Browsing by Subject "REDUNDANCY"

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  • Eyherabide, Hugo Gabriel; Samengo, Ines (2018)
    The study of the neural code aims at deciphering how the nervous system maps external stimuli into neural activitythe encoding phaseand subsequently transforms such activity into adequate responses to the original stimulithe decoding phase. Several information-theoretical methods have been proposed to assess the relevance of individual response features, as for example, the spike count of a given neuron, or the amount of correlation in the activity of two cells. These methods work under the premise that the relevance of a feature is reflected in the information loss that is induced by eliminating the feature from the response. The alternative methods differ in the procedure by which the tested feature is removed, and the algorithm with which the lost information is calculated. Here we compare these methods, and show that more often than not, each method assigns a different relevance to the tested feature. We demonstrate that the differences are both quantitative and qualitative, and connect them with the method employed to remove the tested feature, as well as the procedure to calculate the lost information. By studying a collection of carefully designed examples, and working on analytic derivations, we identify the conditions under which the relevance of features diagnosed by different methods can be ranked, or sometimes even equated. The condition for equality involves both the amount and the type of information contributed by the tested feature. We conclude that the quest for relevant response features is more delicate than previously thought, and may yield to multiple answers depending on methodological subtleties.
  • Mammola, Stefano; Carmona, Carlos P.; Guillerme, Thomas; Cardoso, Pedro (2021)
    The use of functional diversity analyses in ecology has grown exponentially over the past two decades, broadening our understanding of biological diversity and its change across space and time. Virtually all ecological sub-disciplines recognise the critical value of looking at species and communities from a functional perspective, and this has led to a proliferation of methods for estimating contrasting dimensions of functional diversity. Differences between these methods and their development generated terminological inconsistencies and confusion about the selection of the most appropriate approach for addressing any particular ecological question, hampering the potential for comparative studies, simulation exercises and meta-analyses. Two general mathematical frameworks for estimating functional diversity are prevailing: those based on dissimilarity matrices (e.g. Rao entropy, functional dendrograms) and those relying on multidimensional spaces, constructed as either convex hulls or probabilistic hypervolumes. We review these frameworks, discuss their strengths and weaknesses and provide an overview of the main R packages performing these calculations. In parallel, we propose a way for organising functional diversity metrics in a unified scheme to quantify the richness, divergence and regularity of species or individuals under each framework. This overview offers a roadmap for confidently approaching functional diversity analyses both theoretically and practically.
  • Gammal, Johanna; Hewitt, Judi; Norkko, Joanna; Norkko, Alf; Thrush, Simon (2020)
    The biodiversity crisis has increased interest in understanding the role of biodiversity for ecosystem functioning. Functional traits are often used to infer ecosystem functions to increase our understanding of these relationships over larger spatial scales. The links between specific traits and ecosystem functioning are, however, not always well established. We investigated how the choice of analyzing either individual species, selected modalities, or trait combinations affected the spatial patterns observed on a sandflat and how this was related to the natural variability in ecosystem functioning. A large dataset of 400 benthic macrofauna samples was used to explore distribution patterns. We hypothesized that (1) if multiple species (redundancy) represent a trait combination or a modality their spatial patterns would be smoothed out, and (2) the lost spatial variability within a trait combination or modality, due to the smoothing effect, would potentially affect their utility for predicting ecosystem functioning (tested on a dataset of 24 samples). We predicted that species would show heterogeneous small spatial patterns, while modalities and trait combinations would show larger and more homogeneous patterns because they would represent a collection of many distributions. If modalities and trait combinations are better predictors of ecosystem functioning than species, then the smoother spatial patterns of modalities and trait combinations would result in a more homogeneous landscape of ecosystem function and the number of species exhibiting specific traits would provide functional redundancy. Our results showed some smoothing of spatial patterns progressing from species through modalities to trait combinations, but generally spatial patterns reflected a few dominant key species. Moreover, some individual modalities and species explained more or equal proportions of the variance in the ecosystem functioning than the combined traits. The findings thus suggest that only some spatial variability is lost when species are combined into modalities and trait combinations and that a homogeneous landscape of ecosystem function is not likely.
  • Mammola, Stefano; Cardoso, Pedro (2020)
    The use ofn-dimensional hypervolumes in trait-based ecology is rapidly increasing. By representing the functional space of a species or community as a Hutchinsonian niche, the abstract Euclidean space defined by a set of independent axes corresponding to individuals or species traits, these multidimensional techniques show great potential for the advance of functional ecology theory. In the panorama of existing methods for delineating multidimensional spaces, therpackagehypervolume(Global Ecology and Biogeography, 23, 2014, 595-609) is currently the most used. However, functions for calculating the standard set of functional diversity (FD) indices-richness, divergence and regularity-have not been developed within thehypervolumeframework yet. This gap is delaying its full exploitation in functional ecology, meanwhile preventing the possibility to compare its performance with that of other methods. We develop a set of functions to calculate FD indices based onn-dimensional hypervolumes, including alpha (richness), beta (and respective components), dispersion, evenness, contribution and originality. Altogether, these indices provide a coherent framework to explore the primary mathematical components of FD within a multidimensional setting. These new functions can work either with hypervolume objects or with raw data (species presence or abundance and their traits) as input data, and are versatile in terms of input parameters and options. These functions are implemented withinbat(Biodiversity Assessment Tools), anrpackage for biodiversity assessments. As a coherent corpus of functional indices based on a common algorithm, it opens the possibility to fully explore the strengths of the Hutchinsonian niche concept in community ecology research.
  • Magioli, Marcelo; Micchi de Barros Ferraz, Katia Maria Paschoaletto; Chiarello, Adriano Garcia; Galetti, Mauro; Freire Setz, Eleonore Zulnara; Paglia, Adriano Pereira; Abrego, Nerea; Ribeiro, Milton Cezar; Ovaskainen, Otso (2021)
    Land-use changes are a main driver of modifications in tropical ecosystems, leading to the loss of species and ecological traits and affecting key ecological functions. Although much attention has been given to predict the effects of species loss on ecological processes, information on the large-scale effects of land-use changes over ecological functions is scarce. Here, we detected erosion in the prevalence of ecological functions performed by mammals in response to land-use changes in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. By analyzing the loss of different ecological functions (vertebrate and invertebrate predation, seed dispersal, seed depredation, herbivory) performed by mammal assemblages in a deforestation gradient, we observed that vulnerable functions (performed by sensitive species, such as browsing, seed depredation, medium and large vertebrate predation) were positively related to patch size and forest cover and negatively related to anthropogenic cover. These relationships were reversed for persistent functions (performed by resilient species, such as grazing, small seed dispersal, small vertebrate and invertebrate predation). Vulnerable functions were virtually restricted to large forest remnants, while persistent functions were prevalent in human-modified landscapes. Disturbed forests are not necessarily empty of mammal species, but there is a substantial loss of ecological functions across most of the Atlantic Forest. Five out of ten ecological functions lose prevalence in small forest remnants. Nonetheless, these small remnants serve as refuges for the remaining biodiversity and are on the verge of the functional extinction of important processes. The erosion of ecological functions provided by mammals compromise the persistence of Atlantic Forest's biodiversity. (C) 2021 Associacao Brasileira de Ciencia Ecologica e Conservacao. Published by Elsevier B.V.
  • Mazel, Florent; Malard, Lucie; Niculita-Hirzel, Hélène; Yashiro, Erika; Mod, Heidi K.; Mitchell, Edward A. D.; Singer, David; Buri, Aline; Pinto, Eric; Guex, Nicolas; Lara, Enrique; Guisan, Antoine (2022)
    Protists are abundant and play key trophic functions in soil. Documenting how their trophic contributions vary across large environmental gradients is essential to understand and predict how biogeochemical cycles will be impacted by global changes. Here, using amplicon sequencing of environmental DNA in open habitat soil from 161 locations spanning 2600 m of elevation in the Swiss Alps (from 400 to 3000 m), we found that, over the whole study area, soils are dominated by consumers, followed by parasites and phototrophs. In contrast, the proportion of these groups in local communities shows large variations in relation to elevation. While there is, on average, three times more consumers than parasites at low elevation (400-1000 m), this ratio increases to 12 at high elevation (2000-3000 m). This suggests that the decrease in protist host biomass and diversity toward mountains tops impact protist functional composition. Furthermore, the taxonomic composition of protists that infect animals was related to elevation while that of protists that infect plants or of protist consumers was related to soil pH. This study provides a first step to document and understand how soil protist functions vary along the elevational gradient.