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Ecology and Evolution

Robert S C Cooke, Tim Woodfine, Marie Petretto, Thomas H G Ezard
Herbivores are major drivers of ecosystem structure, diversity, and function. Resilient ecosystems therefore require viable herbivore populations in a sustainable balance with environmental resource availability. This balance is becoming harder to achieve, with increasingly threatened species reliant on small protected areas in increasingly harsh and unpredictable environments. Arid environments in North Africa exemplify this situation, featuring a biologically distinct species assemblage exposed to extreme and volatile conditions, including habitat loss and climate change-associated threats...
September 2016: Ecology and Evolution
(no author information available yet)
[This corrects the article DOI: 10.1002/ece3.1892.].
September 2016: Ecology and Evolution
Casey Visintin, Rodney van der Ree, Michael A McCarthy
Collisions of vehicles with wildlife kill and injure animals and are also a risk to vehicle occupants, but preventing these collisions is challenging. Surveys to identify problem areas are expensive and logistically difficult. Computer modeling has identified correlates of collisions, yet these can be difficult for managers to interpret in a way that will help them reduce collision risk. We introduce a novel method to predict collision risk by modeling hazard (presence and movement of vehicles) and exposure (animal presence) across geographic space...
September 2016: Ecology and Evolution
Kaitlin U Campbell, Thomas O Crist
Host-associated organisms (e.g., parasites, commensals, and mutualists) may rely on their hosts for only a portion of their life cycle. The life-history traits and physiology of hosts are well-known determinants of the biodiversity of their associated organisms. The environmental context may strongly influence this interaction, but the relative roles of host traits and the environment are poorly known for host-associated communities. We studied the roles of host traits and environmental characteristics affecting ant-associated mites in semi-natural constructed grasslands in agricultural landscapes of the Midwest USA...
September 2016: Ecology and Evolution
Elizabeth M Kierepka, Sara J Anderson, Robert K Swihart, Olin E Rhodes
Conversion of formerly continuous native habitats into highly fragmented landscapes can lead to numerous negative demographic and genetic impacts on native taxa that ultimately reduce population viability. In response to concerns over biodiversity loss, numerous investigators have proposed that traits such as body size and ecological specialization influence the sensitivity of species to habitat fragmentation. In this study, we examined how differences in body size and ecological specialization of two rodents (eastern chipmunk; Tamias striatus and white-footed mouse; Peromyscus leucopus) impact their genetic connectivity within the highly fragmented landscape of the Upper Wabash River Basin (UWB), Indiana, and evaluated whether landscape configuration and complexity influenced patterns of genetic structure similarly between these two species...
September 2016: Ecology and Evolution
Christa M Burstahler, James D Roth, Robert J Gau, Dennis L Murray
Population dynamics of specialist carnivores are closely linked to prey availability, but the extent of variability in diet breadth of individual carnivores relative to natural variability in the abundance of their primary prey is not well understood. Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) specialize on snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) and exhibit cyclic fluctuations in abundance that lag 1-2 years behind those of snowshoe hares. Declining hare densities spur demographic changes in lynx, but it is unclear whether a corresponding increase in diet breadth occurs: (1) broadly across a lynx population; (2) only among individuals who are able to effectively switch to alternative prey; or (3) only among individuals who cannot capture sufficient primary prey...
September 2016: Ecology and Evolution
Karen M Alofs
Species trait data have been used to predict and infer ecological processes and the responses of biological communities to environmental changes. It has also been suggested that, in lieu of trait, data niche differences can be inferred from phylogenetic distance. It remains unclear how variation in trait data may influence the strength and character of ecological inference. Using species-level trait data in community ecology assumes intraspecific variation is small in comparison with interspecific variation...
September 2016: Ecology and Evolution
Larry J Leamy, Cheng-Ruei Lee, Qijian Song, Ibro Mujacic, Yan Luo, Charles Y Chen, Changbao Li, Susanne Kjemtrup, Bao-Hua Song
A fundamental goal in evolutionary biology is to understand how various evolutionary factors interact to affect the population structure of diverse species, especially those of ecological and/or agricultural importance such as wild soybean (Glycine soja). G. soja, from which domesticated soybeans (Glycine max) were derived, is widely distributed throughout diverse habitats in East Asia (Russia, Japan, Korea, and China). Here, we utilize over 39,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms genotyped in 99 ecotypes of wild soybean sampled across their native geographic range in northeast Asia, to understand population structure and the relative contribution of environment versus geography to population differentiation in this species...
September 2016: Ecology and Evolution
Nicolas Mariette, Annabelle Androdias, Romain Mabon, Roselyne Corbière, Bruno Marquer, Josselin Montarry, Didier Andrivon
Environmental factors such as temperature strongly impact microbial communities. In the current context of global warming, it is therefore crucial to understand the effects of these factors on human, animal, or plant pathogens. Here, we used a common-garden experiment to analyze the thermal responses of three life-history traits (latent period, lesion growth, spore number) in isolates of the potato late blight pathogen Phytophthora infestans from different climatic zones. We also used a fitness index (FI) aggregating these traits into a single parameter...
September 2016: Ecology and Evolution
Stephen J Murphy, Kaiyang Xu, Liza S Comita
Insect herbivores can serve as important regulators of plant dynamics, but their impacts in temperate forest understories have received minimal attention at local scales. Here, we test several related hypotheses about the influence of plant neighborhood composition on insect leaf damage in southwestern Pennsylvania, USA. Using data on seedlings and adult trees sampled at 36 sites over an approximately 900 ha area, we tested for the effects of total plant density, rarefied species richness (i.e., resource concentration and dietary-mixing hypotheses), conspecific density (i...
September 2016: Ecology and Evolution
Franz W Simon, Christina N Hodson, Bernard D Roitberg
Plants make foraging decisions that are dependent on ecological conditions, such as resource availability and distribution. Despite the field of plant behavioral ecology gaining momentum, ecologists still know little about what factors impact plant behavior, especially light-foraging behavior. We made use of the behavioral reaction norm approach to investigate light foraging in a plant species that exhibits rapid movement: Mimosa pudica. We explored how herbivore avoidance behavior in M. pudica (which closes its leaflets temporarily when disturbed) is affected by an individual's energy state and the quality of the current environment and also repeatedly tested the behavior of individuals from two seed sources to determine whether individuals exhibit a "personality" (i...
September 2016: Ecology and Evolution
Philip D Batista, Jasmine K Janes, Celia K Boone, Brent W Murray, Felix A H Sperling
Assessments of population genetic structure and demographic history have traditionally been based on neutral markers while explicitly excluding adaptive markers. In this study, we compared the utility of putatively adaptive and neutral single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for inferring mountain pine beetle population structure across its geographic range. Both adaptive and neutral SNPs, and their combination, allowed range-wide structure to be distinguished and delimited a population that has recently undergone range expansion across northern British Columbia and Alberta...
September 2016: Ecology and Evolution
Jelena Bujan, Stephen P Yanoviak, Michael Kaspari
Desiccation resistance, the ability of an organism to reduce water loss, is an essential trait in arid habitats. Drought frequency in tropical regions is predicted to increase with climate change, and small ectotherms are often under a strong desiccation risk. We tested hypotheses regarding the underexplored desiccation potential of tropical insects. We measured desiccation resistance in 82 ant species from a Panama rainforest by recording the time ants can survive desiccation stress. Species' desiccation resistance ranged from 0...
September 2016: Ecology and Evolution
Argo Ronk, Francesco de Bello, Pavel Fibich, Meelis Pärtel
Large-scale biodiversity studies can be more informative if observed diversity in a study site is accompanied by dark diversity, the set of absent although ecologically suitable species. Dark diversity methodology is still being developed and a comparison of different approaches is needed. We used plant data at two different scales (European and seven large regions) and compared dark diversity estimates from two mathematical methods: species co-occurrence (SCO) and species distribution modeling (SDM). We used plant distribution data from the Atlas Florae Europaeae (50 × 50 km grid cells) and seven different European regions (10 × 10 km grid cells)...
September 2016: Ecology and Evolution
Tiiu Kull, Ulvi Selgis, Miguel Villoslada Peciña, Mirjam Metsare, Aigi Ilves, Kadri Tali, Kalev Sepp, Kalevi Kull, Richard P Shefferson
The red list has become a ubiquitous tool in the conservation of species. We analyzed contemporary trends in the threat levels of European orchids, in total 166 species characterized in 27 national red lists, in relation to their reproductive biology and growth form, distribution area, and land cover where they occur. We found that species in central Europe are more threatened than those in the northern, southern, or Atlantic parts of Europe, while species were least threatened in southern Europe. Nectarless and tuberous species are significantly more threatened than nectariferous and rhizomatous taxa...
September 2016: Ecology and Evolution
Barbara Keller, Jurriaan M de Vos, Alexander N Schmidt-Lebuhn, James D Thomson, Elena Conti
The interaction between floral traits and reproductive isolation is crucial to explaining the extraordinary diversity of angiosperms. Heterostyly, a complex floral polymorphism that optimizes outcrossing, evolved repeatedly and has been shown to accelerate diversification in primroses, yet its potential influence on isolating mechanisms remains unexplored. Furthermore, the relative contribution of pre- versus postmating barriers to reproductive isolation is still debated. No experimental study has yet evaluated the possible effects of heterostyly on pre- and postmating reproductive mechanisms...
September 2016: Ecology and Evolution
Oliver P Dewhirst, Hannah K Evans, Kyle Roskilly, Richard J Harvey, Tatjana Y Hubel, Alan M Wilson
Route taken and distance travelled are important parameters for studies of animal locomotion. They are often measured using a collar equipped with GPS. Collar weight restrictions limit battery size, which leads to a compromise between collar operating life and GPS fix rate. In studies that rely on linear interpolation between intermittent GPS fixes, path tortuosity will often lead to inaccurate path and distance travelled estimates. Here, we investigate whether GPS-corrected dead reckoning can improve the accuracy of localization and distance travelled estimates while maximizing collar operating life...
September 2016: Ecology and Evolution
Jon Loman
Frog breeding phenology in temperate zones is usually compared to progress of spring temperatures at a regional scale. However, local populations may differ substantially in phenology. To understand this, local climate and other aspects must be studied. In this study, breeding phenology of the common frog, Rana temporaria, in a set of ponds in southern Sweden is analyzed. There was within year a variation of up to 3 weeks in start of breeding among local populations. Water temperature was measured in the ponds, and breeding tended to be earlier in warmer ponds (surprise!)...
September 2016: Ecology and Evolution
Yasuko Ishida, Peter J Van Coeverden de Groot, Keith E A Leggett, Andrea S Putnam, Virginia E Fox, Jesse Lai, Peter T Boag, Nicholas J Georgiadis, Alfred L Roca
Locally isolated populations in marginal habitats may be genetically distinctive and of heightened conservation concern. Elephants inhabiting the Namib Desert have been reported to show distinctive behavioral and phenotypic adaptations in that severely arid environment. The genetic distinctiveness of Namibian desert elephants relative to other African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) populations has not been established. To investigate the genetic structure of elephants in Namibia, we determined the mitochondrial (mt) DNA control region sequences and genotyped 17 microsatellite loci in desert elephants (n = 8) from the Hoanib River catchment and the Hoarusib River catchment...
September 2016: Ecology and Evolution
Colin Campbell, Laura Russo, Alessandra Marins, Og DeSouza, Karsten Schönrogge, David Mortensen, John Tooker, Réka Albert, Katriona Shea
The analysis of ecological networks is generally bottom-up, where networks are established by observing interactions between individuals. Emergent network properties have been indicated to reflect the dominant mode of interactions in communities that might be mutualistic (e.g., pollination) or antagonistic (e.g., host-parasitoid communities). Many ecological communities, however, comprise species interactions that are difficult to observe directly. Here, we propose that a comparison of the emergent properties from detail-rich reference communities with known modes of interaction can inform our understanding of detail-sparse focal communities...
September 2016: Ecology and Evolution
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