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Understanding the processes leading to fossilization

Modern death assemblages provide insights about the early stages of fossilization and useful ecological information about the species inhabiting the ecosystem. The results of taphonomic monitoring of modern vertebrate carcasses and bones from Doñana National Park, a Mediterranean coastal ecosystem in Andalusia, Spain, are presented. Ten different habitats were surveyed. Half of them occur in active depositional environments (marshland, lake margin, river margin, beach and dunes). Most of the skeletal remains belong to land mammals larger than 5 kg in body weight (mainly wild and feral ungulates). Overall, the Doñana bone assemblage shows good preservation with little damage to the bones, partly as a consequence of the low predator pressure on large vertebrates. Assemblages from active depositional habitats differ significantly from other habitats in terms of the higher incidence of breakage and chewing marks on bones in the latter, which result from scavenging, mainly by wild boar and red fox. The lake-margin and river-margin death assemblages have high concentrations of well preserved bones that are undergoing burial and offer the greatest potential to produce fossil assemblages. The spatial distribution of species in the Doñana death assemblage generally reflects the preferred habitats of the species in life. Meadows seem to be a preferred winter habitat for male deer, given the high number of shed antlers recorded there. This study is further proof that taphonomy can provide powerful insights to better understand the ecology of modern species and to infer past and future scenarios for the fossil record. informacion[at] Domingo et al (2020) Taphonomic information from the modern vertebrate death assemblage of Doñana National Park, Spain. PLOS ONE 15(11): e0242082. DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0242082
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Total bee dependence on a single flower species

Total bee dependence on a single flower species

A new study provides multiple lines of evidence on the total dependence of the solitary bee Flavipanurgus venustus (Andrenidae) on the flowers of a common Mediterranean scrub (Cistus crispus). This association was consistent across space (18 sites in SW Iberian Peninsula) and time (three years) despite the presence of other Cistus species whose flowers are morphologically similar. This finding is remarkable since bee specialization on a single flower species (monolecty) has been a questioned fact. Indeed, known cases have been explained by the absence of sympatric and synchronic flowers of the same plant genus or family, reflecting therefore a lack of closely related choices. The study uncovers that the bee's flight phenology is synchronized with the blooming period of C. crispus, and that the densities of bee populations are correlated with the local densities of this flower. This system provides new insights into the evolutionary ecology of extreme specialization in mutualistic interactions. Besides, it provides a nice example of the importance of interspecies interactions for biodiversity conservation. informacion[at] González-Varo et al (2016) Total bee dependence on one flower species despite available congeners of similar floral shape. PLoS One