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Impairment of mixed melanin-based pigmentation in parrots

Parrots and allies (Order Psittaciformes) have evolved an exclusive capacity to synthesize polyene pigments called psittacofulvins at feather follicles, which allows them to produce a striking diversity of pigmentation phenotypes. Melanins are polymers constituting the most abundant pigments in animals, and the sulphurated form (pheomelanin) produces colors that are similar to those produced by psittacofulvins. However, the differential contribution of these pigments to psittaciform phenotypic diversity has not been investigated. Given the color redundancy, and physiological limitations associated to pheomelanin synthesis, this study assumed that the latter would be avoided by psittaciform birds. This hypothesis was tested by using Raman spectroscopy to identify pigments in feathers exhibiting colors suspicious of being produced by pheomelanin (i.e., dull red, yellow and grey- and green-brownish) in 26 species from the three main lineages of Psittaciformes. The non-sulphurated melanin form (eumelanin) were detected in black, grey and brown plumage patches, and psittacofulvins in red, yellow and green patches, but no evidence of pheomelanin was found. As natural melanins are assumed to be composed of eumelanin and pheomelanin in varying ratios, these results represent the first report of impairment of mixed melanin-based pigmentation in animals. Given that psittaciforms also avoid the uptake of circulating carotenoid pigments, these birds seem to have evolved a capacity to avoid functional redundancy between pigments, likely by regulating follicular gene expression. The study provides the first vibrational characterization of different psittacofulvin-based colors and thus helps to determine the relative polyene chain length in these pigments, which is related to their antireductant protection activity. informacion[at] Neves et al (2020) Impairment of mixed melanin-based pigmentation in parrots. J Experim Biol. DOI 10.1242/jeb.225912
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Invasive species globally cause the decline of aquatic communities

Invasive species globally cause the decline of aquatic communities

The introduction of invasive species, which often differ functionally from the components of the recipient community, generates ecological impacts that propagate along the food web. This review aims to determine how consistent the impacts of aquatic invasions are across taxa and habitats. To that end, we present a global meta-analysis from 151 publications, covering a wide range of invaders (primary producers, filter collectors, omnivores and predators), resident aquatic community components (macrophytes, phytoplankton, zooplankton, benthic invertebrates and fish) and habitats (rivers, lakes and estuaries). Our synthesis suggests a strong negative influence of invasive species on the abundance of aquatic communities, particularly macrophytes, zooplankton and fish. In contrast, there was no general evidence for a decrease in species diversity in invaded habitats, suggesting a time lag between rapid abundance changes and local extinctions. Invaded habitats showed increased water turbidity, nitrogen and organic matter concentration, which are related to the capacity of invaders to transform habitats and increase eutrophication. The expansion of invasive macrophytes caused the largest decrease in fish abundance, the filtering activity of filter collectors depleted planktonic communities, omnivores (including both facultative and obligate herbivores) were responsible for the greatest decline in macrophyte abundance, and benthic invertebrates were most negatively affected by the introduction of new predators. These impacts were relatively consistent across habitats and experimental approaches. Based on our results, we propose a framework of positive and negative links between invasive species at four trophic positions and the five different components of recipient communities. This framework incorporates both direct biotic interactions (predation, competition, grazing) and indirect changes to the water physicochemical conditions mediated by invaders (habitat alteration). Considering the strong trophic links that characterize aquatic ecosystems, this framework is relevant to anticipate the far-reaching consequences of biological invasions on the structure and functionality of aquatic ecosystems. informacion[at] Gallardo et al (2015) Global ecological impacts of invasive species in aquatic ecosystems. Glob Chang Biol DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13004