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9 November 2017

Active migration is associated with specific and consistent changes to gut microbiota in Calidris shorebirds [Journal of Animal Ecology]

Keywords : gut microbiota, host-microbe interactions, microbiome, migration, physiology

1.Gut microbes are increasingly recognised for their role in regulating an animal’s metabolism and immunity. However, identifying repeatable associations between host physiological processes and their gut microbiota has proved challenging, in part because microbial communities often respond stochastically to host physiological stress (e.g. fasting, forced exercise or infection).
2.Migratory birds provide a valuable system in which to test host-microbe interactions under physiological extremes because these hosts are adapted to predictable metabolic and immunological challenges as they undergo seasonal migrations, including temporary gut atrophy during long-distance flights.(...)

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9 November 2017

Plant diversity increases predation by ground-dwelling invertebrate predators [Ecosphere]

Keywords : arthropods, biodiversity, ecosystem function, Jena experiment, Rapid Ecosystem Function Assessment (REFA)

Global declines in biodiversity have raised concerns over the implications of diversity loss for the functioning of ecosystems. Plant diversity loss has impacts throughout food webs affecting both consumer communities and ecosystem functions mediated by consumers. Effects of plant diversity loss on communities of invertebrate predators have been documented, yet little is known about how these translate into variations in predation rates. We measured predation rates along two plant diversity gradients in grassland experiments manipulating species richness and functional diversity.(...)

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9 November 2017

Male sex pheromone components in Heliconius butterflies released by the androconia affect female choice [PeerJ]

Keywords : animal behavior, entomology, evolutionary studies

Sex-specific pheromones are known to play an important role in butterfly courtship, and may influence both individual reproductive success and reproductive isolation between species. Extensive ecological, behavioural and genetic studies of Heliconius butterflies have made a substantial contribution to our understanding of speciation. Male pheromones, although long suspected to play an important role, have received relatively little attention in this genus. Here, we combine morphological, chemical and behavioural analyses of male pheromones in the Neotropical butterfly Heliconius melpomene.(...)

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8 November 2017

Tracing the origin and evolution of supergene mimicry in butterflies [Nature Communications]

Keywords : batesian mimicry, evolutionary genetics, molecular evolution, next-generation sequencing, phylogenetics

Supergene mimicry is a striking phenomenon but we know little about the evolution of this trait in any species. Here, by studying genomes of butterflies from a recent radiation in which supergene mimicry has been isolated to the gene doublesex, we show that sexually dimorphic mimicry and female-limited polymorphism are evolutionarily related as a result of ancient balancing selection combined with independent origins of similar morphs in different lineages and secondary loss of polymorphism in other lineages. Evolutionary loss of polymorphism appears to have resulted from an interaction between natural selection and genetic drift. (...)

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7 November 2017

A global picture of biological invasion threat on islands [Nature Ecology & Evolution]

Keywords : biogeography, invasive species

Biological invasions are among the main drivers of biodiversity losses. As threats from biological invasions increase, one of the most urgent tasks is to identify areas of high vulnerability. However, the lack of comprehensive information on the impacts of invasive alien species (IAS) is a problem especially on islands, where most of the recorded extinctions associated with IAS have occurred. Here we provide a global, network-oriented analysis of IAS on islands. Using network analysis, we structured 27,081 islands and 437 threatened vertebrates into 21 clusters, based on their profiles in term of invasiveness and shared vulnerabilities. These islands are mainly located in the Southern Hemisphere and many are in biodiversity hotspots.(...)

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