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1er février 2017

The Repeated Evolution of Behavior [Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution]

A major tool in the evolutionary biologist’s kit is to study the repeated emergence of certain biological traits. Employment of this tool has allowed substantial recent advances to be made in understanding the adaptive molecular basis of certain key biological traits. However, behavior, one life’s most pervasive, and complex traits, is not one. Here we review the concepts of repeated evolution and how they apply to behavior. We assess the distribution and evolutionary dynamics of known cases of repeated behavioral evolution and examine their prospects for success in identifying the genetic and mechanistic bases of behavior. We propose that studying adaptive radiations, such as that seen amongst the cichlids of Lake Malawi, will likely yield results quickly due to the tractability of genetic and comparative analyses(...)

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31 janvier 2017

Convergent recombination suppression suggests role of sexual selection in guppy sex chromosome formation [Nature Communications]

Keywords : evolutionary genetics, genetic variation, sexual selection

Sex chromosomes evolve once recombination is halted between a homologous pair of chromosomes. The dominant model of sex chromosome evolution posits that recombination is suppressed between emerging X and Y chromosomes in order to resolve sexual conflict. Here we test this model using whole genome and transcriptome resequencing data in the guppy, a model for sexual selection with many Y-linked colour traits.(...)

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31 janvier 2017

Setting temporal baselines for biodiversity : the limits of available monitoring data for capturing the full impact of anthropogenic pressures [Scientific Reports]

Keywords : conservation biology, ecology

Temporal baselines are needed for biodiversity, in order for the change in biodiversity to be measured over time, the targets for biodiversity conservation to be defined and conservation progress to be evaluated. Limited biodiversity information is widely recognized as a major barrier for identifying temporal baselines, although a comprehensive quantitative assessment of this is lacking. Here, we report on the temporal baselines that could be drawn from biodiversity monitoring schemes in Europe and compare those with the rise of important anthropogenic pressures. Most biodiversity monitoring schemes were initiated late in the 20th century, well after anthropogenic pressures had already reached half of their current magnitude.(...)

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31 janvier 2017

Ecosystem restoration strengthens pollination network resilience and function [Nature]

Land degradation results in declining biodiversity and the disruption of ecosystem functioning worldwide, particularly in the tropics. Vegetation restoration is a common tool used to mitigate these impacts and increasingly aims to restore ecosystem functions rather than species diversity. However, evidence from community experiments on the effect of restoration practices on ecosystem functions is scarce. Pollination is an important ecosystem function and the global decline in pollinators attenuates the resistance of natural areas and agro-environments to disturbances. Thus, the ability of pollination functions to resist or recover from disturbance (that is, the functional resilience) may be critical for ensuring a successful restoration process. Here we report the use of a community field experiment to investigate the effects of vegetation restoration, specifically the removal of exotic shrubs, on pollination. We analyse 64 plant–pollinator networks and the reproductive performance of the ten most abundant plant species across four restored and four unrestored, disturbed mountaintop communities.(...)

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31 janvier 2017

Complex modular architecture around a simple toolkit of wing pattern genes [Nature Ecology & Evolution]

Keywords : comparative, genomics, evolutionary genetics, mimicry

Identifying the genomic changes that control morphological variation and understanding how they generate diversity is a major goal of evolutionary biology. In Heliconius butterflies, a small number of genes control the development of diverse wing colour patterns. Here, we used full-genome sequencing of individuals across the Heliconius erato radiation and closely related species to characterize genomic variation associated with wing pattern diversity. We show that variation around colour pattern genes is highly modular, with narrow genomic intervals associated with specific differences in colour and pattern. This modular architecture explains the diversity of colour patterns and provides a flexible mechanism for rapid morphological diversification.(...)

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