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13 November 2016

Recent pause in the growth rate of atmospheric CO2 due to enhanced terrestrial carbon uptake [Nature Communications]

Keywords : attribution, carbon cycle, climate-change ecology

Terrestrial ecosystems play a significant role in the global carbon cycle and offset a large fraction of anthropogenic CO2 emissions. The terrestrial carbon sink is increasing, yet the mechanisms responsible for its enhancement, and implications for the growth rate of atmospheric CO2, remain unclear. Here using global carbon budget estimates, ground, atmospheric and satellite observations, and multiple global vegetation models, we report a recent pause in the growth rate of atmospheric CO2, and a decline in the fraction of anthropogenic emissions that remain in the atmosphere, despite increasing anthropogenic emissions.(...)

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12 November 2016

Current Incentives for Scientists Lead to Underpowered Studies with Erroneous Conclusions [PLOS Biology/Perspective]

Keywords : scientists, careers, ecosystems, careers in research, physical fitness, peer review, research assessment, research errors

We can regard the wider incentive structures that operate across science, such as the priority given to novel findings, as an ecosystem within which scientists strive to maximise their fitness (i.e., publication record and career success). Here, we develop an optimality model that predicts the most rational research strategy, in terms of the proportion of research effort spent on seeking novel results rather than on confirmatory studies, and the amount of research effort per exploratory study. We show that, for parameter values derived from the scientific literature, researchers acting to maximise their fitness should spend most of their effort seeking novel results and conduct small studies that have only 10%–40% statistical power. As a result, half of the studies they publish will report erroneous conclusions. Current incentive structures are in conflict with maximising the scientific value of research; we suggest ways that the scientific ecosystem could be improved.

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11 November 2016

Incorporating explicit geospatial data shows more species at risk of extinction than the current Red List [Science Advances]

Keywords : red list, threatened species, remote sensing, GIS, birds, conservation

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List classifies species according to their risk of extinction, informing global to local conservation decisions. Unfortunately, important geospatial data do not explicitly or efficiently enter this process. Rapid growth in the availability of remotely sensed observations provides fine-scale data on elevation and increasingly sophisticated characterizations of land cover and its changes. These data readily show that species are likely not present within many areas within the overall envelopes of their distributions. Additionally, global databases on protected areas inform how extensively ranges are protected. We selected 586 endemic and threatened forest bird species from six of the world’s most biodiverse and threatened places (Atlantic Forest of Brazil, Central America, Western Andes of Colombia, Madagascar, Sumatra, and Southeast Asia).(...)

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11 November 2016

The broad footprint of climate change from genes to biomes to people [Sciences/Review]

physiologically, morphologically, and phenologically and are shifting their distributions, which affects food webs and results in new interactions. Disruptions scale from the gene to the ecosystem and have documented consequences for people, including unpredictable fisheries and crop yields, loss of genetic diversity in wild crop varieties, and increasing impacts of pests and diseases. In addition to the more easily observed changes, such as shifts in flowering phenology, we argue that many hidden dynamics, such as genetic changes, are also taking place. Understanding shifts in ecological processes can guide human adaptation strategies. In addition to reducing greenhouse gases, climate action and policy must therefore focus equally on strategies that safeguard biodiversity and ecosystems.

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11 November 2016

Resolving Cypriniformes relationships using an anchored enrichment approach [BMC Evolutionary Biology]

Keywords : fish high-throughput sequencing, phylogenetics, ostariophysi, cyprinidae

Cypriniformes (minnows, carps, loaches, and suckers) is the largest group of freshwater fishes in the world ( 4300 described species). Despite much attention, previous attempts to elucidate relationships using molecular and morphological characters have been incongruent. In this study we present the first phylogenomic analysis using anchored hybrid enrichment for 172 taxa to represent the order (plus three out-group taxa), which is the largest dataset for the order to date (219 loci, 315,288 bp, average locus length of 1011 bp).(...)

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