What we’re reading: Oct 17, 2014

Plants in a Prickle? Not When Carnivores are Near.
Herbivores’ risk-avoidance behavior from predators and plants’ anti-herbivore defenses appear to interact to determine the distribution of trees in African savannas. Thorny trees were found to be abundant in low-risk areas for herbivores while poorly defended trees were more abundant in high-risk areas. Therefore, plants can persist in landscapes with intense herbivory through defense or by thriving where carnivores hunt.

Local Adaptation and Climate Change
This article (open) uses ecological niche modeling (ENM) to predict possible range shifts due to future climate change. The authors take a novel approach by accounting for population structure across a species. Under an assumption that populations are locally adapted, the authors run the ENM at the population versus the species level and observe that range shifts may be far more limited for individual populations then when models are run across all species. These are concerning results for biodiversity conservation in the face of climate change, particularly when thinking about how local extirpation may cascade through trophic levels.

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