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The establishment and subsequent spread of invasive species is widely recognized as one of the most threatening processes contributing to global biodiversity loss. This is especially true for marine and estuarine ecosystems, which have experienced significant increases in the number of invasive species with the increase in global maritime trade. Understanding the rate and mechanisms of range expansion is therefore of significant interest to ecologists and conservation managers alike. Using a combination of population genetic surveys, environmental DNA (eDNA) plankton sampling and hydrodynamic modelling, we examined the patterns of introduction of the predatory Northern Pacific seastar (Asterias amurensis) and pathways of secondary spread within southeast Australia. Genetic surveys across the invasive range reveal some genetic divergence between the two main invasive regions and no evidence of ongoing gene flow, a pattern that is consistent with the establishment of the second invasive region via a human-mediated translocation event. In contrast, hydrodynamic modelling combined with eDNA plankton sampling demonstrated that the establishment of range expansion populations within a region is consistent with natural larval dispersal and recruitment. Our results suggest that both anthropogenic and natural dispersal vectors have played an important role in the range expansion of this species in Australia. The multiple modes of spread combined with high levels of fecundity and a long larval duration in A. amurensis suggests it is likely to continue its range expansion and significantly impact Australian marine ecosystems.
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Algeria represents a reservoir of genetic diversity with local sheep breeds adapted to a large range of environments and showing specific features necessary to deal with harsh conditions. This remarkable diversity results from the traditional management of dryland by pastoralists over centuries. Most of these breeds are poorly productive, and the economic pressure leads farmers to realize anarchic cross-breeding (that is, not carried out in the framework of selection plans) with the hope to increase animal’s conformation. In this study, eight of the nine local Algerian sheep breeds (D’men, Hamra, Ouled-Djellal, Rembi, Sidaoun, Tazegzawt, Berber and Barbarine) were investigated for the first time by genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphism genotyping. At an international scale, Algerian sheep occupied an original position shaped by relations with African and European (particularly Italian) breeds. The strong genetic proximity with Caribbean and Brazilian breeds confirmed that the genetic make-up of these American breeds was largely influenced by the Atlantic slave trade. At a national scale, an alarming genetic dilution of the Berber (a primitive breed) and the Rembi was observed, as a consequence of uncontrolled mating practices with Ouled-Djellal. A similar, though less pronounced, phenomenon was also detected for the Barbarine, another ancestral breed. Genetic originality appeared to be better preserved in Tazegzawt, Hamra, D’men and Sidaoun. These breeds should be given high priority in the establishment of conservation plans to halt their progressive loss. For Berber and Barbarine that also occur in the bordering neighbor countries, urgent concerted transnational actions are needed.
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Four-horned sheep are an ideal animal model for illuminating the genetic basis of horn development. The objective of this study was to locate the genetic region responsible for the four-horned phenotype and to verify a previously reported polled locus in three Chinese breeds. A genome-wide association study (GWAS) was performed using 34 two-horned and 32 four-horned sheep from three Chinese indigenous breeds: Altay, Mongolian and Sishui Fur sheep. The top two significant single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with the four-horned phenotype were both located in a region spanning positions 132.6 to 132.7 Mb on sheep chromosome 2. Similar locations for the four-horned trait were previously identified in Jacob, Navajo-Churro, Damara and Sishui Fur sheep, suggesting a common genetic component underlying the four-horned phenotype. The two identified SNPs were both downstream of the metaxin 2 (MTX2) gene and the HOXD gene cluster. For the top SNP—OAR2:g.132619300G>A—the strong associations of the AA and AG genotypes with the four-horned phenotype and the GG genotype with the two-horned phenotype indicated the dominant inheritance of the four-horned trait. No significant SNPs for the polled phenotype were identified in the GWAS analysis, and a PCR analysis for the detection of the 1.8-kb insertion associated with polled sheep in other breeds failed to verify the association with polledness in the three Chinese breeds. This study supports the hypothesis that two different loci are responsible for horn existence and number. This study contributes to the understanding of the molecular regulation of horn development and enriches the knowledge of qualitative traits in domestic animals.
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Deterministic processes may uniquely affect codistributed species’ phylogeographic patterns such that discordant genetic variation among taxa is predicted. Yet, explicitly testing expectations of genomic discordance in a statistical framework remains challenging. Here, we construct spatially and temporally dynamic models to investigate the hypothesized effect of microhabitat preferences on the permeability of glaciated regions to gene flow in two closely related montane species. Utilizing environmental niche models from the Last Glacial Maximum and the present to inform demographic models of changes in habitat suitability over time, we evaluate the relative probabilities of two alternative models using approximate Bayesian computation (ABC) in which glaciated regions are either (i) permeable or (ii) a barrier to gene flow. Results based on the fit of the empirical data to data sets simulated using a spatially explicit coalescent under alternative models indicate that genomic data are consistent with predictions about the hypothesized role of microhabitat in generating discordant patterns of genetic variation among the taxa. Specifically, a model in which glaciated areas acted as a barrier was much more probable based on patterns of genomic variation in Carex nova, a wet-adapted species. However, in the dry-adapted Carex chalciolepis, the permeable model was more probable, although the difference in the support of the models was small. This work highlights how statistical inferences can be used to distinguish deterministic processes that are expected to result in discordant genomic patterns among species, including species-specific responses to climate change.
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The proliferation of DNA data is revolutionizing all fields of systematic research. DNA barcode sequences, now available for millions of specimens and several hundred thousand species, are increasingly used in algorithmic species delimitations. This is complicated by occasional incongruences between species and gene genealogies, as indicated by situations where conspecific individuals do not form a monophyletic cluster in a gene tree. In two previous reviews, non-monophyly has been reported as being common in mitochondrial DNA gene trees. We developed a novel web service “Monophylizer” to detect non-monophyly in phylogenetic trees and used it to ascertain the incidence of species non-monophyly in COI (a.k.a. cox1) barcode sequence data from 4977 species and 41,583 specimens of European Lepidoptera, the largest data set of DNA barcodes analyzed from this regard. Particular attention was paid to accurate species identification to ensure data integrity. We investigated the effects of tree-building method, sampling effort, and other methodological issues, all of which can influence estimates of non-monophyly. We found a 12% incidence of non-monophyly, a value significantly lower than that observed in previous studies. Neighbor joining (NJ) and maximum likelihood (ML) methods yielded almost equal numbers of non-monophyletic species, but 24.1% of these cases of non-monophyly were only found by one of these methods. Non-monophyletic species tend to show either low genetic distances to their nearest neighbors or exceptionally high levels of intraspecific variability. Cases of polyphyly in COI trees arising as a result of deep intraspecific divergence are negligible, as the detected cases reflected misidentifications or methodological errors. Taking into consideration variation in sampling effort, we estimate that the true incidence of non-monophyly is ∼23%, but with operational factors still being included. Within the operational factors, we separately assessed the frequency of taxonomic limitations (presence of overlooked cryptic and oversplit species) and identification uncertainties. We observed that operational factors are potentially present in more than half (58.6%) of the detected cases of non-monophyly. Furthermore, we observed that in about 20% of non-monophyletic species and entangled species, the lineages involved are either allopatric or parapatric—conditions where species delimitation is inherently subjective and particularly dependent on the species concept that has been adopted. These observations suggest that species-level non-monophyly in COI gene trees is less common than previously supposed, with many cases reflecting misidentifications, the subjectivity of species delimitation or other operational factors.
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The California Floristic Province (CFP) is an area of high biodiversity and endemism corresponding roughly to the portion of western North America having a Mediterranean-type climate. High levels of diversity and endemism in the CFP are attributed to the unique geo-climatic setting of the region. In recent years, much has been learned about the origins of plant diversity in western North America. This work, however, has been hindered by a focus on political rather than biotic regions, such that much more is known about diversity and endemism in the state of California than the natural biotic region represented by the CFP. Here we present a preliminary list of native land plants (vascular plants and bryophytes) found in the CFP, as well as an analysis of diversity and endemism patterns at the level of both species and minimum rank taxa (MRT; species and infraspecific taxa). A total of 6,927 MRT are native to the CFP, including 6,143 vascular plants and 784 bryophytes. Of these, 2,612 vascular plants are endemic to the CFP (42%) compared to 37 endemic bryophytes (5%). Finally, 2,506 native CFP vascular plant MRT (41% of the CFP flora) and 454 CFP bryophyte MRT (58% of the CFP flora) are found outside California in the Oregon and Baja California parts of the CFP. This high degree of sharing across political boundaries among both vascular plants and bryophytes highlights the cohesiveness of the CFP, and the need to focus more research effort on biotic regions.
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In the analysis of DNA sequences on related individuals, most methods strive to incorporate as much information as possible, with little or no attention paid to the issue of statistical significance. For example, a modern workstation can easily handle the computations needed to perform a large-scale genome-wide inheritance-by-descent (IBD) scan, but accurate assessment of the significance of that scan is often hindered by inaccurate approximations and computationally intensive simulation. To address these issues, we developed gLOD-a test of co-segregation that, for large samples, models chromosome-specific IBD statistics as a collection of stationary Gaussian processes. With this simple model, the parametric bootstrap yields an accurate and rapid assessment of significance-the genome-wide corrected P-value. Furthermore, we show that (i) under the null hypothesis, the limiting distribution of the gLOD is the standard Gumbel distribution; (ii) our parametric bootstrap simulator is approximately 40 000 times faster than gene-dropping methods, and it is more powerful than methods that approximate the adjusted P-value; and, (iii) the gLOD has the same statistical power as the widely used maximum Kong and Cox LOD. Thus, our approach gives researchers the ability to determine quickly and accurately the significance of most large-scale IBD scans, which may contain multiple traits, thousands of families and tens of thousands of DNA sequences.
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Circadian clocks give rise to daily oscillations in behavior and physiological functions that often anticipate upcoming environmental changes generated by the Earth rotation. In model organisms a relationship exists between several genes affecting the circadian rhythms and latitude. We investigated the allele distributions at 116 000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of 25 human clock and clock-related genes from the 1000Genomes Project, and at a reference data set of putatively neutral polymorphisms. The global genetic structure at the clock genes did not differ from that observed at the reference data set. We then tested for evidence of local adaptation searching for FST outliers under both an island and a hierarchical model, and for significant association between allele frequencies and environmental variables by a Bayesian approach. A total of 230 SNPs in 23 genes, or 84 SNPs in 19 genes, depending on the significance thresholds chosen, showed signs of local adaptation, whereas a maximum of 190 SNPs in 23 genes had significant covariance with one or more environmental variables. Only two SNPs from two genes (NPAS2 and AANAT) exhibit both elevated population differentiation and covariance with at least one environmental variable. We then checked whether the SNPs emerging from these analyses fall within a set of candidate SNPs associated with different chronotypes or sleep disorders. Correlation of five such SNPs with environmental variables supports a selective role of latitude or photoperiod, but certainly not a major one.
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Farmland biodiversity is strongly declining in most of Western Europe, but still survives in traditional low intensity agricultural landscapes in Central and Eastern Europe. Accession to the EU however intensifies agriculture, which leads to the vanishing of traditional farming. Our aim was to describe the pollinator assemblages of the last remnants of these landscapes, thus set the baseline of sustainable farming for pollination, and to highlight potential measures of conservation. In these traditional farmlands in the Transylvanian Basin, Romania (EU accession in 2007), we studied the major pollinator groups—wild bees, hoverflies and butterflies. Landscape scale effects of semi-natural habitats, land cover diversity, the effects of heterogeneity and woody vegetation cover and on-site flower resources were tested on pollinator communities in traditionally managed arable fields and grasslands. Our results showed: (i) semi-natural habitats at the landscape scale have a positive effect on most pollinators, especially in the case of low heterogeneity of the direct vicinity of the studied sites; (ii) both arable fields and grasslands hold abundant flower resources, thus both land use types are important in sustaining pollinator communities; (iii) thus, pollinator conservation can rely even on arable fields under traditional management regime. This has an indirect message that the tiny flower margins around large intensive fields in west Europe can be insufficient conservation measures to restore pollinator communities at the landscape scale, as this is still far the baseline of necessary flower resources. This hypothesis needs further study, which includes more traditional landscapes providing baseline, and exploration of other factors behind the lower than baseline level biodiversity values of fields under agri-environmental schemes (AES).
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Genetic rescue, an increase in population growth owing to the infusion of new alleles, can aid the persistence of small populations, but its use as a management tool is limited by a lack of empirical data geared towards predicting effects of gene flow on local adaptation and demography. Experimental translocations provide an ideal opportunity to monitor the demographic consequences of gene flow. In this study we take advantage of two experimental introductions of Trinidadian guppies to test the effects of gene flow on downstream native populations. We individually marked guppies from the native populations to monitor population dynamics for 3 months before and 26 months after gene flow. We genotyped all individuals caught during the first 17 months at microsatellite loci to classify individuals by their genetic ancestry: native, immigrant, F1 hybrid, F2 hybrid, or backcross. Our study documents a combination of demographic and genetic rescue over multiple generations under fully natural conditions. Within both recipient populations, we found substantial and long-term increases in population size that could be attributed to high survival and recruitment caused by immigration and gene flow from the introduction sites. Our results suggest that low levels of gene flow, even from a divergent ecotype, can provide a substantial demographic boost to small populations, which may allow them to withstand environmental stochasticity.
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