A look into a rumen

Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus)Dietary choices are central to our understanding of ecology and evolution. Still, many aspects of food choice have been hampered by time consuming procedures and methodological problems. Faster and cheaper methods, such as DNA metabarcoding, have therefore been widely adopted.Traditional visual techniques based on morphology for diet analysis are often limited in their ability to identify all items found in a stomach. Unrecognizable content has to be ignored which can shift relative proportions…

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Biodiversity and climate warming

Meadow plots at Long-Term Ecological Research Station in Cedar CreekClimate warming is predicted to alter species interactions, which could potentially lead to extinction events. However, there is an ongoing debate whether the effects of warming on biodiversity may be moderated by biodiversity itself.A team of ecologists from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the University of Minnesota conducted long-running field experiments in 30 different meadow plots, some with only one plant species…

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Weekend reads

Another week comes to an end and I have a few things I recommend reading. Enjoy!Barcoding rotifer biodiversity in Mediterranean ponds using diapausing egg banksThe biodiversity of Mediterranean freshwater bodies is among the most threatened worldwide; therefore, its accurate estimation is an urgent issue. However, traditional methods are likely to underestimate freshwater zooplankton biodiversity due to its high species seasonality and cryptic diversity. We test the value of applying DNA barcoding to diapausing egg banks,…

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Biological annihilation

Catarina pupfishNo bells tolled when the last Catarina pupfish on Earth died. Newspapers didn't carry the story when the Christmas Island pipistrelle vanished forever.Two vertebrate species go extinct every year on average, but few people notice, perhaps because the rate seems relatively slow - not a clear and present threat to the natural systems we depend on. This view overlooks trends of extreme decline in animal populations, which tell a more dire story with cascading…

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Citizen science for butterfly conservation

Simplified butterfly assessment scheme used in Viel-FalterOrdinary citizens have become increasingly important to scientific research over the past decade. Today, mobile phone technologies, relatively cheap cameras and almost ubiquitous internet connectivity have opened up new opportunities for conservation organisations to engage with ordinary citizens and encourage citizen science. A citizen scientist is a volunteer who collects and/or processes data as part of a scientific inquiry. This could mean noting the plants found on a day…

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Weekend reads

This short week passed by quickly. Nevertheless, I was able to find some interesting weekend reads for you.Abrupt changes in the composition and function of fungal communities along an environmental gradient in the High ArcticFungi play a key role in soil-plant interactions, nutrient cycling, and carbon flow and are essential for the functioning of arctic terrestrial ecosystems. Some studies have shown that the composition of fungal communities is highly sensitive to variations in environmental conditions,…

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So many trees

Why is tree biodiversity so large around the equator, moderate at mid-latitudes and monotonous at higher ones? As this is a global phenomenon most possible explanations involve long-term or large-scale mechanisms, such as climate stability (no glaciers in the tropics), rates of speciation (higher in the tropics) or rates of extinction (lower in the tropics according to the fossil record).In order to explain the high tree species biodiversity in tropical rainforests Daniel Janzen and Joseph Connell…

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Weekend reads

A long weekend for Canadians lies ahead. Lots of parties around the country to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday. But the rest of the world has a regular weekend and all of you might want some good reads. Here we go:Using high-throughput sequencing of ITS2 to describe Symbiodinium metacommunities in St. John, US Virgin IslandsSymbiotic microalgae (Symbiodinium spp.) strongly influence the performance and stress-tolerance of their coral hosts, making the analysis of Symbiodinium communities in corals…

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Shelf Life Webseries

Today a post on an interesting video series which is produced by the American Museum of Natural History. I have to admit I wasn't aware of it at all until a few days ago when the newest episode on cryptic species was shared with me:The web series Shelf Life highlights different aspects of the museums work and is certainly not the only one out there which is produced my the museum itself. The Smithsonian e.g.…

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Image Data Resource

Much of the published research in the life sciences is based on image data sets that sample 3D space, time and the spectral characteristics of detected signal to provide quantitative measures of cell, tissue and organismal processes and structures. The sheer size of biological image data sets makes data submission, handling and publication challenging. An image-based genome-wide 'high-content' screen (HCS) may contain more than 1 million images, and new 'virtual slide' and 'light sheet' tissue…

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