Doñana Biological Station

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Inferences about the role of epigenetics in plant ecology and evolution are mostly based on studies of cultivated or model plants conducted in artificial environments. Here associations across individuals between DNA methylation transmissibility, genetic characteristics, seed size variability, and realized maternal fecundity are explored in the perennial herb Helleborus foetidus along a natural ecological gradient. Plants (sporophytes) differed in the fidelity with which DNA methylation was transmitted to descendant pollen (gametophytes). This variation in methylation transmissibility was associated with genetic differences. Within-plant variance in seed mass was inversely related to individual transmissibility. The number of seedlings recruited by individual plants was significantly associated with transmissibility. Results support the view that epigenetic transmissibility is itself a phenotypic trait whose evolution may be driven by natural selection, and suggest that in natural populations epigenetic and genetic variation are two intertwined, rather than independent, evolutionary factors. informacion[at] Herrera et al (2014) Variation in DNA methylation transmissibility, genetic heterogeneity and fecundity-related traits in natural populations of the perennial herb Helleborus foetidus. Mol Ecol 23: 1085-1095. Doi 10.1111/mec.12679
There is increasing evidence that geographic and climatic clines drive the patterns of plant defence allocation and defensive strategies. Early growth rate and both constitutive and inducible chemical defences of 18 Pinaceae species have been quantified and their defensive allocation with respect to each species’ range across climatic gradients was assessed. Constitutive defences traded-off with induced defences, and these defensive strategies were associated with growth rate such that slow-growing species invested more in constitutive defence, whereas fast-growing species invested more in inducible defence. Moving poleward and to higher elevations, growth rate and inducible defences decreased, while constitutive defence increased. These geographic patterns in plant defence were most strongly associated with variation in temperature. Climatic and geographical clines thus act as drivers of defence profiles by mediating the constraints imposed by trade-offs, and this dynamic underlays global patterns of defence allocation. informacion[at] Moreira et al (2014) Trade-offs between constitutive and induced defences drive geographical and climatic clines in pine chemical defences. Ecol Lett 17: 537–546. Doi 10.1111/ele.12253
Using spatially explicit predictive models, the effects of habitat features on the relative abundance of wild boar populations and how the abundance of boars is related to frequency of Iberian wolf (Canis lupus signatus) have been investigated in the area. Results showed that wild boar and wolf relative abundances are associated. According to previous knowledge, wild boar abundance is positively related to the percentage of surface occupied by mature forest and heather providing high food diversity and refuge, but these environmental variables achieved a low explanatory capacity in the models in relation to wolf frequency. The holistic approach followed in this study was attended to open new perspectives for thinking on the wolf-livestock conflict and to adequate wild boar management strategies taking into account hunting interests and natural processes. informacion[at] Segura et al (2014) Biotic and abiotic factors modulating wild boar relative abundance in Atlantic Spain. Eur J Wildl Res. Doi 10.1007/s10344-014-0807-2


    Estación Biólogica de Doñana - Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas - Apdo 1056 E - 41013 Sevilla
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