Archive for the ‘Science we read’ Category


WWF France released the report “Ancient Forests in the Northern Mediterranean: Neglected High Conservation Value Areas”, by Mansourian, S., Rossi, M. and Vallauri, D.

The report is available to download here:

Mediterranean forests is an ecoregion characterized as priority for conservation for several reasons. This report approaches the so-called “ancient forests”, a category of forest ecosystems that are partially covered by existing legislation and protection status, but not yet documented and described as such. There is a definition for “ancient forest” in the report:

“a general, relatively loose term to signify those forests that exhibit a number of fundamental forest ecological qualities, including ancientness but also complex structures, presence of deadwood, diversity of species and habitats, evidence of disturbance etc.”

Worth reading!


A UNEP publication.

Publication Date: October 2012

CBO – Action and Policy provides the summary of a global assessment of the links between urbanization, biodiversity, and ecosystem services. Drawing on contributions from more than 120 scientists and policy-makers from around the world, it summarizes how urbanization affects biodiversity and ecosystem services and presents 10 key messages for strengthening conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in an urban context.

Filetype: pdf
Filesize: 9.05 MB

A very interesting article on angiosperm evolution and phylogenetic trees. A great weekend lecture to read…

Smith, S.A., Beaulieu, J.M., Stamatakis, A. & Donoghue, M.J. 2011. Understanding angiosperm diversification using small and large phylogenetic trees. American Journal of Botany 98: 404–14. doi: 10.3732/ajb.1000481.

Genetic variation controls predation: Benefits of being a mosaic.

A genetically mosaic Eucalyptus tree is able to control which leaves are saved from predation because of alterations in its genes, finds an study published in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Plant Biology. Between two leaves of the same tree there can be many genetic differences — this study found ten SNP, including ones in genes that regulate terpene production, which influence whether or not a leaf is edible.


In 1936, leading statistician R. Fisher published a paper where he proves that Mendel’s results (the ones founding genetics as a science) were too good to be true. He – more or less – expressed the suspicion that the Mendel famous pea data were cooked. This has started a controversy that is still active today. Pires & Branco (2011) put an end to this debate. So was Mendel a crook? Read to find out!

A Statistical Model to Explain the MeImagendel–Fisher Controversy

Ana M. Pires, João A. Branco

(Submitted on 15 Apr 2011)

Published in at this http URL the Statistical Science (this http URL) by the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (this http URL).

Pdf available at:

To 1936 o R. Fisher δημοσίευσε μια δευτερογενή ανάλυση των στοιχείων του Mendel υποδεικνύοντας ξεκάθαρα ότι ο ιδρυτής της Γενετικής μαγείρεψε τα στοιχεία του. Αυτή η διαμάχη κρατά μέχρι και σήμερα. Στην εργασία που μπορείτε να κατεβάσετε από τον παραπάνω σύνδεσμο, δίνεται μια οριστική λύση στη διαμάχη. Ήταν λοιπόν λαμόγιο ο Μέντελ; Διαβάστε να μάθετε!

by Víctor Hugo Cambrón-Sandoval, Nahum M. Sánchez-Vargas, Cuauhtémoc Sáenz-Romero, J. Jesús Vargas-Hernández, María Luisa España-Boquera, Yvonne Herrerías-Diego,

New Forests, March 2013, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 219-232


Pinus pseudostrobus Lindl. is a widely distributed species in Mexico that also occurs in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador and has been tested outside its natural range in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, New Zealand, South Africa and Venezuela. Due to its great potential, it is necessary to select genotypes capable of increasing its production in the shortest possible time through genetic improvement strategies, where individuals are subjected to conditions forcing them to express their growth potential in advance. The objectives of the present study were to evaluate the genetic variation among half-sib progenies and to estimate heritability (h 2 ) of stem height (SH) and diameter (SD) for seedlings grown under different competitive conditions in a common garden trial. A split-plot experimental design with four replications and three competitive environments (treatments) was used: (I) low inter-family competition (0.25 × 0.12 m), (II) high inter-family competition (0.12 × 0.06 m), and (III) high intra-family competition; 13 half-sib families were assessed, carrying out monthly evaluations for 10 months. Estimated h 2 at individual and family-means levels for both SH and SD varied among competitive environments. For conditions I and II, a trend towards increasing h 2 with age of seedlings was shown, but for condition III, a reverse trend was observed (values close to zero). High genetic stability in SH performance was found in both I and II, and II and III, pairs of environments, as measured by the type-B genetic correlation (0.70 ≤ r B  ≤ 1.0), but it tended to decrease after 9 months, when competition increased; genetic stability in SD was lower (0.20 ≤ r B  ≤ 0.80) in both pairs of the environments that were sampled. It was concluded that the competition conditions used in field trials for genotype evaluation may significantly affect the variance components, estimation of genetic parameters and genotype stability.

Download and read the latest edition of Unasylva!

4 January 2013

This edition of Unasylva comes in the wake of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, which, among other things, produced a document called The Future We Want. In it, world leaders renewed their commitment to sustainable development and recognized the enormous capacity of forests to address many of the most pressing sustainable development challenges. The articles in this edition of Unasylva suggest that awareness of the role of forests, and a willingness to pay for that role, will grow in coming decades; forests are too culturally, ecologically, economically and socially important to be neglected for much longer. Their move into the mainstream of development policy will do the world a power of good.