Data from: On the missing link in ecology: improving communication between modellers and experimentalists
Contributors: Heuschele, Jan, Ekvall, Mikael T., Mariani, Patrizio, Lindemann, Christian
... Collaboration between modellers and experimentalists is essential in ecological research, however, different obstacles linking both camps often hinder scientific progress. In this commentary, we discuss several issues of the current state of affairs in this research loop. Backed by an online survey amongst fellow ecologists, modellers and experimentalists alike, we identify two major areas that need to be mended. Firstly, differences in language and jargon lead to a lack of exchange of ideas and to unrealistic mutual expectations. And secondly, constraint data sharing, accessibility and quality limit the usage of empirical data and thereby the impact of ecological studies. We discuss ways to advance collaboration; how to improve communication and the design of experiments; and the sharing of data. We hope to start a much-needed conversation between modellers and experimentalists, to further future research collaboration and to increase the impact of single ecological studies alike.
Data from: Phylogenomic systematics of Ostariophysan fishes: ultraconserved elements support the surprising non-monophyly of Characiformes
Contributors: Chakrabarty, Prosanta, Faircloth, Brant C., Alda, Fernando, Ludt, William B., McMahan, Caleb D., Near, Thomas J., Dornberg, Alex, Albert, James S., Arroyave, Jairo, Stiassny, Melanie L.J.
... Ostariophysi is a superorder of bony fishes including more than 10,300 species in 1,100 genera and 70 families. This superorder is traditionally divided into five major groups (orders): Gonorynchiformes (milkfishes and sandfishes), Cypriniformes (carps and minnows), Characiformes (tetras and their allies), Siluriformes (catfishes), and Gymnotiformes (electric knifefishes). Unambiguous resolution of the relationships among these lineages remains elusive, with previous molecular and morphological analyses failing to produce a consensus phylogeny. In this study, we use over 350 ultraconserved element (UCEs) loci comprising five million base pairs collected across thirty-five representative ostariophysan species to compile one of the most data-rich phylogenies of fishes to date. We use these data to infer higher-level (interordinal) relationships among ostariophysan fishes, focusing on the monophyly of the Characiformes— one the most contentiously debated groups in fish systematics. As with most previous molecular studies, we recover a non-monophyletic Characiformes with the two monophyletic suborders, Citharinoidei and Characoidei, more closely related to other ostariophysan clades than to each other. We also explore incongruence between results from different UCE datasets, issues of orthology, and the use of morphological characters in combination with our molecular data.
Data from: Post-Eocene climate change across continental Australia and the diversification of Australasian spiny trapdoor spiders (Idiopidae: Arbanitinae)
Contributors: Rix, Michael G., Cooper, Steven J. B., Meusemann, Karen, Klopfstein, Seraina, Harrison, Sophie E., Harvey, Mark S., Austin, Andrew D.
... The formation and spread of the Australian arid zone during the Neogene was a profoundly transformative event in the biogeographic history of Australia, resulting in extinction or range contraction in lineages adapted to mesic habitats, as well as diversification and range expansion in arid-adapted taxa (most of which evolved from mesic ancestors). However, the geographic origins of the arid zone biota are still relatively poorly understood, especially among highly diverse invertebrate lineages, many of which are themselves poorly documented at the species level. Spiny trapdoor spiders (Idiopidae: Arbanitinae) are one such lineage, having mesic ‘on-the-continent’ Gondwanan origins, while also having experienced major arid zone radiations in select clades. In this study, we present new orthologous nuclear markers for the phylogenetic inference of mygalomorph spiders, and use them to infer the phylogeny of Australasian Idiopidae with a 12-gene parallel tagged amplicon next-generation sequencing approach. We use these data to test the mode and timing of diversification of arid-adapted idiopid lineages across mainland Australia, and employ a continent-wide sampling of the fauna’s phylogenetic and geographic diversity to facilitate ancestral area inference. We further explore the evolution of phenotypic and behavioural characters associated with both arid and mesic environments, and test an ‘out of south-western Australia’ hypothesis for the origin of arid zone clades. Three lineages of Idiopidae are shown to have diversified in the arid zone during the Miocene, one (genus Euoplos) exclusively in Western Australia. Arid zone Blakistonia likely had their origins in South Australia, whereas in the most widespread genus Aganippe, a more complex scenario is evident, with likely range expansion from southern Western Australia to southern South Australia, from where the bulk of the arid zone fauna then originated. In Aganippe, remarkable adaptations to phragmotic burrow-plugging in transitional arid zone taxa have evolved twice independently in Western Australia, while in Misgolas and Cataxia, burrow door-building behaviours have likely been independently lost at least three times in the eastern Australian mesic zone. We also show that the presence of idiopids in New Zealand (Cantuaria) is likely to be the result of recent dispersal from Australia, rather than ancient continental vicariance. By providing the first comprehensive, continental synopsis of arid zone biogeography in an Australian arachnid lineage, we show that the diversification of arbanitine Idiopidae was intimately associated with climate shifts during the Neogene, resulting in multiple Mio-Pliocene radiations.
Data from: Bias in phylogenetic measurements of extinction and a case study of end-Permian tetrapods
Contributors: Soul, Laura C., Friedman, Matt
... Extinction risk in the modern world and extinction in the geological past are often linked to aspects of life history or other facets of biology that are phylogenetically conserved within clades. These links can result in phylogenetic clustering of extinction, a measurement comparable across different clades and time periods that can be made in the absence of detailed trait data. This phylogenetic approach is particularly suitable for vertebrate taxa, which often have fragmentary fossil records, but robust, cladistically-inferred trees. Here we use simulations to investigate the adequacy of measures of phylogenetic clustering of extinction when applied to phylogenies of fossil taxa while assuming a Brownian motion model of trait evolution. We characterize expected biases under a variety of evolutionary and analytical scenarios. Recovery of accurate estimates of extinction clustering depends heavily on the sampling rate, and results can be highly variable across topologies. Clustering is often underestimated at low sampling rates, whereas at high sampling rates it is always overestimated. Sampling rate dictates which cladogram timescaling method will produce the most accurate results, as well as how much of a bias ancestor–descendant pairs introduce. We illustrate this approach by applying two phylogenetic metrics of extinction clustering (Fritz and Purvis's D and Moran's I) to three tetrapod clades across an interval including the Permo-Triassic mass extinction event. These groups consistently show phylogenetic clustering of extinction, unrelated to change in other quantitative metrics such as taxonomic diversity or extinction intensity.
Data from: Phylogenetic inference and divergence dating of snakes using molecules, morphology and fossils: new insights into convergent evolution of feeding morphology and limb reduction
Contributors: Harrington, Sean M., Reeder, Tod W.
... Bayesian divergence time analyses were used to simultaneously infer the phylogenetic relationships and date the major clades of snakes including several important fossils that have not previously been included in divergence dating analyses as terminal taxa. We also explored the effect of using fossilized birth–death (FBD) and uniform tree priors for divergence dating with terminal calibrations. Nonclock and relaxed clock analyses of the combined morphology and molecular data set supported previous molecular phylogenetic hypotheses for the major clades of snakes, including the paraphyly of the traditionally recognized Scolecophidia and Macrostomata. Tip-dating analyses using either a uniform tree prior or FBD prior that assume that all fossils are tips and that extant lineages are randomly sampled resulted in older ages than those inferred using a FBD prior assuming diversified sampling of extant lineages and those estimated by previous studies. We used Bayesian ancestral state reconstruction methods to map the evolution of the ability to consume large prey and the loss of limbs onto our inferred time-calibrated phylogeny. We found strong support for early evolution of the ability to consume large prey, indicating multiple independent losses of this ability. We also found strong support for retention of external hindlimbs until relatively late in snake evolution, indicating multiple independent losses of hindlimbs.
Contributors: Huang, Yu-Ching, Lee, Chih-Chi, Kao, Chia-Yi, Chang, Ni-Chen, Lin, Chung-Chi, Shoemaker, DeWayne, Wang, John
... Background: Centromeres are essential for accurate chromosome segregation, yet sequence conservation is low even among closely related species. Centromere drive predicts rapid turnover because some centromeric sequences may compete better than others during female meiosis. In addition to sequence composition, longer centromeres may have a transmission advantage. Results: We report the first observations of extremely long centromeres, covering on average 34 % of the chromosomes, in the red imported fire ant Solenopsis invicta. By comparison, cytological examination of Solenopsis geminata revealed typical small centromeric constrictions. Bioinformatics and molecular analyses identified CenSol, the major centromeric satellite DNA repeat. We found that CenSol sequences are very similar between the two species but the CenSol copy number in S. invicta is much greater than that in S. geminata. In addition, centromere expansion in S. invicta is not correlated with the duplication of CenH3. Comparative analyses revealed that several closely related fire ant species also possess long centromeres. Conclusions: Our results are consistent with a model of simple runaway centromere expansion due to centromere drive. We suggest expanded centromeres may be more prevalent in hymenopteran insects, which use haplodiploid sex determination, than previously considered.
Contributors: McGaugh, Suzanne, Schwartz, Tonia S.
... Endothermy is an evolutionary innovation in eutherian mammals and birds. In eutherian mammals, UCP1 is a key protein in adaptive nonshivering thermogenesis (NST). Although ucp1 arose early in the vertebrate lineage, the loss of ucp1 was previously documented in several reptile species (including birds). Here we determine that ucp1 was lost at the base of the reptile lineage, as we fail to find ucp1 in every major reptile lineage. Furthermore, though UCP1 plays a key role in mammalian NST, we confirm that pig has lost several exons from ucp1 and conclude that pig is not a sole outlier as the only eutherian mammal lineage to do so. Through similarity searches and synteny analysis, we show that ucp1 has also been lost/pseudogenized in Delphinidae (dolphin, orca) and potentially Xenarthra (sloth, armadillo) and Afrotheria (hyrax). These lineages provide models for investigating alternate mechanisms of thermoregulation and energy metabolism in the absence of functional UCP1. Further, the repeated losses of a functional UCP1 suggest the pervasiveness of NST via UCP1 across the mammalian lineage needs re-evaluation.
Contributors: Haenel, Gregory J.
... Introgression of mtDNA appears common in animals but the implications of acquiring a novel mitochondrial genome are not well known. This study investigates mito-genome introgression between the lizard species Urosaurus graciosus, a thermal specialist, and U. ornatus, a species that occupies a wider range of thermal environments. As ectotherms, their metabolic rate is strongly influenced by the thermal environment; with mitochondria being linked to metabolic rates, overall energy budgets could be impacted by introgression. I use mitochondrial gene trees, inferred from Bayesian analyses of Cyt-B and ND1 gene sequences, along with morphology and microsatellites from nineteen populations of these two species to address if the direction and location of mito-nuclear discordance match predictions of introgression resulting from past population expansions. MtDNA is expected to move from resident species into expanding or invading species. Second, does having a heterospecific form of mitochondria impact body size, a trait strongly associated with fitness? Multiple independent introgression events of historic origin were detected. All introgression was unidirectional with U. ornatus-type mtDNA found in U. graciosus parental type individuals. This result was consistent with population expansions detected in U. graciosus but not U. ornatus. Females with heterospecific mtDNA were significantly smaller than homospecific forms and heterospecific males had a different relationship of body mass to body length than those with homospecific mtDNA. These changes indicate a potential selective disadvantage for individuals with heterospecific mitochondria and are consistent with the theoretical expectation that deleterious alleles are more likely to persist in expanding populations.
Contributors: Jacobs, Rachel L., MacFie, Tammie S., Spriggs, Amanda N., Baden, Andrea L., Morelli, Toni Lyn, Irwin, Mitchell T., Lawler, Richard R., Pastorini, Jennifer, Mayor, Mireya, Lei, Runhua
... Some primate populations include both trichromatic and dichromatic (red–green colour blind) individuals due to allelic variation at the X-linked opsin locus. This polymorphic trichromacy is well described in day-active New World monkeys. Less is known about colour vision in Malagasy lemurs, but, unlike New World monkeys, only some day-active lemurs are polymorphic, while others are dichromatic. The evolutionary pressures underlying these differences in lemurs are unknown, but aspects of species ecology, including variation in activity pattern, are hypothesized to play a role. Limited data on X-linked opsin variation in lemurs make such hypotheses difficult to evaluate. We provide the first detailed examination of X-linked opsin variation across a lemur clade (Indriidae). We sequenced the X-linked opsin in the most strictly diurnal and largest extant lemur, Indri indri, and nine species of smaller, generally diurnal indriids (Propithecus). Although nocturnal Avahi (sister taxon to Propithecus) lacks a polymorphism, at least eight species of diurnal indriids have two or more X-linked opsin alleles. Four rainforest-living taxa—I. indri and the three largest Propithecus species—have alleles not previously documented in lemurs. Moreover, we identified at least three opsin alleles in Indri with peak spectral sensitivities similar to some New World monkeys.
Data from: Monitoring of plant-environment interactions by high throughput FTIR spectroscopy of pollen
Contributors: Bağcıoğlu, Murat, Kohler, Achim, Seifert, Stephan, Kneipp, Janina, Zimmermann, Boris
... Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy enables chemical analysis of pollen samples for plant phenotyping to study plant–environment interactions, such as influence of climate change or pathogens. However, current approach, such as microspectroscopy and attenuated total reflection spectroscopy, does not allow for high-throughput protocols. This study at hand suggests a new spectroscopic method for high-throughput characterization of pollen. Samples were measured as thin films of pollen fragments using a Bruker FTIR spectrometer with a high-throughput eXTension (HTS-XT) unit employing 384-well plates. In total, 146 pollen samples, belonging to 31 different pollen species of Fagaceae and Betulaceae and collected during three consecutive years (2012–2014) at locations in Croatia, Germany and Norway, were analysed. Critical steps in the sample preparation and measurement, such as variabilities between technical replicates, between microplates and between spectrometers, were studied. Measurement variations due to sample preparation, microplate holders and instrumentation were low, and thus allowed differentiation of samples with respect to phylogeny and biogeography. The spectral variability for a range of Fagales species (Fagus, Quercus, Betula, Corylus, Alnus and Ostrya) showed high-species-specific differences in pollen's chemical composition due to either location or year. Statistically significant inter-annual and locational differences in the pollen spectra indicate that pollen chemical composition has high phenotypic plasticity and is influenced by local climate conditions. The variations in composition are connected to lipids, proteins, carbohydrates and sporopollenins that play crucial roles in cold and desiccation tolerance, protection against UV radiation and as material and energy reserves. The results of this study demonstrate the value of high-throughput FTIR approach for the systematic collection of data on ecosystems. The novel FTIR approach offers fast, reliable and economical screening of large number of samples by semi-automated methodology. The high-throughput approach could provide crucial understanding on plant–climate interactions with respect to biochemical variation within genera, species and populations.