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10 May 2017

Poison frog tadpoles seek parental transportation to escape their cannibalistic siblings [Journal of Zoology]

Keywords : begging behaviours, Dendrobatidae, cannibalism, sibling competition, parental care, Ranitomeya variabilis, poison frog, transportation

Parental care is a limited resource which in many species is acquired by the offspring through begging behaviours and often causes competition between siblings. The Neotropical poison frog Ranitomeya variabilis provides a very specific form of parental care: because its tadpoles are cannibalistic males usually separate them from their siblings after hatching by transporting them singly to small water bodies. However, in some cases parents do not transport their tadpoles but let them all hatch into the same pool. Here, we investigate if abandoned tadpoles of R. variabilis actively seek parental care in form of transportation.(...)

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10 May 2017

Unconscious selection drove seed enlargement in vegetable crops [Evolution Letters]

Benoît Pujol

Domesticated grain crops evolved from wild plants under human cultivation, losing natural dispersal mechanisms to become dependent upon humans, and showing changes in a suite of other traits, including increasing seed size. There is tendency for seed enlargement during domestication to be viewed as the result of deliberate selection for large seeds by early farmers. However, like some other domestication traits, large seeds may have evolved through natural selection from the activities of people as they gathered plants from the wild, or brought them into cultivation in anthropogenic settings. Alternatively, larger seeds could have arisen via pleiotropic effects or genetic linkage, without foresight from early farmers, and driven by selection that acted on other organs or favored larger plants. We have separated these unconscious selection effects on seed enlargement from those of deliberate selection, by comparing the wild and domesticated forms of vegetable crops.(...)

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10 May 2017

The effects of ant nests on soil fertility and plant performance: a meta-analysis [Journal of Animal Ecology]

Keywords : ants, ecological engineers, soil disturbance

1.Ants are recognized as one of the major sources of soil disturbance world-wide. However, this view is largely based on isolated studies and qualitative reviews. Here, for the first time, we quantitatively determined whether ant nests affect soil fertility and plant performance, and identified the possible sources of variation of these effects.
2.Using Bayesian mixed-models meta-analysis, we tested the hypotheses that ant effects on soil fertility and plant performance depend on the substrate sampled, ant feeding type, latitude, habitat and the plant response variable measured.(...)

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9 May 2017

Dispersal governs the reorganization of ecological networks under environmental change [Nature Ecology & Evolution]

Keywords : biodiversity, ecological modelling, ecological networks, food webs, theoretical ecology

Ecological networks, such as food webs, mutualist webs and host–parasite webs, are reorganizing as species abundances and spatial distributions shift in response to environmental change. Current theoretical expectations for how this reorganization will occur are available for competition or for parts of interaction networks, but these may not extend to more complex networks. Here we use metacommunity theory to develop new expectations for how complex networks will reorganize under environmental change, and show that dispersal is crucial for determining the degree to which networks will retain their composition and structure.(...)

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5 May 2017

A dynamic eco-evolutionary model predicts slow response of alpine plants to climate warming [Nature Communications]

Keywords : climate-change ecology, ecological modelling, evolutionary ecology

Withstanding extinction while facing rapid climate change depends on a species’ ability to track its ecological niche or to evolve a new one. Current methods that predict climate-driven species’ range shifts use ecological modelling without eco-evolutionary dynamics. Here we present an eco-evolutionary forecasting framework that combines niche modelling with individual-based demographic and genetic simulations. Applying our approach to four endemic perennial plant species of the Austrian Alps, we show that accounting for eco-evolutionary dynamics when predicting species’ responses to climate change is crucial.(...)

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