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  1. Urban landscaping conversions can alter decomposition processes and soil respiration, making it difficult to forecast regional CO2 emissions. Here we explore rates of initial mass loss and net nitrogen (N) mineralization in natural and four common urban land covers (waterwise, waterwise with mulch, shrub, and lawn) from sites across seven colleges in southern California. We found that rates of decomposition and net N mineralization were faster for high-N leaf substrates, and natural habitats exhibited slower rates of decomposition and mineralization than managed urban landcovers, especially lawns and areas with added mulch. These results were consistent across college campuses, suggesting that our findings are robust and can predict decomposition rates across southern California. While mechanisms driving differences in decomposition rates among habitats in the cool-wet spring were difficult to identify, elevated decomposition in urban habitats highlights that conversion of natural areas to urban landscapes enhances greenhouse gas emissions. While perceived as sustainable, elevated decomposition rates in areas with added mulch mean that while these transformations may reduce water inputs, they increase soil carbon (C) flux. Mimicking natural landscapes by reducing water and nutrient (mulch) inputs and planting drought-tolerant native vegetation with recalcitrant litter can slow decomposition and reduce regional C emissions. 
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  2. null (Ed.)
    Abstract The Hawaiian archipelago was formerly home to one of the most species-rich land snail faunas (> 752 species), with levels of endemism > 99%. Many native Hawaiian land snail species are now extinct, and the remaining fauna is vulnerable. Unfortunately, lack of information on critical habitat requirements for Hawaiian land snails limits the development of effective conservation strategies. The purpose of this study was to examine the plant host preferences of native arboreal land snails in Puʻu Kukui Watershed, West Maui, Hawaiʻi, and compare these patterns to those from similar studies on the islands of Oʻahu and Hawaiʻi. Concordant with studies on other islands, we found that four species from three diverse families of snails in Puʻu Kukui Watershed had preferences for a few species of understorey plants. These were not the most abundant canopy or mid canopy species, indicating that forests without key understorey plants may not support the few remaining lineages of native snails. Preference for Broussaisia arguta among various island endemic snails across all studies indicates that this species is important for restoration to improve snail habitat. As studies examining host plant preferences are often incongruent with studies examining snail feeding, we suggest that we are in the infancy of defining what constitutes critical habitat for most Hawaiian arboreal snails. However, our results indicate that preserving diverse native plant assemblages, particularly understorey plant species, which facilitate key interactions, is critical to the goal of conserving the remaining threatened snail fauna. 
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  3. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Since 1955 snails of the Euglandina rosea species complex and Platydemus manokwari flatworms were widely introduced in attempted biological control of giant African snails ( Lissachatina fulica ) but have been implicated in the mass extinction of Pacific island snails. We review the histories of the 60 introductions and their impacts on L. fulica and native snails. Since 1993 there have been unofficial releases of Euglandina within island groups. Only three official P. manokwari releases took place, but new populations are being recorded at an increasing rate, probably because of accidental introduction. Claims that these predators controlled L. fulica cannot be substantiated; in some cases pest snail declines coincided with predator arrival but concomitant declines occurred elsewhere in the absence of the predator and the declines in some cases were only temporary. In the Hawaiian Islands, although there had been some earlier declines of native snails, the Euglandina impacts on native snails are clear with rapid decline of many endemic Hawaiian Achatinellinae following predator arrival. In the Society Islands, Partulidae tree snail populations remained stable until Euglandina introduction, when declines were extremely rapid with an exact correspondence between predator arrival and tree snail decline. Platydemus manokwari invasion coincides with native snail declines on some islands, notably the Ogasawara Islands of Japan, and its invasion of Florida has led to mass mortality of Liguus spp. tree snails. We conclude that Euglandina and P. manokwari are not effective biocontrol agents, but do have major negative effects on native snail faunas. These predatory snails and flatworms are generalist predators and as such are not suitable for biological control. 
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  4. Abstract Rye ( Secale cereale L.) is an exceptionally climate-resilient cereal crop, used extensively to produce improved wheat varieties via introgressive hybridization and possessing the entire repertoire of genes necessary to enable hybrid breeding. Rye is allogamous and only recently domesticated, thus giving cultivated ryes access to a diverse and exploitable wild gene pool. To further enhance the agronomic potential of rye, we produced a chromosome-scale annotated assembly of the 7.9-gigabase rye genome and extensively validated its quality by using a suite of molecular genetic resources. We demonstrate applications of this resource with a broad range of investigations. We present findings on cultivated rye’s incomplete genetic isolation from wild relatives, mechanisms of genome structural evolution, pathogen resistance, low-temperature tolerance, fertility control systems for hybrid breeding and the yield benefits of rye–wheat introgressions. 
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  5. The invasive predatory snail Oxychilus alliarius is established in many locations around the world including the Hawaiian Islands. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it negatively impacts indigenous snail species where it has been introduced, although such impacts have not been quantified. On the Hawaiian island of Oahu, we tested the hypothesis that indigenous snails, especially small ones (<3 mm in maximum dimension), would be less abundant where O. alliarius had established populations. Fifty-six sites at four locations were repeatedly surveyed for snails between July 2010 and April 2011. The composition of the snail fauna differed in relation to O. alliarius abundance, as well as location. Notably, the abundance of the native Succineidae was negatively related with that of O. alliarius. The abundance of the native Tornatellidinae was significantly related to O. alliarius abundance but this relationship differed among locations, negative at one site and positive at the other three; these snails do not appear to be negatively impacted by O. alliarius. We also monitored the rate of expansion of a newly introduced O. alliarius population along a transect through a bog on the summit of Oahu’s highest mountain, Mt. Kaala. The population’s range expanded linearly between 2008 and 2011 by approximately 300 m (mean c. 113 m/year). This is the first attempt to quantify the impacts of O. alliarius on threatened native island snail faunas. While the results are complex, its high abundance, rapid rate of population expansion and probable negative impacts on certain species caution vigilance in preventing its introduction and spread to as yet uninvaded islands and locations. 
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