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2 July 2017

Temperature variation, bacterial diversity, and fungal infection dynamics in the amphibian skin [Molecular Ecology]

Keywords : 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing, amphibians, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, Eleutherodactylus coqui, host-pathogen dynamics, species turnover

Host-associated bacterial communities on the skin act as the first line of defense against invading pathogens. Yet, for most natural systems, we lack a clear understanding of how temperature variability affects structure and composition of skin bacterial communities, and in turn, promotes or limits the colonization of opportunistic pathogens. Here, we examine how natural temperature fluctuations might be related to changes in skin bacterial diversity over time in three amphibian populations infected by the pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). Our focal host species (Eleutherodactylus coqui) is a direct-developing frog that has suffered declines at some populations in the last 20 years, while others have not experienced any changes.(...)

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2 July 2017

Top predators determine how biodiversity is partitioned across time and space [Ecology Letters]

Keywords : beta-diversity, deterministic, meta-community, Odonata, phenology, spatial, stochasti, temporal

Natural ecosystems are shaped along two fundamental axes, space and time, but how biodiversity is partitioned along both axes is not well understood. Here, we show that the relationship between temporal and spatial biodiversity patterns can vary predictably according to habitat characteristics. By quantifying seasonal and annual changes in larval dragonfly communities across a natural predation gradient we demonstrate that variation in the identity of top predator species is associated with systematic differences in spatio-temporal β-diversity patterns, leading to consistent differences in relative partitioning of biodiversity between time and space across habitats.(...)

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30 June 2017

Flow intermittence and ecosystem services in rivers of the Anthropocene [Journal of Applied Ecology]

Keywords : anthropocene, biodiversity, climate change, conservation, ecosystem services, ephemeral streams, flow management, intermittent rivers, management, rivers

1.Intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams (IRES) are watercourses that cease flow at some point in time and space. Arguably Earth’s most widespread type of flowing water, IRES are expanding where Anthropocenic climates grow drier and human demands for water escalate.
2.However, IRES have attracted far less research than perennial rivers and are undervalued by society, jeopardizing their restoration or protection. Provision of ecosystem services by IRES is especially poorly understood, hindering their integration into management plans in most countries.(...)

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30 June 2017

Plant diversity increases with the strength of negative density dependence at the global scale [Science]

Theory predicts that higher biodiversity in the tropics is maintained by specialized interactions among plants and their natural enemies that result in conspecific negative density dependence (CNDD). By using more than 3000 species and nearly 2.4 million trees across 24 forest plots worldwide, we show that global patterns in tree species diversity reflect not only stronger CNDD at tropical versus temperate latitudes but also a latitudinal shift in the relationship between CNDD and species abundance. CNDD was stronger for rare species at tropical versus temperate latitudes, potentially causing the persistence of greater numbers of rare species in the tropics. Our study reveals fundamental differences in the nature of local-scale biotic interactions that contribute to the maintenance of species diversity across temperate and tropical communities.

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30 June 2017

Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions and the functional loss of long-distance seed-dispersal services [Ecography]

Keywords : animal movement, body mass, landscape connectivity, dispersal kernel, frugivory, gene flow, home range, Janzen-Connell effects, downsizing effect, seed size

Pleistocene extinctions affected mainly large-bodied animals, determining the loss or changes in numerous ecological functions. Evidence points to a central role of many extinct megafauna herbivores as seed dispersers. An important step in understanding the legacy of extinct mutualistic interactions is to evaluate the roles and effectiveness of megafauna herbivores in seed dispersal. Here we use morphological and ecophysiological allometries to estimate both quantitative and qualitative aspects of seed-dispersal services likely provided by extinct megafauna.(...)

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