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14 septembre 2018

Epidemiological tracing of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans identifies widespread infection and associated mortalities in private amphibian collections [Scientific Reports]

The amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) infects newts and salamanders (urodele amphibians), in which it can cause fatal disease. This pathogen has caused dramatic fire salamander population declines in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany since its discovery in 2010. Thought to be native to Asia, it has been hypothesised that Bsal was introduced to Europe with the importation of infected amphibians for the commercial pet trade. Following the discovery of Bsal in captive amphibians in the United Kingdom in 2015, we used contact-tracing to identify epidemiologically-linked private amphibian collections in Western Europe.(...)

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14 septembre 2018

Classifying drivers of global forest loss [Science]

Global maps of forest loss depict the scale and magnitude of forest disturbance, yet companies, governments, and nongovernmental organizations need to distinguish permanent conversion (i.e., deforestation) from temporary loss from forestry or wildfire. Using satellite imagery, we developed a forest loss classification model to determine a spatial attribution of forest disturbance to the dominant drivers of land cover and land use change over the period 2001 to 2015. Our results indicate that 27% of global forest loss can be attributed to deforestation through permanent land use change for commodity production. The remaining areas maintained the same land use over 15 years ; in those areas, loss was attributed to forestry (26%), shifting agriculture (24%), and wildfire (23%). Despite corporate commitments, the rate of commodity-driven deforestation has not declined. To end deforestation, companies must eliminate 5 million hectares of conversion from supply chains each year.

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14 septembre 2018

A continental system for forecasting bird migration [Science]

Billions of animals cross the globe each year during seasonal migrations, but efforts to monitor them are hampered by the unpredictability of their movements. We developed a bird migration forecast system at a continental scale by leveraging 23 years of spring observations to identify associations between atmospheric conditions and bird migration intensity. Our models explained up to 81% of variation in migration intensity across the United States at altitudes of 0 to 3000 meters, and performance remained high in forecasting events 1 to 7 days in advance (62 to 76% of variation was explained). Avian migratory movements across the United States likely exceed 500 million individuals per night during peak passage. Bird migration forecasts will reduce collisions with buildings, airplanes, and wind turbines ; inform a variety of monitoring efforts ; and engage the public.

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14 septembre 2018

A quantitative analysis linking sea turtle mortality and plastic debris ingestion [Scientific Reports]

Plastic in the marine environment is a growing environmental issue. Sea turtles are at significant risk of ingesting plastic debris at all stages of their lifecycle with potentially lethal consequences. We tested the relationship between the amount of plastic a turtle has ingested and the likelihood of death, treating animals that died of known causes unrelated to plastic ingestion as a statistical control group. We utilized two datasets ; one based on necropsies of 246 sea turtles and a second using 706 records extracted from a national strandings database. Animals dying of known causes unrelated to plastic ingestion had less plastic in their gut than those that died of either indeterminate causes or due to plastic ingestion directly (e.g. via gut impaction and perforation). We found a 50% probability of mortality once an animal had 14 pieces of plastic in its gut. Our results provide the critical link between recent estimates of plastic ingestion and the population effects of this environmental threat.

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14 septembre 2018

Ecophylogenetics Clarifies the Evolutionary Association between Mammals and Their Gut Microbiota [American Society for Microbiology]

Keywords : gut microbiome, bioinformatics, ecology, evolution, phylogeny, taxonomy

Our knowledge of how the gut microbiome relates to mammalian evolution benefits from the identification of gut microbial taxa that are unexpectedly prevalent or unexpectedly conserved across mammals. Such taxa enable experimental determination of the traits needed for such microbes to succeed as gut generalists, as well as those traits that impact mammalian fitness. However, the punctuated resolution of microbial taxonomy may limit our ability to detect conserved gut microbes, especially in cases in which broadly related microbial lineages possess shared traits that drive their apparent ubiquity across mammals. To advance the discovery of conserved mammalian gut microbes, we developed a novel ecophylogenetic approach to taxonomy that groups microbes into taxonomic units based on their shared ancestry and their common distribution across mammals.(...)

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