Saltwater- and freshwater environments have opposing physiological challenges, yet, there are fish species that are able to enter both habitats during short time-spans, and as individuals they must therefore adjust quickly to osmoregulatory contrasts. In this study, we conducted an experiment to test for plastic responses to abrupt sainity changes in two poplulations of threespine stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus, representing two ecotypes (freshwater and ancestral saltwater). We exposed both ecotypes to abrupt native (control treatment) and non-native salinities (0 and 30‰) and sampled gill-tissue for transcriptomic analyses after six hours exposure. To investigate genomic responses to salinity, we analysed four different comparisons; one for each ecotype (in their control and exposure salinity; 1 and 2), one between ecotypes in their control salinity (3), and the fourth comparison included all transcripts identified in (3) that did not show any expressional changes within ecotype in either the control or the exposed salinity (4). Abrupt salinity transfer affected the expression of 10 and 1530 transcripts for the saltwater and freshwater ecotype, respectively, and 1314 were differentially expressed between the controls, including 502 that were not affected by salinity within ecotype (fixed expression). In total, these results indicate that factors other than genomic expressional plasticity are important for osmoregulation in stickleback, due to the need for opposite physiological pathways to survive the abrupt change in salinity.
Hypoxia has profound and diverse effects on aerobic organisms, disrupting oxidative phosphorylation and activating several protective pathways. Predictions have been made that exposure to mild intermittent hypoxia may be protective against more severe exposure and may extend lifespan. Both effects are likely to depend on prior selection on phenotypic and transcriptional plasticity in response to hypoxia, and may therefore show signs of local adaptation. Here we report the lifespan effects of chronic, mild, intermittent hypoxia (CMIH) and short-term survival in acute severe hypoxia (ASH) in four clones of Daphnia magna originating from either permanent or intermittent habitats, the latter regularly drying up with frequent hypoxic conditions. We show that CMIH extended the lifespan in the two clones originating from intermittent habitats but had the opposite effect in the two clones from permanent habitats, which also showed lower tolerance to ASH. Exposure to CMIH did not protect against ASH; to the contrary, Daphnia from the CMIH treatment had lower ASH tolerance than normoxic controls. Few transcripts changed their abundance in response to the CMIH treatment in any of the clones. After 12 hours of ASH treatment, the transcriptional response was more pronounced, with numerous protein-coding genes with functionality in mitochondrial and respiratory metabolism, oxygen transport, and, unexpectedly, gluconeogenesis showing up-regulation. While clones from intermittent habitats showed somewhat stronger differential expression in response to ASH than those from permanent habitats, there were no significant hypoxia-by-habitat of origin or CMIH-by-ASH interactions. GO enrichment analysis revealed a possible hypoxia tolerance role by accelerating the molting cycle and regulating neuron survival through up-regulation of cuticular proteins and neurotrophins, respectively.
Patagonia is an understudied area, especially when it comes to population genomic studies with relevance to fishery management. However, the dynamic and heterogeneous landscape in this area can harbor important but cryptic genetic population structure. Once such information is revealed, it can be integrated into the management of infrequently investigated species. Eleginops maclovinus is a protandrous hermaphrodite species with economic importance for local communities that is currently managed as a single genetic unit. In this study, we sampled five locations distributed across a salinity cline from Northern Patagonia to investigate the genetic population structure of E. maclovinus. We use Restriction-site Associated DNA (RAD) sequencing and outlier tests to obtain neutral and adaptive loci, using FST and GEA approaches. We identified a spatial pattern of structuration with gene flow and spatial selection by environmental association. Neutral and adaptive loci showed two and three genetic groups, respectively. The effective population sizes estimated ranged from 572 (Chepu) to 14,454 (Chaitén) and were influenced more by locality than salinity cline. We found loci putatively associated with salinity suggesting that salinity may act as a selective driver in E. maclovinus populations. These results suggest a complex interaction between genetic drift, geneflow, and natural selection in this area. Our findings suggest several units in this area, and the information should be integrated into the management of this species. We discuss the significance of these results for fishery management and suggest future directions to improve our understanding of how E. maclovinus is adapted to the dynamic waters of Northern Patagonia.
Telomeres, the terminal repetitive DNA sequences at the ends of linear chromosomes, have strong associations with longevity in some major taxa. Longevity has been linked to rate of decline in telomere length in birds and mammals, and absolute telomere length seems to be associated with body mass in mammals. Using a phylogenetic comparative method and 30 species of birds, we examined longevity (reflected by maximum lifespan), absolute telomere length, the rate of change in telomere length (TROC), and body mass (often strongly associated with longevity) to ascertain their degree of association. We divided lifespan into two life-history components, one reflected by body size (measured as body mass), and a component that was statistically independent of body mass. While both lifespan and body mass were strongly associated with a family tree of the species (viz., the phylogeny of the species), telomere measures were not. Telomere length was not significantly associated with longevity or body mass, or our measure of mass-independent lifespan. TROC, however, was strongly associated with mass-independent lifespan, but to a lesser degree with body mass. Our results supported an association of TROC and longevity, in particular longevity that was independent of body size and part of the pace-of-life syndrome of life histories.
The diet of an individual animal is subject to change over time, both in response to short-term food fluctuations and over longer time scales as an individual ages and meets different challenges over its life cycle. A metabarcoding approach was used to elucidate the diet of different life stages of a songbird, the Eurasian reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) over the summer breeding season of 2017. The faeces of adult, juvenile and nestling warblers were screened for invertebrate DNA, enabling identification of prey species. Dietary analysis was coupled with monitoring of Diptera in the field using yellow sticky traps. Seasonal changes in warbler diet were subtle whereas age class had a greater influence on overall diet composition. Age classes showed high dietary overlap, but significant dietary differences were mediated through the selection of prey, i) from different taxonomic groups, ii) with different habitat origins (aquatic versus terrestrial) and iii) of different average approximate sizes. Our results highlight the value of metabarcoding data for enhancing ecological studies of insectivores in dynamic environments.
Invasive predatory species are frequently observed to cause evolutionary responses in prey phenotypes, which in turn may translate into evolution of the prey’s population dynamics. Research has provided a link between rates of predation and the evolution of prey population growth in the lab, but studies from natural populations are rare. Here we tested for evolutionary changes in population dynamics parameters of zooplankton Daphnia pulicaria following invasion by the predator Bythotrephes longimanus into Lake Kegonsa, Wisconsin, US. We used a resurrection ecological approach, whereby clones from pre- and post-invasive periods were hatched from eggs obtained in sediment cores and were used in a 3-month growth experiment. Based on these data we estimated intrinsic population growth rates (r) and carrying capacities (K) using theta-logistic models. We found that post-invasion Daphnia maintained a higher r and K under these controlled, predation-free laboratory conditions. Thus, whereas previous experimental evolution studies of predator-prey interactions have demonstrated that genotypes that have evolved under predation have inferior competitive ability when the predator is absent, this was not the case for the Daphnia. Given that our study was conducted in a laboratory environment and the possibility for genotype-by-environment interactions, extrapolating these apparent counterintuitive results to the wild should be done with caution. However, barring such complications, we discuss how selection for reduced predator exposure, either temporally or spatially, may have led to the observed changes. This scenario suggests that complexities in ecological interactions represents a challenge when predicting the evolutionary responses of population dynamics to changes in predation pressure in natural systems.
We sought to assess effect of plant environmental adaptation strategies and evolutionary history and quantify the contribution of ecological processes to community assembly by measuring functional traits and phylogenetic composition in local forest community. We selected 18 dominant tree species in a Lithocarpus glaber–Cyclobalanopsis glauca evergreen broad-leaved forest and measured nine leaf functional traits and phylogenetic data of each species. We analyzed the variation in traits and trade-off relationships, tested phylogenetic effects on leaf functional traits, explored the influence of phylogeny and environment on leaf functional traits, and distinguished the relative effects of spatial and environmental variables on functional traits and phylogenetic compositions. The results showed the following: (i) Leaf traits had moderate intraspecific variation, and significant interspecific variation existed especially among life forms. (ii) Significant phylogenetic signals were detected only in leaf thickness and leaf area. The correlations among traits both supported “the leaf economics spectrum” at the species and community levels, and the relationships significantly increased or only a little change after removing the influence of phylogeny, which showed a lack of consistency between the leaf functional trait patterns and phylogenetic patterns. We infer the coexistent species tended to adopt “realism” to adapt to their habitats. (iii) Soil total potassium and phosphorus content, altitude, aspect, and convexity were the most critical environmental factors affecting functional traits and phylogenetic composition. Total environmental and spatial variables explained 63.38% of the variation in functional trait composition and 47.96% of the variation in phylogenetic structures. Meanwhile, the contribution of pure spatial factors was significantly higher than that of the pure environment. Neutral- theory-based stochastic processes played dominant roles in driving community functional trait assembly, but niche-theory-based determinative processes such as environmental filtering had a stronger effect on shaping community phylogenetic structure at a fine scale.
1. The encroachment of woody plants into grasslands is an ongoing global problem that is largely attributed to anthropogenic factors such as climate change and land management practices. Determining the mechanisms that drive successful encroachment is a critical step towards planning restoration and long-term management strategies. Feedbacks between soil and aboveground communities can have a large influence on the fitness of plants and must be considered as potentially important drivers for woody encroachment. 2. We conducted a plant-soil feedback experiment in a greenhouse between eastern redcedar Juniperus virginiana and four common North American prairie grass species. We assessed how soils that had been occupied by redcedar, a pervasive woody encroacher in the Great Plains of North America, affected the growth of big bluestem, little bluestem smooth brome, and western wheatgrass over time. We evaluated the effect of redcedar on grass performance by comparing the height and biomass of individuals of each grass species that were grown in live or sterilized conspecific or redcedar soil. 3. We found that redcedar created a negative plant-soil feedback that limited the growth of two species. These effects were found in both live and sterilized redcedar soils, indicating redcedar may exude an allelochemical into the soil that limits grass growth. 4. Synthesis. By evaluating the strength and direction of plant-soil feedbacks in the encroaching range, we can further our understanding of how woody pants successfully establish in new plant communities. Our results demonstrate that plant-soil feedback created by redcedar inhibits the growth of certain grass species. By creating a plant-plant interaction that negatively affects competitors, redcedars increase the probability of seedling survival until they can grow to overtop their neighbors. These results indicate plant-soil feedback is a mechanism of native woody plant encroachment that could be important in many systems yet is understudied.
Workers of the ant Cardiocondyla elegans drop female sexuals into the nest entrance of other colonies to promote outbreeding with unrelated, wingless males. Corroborating results from previous years we document that carrier and carried female sexuals are typically related and that the transfer initially occurs mostly from their joint natal colonies to unrelated colonies. Female sexuals mate multiply with up to seven genetically distinguishable males. Contrary to our expectation, the colony growth rate of multiple-mated and outbred female sexuals was lower than that of inbred or single-mated females, leading to the question of why female sexuals mate multiply at all. Despite the obvious costs, multiple mating might be a way for female sexuals to “pay rent” for hibernation in an alien nest. We argue that in addition to evading inbreeding depression from regular sibling mating over many generations, assisted dispersal might also be a strategy for minimizing the risk of losing all reproductive investment when nests are flooded in winter.
Allopreening occurs in many species of birds and is known for providing hygienic and social benefits. While this behavior has been studied between conspecifics, its occurrence among different species remains mysterious. Outside of captive environment, only a few records of interspecific allopreening exist. In this study, we describe our observations of Spot-necked Babbler (Stachyris strialata) preening Nonggang Babbler (Stachyris nonggangensis) in a non-captive environment in southern China. We provide three hypotheses (social dominance, cleaning mutualism, and hybridization) to explain the occurrence of this understudied behavior. We suggest that interspecific allopreening may not be as rare as we thought if we study this behavior under circumstances where it most frequently occurs. This study contributes to our understanding of not only the potential mechanism(s) for interspecific allopreening but also the behavioral ecology of the vulnerable Nonggang Babbler.
Intense fishing pressure and climate change are major threats to fish populations and coastal fisheries. Larimichthys crocea (large yellow croaker) is a long-lived fish, which performs seasonal migrations from its spawning and nursery grounds along the coast of the East China Sea (ECS) to overwintering grounds offshore. This study used length-based analysis and habitat suitability index (HSI) model to evaluate current life-history parameters and overwintering habitat suitability of L. crocea, respectively. We compared recent (2019) and historical (1971-1982) life-history parameters and overwintering HSI to analyze the fishing pressure and climate change effects on the overall population and overwintering phase of L. crocea. The length-based analysis indicated serious overfishing of L. crocea, characterized by reduced catch yield, size truncation, constrained distribution, and advanced maturation causing a recruitment bottleneck. The overwintering HSI modeling results indicated that climate change has led to decreased sea surface temperature during L. crocea overwintering phase over the last half-century, which in turn led to area decrease and an offshore-oriented shifting of optimal overwintering habitat of L. crocea. The fishing-caused size truncation may have constrained the migratory ability and distribution of L. crocea subsequently leading to the mismatch of the optimal overwintering habitat against climate change background, namely habitat bottleneck. Hence, while heavily fishing was the major cause of L. crocea collapse, climate-induced overwintering habitat suitability may have intensified the fishery collapse of L. crocea population. It is important for management to take both overfishing and climate change issues into consideration when developing stock enhancement activities and policy regulations, particularly for migratory long-lived fish that share a similar life history to L. crocea. Combined with China’s current restocking and stock enhancement initiatives, we propose recommendations for future restocking of L. crocea in China.
Patterns of biodiversity provide insights into the processes that shape biological communities around the world. Variation in species diversity along biogeographical or ecological gradients, such as latitude or precipitation, can be attributed to variation in different components of biodiversity: changes in the total abundance (i.e. more-individual effects) and changes in the regional species abundance distribution (SAD). Rarefaction curves can provide a tool to partition these sources of variation on diversity, but first must be converted to a common unit of measurement. Here, we partition species diversity gradients into components of the SAD and abundance using the effective number of species (ENS) transformation of the individual-based rarefaction curve. Because the ENS curve is unconstrained by sample size, it can act as a standardized unit of measurement when comparing effect sizes among different components of biodiversity change. We illustrate the utility of the approach using two datasets spanning latitudinal diversity gradients in trees and marine reef fish, and find contrasting results. Whereas the diversity gradient of fish was mostly associated with variation in abundance (86%), the tree diversity gradient was mostly associated with variation in the SAD (59%). These results suggest that local fish diversity may be limited by energy through the more-individuals effect, while species pool effects are the larger determinant of tree diversity. We suggest that the framework of the ENS-curve has the potential to quantify the underlying factors influencing most aspects of diversity change.
An upsurge in anthropogenic climate change has accelerated the habitat loss and fragmentation of wild animal and plants. The rare and endangered plants is an important elements of biodiversity, but holistic conservation management has been hampered by lacking of detailed and reliable information about their spatial distribution. Our aim is to study the consequences of climate change on geographical distributions of a rare tree species Firmiana kwangsiensis (Malvaceae) to provide reference for conservation, introduction and cultivation of this species. Based on 30 effective occurrence records and 27 environmental variables, we modeling the potential distribution of F. kwangsiensis under current and two future climate scenarios in maximum entropy. We found that the potential suitable habitat boundary of F. kwangsiensis were limited by precipitation-associated variables and temperature-associated variables. Our model predicted 259,504 km2 of F. kwangsiensis habitat based on 25 percentile thresholds in contemporary, of which the high suitable area is about 41,027 km2. Guangxi’s protected areas provide the most coverage for F. kwangsiensis habitat. However, the existing reserves encompass 2.7% of the total suitable habitat and 4.2% of the high suitable habitat, which is lower than the average protection intensity in Guangxi (7.2%), meaning protected areas network is currently insufficient and alternative conservation mechanisms are needed to protect the habitat. Our findings will help to identify additional localities where F. kwangsiensis may exist, and also where it may spread to. It provides important information for the conservation management and cultivation of such rare tree species.
The Arctic Warbler (Phylloscopus borealis) is a cryptic songbird that uses a Nearctic-Paleotropical migratory strategy. Using geolocators, we provide the first documentation of the migratory routes and wintering locations of two territorial adult male Arctic Warblers from Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska. After accounting for position estimation uncertainties and biases, we found that both individuals departed their breeding grounds in early September, stopped over in southeastern Russia and China during autumn migration, then wintered in the Philippines and the island of Palau. Our documentation of Arctic Warbler wintering on Palau suggests that additional study is needed to document their wintering range. These results suggest that Arctic Warblers may migrate further overwater than previously thought and provide hitherto unknown information on stopover and wintering locations.
Climate change affects the species spatio-temporal distribution deeply. However, how climate affects the spatio-temporal distribution pattern of related species on the large scale remains largely unclear. Here, we selected two closely related species in Taxus genus Taxus chinensis and Taxus mairei to explore their distribution pattern. Four environmental variables were employed to simulate the distribution patterns using the optimized Maxent model. The results showed that the highly suitable area of T. chinensis and T. mairei in current period was 1.964×105km2 and 3.074×105km2, respectively. The distribution area of T. chinensis was smaller than that of T. mairei in different periods. Temperature and precipitation were the main climate factors that determined the potential distribution of the two species. The centroids of T. chinensis and T. mairei were in Sichuan and Hunan province in current period, respectively. In the future, the centroid migration direction of two species was almost opposite. T. chinensis would shift towards southwest, while T. mairei towards northeast. Our results revealed that the average elevation distribution of T. chinensis was higher than that of T. mairei. This study sheds new insights into the habitat preference and limiting environment factors of the two related species and provides a valuable reference for the conservation of these two endangered species.
Climate change is increasing aridity in grassland and desert habitats across the southwestern United States, reducing available resources and drastically changing the breeding habitat of many bird species. Increases in aridity reduce sound propagation distances, potentially impacting habitat soundscapes, and leading to a breakdown of the avian soundscapes in the form of loss of vocal culture, reduced mating opportunities, and local population extinctions. We developed an agent-based model to examine how changes in aridity will affect both sound propagation and the ability of territorial birds to audibly contact their neighbors. We simulated vocal signal attenuation under a variety of environmental scenarios for the south central semi-arid prairies of the United States, ranging from contemporary weather conditions to predicted extremes under climate change. We also simulated how changes in physiological conditions, mainly evaporative water loss (EWL), would affect singing behavior. Under extreme climate change conditions, we found significantly fewer individuals successfully contacted all adjacent neighbors than did individuals in either the contemporary or mean climate change conditions. We also found that at higher sound frequencies and higher EWL, fewer individuals were able to successfully contact all of their neighbors, particularly in the extreme and extreme climate change conditions. These results indicate that climate change-mediated aridification may disrupt the avian soundscape, such that vocal communication no longer effectively functions for mate attraction or territorial defense. As climate change progresses increased aridity in current grasslands may favor shifts toward low frequency songs, colonial resource use, and altered songbird community compositions.
Phenotypic plasticity in reproductive behaviour can be a strong driver of individual fitness. For example, in species with high intra-sexual competition, changes in socio-sexual context can trigger quick adaptive plastic responses in males. In particular, a recent study in the vinegar fly (Drosophila melanogaster) shows that males respond adaptively to perception of female cues in a way that increases their reproductive success, but we ignore the underlying mechanisms of this phenomenon. Here, we aimed to fill this gap by investigating the short-term effects of female perception on male pre- and post-copulatory components of reproductive success: a) mating success, b) mating latency and duration, c) sperm competitiveness, and d) ejaculate effects on female receptivity and oviposition rate. We found that brief sexual perception increased mating duration, but had no effect on the main pre- or post-copulatory fitness proxies. These results tie up with previous findings to suggest that male adaptive responses to sexual perception are not due to a short-term advantage, but rather to fitness benefits that play out across the entire male lifespan.
Anthropogenic and climatic factors affect the survival of animal species. Chinese pangolins are a critically endangered species, and identifying which variables lead to local extinction events is essential for conservation management. Local chronicles in China serve as long-term monitoring data, providing a perspective to disentangle the roles of human impacts and climate changes in local extinctions. Through a generalized additive model, extinction risk assessment model and principal component analysis, we combined information from local chronicles over a period of three hundred years (1700-2000) and reconstructed environmental data to determine the causes of local extinctions of the Chinese pangolin in China. Our results showed that the extinction probability increased with population growth and climate warming. An extinction risk assessment indicated that the population and distribution range of Chinese pangolins has been persistently shrinking in response to highly intensive human activities (main cause) and climate warming. Overall, the factors that cause local extinction, intensive human interference and drastic climatic fluctuations induced by global warming, might increase the local extinction rate of Chinese pangolins. Approximately 25% of extant Chinese pangolins are confronted with a notable extinction risk (0.36≤extinction probability≤0.93), specifically those distributed in Southeast China, including Guangdong, Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Hunan, Fujian, Jiangsu and Taiwan Provinces. To rescue this endangered species, we suggest strengthening field investigations, identifying the exact distribution range and population density of Chinese pangolins and further optimizing the network of nature reserves to improve conservation coverage on the territory scale. Conservation practices that concentrate on the viability assessment of scattered populations could lead to the successful restoration of the Chinese pangolin population.