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6 September 2017

Hydrologic resilience and Amazon productivity [Nature Communications]

Keywords : carbon cycle, climate and Earth system modelling, ecological modelling, hydrology

The Amazon rainforest is disproportionately important for global carbon storage and biodiversity. The system couples the atmosphere and land, with moist forest that depends on convection to sustain gross primary productivity and growth. Earth system models that estimate future climate and vegetation show little agreement in Amazon simulations. Here we show that biases in internally generated climate, primarily precipitation, explain most of the uncertainty in Earth system model results; models, empirical data and theory converge when precipitation biases are accounted for. Gross primary productivity, above-ground biomass and tree cover align on a hydrological relationship with a breakpoint at 2000 mm annual precipitation, where the system transitions between water and radiation limitation of evapotranspiration. The breakpoint appears to be fairly stable in the future, suggesting resilience of the Amazon to climate change. Changes in precipitation and land use are therefore more likely to govern biomass and vegetation structure in Amazonia.

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6 September 2017

AmphiBIO, a global database for amphibian ecological traits [Scientific Data]

Keywords : data integration, herpetology, macroecology

Current ecological and evolutionary research are increasingly moving from species- to trait-based approaches because traits provide a stronger link to organism’s function and fitness. Trait databases covering a large number of species are becoming available, but such data remains scarce for certain groups. Amphibians are among the most diverse vertebrate groups on Earth, and constitute an abundant component of major terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. They are also facing rapid population declines worldwide, which is likely to affect trait composition in local communities, thereby impacting ecosystem processes and services. In this context, we introduce AmphiBIO, a comprehensive database of natural history traits for amphibians worldwide. The database releases information on 17 traits related to ecology, morphology and reproduction features of amphibians. We compiled data from more than 1,500 literature sources, and for more than 6,500 species of all orders (Anura, Caudata and Gymnophiona), 61 families and 531 genera. This database has the potential to allow unprecedented large-scale analyses in ecology, evolution, and conservation of amphibians.

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6 September 2017

Individual growth as a non-dietary determinant of the isotopic niche metrics [Methods in Ecology and Evolution]

Keywords : dietary diversity, diet-consumer fractionation, intrapopulation variability, isotopic niche, growth and nutritional status, mysids

1. Quantitative analytical approaches for isotopic niche analysis in the trophic diversity studies are proliferating rapidly; however, the assumptions behind the isotopic niche applications are rarely tested. One of the main assumptions is independence of the niche metrics and physiological status of the animals. The aim of this experimental study was to test the relationship between growth and Layman’s metrics of isotopic niche in consumers eating the same food but in different quantities and growing at different rates.(...)

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5 September 2017

Climate Effects on Growth, Body Condition, and Survival Depend on the Genetic Characteristics of the Population [The American Naturalist]

Keywords : age-structured populations, age class effects, life-history traits, Zootoca vivipara, humidity, color morph frequency.

Climatic change is expected to affect individual life histories and population dynamics, potentially increasing vulnerability to extinction. The importance of genetic diversity has been highlighted for adaptation and population persistence. However, whether responses of life-history traits to a given environmental condition depend on the genetic characteristics of a population remains elusive. Here we tested this hypothesis in the lizard Zootoca vivipara by simultaneously manipulating habitat humidity, a major climatic predictor of Zootoca’s distribution, and adult male color morph frequency, a trait with genome-wide linkage.(...)

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4 September 2017

Island biogeography: Taking the long view of nature’s laboratories [Science]

Islands provide classic model biological systems. We review how growing appreciation of geoenvironmental dynamics of marine islands has led to advances in island biogeographic theory accommodating both evolutionary and ecological phenomena. Recognition of distinct island geodynamics permits general models to be developed and modified to account for patterns of diversity, diversification, lineage development, and trait evolution within and across island archipelagos. Emergent patterns of diversity include predictable variation in island species–area relationships, progression rule colonization from older to younger land masses, and syndromes including loss of dispersability and secondary woodiness in herbaceous plant lineages. Further developments in Earth system science, molecular biology, and trait data for islands hold continued promise for unlocking many of the unresolved questions in evolutionary biology and biogeography.

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