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16 January 2018

Genome downsizing, physiological novelty, and the global dominance of flowering plants [PLOS Biology]

Subject Areas : flowering plants, stomata, gymnosperms, leaf veins, ferns, plant genomics, phylogenetics, leaves

The abrupt origin and rapid diversification of the flowering plants during the Cretaceous has long been considered an “abominable mystery.” While the cause of their high diversity has been attributed largely to coevolution with pollinators and herbivores, their ability to outcompete the previously dominant ferns and gymnosperms has been the subject of many hypotheses. Common among these is that the angiosperms alone developed leaves with smaller, more numerous stomata and more highly branching venation networks that enable higher rates of transpiration, photosynthesis, and growth. Yet, how angiosperms pack their leaves with smaller, more abundant stomata and more veins is unknown but linked (...)

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16 January 2018

Structural absorption by barbule microstructures of super black bird of paradise feathers [Nature Communications]

Keywords : biomechanics, optical materials and structures, sexual selection

Many studies have shown how pigments and internal nanostructures generate color in nature. External surface structures can also influence appearance, such as by causing multiple scattering of light (structural absorption) to produce a velvety, super black appearance. Here we show that feathers from five species of birds of paradise (Aves: Paradisaeidae) structurally absorb incident light to produce extremely low-reflectance, super black plumages.(...)

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15 January 2018

Genomic signals of selection predict climate-driven population declines in a migratory bird [Science]

The ongoing loss of biodiversity caused by rapid climatic shifts requires accurate models for predicting species’ responses. Despite evidence that evolutionary adaptation could mitigate climate change impacts, evolution is rarely integrated into predictive models. Integrating population genomics and environmental data, we identified genomic variation associated with climate across the breeding range of the migratory songbird, yellow warbler (Setophaga petechia). Populations requiring the greatest shifts in allele frequencies to keep pace with future climate change have experienced the largest population declines, suggesting that failure to adapt may have already negatively affected populations. Broadly, our study suggests that the integration of genomic adaptation can increase the accuracy of future species distribution models and ultimately guide more effective mitigation efforts.

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15 January 2018

Changes in native bull trout and non-native brook trout distributions in the upper Powder River basin after 20 years, relationships to water temperature and implications of climate change [Ecology of Freshwater Fish]

Keywords : brook trout, bull trout, climate change, species interactions, water temperature

Many bull trout populations have declined from non-native brook trout introductions, habitat changes (e.g. water temperature) and other factors. We systematically sampled the distribution of bull trout and brook trout in the upper Powder River basin in Oregon in the 1990s and resampled it in 2013–2015, examined temperature differences in the habitats of the two species and analysed trends in temperatures in the light of possible increases associated with climate change. (...)

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15 January 2018

Large negative effect of non-native trout and minnows on Pyrenean lake amphibians [Biological Conservation]

Keywords : amphibian decline, exotic fish, freshwater ecology, habitat characteristics, high mountain lakes, invasive species

High mountain lakes are mostly naturally fishless ecosystems that have received numerous trout introductions over the world. Extensive studies mostly developed in west North America have shown a large negative effect of these introductions on amphibians, although no extensive studies are available from other continents such as Europe. Fish were also introduced extensively in the Pyrenees (southern Europe), mainly trout for angling and minnows for their use as live bait for fishing trout. We studied the effect of non-native trout and minnows on the occurrence of amphibian species inhabiting Pyrenean lentic habitats.(...)

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