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25 mai 2018

Physiology underlies the assembly of ecological communities [PNAS]

Keywords : odonata, activity rate, causality, animal personality, phenotype

Trait-based community ecology promises an understanding of the factors that determine species abundances and distributions across habitats. However, ecologists are often faced with large suites of potentially important traits, making generalizations across ecosystems and species difficult or even impossible. Here, we hypothesize that key traits structuring ecological communities may be causally dependent on common physiological mechanisms and that elucidating these mechanisms can help us understand the distributions of traits and species across habitats. We test this hypothesis by investigating putatively causal relationships between physiological and behavioral traits at the species and community levels in larvae of 17 species of dragonfly that co-occur at the landscape scale but segregate among lakes.(...)

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25 mai 2018

Bumble‐BEEHAVE : A systems model for exploring multifactorial causes of bumblebee decline at individual, colony, population and community level [Journal of Applied Ecology]

Keywords : agent‐based modelling, Bombus terrestris, bumblebees, colony decline, cross‐level interactions, foraging, multiple stressors, pollination

1.World‐wide declines in pollinators, including bumblebees, are attributed to a multitude of stressors such as habitat loss, resource availability, emerging viruses and parasites, exposure to pesticides, and climate change, operating at various spatial and temporal scales. Disentangling individual and interacting effects of these stressors, and understanding their impact at the individual, colony and population level are a challenge for systems ecology. Empirical testing of all combinations and contexts is not feasible. A mechanistic multilevel systems model (individual‐colony‐population‐community) is required to explore resilience mechanisms of populations and communities under stress.
2.We present a model which can simulate the growth, behaviour and survival of six UK bumblebee species living in any mapped landscape. Bumble‐BEEHAVE simulates, in an agent‐based approach, the colony development of bumblebees in a realistic landscape to study how multiple stressors affect bee numbers and population dynamics. We provide extensive documentation, including sensitivity analysis and validation, based on data from literature. The model is freely available, has flexible settings and includes a user manual to ensure it can be used by researchers, farmers, policy‐makers, NGOs or other interested parties.(...)

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25 mai 2018

Background selection and the statistics of population differentiation : consequences for detecting local adaptation [BioRxiv]

Background selection is a process whereby recurrent deleterious mutations cause a decrease in the effective population size and genetic diversity at linked loci. Several authors have suggested that variation in the intensity of background selection could cause variation in FST across the genome, which could confound signals of local adaptation in genome scans. We performed realistic simulations of DNA sequences, using parameter estimates from humans and sticklebacks, to investigate how variation in the intensity of background selection affects different statistics of population differentiation.(...)

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25 mai 2018

The African Bullfrog (Pyxicephalus adspersus) genome unites the two ancestral ingredients for making vertebrate sex chromosomes [BioRxiv]

Heteromorphic sex chromosomes have evolved repeatedly among vertebrate lineages despite largely deleterious reductions in gene dose. Understanding how this gene dose problem is overcome is hampered by the lack of genomic information at the base of tetrapods and comparisons across the evolutionary history of vertebrates. To address this problem, we produced a chromosome-level genome assembly for the African Bullfrog (Pyxicephalus adspersus)—an amphibian with heteromorphic ZW sex chromosomes—and discovered that the Bullfrog Z is surprisingly homologous to substantial portions of the human X.(...)

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24 mai 2018

Body-size shifts in aquatic and terrestrial urban communities [Nature]

Keywords : community ecology, urban ecology

Body size is intrinsically linked to metabolic rate and life-history traits, and is a crucial determinant of food webs and community dynamics. The increased temperatures associated with the urban-heat-island effect result in increased metabolic costs and are expected to drive shifts to smaller body sizes. Urban environments are, however, also characterized by substantial habitat fragmentation, which favours mobile species. Here, using a replicated, spatially nested sampling design across ten animal taxonomic groups, we show that urban communities generally consist of smaller species. In addition, although we show urban warming for three habitat types and associated reduced community-weighted mean body sizes for four taxa, three taxa display a shift to larger species along the urbanization gradients.(...)

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