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31 January 2017

Elevation alters ecosystem properties across temperate treelines globally [Nature]

Temperature is a primary driver of the distribution of biodiversity as well as of ecosystem boundaries. Declining temperature with increasing elevation in montane systems has long been recognized as a major factor shaping plant community biodiversity, metabolic processes, and ecosystem dynamics. Elevational gradients, as thermoclines, also enable prediction of long-term ecological responses to climate warming. One of the most striking manifestations of increasing elevation is the abrupt transitions from forest to treeless alpine tundra. However, whether there are globally consistent above- and belowground responses to these transitions remains an open question. To disentangle the direct and indirect effects of temperature on ecosystem properties, here we evaluate replicate treeline ecotones in seven temperate regions of the world.(...)

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30 January 2017

Rapid evolution of dispersal ability makes biological invasions faster and more variable [Nature Communications]

Keywords : evolutionary ecology, experimental evolution, invasive species, population dynamics

Genetic variation in dispersal ability may result in the spatial sorting of alleles during range expansion. Recent theory suggests that spatial sorting can favour the rapid evolution of life history traits at expanding fronts, and therefore modify the ecological dynamics of range expansion. Here we test this prediction by disrupting spatial sorting in replicated invasions of the bean beetle Callosobruchus maculatus across homogeneous experimental landscapes.(...)

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27 January 2017

Journals invite too few women to referee [Nature/Comment]

Jory Lerback and Brooks Hanson present an analysis that reveals evidence of gender bias in peer review for scholarly publications.

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27 January 2017

Climatic and geographic barriers drive distributional patterns of bird phenotypes within peninsular India [Journal of Avian Biology]

Modern phylogenetic data provide unparalleled ability to test biogeographic paradigms, often suggested by differences in species distribution patterns. However, such approaches have been applied less at regional scales, particularly in Asia. In the absence of such data, we examine if concordance of distributional patterns for phenotypes (subspecies) suggest potential biogeographic barriers for birds in peninsular India. Specifically, we examine climatic and physical factors that might limit phenotype distributions in this region.
Various physical, vegetation and climatic barriers were demarcated to identify potential biogeographic units within peninsular India. We then collated occurrence of endemic or disjunctly distributed species and subspecies within these units using published range maps. (...)

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26 January 2017

The importance of trees for woody pasture bird diversity and effects of the EU tree density policy [Journal of Applied Ecology]

Keywords : bird diversity, biodiversity conservation, Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), environmental policy, grassland, grazing, management, tree density limit, woody pasture

1.Recent reforms in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) aim for a greening of the subsidy system with potential improvements for biodiversity conservation. As part of that process, the tree density limit for pastures to qualify for European Union (EU) subsidies has been increased from 50 to 100 trees per ha. However, recent studies show that the high biodiversity values of these habitats may be threatened by these limits, highlighting the need for policy improvements. Still, little is known about the direct effects of tree density limitations on bird communities in woody pastures.
2.We investigated how bird diversity and species composition are affected by tree density in 49 Swedish woody pastures along a gradient of 4 to 214 trees per ha.(...)

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