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16 March 2018

Protecting marine mammals, turtles, and birds by rebuilding global fisheries [Science]

Reductions in global fishing pressure are needed to end overfishing of target species and maximize the value of fisheries. We ask whether such reductions would also be sufficient to protect non–target species threatened as bycatch. We compare changes in fishing pressure needed to maximize profits from 4713 target fish stocks—accounting for >75% of global catch—to changes in fishing pressure needed to reverse ongoing declines of 20 marine mammal, sea turtle, and seabird populations threatened as bycatch.(...)

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16 March 2018

Comparative analysis examining patterns of genomic differentiation across multiple episodes of population divergence in birds [Evolution Letters]

Keywords : bird, genomic differentiation, genomic hitchhiking, islands of differentiation, population divergence, speciation

Heterogeneous patterns of genomic differentiation are commonly documented between closely related populations and there is considerable interest in identifying factors that contribute to their formation. These factors could include genomic features (e.g., areas of low recombination) that promote processes like linked selection (positive or purifying selection that affects linked neutral sites) at specific genomic regions. Examinations of repeatable patterns of differentiation across population pairs can provide insight into the role of these factors. Birds are well suited for this work, as genome structure is conserved across this group. Accordingly, we reestimated relative (FST) and absolute (dXY) differentiation between eight sister pairs of birds that span a broad taxonomic range using a common pipeline.(...)

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15 March 2018

Towards the general mechanistic prediction of community dynamics [Functional Ecology]

Keywords : competition, context dependence, demography, ecological forecasting, relative abundance, species composition, interspecific interactions

1.”What controls the distribution and abundance of organisms”? This question, at the heart of the dynamics of ecological communities, would have been familiar to the earliest ecologists. Having lain effectively abandoned for many years, community dynamics today is a vibrant research topic of great conceptual interest with practical import for conservation, ecological management, ecosystem services and the responses of ecological communities to climate change.
2.We describe how modern coexistence theory can be applied to predict community dynamics through the use of demography. We explore the challenges that limit the deployment of this demographic framework, and the tools from phylogenetic and functional ecology that have been used to surmount them.(...)

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15 March 2018

A genome-wide investigation of microsatellite mismatches and the association with body mass among bird species [PeerJ]

Keywords : evolutionary studies, genetics, genomics, zoology

Mutation rate is usually found to covary with many life history traits of animals such as body mass, which has been readily explained by the higher number of mutation opportunities per unit time. Although the precise reason for the pattern is not yet clear, to determine the universality of this pattern, we tested whether life history traits impact another form of genetic mutation, the motif mismatches in microsatellites. Employing published genome sequences from 65 avian species, we explored the motif mismatches patterns of microsatellites in birds on a genomic level and assessed the relationship between motif mismatches and body mass in a phylogenetic context.(...)

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15 March 2018

Eco-evolutionary feedbacks promote fluctuating selection and long-term stability of antagonistic networks [Proceedings of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences]

Keywords : antagonistic interactions, coevolution, ecological network, population dynamics, trait matching, trait dynamics

Studies have shown the potential for rapid adaptation in coevolving populations and that the structure of species interaction networks can modulate the vulnerability of ecological systems to perturbations. Although the feedback loop between population dynamics and coevolution of traits is crucial for understanding long-term stability in ecological assemblages, modelling eco-evolutionary dynamics in species-rich assemblages is still a challenge. We explore how eco-evolutionary feedbacks influence trait evolution and species abundances in 23 empirical antagonistic networks.(...)

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