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21 avril 2017

Decreased losses of woody plant foliage to insects in large urban areas are explained by bird predation [Global Change Biology]

Keywords : ant predation, background insect herbivory, bird predation, host plant quality, leafminers, tritrophic interactions, urban ecology

Despite the increasing rate of urbanization, the consequences of this process on biotic interactions remain insufficiently studied. Our aims were to identify the general pattern of urbanization impact on background insect herbivory, to explore variations in this impact related to characteristics of both urban areas and insect–plant systems, and to uncover the factors governing urbanization impacts on insect herbivory. We compared the foliar damage inflicted on the most common trees by defoliating, leafmining and gall-forming insects in rural and urban habitats associated with 16 European cities.(...)

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21 avril 2017

Does habitat specialization shape the evolutionary potential of wild bird populations ? [Journal of Avian Biology]

Keywords : heritability, additive genetic variance, neutral diversity, individual specialization, niche width

Because specialist species evolved in more temporally and spatially homogeneous environments than generalist species, they are supposed to experience less fluctuating selection. For this reason, we expect specialists to show lower overall genetic variation as compared to generalists. We also expect populations from specialist species to be smaller and more fragmented, with lower neutral genetic diversity. We tested these hypotheses by investigating patterns of genetic diversity along a habitat specialization gradient in wild birds, based on estimates of heritability, coefficients of variation of additive genetic variance, and heterozygosity available in the literature.(...)

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21 avril 2017

Toward a theory for diversity gradients : the abundance–adaptation hypothesis [Ecography]

The abundance–adaptation hypothesis argues that taxa with more individuals and faster generation times will have more evolutionary ‘experiments’ allowing expansion into, and diversification within, novel habitats. Thus, as older taxa have produced more individuals over time, and smaller taxa have higher population sizes and faster generation times, the Latitudinal Diversity Gradients (LDGs) of these clades should show shallower slopes. We describe the LDGs for archaea, bacteria, fungi, invertebrates and trees from six North American forests. For three focal groups – bacteria, ants, and trees – older taxa had shallower LDG slopes than the more recent, terminal taxa.(...)

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21 avril 2017

Chytrid fungus infection in zebrafish demonstrates that the pathogen can parasitize non-amphibian vertebrate hosts [Nature Communications]

Keywords : ecological epidemiology, fungal pathogenesis, pathogens

Aquatic chytrid fungi threaten amphibian biodiversity worldwide owing to their ability to rapidly expand their geographical distributions and to infect a wide range of hosts. Combating this risk requires an understanding of chytrid host range to identify potential reservoirs of infection and to safeguard uninfected regions through enhanced biosecurity. Here we extend our knowledge on the host range of the chytrid Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis by demonstrating infection of a non-amphibian vertebrate host, the zebrafish.(...)

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21 avril 2017

Contrasting dispersal histories of broad- and fine-leaved temperate Loliinae grasses : range expansion, founder events, and the roles of distance and barriers [Journal of Biogeofraphy]

Guillaume Besnard & Jan Hackel

Successful colonization after long-distance dispersal (LDD) depends on the availability of suitable habitats and competitive ability. In this study, we address the hypothesis that two widely distributed sister grass lineages (broad- and fine-leaved Loliinae ; hereafter BL and FL) that differ in their habitat requirements and competitive ability also differ in their biogeographic history, with particular reference to LDD.(...)

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