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19 October 2017

Upscaling species richness and abundances in tropical forests [Sciences Advances]

La quantification de la biodiversité des arbres tropicaux dans le monde reste un problème ouvert et difficile. Plus des deux cinquièmes du nombre d’arbres dans le monde peuvent être trouvés dans des forêts tropicales ou subtropicales, mais seulement 0,000067% des identités d’espèces sont connues. Nous introduisons un cadre analytique qui fournit des estimations robustes et précises de la richesse et de l’abondance des espèces dans les écosystèmes riches en biodiversité, comme le confirment les tests effectués sur les forêts réelles et silico-produites. Notre analyse montre que l’approche surpasse les autres méthodes.(...)

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19 October 2017

Disorder in convergent floral nanostructures enhances signalling to bees [Nature]

Diverse forms of nanoscale architecture generate structural colour and perform signalling functions within and between species. Structural colour is the result of the interference of light from approximately regular periodic structures; some structural disorder is, however, inevitable in biological organisms. Is this disorder functional and subject to evolutionary selection, or is it simply an unavoidable outcome of biological developmental processes? Here we show that disordered nanostructures enable flowers to produce visual signals that are salient to bees. (...)

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19 October 2017

More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas [PLOS One]

Subject Areas : insects, seasons , land use, biomass (ecology), conservation science, grasslands, species diversity, herbs

Global declines in insects have sparked wide interest among scientists, politicians, and the general public. Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services. Our understanding of the extent and underlying causes of this decline is based on the abundance of single species or taxonomic groups only, rather than changes in insect biomass which is more relevant for ecological functioning. Here, we used a standardized protocol to measure total insect biomass using Malaise traps, deployed over 27 years in 63 nature protection areas in Germany (96 unique location-year combinations) to infer on the status and trend of local entomofauna.(...)

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18 October 2017

Transgenerational plasticity and climate change experiments: Where do we go from here? [Global Change Biology]

Keywords : acclimation, adaptation, environmental predictability, maternal effects, non-genetic inheritance, paternal effects, phenotypic plasticity, selection, within-generation plasticity

Phenotypic plasticity, both within and across generations, is an important mechanism that organisms use to cope with rapid climate change. While an increasing number of studies show that plasticity across generations (transgenerational plasticity or TGP) may occur, we have limited understanding of key aspects of TGP, such as the environmental conditions that may promote it, its relationship to within-generation plasticity (WGP) and its role in evolutionary potential. In this review, we consider how the detection of TGP in climate change experiments is affected by the predictability of environmental variation, as well as the timing and magnitude of environmental change cues applied.(...)

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18 October 2017

Evolution of drift robustness in small populations [Nature Communications]

Keywords : computer modelling, evolutionary theory

Most mutations are deleterious and cause a reduction in population fitness known as the mutational load. In small populations, weakened selection against slightly-deleterious mutations results in an additional fitness reduction. Many studies have established that populations can evolve a reduced mutational load by evolving mutational robustness, but it is uncertain whether small populations can evolve a reduced susceptibility to drift-related fitness declines. Here, using mathematical modeling and digital experimental evolution, we show that small populations do evolve a reduced vulnerability to drift, or ‘drift robustness’. (...)

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