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2 mars 2017

Using species distribution models to locate animal aggregations : a case study with Hippodamia undecimnotata (Schneider) overwintering aggregation sites [Ecological Entomology]

Eline Susset, Alexandra Magro, Jean-Louis Hemptinne

1. The protection of animals’ aggregation sites is increasingly seen as a key conservation strategy. However, to efficiently protect aggregation sites, they need to be accurately located. Species distribution models (SDMs) are an important tool in biological conservation to predict spatial distribution of species and they are used here to predict the distribution of the aggregation sites of a ladybird (Coleoptera : Coccinellidae) species.
2. Hippodamia undecimnotata forms spectacular overwintering aggregations at the same locations every year across southern and eastern Europe. In this study, an SDM was developed and its performance tested for H. undecimnotata aggregations in southwest France. Moreover, the study looked at how environmental variables correlate with ladybirds’ abundance in the aggregation sites.(...)

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2 mars 2017

Spatial complementarity in tree crowns explains overyielding in species mixtures [Nature Ecology & Evolution]

Keywords : biodiversity, forestry

Deciphering the mechanisms that link biodiversity with ecosystem functions is critical to understanding the consequences of changes in biodiversity. The hypothesis that complementarity and selection effects drive relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem functions is well accepted, and an approach to statistically untangle the relative importance of these effects has been widely applied. In contrast, empirical demonstrations of the biological mechanisms that underlie these relationships remain rare. Here, on the basis of a field experiment with young trees, we provide evidence that one form of complementarity in plant communities—complementarity among crowns in canopy space—is a mechanism, related to light interception and use, that links biodiversity with ecosystem productivity.(...)

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1er mars 2017

On the functional extinction of the Passenger Pigeon [Conservation Biology]

Keywords : Ectopistes migratorius, functional extinction, museum specimens, North America, passenger pigeon, reproductive failure

The Passenger Pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) was a social breeder and it has been suggested that the species experienced functional extinction, defined as a total reproductive failure, prior to its actual extinction in the early years of the 20th century. Here, we apply a novel statistical method to a record of egg specimens and so-called skin specimens to test for functional extinction. The results indicate that the species did not become functionally extinct, suggesting that proposals to reverse its rapid decline in the late 19th century could have been successful.

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1er mars 2017

Prophage WO genes recapitulate and enhance Wolbachia-induced cytoplasmic incompatibility [Nature]

The genus Wolbachia is an archetype of maternally inherited intracellular bacteria that infect the germline of numerous invertebrate species worldwide. They can selfishly alter arthropod sex ratios and reproductive strategies to increase the proportion of the infected matriline in the population. The most common reproductive manipulation is cytoplasmic incompatibility, which results in embryonic lethality in crosses between infected males and uninfected females. Females infected with the same Wolbachia strain rescue this lethality. Despite more than 40 years of research and relevance to symbiont-induced speciation, as well as control of arbovirus vectors and agricultural pests, the bacterial genes underlying cytoplasmic incompatibility remain unknown.(...)

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1er mars 2017

Construction patterns of birds’ nests provide insight into nest-building behaviours [PeerJ]

Keywords :animal behavior, bioengineering, zoology

Previous studies have suggested that birds and mammals select materials needed for nest building based on their thermal or structural properties, although the amounts or properties of the materials used have been recorded for only a very small number of species. Some of the behaviours underlying the construction of nests can be indirectly determined by careful deconstruction of the structure and measurement of the biomechanical properties of the materials used. Here we examined this idea in an investigation of Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) nests as a model for open-nesting songbird species that construct a “twig” nest, and tested the hypothesis that materials in different parts of nests serve different functions.(...)

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