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31 mai 2018

Climate‐driven hydrological variability determines inter‐annual changes in stream invertebrate community assembly [Oïkos]

Keywords : β‐diversity, flow regime, macroinvertebrates, meta‐community, river network, temporal variability

Although flow regime is one of the major drivers of riverine communities, not much is known about how inter‐annual variability and extremes of flow influence community assembly mechanisms. We used data on benthic macroinvertebrates and modelled flow regimes in 23 near‐pristine boreal streams to assess how community assembly mechanisms and species occupancy varied in response to inter‐annual variability in flow conditions across 11 successive years encompassing extreme (both low and high) flow events. A null model approach was used to test whether deterministic or stochastic processes dominated community assembly and how much regional (among‐stream) flow variability contributed to community variability (β‐diversity).(...)

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28 mai 2018

β-Diversity, Community Assembly, and Ecosystem Functioning [Trends in Ecology & Evolution]

Keywords : biodiversity–ecosystem functioning, biotic homogenization, β-diversity, community assembly, deterministic processes, landscape configuration, spatial scaling, stochastic processes

Evidence is increasing for positive effects of α-diversity on ecosystem functioning. We highlight here the crucial role of β-diversity – a hitherto underexplored facet of biodiversity – for a better process-level understanding of biodiversity change and its consequences for ecosystems. A focus on β-diversity has the potential to improve predictions of natural and anthropogenic influences on diversity and ecosystem functioning. However, linking the causes and consequences of biodiversity change is complex because species assemblages in nature are shaped by many factors simultaneously, including disturbance, environmental heterogeneity, deterministic niche factors, and stochasticity. Because variability and change are ubiquitous in ecosystems, acknowledging these inherent properties of nature is an essential step for further advancing scientific knowledge of biodiversity–ecosystem functioning in theory and practice.

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28 mai 2018

Modern approaches to study plant–insect interactions in chemical ecology [Nature Reviews Chemistry]

Keywords : chemical ecology, metabolomics, natural product synthesis, plant ecology

Phytochemical variation among plant species is one of the most fascinating and perplexing features of the natural world and has implications for both human health and the functioning of ecosystems. A key area of research on phytochemical variation has focused on insects that feed on plants and the enormous diversity of plant-derived compounds that reduce or deter damage by insects. Empirical studies on the ecology and evolution of these chemically mediated plant–insect interactions have been guided by a long history of theoretical development. However, until recently, such theory was substantially limited by inadequate data, a situation that is rapidly changing as ecologists partner with chemists utilizing the latest technological advances. In this Review, we aim to facilitate the union of ecological theory with modern chemistry by discussing important theoretical frameworks for studying chemical ecology and outlining the steps by which hypotheses on insect–phytochemical interactions can be advanced using current methodologies and statistical approaches.(...)

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25 mai 2018

Inference of ecological and social drivers of human brain-size evolution [Nature]

Keywords : animal behaviour, biological anthropology, evolutionary theory, human behaviour, social evolution

The human brain is unusually large. It has tripled in size from Australopithecines to modern humans and has become almost six times larger than expected for a placental mammal of human size. Brains incur high metabolic costs and accordingly a long-standing question is why the large human brain has evolved. The leading hypotheses propose benefits of improved cognition for overcoming ecological, social or cultural challenges. However, these hypotheses are typically assessed using correlative analyses, and establishing causes for brain-size evolution remains difficult15,16. Here we introduce a metabolic approach that enables causal assessment of social hypotheses for brain-size evolution.(...)

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25 mai 2018

Physiology underlies the assembly of ecological communities [PNAS]

Keywords : odonata, activity rate, causality, animal personality, phenotype

Trait-based community ecology promises an understanding of the factors that determine species abundances and distributions across habitats. However, ecologists are often faced with large suites of potentially important traits, making generalizations across ecosystems and species difficult or even impossible. Here, we hypothesize that key traits structuring ecological communities may be causally dependent on common physiological mechanisms and that elucidating these mechanisms can help us understand the distributions of traits and species across habitats. We test this hypothesis by investigating putatively causal relationships between physiological and behavioral traits at the species and community levels in larvae of 17 species of dragonfly that co-occur at the landscape scale but segregate among lakes.(...)

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