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25 octobre 2017

Unsolved mysteries : Magnetoreception - A sense without a receptor [PLOS Biology]

Subject Areas : magnetic fields, electromagnetics, animal navigation, magnetoreception, magnetite, animal migration, animal behavior, crystals

Evolution has equipped life on our planet with an array of extraordinary senses, but perhaps the least understood is magnetoreception. Despite compelling behavioral evidence that this sense exists, the cells, molecules, and mechanisms that mediate sensory transduction remain unknown. So how could animals detect magnetic fields ? We introduce and discuss 3 concepts that attempt to address this question : (1) a mechanically sensitive magnetite-based magnetoreceptor, (2) a light-sensitive chemical-based mechanism, and (3) electromagnetic induction within accessory structures. In discussing the merits and issues with each of these ideas, we draw on existing precepts in sensory biology. We argue that solving this scientific mystery will require the development of new genetic tools in magnetosensitive species, coupled with an interdisciplinary approach that bridges physics, behavior, anatomy, physiology, molecular biology, and genetics.

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25 octobre 2017

Variation and functional impact of Neanderthal ancestry in Western Asia [Genome Biology and Evolution]

Neanderthals contributed genetic material to modern humans via multiple admixture events. Initial admixture events presumably occurred in Western Asia shortly after humans migrated out-of-Africa. Despite being a focal point of admixture, earlier studies indicate lower Neanderthal introgression rates in some Western Asian populations as compared to other Eurasian populations. To better understand the genome-wide and phenotypic impact of Neanderthal introgression in the region, we sequenced whole genomes of 10 present-day Europeans, Africans, and the Western Asian Druze at high depth, and analyzed available whole genome data from various other populations, including 16 genomes from present-day Turkey.(...)

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25 octobre 2017

Insect elevational specialization in a tropical biodiversity hotspot [Insect Conservation & Diversity]

Keywords : altitudinal range, climate change, elevational specialisation, extinction risk, range shifting, tropical insects, tropical rainforest

1.Tropical montane organisms are vulnerable to climate change because of elevational specialisation, but little is known of the variability in elevational specialisation across tropical insects.
2.We assessed elevational specialisation across several insect taxa comprising four trophic groups 80–2263 m up an elevational transect in Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest, using community-based and species-based approaches.
3.We sampled 697 species, of which 32% were found only in the top and 45% only in the bottom half of the transect.(...)

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25 octobre 2017

Genomic Quantitative Genetics to Study Evolution in the Wild [Trends in Ecology & Evolution]

Quantitative genetic theory provides a means of estimating the evolutionary potential of natural populations. However, this approach was previously only feasible in systems where the genetic relatedness between individuals could be inferred from pedigrees or experimental crosses. The genomic revolution opened up the possibility of obtaining the realized proportion of genome shared among individuals in natural populations of virtually any species, which could promise (more) accurate estimates of quantitative genetic parameters in virtually any species. Such a ‘genomic’ quantitative genetics approach relies on fewer assumptions, offers a greater methodological flexibility, and is thus expected to greatly enhance our understanding of evolution in natural populations, for example, in the context of adaptation to environmental change, eco-evolutionary dynamics, and biodiversity conservation.

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24 octobre 2017

European butterfly populations vary in sensitivity to weather across their geographical ranges [Global Ecology & Biogeography]

Keywords : adaptation, biogeography, climate, climate change, density dependence, long-term monitoring, population dynamics, population growth, range edge

The aim was to assess the sensitivity of butterfly population dynamics to variation in weather conditions across their geographical ranges, relative to sensitivity to density dependence, and determine whether sensitivity is greater towards latitudinal range margins.
We use long-term (35 years) butterfly monitoring data from > 900 sites, ranging from Finland to Spain, grouping sites into 2° latitudinal bands. For 12 univoltine butterfly species with sufficient data from at least four bands, we construct population growth rate models that include density dependence, temperature and precipitation during distinct life-cycle periods, defined to accommodate regional variation in phenology. We use partial R2 values as indicators of butterfly population dynamics’ sensitivity to weather and density dependence, and assess how these vary with latitudinal position within a species’ distribution.(...)

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