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11 November 2016

The broad footprint of climate change from genes to biomes to people [Sciences/Review]

physiologically, morphologically, and phenologically and are shifting their distributions, which affects food webs and results in new interactions. Disruptions scale from the gene to the ecosystem and have documented consequences for people, including unpredictable fisheries and crop yields, loss of genetic diversity in wild crop varieties, and increasing impacts of pests and diseases. In addition to the more easily observed changes, such as shifts in flowering phenology, we argue that many hidden dynamics, such as genetic changes, are also taking place. Understanding shifts in ecological processes can guide human adaptation strategies. In addition to reducing greenhouse gases, climate action and policy must therefore focus equally on strategies that safeguard biodiversity and ecosystems.

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11 November 2016

Resolving Cypriniformes relationships using an anchored enrichment approach [BMC Evolutionary Biology]

Keywords : fish high-throughput sequencing, phylogenetics, ostariophysi, cyprinidae

Cypriniformes (minnows, carps, loaches, and suckers) is the largest group of freshwater fishes in the world ( 4300 described species). Despite much attention, previous attempts to elucidate relationships using molecular and morphological characters have been incongruent. In this study we present the first phylogenomic analysis using anchored hybrid enrichment for 172 taxa to represent the order (plus three out-group taxa), which is the largest dataset for the order to date (219 loci, 315,288 bp, average locus length of 1011 bp).(...)

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11 November 2016

Marine plastic debris emits a keystone infochemical for olfactory foraging seabirds [Science Advances]

Keywords : chemical ecology, foraging ecology, marine pollution, plastic debris, conservation biology, sensory ecology, dimethyl sulfide

Plastic debris is ingested by hundreds of species of organisms, from zooplankton to baleen whales, but how such a diversity of consumers can mistake plastic for their natural prey is largely unknown. The sensory mechanisms underlying plastic detection and consumption have rarely been examined within the context of sensory signals driving marine food web dynamics. We demonstrate experimentally that marine-seasoned microplastics produce a dimethyl sulfide (DMS) signature that is also a keystone odorant for natural trophic interactions. We further demonstrate a positive relationship between DMS responsiveness and plastic ingestion frequency using procellariiform seabirds as a model taxonomic group. Together, these results suggest that plastic debris emits the scent of a marine infochemical, creating an olfactory trap for susceptible marine wildlife.

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9 November 2016

A global analysis of bird plumage patterns reveals no association between habitat and camouflage [PeerJ]

Keywords : biodiversity, ecology, evolutionary studies, zoology

Evidence suggests that animal patterns (motifs) function in camouflage. Irregular mottled patterns can facilitate concealment when stationary in cluttered habitats, whereas regular patterns typically prevent capture during movement in open habitats. Bird plumage patterns have predominantly converged on just four types—mottled (irregular), scales, bars and spots (regular)—and habitat could be driving convergent evolution in avian patterning. Based on sensory ecology, we therefore predict that irregular patterns would be associated with visually noisy closed habitats and that regular patterns would be associated with open habitats. Regular patterns have also been shown to function in communication for sexually competing males to stand-out and attract females, so we predict that male breeding plumage patterns evolved in both open and closed habitats. Here, taking phylogenetic relatedness into account, we investigate ecological selection for bird plumage patterns across the class Aves.(...)

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9 November 2016

Assessment of pollen rewards by foraging bees [Functional Ecology]

Keywords : bees, behaviour, learning, pollen, pollination, sensory

1.The removal of pollen by flower-visiting insects is costly to plants, not only in terms of production, but also via lost reproductive potential. Modern angiosperms have evolved various reward strategies to limit these costs, yet many plant species still offer pollen as a sole or major reward for pollinating insects.
2.The benefits plants gain by offering pollen as a reward for pollinating are defined by the behaviour of their pollinators, some of which feed on the pollen at the flower, while others collect pollen to provision offspring.
3.We explore how pollen impacts on the behaviour and foraging decisions of pollen-collecting bees, drawing comparisons with what is known for nectar rewards. This question is of particular interest since foraging bees typically do not eat pollen during collection, meaning the sensory pathways involved in evaluating this resource are not immediately obvious.(...)

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