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13 avril 2018

Illuminating the Evolution of Iridescence [Trends in Ecology & Evolution]

Iridescence, a change in hue with viewing or illumination geometry, is a common feature of colour patterns in nature, though its significance remains elusive. Recent studies of floral iridescence reveal its functional versatility in enhancing the detection and discrimination of resources by insect viewers, as well as augmenting higher-level processes of memory and perception. Coupled with a known evolutionary lability, these results suggest intriguing possibilities for how this optical curiosity may act as a key to diversification.

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12 avril 2018

DNA methylation-based biomarkers and the epigenetic clock theory of ageing [Nature Reviews Genetics]

Keywords : ageing, biomarkers, development, DNA methylation, epigenomics, machine learning

Identifying and validating molecular targets of interventions that extend the human health span and lifespan has been difficult, as most clinical biomarkers are not sufficiently representative of the fundamental mechanisms of ageing to serve as their indicators. In a recent breakthrough, biomarkers of ageing based on DNA methylation data have enabled accurate age estimates for any tissue across the entire life course. These ‘epigenetic clocks’ link developmental and maintenance processes to biological ageing, giving rise to a unified theory of life course. Epigenetic biomarkers may help to address long-standing questions in many fields, including the central question : why do we age ?

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12 avril 2018

Big floods, big knowledge gap : Food web dynamics in a variable river system [Ecology of Freshwater Fish]

Keywords : diet switching, niche breadth, seasonal overlap, trophic guilds

While flow regime is widely recognised as an over‐arching feature structuring aquatic ecosystems, the influence of flood events on feeding habits in fish assemblages inhabiting variable environments remains largely unknown. In this study, we investigated how diets of a fish assemblage changed in response to fluctuations in hydrology in a highly variable, wet‐dry tropical Australian river. We compared dietary habits, trophic guilds and intra‐ and interspecific dietary overlap and diet breadth across different seasons.(...)

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12 avril 2018

Synergistic selection regimens drive the evolution of display complexity in birds of paradise [Journal of Animal Ecology]

Keywords : animal communication, behavioural ecology, display habitat, evolutionary ecology, lek, sexual selection, signal design

1.Integrated visual displays that combine gesture with colour are nearly ubiquitous in the animal world, where they are shaped by sexual selection for their role in courtship and competition. However, few studies assess how multiple selection regimens operate on different components of these complex phenotypes on a macroevolutionary scale.
2.Here, we study this issue by assessing how both sexual and ecological selection work together to influence visual display complexity in the birds of paradise.(...)

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12 avril 2018

The importance of stream interstitial conditions for the early‐life‐stage development of the European nase (Chondrostoma nasus L.) [Ecology of Freshwater Fish]

Keywords : colmation, fish conservation, freshwater fish ecology, spawning ground, stream bed quality

Rheophilic cyprinid populations are in decline in many European rivers and have become target species of conservation and river restoration. This is especially true for the European nase (Chondrostoma nasus), a lithophilic species for which the early life stages pose the first bottlenecks in successful population development. In this study, egg dispersal at the substrate surface as well as within the stream interstitial was evaluated and the development of nase eggs was tested at three spawning grounds in the German Alpine Foreland. New incubation systems for cyprinid eggs as well as reference incubation boxes were developed.(...)

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