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Title: Lessons from the invasion of Spartina alterniflora in coastal China
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National Science Foundation
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  1. Summary

    Plant smallRNAs (sRNAs) modulate key physiological mechanisms through post‐transcriptional and transcriptional silencing of gene expression. SmallRNAs fall into two major categories: those are reliant onRNA‐dependentRNApolymerases (RDRs) for biogenesis and those that are not. KnownRDR1/2/6‐dependentsRNAs include phased and repeat‐associated short interferingRNAs, while knownRDR1/2/6‐independentsRNAs are primarily microRNAs (miRNA) and other hairpin‐derivedsRNAs. In this study we produced and analyzedsRNA‐seq libraries fromrdr1/rdr2/rdr6triple mutant plants. We found 58 previously annotated miRNAloci that were reliant onRDR1, ‐2, or ‐6function, casting doubt on their classification. We also found 38RDR1/2/6‐independentsRNAloci that are notMIRNAs or otherwise hairpin‐derived, and did not fit into other known paradigms forsRNAbiogenesis. These 38sRNA‐producing loci have as‐yet‐undescribed biogenesis mechanisms, and are frequently located in the vicinity of protein‐coding genes. Altogether, our analysis suggests that these 38 loci represent one or more undescribed types ofsRNAinArabidopsis thaliana.

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  3. Abstract

    Patterns ofδ18O andδ2H in Earth's precipitation provide essential scientific data for use in hydrological, climatological, ecological and forensic research. Insufficient global spatial data coverage promulgated the use of gridded datasets employing geostatistical techniques (isoscapes) for spatiotemporally coherent isotope predictions. Cluster‐based isoscape regionalization combines the advantages of local or regional prediction calibrations into a global framework. Here we present a revision of a Regionalized Cluster‐Based Water Isotope Prediction model (RCWIP2) incorporating new isotope data having extensive spatial coverage and a wider array of predictor variables combined with high‐resolution gridded climatic data. We introduced coupling ofδ18O andδ2H (e.g.,d‐excess constrained) in the model predictions to prevent runaway isoscapes when each isotope is modelled separately and cross‐checked observed versus modelledd‐excess values. We improved model error quantification by adopting full uncertainty propagation in all calculations. RCWIP2 improved the RMSE over previous isoscape models by ca. 0.3 ‰ forδ18O and 2.5 ‰ forδ2H with an uncertainty <1.0 ‰ forδ18O and < 8 ‰ forδ2H for most regions of the world. The determination of the relative importance of each predictor variable in each ecoclimatic zone is a new approach to identify previously unrecognized climatic drivers on mean annual precipitationδ18O andδ2H. The improved RCWIP2 isoscape grids and maps (season, monthly, annual, regional) are available for download at

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    Assessing the environmental factors that influence the ability of a threatened species to move through a landscape can be used to identify conservation actions that connect isolated populations. However, direct observations of species' movement are often limited, making the development of alternate approaches necessary. Here we use landscape genetic analyses to assess the impact of landscape features on the movement of individuals between local populations of a threatened snake, the eastern massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus). We linked connectivity data with habitat information from two landscapes of similar size: a large region of unfragmented habitat and a previously studied fragmented landscape consisting of isolated patches of habitat. We used this analysis to identify features of the landscape where modification or acquisition would enhance population connectivity in the fragmented region. We found evidence that current connectivity was impacted by both contemporary land‐cover features, especially roads, and inherent landscape features such as elevation. Next, we derived estimates of expected movement ability using a recently developed pedigree‐based approach and least‐cost paths through the unfragmented landscape. We then used our pedigree and resistance map to estimate resistance polygons of the potential extent forS. catenatusmovement in the fragmented landscape. These polygons identify possible sites for future corridors connecting currently isolated populations in this landscape by linking the impact of future habitat modification or land acquisition to dispersal ability in this species. Overall, our study shows how modeling landscape resistance across differently fragmented landscapes can identify habitat features that affect contemporary movement in threatened species in fragmented landscapes and how this information can be used to guide mitigation actions whose goal is to connect isolated populations.

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