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27 octobre 2016

Social costs enforce honesty of a dynamic signal of motivation [Royal Society Open Science]

Keywords : signalling, communication, colour, conventional signals, chameleons, physiological colour change

Understanding the processes that promote signal reliability may provide important insights into the evolution of diverse signalling strategies among species. The signals that animals use to communicate must comprise mechanisms that prohibit or punish dishonesty, and social costs of dishonesty have been demonstrated for several fixed morphological signals (e.g. colour badges of birds and wasps). The costs maintaining the honesty of dynamic signals, which are more flexible and potentially cheatable, are unknown. Using an experimental manipulation of the dynamic visual signals used by male veiled chameleons (Chamaeleo calyptratus) during aggressive interactions, we tested the idea that the honesty of rapid colour change signals is maintained by social costs.(...)

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27 octobre 2016

Climatic warming destabilizes forest ant communities [Science Advances]

Keywords : climate change, community ecology, dynamical stability, experimental warming, temperature, species, interactions, ants, forest

How will ecological communities change in response to climate warming ? Direct effects of temperature and indirect cascading effects of species interactions are already altering the structure of local communities, but the dynamics of community change are still poorly understood. We explore the cumulative effects of warming on the dynamics and turnover of forest ant communities that were warmed as part of a 5-year climate manipulation experiment at two sites in eastern North America.(...)

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27 octobre 2016

Plant-mycorrhizal interactions mediate plant community coexistence by altering resource demand [Ecology]

Keywords : coexistence, mycorrhizae, resource ratio theory, resource competition, soil, plant-soil feedback, R* model

As the diversity of plants increases in an ecosystem, so does resource competition for soil nutrients, a process that mycorrhizal fungi can mediate. The influence of mycorrhizal fungi on plant biodiversity likely depends on the strength of the symbiosis between the plant and fungi, the differential plant growth responses to mycorrhizal inoculation, and the transfer rate of nutrients from the fungus to plant. However, our current understanding of how nutrient-plant-mycorrhizal interactions influence plant coexistence is conceptual and thus lacks a unified quantitative framework.(...)

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27 octobre 2016

Elemental characterisation of melanin in feathers via synchrotron X-ray imaging and absorption spectroscopy [Scientific Reports]

Keywords : analytical chemistry, biochemistry

Melanin is a critical component of biological systems, but the exact chemistry of melanin is still imprecisely known. This is partly due to melanin’s complex heterogeneous nature and partly because many studies use synthetic analogues and/or pigments extracted from their natural biological setting, which may display important differences from endogenous pigments. Here we demonstrate how synchrotron X-ray analyses can non-destructively characterise the elements associated with melanin pigment in situ within extant feathers. Elemental imaging shows that the distributions of Ca, Cu and Zn are almost exclusively controlled by melanin pigment distribution.(...)

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25 octobre 2016

Thousands of microbial genomes shed light on interconnected biogeochemical processes in an aquifer system [Nature communications]

Keywords : element cycles, metagenomics, microbial ecology

The subterranean world hosts up to one-fifth of all biomass, including microbial communities that drive transformations central to Earth’s biogeochemical cycles. However, little is known about how complex microbial communities in such environments are structured, and how inter-organism interactions shape ecosystem function. Here we apply terabase-scale cultivation-independent metagenomics to aquifer sediments and groundwater, and reconstruct 2,540 draft-quality, near-complete and complete strain-resolved genomes that represent the majority of known bacterial phyla as well as 47 newly discovered phylum-level lineages.(...)

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