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22 September 2017

Edge effects on components of diversity and above-ground biomass in a tropical rainforest [Journal of Applied Ecology]

Keywords : biomass, carbon storage, environmental filtering, forest fragmentation, functional diversity, phylogenetic diversity, seed dispersal, species coexistence, tropical forest

1. Edge effects are among the most significant consequences of forest fragmentation. Therefore, understanding the impacts of edge creation on biodiversity is crucial for forest management and biological conservation.
2. In this study, we used trait-based and phylogenetic approaches to examine the effects of fragmentation on components of diversity and above-ground biomass of rainforest tree communities in Madagascar in forest edge vs. interior habitats.(...)

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22 September 2017

Benchmarking viromics: an in silico evaluation of metagenome-enabled estimates of viral community composition and diversity [PeerJ]

Keywords : bioinformatics, ecology, genomics, microbiology

Viral metagenomics (viromics) is increasingly used to obtain uncultivated viral genomes, evaluate community diversity, and assess ecological hypotheses. While viromic experimental methods are relatively mature and widely accepted by the research community, robust bioinformatics standards remain to be established. Here we used in silico mock viral communities to evaluate the viromic sequence-to-ecological-inference pipeline, including (i) read pre-processing and metagenome assembly, (ii) thresholds applied to estimate viral relative abundances based on read mapping to assembled contigs, and (iii) normalization methods applied to the matrix of viral relative abundances for alpha and beta diversity estimates.

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21 September 2017

Temporal coexistence mechanisms contribute to the latitudinal gradient in forest diversity [Nature]

The tropical forests of Borneo and Amazonia may each contain more tree species diversity in half a square kilometre than do all the temperate forests of Europe, North America, and Asia combined. Biologists have long been fascinated by this disparity, using it to investigate potential drivers of biodiversity. Latitudinal variation in many of these drivers is expected to create geographic differences in ecological and evolutionary processes, and evidence increasingly shows that tropical ecosystems have higher rates of diversification, clade origination, and clade dispersal. However, there is currently no evidence to link gradients in ecological processes within communities at a local scale directly to the geographic gradient in biodiversity.(...)

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21 September 2017

The Multidimensional Stoichiometric Niche [Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution]

The niche concept is essential to understanding how biotic and abiotic factors regulate the abundance and distribution of living entities, and how these organisms utilize, affect and compete for resources in the environment. However, it has been challenging to determine the number and types of important niche dimensions. By contrast, there is strong mechanistic theory and empirical evidence showing that the elemental composition of living organisms shapes ecological systems, from organismal physiology to food web structure. We propose an approach based on a multidimensional elemental view of the ecological niche. Visualizing the stoichiometric composition of individuals in multivariate space permits quantification of niche dimensions within and across species. This approach expands on previous elemental characterizations of plant niches, and adapts metrics of niche volume, overlap and nestedness previously used to quantify isotopic niches. We demonstrate the applicability of the multidimensional stoichiometric niche using data on carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus of terrestrial and freshwater communities composed by multiple trophic groups.(...)

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21 September 2017

Succulent plants [Current Biology]

The peculiar morphologies of succulent plants have been variously considered as grotesque monstrosities and exotic curiosities, but succulents have always been perceived as unique. The succulent syndrome is considered to be one of the most remarkable examples of convergent evolution across the plant kingdom. Common to all succulents is the presence of large cells for water storage. However, cellular succulence can occur in any vegetative plant organ, with the level of succulence in roots, stems, and leaves being subject to a certain degree of evolutionary coordination. Furthermore, cellular succulence scales up to morphological succulence according to various anatomical schemes that confer contrasting functional characteristics. This means that succulence is associated with a broad range of ecophysiological strategies and occurs in plants that have evolved in many different environments.

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