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5 October 2016

Strong influence of palaeoclimate on the structure of modern African mammal communities [Proceedings of the Royal Society B]

Keywords : community assembly, palaeoclimate, functional traits, phylogenetic structure

Ecological research often assumes that species are adapted to their current climatic environments. However, climate fluctuations over geologic timescales have influenced species dispersal and extinction, which in turn may affect community structure. Modern community structure is likely to be the product of both palaeoclimate and modern climate, with the relative degrees of influence of past and present climates unknown. Here, we assessed the influence of climate at different time periods on the phylogenetic and functional trait structure of 203 African mammal communities.(...)

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5 October 2016

Associative Mechanisms Allow for Social Learning and Cultural Transmission of String Pulling in an Insect [PLOS Biology]

Keywords : bees, flowers, learning, foraging, bumblebees, legs, behavior, culture

Social insects make elaborate use of simple mechanisms to achieve seemingly complex behavior and may thus provide a unique resource to discover the basic cognitive elements required for culture, i.e., group-specific behaviors that spread from “innovators” to others in the group via social learning. We first explored whether bumblebees can learn a nonnatural object manipulation task by using string pulling to access a reward that was presented out of reach. Only a small minority “innovated” and solved the task spontaneously, but most bees were able to learn to pull a string when trained in a stepwise manner.(...)

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5 October 2016

Global cooling as a driver of diversification in a major marine clade [Nature communications]

Keywords : biodiversity, evolutionary ecology, palaeontology, phylogenetics

Climate is a strong driver of global diversity and will become increasingly important as human influences drive temperature changes at unprecedented rates. Here we investigate diversification and speciation trends within a diverse group of aquatic crustaceans, the Anomura. We use a phylogenetic framework to demonstrate that speciation rate is correlated with global cooling across the entire tree, in contrast to previous studies. Additionally, we find that marine clades continue to show evidence of increased speciation rates with cooler global temperatures, while the single freshwater clade shows the opposite trend with speciation rates positively correlated to global warming(...)

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4 October 2016

Global Salmonidae introductions reveal stronger ecological effects of changing intraspecific compared to interspecific diversity [Ecology Letters]

Julien Cucherousset

The introduction of organisms within the native range of wild conspecifics is a widespread phenomenon and locally modifies patterns in intraspecific diversity. However, our knowledge of the resulting ecological effects, as opposed to those caused by invasion-induced changes in interspecific diversity, is still limited. Here, we investigated the ecological effects of native and non-native invaders across levels of biological organisations and recipient organisms using the global and long history introductions of salmonids.(...)

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3 October 2016

Predicting and mitigating future biodiversity loss using long-term ecological proxies [Nature Climate Change]

Keywords : conservation biology, ecological modelling, palaeoecology

Uses of long-term ecological proxies in strategies for mitigating future biodiversity loss are too limited in scope. Recent advances in geochronological dating, palaeoclimate reconstructions and molecular techniques for inferring population dynamics offer exciting new prospects for using retrospective knowledge to better forecast and manage ecological outcomes in the face of global change.(...)

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