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Novel communities are a risky business

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As in business, most action in biodiversity happens in turnover. Net changes in balance give us some indication of performance. However, knowing the volumes of income and payments that make up that balance conveys much more information about how a business is operating. The same is true of ecological communities: Knowing net changes in the number of species is useful, but the gains and losses of species encapsulated in turnover hold essential information about biodiversity change. High turnover is emerging as the signature of biodiversity patterns in the Anthropocene (13), raising questions as to the causes and consequences of high turnover in biodiversity. On page 220 of this issue, Pandolfi et al. (4) look into the deeper past to identify when turnover is so increased that it results in completely new combinations of species, known as novel communities.

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How neuron types encode behavioral states

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What is the contribution of molecularly defined cell types to neural coding of stimuli and states? Xu et al. aimed to evaluate neural representation of multiple behavioral states in the mouse paraventricular hypothalamus. To achieve this goal, they combined deep-brain two-photon imaging with post hoc validation of gene expression in the imaged cells. The behavioral states could be well predicted by the neural response of multiple neuronal clusters. Some clusters were broadly tuned and contributed strongly to the decoding of multiple behavioral states, whereas others were more specifically tuned to certain behaviors or specific time windows of a behavioral state.

Science, this issue p. eabb2494

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Fiber tension enables tissue scaling

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Tissue development, homeostasis, and repair require cells to sense mechanical forces. Although many molecular actors implicated in cell mechanosensitivity have been extensively studied, the basis by which cells adapt their mechanical responses to their geometry remains poorly defined. López-Gay et al. now identify how two fundamental epithelial structures—stress fibers and tricellular junctions—endow Drosophila cells with an internal ruler to scale their mechanical response with their area. This work explains how cells of different sizes within an epithelial tissue collectively adapt their mechanical response to control tissue shape and proliferation. Scaling of biological properties with size is a core property of other biological systems.

Science, this issue p. eabb2169

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Improving prosthetics

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People who use upper- and lower-limb prosthetics face numerous challenges caused by limitations in the interface between person and machine. Ideally, prosthetics should have bidirectional communication between the user and the device so that people can easily and intuitively use their devices. Key to bidirectional interfacing is motor control and sensing. In a Perspective, Raspopovic discusses approaches to providing improved motor control and sensing through various sensors and implants. Recent studies suggest that motor control and sensing can be combined to improve the experience for users of prosthetics, but there are many challenges to overcome to ensure that such neurotechnologies improve quality of life and can be tolerated.

Science, this issue p. 290

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