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A stressful life in the city affects birds’ genes

Great tits living in cities are genetically different from great tits in the countryside. This is what researchers have found in a unique study, where they examined populations of great tits in nine large European cities.

The researchers compared the city bird genes with the genes of their relatives in the countryside. It did not matter if the great tits lived in Milan, Malmö or Madrid: in order to handle an environment created by humans, the birds evolved in a similar way.

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papillon

Habitat fragmentation prevents species from tracking climate change

Climate changeaffectsbiodiversity globally, by forcing species to shift their distribution to track the changes in temperature. An international collaboration between scientists from France, Sweden, the Netherlands and Finland shows, in an article published in the journal Ecology Letters,that habitat fragmentation caused by human activity affects distribution shifts in butterfly species and, hence, their capacity to cope with climate change.

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Syrphe porte-plume (Sphaerophoria scripta), un visiteur assidu de la moutarde blanche (Sinapis alba) du printemps à l’automne. (©Benoît Geslin)

No off-season for insect pollinators in the city!

In the city, the seasonal patterns of activity of insect pollinators could be disturbed by the urban microclimate as well as by the presence of ornamental flora. To study this phenomenon, Vincent Zaninotto and his collaborators monitored the activity of insect pollinators in Paris and in the natural environment, from late winter to autumn. In […]

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Diversite-corps-fourmi-en-cercle

Worker size diversity does not improve colony success in the ant Temnothorax nylanderi

Social groups consist of individuals that differ from one another, and many studies show that this diversity improves group efficiency. In social insects, size diversity can, for example, improve the efficiency of foraging, nest building, brood rearing and production of young queens. Thus, colonies that re more diverse are generally also more efficient. Romain Honorio […]

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Fourmis Temnothorax nylanderi

City and forest ants are surprisingly similar genetically

City life could lead to differential evolution between urban and forest populations. Aurelie Khimoun and her collaborators showed, in their article published in Biology Letters, that urban populations of the tiny acorn ant are surprisingly not genetically differentiated from forest populations, suggesting expansion and lack of isolation. However, some genes display traces of selection that point towards an adaptation to the urban environment.

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