Contributors: Toljagić, Olja, Voje, Kjetil L., Matschiner, Michael, Liow, Lee H., Hansen, Thomas F.
... The Late-Cretaceous appearance of grasses, followed by the Cenozoic advancement of grasslands as dominant biomes, has contributed to the evolution of a range of specialized herbivores adapted to new diets, as well as to increasingly open and arid habitats. Many mammals including ruminants, the most diversified ungulate suborder, evolved high–crowned (hypsodont) teeth as an adaptation to tooth–wearing diets and habitats. The impact of different causes of tooth wear is still a matter of debate, and the temporal pattern of hypsodonty evolution in relation to the evolution of grasslands remains unclear. We present an improved time–calibrated molecular phylogeny of Cetartiodactyla, with phylogenetic reconstruction of ancestral ruminant diets and habitats, based on characteristics of extant taxa. Using this timeline, as well as the fossil record of grasslands, we conduct phylogenetic comparative analyses showing that hypsodonty in ruminants evolved as an adaptation to both diet and habitat. Our results demonstrate a slow, perhaps constrained, evolution of hypsodonty towards estimated optimal states, excluding the possibility of immediate adaptation. This augments recent findings that slow adaptation is not uncommon on million–year time scales.
Contributors: Taylor, Helen R., Colbourne, Rogan M., Robertson, Hugh A., Nelson, Nicola J., Allendorf, Fred W., Ramstad, Kristina M.
... Genetic effects are often overlooked in endangered species monitoring, and populations showing positive growth are often assumed to be secure. However, the continued reproductive success of a few individuals may mask issues such as inbreeding depression, especially in long-lived species. Here, we test for inbreeding depression in little spotted kiwi (Apteryx owenii) by comparing a population founded with two birds to one founded with 40 birds, both from the same source population and both showing positive population growth. We used a combination of microsatellite genotypes, nest observations and modelling to examine the consequences of assessing population viability exclusively via population growth. We demonstrate (i) significantly lower hatching success despite significantly higher reproductive effort in the population with two founders; (ii) positive growth in the population with two founders is mainly driven by ongoing chick production of the founding pair; and (iii) a substantial genetic load in the population founded with two birds (10–15 diploid lethal equivalents). Our results illustrate that substantial, cryptic inbreeding depression may still be present when a population is growing, especially in long-lived species with overlapping generations.
Contributors: Olsen, Aaron M.
... The diversity of beak shapes among birds is often assumed to be largely the result of adaptations to different feeding behaviors and diets. However, this assumption has only been tested for a small subset of avian diversity, primarily within the order Passeriformes. Moreover, given the role of the beak in behaviors other than feeding and given that most previously identified beak-feeding associations concern beak size rather than shape, it remains unclear how much of beak shape diversity is explained by feeding ecology and what functional explanations account for these differences in shape. I quantified the association between beak shape and feeding ecology for 42 species in the bird order Anseriformes (waterfowl) using 3D curvature of the upper beak collected from museum specimens and continuous dietary data compiled from the literature. I also tested whether leverage or stress resistance of the beak explains the association between beak shape and feeding ecology. Diet is strongly and significantly correlated with beak shape in waterfowl. An ancestral beak shape reconstruction and the reconstructed diet of the anseriform fossil Presbyornis both support filter-feeding as ancestral for most waterfowl, followed by multiple, significantly convergent transitions from a duck-like beak toward a more goose-like beak. The evolution of a more goose-like beak is associated with increased consumption of leaves, decreased consumption of invertebrates, and an increase in mechanical advantage of the beak. Moreover, no association was identified between size (measured as either beak size or body mass) and feeding ecology nor between size and beak shape. These results demonstrate that feeding ecology has acted as the primary selective force in the diversification of waterfowl beak shapes, including the convergent originations of geese. Thus, rapid and convergent adaptation of the beak to feeding is not limited to passerines nor is it limited to size-correlated shape changes. The positive evolutionary correlation between mechanical advantage and herbivory shows that lever mechanics can explain the functional evolution of the kinetic upper beak in birds. These results also suggest that functions of the beak other than feeding may play a minor role in explaining overall beak shape diversity.
Data from: Out of the dark: 350 million years of conservatism and evolution in diel activity patterns in vertebrates
Contributors: Anderson, Samantha R., Wiens, John J.
... Many animals are active only during a particular time (e.g. day vs. night), a partitioning that may have important consequences for species co-existence. An open question is the extent to which this diel activity niche is evolutionarily conserved or labile. Here, we analyze diel activity data across a phylogeny of 1914 tetrapod species. We find strong phylogenetic signal, showing that closely related species tend to share similar activity patterns. Ancestral reconstructions show that nocturnality was the most likely ancestral diel activity pattern for tetrapods and many major clades within it (e.g. amphibians, mammals). Remarkably, nocturnal activity appears to have been maintained continuously in some lineages for ~350 million years. Thus, we show that traits involved in local-scale resource partitioning can be conserved over strikingly deep evolutionary time scales. We also demonstrate a potentially important (but often overlooked) metric of niche conservatism. Finally, we show that diurnal lineages appear to have faster speciation and diversification rates than nocturnal lineages, which may explain why there are presently more diurnal tetrapod species even though diurnality appears to have evolved more recently. Overall, our results may have implications for studies of community ecology, species richness, and the evolution of diet and communication systems.
Data from: Phylogenomic analyses of Crassiclitellata support major Northern and Southern Hemisphere clades and a Pangaean origin for earthworms
Contributors: Anderson, Frank, Williams, Bronwyn Waller, Horn, Kevin H., Erséus, Christer, Halanych, Kenneth M., Santos, Scott R., James, Samuel W.
... Background: Earthworms (Crassiclitellata) are a diverse group of annelids of substantial ecological and economic importance. Earthworms are primarily terrestrial infaunal animals, and as such are probably rather poor natural dispersers. Therefore, the near global distribution of earthworms reflects an old and likely complex evolutionary history. Despite a long-standing interest in Crassiclitellata, relationships among and within major clades remain unresolved. Methods: In this study, we evaluate crassiclitellate phylogenetic relationships using 38 new transcriptomes in combination with publicly available transcriptome data. Our data include representatives of nearly all extant earthworm families and a representative of Moniligastridae, another terrestrial annelid group thought to be closely related to Crassiclitellata. We use a series of differentially filtered data matrices and analyses to examine the effects of data partitioning, missing data, compositional and branch-length heterogeneity, and outgroup inclusion. Results and discussion: We recover a consistent, strongly supported ingroup topology irrespective of differences in methodology. The topology supports two major earthworm clades, each of which consists of a Northern Hemisphere subclade and a Southern Hemisphere subclade. Divergence time analysis results are concordant with the hypothesis that these north-south splits are the result of the breakup of the supercontinent Pangaea. Conclusions: These results support several recently proposed revisions to the classical understanding of earthworm phylogeny, reveal two major clades that seem to reflect Pangaean distributions, and raise new questions about earthworm evolutionary relationships.
Data from: Green approach for synthesis of bioactive Hantzsch 1,4-dihydropyridine derivatives based on thiophene moiety via multicomponent reaction
Contributors: Sharma, Mayank G., Rajani, Dhanji P., Patel, Hitendra M.
... A novel green and efficient one-pot multicomponent reaction of dihydropyridine derivatives was reported as having good to excellent yield. In the presence of the catalyst ceric ammonium nitrate (CAN), different 1,3-diones and same starting materials as 5-bromothiophene-2-carboxaldehyde and ammonium acetate were used at room temperature under solvent-free condition for the Hantzsch pyridine synthesis within a short period of time. All compounds were evaluated for their in vitro antibacterial and antifungal activity and, interestingly, we found that 5(b–f) show excellent activity compared with Ampicillin, whereas only the 5e compound shows excellent antifungal activity against Candida albicans compared with griseofulvin. The cytotoxicity of all compounds has been assessed against breast tumour cell lines (BT-549), but no activity was found. The X-ray structure of one such compound, 5a, viewed as a colourless block crystal, corresponded accurately to a primitive monoclinic cell.
Data from: Contrasting patterns of gene flow for Amazonian snakes that actively forage and those that wait in ambush
Contributors: de Fraga, Rafael, Lima, Albertina P., Magnusson, William E., Ferrão, Miquéias, Stow, Adam J.
... Knowledge of genetic structure, geographic distance and environmental heterogeneity can be used to identify environmental features and natural history traits that influence dispersal and gene flow. Foraging mode is a trait that might predict dispersal capacity in snakes, because actively foragers typically have greater movement rates than ambush predators. Here we test the hypothesis that two actively foraging snakes have higher levels of gene flow than two ambush predators. We evaluated these four co-distributed species of snakes in the Brazilian Amazon. Snakes were sampled along an 880km transect from the central to the southwest of the Amazon basin, which covered a mosaic of vegetation types and seasonal differences in climate. We analyzed thousands of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) to compare patterns of neutral gene flow based on isolation by geographic distance (IBD) and environmental resistance (IBR). We show that IBD and IBR were only evident in ambush predators, implying lower levels of dispersal than the active foragers. Therefore, gene flow was high enough in the active foragers analyzed here to prevent any build-up of spatial genotypic structure with respect to geographic distance and environmental heterogeneity.
Contributors: Franz, Nico M., Zhang, Chao, Lee, Joohyung
... We utilize an Answer Set Programming (ASP) approach to show that the principles of nomenclature are tractable in computational logic. To this end we design a hypothetical, 20 nomenclatural taxon use case with starting conditions that embody several overarching principles of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature; including Binomial Nomenclature, Priority, Coordination, Homonymy, Typification, and the structural requirement of Gender Agreement. The use case ending conditions are triggered by the reinterpretation of the diagnostic features of one of 12 type specimens anchoring the corresponding species-level epithets. Permutations of this child-to-parent reassignment action lead to 36 alternative scenarios, where each scenario requires a set of 1–14 logically contingent nomenclatural emendations. We show that an ASP transition system approach can correctly infer the Code-mandated changes for each scenario, and visually output the ending conditions. The results provide a foundation for further developing logic-based nomenclatural change optimization and validation services, which could be applied in global nomenclatural registries. More generally, logic explorations of nomenclatural and taxonomic change scenarios provide a novel means of assessing design biases inherent in the principles of nomenclature, and thus may inform the design of future, big data-compatible identifier solutions that recognize and mitigate these constraints.
Data from: Regional and environmental variation in escalatory ecological trends during the Jurassic: a western Tethys hotspot for escalation?
Contributors: Monarrez, Pedro M., Aberhan, Martin, Holland, Steven M.
... Understanding the drivers of macroevolutionary trends through the Phanerozoic has been a central question in paleobiology. Increasingly important is understanding the regional and environmental variation of macroevolutionary patterns and how they are reflected at the global scale. Here we test the role of biotic interactions on regional ecological patterns during the Mesozoic marine revolution. We test for escalatory trends in Jurassic marine benthic macroinvertebrate ecosystems using occurrence data from the Paleobiology Database parsed by region and environment. The escalation hypothesis posits that taxonomic groups that could adapt to intense predation and bioturbation proliferated, whereas groups unable to adapt were reduced in diversity and abundance or driven to extinction. We tested this hypothesis in five regions during Jurassic stages and among four depositional environments in Europe. Few escalatory trends were detected, although at least one escalatory trend was observed in every region, with the greatest number and strongest trends observed in Europe. These trends include increases in shallow infauna and cementing epifauna and occurrences of facultatively mobile invertebrates and decreases in pedunculate, free-lying, and sessile epifauna. Within Europe, escalatory trends occur in shallow-water environments but also in deeper-water environments, where they are predicted not to occur. When regional trends are aggregated, trends in Europe drive the global signal. The results of this study suggest that while evidence of escalation is rare globally, it is plausible that escalation drove macroevolutionary patterns in Europe. Furthermore, these results underline the need to dissect global fossil data at the regional scale to understand global macroevolutionary dynamics.
Contributors: Griffiths, Katherine, Michelutti, Neal, Sugar, Madeline, Douglas, Marianne S.V., Smol, John P.
... Recent climate change has been especially pronounced in the High Arctic, however, the responses of aquatic biota, such as diatoms, can be modified by site-specific environmental characteristics. To assess if climate-mediated ice cover changes affect the diatom response to climate, we used paleolimnological techniques to examine shifts in diatom assemblages from ten High Arctic lakes and ponds from Ellesmere Island and nearby Pim Island (Nunavut, Canada). The sites were divided a priori into four groups (“warm”, “cool”, “cold”, and “oasis”) based on local elevation and microclimatic differences that result in differing lengths of the ice-free season, as well as about three decades of personal observations. We characterized the species changes as a shift from Condition 1 (i.e. a generally low diversity, predominantly epipelic and epilithic diatom assemblage) to Condition 2 (i.e. a typically more diverse and ecologically complex assemblage with an increasing proportion of epiphytic species). This shift from Condition 1 to Condition 2 was a consistent pattern recorded across the sites that experienced a change in ice cover with warming. The “warm” sites are amongst the first to lose their ice covers in summer and recorded the earliest and highest magnitude changes. The “cool” sites also exhibited a shift from Condition 1 to Condition 2, but, as predicted, the timing of the response lagged the “warm” sites. Meanwhile some of the “cold” sites, which until recently still retained an ice raft in summer, only exhibited this shift in the upper-most sediments. The warmer “oasis” ponds likely supported aquatic vegetation throughout their records. Consequently, the diatoms of the “oasis” sites were characterized as high-diversity, Condition 2 assemblages throughout the record. Our results support the hypothesis that the length of the ice-free season is the principal driver of diatom assemblage responses to climate in the High Arctic, largely driven by the establishment of new aquatic habitats, resulting in increased diversity and the emergence of novel growth forms and epiphytic species.