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Recently, we reported evidence for a novel mechanism of peripheral sensory coding based on oscillatory synchrony. Spontaneously oscillating electroreceptors in weakly electric fish (Mormyridae) respond to electrosensory stimuli with a phase reset that results in transient synchrony across the receptor population (Baker et al., 2015). Here, we asked whether the central electrosensory system actually detects the occurrence of synchronous oscillations among receptors. We found that electrosensory stimulation elicited evoked potentials in the midbrain exterolateral nucleus at a short latency following receptor synchronization. Frequency tuning in the midbrain resembled peripheral frequency tuning, which matches the intrinsic oscillation frequencies of the receptors. These frequencies are lower than those in individual conspecific signals, and instead match those found in collective signals produced by groups of conspecifics. Our results provide further support for a novel mechanism for sensory coding based on the detection of oscillatory synchrony among peripheral receptors.
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Gamma-band synchronization coordinates brief periods of excitability in oscillating neuronal populations to optimize information transmission during sensation and cognition. Commonly, a stable, shared frequency over time is considered a condition for functional neural synchronization. Here, we demonstrate the opposite: instantaneous frequency modulations are critical to regulate phase relations and synchronization. In monkey visual area V1, nearby local populations driven by different visual stimulation showed different gamma frequencies. When similar enough, these frequencies continually attracted and repulsed each other, which enabled preferred phase relations to be maintained in periods of minimized frequency difference. Crucially, the precise dynamics of frequencies and phases across a wide range of stimulus conditions was predicted from a physics theory that describes how weakly coupled oscillators influence each other’s phase relations. Hence, the fundamental mathematical principle of synchronization through instantaneous frequency modulations applies to gamma in V1, and is likely generalizable to other brain regions and rhythms.
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Oscillation and noise filtration
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Dispersal in heterogeneous ecosystems, such as coastal metacommunities, is a major driver of diversity and productivity. According to theory, both species richness and spatial averaging shape a unimodal relationship of productivity with dispersal. We experimentally tested the hypothesis that disturbances acting on local patches would buffer the loss of productivity at high dispersal by preventing synchronized species oscillations. To simulate these disturbances, our experimental assemblages involved species that self-organized in isolation under three inflow pulsing frequencies, where hydraulic displacement and nutrient loading affected assemblage diversity and composition. At steady-state, the emerging isolated assemblages were connected at three levels of dispersal creating three metacommunities of different connectivity. Consistent with theory, as dispersal increased, species richness in the metacommunity declined; productivity however remained high. This occurred because the most productive species in our study (which dominated the isolated patch of intermediate inflow pulsing frequency) dominated all three patches (low, intermediate and high inflow pulsing frequencies) after dispersal commenced in our metacommunities. This experimental result provides empirical support for the mechanism of spatial averaging. Furthermore, disturbances, in the form of localized pulsed inflows, prevented population oscillation synchrony caused by homogenization. Overall, our observations suggest that localized environmental fluctuations and the identity of species seem to be more influential than dispersal in shaping the diversity and composition of phytoplankton assemblages and stabilizing productivity.
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Why did the London Millennium Bridge shake when there was a big enough crowd walking on it? What features of human walking dynamics when coupled to a shaky surface produce such shaking? Here, we use a simple biped model capable of walking stably in 3D to examine these questions. We simulate multiple such stable bipeds walking simultaneously on a bridge, showing that they naturally synchronize under certain conditions, but that synchronization is not required to shake the bridge. Under such shaking conditions, the simulated walkers increase their step-widths and expend more metabolic energy than when the bridge does not shake. We also find that such bipeds can walk stably on externally shaken treadmills, synchronizing with the treadmill motion for a range of oscillation amplitudes and frequencies, sometimes performing net positive work on the treadmill. Our simulations illustrate how interactions between (idealized) bipeds through the walking surface can produce emergent collective behavior that may not be exhibited by just a single biped.
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Sodium channels play multiple roles in the formation of neural membrane properties in mesencephalic trigeminal (Mes V) neurons and in other neural systems. Mes V neurons exhibit conditional robust high-frequency spike discharges. As previously reported, resurgent and persistent sodium currents (INaR and INaP, respectively) may carry small currents at subthreshold voltages that contribute to generation of spike firing. These currents play an important role in maintaining and allowing high-frequency spike discharge during a burst. In the present study, we investigated the developmental changes in tetrodotoxin-sensitive INaR and INaP underlying high-frequency spike discharges in Mes V neurons. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings showed that both current densities increased one and a half times from postnatal day 0-6 neurons to postnatal day 7-14 neurons. Although these neurons do not exhibit subthreshold oscillations or burst discharges with high-frequency firing, INaR and INaP do exist in Mes V neurons at postnatal day 0-6. When the spike frequency at rheobase was examined in firing Mes V neurons, the developmental change in firing frequency among P7 to P14 neurons was significant. INaR and INaP density at −40 mV also increased significantly among P7 to P14 neurons. The change to an increase in excitability in the P7-14 group could result from this quantitative change in INaP. In neurons older than P7 that exhibit repetitive firing, quantitative increases in INaR and INaP density may be major factors that facilitate and promote high-frequency firing as a function of age in Mes V neurons.
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A fundamental question in evolutionary biology is what promotes genetic variation at non-neutral loci, a major precursor to adaptation in changing environments. In particular, balanced polymorphism under realistic evolutionary models of temporally varying environments in finite natural populations remains to be demonstrated. Here, we propose a novel mechanism of balancing selection under temporally varying fitnesses. Using forward-in-time computer simulations and mathematical analysis, we show that cyclic selection that spatially varies in magnitude, such as along an environmental gradient, can lead to elevated levels of non-neutral genetic polymorphism in finite populations. Balanced polymorphism is more likely with an increase in gene flow, magnitude and period of fitness oscillations, and spatial heterogeneity. This polymorphism-promoting effect is robust to small systematic fitness differences between competing alleles or to random environmental perturbation. Furthermore, we demonstrate analytically that protected polymorphism arises as spatially heterogeneous cyclic fitness oscillations generate a type of storage effect that leads to negative frequency-dependent selection. Our findings imply that spatially variable cyclic environments can promote elevated levels of non-neutral genetic variation in natural populations.
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frequency detuning... The data are the annual proportion of land area defoliated by gypsy moths across the Northeastern United States for 1990-2015. Defoliation was mapped with aerial surveys conducted by each state. Frequency of defoliation (0/1) in 1 × 1 km rasters was aggregated into 8 × 8 km grid cells. The data are limited to 1,327 focal grid cells in which defoliation was detected in 4 or more years both in the focal grid cell and at least 1 of the 8 nearest neighbour grid cells. The column headings “xcoord” and “ycoord” are coordinates expressed in meters based on the NAD 1983 Albers Projection, Central Meridian > -96, Standard Parallel 1 = 20, Standard Parallel 2 = 60, Latitude Of Origin = 40 and Datum = D North American 1983. The remaining columns are years 1990-2015.
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Comparison of adaptive and neutral genetic markers is a valuable approach to characterize the evolutionary consequences of populations living in environments threatened by anthropogenic disturbances, such as forest fragmentation. Shifts in allele frequencies, low genetic variability, and a small effective population size can be considered clear signs of forest fragmentation effects (due to genetic drift) over natural populations, while adaptive responses correlate with environmental variables. Brazilian Atlantic Forest had its landscape drastically reduced and fragmented. Now, several forest remnants are isolated from each other by urban and crop areas. We sampled Drosophila mediopunctata populations from eight forest remnants dispersed on two adjacent geomorphological regions, which are physiognomic and climatically quite distinct. Microsatellite data of inversion‐free chromosomes (neutral genetic marker) indicate low structuration among populations suggesting that they were panmictic and greatly influenced by gene flow. Moreover, significant differences in chromosomal inversion frequencies (adaptive genetic marker) among populations and their correlations with climatic and geographical variables indicate that genetic divergence among populations could be an adaptive response to their environment. Nonetheless, we observed a significant difference in inversion frequencies of a population in two consecutive years that may be associated with edge and demographic effects. Also, it may be reflecting seasonal changes of inversion frequencies influenced by great temperature variation due to edge effects. Moreover, the forest fragment size does not affect genetic variation of neutral markers. Our data indicate that despite oscillations in chromosomal inversion frequencies, D. mediopunctata populations from Brazilian Atlantic Forest and their divergence may be driven by adaptive factors to local differences, perhaps because it is a small flying insect easily carried by the wind increasing its migration rates.
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The frequency and magnitude of extreme climate events are increasing with global change, yet we lack predictions and empirical evidence for the ability of wild populations to persist and adapt in response to these events. Here, we used Fisher’s Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection to evaluate the adaptive potential of Lasthenia fremontii, an herbaceous winter annual that is endemic to seasonally flooded wetlands in California, to alternative flooding regimes that occur during El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. The results indicate that populations may exhibit greater adaptive potential in response to dry years than wet years, and that the relative performance of populations will change across climate scenarios. More generally, our findings show that extreme climate events can substantially change the potential for populations to adapt to climate change by modulating the expression of standing genetic variation and mean fitness.
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