It is generally believed that there is only one species, Nectogale elegans in the genus Nectogale. However, the validity of the species status of Nectogale sikhimensis has been controversial, and the phylogenetic relationship of this genus has not been well resolved. In this study, the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene and eight nuclear genes were used to infer the molecular phylogenetic relationship of the genus. The results of phylogenetic trees indicated that Nectogale was divided into two large lineages—Group A from Tibet and Group B from Sichuan and Yunnan. The divergence time between the two groups was estimated to be 5.76 million years. The genetic distance of K2P between the two groups was over 14%. Some morphological differences were also found in Groups A and B, including the skull size, shape of the second upper molar (M2), first lower unicuspid (a1), and palatal suture. In consideration of the large genetic distance, divergence time, and morphological differences, we recover the species status of N. sikhimensis and support that Nectogale consists of two species.
Robust estimates of demographic parameters are critical for effective wildlife conservation and management, but are difficult to obtain for elusive species. We estimated the breeding and adult population sizes, as well as the minimum population size, in a high-density brown bear population on the Shiretoko Peninsula, in Hokkaido, Japan, using DNA-based pedigree reconstruction. A total of 1,288 individuals, collected in and around the Shiretoko Peninsula between 1998 and 2020, were genotyped at 21 microsatellite loci. Among them, 499 individuals were identified by intensive genetic sampling conducted in two consecutive years (2019 and 2020) mainly by noninvasive methods (e.g., hair and fecal DNA). Among them, both parents were assigned for 330 bears, and either maternity or paternity was assigned to 47 and 76 individuals, respectively. The subsequent pedigree reconstruction indicated a range of breeding and adult (≥4 years old) population sizes: 128–173 for female breeders and 66–91 male breeders, and 155–200 for female adults and 84–109 male adults. The minimum population size was estimated to be 449 (252 females and 197 males) in 2019. Long-term continuous genetic sampling prior to a short-term intensive survey would enable parentage to be identified in a population with a high probability, thus enabling reliable estimates of breeding population size for elusive species.
Metabolic rate is a trait that may evolve in response to the direct and indirect effects of predator-induced mortality. Predators may indirectly alter selection by lowering prey densities and increasing resource availability or by intensifying resource limitation through changes in prey behaviour (e.g. use of less productive areas). In the current study we quantify evolution of metabolic rate in the zooplankton Daphnia pulicaria following an invasive event by the predator Bythotrephes longimanus in Lake Mendota, Wisconsin, US. This invasion has been shown to dramatically impact D. pulicaria, causing a ~60% decline in their biomass. Using a resurrection ecology approach, we compared the metabolic rate of D. pulicaria clones originating from prior to the Bythotrephes invasion with that of clones having evolved in the presence of Bythotrephes. We observed a 7.4% reduction in metabolic rate among post-invasive clones compared to pre-invasive clones, and discuss the potential roles of direct and indirect selection in driving this change.
It is widely acknowledged that population structure can have a substantial impact on evolutionary trajectories. In social animals, this structure is strongly influenced by relationships among the population members, so studies of differences in social structure between diverging populations or nascent species are of prime interest. Ideal models for such a study are two house mouse subspecies, Mus musculus musculus and M. m. domesticus, meeting in Europe along a secondary contact zone. Though the latter subspecies has usually been supposed to form tighter and more isolated social units than the former, the evidence is still inconclusive. Here, we carried out a series of radio-frequency identification experiments in semi-natural enclosures to gather large longitudinal datasets on individual mouse movements. The data were summarised in the form of uni- and multi-layer social networks. Within them, we could delimit and describe the social units (‘modules’). While the number of estimated units was similar in both subspecies, domesticus revealed a more ‘modular’ structure. This subspecies also showed more intramodular social interactions, higher spatial module separation, higher intramodular persistence of parent-offspring contacts, and lower multiple paternity, suggesting more effective control of dominant males over reproduction. We also demonstrate that long-lasting modules can be identified with basic reproductive units or demes. We thus provide the first robust evidence that the two subspecies differ in their social structure and dynamics of the structure formation.
Pine barren and sandplain ecosystems are unique, globally rare ecosystems whose open-canopied vegetation structure supports a unique assemblage of plants and animals. They occur almost exclusively on deep, sandy soils, and require periodic disturbances to prevent succession to forest. Though these ecosystems, and the unique species that live in them, are rare today, they once occupied a larger area of coastal and interior New York and New England. In order to better understand pine barren and sandplain distribution in the past, and the potential for restoring them in the future, we mapped the distribution of soils in New York State that can support these ecosystems. We quantified soil percent sand and soil depth of 156 known high quality remnant pine barren and sandplain ecosystems to calculate threshold soil characteristics. We then mapped all soils in the state that were at least as sandy and deep as the threshold values we calculated. The total area of our map of potential soil conditions was over 9,500 km2, made up of forested (57%), urban (26%), agricultural (13%) and open (4%) land cover. Nearly 7,000 km2 – almost 20 times the area of known, high quality remnant ecosystems – of land was forested, agricultural, or open land. Existing examples of pine barren and sandplain ecosystems were mostly embedded within much larger matrices of forest, agriculture, and urban land cover that shared the distinctive soil conditions. The presence of extensive soils in coastal and interior New York that, with the appropriate disturbance regime, have the potential to host pine barren and sandplain ecosystems offers a new perspective on these ecosystems’ distribution in the past – and about how to better align restoration and conservation to preserve the future.
Plant phenology is manifested in the seasonal timing of vegetative and reproductive processes, but also has ontogenetic aspects. The adaptive basis of seasonal phenology has been considered mainly in terms of climatic drivers. However, some biotic factors as likely evolutionary influences on plants’ phenology appear to have been under-researched. Several specific cases of putative biotic factors driving plant phenology are outlined, involving both herbivores and pathogens. These illustrate the diversity of likely interactions rather than any systematic coverage or review. Emphasis is on woody perennials, in which phenology is often most multi-faceted and complicated by the ontogenetic aspect. The complete seasonal leaf fall that characterises deciduous plants may be a very important defence against some pathogens. Whether biotic influences drive acquisition or long-term persistence of deciduousness is considered. In one case; of leaf rusts in poplars, countervailing influences of the rusts and climate suggest persistence. Often, however, biotic and environmental influences likely reinforce each other. The timing and duration of shoot flushing may in at least some cases contribute to defences against herbivores, largely through brief periods of ‘predator satiation’ when plant tissues have highest food value. Wide re-examination of plant phenology, accommodating the roles of biotic factors and their interplays with environments as additional adaptive drivers, is advocated, towards developing and applying hypotheses that are observationally or experimentally testable.
Climate change is affecting species and their mutualists and can lead to interaction weakening and loss. Through independent shifts in partner phenology and distribution, climatic stress can separate mutualists, leading to alterations in partner functional traits and fitness. Here, we explored the effects of drying soils and the loss of microbial mutualists via soil sterilization on legume germination success and phenology, focusing on how a loss of mutualisms with soil microbial species can alter legume early life traits. In particular, we assessed the effects of mutualism loss via soil sterilization, increased drought, or introduction to novel soils found beyond the current distributions of two focal legume species in subalpine environments. Through common garden experiments in controlled environments, we found evidence that soil sterilization (and consequent microbial absence) and dry soils caused phenological delays of 2-5 weeks in germination date, likely as a result of interaction loss between legumes and germination-promoting soil microbes, such as mutualistic rhizobia. Delays in germination caused by a mismatch between legumes and beneficial microbes could negatively affect legume fitness through increased plant-plant competition later in the season. Additionally, we found evidence of the presence of beneficial microbes beyond the current elevational range of our focal legumes which may allow for expansion of the leading edge, though harsh abiotic factors in the alpine may hinder this. Alterations in the strength of soil microbe-legume mutualisms may lead to reduced fitness and altered demography for both soil microbes and legumes.
Satyrium is an endangered and rare genus of plant that has various pharmacodynamic functions. In this study, MaxEnt default parameters were adjusted by the ENMeval package. Optimized MaxEnt models were used in analyzing potential geographical distributions under current and future climatic conditions (the 2050s and 2070s) and dominant environmental variables influencing their geographic distribution. The results provided reference for implementation of long-term conservation and management approaches for the species. The results showed the area of the total suitable habitat for S. ciliatum in China is 32.51 × 104 km2, the total suitable habitat area for S. nepalense in China is 61.76 × 104 km2, and the area of the total suitable habitat for S. yunnanense in China is 89.73 × 104 km2 under current climatic conditions. The potential suitable habitat of Satyrium is mainly distributed in Southwest China. The major environmental variables influencing the geographical distribution of S. ciliatum were isothermality (bio3), temperature seasonality (bio4), and mean temperature of coldest quarter (bio11). Environmental variables such as isothermality (bio3), temperature seasonality (bio4), and precipitation of coldest quarter (bio19) affected the geographical distribution of S. nepalense; and environmental variables such as isothermality (bio3), temperature seasonality (bio4), and lower temperature of coldest month (bio6) affected the geographical distribution of S. yunnanense. The distribution range of Satyrium was extended as global warming increased, showing emissions of greenhouse gases with lower concentration (SSP1-2.6) and higher concentration (SSP5-8.5). According to the study, the distribution of suitable habitat will shift with a change to higher elevation areas and higher latitude areas in the future.
Aim Determine seasonal, annual and decadal patterns of abundance in reptile populations and assemblages occupying an isolated urban bushland remnant Location Bold Park (~338 ha), Perth, Southwestern Australia Time period 1986-2021 Major taxa studied: Squamate reptiles Methods Fenced pitfall trapping in four sampling sites representing different habitats and fire history over the primary reptile activity period and 35 consecutive years; trapping regime was modified for the last 28 years. Results The location occurs in one of 35 global biodiversity hotspots and has a Mediterranean climate experiencing a 15% decline from the century average rainfall over the last 50 years. Twenty-nine species were recorded, with 16 captured in 32 or more years and accounting for nearly 97% of all captures; the six most common for 81%. Three taxa became locally extinct. Activity predominates in warmer and dryer months (October to April), peaking in November December. Species richness remained relatively constant between years with around 73% of known taxa captured annually. Assemblage structure didn’t change when analysing presence/absence data but shifted through five statistically significantly assemblages analysing relative abundance data. Over the last 28 years relative abundance was significantly and positively correlated with annual rainfall residuals for the three years preceding annual sampling, resulting in significant changes in total assemblage structure and significantly similar patterns in four sample sites; presence/absence data indicated minor assemblage structure changes. Main conclusions Annual species number remained relatively constant but relative abundance illustrated significant temporal changes in assemblage structure over decades; presence/absence did not. The modeled relationship between relative abundance and annual rainfall residuals for the three years preceding annual sampling is supported by known ecological responses and reptile demographics within this Mediterranean climate. Maintenance of urban biodiversity should consider impacts of a significantly drying climate exacerbating the extinction debt already inherent in isolated bushland populations.
Abiotic and biotic factors structure species assembly in ecosystems both horizontally and vertically. However, the way community composition changes along comparable horizontal and vertical distances in complex three-dimensional habitats, and the factors driving these patterns, remain poorly understood. By sampling ant assemblages at comparable vertical and horizontal spatial scales in a tropical rain forest, we compared observed patterns with those predicted according to environmental filtering by microclimate and microhabitat structure. We found that although dissimilarity between ant assemblages increased with vertical distance, the dissimilarity was higher horizontally but was independent of distance. The pronounced horizontal and vertical structuring of ant assemblages across short distances is likely explained by a combination of microclimate and microhabitat connectivity. Our results demonstrate the importance of considering three-dimensional spatial variation in local assemblages and reveal how highly diverse communities can be supported by complex habitats.
Understanding the extent to which predators engage in active search for prey versus incidentally encountering them is important because active search can exert a stabilizing force on prey populations by alleviating predation pressure on low-density prey and increasing it for high-density prey. Parturition of many large herbivores occurs during a short and predictable temporal window in which young are highly vulnerable to predation. Our study aims to determine how a suite of carnivores responds to the seasonal pulse of newborn ungulates using contemporaneous GPS locations of four species of predators and two species of prey. We used step-selection functions to assess whether coyotes, cougars, black bears, and bobcats actively searched for parturient females in a low-density population of mule deer and a high-density population of elk. We then assessed whether searching carnivores shifted their habitat use toward areas exhibiting a high probability of encountering neonates. None of the four carnivore species encountered parturient mule deer more often than expected by chance suggesting that predation of young resulted from incidental encounters. By contrast, we determined that cougar and male bear movements positioned them in proximity of parturient elk more often than expected by chance which is evidence of searching behavior. Although both male bears and cougars searched for neonates, only male bears used elk parturition habitat in a way that dynamically tracked the phenology of the elk birth pulse suggesting that maximizing encounters with juvenile elk was a motivation when selecting resources. Our results support the existence of a stabilizing mechanism to prey populations through active search behavior by predators because carnivores in our study searched for the high-density prey species (elk) but ignored the low-density species (mule deer). We conclude that prey density must be high enough to warrant active search, and that there is high interspecific and intersexual variability in foraging strategies among large mammalian predators and their prey.
The subfamily Typhlocybinae is a ubiquitous, highly diverse group of mostly tiny, delicate leafhoppers. The tribal classification has long been controversial and phylogenetic methods have only recently begun to test the phylogenetic status and relationships of tribes. To shed light on the evolution of Typhlocybinae, we performed phylogenetic analyses based on 28 newly sequenced and 19 previously sequenced mitochondrial genomes representing all currently recognized tribes. The results support the monophyly of the subfamily and its sister group relationship to Mileewinae. The tribe Zyginellini is polyphyletic with some included genera derived independently within Typhlocybini. Ancestral character state reconstruction suggests that some morphological characters traditionally considered important for diagnosing tribes (presence/absence of ocelli, development of hind wing submarginal vein) are homoplastic. Divergence time estimates indicate that the subfamily arose during the Middle Cretaceous and that the extant tribes arose during the Late Cretaceous. Phylogenetic results support establishment of a new genus, Subtilissimia Yan & Yang gen. nov., with two new species, Subtilissimia fulva Yan & Yang sp. nov. and Subtilissimia pellicula Yan & Yang sp. nov. (Typhlocybinae: Typhlocybini); but indicate that two previously recognized species of Farynala distinguished only by the direction of curvature of the processes of the aedeagus are synonyms, i.e., Farynala dextra Yan & Yang, 2017 equals Farynala sinistra Yan & Yang, 2017 syn. nov. A key to tribes of Typhlocybinae is provided.
Gobbling activity of Eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris; hereafter, turkeys) has been widely studied, focusing on drivers of daily variation. Weather variables are widely believed to influence gobbling activity, but results across studies are contradictory and often equivocal, leading to uncertainty in the relative contribution of weather variables to daily fluctuations in gobbling activity. Previous works relied on road-based auditory surveys to collect gobbling data which limits data consistency, duration, and quantity due to logistical difficulties associated with human observers and restricted sampling frames. Development of new methods using autonomous recording units (ARUs) allows researchers to collect continuous data in more locations for longer periods of time, providing the opportunity to delve into factors influencing daily gobbling activity. We used ARUs from 1 March to 31 May to detail gobbling activity across multiple study sites in the southeastern United States during 2014 – 2018. We used state-space modeling to investigate the effects of weather variables on daily gobbling activity. Our findings suggest rainfall, greater wind speeds, and greater temperatures negatively affected gobbling activity, whereas increasing barometric pressure positively affected gobbling activity. Therefore, when using daily gobbling activity to make inferences relative to gobbling chronology, reproductive phenology, and hunting season frameworks stakeholders should recognize and consider the potential influences of extended periods of inclement weather.
The Tanzania-Zambia (TANZAM) Highway traversing Mikumi National Park (MINAPA) has been a concern for wildlife managers since it was first paved in 1973-74. After its upgrade in 1989-90, researchers have documented increasing traffic resulting in considerable animal injuries and mortalities. Yellow baboons in MINAPA are known to use the road as their bridge to and from foraging areas, therefore in addition to the risk of mortality; road use could potentially have significant influence on their feeding behaviour. However, knowledge on the influences of the TANZAM highway in the feeding behaviour of the baboons is sparse. Using focal animal sampling techniques, we collected data on feeding and foraging behaviour of two habituated troops of yellow baboons to examine to what extent the TANZAM highway is important in their feeding and foraging behaviour. Results showed that in relation to habitat availability, visitation to habitat types reflect actual habitat choice of baboons. In general, baboons less frequently visit and spent less time in the highway compared to natural habitats. Whenever they were on the highway, adult females and subadult males engage more into feeding, resting and socializing, while adult males were more vigilant. The major dietary compositions were fruits, seeds, leaves, sap and invertebrates, almost exclusively collected from natural habitats, foods from the highway were opportunistically consumed. This study provides empirical evidence and concludes that yellow baboons do not directly depend on the highway for food, rather they use the TANZAM highway as normal part of their home range. The TANZAM highway is used because it improves visibility and reduces the perceived predation risk compared to natural habitats. However, its location near sleeping sites may have significant impact on baboons’ activity budget. With these findings, we recommend strict implementation of rules against park littering and animal feeding in protected areas traversed by highways.
Understanding the consequences of human induced translocations on natural populations requires genetic monitoring. Salmonid fishes represent a group of species experiencing several such large-scale perturbations expected to affect microevolutionary processes. Here, two genetically separate brown trout populations with divergent life history traits are studied following their release into waters previously void of trout. We use a pooled sequencing approach to explore the genomic characteristics of the released stocks and of populations established in the wild in two lakes down-stream of the release site 30 years (4-5 generations) later. While most of the differences (FST=0.16) between the released stocks can be attributed to drift, we identify putatively adaptive differences between them in genes involved in immunity, hearing, skin and muscle texture. Higher levels of genome-wide diversity in established populations compared to released stocks suggest extensive hybridization between stocks. However, released stocks are unequally represented in the established populations, with one stock mainly contributing to the lake closest to the release site, and the other dominating the lake further downstream. We also identify genomic regions putatively under directional selection in the new environment, where genes from one of the released populations, governing metabolism, appear advantageous. Our results demonstrate that hybridization, establishment, and adaptation can be rapid after release into novel environments. We show that such ongoing processes, important for conservation and management, are possible to monitor over contemporary time scales even for a species with relatively small local effective population sizes and a large, complex genome.
Recent findings suggest that immune functions do not unidirectionally deteriorate with age but that a potentially adaptive remodelling where functions of the immune system get down regulated while others get upregulated with age could also occur. Scarce in wild populations, longitudinal studies are yet necessary to properly understand the patterns and consequences of age variations of the immune system in the wild. In the meanwhile, it is challenging to understand if the observed variations in immune parameters with age are due to changes at the within-individual level or to selective (dis)appearance of individuals with peculiar immune phenotypes. Thanks to a long-term and longitudinal monitoring of a wild population of Alpine marmots, we aimed to understand within- and between-individual variation in the immune phenotype with age, in order to improve our knowledge about the occurrence and the evolutionary consequence of such age-variations in the wild. To do so, we recorded the age-specific leukocyte concentration and profile in repeatedly sampled dominant individuals. We then tested whether the potential changes with age were more likely due to within-individual variations and/or selective (dis)appearance. Finally, we investigated if the leukocyte concentration and profiles were correlated to the probability of death at a given age. The leukocyte concentration was stable with age, but the lymphocyte count decreased, while the neutrophil count increased, over the course of an individual’s life. Moreover, between individuals of the same age, individuals with fewer lymphocytes but more neutrophils were more likely to die. Therefore, selective disappearance seems to play an important role in the age variations of the immune parameters in this population. Further investigations linking age variations in immune phenotype to individual fitness are needed to understand whether remodelling of the immune system with age could or could not be adaptive.
Since water deficit (WD) and ultraviolet radiation (UV) trigger similar protective mechanisms in plants, we tested the hypothesis that UV modulates grassland acclimation to WD, mainly through changes in the root/shoot (R/S) ratio, enhances the ability of grassland to acquire water from the soil and hence affects its productivity. We also tested the potential of spectral reflectance and thermal imaging for monitoring the impacts of WD and UV on grassland production parameters. The experimental plots were manipulated by lamellar shelters allowing precipitation to pass through or to exclude it. The lamellas were either transmitting or blocking the UV. The results show that WD resulted in a significant decrease in above-gound biomass (AB). In contrast, below-ground biomass (BB), R/S ratio and total biomass (TB) increased significantly in response to WD, especially in UV exclusion treatment. UV exposure had a significant effect on AB and BB, but only in the last year of the experiment. The differences in the effect of WD between years show that the effect of precipitation removal is largely influenced by the potential evapotranspiration (PET) in a given year and hence mainly by air temperatures, while the resulting effect on production parameters is best correlated with the water balance given by the difference between precipitation and PET. Canopy temperature and selected spectral reflectance indices showed a significant response to WD and also significant relationships with morphological (AB, R/S) and biochemical (C/N ratio) parameters. In particular, the vegetation indices NDVI and RDVI provided the best correlations of biomass changes caused by WD and thus the highest potential to remotely sens drought effects on terrestrial vegetation.
Species-level taxonomy is derived from methodological sources (data and techniques) that assess the existence of spatio-temporal evolutionary lineages via various species concepts. These concepts determine if observed lineages are independent given a particular methodology supposedly connected to ontology, which relates the metaphysical concept to what “kind” of thing a species is. Often, species concepts fail to link methodology and practice back to ontology. This lack of coherence is in part responsible for the persistence of the rank of subspecies, which in modern usage often functions as a placeholder between the evolutionary events of divergence or collapse. Thus, prospective events like lineage merger or collapse determine if a subspecies is subsumed into an existing species, or achieves species rank given unknowable future information. This is conditioned on evidence that the lineage already has a detectably distinct evolutionary history. Ranking these lineages as subspecies seems attractive given the observation that many lineages do not exhibit intrinsic reproductive isolation. We argue that the use of subspecies is indefensible on philosophical and empirical grounds. Ontologically, the rank of subspecies is either identical to that of species or undefined in the context of evolutionary lineages representing spatio-temporally defined individuals. Some species concepts more inclined to consider subspecies, like the Biological Species Concept, are disconnected from ontology and do not consider genealogical history. Even if ontology is ignored, methods addressing reproductive isolation are often indirect and fail to capture the range of scenarios linking gene flow to species identity over space and time. The use of subspecies and reliance on reproductive isolation as a basis for an operational species concept can also conflict with ethical issues governing the protection of species. We provide a way forward for recognizing and naming species that links theoretical and operational species concepts regardless of the magnitude of reproductive isolation.