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6 March 2018

Secondary foundation species enhance biodiversity [Nature ecology & Evolution]

Keywords : biodiversity, conservation biology, ecosystem ecology

It has long been recognized that primary foundation species (FS), such as trees and seagrasses, enhance biodiversity. Among the species facilitated are secondary FS, including mistletoes and epiphytes. Case studies have demonstrated that secondary FS can further modify habitat-associated organisms (‘inhabitants’), but their net effects remain unknown. Here we assess how inhabitants, globally, are affected by secondary FS. We extracted and calculated 2,187 abundance and 397 richness Hedges’ g effect sizes from 91 and 50 publications, respectively.(...)

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5 March 2018

What have we learnt from studying the evolution of the arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis ? [Current Opinion in Plant Biology]

The arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis is a nearly ubiquitous association formed by most land plants. Numerous insights into the molecular mechanisms governing this symbiosis have been obtained in recent years leading to the identification of a core set of plant genes essential for successful formation of the AM symbiosis by angiosperm hosts. Recent phylogenetic analyses indicate that while the origin of some of these symbiotic genes predated the first land plants, the rest appeared through processes including de novo evolution and gene duplication that occurred specifically in the land plants.(...)

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2 March 2018

Winter color polymorphisms identify global hot spots for evolutionary rescue from climate change [Science]

Maintenance of biodiversity in a rapidly changing climate will depend on the efficacy of evolutionary rescue, whereby population declines due to abrupt environmental change are reversed by shifts in genetically driven adaptive traits. However, a lack of traits known to be under direct selection by anthropogenic climate change has limited the incorporation of evolutionary processes into global conservation efforts. In 21 vertebrate species, some individuals undergo a seasonal color molt from summer brown to winter white as camouflage against snow, whereas other individuals remain brown.(...)

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2 March 2018

Finding needles in the haystack: where to look for rare species in the American tropics [Ecography]

Tropical America (the Neotropics) harbours more plant species than any other region on Earth. The contribution of rare species to this diversity has been recently recognised, but their spatial distribution remains poorly understood. Here, we use all collection records of angiosperms from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility to delineate Neotropical bioregions, and to identify putatively rare species within the Neotropics and the Amazonian rainforest. We analyse the spatial distribution of these species and validate the results on a largely independent dataset based on vegetation plots from the Amazon Tree Diversity Network. We find that rare species are homogeneously distributed through most parts of the lowland Neotropics and Amazonia, but more concentrated in highlands.(...)

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2 March 2018

Repeatable aversion across threat types is linked with life-history traits but is dependent on how aversion is measured [Royal Open Society Science]

Keywords : personality, gaze aversion, risk-taking, great tits, body condition, life history

Personality research suggests that individual differences in risk aversion may be explained by links with life-history variation. However, few empirical studies examine whether repeatable differences in risk avoidance behaviour covary with life-history traits among individuals in natural populations, or how these links vary depending on the context and the way risk aversion is measured. We measured two different risk avoidance behaviours (latency to enter the nest and inspection time) in wild great tits (Parus major) in two different contexts—response to a novel object and to a predator cue placed at the nest-box during incubation---and related these behaviours to female reproductive success and condition.(...)

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