SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Trends in ecology & evolution

224

Intelligence in large-brained vertebrates might have evolved through independent, yet similar processes based on comparable socioecological pressures and slow life histories. This convergent evolutionary route, however, cannot explain why cephalopods developed large brains and flexible behavioural repertoires: cephalopods have fast life histories and live in simple social environments. Here, we suggest that the loss of the external shell in cephalopods (i) caused a dramatic increase in predatory pressure, which in turn prevented the emergence of slow life histories, and (ii) allowed the exploitation of novel challenging niches, thus favouring the emergence of intelligence. By highlighting convergent and divergent aspects between cephalopods and large-brained vertebrates we illustrate how the evolution of intelligence might not be constrained to a single evolutionary route.

96

For 15 years, the eukaryote Tree of Life (eToL) has been divided into five to eight major groupings, known as ‘supergroups’. However, the tree has been profoundly rearranged during this time. The new eToL results from the widespread application of phylogenomics and numerous discoveries of major lineages of eukaryotes, mostly free-living heterotrophic protists. The evidence that supports the tree has transitioned from a synthesis of molecular phylogenetics and biological characters to purely molecular phylogenetics. Most current supergroups lack defining morphological or cell-biological characteristics, making the supergroup label even more arbitrary than before. Going forward, the combination of traditional culturing with maturing culture-free approaches and phylogenomics should accelerate the process of completing and resolving the eToL at its deepest levels.

93

The Russian Farm-Fox Experiment is the best known experimental study in animal domestication. By subjecting a population of foxes to selection for tameness alone, Dimitry Belyaev generated foxes that possessed a suite of characteristics that mimicked those found across domesticated species. This ‘domestication syndrome’ has been a central focus of research into the biological pathways modified during domestication. Here, we chart the origins of Belyaev’s foxes in eastern Canada and critically assess the appearance of domestication syndrome traits across animal domesticates. Our results suggest that both the conclusions of the Farm-Fox Experiment and the ubiquity of domestication syndrome have been overstated. To understand the process of domestication requires a more comprehensive approach focused on essential adaptations to human-modified environments.

56

Rabbits are commonly thought to have been domesticated in ∼AD600 by French monks. Using historical and archaeological records, and genetic methods, we demonstrate that this is a misconception and the general inability to date domestication stems from both methodological biases and the lack of appreciation of domestication as a continuum.

Concepts: Domestication, Meat, Cat, European Rabbit, Greek loanwords, Guinea pig

56

We present the results of our eighth annual horizon scan of emerging issues likely to affect global biological diversity, the environment, and conservation efforts in the future. The potential effects of these novel issues might not yet be fully recognized or understood by the global conservation community, and the issues can be regarded as both opportunities and risks. A diverse international team with collective expertise in horizon scanning, science communication, and conservation research, practice, and policy reviewed 100 potential issues and identified 15 that qualified as emerging, with potential substantial global effects. These issues include new developments in energy storage and fuel production, sand extraction, potential solutions to combat coral bleaching and invasive marine species, and blockchain technology.

Concepts: Genetic pollution, Sustainability, Conservation biology, Evolution, Biodiversity, Natural environment, Species, Ecology

49

There is a pressing need to integrate large carnivore species into multi-use landscapes outside protected areas. However, an unclear understanding of coexistence hinders the realization of this goal. Here, we provide a comprehensive conceptualization of coexistence in which mutual adaptations by both large carnivores and humans have a central role.

Concepts: Integral, Mutualism, Carnivore, Diet, Human, Predation, Mammal

46

Tourism can be deleterious for wildlife because it triggers behavioral changes in individuals with cascading effects on populations and communities. Among these behavioral changes, animals around humans often reduce their fearfulness and antipredator responses towards humans. A straightforward prediction is that habituation to humans associated with tourism would negatively influence reaction to predators. This could happen indirectly, where human presence decreases the number of natural predators and thus prey become less wary, or directly, where human-habituated individuals become bolder and thus more vulnerable to predation. Building on ideas from the study of traits associated with domestication and urbanization, we develop a framework to understand how behavioral changes associated with nature-based tourism can impact individual fitness, and thus the demographic trajectory of a population.

Concepts: Cat, Antipredator adaptation, Crypsis, Biological pest control, Chimpanzee, Ecology, Demography, Predation

36

This paper presents the results of our seventh annual horizon scan, in which we aimed to identify issues that could have substantial effects on global biological diversity in the future, but are not currently widely well known or understood within the conservation community. Fifteen issues were identified by a team that included researchers, practitioners, professional horizon scanners, and journalists. The topics include use of managed bees as transporters of biological control agents, artificial superintelligence, electric pulse trawling, testosterone in the aquatic environment, building artificial oceanic islands, and the incorporation of ecological civilization principles into government policies in China.

Concepts: Species, Sustainability, Biodiversity, Conservation biology, Life, Natural environment, Evolution, Ecology

32

Code is increasingly central to ecological research but often remains unpublished and insufficiently recognized. Making code available allows analyses to be more easily reproduced and can facilitate research by other scientists. We evaluate journal handling of code, discuss barriers to its publication, and suggest approaches for promoting and archiving code.

Concepts: Source code, Greek loanwords, Ecology

32

In this article we discuss the utility of crowdfunding from the perspective of individual scientists or laboratory groups looking to fund research. We address some of the main factors determining the success of crowdfunding campaigns, and compare this approach with the use of traditional funding sources.

Concepts: Optics, Pseudoscience, Finance, Research, Fundraising, Scientific method, Science, Book of Optics