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5 December 2016

Explaining global-scale diversification patterns in actinopterygian fishes [Journal of Biogeography]

Pablo A. Tedesco

Factors that isolate populations and reduce gene flow are considered key drivers of speciation and possibly diversification. Here we analyse the diversification rates of nearly 80% of the actinopterygian fish families in relation to biological traits and habitat factors associated with isolation and fragmentation levels.(...)

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4 December 2016

Land-use intensification causes multitrophic homogenization of grassland communities [Nature]

Land-use intensification is a major driver of biodiversity loss1, 2. Alongside reductions in local species diversity, biotic homogenization at larger spatial scales is of great concern for conservation. Biotic homogenization means a decrease in β-diversity (the compositional dissimilarity between sites). Most studies have investigated losses in local (α)-diversity1, 3 and neglected biodiversity loss at larger spatial scales. Studies addressing β-diversity have focused on single or a few organism groups (for example, ref. 4), and it is thus unknown whether land-use intensification homogenizes communities at different trophic levels, above- and belowground. Here we show that even moderate increases in local land-use intensity (LUI) cause biotic homogenization across microbial, plant and animal groups, both above- and belowground, and that this is largely independent of changes in α-diversity. We analysed a unique grassland biodiversity dataset, with abundances of more than 4,000 species belonging to 12 trophic groups. (...)

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3 December 2016

Selection for predation, not female fecundity, explains sexual size dimorphism in the orchid mantises [Scientific Reports]

Keywords : entomology, evolutionary ecology, mimicry, phylogenetics

Here we reconstruct the evolutionary shift towards floral simulation in orchid mantises and suggest female predatory selection as the likely driving force behind the development of extreme sexual size dimorphism. Through analysis of body size data and phylogenetic modelling of trait evolution, we recovered an ancestral shift towards sexual dimorphisms in both size and appearance in a lineage of flower-associated praying mantises.(...)

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30 November 2016

A roadmap for improving the representation of photosynthesis in Earth system models [New Phytologist]

Keywords : carbon dioxide CO2, light, soil water content, stomatal conductance, temperature, terrestrial biosphere models, vapor pressure deficit (VPD)

Accurate representation of photosynthesis in terrestrial biosphere models (TBMs) is essential for robust projections of global change. However, current representations vary markedly between TBMs, contributing uncertainty to projections of global carbon fluxes. Here we compared the representation of photosynthesis in seven TBMs by examining leaf and canopy level responses of photosynthetic CO2 assimilation (A) to key environmental variables : light, temperature, CO2 concentration, vapor pressure deficit and soil water content. We identified research areas where limited process knowledge prevents inclusion of physiological phenomena in current TBMs and research areas where data are urgently needed for model parameterization or evaluation. We provide a roadmap for new science needed to improve the representation of photosynthesis in the next generation of terrestrial biosphere and Earth system models.

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30 November 2016

Iranocichla persa, a new cichlid species from southern Iran (Teleostei, Cichlidae) [ZooKeys]

Keywords : barcode region, inland fish, Middle East, Persian Gulf

Iranocichla persa sp. n. is described from the Shur, Hasanlangi and Minab River drainages flowing into the Persian Gulf at the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran. It is distinguished from I. hormuzensis, from the Mehran River drainage, by nuptial males having a bright orange breast and lower part of the head (vs. black), a poorly developed or invisible (vs. distinctive) “Tilapia-mark” in the dorsal fin and very clear white spots making almost wavy bars or stripes on the caudal fin (vs. without or with very few white spots).(...)

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