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23 mars 2017

Hydrologic refugia, plants, and climate change [Global Change Biology]

Keywords : climate change, conservation, fog, groundwater, hydrologic niche, hydrologic refugia, microrefugia, refugia

Climate, physical landscapes, and biota interact to generate heterogeneous hydrologic conditions in space and over time, which are reflected in spatial patterns of species distributions. As these species distributions respond to rapid climate change, microrefugia may support local species persistence in the face of deteriorating climatic suitability. Recent focus on temperature as a determinant of microrefugia insufficiently accounts for the importance of hydrologic processes and changing water availability with changing climate. Where water scarcity is a major limitation now or under future climates, hydrologic microrefugia are likely to prove essential for species persistence, particularly for sessile species and plants.(...)

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23 mars 2017

Relationships between individual movement, trophic position and growth of juvenile pike (Esox lucius) [Ecology of Freshwater Fish]

Author of EDB : Julien Cucherousset

Variation in movement between individuals can have important ecological effects on populations and ecosystems, yet the factors driving differences in movement and their consequences remain poorly understood. Here, individual variability in the movements of juvenile (age 0 + and 1 + year) pike Esox lucius was assessed using passive integrated transponder (PIT) telemetry in off-channel nursery areas over a 26- month period. Differences in the movement patterns of individuals were tested against their body sizes, ages, growth rates and trophic positions using data collected through a combination of catch-and-release sampling and stable isotope analyses.(...)

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23 mars 2017

Neogene amphibians and reptiles (Caudata, Anura, Gekkota, Lacertilia, and Testudines) from the south of Western Siberia, Russia, and Northeastern Kazakhstan [PeerJ]

Keywords : biodiversity, biogeography, paleontology, taxonomy, zoology

The present-day amphibian and reptile fauna of Western Siberia are the least diverse of the Palaearctic Realm, as a consequence of the unfavourable climatic conditions that predominate in this region. The origin and emergence of these herpetofaunal groups are poorly understood. Aside from the better-explored European Neogene localities yielding amphibian and reptile fossil remains, the Neogene herpetofauna of Western Asia is understudied. The few available data need critical reviews and new interpretations, taking into account the more recent records of the European herpetofauna.(...)

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22 mars 2017

Does the morphological fit between flowers and pollinators affect pollen deposition ? An experimental test in a buzz-pollinated species with anther dimorphism [Ecology and Evolution]

Keywords : Bombus terrestris, herkogamy, pollen deposition, pollinator size, Solanum rostratum

Some pollination systems, such as buzz-pollination, are associated with floral morphologies that require a close physical interaction between floral sexual organs and insect visitors. In these systems, a pollinator’s size relative to the flower may be an important feature determining whether the visitor touches both male and female sexual organs and thus transfers pollen between plants efficiently. To date, few studies have addressed whether in fact the “fit” between flower and pollinator influences pollen transfer, particularly among buzz-pollinated species. Here we use Solanum rostratum, a buzz-pollinated plant with dimorphic anthers and mirror-image flowers, to investigate whether the morphological fit between the pollinator’s body and floral morphology influences pollen deposition.(...)

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21 mars 2017

Walking and talking the tree of life : Why and how to teach about biodiversity [PLOS Biology]

Keywords : biodiversity, textbooks, schools, phylogenetic analysis, animal phylogenetics, human learning, universities, taxonomy

Taxonomic details of diversity are an essential scaffolding for biology education, yet outdated methods for teaching the tree of life (TOL), as implied by textbook content and usage, are still commonly employed. Here, we show that the traditional approach only vaguely represents evolutionary relationships, fails to denote major events in the history of life, and relies heavily on memorizing near-meaningless taxonomic ranks. Conversely, a clade-based strategy—focused on common ancestry, monophyletic groups, and derived functional traits—is explicitly based on Darwin’s “descent with modification,” provides students with a rational system for organizing the details of biodiversity, and readily lends itself to active learning techniques. We advocate for a phylogenetic classification that mirrors the TOL, a pedagogical format of increasingly complex but always hierarchical presentations, and the adoption of active learning technologies and tactics.

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