Loss and deterioraton of indigenous habitat increasingly affect natural populations worldwide. As a result of these processes, new selection pressures are imposed upon organisms, increasing local extinction rates. Simultaneously, reduced movement among remnant patches lowers colonisation rates and affects demographic and genetic population parameters. Yet, organisms with comparable life histories often respond to habitat disturbance in various ways. Why so is a matter of great importance to evolutionists and conservationists alike.
To address the question what factors determine the persistence of species in fragmented habitats, an international team led by Belgian ecologist Luc Lens studied the relative impacts of forest deterioration and fragmentation on the persistence of eight forest-restricted bird species within 430 ha of rainforest remnants in south-east Kenya. Three species are endemic to the Taita Hills, which is part of the Eastern Arc biodiversity hotspot. Over the past decades, the indigenous forest has been reduced to 12 patches, of which only the three largest ones (94-179 ha) are inhabited by all study species. The nine other remnants are tiny (1-8 ha) and heavily disturbed, and host breeding populations of a subset of species only.
The researchers used data collected during six years of trapping, marking, and recapturing more than 3,000 birds to estimate species-specific ability to move among the forest remnants. To estimate stress tolerance, the team relied on earlier studies showing that when birds are under stress, bones in the hind limbs grow longer on one side than on the other. It was determined which species suffered the most stress by comparing measurements of modern birds to those of museum specimens captured when the forest was relatively undisturbed. Based on these estimates, it was shown that more mobile species occupied a higher proportion of patches than expected from their estimated stress sensitivity. Likewise, less sensitive species occupied a higher proportion of patches than predicted from their estimated level of mobility. Together, dispersal rate and change in asymmetry explained an astonishing 88% of the observed variation in patch occupancy between the eight study species.
Luc Lens | alfa
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27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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