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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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3 November 2016

Lizards paid a greater opportunity cost to thermoregulate in a less heterogeneous environment [Functional Ecology]

Keywords : cost-benefit model, climate change, ectotherm, microclimate, energy budget, survival, performance, null model

1.The theory of thermoregulation has developed slowly, hampering efforts to predict how individuals can buffer climate change through behaviour. Mixed results of field and laboratory experiments underscore the need to test hypotheses about thermoregulation explicitly, while measuring costs and benefits in different thermal landscapes.
2.We simulated body temperature and energy expenditure of a virtual lizard that either thermoregulates optimally or thermoconforms in a landscape of either low or high quality (one or four basking sites, respectively). We then compare the predicted values in each landscape with the observed values for real lizards in experimental arenas.(...)

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2 November 2016

Global meta-analysis of native and nonindigenous trophic traits in aquatic ecosystems [Global Change Biology]

Keywords : biological invasions, comparative studies, effect size, freshwater, invasive species, marine, range expansion, range shift

Ecologists have recently devoted their attention to the study of species traits and their role in the establishment and spread of nonindigenous species (NIS). However, research efforts have mostly focused on studies of terrestrial taxa, with lesser attention being dedicated to aquatic species. Aquatic habitats comprise of interconnected waterways, as well as exclusive introduction vectors that allow unparalleled artificial transport of species and their propagules. Consequently, species traits that commonly facilitate biological invasions in terrestrial systems may not be as represented in aquatic environments. We provide a global meta-analysis of studies conducted in both marine and freshwater habitats.(...)

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2 November 2016

Demographic drivers of decline and recovery in an Afro-Palaearctic migratory bird population [Royal Society Open Science]

Keywords : population dynamics, integrated population models, carry-over effects, migration, demography

Across Europe, rapid population declines are ongoing in many Afro-Palaearctic migratory bird species, but the development of appropriate conservation actions across such large migratory ranges is severely constrained by lack of understanding of the demographic drivers of these declines. By constructing regional integrated population models (IPMs) for one of the suite of migratory species that is declining in the southeast of Britain but increasing in the northwest, we show that, while annual population growth rates in both regions vary with adult survival, the divergent regional trajectories are primarily a consequence of differences in productivity. (...)

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