Wolf spiders are typically the most common group of arthropod predators on both lake and marine shorelines, because of the high prey availability in these habitats. However, shores are also harsh environments due to flooding and, in proximity to marine waters, to toxic salinity levels. Here, we describe the spider community, prey availabilities and spider diets between shoreline sites with different salinities, albeit with comparatively small differences (5 vs. 7‰). Despite the small environmental differences, spider communities between low and higher saline sites showed an almost complete species turnover. At the same time, differences in prey availability or spider gut contents did not match changes in spider species composition but rather changed with habitat characteristics within region, where spiders collected at sites with thick wrack beds had a different diet than sites with little wrack. These data suggest that shifts in spider communities are due to habitat characteristics rather than prey availabilities, and the most likely candidate restricting species in high salinity would be saline sensitivity. At the same time, species absences from low-saline habitats remain unresolved.
Terrestrial resource pulses can significantly affect the community dynamics of freshwater ecosystems. Previously, its effect on the river community is considered to be stronger in summer, while weaker in winter when terrestrial invertebrates are less abundant. The movement of the terrestrial earthworms are triggered in winter, so they may be supplied to winter rivers as terrestrial resource pulse, but little is known about it. Here, we report that the massive numbers of the terrestrial earthworms were supplied intensively to an upstream of the small river in early winter. In particular, we found large numbers of Megascolecidae earthworms were supplied in an upstream of the small river in Northern Japan. Furthermore, we observed that supplied earthworms were consumed by salmonid fish species (masu salmon, white spotted char and rainbow trout) and aquatic invertebrates (gammarid amphipod, planarian flatworm and stonefly larvae). These findings suggests that the terrestrial earthworms may play a key role in ecosystem functioning in winter when severe and other resources are scarce.
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.
Sexual imprinting is widespread in birds and other species but its existence requires explanation. Here we show that sexual imprinting leads to speciation in locally-adapted populations if a neutral mating cue – e.g., novel plumage coloration – arises through mutation. Local adaptations occur when evolution results in stable genetic polymorphisms with one allele predominating in some areas while others predominate elsewhere. Here we use a deterministic two-niche population genetic model to map the set of migration and selection rates for which polymorphic evolutionary outcomes, i.e., local adaptations, can occur. Equations for the boundaries of the set of polymorphic evolutionary outcomes were derived by (Bulmer, 1972), but our results, obtained by deterministic simulation of the evolutionary process, show that one of Bulmer’s equations is inaccurate except when the level of dominance is 0.5, and fails if one of the alleles is dominant. Having an accurate map of the set of migration and selection rates for which polymorphic evolutionary outcomes can occur, we then show using the model of (Sibly et al., 2019) that local adaptation in all cases leads to speciation if a new neutral mating cue arises by mutation. We finish by considering how genome sequencing makes possible testing of our results.
Abstract Questions: Most clustering methods assume data are structured as discrete hyper-spheroidal clusters to be evaluated by measures of central-tendency. If vegetation data do not conform to this model, then vegetation data may be clustered incorrectly. What are the implications for cluster stability and evaluation if clusters are of irregular shape or density? Location: Southeast Australia Methods: We define misplacement as the placement of a sample in a cluster other than (distinct from) its nearest neighbour and hypothesise that optimising homogeneity incurs the cost of higher rates of misplacement. The Chameleon algorithm emphasises interconnectivity and thus is sensitive to the shape and distribution of clusters. We contrasted its solutions with those of traditional non-hierarchical and hierarchical (agglomerative and divisive) approaches. Results: Chameleon-derived solutions had lower rates of misplacement and only marginally higher heterogeneity than those of k-means in the range 15–60 clusters, but their metrics converged with larger numbers of clusters. Solutions derived by agglomerative clustering had the best metrics (and divisive clustering the worst) but both produced inferior high-level solutions clusters to those of Chameleon by merging distantly-related clusters. Conclusions: Our results suggest that Chameleon may have an advantage over traditional algorithms at when data exhibit discontinuities and variable structure, potentially producing more stable solutions (due to lower rates of misplacement), but scoring lower on traditional metrics of central-tendency. Chameleon’s advantages are less obvious in the partitioning of data from continuous gradients, however its graph-based partitioning protocol facilitates hierarchical integration of solutions.
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.
Habitat divergence among close relatives is a common theme in ecology. While recent studies have frequently found that the abundance and diversity of plant species are regulated by soil microbes, little is known whether soil microbes can also affect the habitat distributions of plants. To fill in this knowledge gap, we investigated whether interactions with soil microbes restrict habitat distributions of closely related oaks (Quercus spp.) in eastern North America. We performed a soil inoculum experiment using two pairs of sister species that show habitat divergence: Quercus alba (local species) vs. Q. michauxii (foreign), and Q. shumardii (local) vs. Q. acerifolia (foreign). To test whether host-specific soil microbes are responsible for habitat restriction, we investigated the impact of local sister live soil (containing soil microbes associated with local sister species) on the survival and growth of local and foreign species. Secondly, to test whether habitat-specific soil microbes are responsible for habitat restriction, we also examined the effect of local habitat live soil (containing soil microbes within local sister’s habitats, but not directly associated with roots of local sister species) on the seedlings of local and foreign species. We found that local sister live soil decreased the survival and biomass of foreign species’ seedlings while increased those of local species, which supports the roles of host-specific microbes in mediating habitat exclusion. In contrast, local habitat live soil did not differentially affect the survival or biomass of the local vs. foreign sister species, providing no support for the roles of habitat-specific microbes. Our study indicates that soil microbes associated with one sister species can suppress the recruitment of the other host species, contributing to habitat partitioning of the closely related oaks. Our findings emphasize that considering the complex interactions with soil microbes is essential for understanding habitat distributions of closely related plants.
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.
Although the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020 had some environmental benefits, the pandemic’s impact on the global economy has also had conservation repercussions, especially in biodiverse nations. Ecuador, which is heavily reliant on petroleum, agricultural exports, and ecotourism, experienced a rise in poverty in response to pandemic shutdowns. In this study, we sought to quantify levels of illegal timber extraction and poaching before and after the start of COVID-19 lockdowns throughout two protected areas (Reserva Jama Coaque [JCR] and Reserva Bosque Seco Lalo Loor [BSLL]) in the endangered Pacific Forest of Ecuador. We analyzed chainsaw and gunshot acoustic data recorded from devices installed in the forest canopy from December 2019 to March 2020 and October 2020 to March 2021. Results from generalized linear mixed effects models indicated less chainsaw activity before lockdowns (post.lockdown = 0.571 + 0.196 SE, p-value = 0.004), although increased average rainfall also seemed to negatively affect chainsaw activity (avg.rainfall = -0.005 + 0.001 SE, p-value < 0.001). Gunshots were too infrequent to conduct statistical models; however, 87% of gunshots were detected during the ‘lockdown’ period. Observational data collected by rangers from these protected areas also noted an increase in poaching activities beginning mid to late 2020 and persisting into 2021. These results add to the steadily growing literature indicating an increase in environmental crime, particularly in biodiverse nations, catalyzed by COVID-19-related economic hardships. Identifying areas where environmental crime increased during pandemic lockdowns is vital to address both socioeconomic drivers and enforcement deficiencies to prevent further biodiversity loss and disease outbreaks and to promote ecosystem resilience. Our study also demonstrates the utility of passive acoustic monitoring to detect illegal resource extraction patterns, which can inform strategies such as game theory modeling for ranger patrol circuits and placement of real-time acoustic detection technologies to monitor and mitigate environmental crimes.
Abstract 1. Classic evolutionary theory suggests that sexual dimorphism evolves primarily via sexual and fecundity selection. However, theory and evidence is beginning to accumulate suggesting that resource competition can drive the evolution of sexual dimorphism, via ecological character displacement between sexes. A key prediction of this hypothesis is that the extent of ecological divergence between sexes will be associated with the extent of sexual dimorphism. 2. As the stable isotope ratios of animal tissues provide a quantitative measure of various aspects of ecology, we carried out a meta-analysis examining associations between the extent of isotopic divergence between sexes and the extent of body size dimorphism. Our models demonstrate that large amounts of between-study variation in isotopic (ecological) divergence between sexes is due to systematic heterogeneity, which may be associated with the traits of study subjects. We then completed meta-regressions to examine whether the extent of isotopic divergence between sexes is associated with the extent of sexual size dimorphism. 3. We found a modest but significantly positive association between size dimorphism and sex differences in trophic level. Furthermore, the strength of this positive association varied between ecological contexts, increasing in species whose diets provide the greatest scope for trophic variation and in those for which body size is of greater relevance to feeding. 4. Our results therefore provide further evidence that ecologically mediated selection, unrelated to reproduction, can contribute to the evolution of sexual dimorphism.
Researchers' ability to accurately screen fossil and subfossil specimens for preservation of DNA and protein sequences remains limited. Thermal exposure and geologic age are usable proxies for sequence preservation on a broad scale but are of nominal use for specimens of similar depositional environments. Cell and tissue biomolecular histology is thus proposed as a novel proxy for determining sequence preservation potential of ancient specimens with improved accuracy. Biomolecular histology as a proxy is hypothesized to elucidate why fossils/subfossils of some depositional environments preserve sequences while others do not and to facilitate selection of ancient specimens for use in molecular studies.
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.
In order to interpret the degree of postmating isolation and the evolutionary relationships among Fejervarya species from Indonesia (Lesser Sunda), Bangladesh, China, and Japan, crossing experiments and molecular phylogenetic analyses were carried out using frogs of Fejervarya species from these countries. The crossing experiments revealed that the reciprocal hybrids among F. iskandari, F. verruculosa, and F. sp. Large type, and those between F. multistriata and F. kawamurai were viable through metamorphosis, but those between F. iskandari group and F. limnocharis group were completely or partially inviable at the tadpole stage, and those between Southeast -Asian and South-Asian Fejervarya groups were completely inviable at the embryonic stage. The matured reciprocal hybrids between F. iskandari and F. verruculosa from Indonesia, Lesser Sunda showed some degree of abnormality in spermatogenesis. The phylogenetic analyses using mtDNA Cytb gene sequences demonstrated that F. iskandari formed a sister clade with F. verruculosa from Lesser Sunda, Indonesia with 8.1% sequence divergence. Fejervaraya multistriata from China made a clade with Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesian (topotype) populations of F. limnocharis which showed sister relationships to F. kawamurai from Japan with 8.9% sequence divergence of Cytb gene. Fejervarya sp. small type from Bangladesh formed a clade with the other South-Asian members of Fejervarya group and made a sister clade with Southeast-Asian Fejervarya group having 23.1% sequence divergence of Cytb gene. This study showed that the degree of postmating isolation reflects the molecular phylogenetic relationships, and that the two species, F. iskandari and F. verruculosa from Indonesia (Lesser Sunda) are reproductively isolated by abnormal spermatogenesis, and genetically deviated.
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.