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11 janvier 2017

Uncertain-tree : discriminating among competing approaches to the phylogenetic analysis of phenotype data [Royal Society Open Science - Biological Sciences]

Keywords : phylogeny, Bayesian, parsimony, cladistics, morphology, palaeontology

Morphological data provide the only means of classifying the majority of life’s history, but the choice between competing phylogenetic methods for the analysis of morphology is unclear. Traditionally, parsimony methods have been favoured but recent studies have shown that these approaches are less accurate than the Bayesian implementation of the Mk model. Here we expand on these findings in several ways : we assess the impact of tree shape and maximum-likelihood estimation using the Mk model, as well as analysing data composed of both binary and multistate characters. We find that all methods struggle to correctly resolve deep clades within asymmetric trees, and when analysing small character matrices.(...)

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11 janvier 2017

Working with what you’ve got : unattractive males show greater mate-guarding effort in a duetting songbird [Biology Letters]

Keywords : sexual selection, mating tactics, polymorphism, vocal duet, acoustic mate guarding

When mates are limited, individuals should allocate resources to mating tactics that maximize fitness. In species with extra-pair paternity (EPP), males can invest in mate guarding, or, alternatively, in seeking EPP. Males should optimize fitness by adjusting investment according to their attractiveness to females, such that attractive males seek EPP, and unattractive males guard mates. This theory has received little empirical testing, leaving our understanding of the evolution of mating tactics incomplete ; it is unclear how a male’s relative attractiveness influences his tactics.(...)

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10 janvier 2017

Plastomes on the edge : the evolutionary breakdown of mycoheterotroph plastid genomes [New Phytologist/Tansley insight]

Keywords : comparative genomics, convergent evolution, mixotrophy, mycoheterotrophic plants, photosynthesis genes, plastid function, plastid translation apparatus

We examine recent evidence for ratchet-like genome degradation in mycoheterotrophs, plants that obtain nutrition from fungi. Initial loss of the NADH dehydrogenase-like (NDH) complex may often set off an irreversible evolutionary cascade of photosynthetic gene losses. Genes for plastid-encoded subunits of RNA polymerase and photosynthetic enzymes with secondary functions (Rubisco and ATP synthase) can persist initially, with nonsynchronous and quite broad windows in the relative timing of their loss. Delayed losses of five core nonbioenergetic genes (especially trnE and accD, which respectively code for glutamyl tRNA and a subunit of acetyl-CoA carboxylase) probably explain long-term persistence of heterotrophic plastomes. The observed range of changes of mycoheterotroph plastomes is similar to that of holoparasites, although greater diversity of both probably remains to be discovered. These patterns of gene loss/retention can inform research programs on plastome function.

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10 janvier 2017

Assessing long-term effects of multiple, potentially confounded drivers in ecosystems from species traits [Global Change Biology]

Keywords : climate change, confounding effect, invertebrates, large rivers, long-term trends, multiple drivers, species traits, water quality

Although species traits have the potential to disentangle long-term effects of multiple, potentially confounded drivers in ecosystems, this issue has received very little attention in the literature. We aimed at filling this gap by assessing the relative effects of hydroclimatic and water quality factors on the trait composition of invertebrate assemblages over 30 years in the Middle Loire River (France). Using a priori predictions on the long-term variation of trait-based adaptations over the three decades, we evaluated the ability of invertebrate traits to indicate the effects of warming, discharge reduction and water quality improvement.(...)

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6 janvier 2017

EU-Forest, a high-resolution tree occurrence dataset for Europe [Scientific Data]

Keywords : climate change, ecology, forestry, palaeoclimate, plant ecology

We present EU-Forest, a dataset that integrates and extends by almost one order of magnitude the publicly available information on European tree species distribution. The core of our dataset ( 96% of the occurrence records) came from an unpublished, large database harmonising forest plot surveys from National Forest Inventories on an INSPIRE-compliant 1 km×1 km grid. These new data can potentially benefit several disciplines, including forestry, biodiversity conservation, palaeoecology, plant ecology, the bioeconomy, and pest management.

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