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10 October 2016

Initiation of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis infection in the absence of physical contact with infected hosts – a field study in a high altitude lake [Oikos]

Understanding transmission is a critical prerequisite for predicting disease dynamics and impacts on host populations. It is well established that Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), the amphibian fungal pathogen responsible for chytridiomycosis, can be transmitted directly, through physical contact with an infected host. However, indirect pathways of transmission remain poorly investigated. We conducted a five-week long field infection experiment at a high altitude mountain lake in the French Pyrenees to investigate Bd transmission pathways in larval midwife toads Alytes obstetricans.(...)

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10 October 2016

Time Since Urbanization but Not Encephalisation Is Associated with Increased Tolerance of Human Proximity in Birds [Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution]

The examination of links between a high degree of encephalisation (i.e., a large brain mass relative to body size) and the capacity of wildlife to inhabit anthropogenic habitats has formed the basis of several recent studies, although typically they have not uncovered any relationship. It, however, remains unclear whether encephalisation is directly related to a species’ capacity to develop tolerance to human proximity (i.e., a reduction in response to approaching humans). It is also unknown whether such a relationship is related to the size of specific areas of the brain. Using published data on flight-initiation distance (FID), the distance at which animals flee from an approaching human, we estimate the degree of tolerance of human proximity for 42 bird species by comparing FIDs in urban and rural areas, with relatively high and low exposure to humans, respectively. We used a phylogenetic, comparative approach to analyse the relationship of degree of tolerance, and of FID in urban and rural populations more directly, to relative sizes of whole brains (42 species) and brain components (25 species) for the species, and examine the effect of the year that the bird species was first recorded in an urban area (year of urbanization). (...)

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7 October 2016

Genome sequence of the basal haplorrhine primate Tarsius syrichta reveals unusual insertions [Nature communications]

Keywords : evolutionary biology, genome evolution, interspersed repetitive sequences

Tarsiers are phylogenetically located between the most basal strepsirrhines and the most derived anthropoid primates. While they share morphological features with both groups, they also possess uncommon primate characteristics, rendering their evolutionary history somewhat obscure. To investigate the molecular basis of such attributes, we present here a new genome assembly of the Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta), and provide extended analyses of the genome and detailed history of transposable element insertion events.(...)

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6 October 2016

Communally Nesting Migratory Birds Create Ecological Hot-Spots in Tropical Australia [PLOS One]

keywords : trees, starlings, birds, rainforests, invertebrates, mammals, reptiles Snakes

Large numbers of metallic starlings (Aplonis metallica) migrate annually from New Guinea to the rainforests of tropical Australia, where they nest communally in single emergent trees (up to 1,000 birds). These aggregations create dense and species-rich faunal “hot-spots”, attracting a diverse assemblage of local consumers that utilise this seasonal resource.(...)

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6 October 2016

Local-scale models reveal ecological niche variability in amphibian and reptile communities from two contrasting biogeographic regions [PeerJ]

Keywords : biodiversity, biogeography, conservation biology, ecology

Ecological Niche Models (ENMs) are widely used to describe how environmental factors influence species distribution. Modelling at a local scale, compared to a large scale within a high environmental gradient, can improve our understanding of ecological species niches. The main goal of this study is to assess and compare the contribution of environmental variables to amphibian and reptile ENMs in two Spanish national parks located in contrasting biogeographic regions, i.e., the Mediterranean and the Atlantic area.(...)

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