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21 septembre 2017

Temporal coexistence mechanisms contribute to the latitudinal gradient in forest diversity [Nature]

The tropical forests of Borneo and Amazonia may each contain more tree species diversity in half a square kilometre than do all the temperate forests of Europe, North America, and Asia combined. Biologists have long been fascinated by this disparity, using it to investigate potential drivers of biodiversity. Latitudinal variation in many of these drivers is expected to create geographic differences in ecological and evolutionary processes, and evidence increasingly shows that tropical ecosystems have higher rates of diversification, clade origination, and clade dispersal. However, there is currently no evidence to link gradients in ecological processes within communities at a local scale directly to the geographic gradient in biodiversity.(...)

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21 septembre 2017

The Multidimensional Stoichiometric Niche [Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution]

The niche concept is essential to understanding how biotic and abiotic factors regulate the abundance and distribution of living entities, and how these organisms utilize, affect and compete for resources in the environment. However, it has been challenging to determine the number and types of important niche dimensions. By contrast, there is strong mechanistic theory and empirical evidence showing that the elemental composition of living organisms shapes ecological systems, from organismal physiology to food web structure. We propose an approach based on a multidimensional elemental view of the ecological niche. Visualizing the stoichiometric composition of individuals in multivariate space permits quantification of niche dimensions within and across species. This approach expands on previous elemental characterizations of plant niches, and adapts metrics of niche volume, overlap and nestedness previously used to quantify isotopic niches. We demonstrate the applicability of the multidimensional stoichiometric niche using data on carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus of terrestrial and freshwater communities composed by multiple trophic groups.(...)

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21 septembre 2017

Succulent plants [Current Biology]

The peculiar morphologies of succulent plants have been variously considered as grotesque monstrosities and exotic curiosities, but succulents have always been perceived as unique. The succulent syndrome is considered to be one of the most remarkable examples of convergent evolution across the plant kingdom. Common to all succulents is the presence of large cells for water storage. However, cellular succulence can occur in any vegetative plant organ, with the level of succulence in roots, stems, and leaves being subject to a certain degree of evolutionary coordination. Furthermore, cellular succulence scales up to morphological succulence according to various anatomical schemes that confer contrasting functional characteristics. This means that succulence is associated with a broad range of ecophysiological strategies and occurs in plants that have evolved in many different environments.

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21 septembre 2017

Shifting from a fertilization-dominated to a warming-dominated period [Nature Ecology & Evolution]

Keywords : carbon cycle, climate change, climate-change ecology, element cycles

Carbon dioxide and nitrogen fertilization effects on ecosystem carbon sequestration may slow down in the future because of emerging nutrient constraints, climate change reducing the effect of fertilization, and expanding land use change and land management and disturbances. Further, record high temperatures and droughts are leading to negative impacts on carbon sinks. We suggest that, together, these two phenomena might drive a shift from a period dominated by the positive effects of fertilization to a period characterized by the saturation of the positive effects of fertilization on carbon sinks and the rise of negative impacts of climate change. We discuss the evidence and processes that are likely to be leading to this shift.(...)

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20 septembre 2017

Amazon plant diversity revealed by a taxonomically verified species list [PNAS]

Keywords : Amazonia, floristics, rain forests, seed plants, species diversity

Large floristic datasets that purportedly represent the diversity and composition of the Amazon tree flora are being widely used to draw conclusions about the patterns and evolution of Amazon plant diversity, but these datasets are fundamentally flawed in both their methodology and the resulting content. We have assembled a comprehensive dataset of Amazonian seed plant species from published sources that includes falsifiable data based on voucher specimens identified by taxonomic specialists. This growing list should serve as a basis for addressing the long-standing debate on the number of plant species in the Amazon, as well as for downstream ecological and evolutionary analyses aimed at understanding the origin and function of the exceptional biodiversity of the vast Amazonian forests.

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