Diapause is an adaptive dormancy strategy by which arthropods endure extended periods of adverse climatic conditions. Seasonal variation in larval diapause initiation and duration in Ostrinia furnacalis influences adult mating generation number (voltinism) across different local environments. The degree of mating period overlap between sympatric voltine ecotypes influence hybridization level, but impacts on O. furnacalis population genetic structure and evolution of divergent adaptive phenotypes remains uncertain. Genetic differentiation was estimated between voltine ecotypes collected from 8 locations. Mitochondrial haplotypes were significantly different between historically allopatric univoltine and bivoltine locations. Haplotypes from sympatric locations were clustered more-closely to bivoltine locations, but influenced by local demographics. Additionally, analyses of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotypes implicate voltinism, as opposed to geographic distance, as contributing to low, but significant levels of variation among voltine ecotypes. Regardless, only 11 of 257 SNP loci were predicted to be under selection, suggesting population genetic homogenization except at loci proximal to factors putatively responsible for locally adaptive or voltinism-specific traits. These findings provide evidence that divergent voltine ecotypes may be maintained in allopatric and sympatric areas despite relatively high rates of nuclear gene flow, yet influence of voltinism on maintenance of observed haplotype divergence remains unresolved.
Population size is a central parameter for conservation, however monitoring abundance is often problematic for threatened marine species. Despite substantial investment in research, many marine species remain data-poor resulting in uncertain population forecasts and restricting the evaluation of past and present conservation actions. Such is the case for the white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), a highly mobile apex predator for whom population monitoring is a conservation priority following substantial declines recorded through the 20th century. Here, we estimate the effective number of breeders that successfully contribute offspring in one reproductive cycle (Nb) providing a snapshot of recent reproductive effort in an east-Australian New Zealand population of white shark. Nb was estimated over four consecutive age cohorts (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013) using two genetic estimators (linkage-disequilibrium; LD and sibship assignment; SA) based on genetic data derived from two types of genetic markers (single-nucleotide-polymorphisms; SNPs and microsatellite loci). While estimates of Nb using different marker types produced comparable estimates, microsatellite loci were the least precise. The LD and SA estimates of Nb within cohorts using SNPs were comparable, for example the 2013 age-cohort Nb(SA) was 289 (95%CI 200-461) and Nb(LD) was 208.5 (95%CI 116.4-712.7). We show that over the time period studied Nb was stable and ranged between 206.1(±45.9) and 252.0(±46.7) per year using a combined estimate of Nb(SA+LD) from SNP loci, and a simulation approach showed that in this population effective population size (Ne) per generation can be expected to be larger than Nb per reproductive cycle. This study demonstrates how breeding population size can be monitored over time to provide insight into the effectiveness of recovery and conservation measures for the white shark, where the methods described here may be applicable to other data-poor species of conservation concern.
1. Landscape change is a key driver of biodiversity declines due to habitat loss and fragmentation, but spatially shifting resources can also facilitate range expansion and invasion. Invasive populations are reproductively successful, and landscape change may buoy this success. 2. We show how modelling the spatial structure of reproductive success can elucidate the mechanisms of range shifts and sustained invasions for mammalian species with attendant young. We use an example of white-tailed deer (deer; Odocoileus virginianus) expansion in the Nearctic boreal forest, a North American phenomenon implicated in severe declines of threatened woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus). 3. We hypothesized that deer reproductive success is linked to forage subsidies provided by extensive landscape change via resource extraction. We measured deer occurrence using data from 62 camera-traps in northern Alberta, Canada, over three years. We weighed support for multiple competing hypotheses about deer reproductive success using multi-state occupancy models and generalized linear models in an AIC-based model selection framework. 4. Spatial patterns of reproductive success were best explained by features associated with petroleum exploration and extraction, which offer early seral vegetation resource subsidies. Effect sizes of anthropogenic features eclipsed natural heterogeneity by two orders of magnitude. We conclude that deer populations are likely buffered from overwinter mortality by landscape change, wherein early seral forage subsidies support high springtime reproductive success to offset or exceed winter losses. 5. Synthesis and Applications. Modelling spatial structuring in reproductive success can become a key goal of remote camera-based global networks, yielding ecological insights into mechanisms of invasion and range shifts to inform effective decision-making for global biodiversity conservation.
Understanding trade-offs in wild populations is difficult, but important if we are to understand the evolution of life histories and the impact of ecological variables upon them. Markers that reflect physiological state and predict future survival would be of considerable benefit to unravelling such trade-offs and could provide insight into individual variation in senescence. However, currently used markers often yield inconsistent results. One underutilised measure is haematocrit, the proportional of blood comprising of erythrocytes, which relates to the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity and viscosity, and to individual endurance. Haematocrit has been shown to decline with age in cross-sectional studies (which may be confounded by selective appearance/disappearance). However, few studies have tested whether haematocrit declines within-individuals or whether low haematocrit impacts survival in wild taxa. Using longitudinal data from the Seychelles warbler (Acrocephalus sechellensis), we demonstrated that haematocrit increases with age in young individuals (<1.5 years) but decreases with age in older individuals (1.5–13 years). In breeders, haematocrit was higher in males than females and varied relative to breeding stage. High haematocrit was associated with lower survival in young individuals, but not older individuals. Thus, while we did not find support for haematocrit as a marker of senescence, high haematocrit is indicative of poor condition in younger individuals. Possible explanations are that these individuals were experiencing dehydration and/or high endurance demands prior to capture, which warrants further investigation. Our study demonstrates that haematocrit can be an informative metric for life-history studies investigating trade-offs between survival, longevity and reproduction.
Understanding the processes that enable species coexistence has important implications for assessing how ecological systems will respond to global change. Morphology and functional similarity increase the potential for competition, and therefore, co-occurring morphologically similar but genetically unique species are a good model system for testing coexistence mechanisms. We used DNA metabarcoding and High Throughput Sequencing to characterise for first time the trophic ecology of two recently-described cryptic bat species with parapatric ranges, Myotis escalerai and Myotis crypticus. We collected faecal samples from allopatric and sympatric regions and locations to describe the diet both taxonomically and functionally and compare prey consumption with prey availability. The two bat species had similar diets characterised by high arthropod diversity, particularly Lepidoptera, Diptera and Araneae, and a high proportion of prey that is not volant at night, which points to extensive use of gleaning. Diet overlap at the prey-item level was lower in locally sympatric than allopatric locations, supporting trophic shift under fine-scale sympatry. Furthermore, locally sympatric samples of M. escalerai had a marginally lower proportion of not nocturnally volant prey, suggesting that the shift in diet may be driven by a change in foraging mode. Our findings suggest that fine-scale coexistence mechanisms can have implications for maintaining broad-scale diversity patterns. This study highlights the importance of including both allopatric and sympatric populations and choosing meaningful spatial scales for detecting ecological patterns. We conclude that a combination of high taxonomic resolution with a functional approach helps identify patterns of niche shift.
This is the first study to document the genetic diversity of the white-tailed deer population on St. John, US Virgin Islands. The island population was founded by a small number of animals, has very limited hunting or predation, and recently experienced a reduction in size following an extended drought in 2015. DNA samples were collected from hair from 23 anesthetized adult deer (13 males, 10 females) ranging in age from 1-8 years (3.36+ 1.9 yr) and also from fecal DNA samples, for a total of 42 individuals analyzed for genetic diversity. The St. John deer data set averaged 4.19 alleles per marker and demonstrates the second lowest number of alleles (A) when compared to other populations of Odocoileus virginianus (4.19). Heterozygosity was similar to the other studies (0.54) with little evidence of inbreeding. To explain the level of heterogygosity and lack of inbreeding within the St. John population, three hypotheses are proposed, including the effect of intrinsic biological traits within the population, a recent infusion of highly heterogeneous loci from North American populations, and a consistent level of immigration from a nearby island. Additional work is needed to further understand the genetic history of the St. John and regional deer populations.
Evolutionary theory predicts that infection by a parasite that reduces future host survival or fecundity should select for increased investment in current reproduction. In this study we use the cestode Ligula intestinalis and its intermediate fish host Engraulicypris sardella in Wissman Bay, Lake Nyasa (Tanzania) as a model system. Using data about infection of E. sardella fish hosts by L. intestinalis collected for a period of 10 years, we explored whether parasite infection affects the fecundity of the fish host E. sardella, and whether host reproductive investment has increased at the expense of somatic growth. We found that L. intestinalis had a strong negative effect on the fecundity of its intermediate fish host. For the non-infected fish we observed an increase in relative gonadal weight at maturity over the study period, while size at maturity decreased. These findings suggest that the life history of E. sardella has been shifting towards earlier reproduction. Further studies are warranted to assess whether these changes reflect plastic or evolutionary responses. We also discuss the interaction between parasite and fishery-mediated selection as a possible explanation for the decline of E. sardella stock in the lake. KEYWORDS Life history evolution; African Great Lakes; Lake Nyasa; Usipa; Lake Malawi sardine; Parasite invasion; Environmental change.
Morphometric research is being applied to a growing number and variety of organisms. Discoveries achieved via morphometric approaches are often considered highly transferable, in contrast to the tacit and idiosyncratic interpretation of discrete character states. The reliability of morphometric workflows in insect systematics has never been a subject of focused research, but such studies are sorely needed. In this paper, we assess the reproducibility of morphometric studies of ants where the mode of data collection is a shared routine. We compared datasets generated by eleven independent gaugers, i.e. collaborators, who measured 21 continuous morphometric traits on the same pool of individuals according to the same protocol. The gaugers possessed a wide range of morphometric skills, had varying expertise among insect groups, and differed in their facility with measuring equipment. We used Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) to calculate repeatability and reproducibility values (i.e., intra-, and inter-gauger agreements), and we performed a multivariate Permutational Multivariate Analysis of Variance (PERMANOVA) using the Morosita index of dissimilarity with 9999 iterations. The calculated average measure of intraclass correlation coefficients of different gaugers ranged from R = 0.784 to R = 0.9897 and a significant correlation was found between the repeatability and the morphometric skills of gaugers (p = 0.016). There was no significant association with the magnification of the equipment in the case of these rather small ants. The inter-gauger agreement, i.e. the reproducibility, varied between R=0.872 and R=0.471 (mean R=0.690), but all gaugers arrived at the same two-species conclusion. A PERMANOVA test revealed no significant gauger effect on species identity (R2 =0.69, p=0.58). Our findings show that morphometric studies are reproducible when observers follow the standard protocol; hence, morphometric findings are widely transferable, and will remain a valuable data source for alpha taxonomy.
1. Microsatellite genotyping is an important genetic method for a number of research questions in biology. Given that the traditional fragment length analysis using polyacrylamide gel or capillary electrophoresis has several drawbacks, microsatellite genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) has arisen as a promising alternative. Although GBS mitigates many of the problems of fragment length analysis, issues with allelic dropout and null alleles often remain due to mismatches in primer binding sites and unnecessarily long PCR products. This is also true for GBS in catarrhine primates where cross-species amplification of loci (often human derived) is common. 2. We therefore redesigned primers for 45 microsatellite loci based on 17 available catarrhine reference genomes. Next, we tested them in singleplex and different multiplex settings in a panel of species representing all major lineages of Catarrhini and further validated them in wild Guinea baboons (Papio papio) using faecal samples. 3. The final panel of 42 microsatellite loci can efficiently be amplified with primers distributed into three amplification pools. 4. With our microsatellite panel, we provide a tool to universally genotype catarrhine primates via GBS from different sample sources in a cost- and time-efficient way, with higher resolution, and comparability among laboratories and species.
Meta-analyses often encounter studies with incompletely reported variance measures (e.g. standard deviation values) or sample sizes, both needed to conduct weighted meta-analyses. Here, we first present a systematic literature survey on the frequency and treatment of missing data in published ecological meta-analyses showing that the majority of meta-analyses encountered incompletely reported studies. We then simulated meta-analysis data sets to investigate the performance of 14 options to treat or impute missing SDs and/or SSs. Performance was thereby assessed using results from fully informed weighted analyses on (hypothetically) complete data sets. We show that the omission of incompletely reported studies is not a viable solution. Unweighted and sample size-based variance approximation can yield unbiased grand means if effect sizes are independent of their corresponding SDs and SSs. The performance of different imputation methods depends on the structure of the meta-analysis data set, especially in the case of correlated effect sizes and standard deviations or sample sizes. In a best-case scenario, which assumes that SDs and/or SSs are both missing at random and are unrelated to effect sizes, our simulations show that the imputation of up to 90% of missing data still yields grand means and confidence intervals that are similar to those obtained with fully informed weighted analyses. We conclude that multiple imputation of missing variance measures and sample sizes could help overcome the problem of incompletely reported primary studies, not only in the field of ecological meta-analyses. Still, caution must be exercised in consideration of potential correlations and pattern of missingness.
In boreal landscapes, emphasis is currently placed on close-to-nature management strategies, which aim to maintain the biodiversity and ecosystem services related to old-growth forests. The success of these strategies, however, depends on an accurate understanding of the dynamics within these forests. This study aims to reconstruct the disturbance and post-disturbance dynamics in boreal old-growth forests that are driven by recurrent moderate-severity disturbances. We studied eight old-growth forests in Québec, Canada, that has recorded recurrent and moderate to severe spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana [Clem.]) outbreaks over the 20th century. To reconstruct the disturbance history and the post-disturbance dynamics of the study sites, we used dendrochronological data and k-means clustering to identify growth releases and growth patterns in the studied trees. We identified nine growth patterns; these patterns represented trees differing in age, size, and canopy layer, and indicated different tree histories. Spruce budworm outbreaks caused recurrent moderate-severity disturbances within the study sites. The canopy gaps created by these disturbances were filled mainly by understorey trees, which responded by single and significant increases in radial growth and height. In contrast, overstorey trees had little influence on gap filling; thus, trees were mostly from the dominant and codominant canopy layers. Our study underlines the resistance of boreal old-growth forests to recurrent and moderate-severity disturbances, as understorey trees can rapidly fill the resulting gaps. However, trees that are unable to attain the canopy following the disturbance then tend to remain in the lower canopy layers. Therefore, reaching the canopy represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, where success or failure depends on a relatively short window of time. This gap-filling dynamic produces, however, a vertical structure that is often similar to the expected structure in even-aged forests. Our results highlight the efficacy of identifying tree growth patterns to reconstruct stand disturbance dynamics and contribute to developing closer to nature forest management strategies.
Na+ and Cl– are the most abundant dissolved ions in seawater, constituting ~85% of total ions. They significantly affect the osmolality of body fluids of marine invertebrates. Seawater also contains minor ions such as Mg2+, Ca2+, K+, and SO42–, but their effects on marine organisms are unclear. This study analyzed the effects of Mg2+, Ca2+, and K+ (ambient minor cations) on survival, hemolymph ionic composition, and gene expression in the gills of three euryhaline crabs: Helice tridens, Macrophthalmus japonicus, and Chiromantes dehaani. Ambient minor cations were required for survival of H. tridens and M. japonicus under isosmotic conditions with seawater. The ambient minor cations also affected the osmolality and ionic composition of hemolymph by regulating expressions of specific genes in the gills required for Na+ uptake, such as Na+/K+ ATPase, cytoplasmic carbonic anhydrase, and Na+/H+ exchanger. Administration of carbonic anhydrase and Na+/H+ exchanger inhibitors increased the survival rate even if ambient minor cations did not exist. In contrast, under hypo-osmotic conditions, ambient minor cations had different effects on crabs; a lethal effect on M. japonicus, and an increase of the hemolymph K+ concentration in H. tridens and M. japonicus. It is thus concluded that the effects of ambient minor cations are osmolality–dependent. In contrast, in C. dehaani, the hemolymph ionic composition and survival rate were hardly affected by ambient minor cations, probably reflecting the habitat of this species. These results strongly indicated that C. dehaani is less susceptive to ambient minor cations compared to H. tridens and M. japonicus.
1. The metric of functional evenness FEve is an example of how approaches to conceptualizing and measuring functional variability may go astray. 2. The index of functional evenness FEve has critical conceptual and practical drawbacks: a) Different values of the FEve index for the same community can be obtained if the species have unequal species abundances; this result is highly likely if most of the traits are categorical. b) Very minor differences in even one pairwise distance can result in very different values of FEve. c) FEve uses only a fraction of the information contained in the matrix of species distances. Counterintuitively, this can cause very similar FEve scores for communities with substantially different patterns of species dispersal in trait space. d) FEve is a valid metric only if all species have exactly the same abundances. However, the meaning of FEve in such an instance is unclear as the purpose of the metric is to measure the variability of abundances in trait space. 3. We recommend not using FEve metric in studies of functional variability. Given the wide usage of FEve index over the last decade, the validity of the conclusions based on those estimates are in question. 4. Instead, we suggest three alternative metrics that combines variability in species distances in trait space with abundance in various ways, and more broadly recommend that researchers think about which community properties (e.g., trait-distances of a focus species to the nearest neighbor or all other species, variability of pairwise interactions between species) they want to measure and pick from among the appropriate metrics.
Ambrosia artemisiifolia and Ambrosia trifida are two species of very harmful and invasive plants of the same genus. However, it remains unclear why A. artemisiifolia is more widely distributed than A. trifida worldwide. Distribution and abundance of these two species were surveyed and measured from 2010 to 2017 in the Yili Valley, Xinjiang, China. Soil temperature and humidity, main companion species, the biological characteristics in farmland ecotone, residential area, roadside and grassland, and water demand of the two species were determined and studied from 2017 to 2018. The area occupied by A. artemisiifolia in the Yili Valley was more extensive than that of A. trifida, while the abundance of A. artemisiifolia in grassland was less than that of A. trifida at eight years after invasion. The interspecific competitive ability of two species were stronger than those of companion species in farmland ecotone, residential, and roadside. In addition, A. trifida had greater interspecific competitive ability than other plant species in grassland. The seed size and seed weight of A. trifida were five times or eight times those of A.artemisiifolia. When comparing the changes under simulated annual precipitation of 840 mm versus 280 mm, the seed yield per m2 of A. trifida decreased from 50,185 to 19, while that of A. artemisiifolia decreased from 15,579 to 530. The differences in the distribution of the two species are mainly due to differences in interspecific competitive ability, seed size, and water dependence. The two species have stronger interspecific competitive ability than that of companion species, but A. artemisiifolia has a smaller seed size and stronger drought tolerance, which allows A. artemisiifolia to spread farther than A. trifida. The reason for wider distribution of A. trifida in grassland is that A. trifida has stronger interspecific competitive ability than A. artemisiifolia under sufficient water.
Tree spatial patterns in dry coniferous forests of the western US, and analogous ecosystems globally, were historically aggregated, comprising a mixture of single trees and groups of trees. Modern forests, in contrast, are generally more homogeneous and overstocked than their historical counterparts. As these modern forests lack regular fire, pattern formation and maintenance is generally attributed to fire. Accordingly, fires in modern forests may not yield historically analogous patterns. However, direct observations on how selective tree mortality among pre-existing forest structure shapes tree spatial patterns is limited. In this study, we (1) simulated fires in historical and contemporary counterpart plots in a Sierra Nevadan mixed-conifer forest, (2) estimated tree mortality, and (3) examined tree spatial patterns of live trees before and after fire, and of fire-killed trees. Tree mortality in the historical period was clustered and density-dependent, because trees were aggregated and segregated by tree size before fire. Thus, fires maintained an aggregated distribution of tree groups. Tree mortality in the contemporary period was widespread, except for dispersed large trees, because most trees were a part of large, interconnected tree groups. Thus, post-fire tree patterns were more uniform and devoid of moderately sized tree groups. Post-fire tree patterns in the historical period, unlike the contemporary period, were within the historical range of variability identified for the western US. This divergence suggests that decades of forest dynamics without significant disturbances has altered the historical means of pyric pattern formation. Our results suggest that ecological silvicultural treatments, such as forest restoration thinnings, which emulate qualities of historical forests may facilitate the reintroduction of fire as a means to reinforce forest structural heterogeneity.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic introduced an abrupt change in human behavior globally. Here, we discuss unique insights into the eco-evolutionary role of pathogens in ecosystems and present data that indicates the pandemic can fundamentally change our learning choices. This pathogen has indirectly affected many organisms and processes by globally changing the behavior of humans to avoid being infected. The pandemic also changed our learning behavior by affecting the relative importance of information and forcing teaching and learning into a framework that accommodates human behavioral measures to avoid disease transmission. Not only are these indirect effects on the environment occurring through a unique mechanistic pathway in ecology, the pandemic along with its effects on us provides a profound example of the role risk can play in the transmission of information between the at-risk. Ultimately, these changes in our learning behavior led to this special issue “Taking learning online in Ecology and Evolution.” The special issue was a call to the community to take learning in new directions, including online and distributed experiences. The topics examined include a significant component of DIY ecology and evolution that is experiential and but done individually, opportunities to use online tools and apps to be more inclusive, student-focused strategies for teaching online, how to reinvent conferences, strategies to retain experiential learning safely, emerging forms of teaching such as citizen science, apps and podcasting, and ideas on how to accommodate ever changing constraints in the college classroom, to name a few. The collective consensus in our fields is that these times are challenging but we can continue to improve and innovate on existing developments, and more broadly and importantly, this situation may provide an opportunity to reset some of the existing practices that fail to promote an effective and inclusive learning environment.
Polyandry, when females mate with more than one male, is theorised to play an important role in successful colonisation of new habitats. In addition to possible benefits from sexual selection, even mild polyandry could facilitate colonisation by protecting against inbreeding and reducing the costs of mating with incompatible or infertile males. Here, we measure the importance of mild polyandry for population viability and reproductive fitness following experimental founder events into a higher temperature regime. Using colonisation experiments with the model beetle Tribolium castaneum, in which females can produce offspring for up to 140 days following a single mating, we founded more than 100 replicate populations using single females that had been given the opportunity to mate with either one or two males, and then tracked their subsequent population dynamics. Following population viability and fitness across ten generations, we found that extinction rates were significantly lower in populations founded by females given polyandrous opportunities to mate with two males (9%) compared to populations founded by monogamous females (34%). In addition, populations founded by females that had been provided with opportunities to store sperm from two different males showed double the median productivity following colonisation compared to monogamous-founded populations. Notably, we identified short-term and longer-term benefits to post-colonisation populations from double-mating, with results suggesting that polyandry acts to both protect against mating with incompatible males through the founder event, and reduce inbreeding depression as the colonisation proceeds for ten generations. Our results therefore show that even mild polyandry provides both reproductive and genetic benefits for colonising populations.
Plasticity in salt tolerance can be crucial for successful biological invasions of novel habitats by marine gastropods. The intertidal snail Batillaria attramentaria, which is native to East Asia but invaded the western shores of North America from Japan eighty years ago, provides an opportunity to examine how environmental salinity may shape behavioral and morphological traits. In this study, we compared the movement distance of four B. attramentaria populations from native (Korea and Japan) and introduced (USA) habitats under various salinity levels (13, 23, 33, and 43 PSU) during 30 days of exposure in the lab. We sequenced a partial mitochondrial CO1 gene to infer phylogenetic relationships among populations and confirmed two divergent mitochondrial lineages constituting our sample sets. Using a statistic model-selection approach, we investigated the effects of geographic distribution and genetic composition on locomotor performance in response to salt stress. Snails exposed to acute low salinity (13 PSU) reduced their locomotion and were unable to perform at their normal level (the moving pace of snails exposed to 33 PSU). We did not detect any meaningful differences in locomotor response to salt stress between the two genetic lineages or between the native snails (Japan versus Korea populations), but we found significant locomotor differences between the native and introduced groups (Japan or Korea versus the USA). We suggest that the greater magnitude of tidal salinity fluctuation at the USA location may have influenced locomotor responses to salt stress in introduced snails.