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25 novembre 2016

Ten policies for pollinators [Science/Policy Forum]

Earlier this year, the first global thematic assessment from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) evaluated the state of knowledge about pollinators and pollination (1, 2). It confirmed evidence of large-scale wild pollinator declines in northwest Europe and North America and identified data shortfalls and an urgent need for monitoring elsewhere in the world. With high-level political commitments to support pollinators in the United States (3), the United Kingdom (4), and France (5) ; encouragement from the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD’s) scientific advice body (6) ; and the issue on the agenda for next month’s Conference of the Parties to the CBD, we see a chance for global-scale policy change.(...)

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25 novembre 2016

Obligate plant farming by a specialized ant [Nature Plants]

Keywords : behavioural ecology, tropical ecology

Many epiphytic plants have associated with ants to gain nutrients. Here, we report a novel type of ant–plant symbiosis in Fiji where one ant species actively and exclusively plants the seeds and fertilizes the seedlings of six species of Squamellaria (Rubiaceae). Comparison with related facultative ant plants suggests that such farming plays a key role in mutualism stability by mitigating the critical re-establishment step.(...)

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24 novembre 2016

Invasion Biology : Specific Problems and Possible Solutions [Trends in Ecology & Evolution/Opinion]

Franck Courchamp et al.

Biological invasions have been unambiguously shown to be one of the major global causes of biodiversity loss. Despite the magnitude of this threat and recent scientific advances, this field remains a regular target of criticism – from outright deniers of the threat to scientists questioning the utility of the discipline. This unique situation, combining internal strife and an unaware society, greatly hinders the progress of invasion biology. It is crucial to identify the specificities of this discipline that lead to such difficulties. We outline here 24 specificities and problems of this discipline and categorize them into four groups : understanding, alerting, supporting, and implementing the issues associated with invasive alien species, and we offer solutions to tackle these problems and push the field forward.

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24 novembre 2016

Chemical antipredator defence is linked to higher extinction risk [Royal Society Open Science]

Keywords : conservation status, antipredator mechanisms, evolutionary ecology, biodiversity, phylogenetic comparative methods

Many attributes of species may be linked to contemporary extinction risk, though some such traits remain untested despite suggestions that they may be important. Here, I test whether a trait associated with higher background extinction rates, chemical antipredator defence, is also associated with current extinction risk, using amphibians as a model system—a group facing global population declines. I find that chemically defended species are approximately 60% more likely to be threatened than species without chemical defence, although the severity of the contemporary extinction risk may not relate to chemical defence. The results confirm that background and contemporary extinction rates can be predicted from the same traits, at least in certain cases. This suggests that associations between extinction risk and phenotypic traits can be temporally stable over long periods. The results also provide novel insights into the relevance of antipredator defences for species subject to conservation concerns.

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24 novembre 2016

Unexpected diversity in socially synchronized rhythms of shorebirds [Nature/Letter]

The behavioural rhythms of organisms are thought to be under strong selection, influenced by the rhythmicity of the environment. Such behavioural rhythms are well studied in isolated individuals under laboratory conditions, but free-living individuals have to temporally synchronize their activities with those of others, including potential mates, competitors, prey and predators. Individuals can temporally segregate their daily activities (for example, prey avoiding predators, subordinates avoiding dominants) or synchronize their activities (for example, group foraging, communal defence, pairs reproducing or caring for offspring). The behavioural rhythms that emerge from such social synchronization and the underlying evolutionary and ecological drivers that shape them remain poorly understood5. Here we investigate these rhythms in the context of biparental care, a particularly sensitive phase of social synchronization12 where pair members potentially compromise their individual rhythms.(...)

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