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6 février 2018

Phylogenetic classification of the world’s tropical forests [PNAS]

Keywords : biogeographic legacies, forest classification, forest functional similarity, phylogenetic community distance, tropical forests

Identifying and explaining regional differences in tropical forest dynamics, structure, diversity, and composition are critical for anticipating region-specific responses to global environmental change. Floristic classifications are of fundamental importance for these efforts. Here we provide a global tropical forest classification that is explicitly based on community evolutionary similarity, resulting in identification of five major tropical forest regions and their relationships : (i) Indo-Pacific, (ii) Subtropical, (iii) African, (iv) American, and (v) Dry forests. African and American forests are grouped, reflecting their former western Gondwanan connection, while Indo-Pacific forests range from eastern Africa and Madagascar to Australia and the Pacific. The connection between northern-hemisphere Asian and American forests is confirmed, while Dry forests are identified as a single tropical biome.

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6 février 2018

Does genotypic and species diversity of mycorrhizal plants and fungi affect ecosystem function ? [New Phytologist]

Keywords : biodiversity, functional traits, fungal genomes, intraspecific diversity, spatial scale

Both genotypes and species of mycorrhizal fungi exhibit considerable variation in traits, and this variation can result in their diversity regulating ecosystem function. Yet, the nature of mycorrhizal fungal diversity–ecosystem function (MEF) relationships for both genotypes and species is currently poorly defined. New experiments should reflect the richness of genotypes and species in nature, but we still lack information about the extent to which fungal populations in particular are structured. Sampling designs should quantify the diversity of mycorrhizal fungal genotypes and species at three key broad spatial scales (root fragment, root system and interacting root systems) in order to inform manipulation experiments and to test how mycorrhizal fungal diversity both responds, and confers resilience to, environmental drivers.

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5 février 2018

No evidence that carotenoid pigments boost either immune or antioxidant defenses in a songbird [Nature Communications]

Keywords : animal physiology, evolutionary ecology

Dietary carotenoids have been proposed to boost immune system and antioxidant functions in vertebrate animals, but studies aimed at testing these physiological functions of carotenoids have often failed to find support. Here we subject yellow canaries (Serinus canaria), which possess high levels of carotenoids in their tissue, and white recessive canaries, which possess a knockdown mutation that results in very low levels of tissue carotenoids, to oxidative and pathogen challenges.(...)

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5 février 2018

Climate, ecosystems, and planetary futures : The challenge to predict life in Earth system models [Science]

High-quality climate predictions are crucial for understanding the impacts of different greenhouse gas emission scenarios and for mitigating and adapting to the resulting climatic changes. Bonan and Doney review advances in Earth system models that include the terrestrial and marine biosphere. Such models capture interactions between physical and biological aspects of the Earth system. This provides insight into climate impacts of societal importance, such as altered crop yields, wildfire risk, and water availability. Further research is needed to better understand model uncertainties, some of which may be unavoidable, and to better translate observations into abstract model representations.

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2 février 2018

Contrasting impacts of competition on ecological and social trait evolution in songbirds [PLOS Biology]

Subject Areas : phylogenetic analysis, species diversity, evolutionary rate, animal phylogenetics, convergent evolution, diet, phylogenetics, speciation

Competition between closely related species has long been viewed as a powerful selective force that drives trait diversification, thereby generating phenotypic diversity over macroevolutionary timescales. However, although the impact of interspecific competition has been documented in a handful of iconic insular radiations, most previous studies have focused on traits involved in resource use, and few have examined the role of competition across large, continental radiations. Thus, the extent to which broad-scale patterns of phenotypic diversity are shaped by competition remain largely unclear, particularly for social traits. Here, we estimate the effect of competition between interacting lineages by applying new phylogenetic models that account for such interactions to an exceptionally complete dataset of resource-use traits and social signaling traits for the entire radiation of tanagers (Aves, Thraupidae), the largest family of songbirds.(...)

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