Hexbyte Glen Cove Community assembly trajectory of invertebrates in deadwood: Convergence after divergence thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Community assembly trajectory of invertebrates in deadwood: Convergence after divergence

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Non-metric MDS plots of fauna communities in logs showing convergence of community composition through the decomposition years (indicated above the panels) at F site (black) and S site (grey) at major clade level. Points are the tree species with abbreviations. Credit: ZUO Juan

Natural forests contain a large amount of deadwood, which is a key contributor to biodiversity. Deadwood provides habitats and resources for a huge variety of organisms including invertebrates. The habitats and resources change during decomposition by microbial and invertebrate decomposers, and this in turn can influence the associated organisms. Although there are many invertebrates in deadwood, little is known about their community dynamics, despite their great importance for the forest system.

Researchers from the Functional Ecology Group at the Wuhan Botanical Garden, collaborating with researchers from Netherlands, investigated invertebrate communities in decomposing logs of 10 tree species over four years in two contrasting forests in Netherlands. Six faunal groups, Annelida (earthworms), Chilopoda (centipedes), Coleoptera (beetles), Diplopoda (millipedes), Diptera (flies, midges) and Isopoda (woodlice) were studied.

According to the researchers, invertebrate communities were affected by tree species, decay stages and incubation forests.

The fauna community composition in the logs initially differed across tree species in the first year, which might be caused by interspecific difference in the fresh log features and traits. The initial decay provides a variety of different microhabitats, microclimates in and below bark types, and resources, including nutrients and sugars in fresh or degrading phloem and cambium. But the composition converged as bark and wood decomposition progressed over four years of decay.

Similar patterns of divergence followed by convergence were observed at three levels of taxonomic resolution (major clades level, family level and species level of macroinvertebrates) and at different hierarchical spatial scales (among tree species within site and between contrasting forests).

This study has shown important trajectories of invertebrate community assembly in deadwood, with a key role for effects of deadwood properties on invertebrate community composition. It adds fundamental insights into the current concepts of succession, and emphasizes that more functionally diverse tree and logs in different decay stages support rich invertebrate fauna in forest. These patterns could inform management decisions to promote invertebrate diversity.

The study, published in the journal Ecosystems, is titled “Fauna community convergence during decomposition of deadwood across and forests.”



More information:
Juan Zuo et al. Fauna Community Convergence During Decomposition of Deadwood Across Tree Species and Forests, Ecosystems (2020). DOI: 10.1007/s10021-020-00558-9

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Community assembly trajectory of invertebrates in deadwood: Convergence after divergence (2020, December 10)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Hidden symmetry could be key to more robust quantum systems, researchers find thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Hidden symmetry could be key to more robust quantum systems, researchers find

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Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Researchers have found a way to protect highly fragile quantum systems from noise, which could aid in the design and development of new quantum devices, such as ultra-powerful quantum computers.

The researchers, from the University of Cambridge, have shown that microscopic particles can remain intrinsically linked, or entangled, over long distances even if there are random disruptions between them. Using the mathematics of quantum theory, they discovered a simple setup where entangled particles can be prepared and stabilized even in the presence of noise by taking advantage of a previously unknown symmetry in .

Their results, reported in the journal Physical Review Letters, open a new window into the mysterious quantum world that could revolutionize future technology by preserving in , which is the single biggest hurdle for developing such technology. Harnessing this capability will be at the heart of ultrafast quantum computers.

Quantum systems are built on the peculiar behavior of particles at the and could revolutionize the way that complex calculations are performed. While a normal computer bit is an electrical switch that can be set to either one or zero, a quantum bit, or , can be set to one, zero, or both at the same time. Furthermore, when two qubits are entangled, an operation on one immediately affects the other, no matter how far apart they are. This dual state is what gives a quantum computer its power. A built with entangled qubits instead of normal bits could perform calculations well beyond the capacities of even the most powerful supercomputers.

“However, qubits are extremely finicky things, and the tiniest bit of noise in their environment can cause their entanglement to break,” said Dr. Shovan Dutta from Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory, the paper’s first author. “Until we can find a way to make quantum systems more robust, their real-world applications will be limited.”

Several companies—most notably, IBM and Google—have developed working quantum computers, although so far these have been limited to less than 100 qubits. They require near-total isolation from noise, and even then, have very short lifetimes of a few microseconds. Both companies have plans to develop 1000 qubit quantum computers within the next few years, although unless the stability issues are overcome, quantum computers will not reach practical use.

Now, Dutta and his co-author Professor Nigel Cooper have discovered a robust quantum system where multiple pairs of qubits remain entangled even with a lot of noise.

They modeled an atomic system in a lattice formation, where atoms strongly interact with each other, hopping from one site of the lattice to another. The authors found if noise were added in the middle of the lattice, it didn’t affect entangled particles between left and right sides. This surprising feature results from a special type of symmetry that conserves the number of such entangled pairs.

“We weren’t expecting this stabilized type of entanglement at all,” said Dutta. “We stumbled upon this hidden symmetry, which is very rare in these noisy systems.”

They showed this hidden symmetry protects the entangled pairs and allows their number to be controlled from zero to a large maximum value. Similar conclusions can be applied to a broad class of physical systems and can be realized with already existing ingredients in experimental platforms, paving the way to controllable entanglement in a noisy environment.

“Uncontrolled environmental disturbances are bad for survival of quantum effects like entanglement, but one can learn a lot by deliberately engineering specific types of disturbances and seeing how the particles respond,” said Dutta. “We’ve shown that a simple form of disturbance can actually produce—and preserve—many entangled pairs, which is a great incentive for experimental developments in this field.”

The researchers are hoping to confirm their theoretical findings with experiments within the next year.



Citation:
Hidden symmetry could be key to more robust quantum systems, researchers find (2020, December 9)

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Charles Darwin was right about why insects are losing the ability to fly thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Charles Darwin was right about why insects are losing the ability to fly

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Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

Most insects can fly.

Yet scores of species have lost that extraordinary ability, particularly on islands.

On the small islands that lie halfway between Antarctica and continents like Australia, almost all the insects have done so.

Flies walk, moths crawl.

“Of course, Charles Darwin knew about this wing loss habit of island insects,” says Ph.D. candidate Rachel Leihy, from the Monash University School of Biological Sciences.

“He and the famous botanist Joseph Hooker had a substantial argument about why this happens. Darwin’s position was deceptively simple. If you fly, you get blown out to sea. Those left on land to produce the next generation are those most reluctant to fly, and eventually evolution does the rest. Voilà.”

But since Hooker expressed his doubt, many other scientists have too.

In short, they have simply said Darwin got it wrong.

Yet almost all of these discussions have ignored the place that is the epitome of flight loss—those ‘sub-Antarctic’ islands. Lying in the ‘roaring forties’ and ‘furious fifties’, they’re some of the windiest places on Earth.

“If Darwin really got it wrong, then wind would not in any way explain why so many insects have lost their ability to fly on these islands,” said Rachel.

Using a large, new dataset on insects from sub-Antarctic and Arctic , Monash University researchers examined every idea proposed to account for flight loss in insects, including Darwin’s wind idea.

Reporting today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, they show that Darwin was right for this ‘most windy of places’. None of the usual ideas (such as those proposed by Hooker) explain the extent of flight loss in sub-Antarctic insects, but Darwin’s idea does. Although in a slightly varied form, in keeping with modern ideas on how flight loss actually evolves.

Windy conditions make insect flight more difficult and energetically costly. Thus, stop investing in and its expensive underlying machinery (wings, wing muscles) and redirect the resources to reproduction.

“It’s remarkable that after 160 years, Darwin’s ideas continue to bring insight to ecology,” said Rachel, the lead author of the paper.

Professor Steven Chown, also from the School of Biological Sciences, added that the Antarctic region is an extraordinary laboratory in which to resolve some of the world’s most enduring mysteries and test some of its most important ideas.



More information:
Wind plays a major but not exclusive role in the prevalence of insect flight loss on remote islands, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, rspb.royalsocietypublishing.or … .1098/rspb.2020.2121

Citation:
Charles Darwin was right about why insects are losing the ability to fly (2020, December 8)
retrieved 9 December 2020
from https://phys.org/news/2020-12-charles-darwin-insects-ability.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair

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