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21 September 2018

Extinction risk in extant marine species integrating palaeontological and biodistributional data [Proceedings of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences]

Keywords : extinction vulnerability, extinction rate, geographical range size, thermal niche, conservation, biodiversity

Extinction risk assessments of marine invertebrate species remain scarce, which hinders effective management of marine biodiversity in the face of anthropogenic impacts. To help close this information gap, in this paper we provide a metric of relative extinction risk that combines palaeontological data, in the form of extinction rates calculated from the fossil record, with two known correlates of risk in the modern day: geographical range size and realized thermal niche. We test the performance of this metric—Palaeontological Extinction Risk In Lineages (PERIL)—using survivorship analyses of Pliocene bivalve faunas from California and New Zealand, and then use it to identify present-day hotspots of extinction vulnerability for extant shallow-marine Bivalvia.(...)

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21 September 2018

Hydraulic diversity of forests regulates ecosystem resilience during drought [Nature]

Plants influence the atmosphere through fluxes of carbon, water and energy, and can intensify drought through land–atmosphere feedback effects. The diversity of plant functional traits in forests, especially physiological traits related to water (hydraulic) transport, may have a critical role in land–atmosphere feedback, particularly during drought. Here we combine 352 site-years of eddy covariance measurements from 40 forest sites, remote-sensing observations of plant water content and plant functional-trait data to test whether the diversity in plant traits affects the response of the ecosystem to drought.(...)

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21 September 2018

Why we love bees and hate wasps [Ecological Entomology]

Keywords : aculeate wasps, ecosystem services, pest control, pollinators, social insects

1. Bees and wasps are important facets of natural capital to be valued by human societies: bees pollinate wild flowers and agricultural crops; wasps regulate arthropod populations, including insect vectors of human diseases and crop pests. Despite the importance of both taxa, bees are universally loved whilst wasps are universally despised. This study explores some of the reasons behind this.
2. Here data are presented from almost 750 members of the public on their perceptions of insects, including bees and wasps. In addition, an analysis is conducted of researcher effort on bees and wasps, using publication numbers of peer‐reviewed papers over the last 37 years, and unpublished conference proceedings at specialist international conferences over the last 16 years.(...)

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21 September 2018

Assessing changes in arthropod predator‐prey interactions through DNA‐based gut content analysis – variable environment, stable diet [Molecular Ecology]

Keywords : altitudinal gradient, body mass, interaction probability, lycosidae, metabarcoding, predator‐prey interaction

Analyzing the structure and dynamics of biotic interaction networks and the processes shaping them is currently one of the key fields in ecology. In this paper, we develop a novel approach to gut content analysis, thereby deriving a new perspective on community interactions and their responses to environment. For this, we use an elevational gradient in the High Arctic, asking how the environment and species traits interact in shaping predator‐prey interactions involving the wolf spider Pardosa glacialis. To characterize the community of potential prey available to this predator, we used pitfall trapping and vacuum sampling. To characterize the prey actually consumed, we applied molecular gut content analysis.(...)

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21 September 2018

Growing Research Networks on Mycorrhizae for Mutual Benefits [Trends in Plant Science]

Research on mycorrhizal interactions has traditionally developed into separate disciplines addressing different organizational levels. This separation has led to an incomplete understanding of mycorrhizal functioning. Integration of mycorrhiza research at different scales is needed to understand the mechanisms underlying the context dependency of mycorrhizal associations, and to use mycorrhizae for solving environmental issues. Here, we provide a road map for the integration of mycorrhiza research into a unique framework that spans genes to ecosystems. Using two key topics, we identify parallels in mycorrhiza research at different organizational levels. Based on two current projects, we show how scientific integration creates synergies, and discuss future directions. Only by overcoming disciplinary boundaries, we will achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the functioning of mycorrhizal associations.

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