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Volume 548 Issue 7666, 10 August 2017

The number of pollinators is in decline around the world. Multiple factors have been identified as contributing to this fall, including agricultural intensification and invasive alien species. Artificial light at night has also been suggested as a problem for nocturnal pollinators such as the elephant hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor) shown on the cover. In this issue, Eva Knop and her colleagues test this idea in a field experiment in Switzerland. They exposed ruderal meadows to artificial light at night, and monitored nocturnal and diurnal plant–pollinator interactions and the resulting pollination service. Pollinator visits to plants fell by 62% in the illuminated plots, and fruit set of a focal plant fell by 13%. They also found that the structure of combined diurnal and nocturnal networks meant that the negative consequences of disrupted nocturnal pollination could negatively affect daytime pollinator communities as well. The findings suggest that artificial light at night, which is spreading at an estimated rate of 6% per year, poses yet another threat to pollinators and the service they provide. Cover image: Malcolm Schuyl/Alamy


World View

Seven Days


News Feature


  • Comment |

    Emojis, smartphone technologies and revamped guidelines would boost transparency at scientific meetings, say Shai D. Silberberg and colleagues.

    • Shai D. Silberberg
    • Devon C. Crawford
    • Yvette R. Seger

Books & Arts

  • Books & Arts |

    Kevin Padian hails a stunning, provocative book probing evolutionary mechanisms.

    • Kevin Padian
  • Books & Arts |

    Barbara Kiser reviews five of the week's best science picks.

    • Barbara Kiser



News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Fossil evidence is scarce for early stages of evolution in the ape family tree at the time before apes and the ancestors of humans diverged. A 13-million-year-old skull now offers insights into ape development at that time. See Article p.169

    • Brenda R. Benefit


  • News & Views |

    Conventional sensors based on devices called optical resonators have fundamentally limited sensitivity. Careful engineering has been used to overcome this constraint, opening the door to ultraprecise sensing. See Letters p.187 & p.192

    • Mikael C. Rechtsman
  • News & Views |

    Details of the activity of promising anticancer drugs known as BET inhibitors remain elusive. An approach called click chemistry enables in-depth analysis of how these drugs modulate the function of a crucial target protein, BRD4.

    • George S. Vassiliou
    • Shankar Balasubramanian
  • News & Views |

    An analysis suggests that the time taken for ecosystems to recover from drought increased during the twentieth century. If the frequency of drought events rises, some ecosystems might never have the chance to fully recover. See Letter p.202

    • Sonia I. Seneviratne
    • Philippe Ciais
  • News & Views |

    The ability to become nearly any cell type is restricted to eggs, sperm and primitive stem cells in very early embryos. Two studies reveal that maintaining this pluripotent state in vitro comes at a cost. See Letters p.219 & p.224

    • Thomas P. Zwaka
  • News & Views |

    A modelling approach used to investigate competition between different species provides insight into how contests that have multiple players can help to maintain biodiversity. See Letter p.210

    • James P. O'Dwyer



  • Letter |

    In an analysis of a large sample of microlensing events, a few suggest the existence of Earth-mass free-floating planets, but only the expected number of Jupiter-mass free-floating objects were detected.

    • Przemek Mróz
    • Andrzej Udalski
    • Michał Pawlak
  • Letter |

    The response of a ternary, parity–time-symmetric system that exhibits a third-order exceptional point increases as a function of the cube-root of induced perturbations.

    • Hossein Hodaei
    • Absar U. Hassan
    • Mercedeh Khajavikhan
  • Letter |

    A global analysis of gross primary productivity reveals that drought recovery is driven by climate and carbon cycling, with recovery longest in the tropics and high northern latitudes, and with impacts increasing over the twentieth century.

    • Christopher R. Schwalm
    • William R. L. Anderegg
    • Hanqin Tian
  • Letter |

    The pollination service provided by nocturnal flower visitors is disrupted near streetlamps, which leads to a reduced reproductive output of the plant that cannot be compensated for by day-time pollinators; in addition, the structure of combined nocturnal and diurnal pollination networks facilitates the spread of the consequences of disrupted night-time pollination to daytime pollinators.

    • Eva Knop
    • Leana Zoller
    • Colin Fontaine
  • Letter |

    New genome-wide data for ancient, Bronze Age individuals, including Minoans, Mycenaeans, and southwestern Anatolians, show that Minoans and Mycenaeans were genetically very similar yet distinct, supporting the idea of continuity but not isolation in the history of populations of the Aegean.

    • Iosif Lazaridis
    • Alissa Mittnik
    • George Stamatoyannopoulos


  • Letter |

    Kinase-inactive Braf mutants can initiate the development of lung adenocarcinoma in mice; co-expression of activated Kras enhances tumour initiation and progression, and wild-type Braf is required to sustain tumorigenesis.

    • Patricia Nieto
    • Chiara Ambrogio
    • David Santamaría
  • Letter |

    Introducing a single ‘sticky’ (hydrophobic) amino acid by point mutation into symmetric protein complexes frequently triggers their association into higher-order assemblies, without affecting their native fold and structure.

    • Hector Garcia-Seisdedos
    • Charly Empereur-Mot
    • Emmanuel D. Levy


  • Feature |

    Institutions in Argentina and Brazil are struggling to maintain their funding and talent.

    • Anna Petherick



  • Futures |

    Seconds to disaster.

    • Vernor Vinge

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