Yuval Itescu

Yuval Itescu
Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries and Freie Universität Berlin

PhD

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48
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3,248
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Publications

Publications (48)
Article
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One of the most challenging endeavors for students is choosing a career path that best fits their interests, wills and skills, and setting their professional goals accordingly. Such decisions are often made from within the culture of academia, in which mentors and peers are mainly familiar with the academic job market and lack the knowledge necessa...
Article
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Urbanisation is a major contributor to the loss of biodiversity. Its rapid progress is mostly at the expense of natural ecosystems and the species inhabiting them. While some species can adjust quickly and thrive in cities, many others cannot. To support biodiversity conservation and guide management decisions in urban areas, it is important to fin...
Article
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Amniote vertebrates share a suite of extra-embryonic membranes that distinguish them from anamniotes. Other than that, however, their reproductive characteristics could not be more different. They differ in basic ectothermic vs endothermic physiology, in that two clades evolved powered flight, and one clade evolved a protective shell. In terms of r...
Article
Small islets in the Mediterranean Sea are often home to reptiles, typically representing an impoverished sample of the continental fauna, yet with high population densities and signs of rapid morphological and behavioral evolution. In this paper, we present the first herpetofaunal survey of several small islet clusters in close proximity to the Med...
Article
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Body size evolution on islands is widely studied and hotly debated. Gigantism and dwarfism are thought to evolve under strong natural selection, especially on small remote islands. We report a curious co-occurrence of both dwarf and giant lizards on the same small, remote island (Plakida): the largest Podarcis erhardii (Lacertidae) and smallest Med...
Article
Populations of the same species occupying different microhabitats can either exhibit generalized traits across them or display intraspecific variability, adapting to each microhabitat in order to maximize performance. Intraspecific variability contributes to the generation of diversity, following selection and adaptation, and understanding such var...
Article
Insular animals are thought to be under weak predation pressure and increased intraspecific competition compared with those on the mainland. Thus, insular populations are predicted to evolve 'slow' life histories characterized by fewer and smaller clutches of larger eggs, a pattern called the 'island syndrome'. To test this pattern, we collected da...
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Isolation is a key factor in island biology. It is usually defined as the distance to the geographically nearest mainland, but many other definitions exist. We explored how testing different isolation indices affects the inference of impacts of isolation on faunal characteristics. We focused on land bridge islands and compared the relationships of...
Preprint
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Many mechanisms have been hypothesized to explain Bergmanns rule - the correlation of body size with latitude. However, it is not feasible to assess the contribution of hypothesised mechanisms by experimental manipulation or statistical correlation. Here, we evaluate two of the principal hypothesised mechanisms, related to thermoregulation and reso...
Article
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Animal lifespan is determined by extrinsic and intrinsic factors causing mortality. According to the evolutionary theories of senescence, when mortality pressures are low, animals delay reproduction. This enables species to grow more slowly and, consequently, natural selection can act against harmful mutations in adulthood, thereby increasing lifes...
Article
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Animal body sizes are often remarkably variable across islands, but despite much research we still have a poor understanding of both the patterns and the drivers of body size evolution. Theory predicts that interspecific competition and predation pressures are relaxed on small, remote islands, and that these conditions promote body size evolution....
Article
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p>In the version of this Article originally published, grant no. 2015/20215-7 for C.N. was omitted from the Acknowledgements section. This has now been corrected in all versions of the Article.</p
Article
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The distributions of amphibians, birds and mammals have underpinned global and local conservation priorities, and have been fundamental to our understanding of the determinants of global biodiversity. In contrast, the global distributions of reptiles, representing a third of terrestrial vertebrate diversity, have been unavailable. This prevented th...
Article
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In this Article originally published, owing to a technical error, the author ‘Laurent Chirio’ was mistakenly designated as a corresponding author in the HTML version, the PDF was correct. This error has now been corrected in the HTML version. Further, in Supplementary Table 3, the authors misspelt the surname of ‘Danny Meirte’; this file has now be...
Article
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We recently studied whether, on islands, predation or intraspecific aggression is the main driver of tail-loss, a common defense mechanism among lizards. We concluded the latter was the stronger driver (Itescu et al. 2017). Werner (2017) suggested that we failed to falsify an alternative hypothesis. He claims that on low-predation islands lizards l...
Article
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The gecko Mediodactylus kotschyi is considered rare in mainland Greece, yet it is very abundant on the Aegean islands. It has been thought to be saxicolous throughout much of its range. In a recent survey on the Pelopon-nese peninsula, however, we encountered it mainly on trees, and with higher frequency than previously reported. We combined our ob...
Article
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Vertebrate sex-determining mechanisms (SDMs) are triggered by the genotype (GSD), by temperature (TSD), or occasionally, by both. The causes and consequences of SDM diversity remain enigmatic. Theory predicts SDM effects on species diversification, and life-span effects on SDM evolutionary turnover. Yet, evidence is conflicting in clades with labil...
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Tail autotomy is mainly considered an anti-predator mechanism. Theory suggests predation pressure relaxes on islands, subsequently reducing autotomy rates. Intra-specific aggression, which may also cause tail loss, probably intensifies on islands due to the higher abundance. We studied whether tail autotomy is mostly affected by predation pressure...
Article
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Aim A major Late Quaternary vertebrate extinction event affected mostly large-bodied 'megafauna'. This is well documented in both mammals and birds, but evidence of a similar trend in reptiles is scant. We assess the relationship between body size and Late Quaternary extinction in reptiles at the global level. Location Global. Methods We compile a...
Article
Aim To map and assess the richness patterns of reptiles (and included groups: amphisbaenians, crocodiles, lizards, snakes and turtles) in Africa, quantify the overlap in species richness of reptiles (and included groups) with the other terrestrial vertebrate classes, investigate the environmental correlates underlying these patterns, and evaluate t...
Article
Full-text available
Vertebrate sex-determining mechanisms (SDMs) are triggered by the genotype (GSD), by temperature (TSD), or occasionally, by both. The causes and consequences of SDM diversity remain enigmatic. Theory predicts SDM effects on species diversification, and lifespan effects on SDM evolutionary turnover. Yet, evidence is conflicting in clades with labile...
Data
Figure S1. ML ancestral reconstruction of sex‐determining mechanisms in (A) squamates, and using the alternative SDM classification in (B) squamates and (C) lizards. Table S1A. Dataset used in this study. Table S1B. Taxonomic coverage of turtle and squamate families used in this study. Data S1. Results using alternative SDM assignment for specie...
Article
Modern conservation operates at the nexus of biological and social influences. While the importance of social and cultural factors is often mentioned, defining, measuring and comparing these factors remains a significant challenge. Here, we explore a novel method to quantify cultural interest in all extant reptile species using Wikipedia — a large,...
Article
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1.Home range is the area traversed by an animal in its normal activities. The size of home ranges is thought to be tightly linked to body size, through size effect on metabolic requirements. Due to the structure of Eltonian food pyramids, home range sizes of carnivores are expected to exceed those of herbivorous species. The habitat may also affect...
Article
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The island syndrome describes the evolution of slow life history traits in insular environments. Animals are thought to evolve smaller clutches of larger offspring on islands in response to release from predation pressure and interspecific competition, and the resulting increases in population density and intraspecific competition. These forces bec...
Article
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Luxuriant, bushy antlers, bizarre crests, and huge, twisting horns and tusks are conventionally understood as products of sexual selection. This view stems from both direct observation and from the empirical finding that the size of these structures grows faster than body size (i.e., ornament size shows positive allometry).We contend that the famil...
Article
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Human activities, especially conversion and degradation of habitats, are causing global biodiversity declines. How local ecological assemblages are responding is less clear[mdash]a concern given their importance for many ecosystem functions and services. We analysed a terrestrial assemblage database of unprecedented geographic and taxonomic coverag...
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Article
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The island rule describes a trend toward dwarfism of large animals and gigantism of small animals on islands. Studies of vertebrates, including reptiles, report conflicting results regarding the generality of this evolutionary pattern. We studied the size evolution of insular turtles at the intra- and interspecific levels, as well as the clade leve...
Article
Sexual size dimorphism (SSD) can allow males and females of the same species to specialize in different sized food items and therefore minimize intraspecific competition.Interspecific competition, however, is thought to limit sexual dimorphism, as larger competitors in the community will prevent the larger sex from evolving larger size, and smaller...