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Dalrymple R.L.,Evolution and Ecology Research Center | Kemp D.J.,Macquarie University | Flores-Moreno H.,Evolution and Ecology Research Center | Flores-Moreno H.,University of Minnesota | And 5 more authors.
Global Ecology and Biogeography | Year: 2015

Aim: The idea that species are generally more colourful at tropical latitudes has held great appeal among biologists since the days of exploration by early naturalists. However, advances in colour quantification and analysis only now allow an objective test of this idea. We provide the first quantitative analysis of the latitudinal gradient in colour on a broad scale using data from both animals and plants, encompassing both human-visible and ultraviolet colours. Location: Australia. Methods: We collected spectral reflectance data from 570 species or subspecies of birds, adult forms of 424 species or subspecies of butterflies and the flowers of 339 species of plants, from latitudes ranging from tropical forests and savannas at 9.25°S, to temperate forests and heathlands at 43.75°S. Colour patch saturation, maximum contrast between patches, colour diversity and hue disparity between patches were calculated for all species. Latitudinal gradients in colour were analysed using both regression analyses and comparisons of categorically temperate and tropical regions. We also provide phylogenetically independent contrast analyses. Results: The analyses which compared the colour traits of communities and the phylogenetically independent contrasts both show that species in the tropics are not more colourful than those at higher latitudes. Rather, the cross-species analyses indicate that species further away from the equator possess a greater diversity of colours, and their colours are more contrasting and more saturated than those seen in tropical species. These results remain consistent regardless of whether the mean or the maximum of coloration indices are considered. Main conclusions: We demonstrate that birds, butterflies and flowers display similar gradients of colourfulness across latitudes, indicating strong ecological and evolutionary cohesion. However, our data do not support the idea that tropical latitudes contain the most colourful species or house the more colourful biological communities. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Source

Letten A.D.,Center for Ecosystem Science | Cornwell W.K.,Evolution and Ecology Research Center
Methods in Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2015

An increasingly popular practice in community ecology is to use the evolutionary distance among interacting species as a proxy for their overall functional similarity. At the core of this approach is the implicit, yet poorly recognized, assumption that trait dissimilarity increases linearly with divergence time, that is all evolutionary time is considered equal. However, given a classic Brownian model of trait evolution, we show that the expected functional displacement of any two taxa is more appropriately represented as a linear function of time's square root. In light of this mismatch between theory and methodology, we argue that current methods at the interface of ecology and evolutionary biology often greatly overweight deep time relative to recent time. An easy solution to this weighting problem is a square root transformation of the phylogenetic distance matrix. Using simulated models of trait evolution and community assembly, we show that this transformation yields considerably higher statistical power, with improvements in 92% of trials. This methodological update is likely to improve our understanding of the connection between evolutionary relatedness and contemporary ecological processes. © 2014 British Ecological Society. Source

News Article
Site: http://phys.org/biology-news/

Neil Hammerschlag, research assistant professor at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and UM Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, was part of the scientific team that published their findings in the Jan. 25 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The authors report in the study that catch quotas for sharks by commercial fishers might be necessary to protect oceanic sharks. "Our research clearly demonstrates the importance of satellite tagging data for conservation," said Hammerschlag, director of the UM Shark Research and Conservation Program who conducted the satellite tagging and tracking of several shark species in the northwestern Atlantic for the study. "The findings both identify the problem as well as provide a path for protecting oceanic sharks." During a four-year period from 2005 to 2009, the researchers tracked more than 100 sharks equipped with satellite tags from six different species in the North Atlantic while concurrently tracking 186 Spanish and Portuguese GPS-equipped longline fishing vessels. They found that the fishing vessels and sharks occurred in ocean fronts characterized by warm water temperature and high productivity, including the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Current/Labrador Current Convergence Zone near Newfoundland. "Many studies have tracked sharks, and many studies have tracked fishing vessels, but fine-scale tracking of sharks and fishing vessels together is lacking, even though this should better inform how shark fisheries should be regulated," said Professor David Sims of the Marine Biological Association, and the senior author of the study. According to the researchers, about 80 percent of the range for two of the most heavily fished species tracked—the blue and mako sharks—overlapped with the fishing vessels' range, with some individual sharks remaining near longlines for over 60 percent of the time they were tracked. Blue sharks were estimated to be vulnerable to potential capture 20 days per month, while the mako sharks' potential risk was 12 days per month. "Although we suspected overlap might be high, we had no idea it would be this high. Space-use overlap on this scale potentially increases shark susceptibility to fishing exploitation, which has unknown consequences for populations," said Nuno Queiroz of the University of Porto, Portugal, the lead author of the study. Tens of millions of ocean-dwelling sharks are caught by commercial fishing operations each year. The researchers suggest that a lack of data on where sharks are likely to encounter fishing vessels has hampered current shark conservation effort. The researchers propose that because current hotspots of shark activity are at particularly high risk of overfishing, the introduction of conservation measures such as catch quotas or size limits will be necessary to protect oceanic sharks that are commercially important to fleets worldwide at the present time. Explore further: New study examines the effects of catch-and-release fishing on sharks More information: Ocean-wide tracking of pelagic sharks reveals extent of overlap with longline fishing hotspots, www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1510090113

News Article | August 12, 2012
Site: thenextweb.com

For over a week, we have been hearing the horror story that haunts the dreams of those of us who live on our computers and on the World Wide Web. If you haven’t taken the time to read about Mat Honan’s terrible and unfortunate major hacking and wiping of his digital world, then his story is absolutely required reading. Even though I highly encourage a close reading of the detailed account of how Mat’s digital world came crashing down, I will give you a quick summary: a hacker(s) was able to piece together info from his Amazon account and his Apple ID and was able to gain access to everything he owned and managed online: iCloud, iPhone, MacBook, Twitter accounts, Gmail, etc, and the hacker wiped everything to where there was absolutely nothing left. Scary stuff. Very scary! If you are anything like me, you live on the web too. You probably manage various email accounts, a Facebook account, a Twitter account or two, probably a couple of domain names, not to mention you keep a lot of your life digitally on your computer, external hard drives and in the cloud online. When I heard of Mat’s story, it sent chills through me like you wouldn’t believe, and I am sure I am not the only one who quickly rushed to online accounts and started changing passwords (even though that is not how the hacker in Mat’s case got to his sensitive information). It got me thinking about how vulnerable I was if something similar was to happen to me. Like I said, scary stuff. In this how-to, I am going to explain how to back up all the aspects of your digital existence. I have spent several years working on going paperless and preparing for when disaster strikes. So thankfully, I started this week with my digital life backed up in a pretty good spot already. I am going to use the things I use in my daily life as examples throughout this article, while getting you up to speed with what I have already done. The very first place you should start is backing up your computer(s). For the sake of this article, “computer” is desktop and laptop computers excluding phones and tablets. There are many different ways to back up your files on your computer, so let’s take a look at each kind. My main machine is an iMac running Mountain Lion. Thankfully, built right inside the OS is Time Machine, Apple’s back up program. I set up my Time Machine on day one of getting my Mac. Setting up Time Machine is incredibly easy. You need a blank external hard drive at least double the size of your hard drive. Making sure that hard drive is plugged in and empty, go to System Preferences > Time Machine. There is an option to “select disk.” Make sure you select the drive you wish to have Time Machine back up to and click OK*. If this did not already turn on Time Machine, turn it on, and if the option is there, click “back up now.” *Time Machine may have told you that it needed to format the drive. If that is the case, I recommend either letting Time Machine format the drive (which will format it to MacOS Extended Journaled Case Sensitive), or format it yourself to the non-case sensitive MacOS Extended Journaled option. Read more about formatting here. Now your computer is backing up everything on your hard drive and Mac formatted external drives. It is also backing up your Dropbox folder too (see more below). I have two drives that are non-Mac formatted, simply because I would like to use them on my Windows computer as well. If you have any of these drives that you would like to back up, then read the next section on Carbon Copy Cloner. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Meaning, don’t rely solely on one type of back up. Time Machine drives can and will fail. It’s best to set up another type of back up as well. I recommend Carbon Copy Cloner (free for Mac) for this part. After downloading, you can set it up to backup entire drives to another drive. Before you do this, think about your setup. Here is my setup for example: I have two backup external hard drives, one dedicated to Time Machine, and another dedicated to CCC backups. I have two other drives that contain my entire life on them pretty much. Those drives are Windows formatted (see above), so Time Machine does not back them up. I need some way to do a backup of these drives. You can set up CCC to not only back up on command, but to run automatic (or scheduled) backups. Going into full detail on how to set this up can be long, so this is a great article that will walk you through it. It’s fairly easy to set up not only an initial back up (which will take a while) but you can set up auto back ups too, which I utilize every day. For those who don’t own a Mac, or want to do all the same things CCC does but on Windows, Microsoft’s SyncToy will help you in that regard. Before my Mac, I used this program a lot to do exactly what CCC does now for my Mac. Since it has been a while since I have used it, here is a great article to sum up how to use it for backing up your Windows system.  It basically keeps files and folders between two locations in “sync” or mirrored, to provide the backup, exactly like CCC is set up to do. Next, you should really invest in an online backup solution as well. Why? Because what will happen to your Time Machine and CCC backups if your house catches on fire or floods? Exactly. My personal favorite is BackBlaze. Can’t beat $50 a year for unlimited backup. Runs in the background and uses your bandwidth, it constantly uploads new and changed files, while removing those you deleted 30 days after it first notices it disappeared. Setting up is easy and pain free, and the best part is is that you can “set it and forget it.” The only disadvantage is that it does not upload certain types of files, such as .exe or operating system files. Of course another option is Carbonite, but there are many other online backup solutions–pick one that is well known and works best for you. You could incorporate Dropbox into your online backup as well. Although I don’t use it for this except for WordPress backups (see below), I know this is a popular option for many Dropbox users who have enough space either through referrals or pay for extra space in their box. Here is a step-by-step article on how to create a “mirror” folder in Dropbox to create a backup. It uses SyncToy (for Windows) as the program, but this can very well be done with CCC as well. For most of us, everything is either online or quickly becoming online. That was part of the unfortunate story of Mat’s digital world. So with more and more of our information online, we need to find ways to back up this information just like we backup our computers. Something you probably don’t think about, but what would happen to your life if you were to lose your entire inbox? Eek, my life and business would be over. I never took the time to think about backing up my web-based email on my multiple Gmail accounts until reading about Mat’s story, so I went on the hunt for a solution. There are two types of back ups you can do for your email: use a desktop mail client or use a specific app designed to download and backup your email. The former, using a desktop mail client presents at least one benefit and one downfall. Benefit: downloads them to your computer, in which your backup system (established above) should backup to multiple locations. Downfall: there is probably a reason you don’t use a mail client now and having multiple email alerts can be aggravating and kill your productivity.  There are apps designed to back up certain web services. A quick Google search can reveal many, often paid, that will do the trick for you. Personally, I like to save money, so I have opted for the desktop mail client. I have set up Mail in MacOS to download my email from all five of my Gmail accounts. I recommend taking time to think about which option is best for you before proceeding on one option over the other. And, if you really want to take it just one step further, you could use a combination of both types! I didn’t know you could do this until recently, but if your website is powered by WordPress, did you know you can back up your entire WordPress site to Dropbox? Technology these days. The best WordPress plugin I have been able to find to back up your WordPress site is cleverly called “WordPress Backup To Dropbox“.  Login to your WP site, search for and install the plugin, and follow the instructions. It requires authentication to your Dropbox account. And again, if you set up your backups properly on your computer, then your Dropbox folder is being backed up too. If your site isn’t powered by WordPress, chances are your hosting provider has settings you can enable that will provide backups for you. Often these are stored on the server, other times you can have it emailed to you or something similar. Check with your host provider to see if they offer this service and set it up so you can keep at least weekly backups of your site. Running out of space on your phone, or switching to a new phone? You have probably already searched for a solution on how to store your text messages and call history elsewhere. For me, I like to keep a copy of all of my texts (not necessarily my call history which only consists of calls from my parents). In Mat’s case, his iPhone was wiped clean, back to factory install. Yikes! How can you back up your texts, call history, and contacts? Depending on what type of smartphone you have, there are apps for that. I own an Android phone so finding an app that was friendly with my personal Gmail account wasn’t that hard. I paid $1.99 for the app called “Backup To Gmail.”  My texts and call history are nicely backed up to my Gmail account by saving them in specific labels. It works great! For my contacts, I told the AndroidOS a long time ago to put my contacts in my Gmail account. However, most service providers, including Verizon, often have an app that backup your contacts for you using a preinstalled app. iPhone users: I haven’t used an iPhone, so I am going to take a blind shot here. Googling can find an app that will work similar to the one mentioned above. One I found is iBackApp for iOS that seems to be fairly popular with articles and videos about the app. Pictures on our phone are becoming more and more valuable as we tend to rely on our phones more and more for taking pictures. There are many ways to backup your pictures on your phone, but the best way (and one that is “set it and forget it”) is to download the Dropbox app for your phone and set it up to automatically upload pictures you take to Dropbox. The instant you take a picture, you can find it in your Dropbox, which is a safe way to keep a copy of your pictures in various places. For the millions of iPad owners, iTunes can help you back up your tablet and other iOS devices in a breeze, and since your computer is being backed up now, those backups are being backed up. Android devices can be backed up via the tool available in Settings on those devices, which will back up settings, data and applications. But what if you got hacked and it was by good ole’ Mother Nature? I know all too well about Mother Nature and its wrath as I have lived in killer tornado alley my entire life. Show of hands how many still get paper bank statements, bills, credit card statements, and so on? Do you have an electronic record of these things? Chances are if you get any sort of paper anything in the mail that is of importance, you probably haven’t taken the time to scan it and store it on your hard drive. Now is a good time to go through your important paper documents and make high resolution copies of those documents and save them to your hard drive. Important documents include car titles, bank statements, credit card statements, insurance declaration pages, any paper licenses, and tax returns. But Amber, what if my house catches on fire when I am not here, or if a tornado comes? Remember above when I said you may not want all your eggs in one basket? If you weren’t able to get to your hard drives in time of a disaster, you should have your online backups in place (only if the online backup software has been able to connect and complete a backup recently). We all use the Internet differently, and we all use different operating systems and apps throughout the day. It would be impossible to cover every possible combination of every scenario on how to back up everything in this article. I hope I covered the biggest things that most Internet users (and the readers of this site) use the most, but did I miss anything? Tell us about your backup strategies in the comments.

Catelotti K.,Center for Ecosystem Science | Kingsford R.T.,Center for Ecosystem Science | Bino G.,Center for Ecosystem Science | Bacon P.,Woodlots and Wetlands Pty Ltd.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2015

Increasing water abstraction is severely degrading the world's wetlands, which is frequently reflected in the condition of flood dependent organisms. Understanding minimum requirements under which thresholds are crossed from desired to undesired states can improve managing for resilience and avoid catastrophic ecological consequences. The Macquarie Marshes, a Ramsar-listed wetland in eastern Australia is located in a catchment with a long history of water resource development. It is also a catchment in which there has been a strong focus on wetland recovery using environmental flows. We investigated changes in the condition of 212 river red gum trees (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), a long-lived flood dependent species, at 17 sites, over 18. years (1993-2011). Four variables were measured for each tree: crown density, crown size, dead branches and epicormic growth. More than half (56.13%, 119) of the healthy trees first measured in 1993, showed no signs of life by 2011. Using historic inundation mapping, we identified that condition declined with reduced flooding. The probability of inundation in the previous five years had the strongest explanatory power, with strong increasing threshold responses of persistence and recovery associated with probabilities of flooding exceeding 5. years in the previous 10. years. We extended our modelling to the river red gum forests of the Macquarie Marshes floodplain, showing that 37% of the area had a predicted survival probability lower than P= 0.6 while similar probabilities were present in only 12% of the area within the Macquarie Marshes Nature Reserve. The condition of river red gum forests, using the relationships identified, provide a useful measure of ecosystem health, particularly if extended to understanding of reproduction, germination and recruitment in relation to different scenarios for environmental flows. Embedding such a monitoring strategy in an adaptive management framework provides considerable promise for ongoing learning and improvement of management, not just for river red gums but also other indicators. There is a possibility that the current poor ecological condition of the Macquarie Marshes can be redressed with increased environmental flows restoring some of the river red gum forests that are a key characteristic of the wetland. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Source

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