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Article Reference Direct and indirect effects of metal stress on physiology and life history variation in field populations of a lycosid spider
1. Under stress, life history theory predicts reduced growth rates and adult sizes, reduced reproductive allocation, production of larger offspring and postponed reproduction. Both direct and indirect effects of metals can explain these trends, mainly linked to energetic constraints. Metallothionein-like proteins (MTLP's) are believed to be an important defense mechanism against the adverse effects of metals and other stressors. 2. We tested these predictions comparing six field populations of the wolf spider Pardosa saltans, three of which were on sites that are historically polluted with heavy metals. 3. As expected for life histories evolving under energetic constraints, adult size and condition correlated negatively and egg mass positively with Cd concentrations for a subset of four populations. In the population that showed the highest cadmium and zinc body burdens, reproductive output and allocation were lowest and reproduction was postponed. 4. Contrary to our expectation, for all six study populations MTLP concentrations did not increase in exposed populations, indicating that this defense mechanism cannot explain the observed variation in life histories. 5. We conclude that indirect and synergistic effects of metal pollution may be more important than physiological defense mechanisms in shaping life history traits in field populations. (C) 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Article Reference Condition-dependent mate choice and its implications for population differentiation in the wolf spider Pirata piraticus
When populations face different environmental conditions, both local adaptation and phenotypic plasticity may cause interpopulation divergence of behavioral or phenotypic properties on which mate choice is based. If sustained, this may result in genetic differentiation even in the presence of extant gene flow. Condition dependence of mate choice is one of the main mechanisms explaining these environmental effects. We tested whether experimental food stress affects mate choice in male and female Pirata piraticus spiders from one heavily polluted and one unpolluted reference population. Compared with control females, food-stressed females from the reference population showed a decreased probability of copulation and preferred smaller mates. Females from the polluted population, in contrast, did not show a significant response to food stress and showed size-assortative mating, most strongly under food stress. We explain these results in 2 complementary ways. First, spiders from populations that are not adapted to cope with stress may be less willing to mate when eggs are not fully matured. Second, food-deprived females may show a larger responsiveness toward smaller males because the latter resemble prey more and hungry females tend to attack moving objects more often. Results from this study support the prediction that variation in body condition, driven by local ecological factors, may affect mating behavior and may ultimately lead to population divergence in important life-history traits such as body size.
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Article Reference Complementarity effects drive positive diversity effects on biomass production in experimental benthic diatom biofilms
P1. Positive effects of species diversity on ecosystem functioning have often been demonstrated in 'macrobial' communities. This relation and the responsible mechanisms are far less clear for microbial communities. Most experimental studies on microorganisms have used randomly assembled communities that do not resemble natural communities. It is therefore difficult to predict the consequences of realistic, non-random diversity loss. 2. In this study, we used naturally co-occurring diatom species from intertidal mudflats to assemble communities with realistically decreasing diversity and analysed the effect of non-random species loss on biomass production. 3. Our results demonstrate a highly positive biodiversity effect on production, with mixtures outperforming the most productive component species in more than half of the combinations. These strong positive diversity effects could largely be attributed to positive complementarity effects (including both niche complementarity and facilitation), despite the occurrence of negative selection effects which partly counteracted the positive complementarity effects at higher diversities. 4. Facilitative interactions were, at least in part, responsible for the higher biomass production. For one of the species, Cylindrotheca closterium, we show its ability to significantly increase its biomass production in response to substances leaked into the culture medium by other diatom species. In these conditions, the species drastically reduced its pigment concentration, which is typical for mixotrophic growth. 5. Synthesis. We show that both species richness and identity have strong effects on the biomass production of benthic diatom biofilms and that transgressive overyielding is common in these communities. In addition, we show mechanistic evidence for facilitation which is partly responsible for enhanced production. Understanding the mechanisms by which diversity enhances the performance of ecosystems is crucial for predicting the consequences of species loss for ecosystem functioning.
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Article Reference A land snail's view of a fragmented landscape
Habitat fragmentation may influence the genetic structure of populations, especially of species with low mobility. So far, these effects have been mainly studied by surveying neutral markers, and much less by looking at ecologically relevant characters. Therefore, we aimed to explore eventual patterns of covariation between population structuring in neutral markers and variation in shell morphometrics in the forest-associated snail Discus rotundatus in relation to habitat fragment characteristics. To this end, we screened shell morphometric variability and sequence variation in a fragment of the mitochondrial 16S rDNA gene in D. rotundatus from the fragmented landscape of the Lower Rhine Embayment, Germany. The 16S rDNA of D. rotundatus was highly variable, with a total of 118 haplotypes (384 individuals) forming four clades and one unresolved group. There was a geographic pattern in the distribution of the clades with the river Rhine apparently separating two groups. Yet, at the geographic scale considered, there was no obvious effect of fragmentation on shell morphometrics and 16S rDNA variation because G(ST) often was as high within, as between forests. Instead, the age of the habitat and (re-)afforestation events appeared to affect shell shape and 16S rDNA in terms of the number of clades per site. The ecologically relevant characters thus supported the presumably neutral mitochondrial DNA markers by indicating that populations of not strictly stenecious species may be (relatively) stable in fragments. However, afforestation after large clearcuts and habitat gain after the amendment of deforestation are accompanied by several, seemingly persistent peculiarities, such as altered genetic composition and shell characters (e.g. aperture size). (C) 2009 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2009, 98, 839-850.
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Article Reference Oldest fossil avian remains from the Indian subcontinental plate
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Article Reference High-resolution carbon isotope stratigraphy and mammalian faunal change at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary in the Honeycombs area of the Southern Bighorn Basin, Wyoming.
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Article Reference Woodland in a f luvio-lacustrine environment on the dry Mongolian Plateau during the late Paleocene: Evidence from the mammal bearing Subeng section (Inner Mongolia, P.R. China)
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Article Reference Rapid Asia–Europe–North America geographic dispersal of earliest Eocene primate Teilhardina during the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum
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Article Reference Asian gliriform origin for arctostilopid mammals
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Article Reference Early Eocene (Ypresian) continental vertebrate assemblage from India, with description of a new anthracobunid (Mammalia, Tethytheria)
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications