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26 mars 2018

Urban blackbirds have shorter telomeres [Biology Letters]

Keywords : birds, human-induced environmental change, telomeres, urbanization

Urbanization, one of the most extreme human-induced environmental changes, represents a major challenge for many organisms. Anthropogenic habitats can have opposing effects on different fitness components, for example, by decreasing starvation risk but also health status. Assessment of the net fitness effect of anthropogenic habitats is therefore difficult. Telomere length is associated with phenotypic quality and mortality rate in many species, and the rate of telomere shortening is considered an integrative measure of the ‘life stress’ experienced by an individual. This makes telomere length a promising candidate for examining the effects of urbanization on the health status of individuals.(...)

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26 mars 2018

Red operculum spots, body size, maturation and evidence for a satellite male phenotype in non‐native European populations of pumpkinseed Lepomis gibbosus [Ecology of Freshwater Fish]

Julien Cucherousset

Carotenoid‐based pigmentation is a striking feature of many taxa, yet the function, if any, of colour traits is often unclear. Pumpkinseed Lepomis gibbosus, a widely introduced freshwater sunfish that exhibits alternative male mating strategies, express a striking, red operculum spot. To investigate the potential function of this red spot as a signal in this species’ mating system, we determined the presence and measured the size of red operculum spots in fish collected from 12 populations in five European countries in which pumpkinseed is an established non‐native species. We subsequently related the presence and size of the red spot to body size and mating strategy, based on an analysis of relative gonad size (gonado‐somatic index, GSI), using a mixed modelling approach.(...)

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23 mars 2018

Neighbourhood interactions drive overyielding in mixed-species tree communities [Nature Communications]

Keywords : biodiversity, community ecology, forest ecology

Theory suggests that plant interactions at the neighbourhood scale play a fundamental role in regulating biodiversity–productivity relationships (BPRs) in tree communities. However, empirical evidence of this prediction is rare, as little is known about how neighbourhood interactions scale up to influence community BPRs. Here, using a biodiversity–ecosystem functioning experiment, we provide insights into processes underlying BPRs by demonstrating that diversity-mediated interactions among local neighbours are a strong regulator of productivity in species mixtures.(...)

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22 mars 2018

Shifts in tree functional composition amplify the response of forest biomass to climate [Nature]

Keywords : climate-change ecology, forest ecology

Forests have a key role in global ecosystems, hosting much of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity and acting as a net sink for atmospheric carbon. These and other ecosystem services that are provided by forests may be sensitive to climate change as well as climate variability on shorter time scales (for example, annual to decadal). Previous studies have documented responses of forest ecosystems to climate change and climate variability, including drought-induced increases in tree mortality rates. However, relationships between forest biomass, tree species composition and climate variability have not been quantified across a large region using systematically sampled data. Here we use systematic forest inventories from the 1980s and 2000s across the eastern USA to show that forest biomass responds to decadal-scale changes in water deficit, and that this biomass response is amplified by concurrent changes in community-mean drought tolerance, a functionally important aspect of tree species composition.(...)

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21 mars 2018

The ecology of insect–yeast relationships and its relevance to human industry [Proceedings of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences]

Keywords : diffuse mutualism, dispersal, Ascomycota

Many species of yeast are integral to human society. They produce many of our foods, beverages and industrial chemicals, challenge us as pathogens, and provide models for the study of our own biology. However, few species are regularly studied and much of their ecology remains unclear, hindering the development of knowledge that is needed to improve the relationships between humans and yeasts. There is increasing evidence that insects are an essential component of ascomycetous yeast ecology.(...)

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