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20 September 2016

Mapping climatic mechanisms likely to favour the emergence of novel communities [Nature Climate Change]

Climatic conditions are changing at different rates and in different directions potentially causing the emergence of novel species assemblages. Here we identify areas where recent (1901–2013) changes in temperature and precipitation are likely to be producing novel species assemblages through three distinct mechanisms: emergence of novel climatic combinations, rapid displacement of climatic isoclines and local divergences between temperature and precipitation vectors. Novel climates appear in the tropics, while displacement is faster at higher latitudes and divergence is high in the subtropics and mountainous regions.(...)

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20 September 2016

Differential aphid toxicity to ladybeetles is not a function of host plant or facultative bacterial symbionts [Functional Ecology]

Keywords : defence, facultative bacterial symbionts, polyphagy, sequestration

1.Herbivores often defend themselves from predation by transmitting toxic plant-produced chemicals to their enemies. Polyphagous herbivores sometimes exhibit differential toxicity when found on various host plant species, which is generally assumed to reflect variation in plant chemistry.
2.Here, however, we provide evidence that host-associated herbivore lineages can intrinsically differ in their toxic properties. Lineages of Aphis craccivora originating from black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) are unsuitable food for the ladybeetle Harmonia axyridis, resulting in death of both larvae and adults, whereas aphid lineages originating from alfalfa (Medicago sativa) support larval development and adult reproduction. We show that locust-origin aphids remain toxic and alfalfa-origin aphids remain non-toxic when reared on any of three legume plants (fava, alfalfa or locust).(...)

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19 September 2016

Consensus and experience trump leadership, suppressing individual personality during social foraging [Science Advances]

Keywords : consensus, coordination, self-organization, predation risk, refuge use, conformity, leadership, personality, boldness

Whether individual behavior in social settings correlates with behavior when individuals are alone is a fundamental question in collective behavior. However, evidence for whether behavior correlates across asocial and social settings is mixed, and no study has linked observed trends with underlying mechanisms. Consistent differences between individuals in boldness, which describes willingness to accept reward over risk, are likely to be under strong selection pressure. By testing three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) in a risky foraging task alone and repeatedly in shoals, we demonstrate that the expression of boldness in groups is context-specific.(...)

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17 September 2016

Predicting nutrient excretion of aquatic animals with metabolic ecology and ecological stoichiometry: A global synthesis [Ecology]

Keywords : animals, biogeochemistry, ecosystems, freshwater, global, global studies, lakes/ponds, limnology/hydrology, marine, physiological ecology, reservoirs, rivers/streams

The metabolic theory of ecology (MTE) and ecological stoichiometry (ES) are both prominent frameworks for understanding energy and nutrient budgets of organisms. We tested their separate and joint power to predict nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) excretion rates of ectothermic aquatic invertebrate and vertebrate animals (10,534 observations worldwide). MTE variables (body size, temperature) performed better than ES variables (trophic guild, vertebrate classification, body N:P) in predicting excretion rates, but the best models included variables from both frameworks.(...)

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15 September 2016

Taking stock of nature: Essential biodiversity variables explained [Biological Conservation]

Keywords : biodiversity, indicator, priority measurement, biodiversity observation network, living planet index, UK spring index

In 2013, the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON) developed the framework of Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs), inspired by the Essential Climate Variables (ECVs). The EBV framework was developed to distill the complexity of biodiversity into a manageable list of priorities and to bring a more coordinated approach to observing biodiversity on a global scale. However, efforts to address the scientific challenges associated with this task have been hindered by diverse interpretations of the definition of an EBV. Here, the authors define an EBV as a critical biological variable that characterizes an aspect of biodiversity, functioning as the interface between raw data and indicators. (...)

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