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7 November 2016

The effect of colour producing mechanisms on plumage sexual dichromatism in passerines and parrots [Functional Ecology]

1.Sexual dichromatism (SD) often reflects intense sexual selection on males. It has been hypothesised that sexual selection should favour the elaboration of those male colours that honestly signal quality, and that such colours should therefore show higher SD. Costliness of colours is expected to vary according to their production mechanism (pigment type, feather microstructure, and combinations thereof). Carotenoid-based colours, due to their dietary origin and competing functions of carotenoid pigments, are the best documented costly colours, while endogenous pigments and structural colours are expected to be less costly. However, how SD varies with colour producing mechanism has not been systematically addressed.
2.Here we test the link between SD and mechanisms of colour production across nearly all Australian passerines (n=302) and parrots (n=48), using reflectance spectrometry and visual models.(...)

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4 November 2016

Migratory birds under threat [Science/Perspective/Conservation]

The populations of migratory bird species that breed in Europe and overwinter in sub-Saharan Africa are declining considerably faster than those of nonmigratory resident species or of migratory species that overwinter in Europe (1). Likely factors are habitat changes due to changes in land use, illegal killing and taking along the northern African coasts, and climate-induced changes in timing of migration and breeding. However, not only European trans-Saharan migrants are declining fast. This holds also for North American long-distance migrants wintering in Central and South America. To halt these declines, preservation of remaining habitats and restoration of habitats both at breeding and nonbreeding grounds is essential, as well as stopping illegal killing and taking of birds along their migration routes.

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3 November 2016

Future C loss in mid-latitude mineral soils: climate change exceeds land use mitigation potential in France [Scientific Reports]

Many studies have highlighted significant interactions between soil C reservoir dynamics and global climate and environmental change. However, in order to estimate the future soil organic carbon sequestration potential and related ecosystem services well, more spatially detailed predictions are needed. The present study made detailed predictions of future spatial evolution (at 250 m resolution) of topsoil SOC driven by climate change and land use change for France up to the year 2100 by taking interactions between climate, land use and soil type into account. (...)

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3 November 2016

Tetrapod limb and sarcopterygian fin regeneration share a core genetic programme [Nature Communications]

Keywords : evolutionary developmental biology, regeneration, transcriptomics

Salamanders are the only living tetrapods capable of fully regenerating limbs. The discovery of salamander lineage-specific genes (LSGs) expressed during limb regeneration suggests that this capacity is a salamander novelty. Conversely, recent paleontological evidence supports a deeper evolutionary origin, before the occurrence of salamanders in the fossil record. Here we show that lungfishes, the sister group of tetrapods, regenerate their fins through morphological steps equivalent to those seen in salamanders.(...)

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3 November 2016

Origins of Biodiversity [PLOS Biology]

Subject areas : biodiversity, species extinction, phylogenetic analysis, phylogeography, speciation, species diversity, animal phylogenetics, vertebrates

Biodiversity today is huge, and it has a long history. Identifying rules for the heterogeneity of modern biodiversity—the high to low species richness of different clades—has been hard. There are measurable biodiversity differences between land and sea and between the tropics and temperate-polar regions. Some analyses suggest that the net age of a clade can determine its extinction risk, but this is equivocal. New work shows that, through geological time, clades pass through different diversification regimes, and those regimes constrain the balance of tree size and the nature of branching events.

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