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3 March 2017

The theory of island biogeography applies to ectomycorrhizal fungi in subalpine tree “islands” at a fine scale [Ecosphere]

Keywords : distance decay, ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi, Illumina MiSeq, island biogeography, next generation sequencing (NGS), Pinus albicaulis, Pinus contorta, taxa–area relationship, Yosemite National Park

The theory of island biogeography, which predicts that species richness is a function of island size and distance from the mainland, is well tested with macro-fauna and flora. Yet, in many ways, microbes are more appropriate for testing this and other ecological theories due to their small size and short generation times that translate to an ease of replication. We used a natural experimental system of isolated “host islands” to test the generality of the theory of island biogeography. Specifically, we tested whether ectomycorrhizal fungal (EMF) richness increased with tree size and decreased with distance from forest in a subalpine basin in Yosemite National Park for two congeneric pine species, Pinus albicaulis and Pinus contorta.(...)

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2 March 2017

Using species distribution models to locate animal aggregations: a case study with Hippodamia undecimnotata (Schneider) overwintering aggregation sites [Ecological Entomology]

Eline Susset, Alexandra Magro, Jean-Louis Hemptinne

1. The protection of animals’ aggregation sites is increasingly seen as a key conservation strategy. However, to efficiently protect aggregation sites, they need to be accurately located. Species distribution models (SDMs) are an important tool in biological conservation to predict spatial distribution of species and they are used here to predict the distribution of the aggregation sites of a ladybird (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) species.
2. Hippodamia undecimnotata forms spectacular overwintering aggregations at the same locations every year across southern and eastern Europe. In this study, an SDM was developed and its performance tested for H. undecimnotata aggregations in southwest France. Moreover, the study looked at how environmental variables correlate with ladybirds’ abundance in the aggregation sites.(...)

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2 March 2017

Spatial complementarity in tree crowns explains overyielding in species mixtures [Nature Ecology & Evolution]

Keywords : biodiversity, forestry

Deciphering the mechanisms that link biodiversity with ecosystem functions is critical to understanding the consequences of changes in biodiversity. The hypothesis that complementarity and selection effects drive relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem functions is well accepted, and an approach to statistically untangle the relative importance of these effects has been widely applied. In contrast, empirical demonstrations of the biological mechanisms that underlie these relationships remain rare. Here, on the basis of a field experiment with young trees, we provide evidence that one form of complementarity in plant communities—complementarity among crowns in canopy space—is a mechanism, related to light interception and use, that links biodiversity with ecosystem productivity.(...)

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1 March 2017

On the functional extinction of the Passenger Pigeon [Conservation Biology]

Keywords : Ectopistes migratorius, functional extinction, museum specimens, North America, passenger pigeon, reproductive failure

The Passenger Pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) was a social breeder and it has been suggested that the species experienced functional extinction, defined as a total reproductive failure, prior to its actual extinction in the early years of the 20th century. Here, we apply a novel statistical method to a record of egg specimens and so-called skin specimens to test for functional extinction. The results indicate that the species did not become functionally extinct, suggesting that proposals to reverse its rapid decline in the late 19th century could have been successful.

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1 March 2017

Prophage WO genes recapitulate and enhance Wolbachia-induced cytoplasmic incompatibility [Nature]

The genus Wolbachia is an archetype of maternally inherited intracellular bacteria that infect the germline of numerous invertebrate species worldwide. They can selfishly alter arthropod sex ratios and reproductive strategies to increase the proportion of the infected matriline in the population. The most common reproductive manipulation is cytoplasmic incompatibility, which results in embryonic lethality in crosses between infected males and uninfected females. Females infected with the same Wolbachia strain rescue this lethality. Despite more than 40 years of research and relevance to symbiont-induced speciation, as well as control of arbovirus vectors and agricultural pests, the bacterial genes underlying cytoplasmic incompatibility remain unknown.(...)

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