanding of this relationship may help explain why the abundance and richness of many animal species typically decline with decreasing plant (resource) diversity. Using a social bee species as model (Tetragonula carbonaria), we investigated how plant species richness—recorded for study sites located in different habitats—and associated resource abundance affected the diversity and functionality (here defined as nutritional content and antimicrobial activity) of resources (i.e., pollen, nectar, and resin) collected by a generalist herbivorous consumer.(...)

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30 March 2017

Disturbed flow in an aquatic environment may create a sensory refuge for aggregated prey [PeerJ]

Keywords : animal behavior, ecology

Predators use olfactory cues moved within water and air to locate prey. Because prey aggregations may produce more cue and be easier to detect, predation could limit aggregation size. However, disturbance in the flow may diminish the reliability of odour as a prey cue, impeding predator foraging success and efficiency. We explore how different cue concentrations (as a proxy for prey group size) affect risk to prey by fish predators in disturbed (more turbulent or mixed) and non-disturbed (less mixed) flowing water.(...)

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29 March 2017

Brain size in birds is related to traffic accidents [Royal Society Open Science]

Estimates suggest that perhaps a quarter of a billion birds are killed by traffic annually across the world. This is surprising because birds have been shown to learn speed limits. Birds have also been shown to adapt to the direction of traffic and lane use, and this apparently results in reduced risks of fatal traffic accidents. Such behavioural differences suggest that individual birds that are not killed in traffic should have larger brains for their body size. We analysed the link between being killed by traffic and relative brain mass in 3521 birds belonging to 251 species brought to a taxidermist. Birds that were killed in traffic indeed had relatively smaller brains, while there was no similar difference for liver mass, heart mass or lung mass. These findings suggest that birds learn the behaviour of car drivers, and that they use their brains to adjust behaviour in an attempt to avoid mortality caused by rapidly and predictably moving objects.

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