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18 May 2017

Most Colorful Example of Genetic Assimilation? Exploring the Evolutionary Destiny of Recurrent Phenotypic Accommodation [The American Naturalist]

Keywords : genetic assimilation, developmental plasticity, phenotypic accommodation, carotenoids

Evolution of adaptation requires both generation of novel phenotypic variation and retention of a locally beneficial subset of this variation. Such retention can be facilitated by genetic assimilation, the accumulation of genetic and molecular mechanisms that stabilize induced phenotypes and assume progressively greater control over their reliable production. A particularly strong inference into genetic assimilation as an evolutionary process requires a system where it is possible to directly evaluate the extent to which an induced phenotype is progressively incorporated into preexisting developmental pathways. Evolution of diet-dependent pigmentation in birds—where external carotenoids are coopted into internal metabolism to a variable degree before being integrated with a feather’s developmental processes—provides such an opportunity.(...)

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18 May 2017

Big city Bombus: using natural history and land-use history to find significant environmental drivers in bumble-bee declines in urban development [Royal Society Open Science]

Keywords : urbanization, pollinator, geographical information system, shrinking city, Bombus

Native bee populations are critical sources of pollination. Unfortunately, native bees are declining in abundance and diversity. Much of this decline comes from human land-use change. While the effects of large-scale agriculture on native bees are relatively well understood, the effects of urban development are less clear. Understanding urbanity’s effect on native bees requires consideration of specific characteristics of both particular bee species and their urban landscape. We surveyed bumble-bee (Bombus spp.) abundance and diversity in gardens across multiple urban centres in southeastern Michigan.(...)

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17 May 2017

Behavioural individuality in clonal fish arises despite near-identical rearing conditions [Nature Communications]

Keywords : animal behaviour, behavioural ecology, ichthyology

Behavioural individuality is thought to be caused by differences in genes and/or environmental conditions. Therefore, if these sources of variation are removed, individuals are predicted to develop similar phenotypes lacking repeatable individual variation. Moreover, even among genetically identical individuals, direct social interactions are predicted to be a powerful factor shaping the development of individuality. We use tightly controlled ontogenetic experiments with clonal fish, the Amazon molly (Poecilia formosa), to test whether near-identical rearing conditions and lack of social contact dampen individuality.(...)

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17 May 2017

A global synthesis of the effects of diversified farming systems on arthropod diversity within fields and across agricultural landscapes [Global Change Biology]

Keywords : agricultural management schemes, arthropod diversity, biodiversity, evenness, functional groups, landscape complexity, meta-analysis, organic farming, plant diversity

Agricultural intensification is a leading cause of global biodiversity loss, which can reduce the provisioning of ecosystem services in managed ecosystems. Organic farming and plant diversification are farm management schemes that may mitigate potential ecological harm by increasing species richness and boosting related ecosystem services to agroecosystems. What remains unclear is the extent to which farm management schemes affect biodiversity components other than species richness, and whether impacts differ across spatial scales and landscape contexts. Using a global metadataset, we quantified the effects of organic farming and plant diversification on abundance, local diversity (communities within fields), and regional diversity (communities across fields) of arthropod pollinators, predators, herbivores, and detritivores.(...)

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16 May 2017

From effective biocontrol agent to successful invader: the harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) as an example of good ideas that could go wrong [PeerJ]

Keywords : biodiversity, conservation biology, ecology, entomology, environmental sciences

The use of biological control agents to control pests is an alternative to pesticides and a tool to manage invasive alien species. However, biocontrol agents can themselves become invasive species under certain conditions. The harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) is a native Asian biocontrol agent that has become a successful invader. We reviewed articles containing “Harmonia axyridis” to gather information on its presence and surveyed entomologists researching Coccinellidae around the world to investigate further insights about the current distribution, vectors of introduction, habitat use and threats this species pose.(...)

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