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1 May 2017

Habitat filtering determines the functional niche occupancy of plant communities worldwide [Journal of Ecology]

Keywords : community assembly, habitat filtering, limiting similarity, niche occupancy, species richness, intraspecific trait variability, determinants of plant community diversity and structure

1.How the patterns of niche occupancy vary from species-poor to species-rich communities is a fundamental question in ecology that has a central bearing on the processes that drive patterns of biodiversity. As species richness increases, habitat filtering should constrain the expansion of total niche volume, while limiting similarity should restrict the degree of niche overlap between species. Here, by explicitly incorporating intraspecific trait variability, we investigate the relationship between functional niche occupancy and species richness at the global scale.
2.We assembled 21 datasets worldwide, spanning tropical to temperate biomes and consisting of 313 plant communities representing different growth forms. We quantified three key niche occupancy components (the total functional volume, the functional overlap between species and the average functional volume per species) for each community, related each component to species richness, and compared each component to the null expectations.(...)

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28 April 2017

Mountain landscape connectivity and subspecies appurtenance shape genetic differentiation in natural plant populations of the snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus L.) [Botany Letters]

Benoit Pujol, Juliette Archambeau, Aurore Bontemps, Mylène Lascoste, Sara Marin & Alexandre Meunier

We carried out a population genetic study of 14 populations (692 plants characterised at 23 microsatellite loci) of the plant species Antirrhinum majus L. (Plantaginaceae) across its geographic range. Our results showed that populations of A. majus are genetically differentiated and genetically diverse. We also found a small but statistically significant genetic differentiation between A. majus subspecies pseudomajus and striatum. Genetic diversity was higher in A. majus subspecies pseudomajus. Geographic distance and both latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates had no impact on genetic differentiation and diversity. We therefore did not find any signature of geographical range expansion. Mountains were found to play a role by affecting a small but statistically significant amount of genetic differentiation between populations. Our findings thereby suggest that most A. majus populations are reproductively isolated, and that the landscape and the evolutionary history of species affected their genetic variation.

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27 April 2017

The credibility crisis in research: Can economics tools help? [PLOS Biology]

Keywords : experimental economics, economics, labor economics, peer review, randomized controlled trials, behavior, health economics, mathematical modeling

The issue of nonreplicable evidence has attracted considerable attention across biomedical and other sciences. This concern is accompanied by an increasing interest in reforming research incentives and practices. How to optimally perform these reforms is a scientific problem in itself, and economics has several scientific methods that can help evaluate research reforms. Here, we review these methods and show their potential. Prominent among them are mathematical modeling and laboratory experiments that constitute affordable ways to approximate the effects of policies with wide-ranging implications.

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27 April 2017

Species ecological similarity modulates the importance of colonization history for adaptive radiation [Evolution]

Keywords : adaptive radiation, colonization history, fitness difference, niche difference

Adaptive radiation is an important evolutionary process, through which a single ancestral lineage rapidly gives rise to multiple newly formed lineages that specialize in different niches. In the first-arrival hypothesis, David Lack emphasized the importance of species colonization history for adaptive radiation, suggesting that the earlier arrival of a diversifying species would allow it to radiate to a greater extent. Here, we report on the first rigorous experimental test of this hypothesis, using the rapidly evolving bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25 and six different bacterial competitors.(...)

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26 April 2017

Drivers and interrelationships among multiple dimensions of rarity for freshwater fishes [Ecography]

Species can be rare or common in three different dimensions: geographic range size, habitat breadth, and local abundance. Understanding drivers of rarity are not only fundamentally interesting; it is also pertinent for their conservation. We addressed this challenge by analyzing the rarity of 291 native freshwater fishes occurring in ca 3500 independent stream reaches that span a broad environmental gradient across continental USA. Using phylogenetic regression and path analysis, we examined the concordance among the three rarity dimensions, and identified possible mechanisms by which species life-history, habitat affinities, and biogeography drive variation in rarity.(...)

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