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10 mai 2017

The effects of ant nests on soil fertility and plant performance : a meta-analysis [Journal of Animal Ecology]

Keywords : ants, ecological engineers, soil disturbance

1.Ants are recognized as one of the major sources of soil disturbance world-wide. However, this view is largely based on isolated studies and qualitative reviews. Here, for the first time, we quantitatively determined whether ant nests affect soil fertility and plant performance, and identified the possible sources of variation of these effects.
2.Using Bayesian mixed-models meta-analysis, we tested the hypotheses that ant effects on soil fertility and plant performance depend on the substrate sampled, ant feeding type, latitude, habitat and the plant response variable measured.(...)

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9 mai 2017

Dispersal governs the reorganization of ecological networks under environmental change [Nature Ecology & Evolution]

Keywords : biodiversity, ecological modelling, ecological networks, food webs, theoretical ecology

Ecological networks, such as food webs, mutualist webs and host–parasite webs, are reorganizing as species abundances and spatial distributions shift in response to environmental change. Current theoretical expectations for how this reorganization will occur are available for competition or for parts of interaction networks, but these may not extend to more complex networks. Here we use metacommunity theory to develop new expectations for how complex networks will reorganize under environmental change, and show that dispersal is crucial for determining the degree to which networks will retain their composition and structure.(...)

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5 mai 2017

A dynamic eco-evolutionary model predicts slow response of alpine plants to climate warming [Nature Communications]

Keywords : climate-change ecology, ecological modelling, evolutionary ecology

Withstanding extinction while facing rapid climate change depends on a species’ ability to track its ecological niche or to evolve a new one. Current methods that predict climate-driven species’ range shifts use ecological modelling without eco-evolutionary dynamics. Here we present an eco-evolutionary forecasting framework that combines niche modelling with individual-based demographic and genetic simulations. Applying our approach to four endemic perennial plant species of the Austrian Alps, we show that accounting for eco-evolutionary dynamics when predicting species’ responses to climate change is crucial.(...)

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5 mai 2017

Are food web structures well represented in isotopic spaces ? [Functional Ecology]

Keywords : connectance, isotopic functional indices, niche model, omnivory, virtual ecology

1.Isotopic analyses are increasingly used to assess the structure of food webs and a series of isotopic functional indices have been proposed in the last decade to characterize this structure. These indices are based on the foundational assumption that proximity in the isotopic space informs on trophic similarity between species. While it has been recognized for long that this simplifying assumption should be used with caution, no formal evaluation of its domain of validity has been performed to date.
2.We here simulate a large number (15,000) of food webs with varying characteristics to assess i) whether isotopic distance is a good proxy of trophic dissimilarity ; ii) whether isotopic functional indices are good proxies of trophic functional properties ; and iii) how the quality of these two proxies depend on various species and food web properties.(...)

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5 mai 2017

Reconciling controversies about the ‘global warming hiatus’ [Nature]

Keywords : projection and prediction, attribution, communication

Between about 1998 and 2012, a time that coincided with political negotiations for preventing climate change, the surface of Earth seemed hardly to warm. This phenomenon, often termed the ‘global warming hiatus’, caused doubt in the public mind about how well anthropogenic climate change and natural variability are understood. Here we show that apparently contradictory conclusions stem from different definitions of ‘hiatus’ and from different datasets. A combination of changes in forcing, uptake of heat by the oceans, natural variability and incomplete observational coverage reconciles models and data. Combined with stronger recent warming trends in newer datasets, we are now more confident than ever that human influence is dominant in long-term warming.

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