Trap nests made from stalks or stems of eudominant plants, such as Phragmites australis (reed) and Solidago canadensis (goldenrod), have been frequently used in previous studies. Nevertheless, trap nest occupancy in large stands of source plants remains poorly understood. We deployed trap nests made from stems with and stalks without parenchyma to steppic grasslands and terrestrial reed bed margins (64 localities in Central Europe) and matched the data with those from Moericke traps and phytocenologic relevés. The reed stalk trap nests attracted a much more abundant assemblage of Aculeata than the goldenrod stem trap nests. However, a large part of the species nesting in goldenrod stem trap nests overlapped with the species that used (and preferred) reed stalk trap nests. Ten aculeate species, which were present in large amounts in trap nests, were completely absent from the Moericke traps, and others were present in limited quantities. In natural habitats, trap-nesting bees and wasps had lower dominance but similar Fisher alpha values as those in anthropogenic habitats. Cavities in stems with or stalks without parenchyma served as previously undervalued nesting resources and an important monitoring tool. Trap-nesting species readily adopted broken stems and stalks even within stands of the source plants, the common reed and the goldenrod. Therefore, the conservation of threatened bee and wasp species that are associated with these cavities and are limited to habitats of natural origin requires conservation management that allows the presence of broken stems and stalks of ≥1 year of age in the proximity of the potential feeding habitats.
Evaluations ecosystem health-based field studies can assist decision-makers in formulating more targeted conservation policies to better manage ecosystems and landscape. To analyze forest characteristics in the Zabarwan Mountain Range we used the Floristic Quality Assessment Index (FQAI) technique to evaluate the ecosystem health status of the vegetation. According to our findings, the forest area showed an FQAI rating of 61.41. The FQAI ranked 54 of the plant species growing in the forest region at 0, 30 species at 1–3, 51 species at 4–6, 30 species at 7–8, and 17 species at 9–10. Of the 54 alien species ranking 0, thirteen species were invasive, 36 were naturalized, and five were casual. Amoung the forest types, the Broadleaved forest harbored most alien species (35%) and the scrub forest the least (6%). Based on habitat-wise distribution, the largest (38%) species pool was observed in natural forest habitats, while human-modified habitat types harbord 51% of species. Roadsides exhibited the by far highest alien species number (45%) together with other anthropogenic habitats. The investigation of indicator species revealed a separation between the various ranking groups, as evidenced by high indicator values. Important alien indicator species ranking 0 were i.e., Aesculus indica, Ailanthus altissima, Celtis australis, Daucus carota, Poa bulbosa, Prunus armeniaca, Prunus cerasus, Quercus robur, and Salix alba, which showed a significant p-value for indicator species analysis. The findings of this study provide a method for measuring vegetation communities' responses to alien invasions and as a result can serve for developing management methods to preserve ecosystems, particularly in protected areas, from this biodiversity threat.
Background and aims: Foliar water uptake (FWU) has been documented in many species and is increasingly recognized as a non-trivial factor in plant-water relations. However, it remains unknown whether FWU is a wide-spread phenomenon in Pinus species, and how it may relate to needle traits such as the form and structure of stomatal wax plugs. In this contribution, these questions were addressed by studying FWU in current-year and one-year old needles of seven Pinus species. Methods: We monitored FWU gravimetrically and analyzed the needle surface with cryo-scanning electron microscopy. Additionally, we considered the effect of artificial wax erosion by application of the surfactant Triton TM X-100, which is able to alter wax crystals. Key results: The results show for all species that 1) FWU occurred, 2) FWU is higher in old needles compared to young needles, and 3) there is substantial erosion of stomatal wax plugs in old needles. FWU was highest in P. canariensis which shows a thin stomatal wax plug. Surfactant treatment enhanced FWU. Conclusions: The results of this study provide evidence for 1) widespread FWU in Pinus, 2) the influence of stomatal wax plugs on FWU, and 3) age-related needle surface erosion.
Throughout the Jurassic, a plethora of marine reptiles dominated ocean waters, including ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs and thalattosuchian crocodylomorphs. These Jurassic ecosystems were characterized by high niche partitioning and spatial variation in dietary ecology. However, while the ecological diversity of many marine reptile lineages is well known, the overall ecological diversification of Teleosauroidea (one of the two major groups within thalattosuchian crocodylomorphs) has never been explored. Teleosauroids were previously deemed to have a morphologically conservative body plan; however, they were in actuality morphofunctionally more diverse than previously thought. Here we investigate the ecology and feeding specializations of teleosauroids, using morphological and functional cranio‐dental characteristics. We assembled the most comprehensive dataset to date of teleosauroid taxa (approximately 20 species) and ran a series of principal component analyses (PC) to categorize them into various feeding ecomorphotypes based on 17 dental characteristics (38 specimens) and 16 functionally significant mandibular characters (18 specimens). The results were examined in conjunction with a comprehensive thalattosuchian phylogeny (153 taxa and 502 characters) to evaluate macroevolutionary patterns and significant ecological shifts. Machimosaurids display a well‐developed ecological shift from: (1) slender, pointed tooth apices and an elongate gracile mandible; to (2) more robust, pointed teeth with a slightly deeper mandible; and finally, (3) rounded teeth and a deep‐set, shortened mandible with enlarged musculature. Overall, there is limited mandibular functional variability in teleosaurids and machimosaurids, despite differing cranial morphologies and habitat preferences in certain taxa. This suggests a narrow feeding ecological divide between teleosaurids and machimosaurids. Resource partitioning was primarily related to snout and skull length as well as habitat; only twice did teleosauroids manage to make a major evolutionary leap to feed distinctly differently, with only the derived machimosaurines successfully radiating into new feeding ecologies. An investigation into teleosauroid functional morphology and ecological diversification. Using dental and mandibular characteristics, results suggest that teleosauroids displayed limited mandibular functional variability, aside from certain subgroups which exploited larger/harder prey items.
INTEGRATIVE SYSTEMATICS 5 (2) 2022: 1-85. Based on detailed morphological and genetic investigation, 11 new species of Inocybe (I. abdita, I. alcis, I. carissima, I. cryptica, I. culicis, I. mecoana, I. mortenii, I. orioli, I. rangiferi, I. sepiana and I. turfae) are described. Six of the new species are smooth-spored and five are nodulose-spored. The new species are compared to 18 type specimens, all of which are described here and for seven of which (partial) ITS sequences have been generated. For six species, namely I. griseovelata, I. lacera, I. soluta, I. subcarpta, I. tarda and I. transitoria, a lectotype, epitype or neotype was selected, and a description and a figure plate are provided for each of them. Based on our studies, we are convinced that I. albofibrillosa and I. striatorimosa are synonymous with I. soluta, while I. aurantioumbonata is synonymous with I. tarda. Furthermore, we affirm that I. longicystis is synonymous with I. stellatospora. All of the new species are supported by phylogenetic analyses. In summary, we here describe as new, verify the taxonomic status of, or provide or corroborate morphological concepts for 29 species of Inocybe.
Abstract: The Early Jurassic Posidonienschiefer Formation in south-west Germany (Toarcian) records the first appear�ance of the stem-teleost group Pachycormidae in the fossil record. However, most pachycormid taxa remain poorly diag�nosed or undescribed, making questions of the morphological underpinnings of trophic diversification in the group difficult to address. Here we re-describe Saurostomus esocinus, a large (≤1710 mm) pelagic pachycormid, based on material from the type formation. Additional material of Saurostomus is identi�fied in near-coeval strata in Luxembourg, France and the UK, demonstrating a broad European distribution. We assign a neotype, and provide the first formal diagnosis and cranial reconstruction for this genus. Historical misconceptions regarding taxonomic identity of Saurostomus have caused numerous specimens to be conflated with the better known genus Pachycormus. In south-west Germany, Saurostomus is stratigraphically distributed across the tenuicostatum and ser�pentinum Zones, encapsulating six ammonite subzones, with an individual from the paltum subzone representing the oldest stratigraphic occurrence of Pachycormidae. Stout recurved teeth, powerful pectoral fins, a streamlined body, a pre-caudal scaly keel and remnants of coleoid gut contents indicate fast swimming capabilities and a pelagic teuthophagous ecology for Saurostomus esocinus. Cladistic analysis retains Saurostomus as sister to a clade comprising Ohmdenia and the suspension�feeding pachycormids. Several character states associated with the evolution of suspension-feeding are shared with Saurosto�mus, indicating S. esocinus, rather than Ohmdenia, to be the most basal pachycormid to have transitional suspension�feeding characteristics. The divergence of the suspension�feeding and macrophagous pachycormids therefore pre-dates the paltum subzone of the lower Toarcian.
Aim: The continuous spread of invasive species is attributed to demographic processes and high dispersal rates. Both can change and evolve during range expansion, eventually accelerating spread dynamics. Here, we document such an accelerated spread for one of the most invasive spiders in Europe, the dwarf spider Mermessus trilobatus, and test whether dispersal, reproduction or competitive ability is at the source of this pattern. Location: Europe. Time period: 1981-2021. Major taxon studied: Mermessus trilobatus (Arachnida: Araneae: Linyphiidae). Methods: First, we collected records from 21 countries across Europe to document the speed of progression of the invasion front over the last 40 years. Second, we collected live individuals from populations in the longest and more recently invaded areas and compared the dispersal propensity of offspring raised under standardized conditions. Third, we compared the reproduction and competitive ability of females derived from the populations of long-invaded areas against areas with more recent establishment. Results: The progression of the invaded range increased from about 150 km in the 1980s to some 400 km between 2010 and 2020. Dispersal-related behaviour was nearly twice as frequent in offspring from invasion front populations compared to the core area. By contrast, we found no differences in reproduction or competitive ability among the studied populations. Further, neither joint inheritance nor trade-offs of dispersal, reproduction or competitive ability were identified. Main conclusion: As high dispersal is recessively inherited in M. trilobatus, our results suggest that the accelerated invasion is due to the accumulation of dispersive but not more reproductive or competitive genotypes in newly colonized areas. Given the high climatic amplitude of the species in North America, we expect it to spread over the remaining parts of Europe and large parts of Asia in the coming decades. Accelerated range expansion through the evolution of dispersal behaviour could play a role in numerous arthropod invasions worldwide.
The Jurassic rocks exposed in the Blue Nile Basin (central western Ethiopia), particularly the thick, fossiliferous and widely distributed Antalo Limestone Formation (ALF) has recently been dated between early Callovian and late Tithonian based on the occurrence of calcareous nannofossils from the Mugher section near Dejen, Ethiopia. However, the top part of the ALF is not well exposed at Mugher; in this study, the top part of the ALF was sampled at the Kurar section (150 km north of Mugher). It yielded a nannofossil assemblage containing Helenea chiastia, whose first occurrence (FO) marks the base of the Tithonian NJT16a calcareous nannofossil subzone, and Faviconus multicolumnatus, whose FO is near the base of the NJ15b subzone and corresponds with the FO of the Tithonian zonal marker Polycostella beckmannii recorded at the Mugher section. This age is also corroborated by the presence of recently recorded calpionellids (Bonetinae subzone) and the presence of late Tithonian ammonites, Djurjuriceras cf. sinuosum Tavera and Oxylenticeras Spath from the Kurar section. Hence, the upper part of the ALF exposed at the Kurar and Mugher sections are of late Tithonian age, although at the Mertule Mariam section (60 km northwest of the Kurar section), late Berriasian calpionellids were recently found from the top part of the ALF.
Acquiring a subterranean lifestyle entails a substantial shift for many aspects of terrestrial vertebrates’ biology. Although this lifestyle is associated with multiple instances of convergent evolution, the relative success of some subterranean lineages largely remains unexplained. Here, we focus on the mammalian transitions to life underground, quantifying bone microanatomy through high‐resolution X‐ray tomography. The true moles stand out in this dataset. Examination of this family's bone histology reveals that the highly fossorial moles acquired a unique phenotype involving large amounts of compacted coarse cancellous bone. This phenotype exceeds the adaptive optimum seemingly shared by several other subterranean mammals and can be traced back to some of the first known members of the family. This remarkable microanatomy was acquired early in the history of the group and evolved faster than the gross morphology innovations of true moles’ forelimb. This echoes the pattern described for other lifestyle transitions, such as the acquisition of bone mass specializations in secondarily aquatic tetrapods. Highly plastic traits—such as those pertaining to bone structure—are hence involved in the early stages of different types of lifestyle transitions.
Reptiles represent the most speciose group of living tetrapods. They occupy a variety of niches and display a wide range of locomotory modes, both related to a high diversity of sensory and neurological mechanisms. However, little is known about the early evolution of these systems, as few studies on the brain of early reptiles exist. Old accounts consider parts of the brain based on the anatomical analysis of the braincase, but they do not include several brain regions and rarely consider it in a broader evolutionary scenario. Likewise, recent approaches remain rare and superficial, focusing in comparative analysis of other, late-diverging groups. Computed tomography scanning has been widely used to assess the paleoneurology of fossils, but such studies are still largely missing for early reptiles. Here, the morphological diversity of the encephalon and sensory systems of early reptiles is revised, and areas of potential interest are indicated for future research. The scarce data seems to corroborate a stepwise adaptation to terrestrial habitats, but subsequent back-to-water transitions remain poorly understood. Without proper information on early reptiles, our understanding of the paleobiology of these groups is weak, hampering our comprehension on the flourishing of reptile diversity.
A detailed middle Silurian to Early Devonian biomarker stratigraphic record was obtained from thermally well-preserved strata, sampled from a > 400 m long drill-core 25 from Podillya, Ukraine, deposited in the Podillyan peri-continental basin. These lipid biomarker records provide useful insights into the temporal changes in microbial ecology and ocean chemistry for this ancient, tropical shallow-marine reefal carbonate platform. The paleoenvironmental conditions favored sustenance of bacteria over algae (as indicated by elevated hopane/sterane ratios (average: 10.7, maximum value of 36.9); and appreciable 2α-methylhopanes and 3β-methylhopanes) in this nutrient-depleted, marine reefal habitat. The setting behind the reef tract in a lagoon and muted nutrient supply from the open ocean likely contributed to the persistently low primary productivity and low net biomass over millions of years of deposition. The most prolific algal primary producers were green algae consistent with a C29 sterane dominance. No detectable contributions of 24-n-propylcholestane (24-npc) and/or other C30 regular sterane compounds were found with GC–MRM-MS. Elevated 3β-methylhopane index values (3-MeHI; range: 3–13%, mean: 6.4%) were observed throughout the core interval, which is a characteristic associated with source contributions from methanotrophic bacteria and indicative of an enhanced marine methane cycle. This extends the previous findings of consistently high abundances of 3-methylhopanes for Ordovician marine environments to include a tropical, marine shelf setting persisting through the Silurian Period.
Continental ecosystems of the middle Permian Period (273–259 million years ago) are poorly understood. In South Africa, the vertebrate fossil record is well documented for this time interval, but the plants and insects are virtually unknown, and are rare globally. This scarcity of data has hampered studies of the evolution and diversification of life, and has precluded detailed reconstructions and analyses of ecosystems of this critical period in Earth’s history. Here we introduce a new locality in the southern Karoo Basin that is producing exceptionally well-preserved and abundant fossils of novel freshwater and terrestrial insects, arachnids, and plants. Within a robust regional geochronological, geological and biostratigraphic context, this Konservat- and Konzentrat-Lagerstätte offers a unique opportunity for the study and reconstruction of a southern Gondwanan deltaic ecosystem that thrived 266–268 million years ago, and will serve as a high-resolution ecological baseline towards a better understanding of Permian extinction events.
Madagascar hosts a great diversity of bird species. This study focuses on the description of the diversity and prevalence of blood parasites (Haemosporida, trypanosomes and filarioid nematodes) in 131 blood samples of 14 species of Corvoidea, namely vangas (Vangidae), Coracina cinerea (Campephagidae), Dicrurus forficatus (Dicruridae) and Terpsiphone mutata (Monarchidae) found in primary rainforests on Madagascar. Blood parasites were detected using both molecular and microscopic methods. Multiplex PCR was used to detect mixed haemosporidian infections and nested PCR was used to describe a 479 bp fragment of the haemosporidian cytochrome b (cytb) gene. Furthermore, a 770 bp SSU rRNA fragment of trypanosomes, and, for microfilariae, a 690 bp fragment of 28S rRNA, as well as a 770bp fragment of 28S rRNA, were amplified for identification using nested PCRs. Phylogenetic analyses were carried out for all sequences obtained from all blood parasite taxa. Over half of the samples (54.2%; n = 71) were infected with Haemosporida, whereas only 21.4% (n = 28) were infected with Trypanosoma and 5.3% (n = 7) contained filarioid nematode DNA. Fourteen of 56 blood smears contained some of the above-mentioned parasite taxa. The results corroborate the great diversity of blood parasites in the different bird species studied, especially in vangas. Vangas had the greatest diversity of parasites found, as well as the highest number of multiple infections, which may be due to their morphological diversity and resulting habitat use. Fifteen haemosporidian lineages, seven Trypanosoma and five filarioid nematode isolates were newly discovered in the avian species studied, particularly in the vangas. Members of the other Corvoidea families on Madagascar showed a lower susceptibility for avian haemosporidian parasites than vangas, which could be attributed to possible resistance against those parasites. The study confirmed the host specificity of some Haemosporida and microfilariae; however, it demonstrated that this was not the case for Trypanosoma.
Ambophily, the mixed mode of wind and insect pollination is still poorly understood, even though it has been known to science for over 130 years. While its presence has been repeatedly inferred, experimental data remain regrettably rare. No specific suite of morphological or ecological characteristics has yet been identified for ambophilous plants and their ecology and evolution remain uncertain. In this review we summarise and evaluate our current understanding of ambophily, primarily based on experimental studies. A total of 128 ambophilous species - including several agriculturally important crops - have been reported from most major habitat types worldwide, but this probably represents only a small subset of ambophilous species. Ambophilous species have evolved both from wind- and insect-pollinated ancestors, with insect-pollinated ancestors mostly representing pollination by small, generalist flower visitors. We compiled floral and reproductive traits for known ambophilous species and compared our results to traits of species pollinated either by wind or by small generalist insects only. Floral traits were found to be heterogeneous and strongly overlap especially with those of species pollinated by small generalist insects, which are also the prominent pollinator group for ambophilous plants. A few ambophilous species are only pollinated by specialised bees or beetles in addition to pollination by wind. The heterogeneity of floral traits and high similarity to generalist small insect-pollinated species lead us to conclude that ambophily is not a separate pollination syndrome but includes species belonging to different insect- as well as wind-pollination syndromes. Ambophily therefore should be regarded as a pollination mode. We found that a number of ecological factors promoted the evolution of ambophily, including avoidance of pollen limitation and self-pollination, spatial flower interference and population density. However, the individual ecological factors favouring the transition to ambophily vary among species depending on species distribution, habitat, population structure and reproductive system. Finally, a number of experimental studies in combination with observations of floral traits of living and fossil species and dated phylogenies may indicate evolutionary stability. In some clades ambophily has likely prevailed for millions of years, for example in the castanoid clade of the Fagaceae.
In contrast to other kinds of biological interactions, symbiosis is a scarcely investigated aspect of the fossil record. This is largely due to taphonomic biases that often frustrate any attempt to make a strong case that two organisms shared an intimate association in life. Among extant marine vertebrates, the sea turtles (Cheloniidae and Dermochelyidae) bear a broad and diverse spectrum of epibiotic symbionts, including specialists such as the turtle barnacles (Chelonibiidae and Platyleapa-didae). Here, we reappraise an early Oligocene (Rupelian) fossil cheloniid skeleton, featuring the remains of cirripedes on the exterior of its entoplastron, from the Rauenberg fossil-lagerstätte, southwestern Germany. The barnacle specimens are assigned to Protochelonibia melleni, an extinct protochelonibiine species and the geologically oldest known member of Chelonibiidae. In the light of taphonomic and palaeoenvironmental considerations, and given that the extant chelonibiids are mostly known as epizoic symbionts of sea turtles, we conclude that this unique fossil association resulted from the epizoic growth of the barnacles on the external surface of the plastron of the turtle during its lifetime. This remarkable fossil association provides evidence that chelonibiids, including the extinct protochelonibiines, have been chelonophilic epizoans for more than 30 Myr. A survey of the trace and body fossil records shows that platylepadids are also likely as old as the Rupelian as is their symbiotic association with cheloniid hosts. This early emergence of the modern-looking, turtle-dwelling barnacle lineages corresponds to a climate-driven phase of major radiation and taxonomic turnover among sea turtles at the Eocene-Oligocene transition.
Rhodoliths occur extensively around the shores of Fuerteventura Island in the Canary Archipelago, with Lithothamnion cf. corallioides being the most prominent species. A large number of rhodoliths end up washed onshore, the debris from which contributes to the formation of sediments constituting modern beaches. In a previous study by one of the co-authors (MEJ), the northern coast of Fuerteventura was shown to comprise various types of rhodolith deposits such as beach, platform overwash, tidal pools, coastal dunes, and others. An extraordinary example of stranded rhodoliths is located near Caleta del Bajo de Mejillones, approximately 3 km west of Corralejo, on the north coast of the island. The deposit forms a supratidal beach 120 m long and 10 m wide that sits above the landward termination of an extensive wavecut platform eroded in basalt and exposed at low tide to a width of 130 m perpendicular to shore. Here, rhodoliths are very small (<3 cm) resembling popcorn, and the locality is known as the “Popcorn Beach”. Other examples are berms up to 150 m long and 9 m wide at Caleta del Bajo de Mejillones, or an exposed beach at Playa del Hierro with an area of more than 1500 m2 covered entirely of very coarse rhodolith sand. Extensive living rhodolith beds were found at a water depth of 22 m.
The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework currently is under development as part of the Convention of Biodiversity's aim to prevent global biodiversity losses by 2050, but targets can only be effectively developed and assessed if the data used for them are fit for purpose. The monitoring framework has been discussed at length and ensuring appropriate data use is critical to target effectiveness, enabling the monitoring of global biodiversity trends and assessment of target success. We outline a vision for how conservation data resources can be improved via automation and other routes to greatly enhance both ease of use and effectiveness for conservation. Synthesis across different types of data is urgently needed and could be enabled by a unified data system and automated workflows for cross-validation between data types, with downstream products such as grades for expert range maps that reflect their underlying bases and data quality and reliability to determine their fit for analysis, as well as automated preliminary IUCN assessments to expedite conservation. Capacity building and collaboration rooted in international agreements will be necessary for these initiatives to effectively function globally to enable new global targets to be achieved for effective conservation and targeted resource mobilization at all scales.
The conservation of biodiversity is a central imperative of the 21st century. Subterranean ecosystems deliver critical nature's contributions to people and harbour a broad diversity of poorly-understood specialized organisms that are of interest from both a conservation and evolutionary perspective. However, the subterranean biome is still systematically overlooked in global biodiversity targets and conservation agendas. The main objective of this study was to assess how far subterranean biodiversity is represented in protected areas (Natura 2000 and Emerald networks) in two global hotspots of subterranean biodiversity (the Pyrenees and the Alps). For this, we used the most complete databases of terrestrial subterranean biodiversity known to us, i.e., leiodids (beetles) from the Pyrenees and spiders from the Alps, and identi ed priority areas in each region using both species richness and geographic rarity patterns. Our results show the incapacity of surface protected area networks to represent subterranean fauna, as more than 70 and 90% of the identi ed priority areas (and the 40 and 22% of the species) are not effectively covered by protected areas in the Pyrenees and the Alps, respectively. These ndings call for urgent policies and would be key to developing a coherent plan for subterranean biodiversity conservation within the European Biodiversity Strategy for 2030.
The past climatic changes caused repeated distribution shifts within insect populations leading to a highly diverse fauna in the mountain regions, which have acted as a refuge for many groups. There, some taxa have adapted to high altitudes and cold climatic conditions. One of those is the highly diverse and Holarctic subgenus Cryobius Chaudoir, 1838 (Carabidae: Pterostichus) including both locally and widely distributed species. Isolated and morphologically divergent populations of the same species led to the description of many subspecies. Until now, there has been no comprehensive work concerning the phylogeny of Cryobius, and genetic data on this taxon are sparse. This study is the first to provide insights into the molecular phylogeny of this subgenus, focusing on species from the Pyrenean and Cantabrian mountain systems. Cryobius specimens were sequenced targeting mitochondrial and nuclear genes. A molecular phylogeny was then built, merging the new data with genetic data from online public databases. All species of Cryobius included in this study form a monophyletic clade within Pterostichus. The synonymy of the two former taxa Pyreneorites and Haptoderus with Cryobius is confirmed by this study. Cryobius of the Pyreneo-Cantabrian area are closely related. Moreover, several well-supported clades of local species were found. The results further indicate a relation between Nearctic and Eastern Pale-arctic Cryobius, in agreement with the theory of faunal and floral colonization of North America via the Bering land bridge.
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