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Home > Communication > Scientific newsletter > Publications

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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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26 April 2017

Evolutionary biology needs wild microbiomes [Frontiers in Microbiology]

Keywords : gut microbiome, field biology, evolution, ornithology, host-associated microbiota

he microbiome is a vital component to the evolution of a host and much of what we know about the microbiome derives from studies on humans and captive animals. But captivity alters the microbiome and mammals have unique biological adaptations that affect their microbiomes (e.g., milk). Birds represent over 30% of known tetrapod diversity and possess their own suite of adaptations relevant to the microbiome. In a previous study, we showed that 59 species of birds displayed immense variation in their microbiomes and host (bird) taxonomy and ecology were most correlated with the gut microbiome. In this Frontiers Focused Review, I put those results in a broader context by discussing how collecting and analyzing wild microbiomes contributes to the main goals of evolutionary biology and the specific ways that birds are unique microbial hosts. Finally, I outline some of the methodological considerations for adding microbiome sampling to the research of wild animals and urge researchers to do so. To truly understand the evolution of a host, we need to understand the millions of microorganisms that inhabit it as well: evolutionary biology needs wild microbiomes.

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26 April 2017

Genomic analyses reveal the influence of geographic origin, migration, and hybridization on modern dog breed development [Cell Reports]

Keywords : canine, domestication, population, migration, morphology, behavior, admixture

There are nearly 400 modern domestic dog breeds with a unique histories and genetic profiles. To track the genetic signatures of breed development, we have assembled the most diverse dataset of dog breeds, reflecting their extensive phenotypic variation and heritage. Combining genetic distance, migration, and genome-wide haplotype sharing analyses, we uncover geographic patterns of development and independent origins of common traits. Our analyses reveal the hybrid history of breeds and elucidate the effects of immigration, revealing for the first time a suggestion of New World dog within some modern breeds. Finally, we used cladistics and haplotype sharing to show that some common traits have arisen more than once in the history of the dog. These analyses characterize the complexities of breed development, resolving longstanding questions regarding individual breed origination, the effect of migration on geographically distinct breeds, and, by inference, transfer of trait and disease alleles among dog breeds.

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25 April 2017

Global correlates of extinction risk in freshwater crayfish [Animal Conservation]

Keywords : IUCN Red List, crayfish, extinction risk, freshwater invertebrate, threat mapping, phylogenetic regression models

Global trait-based analyses can shed light on the factors predisposing species to high extinction risk, and can help bridge knowledge gaps in speciose and poorly known taxa. In this paper, I conduct the first global comparative study of crayfish extinction risk. I collated data on intrinsic (biology and ecology) and extrinsic (environment and threats) factors for 450 crayfish species assessed on the IUCN Red List. Phylogenetic multiple regression models were used to identify correlates of risk in all species; in centres of diversity (American cambarids and Australian parastacids); and among threat types (agriculture, water management, pollution). I assessed the relative ability of threat maps quantifying specific threats (e.g. river fragmentation, mercury deposition) or a generic threat (human population density) to predict crayfish extinction risk.(...)

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25 April 2017

A decade of insights into grassland ecosystem responses to global environmental change [Nature Ecology & Evolution]

Keywords : biodiversity, community ecology, ecosystem ecology, grassland ecology

Earth’s biodiversity and carbon uptake by plants, or primary productivity, are intricately interlinked, underlie many essential ecosystem processes, and depend on the interplay among environmental factors, many of which are being changed by human activities. While ecological theory generalizes across taxa and environments, most empirical tests of factors controlling diversity and productivity have been observational, single-site experiments, or meta-analyses, limiting our understanding of variation among site-level responses and tests of general mechanisms.(...)

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