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BioScience tip sheet, October 2008

Research articles that will be published in the October 2008 issue of BioScience are as follows:

Fungal Community Ecology: A Hybrid Beast with a Molecular Master.
Kabir G. Peay, Peter G. Kennedy, and Thomas D. Bruns.

DNA-based techniques have in recent years allowed the systematic exploration of fungal diversity for the first time. Results show extremely high diversity and variability of fungi in natural environments, the explanation for which is unknown. High-throughput DNA sequencing has the potential to characterize this diversity in a class of organisms that is ecologically hugely significant worldwide.

Consequences of More Extreme Precipitation Regimes for Terrestrial Ecosystems.
Alan K. Knapp and colleagues.

The authors present a scheme for analyzing the effects on ecosystems of expected changes in patterns of precipitation. Moist ecosystems can be expected to suffer more water stress, while arid ecosystems are thought likely to have increased water availability. Wetlands are predicted to experience low-oxygen conditions less frequently.

Modeling the Developing Drosophila Brain: Rationale, Technique, and Application.
Volker Hartenstein, Albert Cardona, Wayne Pereanu, and Amelia Younossi-Hartenstein.

Modern digital modeling programs provide the opportunity to develop detailed three-dimensional maps of even such a complex structure as a brain. Modeling the developing brain of the fruit fly, the favorite experimental animal of geneticists, is providing new insights into how the process unfolds, and can reveal the effects of particular genes at various scales. Eventually, complete brain maps showing the interconnections of individual neurons should be achievable.

Comparing Ecosystem Goods and Services Provided by Restored and Native Lands.
Walter K. Dodds, Kymberly C. Wilson, Ryan L. Rehmeier, G. Layne Knight, Shelly Wiggam, Jeffrey A. Falke, Harmony J. Dalgleish, and Katie N. Bertrand.

An analysis of eight categories of goods and services associated with native and restored lands in the lower 48 states finds that restored lands offer 31 percent to 93 percent of native land benefits within a decade of restoration, depending on the biome and the goods and services of interest. The results indicate conservation should be the first priority in planning, but that restoration can have substantial value across broad regions.

Synergies between Agricultural Intensification and Climate Change Could Create Surprising Vulnerabilities for Crops.
Brenda B. Lin, Ivette Perfecto, and John Vandermeer.

The intensification of coffee production that has occurred in recent decades has made that crop--and the millions of people who depend on income from it--more vulnerable to predicted temperature increases and changes in precipitation patterns. Sustainable farming that employs shade trees may improve crops' resistance to temperature and precipitation extremes, according to the article. The authors write that their conclusions could apply to other economically important crops, including cocoa and tea. Note: this article is the subject of a separate BioScience press release dated 9/25/08 entitled "Shade Trees Can Protect Coffee Crops."

The Cambrian Explosion: How Do We Use the Evidence?
Jeffrey S. Levinton.

This article, derived from a talk given to educators, summarizes the state of play in the long-running debate about the apparently very rapid radiation of animal forms around 530 million years ago. Molecular and fossil evidence do not agree precisely about the sequence of events, but indications now are that the "explosion" may have been less sudden than was once thought.

The Science-Policy Interface: What is an Appropriate Role for Professional Societies?
J. Michael Scott, Janet L. Rachlow, and Robert T. Lackey.

Scientists and their professional societies are seeking to increase their influence, but the authors urge caution. They argue that societies can be most effective by conducting rigorous research that is relevant to policy and conveying the results well to all interested parties, not by advocating for particular policy decisions.

The Resurrection Initiative: Storing Ancestral Genotypes to Capture Evolution in Action.
Steven J. Franks, John C. Avise, William E. Bradshaw, Jeffrey K. Conner, Julie R. Etterson, Susan J. Mazer, Ruth G. Shaw, and Arthur E. Weis.

Participants at a workshop advance a plan to systematically collect, preserve, and archive genetic material from plants for future studies of evolutionary change. The plandistinct from preservation efforts based on existing seed bankscould help scientists understand and predict the effects on plants of global climate change.


Contact: Jennifer Williams
202-628-1500 x209
American Institute of Biological Sciences

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