Science Rendue Possible

Anest, A., Y. Bouchenak-Khelladi, T. Charles-Dominique, F. Forest, Y. Caraglio, G. P. Hempson, O. Maurin, and K. W. Tomlinson. 2024. Blocking then stinging as a case of two-step evolution of defensive cage architectures in herbivore-driven ecosystems. Nature Plants. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-024-01649-4

Dense branching and spines are common features of plant species in ecosystems with high mammalian herbivory pressure. While dense branching and spines can inhibit herbivory independently, when combined, they form a powerful defensive cage architecture. However, how cage architecture evolved under mammalian pressure has remained unexplored. Here we show how dense branching and spines emerged during the age of mammalian radiation in the Combretaceae family and diversified in herbivore-driven ecosystems in the tropics. Phylogenetic comparative methods revealed that modern plant architectural strategies defending against large mammals evolved via a stepwise process. First, dense branching emerged under intermediate herbivory pressure, followed by the acquisition of spines that supported higher speciation rates under high herbivory pressure. Our study highlights the adaptive value of dense branching as part of a herbivore defence strategy and identifies large mammal herbivory as a major selective force shaping the whole plant architecture of woody plants. This study explores the evolution of two traits, branching density and spine presence, in the globally distributed plant family Combretaceae. These traits were found to have appeared in a two-step process in response to mammalian herbivory pressure, revealing the importance of large mammals in the evolution of plant architecture diversity.

Maurin, O., A. Anest, F. Forest, I. Turner, R. L. Barrett, R. C. Cowan, L. Wang, et al. 2023. Drift in the tropics: Phylogenetics and biogeographical patterns in Combretaceae. Global Ecology and Biogeography. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13737

Aim The aim of this study was to further advance our understanding of the species-rich, and ecologically important angiosperm family Combretaceae to provide new insights into their evolutionary history. We assessed phylogenetic relationships in the family using target capture data and produced a dated phylogenetic tree to assess fruit dispersal modes and patterns of distribution. Location Tropical and subtropical regions. Time Period Cretaceous to present. Major Taxa Studied Family Combretaceae is a member of the rosid clade and comprises 10 genera and more than 500 species, predominantly assigned to genera Combretum and Terminalia, and occurring on all continents and in a wide range of ecosystems. Methods We use a target capture approach and the Angiosperms353 universal probes to reconstruct a robust dated phylogenetic tree for the family. This phylogenetic framework, combined with seed dispersal traits, biome data and biogeographic ranges, allows the reconstruction of the biogeographical history of the group. Results Ancestral range reconstructions suggest a Gondwanan origin (Africa/South America), with several intercontinental dispersals within the family and few transitions between biomes. Relative abundance of fruit dispersal types differed by both continent and biome. However, intercontinental colonizations were only significantly enhanced by water dispersal (drift fruit), and there was no evidence that seed dispersal modes influenced biome shifts. Main Conclusions Our analysis reveals a paradox as drift fruit greatly enhanced dispersal distances at intercontinental scale but did not affect the strong biome conservatism observed.

Boyd, R. J., G. D. Powney, F. Burns, A. Danet, F. Duchenne, M. J. Grainger, S. G. Jarvis, et al. 2022. ROBITT  : A tool for assessing the risk‐of‐bias in studies of temporal trends in ecology. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 13: 1497–1507. https://doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.13857

1. Aggregated species occurrence and abundance data from disparate sources are increasingly accessible to ecologists for the analysis of temporal trends in biodiversity. However, sampling biases relevant to any given research question are often poorly explored and infrequently reported; this can undermine statistical inference. In other disciplines, it is common for researchers to complete “risk‐of‐bias” assessments to expose and document the potential for biases to undermine conclusions. The huge growth in available data, and recent controversies surrounding their use to infer temporal trends, indicate that similar assessments are urgently needed in ecology.

Prieto-Torres, D. A., L. E. Nuñez Rosas, D. Remolina Figueroa, and M. del C. Arizmendi. 2021. Most Mexican hummingbirds lose under climate and land-use change: Long-term conservation implications. Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation 19: 487–499. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pecon.2021.07.001

Hummingbirds are one of the most threatened bird groups in the world. However, the extent to which global climate change (GCC) and habitat loss compromise their conservation status remains unclear. Herein, we proposed to: (1) assess how predicted GCC impacts the distribution of non-migrant hummingbi…

Sobral-Souza, T., J. Stropp, J. P. Santos, V. M. Prasniewski, N. Szinwelski, B. Vilela, A. V. L. Freitas, et al. 2021. Knowledge gaps hamper understanding the relationship between fragmentation and biodiversity loss: the case of Atlantic Forest fruit-feeding butterflies. PeerJ 9: e11673. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.11673

Background A key challenge for conservation biology in the Neotropics is to understand how deforestation affects biodiversity at various levels of landscape fragmentation. Addressing this challenge requires expanding the coverage of known biodiversity data, which remain to date restricted to a few w…

Rotenberry, J. T., and P. Balasubramaniam. 2020. Connecting species’ geographical distributions to environmental variables: range maps versus observed points of occurrence. Ecography 43: 897–913. https://doi.org/10.1111/ecog.04871

Connecting the geographical occurrence of a species with underlying environmental variables is fundamental for many analyses of life history evolution and for modeling species distributions for both basic and practical ends. However, raw distributional information comes principally in two forms: poi…

Prieto-Torres, D. A., A. Lira-Noriega, and A. G. Navarro-Sigüenza. 2020. Climate change promotes species loss and uneven modification of richness patterns in the avifauna associated to Neotropical seasonally dry forests. Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation 18: 19–30. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pecon.2020.01.002

We assessed the effects of global climate change as a driver of spatio-temporal biodiversity patterns in bird assemblages associated to Neotropical seasonally dry forests (NSDF). For this, we estimated the geographic distribution of 719 bird species under current and future climate (2050 and 2070) p…

Antonelli, A., A. Zizka, F. A. Carvalho, R. Scharn, C. D. Bacon, D. Silvestro, and F. L. Condamine. 2018. Amazonia is the primary source of Neotropical biodiversity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115: 6034–6039. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1713819115

The American tropics (the Neotropics) are the most species-rich realm on Earth, and for centuries, scientists have attempted to understand the origins and evolution of their biodiversity. It is now clear that different regions and taxonomic groups have responded differently to geological and climati…