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2 février 2017

Climate change reduces extent of temperate drylands and intensifies drought in deep soils [Nature Communications]

Keywords : climate-change ecology, climate-change impacts, ecological modelling

Drylands cover 40% of the global terrestrial surface and provide important ecosystem services. While drylands as a whole are expected to increase in extent and aridity in coming decades, temperature and precipitation forecasts vary by latitude and geographic region suggesting different trajectories for tropical, subtropical, and temperate drylands. Uncertainty in the future of tropical and subtropical drylands is well constrained, whereas soil moisture and ecological droughts, which drive vegetation productivity and composition, remain poorly understood in temperate drylands. Here we show that, over the twenty first century, temperate drylands may contract by a third, primarily converting to subtropical drylands, and that deep soil layers could be increasingly dry during the growing season. These changes imply major shifts in vegetation and ecosystem service delivery. Our results illustrate the importance of appropriate drought measures and, as a global study that focuses on temperate drylands, highlight a distinct fate for these highly populated areas.

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2 février 2017

Functional consequences of plant-animal interactions along the mutualism-antagonism gradient [Ecology]

Keywords : antagonist, bird pollination, Canary Islands, female reproductive success, individual-based pollination networks, interaction strength, isoplexis canariensis, mating network, mutualist

Plant-animal interactions are pivotal for ecosystem functioning, and usually form complex networks involving multiple species of mutualists as well as antagonists. The costs and benefits of these interactions show a strong context-dependency directly related to individual variation in partner identity and differential strength. Yet understanding the context-dependency and functional consequences of mutualistic and antagonistic interactions on individuals remains a lasting challenge. We use a network approach to characterize the individual, plant-based pollination interaction networks of the Canarian Isoplexis canariensis (Plantaginaceae) with a mixed assemblage of vertebrate mutualists (birds and lizards) and invertebrate antagonists (florivores, nectar larcenists, and predispersal seed predators).(...)

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1er février 2017

Effects of amphibian phylogeny, climate and human impact on the occurrence of the amphibian-killing chytrid fungus [Global Change Biology]

Keywords : amphibian population declines, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, Chile, chytrid fungus, chytridiomycosis, emerging infectious diseases

Chytridiomycosis, due to the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), has been associated with the alarming decline and extinction crisis of amphibians worldwide. Because conservation programs are implemented locally, it is essential to understand how the complex interactions among host species, climate and human activities contribute to Bd occurrence at regional scales. Using weighted phylogenetic regressions and model selection, we investigated geographic patterns of Bd occurrence along a latitudinal gradient of 1500 km within a biodiversity hot spot in Chile (1845 individuals sampled from 253 sites and representing 24 species), and its association with climatic, socio-demographic and economic variables.(...)

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1er février 2017

Infection reduces anti-predator behaviors in house finches [Journal of Avian Biology]

Infectious diseases can cause host mortality through direct or indirect mechanisms, including altered behavior. Diminished anti-predator behavior is among the most-studied causes of indirect mortality during infection, particularly for systems in which a parasite’s life-cycle requires transmission from prey to predator. Significantly less work has examined whether directly-transmitted parasites and pathogens also reduce anti-predator behaviors. Here we test whether the directly-transmitted bacterial pathogen, Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG), reduces responses to predation-related stimuli in house finches Haemorhous mexicanus.(...)

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1er février 2017

The Repeated Evolution of Behavior [Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution]

A major tool in the evolutionary biologist’s kit is to study the repeated emergence of certain biological traits. Employment of this tool has allowed substantial recent advances to be made in understanding the adaptive molecular basis of certain key biological traits. However, behavior, one life’s most pervasive, and complex traits, is not one. Here we review the concepts of repeated evolution and how they apply to behavior. We assess the distribution and evolutionary dynamics of known cases of repeated behavioral evolution and examine their prospects for success in identifying the genetic and mechanistic bases of behavior. We propose that studying adaptive radiations, such as that seen amongst the cichlids of Lake Malawi, will likely yield results quickly due to the tractability of genetic and comparative analyses(...)

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