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Ventral plumage coloration in barn owls (Tyto alba) varies from immaculate white to dark red. Analysis of how the moon cycle affects foraging and reproduction shows that moonlight impairs performance of the reddest but not the whitest owls, whose more reflective plumage might exploit light aversion in prey to improve hunting success under full-moon conditions. An adult female barn owl is depicted.
Explorer-naturalist Alexander von Humboldt’s contributions to the fields of ecology, global change and geoscience fundamentally altered the way we view the natural world and our place in it. On the 250th anniversary of his birth, we look back over his life and compile a collection of articles inspired by his legacy.
Analysis of single-cell gene expression data and genome assemblies of five diverse metazoan species shows a tight link between conserved gene order and its relationship with cell type-specific gene expression.
An assessment of coral communities on more than 2,500 reefs across the Indo-Pacific identifies three categories of reef according to their functionality and vulnerability to ocean warming. This categorization reveals a sobering picture of today’s coral reefs, but also provides a foundation for their future management.
The conservation of ancient metazoan gene order is remarkable, yet the functionality of conserved regions is unclear. Using single-cell expression data for many metazoans, the authors identify conserved genomic regions conferring ancient cell type identity.
Sampling colonies of social spiders before and after a tropical cyclone strike, the authors find evidence of selection for aggressive phenotypes, and that regional variation in this trait may be influenced by the historical frequency of extreme events.
Analysing functional traits among plants, bacteria and fungi along a latitudinal gradient, the authors find evidence that microbial processes are tightly coupled to variation in plant traits via temperature.
A synthesis of global change experiments that manipulated temperature, precipitation, carbon dioxide or nitrogen identifies a need to consider site-specific factors and interactions in Earth system models.
An assessment of fish movement along stream networks of the southern Appalachian Mountains identifies species-intrinsic sensitivities and habitat characteristics that allow some fish to disperse to keep pace with climate change but prevent successful climate tracking in some species.
On moonlit nights, barn owls with white plumage are more successful hunters than those with red plumage. White owls trigger longer freezing times in their prey by exploiting their aversion to bright light, despite the fact that they can be more easily detected.
Surveys from 2,584 sites across the Indo-Pacific identify key climate, socioeconomic and environmental drivers associated with hard coral assemblages. This informs a strategic approach to protect, recover or transform coral reef management.
Long-term data on 26 reintroduced Alpine ibex populations show that inbreeding reduces per capita population growth rates, especially in harsher environmental conditions. These results validate conservation efforts to reduce inbreeding in rare species.