Displaying publications 1 - 20 of 90 in total

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  1. Cámara-Leret R, Frodin DG, Adema F, Anderson C, Appelhans MS, Argent G, et al.
    Nature, 2020 08;584(7822):579-583.
    PMID: 32760001 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2549-5
    New Guinea is the world's largest tropical island and has fascinated naturalists for centuries1,2. Home to some of the best-preserved ecosystems on the planet3 and to intact ecological gradients-from mangroves to tropical alpine grasslands-that are unmatched in the Asia-Pacific region4,5, it is a globally recognized centre of biological and cultural diversity6,7. So far, however, there has been no attempt to critically catalogue the entire vascular plant diversity of New Guinea. Here we present the first, to our knowledge, expert-verified checklist of the vascular plants of mainland New Guinea and surrounding islands. Our publicly available checklist includes 13,634 species (68% endemic), 1,742 genera and 264 families-suggesting that New Guinea is the most floristically diverse island in the world. Expert knowledge is essential for building checklists in the digital era: reliance on online taxonomic resources alone would have inflated species counts by 22%. Species discovery shows no sign of levelling off, and we discuss steps to accelerate botanical research in the 'Last Unknown'8.
  2. Feng S, Stiller J, Deng Y, Armstrong J, Fang Q, Reeve AH, et al.
    Nature, 2021 Apr;592(7856):E24.
    PMID: 33833441 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03473-8
  3. Feng S, Stiller J, Deng Y, Armstrong J, Fang Q, Reeve AH, et al.
    Nature, 2020 11;587(7833):252-257.
    PMID: 33177665 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2873-9
    Whole-genome sequencing projects are increasingly populating the tree of life and characterizing biodiversity1-4. Sparse taxon sampling has previously been proposed to confound phylogenetic inference5, and captures only a fraction of the genomic diversity. Here we report a substantial step towards the dense representation of avian phylogenetic and molecular diversity, by analysing 363 genomes from 92.4% of bird families-including 267 newly sequenced genomes produced for phase II of the Bird 10,000 Genomes (B10K) Project. We use this comparative genome dataset in combination with a pipeline that leverages a reference-free whole-genome alignment to identify orthologous regions in greater numbers than has previously been possible and to recognize genomic novelties in particular bird lineages. The densely sampled alignment provides a single-base-pair map of selection, has more than doubled the fraction of bases that are confidently predicted to be under conservation and reveals extensive patterns of weak selection in predominantly non-coding DNA. Our results demonstrate that increasing the diversity of genomes used in comparative studies can reveal more shared and lineage-specific variation, and improve the investigation of genomic characteristics. We anticipate that this genomic resource will offer new perspectives on evolutionary processes in cross-species comparative analyses and assist in efforts to conserve species.
  4. Stephenson NL, Das AJ, Condit R, Russo SE, Baker PJ, Beckman NG, et al.
    Nature, 2014 Mar 6;507(7490):90-3.
    PMID: 24429523 DOI: 10.1038/nature12914
    Forests are major components of the global carbon cycle, providing substantial feedback to atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. Our ability to understand and predict changes in the forest carbon cycle--particularly net primary productivity and carbon storage--increasingly relies on models that represent biological processes across several scales of biological organization, from tree leaves to forest stands. Yet, despite advances in our understanding of productivity at the scales of leaves and stands, no consensus exists about the nature of productivity at the scale of the individual tree, in part because we lack a broad empirical assessment of whether rates of absolute tree mass growth (and thus carbon accumulation) decrease, remain constant, or increase as trees increase in size and age. Here we present a global analysis of 403 tropical and temperate tree species, showing that for most species mass growth rate increases continuously with tree size. Thus, large, old trees do not act simply as senescent carbon reservoirs but actively fix large amounts of carbon compared to smaller trees; at the extreme, a single big tree can add the same amount of carbon to the forest within a year as is contained in an entire mid-sized tree. The apparent paradoxes of individual tree growth increasing with tree size despite declining leaf-level and stand-level productivity can be explained, respectively, by increases in a tree's total leaf area that outpace declines in productivity per unit of leaf area and, among other factors, age-related reductions in population density. Our results resolve conflicting assumptions about the nature of tree growth, inform efforts to undertand and model forest carbon dynamics, and have additional implications for theories of resource allocation and plant senescence.
  5. Cyranoski D, Law YH, Ong S, Phillips N, Zastrow M
    Nature, 2018 06;558(7711):502-510.
    PMID: 29950631 DOI: 10.1038/d41586-018-05506-1
  6. Grill G, Lehner B, Thieme M, Geenen B, Tickner D, Antonelli F, et al.
    Nature, 2019 Aug;572(7768):E9.
    PMID: 31337922 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1379-9
    An Amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
  7. Grill G, Lehner B, Thieme M, Geenen B, Tickner D, Antonelli F, et al.
    Nature, 2019 05;569(7755):215-221.
    PMID: 31068722 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1111-9
    Free-flowing rivers (FFRs) support diverse, complex and dynamic ecosystems globally, providing important societal and economic services. Infrastructure development threatens the ecosystem processes, biodiversity and services that these rivers support. Here we assess the connectivity status of 12 million kilometres of rivers globally and identify those that remain free-flowing in their entire length. Only 37 per cent of rivers longer than 1,000 kilometres remain free-flowing over their entire length and 23 per cent flow uninterrupted to the ocean. Very long FFRs are largely restricted to remote regions of the Arctic and of the Amazon and Congo basins. In densely populated areas only few very long rivers remain free-flowing, such as the Irrawaddy and Salween. Dams and reservoirs and their up- and downstream propagation of fragmentation and flow regulation are the leading contributors to the loss of river connectivity. By applying a new method to quantify riverine connectivity and map FFRs, we provide a foundation for concerted global and national strategies to maintain or restore them.
  8. Usinowicz J, Chang-Yang CH, Chen YY, Clark JS, Fletcher C, Garwood NC, et al.
    Nature, 2017 10 05;550(7674):105-108.
    PMID: 28953870 DOI: 10.1038/nature24038
    The tropical forests of Borneo and Amazonia may each contain more tree species diversity in half a square kilometre than do all the temperate forests of Europe, North America, and Asia combined. Biologists have long been fascinated by this disparity, using it to investigate potential drivers of biodiversity. Latitudinal variation in many of these drivers is expected to create geographic differences in ecological and evolutionary processes, and evidence increasingly shows that tropical ecosystems have higher rates of diversification, clade origination, and clade dispersal. However, there is currently no evidence to link gradients in ecological processes within communities at a local scale directly to the geographic gradient in biodiversity. Here, we show geographic variation in the storage effect, an ecological mechanism that reduces the potential for competitive exclusion more strongly in the tropics than it does in temperate and boreal zones, decreasing the ratio of interspecific-to-intraspecific competition by 0.25% for each degree of latitude that an ecosystem is located closer to the Equator. Additionally, we find evidence that latitudinal variation in climate underpins these differences; longer growing seasons in the tropics reduce constraints on the seasonal timing of reproduction, permitting lower recruitment synchrony between species and thereby enhancing niche partitioning through the storage effect. Our results demonstrate that the strength of the storage effect, and therefore its impact on diversity within communities, varies latitudinally in association with climate. This finding highlights the importance of biotic interactions in shaping geographic diversity patterns, and emphasizes the need to understand the mechanisms underpinning ecological processes in greater detail than has previously been appreciated.
  9. Malaspinas AS, Westaway MC, Muller C, Sousa VC, Lao O, Alves I, et al.
    Nature, 2016 Oct 13;538(7624):207-214.
    PMID: 27654914 DOI: 10.1038/nature18299
    The population history of Aboriginal Australians remains largely uncharacterized. Here we generate high-coverage genomes for 83 Aboriginal Australians (speakers of Pama-Nyungan languages) and 25 Papuans from the New Guinea Highlands. We find that Papuan and Aboriginal Australian ancestors diversified 25-40 thousand years ago (kya), suggesting pre-Holocene population structure in the ancient continent of Sahul (Australia, New Guinea and Tasmania). However, all of the studied Aboriginal Australians descend from a single founding population that differentiated ~10-32 kya. We infer a population expansion in northeast Australia during the Holocene epoch (past 10,000 years) associated with limited gene flow from this region to the rest of Australia, consistent with the spread of the Pama-Nyungan languages. We estimate that Aboriginal Australians and Papuans diverged from Eurasians 51-72 kya, following a single out-of-Africa dispersal, and subsequently admixed with archaic populations. Finally, we report evidence of selection in Aboriginal Australians potentially associated with living in the desert.
  10. Cappellini E, Welker F, Pandolfi L, Ramos-Madrigal J, Samodova D, Rüther PL, et al.
    Nature, 2019 10;574(7776):103-107.
    PMID: 31511700 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1555-y
    The sequencing of ancient DNA has enabled the reconstruction of speciation, migration and admixture events for extinct taxa1. However, the irreversible post-mortem degradation2 of ancient DNA has so far limited its recovery-outside permafrost areas-to specimens that are not older than approximately 0.5 million years (Myr)3. By contrast, tandem mass spectrometry has enabled the sequencing of approximately 1.5-Myr-old collagen type I4, and suggested the presence of protein residues in fossils of the Cretaceous period5-although with limited phylogenetic use6. In the absence of molecular evidence, the speciation of several extinct species of the Early and Middle Pleistocene epoch remains contentious. Here we address the phylogenetic relationships of the Eurasian Rhinocerotidae of the Pleistocene epoch7-9, using the proteome of dental enamel from a Stephanorhinus tooth that is approximately 1.77-Myr old, recovered from the archaeological site of Dmanisi (South Caucasus, Georgia)10. Molecular phylogenetic analyses place this Stephanorhinus as a sister group to the clade formed by the woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis) and Merck's rhinoceros (Stephanorhinus kirchbergensis). We show that Coelodonta evolved from an early Stephanorhinus lineage, and that this latter genus includes at least two distinct evolutionary lines. The genus Stephanorhinus is therefore currently paraphyletic, and its systematic revision is needed. We demonstrate that sequencing the proteome of Early Pleistocene dental enamel overcomes the limitations of phylogenetic inference based on ancient collagen or DNA. Our approach also provides additional information about the sex and taxonomic assignment of other specimens from Dmanisi. Our findings reveal that proteomic investigation of ancient dental enamel-which is the hardest tissue in vertebrates11, and is highly abundant in the fossil record-can push the reconstruction of molecular evolution further back into the Early Pleistocene epoch, beyond the currently known limits of ancient DNA preservation.
  11. Watson M
    Nature, 1923;112:470-471.
    BEFORE Sir Ronald Ross's epoch-making discovery, there was no more puzzling problem in medicine than the cause of malaria; no secret in Nature more cunningly hid than the malaria secret. Malaria was known to be connected with swamps, and to be reduced by drainage and cultivation. Yet, as if merely to confuse, men found that to flood some swamps actually improved health; and elsewhere that drainage and the cultivation of the soil produced the most serious and devastating outbursts of the disease. Yet again, malaria was found not only in swamps, but also often on hills and dry sandy deserts. Some jungle-covered land was singularly free from malaria: other jungle land was intensely malarial. In fact, malaria existed on soils of every conceivable variety, of every age in geological time. It was-impossible to point to any mineral, chemical, or vegetable condition essential to its presence. It was, and had been for hundreds of years, a dark, inscrutable mystery.
  12. Maxwell SL, Cazalis V, Dudley N, Hoffmann M, Rodrigues ASL, Stolton S, et al.
    Nature, 2020 Dec;588(7837):E14.
    PMID: 33204035 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2952-y
    An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
  13. Maxwell SL, Cazalis V, Dudley N, Hoffmann M, Rodrigues ASL, Stolton S, et al.
    Nature, 2020 10;586(7828):217-227.
    PMID: 33028996 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2773-z
    Humanity will soon define a new era for nature-one that seeks to transform decades of underwhelming responses to the global biodiversity crisis. Area-based conservation efforts, which include both protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, are likely to extend and diversify. However, persistent shortfalls in ecological representation and management effectiveness diminish the potential role of area-based conservation in stemming biodiversity loss. Here we show how the expansion of protected areas by national governments since 2010 has had limited success in increasing the coverage across different elements of biodiversity (ecoregions, 12,056 threatened species, 'Key Biodiversity Areas' and wilderness areas) and ecosystem services (productive fisheries, and carbon services on land and sea). To be more successful after 2020, area-based conservation must contribute more effectively to meeting global biodiversity goals-ranging from preventing extinctions to retaining the most-intact ecosystems-and must better collaborate with the many Indigenous peoples, community groups and private initiatives that are central to the successful conservation of biodiversity. The long-term success of area-based conservation requires parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity to secure adequate financing, plan for climate change and make biodiversity conservation a far stronger part of land, water and sea management policies.
  14. Dalu MTB, Dalu T, Wasserman RJ
    Nature, 2017 07 19;547(7662):281.
    PMID: 28726820 DOI: 10.1038/547281c
  15. Walton HJ
    Nature, 1922;109:334-335.
    DR. WATSON'S book shows clearly the wide range of scientific knowledge which is required by those who work in the tropics either as physicians or as sanitarians. It is unnecessary nowadays to insist upon the importance of the control of malaria in the development of those vast areas from which is derived so much of the food supplies and raw materials of manufacture of all civilised countries, but only those who have had practical experience of the methods used to deal with the disease can appreciate how many and how varied these must be.
  16. WHARTON RH
    Nature, 1951 May 26;167(4256):854-5.
    PMID: 14833440
  17. Gephart JA, Henriksson PJG, Parker RWR, Shepon A, Gorospe KD, Bergman K, et al.
    Nature, 2021 09;597(7876):360-365.
    PMID: 34526707 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03889-2
    Fish and other aquatic foods (blue foods) present an opportunity for more sustainable diets1,2. Yet comprehensive comparison has been limited due to sparse inclusion of blue foods in environmental impact studies3,4 relative to the vast diversity of production5. Here we provide standardized estimates of greenhouse gas, nitrogen, phosphorus, freshwater and land stressors for species groups covering nearly three quarters of global production. We find that across all blue foods, farmed bivalves and seaweeds generate the lowest stressors. Capture fisheries predominantly generate greenhouse gas emissions, with small pelagic fishes generating lower emissions than all fed aquaculture, but flatfish and crustaceans generating the highest. Among farmed finfish and crustaceans, silver and bighead carps have the lowest greenhouse gas, nitrogen and phosphorus emissions, but highest water use, while farmed salmon and trout use the least land and water. Finally, we model intervention scenarios and find improving feed conversion ratios reduces stressors across all fed groups, increasing fish yield reduces land and water use by up to half, and optimizing gears reduces capture fishery emissions by more than half for some groups. Collectively, our analysis identifies high-performing blue foods, highlights opportunities to improve environmental performance, advances data-poor environmental assessments, and informs sustainable diets.
  18. Golden CD, Koehn JZ, Shepon A, Passarelli S, Free CM, Viana DF, et al.
    Nature, 2021 10;598(7880):315-320.
    PMID: 34526720 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03917-1
    Despite contributing to healthy diets for billions of people, aquatic foods are often undervalued as a nutritional solution because their diversity is often reduced to the protein and energy value of a single food type ('seafood' or 'fish')1-4. Here we create a cohesive model that unites terrestrial foods with nearly 3,000 taxa of aquatic foods to understand the future impact of aquatic foods on human nutrition. We project two plausible futures to 2030: a baseline scenario with moderate growth in aquatic animal-source food (AASF) production, and a high-production scenario with a 15-million-tonne increased supply of AASFs over the business-as-usual scenario in 2030, driven largely by investment and innovation in aquaculture production. By comparing changes in AASF consumption between the scenarios, we elucidate geographic and demographic vulnerabilities and estimate health impacts from diet-related causes. Globally, we find that a high-production scenario will decrease AASF prices by 26% and increase their consumption, thereby reducing the consumption of red and processed meats that can lead to diet-related non-communicable diseases5,6 while also preventing approximately 166 million cases of inadequate micronutrient intake. This finding provides a broad evidentiary basis for policy makers and development stakeholders to capitalize on the potential of aquatic foods to reduce food and nutrition insecurity and tackle malnutrition in all its forms.
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