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  • Aim: To test two prominent, alternate hypotheses that provide explanations for the great accumulation of endemic species in the Kimberley bioregion in north-western Australia, using an extensively sampled, region wide phylogeny of northern Australia’s most speciose freshwater fish family, Terapontidae. Specifically, we test whether the Kimberley may act as (1) a “museum” accumulating taxa and endemic species over time or (2) a “cradle” of more recent diversification and neoendemism. Location: The Australian monsoonal tropics Taxon: Grunters (Terapontidae) Methods: We obtained a robust and well supported Bayesian phylogeny for the family using DNA sequences from mtDNA and nuclear gene regions. We performed molecular phylogenetic analyses using species tree methods including molecular dating analysis, ancestral range reconstruction, and diversification analysis. Results: Based on our phylogeny, the combined molecular clock estimates and likelihood-based historical biogeographic reconstructions suggest that terapontids recently transitioned into the Kimberley from the east during the late-Miocene. We found that 80% of Kimberley terapontids diversified within the Kimberley in the last 3 Ma. Further, diversification analyses identified a single significant shift in diversification rates ~1.4 Ma that corresponds with a change in global climate midway through the Pleistocene that was predominantly driven by speciation in the Kimberley. Main Conclusions: The weight of evidence suggests that the Kimberley has been a “cradle” of evolution for Terapontidae, rather than a “museum”. Our analysis provides strong evidence for a geologically recent transition of terapontids into the Kimberley from regions to the east during the late Miocene followed by a significant increase in speciation rates during the Pleistocene, driven by speciation in the Kimberley. The results provide important insight into the evolutionary and biogeographical processes that have shaped the regions unique biota, which will inform land managers working to protect and conserve both species and the processes responsible for generating and sustaining them.
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  • Background: Biomechanical studies of ACL injury risk factors frequently analyze only a fraction of the relevant data, and typically not in accordance with the injury mechanism. Extracting a peak value within a time series of relevance to ACL injuries is challenging due to differences in the relative timing and size of the peak value of interest. Aims/hypotheses: The aim was to cluster analyze the knee valgus moment time series curve shape in the early stance phase. We hypothesized that 1a) There would be few discrete curve shapes, 1b) there would be a shape reflecting an early peak of the knee valgus moment, 2a) youth athletes of both sexes would show similar frequencies of early peaks, 2b) adolescent girls would have greater early peak frequencies. Methods: N = 213 (39% boys) youth soccer and team handball athletes (phase 1) and N = 35 (45% boys) with 5 year follow-up data (phase 2) were recorded performing a change of direction task with 3D motion analysis and a force plate. The time series of the first 30% of stance phase were cluster analyzed based on Euclidean distances in two steps; shape-based main clusters with a transformed time series, and magnitude based sub-clusters with body weight normalized time series. Group differences (sex, phase) in curve shape frequencies, and shape-magnitude frequencies were tested with chi-squared tests. Results: Six discrete shape-clusters and 14 magnitude based sub-clusters were formed. Phase 1 boys had greater frequency of early peaks than phase 1 girls (38% vs 25% respectively, P <  0.001 for full test). Phase 2 girls had greater frequency of early peaks than phase 2 boys (42% vs 21% respectively, P <  0.001 for full test). Conclusions: Cluster analysis can reveal different patterns of curve shapes in biomechanical data, which likely reflect different movement strategies. The early peak shape is relatable to the ACL injury mechanism as the timing of its peak moment is consistent with the timing of injury. Greater frequency of early peaks demonstrated by Phase 2 girls is consistent with their higher risk of ACL injury in sports.
    Data Types:
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  • Selfish genetic elements that gain a transmission advantage through the destruction of sperm have grave implications for drive male fertility. In the X-linked SR meiotic drive system of a stalk-eyed fly, we found that drive males have greatly enlarged testes and maintain high fertility despite the destruction of half their sperm, even when challenged with fertilising large numbers of females. Conversely, we observed reduced allocation of resources to the accessory glands that probably explains the lower mating frequency of SR males. Body size and eyespan were also reduced, which are likely to impair viability and pre-copulatory success. We discuss the potential evolutionary causes of these differences between drive and standard males.
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  • Theories of plant invasion based on enemy release in a new range assume that selection exerted by specialist herbivores on defence traits should be reduced, absent, or even selected against in the new environment. Here, we measured phenotypic selection on atropine and scopolamine concentration of Datura stramonium in eight native (Mexico) and 14 non-native (Spain) populations. Native populations produced between 20 and 40 times more alkaloid than non-native populations (atropine: 2.0171 vs. 0.0458 mg/g; scopolamine: 1.004 vs. 0.0488 mg/g, respectively). Selection on alkaloids was negative for atropine and positive for scopolamine concentration in both ranges. However, the effect sizes of selection gradients were only significant in the native range. Our results support the assumption that the reduction of plant defence in the absence of the plant’s natural enemies in invasive ranges is driven by natural selection.
    Data Types:
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  • Background: Allergic reactions to tattoos are amongst the most common side effects occurring with this permanent deposition of pigments into the dermal skin layer. The characterization of such pigments and their distribution has been investigated in recent decades. The health impact of tattoo equipment on the extensive number of people with inked skin has been the focus of neither research nor medical diagnostics. Although tattoo needles contain high amounts of sensitizing elements like nickel (Ni) and chromium (Cr), their influence on metal deposition in skin has never been investigated. Results: Here, we report the deposition of nano- and micrometer sized tattoo needle wear particles in human skin that translocate to lymph nodes. Usually tattoo needles contain nickel (6–8%) and chromium (15–20%) both of which prompt a high rate of sensitization in the general population. As verified in pig skin, wear significantly increased upon tattooing with the suspected abrasive titanium dioxide white when compared to carbon black pigment. Additionally, scanning electron microscopy of the tattoo needle revealed a high wear after tattooing with ink containing titanium dioxide. The investigation of a skin biopsy obtained from a nickel sensitized patient with type IV allergy toward a tattoo showed both wear particles and iron pigments contaminated with nickel. Conclusion: Previously, the virtually inevitable nickel contamination of iron pigments was suspected to be responsible for nickel-driven tattoo allergies. The evidence from our study clearly points to an additional entry of nickel to both skin and lymph nodes originating from tattoo needle wear with an as yet to be assessed impact on tattoo allergy formation and systemic sensitization.
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  • Across taxa, individuals vary in how far they disperse, with most individuals staying close to their origin and fewer dispersing long distances. Costs associated with dispersal (e.g., energy, risk) are widely believed to trade-off with benefits (e.g., reduced competition, increased reproductive success) to influence dispersal propensity. However, this framework has not been applied to understand variation in dispersal distance, which is instead generally attributed to extrinsic environmental factors. We alternatively hypothesized that variation in dispersal distances results from trade-offs associated with other aspects of locomotor performance. We tested this hypothesis in the stream salamander Gyrinophilus porphyriticus, and found that salamanders that dispersed farther in the field had longer forelimbs but swam at slower velocities under experimental conditions. The reduced swimming performance of long-distance dispersers likely results from drag imposed by longer forelimbs. Longer forelimbs may facilitate moving longer distances, but the proximate costs associated with reduced swimming performance may help to explain the rarity of long-distance dispersal. The historical focus on environmental drivers of dispersal distances misses the importance of individual traits and associated trade-offs among traits affecting locomotion.
    Data Types:
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  • 1. Among plant traits, plant secondary metabolites such as tannins mediate plant herbivore interactions but also have after-life effects on litter decomposition and nutrient cycling. We propose that niche construction mechanisms based on positive plant-soil feedbacks (PSF) could influence the evolution of tannin production. 2. By modeling the flow of nitrogen (N) and carbon (C) through plants and soil in a spatially explicit context, we explored the relative contribution of herbivory and positive PSF as drivers of tannin evolution. We assumed soil N to be contained in labile and recalcitrant compartments, the latter made of tannin-protein complexes from which plants can absorb nutrients via associations with mycorrhizal fungi. 3. In infertile environments and for plants with low biomass turnover rates, we show that when tannins modify soil properties locally, positive PSF alone can drive their evolution. We further predict the existence of positive coevolutionary feedbacks between associations with mycorrhizal fungi with a decaying ability and tannins, possibly triggered by the evolution of the latter as protection against herbivores. In line with our theoretical results, empirical evidence suggest that tannins are mostly present in plants with low tissue turnover, associated with mycorrhizal fungi able to decay organic matter and inhabiting infertile environments. 4. Synthesis. Our model proposes that the evolution of tannin production can be triggered by positive PSF, provided that tannins promote the local N retention and that mycorrhizal fungi associated with plants are able to absorb N from tannin-protein complexes. In our model, tannin production evolves only in infertile ecosystems, in agreement with field observations. Our findings highlight that the strength of niche construction depends on the ecological context, hence that global ecological properties constrain local eco-evolutionary dynamics.
    Data Types:
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  • Rough-toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis) are a common mass stranding species in Florida. These large stranding events typically include a small number of sick or injured individuals and a much larger number of healthy individuals, making rapid triage essential. Little data exist on rehabilitation outcomes, and historically, successful outcomes are limited. Furthermore, very little data exist on the feeding habits and dietary needs of this species. This study compared morphology and body mass index (BMI) in two rough-toothed dolphin mass stranding events in Florida: August 2004 (n = 36) and March 2005 (n = 32). The two groups were significantly different in morphologic measurements, with age and gender adjusted intake BMI significantly (p < 0.01) different (2004 = 0.34 + 0.02; 2005 = 0.41 + 0.02) between groups. Ten animals from the 2005 had weights tracked throughout the rehabilitation process and demonstrated an initial drop in BMI followed by an increase and a plateau prior to release. When comparing initial BMI by stranding outcome, individuals that were rehabilitated and released had a significantly (p = 0.03) higher BMI than individuals who were euthanized. However, there was no difference between dolphins that died of natural causes (p = 0.56) and animals successfully rehabilitated. Analysis of BMI can be a useful marker in triage during a stranding, when resources are limited to identify individuals most likely to survive, as well as in determining the appropriate body condition for release. The data reported here can provide guidance on evaluating the nutritive status on this uncommon species that would otherwise be difficult to obtain among wild populations.
    Data Types:
    • Tabular Data
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  • Species’ geographic range limits often result from maladaptation to the novel environments beyond the range margin. However, we rarely know which aspects of the n-dimensional environment are driving this maladaptation. Especially of interest is the influence of abiotic versus biotic factors in delimiting species’ distributions. We conducted a two-year reciprocal transplant experiment involving manipulations of the biotic environment to explore how spatio-temporal gradients in precipitation, fatal mammalian herbivory, and pollination affected lifetime fitness within and beyond the range of the California annual plant, Clarkia xantiana ssp. xantiana. In the first, drier year of the experiment, fitness outside the range edge was limited mainly by low precipitation, and there was some evidence for local adaptation within the range. In the second, wetter year, we did not observe abiotic limitations to plant fitness outside the range; instead biotic interactions, especially herbivory, limited fitness outside the range. Together, protection from herbivory and supplementation of pollen resulted in 3-7 fold increases in lifetime fitness outside the range margin in the abiotically benign year. Overall, our work demonstrates the importance of biotic interactions, particularly as they interact with the abiotic environment, in determining fitness beyond geographic range boundaries.
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  • The origin of the mammalian order Eulipotyphla has been debated intensively with arguments around whether they began diversifying before or after the Cretaceous-Palaeogene (K-Pg) boundary at 66 Ma. Here, we used an in-solution nucleotide capture method and next generation DNA sequencing to determine the sequence of hundreds of ultra-conserved elements (UCEs), and conducted phylogenomic and molecular dating analyses for the four extant eulipotyphlan lineages—Erinaceidae, Solenodontidae, Soricidae, and Talpidae. Concatenated maximum-likelihood analyses with single or partitioned models and a coalescent species-tree analysis showed that divergences among the four major eulipotyphlan lineages occurred within a short period of evolutionary time, but did not resolve the interrelationships among them. Alternative suboptimal phylogenetic hypotheses received consistently the same amount of support from different UCE loci, and were not significantly different from the maximum likelihood tree topology, suggesting the prevalence of stochastic lineage sorting. Molecular dating analyses that incorporated among-lineage evolutionary rate differences supported a scenario where the four eulipotyphlan families diversified between 57.8 and 63.2 Ma. Given short branch lengths with low support values, traces of rampant genome-wide stochastic lineage sorting, and post K-Pg diversification, we concluded that the crown eulipotyphlan lineages arose through a rapid diversification after the K-Pg boundary when novel niches were created by the mass extinction of species.
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