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5 octobre 2018

Selecting surrogate species for connectivity conservation [Biological Conservation]

Keywords : biodiversity, connectivity conservation, focal species selection, habitat fragmentation, spatial prioritization, graph theory

Habitat loss and fragmentation impede the movement of animals across landscapes causing biodiversity change. One strategy to counter these effects is to protect and restore habitat quality and connectivity for a diversity of species. How should surrogate species be selected to represent a diversity of needs from a larger species pool ?
Using a recent method to prioritize multispecies habitat networks, we tested how the selection of surrogate species affects prioritization outcomes. We ran prioritization schemes using subsets of N (N = 0, 1, 3, 5, 7, 9) species selected from a 14-species reference set. Selection was based on different concepts of surrogate species : umbrella, taxonomy, habitat diversity, movement diversity, movement and habitat diversity. Prioritization outputs were compared to the 14-species set for their effectiveness and comprehensiveness at retaining habitat quality and connectivity criteria, and for their spatial congruence.(...)

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5 octobre 2018

Wild Birds Learn Songs from Experimental Vocal Tutors [Current Biology]

Keywords : bird song, cultural transmission, learning, playback, vocal communications, vocal learning

In eight groups of animals, including humans and songbirds, juveniles are understood to learn vocalizations by listening to adults. Experimental studies of laboratory-reared animals support this hypothesis for vocal learning, yet we lack experimental evidence of vocal learning in wild animals. We developed an innovative playback technology involving automated loudspeakers that broadcast songs with distinctive acoustic signatures. We used this technology to simulate vocal tutors in the wild and conducted year-long tutoring sessions to five cohorts of free-living migratory Savannah Sparrows in eastern Canada. We confirm that wild birds learn songs by listening to adult conspecific animals, and we show that they pass these songs on to subsequent generations.(...)

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5 octobre 2018

Conceptual and empirical advances in Neotropical biodiversity research [PeerJ]

The unparalleled biodiversity found in the American tropics (the Neotropics) has attracted the attention of naturalists for centuries. Despite major advances in recent years in our understanding of the origin and diversification of many Neotropical taxa and biotic regions, many questions remain to be answered. Additional biological and geological data are still needed, as well as methodological advances that are capable of bridging these research fields. In this review, aimed primarily at advanced students and early-career scientists, we introduce the concept of “trans-disciplinary biogeography,” which refers to the integration of data from multiple areas of research in biology (e.g., community ecology, phylogeography, systematics, historical biogeography) and Earth and the physical sciences (e.g., geology, climatology, palaeontology), as a means to reconstruct the giant puzzle of Neotropical biodiversity and evolution in space and time.(...)

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5 octobre 2018

Widespread seasonal compensation effects of spring warming on northern plant productivity [Nature]

Climate change is shifting the phenological cycles of plants, thereby altering the functioning of ecosystems, which in turn induces feedbacks to the climate system. In northern (north of 30° N) ecosystems, warmer springs lead generally to an earlier onset of the growing season and increased ecosystem productivity early in the season. In situ and regional studies also provide evidence for lagged effects of spring warmth on plant productivity during the subsequent summer and autumn. However, our current understanding of these lagged effects, including their direction (beneficial or adverse) and geographic distribution, is still very limited. Here we analyse satellite, field-based and modelled data for the period 1982–2011 and show that there are widespread and contrasting lagged productivity responses to spring warmth across northern ecosystems. On the basis of the observational data, we find that roughly 15 per cent of the total study area of about 41 million square kilometres exhibits adverse lagged effects and that roughly 5 per cent of the total study area exhibits beneficial lagged effects.(...)

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5 octobre 2018

Population genetic analysis of autophagy and phagocytosis genes in Drosophila melanogaster and D. simulans [PLOS One]

Subject areas : phagocytosis, Drosophila melanogaster, autophagic cell death, test statistics, Drosophila, evolutionary genetics, evolutionary immunology, evolutionary adaptation

Autophagy and phagocytosis are cellular immune mechanisms for internalization and elimination of intracellular and extracellular pathogens. Some pathogens have evolved the ability to inhibit or manipulate these processes, raising the prospect of adaptive reciprocal co-evolution by the host. We performed population genetic analyses on phagocytosis and autophagy genes in Drosophila melanogaster and D. simulans to test for molecular evolutionary signatures of immune adaptation.(...)

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