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American Naturalist

Sophia I Passy, Chad A Larson, Aurélien Jamoneau, William Budnick, Jani Heino, Thibault Leboucher, Juliette Tison-Rosebery, Janne Soininen
In this intercontinental study of stream diatoms, we asked three important but still unresolved ecological questions: (1) What factors drive the biogeography of species richness and species abundance distribution (SAD)? (2) Are climate-related hypotheses, which have dominated the research on the latitudinal and altitudinal diversity gradients, adequate in explaining spatial biotic variability? and (3) Is the SAD response to the environment independent of richness? We tested a number of climatic theories and hypotheses (i...
November 2018: American Naturalist
Maya L Groner, Jeffrey D Shields, Donald F Landers, John Swenarton, John M Hoenig
Phenological mismatch-maladaptive changes in phenology resulting from altered timing of environmental cues-is an increasing concern in many ecological systems, yet its effects on disease are poorly characterized. American lobster (Homarus americanus) is declining at its southern geographic limit. Rising seawater temperatures are associated with seasonal outbreaks of epizootic shell disease (ESD), which peaks in prevalence in the fall. We used a 34-year mark-recapture data set to investigate relationships between temperature, molting phenology, and ESD in Long Island Sound, where temperatures are increasing at 0...
November 2018: American Naturalist
Edward Ivimey-Cook, Jacob Moorad
Maternal effect senescence has attracted much recent scientific interest. However, the age-related effects of pre- and postnatal maternal age are often conflated, as these naturally originate from the same individual. Additionally, many maternal effect senescence studies fail to account for potential biases associated with selective disappearance. Here we use a cross-fostered laboratory population of a burying beetle, Nicrophorus vespilloides, to examine both the effects of female pre- and postnatal maternal age on offspring life-history traits and the postcare outcomes of mothers while accounting for selective disappearance of postnatal caregivers...
November 2018: American Naturalist
Aurélie Cailleau, Daniel Grimanelli, Elodie Blanchet, Pierre-Olivier Cheptou, Thomas Lenormand
Resource allocation to offspring is the battleground for various intrafamilial conflicts. Understanding these conflicts requires knowledge of how the different actors (mother, siblings with different paternal genotypes) influence resource allocation. In angiosperms, allocation of resources to seeds happens postfertilization, and the paternally inherited genome in offspring can therefore influence resource allocation. However, the precise mode of resource allocation-and, in particular, the occurrence of sibling rivalry-has rarely been investigated in plants...
November 2018: American Naturalist
Moshe Zaguri, Yaara Zohar, Dror Hawlena
Animals adjust behaviors to balance changes in predation risk against other vital needs. Animals must therefore collect sensory information and use a complex risk-assessment process that estimates risks and weighs costs and benefits entailed in different reactions. Studying this cognitive process is challenging, especially in nature, because it requires inferring sensory abilities and conscious decisions from behavioral reactions. Our goal was to address this empirical challenge by implementing psychophysical principles to field research that explores considerations used by desert isopods (Hemilepistus reaumuri) to assess the risk of scorpions that hunt exclusively from within their burrows...
November 2018: American Naturalist
Loren Merrill, Jennifer L Grindstaff
Stress exposure during development can impact both the expression of individual traits and associations between traits, but whether stress results in stronger or weaker associations between traits is unclear. In this study, we examined within- and among-trait associations for morphological and physiological traits in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) exposed to corticosterone (CORT) during the nestling and fledging stages as well as in control birds. Birds exposed to CORT exhibited stronger within-trait correlations over time and stronger associations among traits...
November 2018: American Naturalist
Joy B Winbourne, Matt T Harrison, Ben W Sullivan, Silvia Alvarez-Clare, Silvia R Lins, Luiz Martinelli, Megan Nasto, Daniel Piotto, Samir Rolim, Michelle Wong, Stephen Porder
Symbiotic nitrogen fixation (SNF) makes atmospheric nitrogen biologically available and regulates carbon storage in many terrestrial ecosystems. Despite its global importance, estimates of SNF rates are highly uncertain, particularly in tropical forests where rates are assumed to be high. Here we provide a framework for evaluating the uncertainty of sample-based SNF estimates and discuss its implications for quantifying SNF and thus understanding of forest function. We apply this framework to field data sets from six lowland tropical rainforests (mature and secondary) in Brazil and Costa Rica...
November 2018: American Naturalist
James L L Lichtenstein, Ambika Kamath, Sarah Bengston, Leticia Avilés, Jonathan N Pruitt
Negative frequency-dependent selection acting on the sexes is hypothesized to drive populations toward a balanced sex ratio. However, numerous examples of female-biased sex ratios pepper the arthropods. Theoretical examinations have proposed that female-biased populations or groups can have higher chances of surviving and propagating that may be advantageous. We evaluated this hypothesis in the semisocial spider Anelosimus studiosus by creating artificial colonies of varying sex ratios and sizes and observing colony performance at sites with high versus low group extinction rates...
November 2018: American Naturalist
Jörn F Gerchen, Christophe Dufresnes, Matthias Stöck
Divergence between incipient species remains an incompletely understood process. Hybrid zones provide great research potential, reflecting natural organismal genomic interactions and gene evolution in a variety of recombinants over generations. While sex chromosomes are known evolutionary drivers of reproductive isolation, empirical population genetics has mostly examined species with heteromorphic sex chromosomes. We recently reported restricted introgression at sex-linked markers in an amphibian system with homomorphic sex chromosomes (Hyla), consistent with a large X-effect, designating a greater role of sex chromosomes in driving hybrid incompatibilities...
November 2018: American Naturalist
Nickolas M Waser, Paul J CaraDonna, Mary V Price
In western North America, hummingbirds can be observed systematically visiting flowers that lack the typical reddish color, tubular morphology, and dilute nectar of "hummingbird flowers." Curious about this behavior, we asked whether these atypical flowers are energetically profitable for hummingbirds. Our field measurements of nectar content and hummingbird foraging speeds, taken over four decades at multiple localities, show that atypical flowers can be as profitable as typical ones and suggest that the profit can support 24-h metabolic requirements of the birds...
November 2018: American Naturalist
Amanda K Gibson, Lynda F Delph, Daniela Vergara, Curtis M Lively
Asexual lineages should rapidly replace sexual populations. Why sex then? The Red Queen hypothesis proposes that parasite-mediated selection against common host genotypes could counteract the per capita birth rate advantage of asexuals. Under the Red Queen hypothesis, fluctuations in parasite-mediated selection can drive fluctuations in the asexual population, leading to the coexistence of sexual and asexual reproduction. Does shifting selection by parasites drive fluctuations in the fitness and frequency of asexuals in nature? Combining long-term field data with mesocosm experiments, we detected a shift in the direction of parasite selection in the snail Potamopyrgus antipodarum and its coevolving parasite, Microphallus sp...
November 2018: American Naturalist
Asta Audzijonyte, Shane A Richards
Trade-offs in energy allocation between growth, reproduction, and survival are at the core of life-history theory. While age-specific mortality is considered to be the main determinant of the optimal allocation, some life-history strategies, such as delayed or skipped reproduction, may be better understood when also accounting for reproduction costs. Here, we present a two-pool indeterminate grower model that includes survival and energetic costs of reproduction. The energetic cost sets a minimum reserve required for reproduction, while the survival cost reflects increased mortality from low postreproductive body condition...
October 2018: American Naturalist
Daniel J Becker, Celine E Snedden, Sonia Altizer, Richard J Hall
Many wildlife species occupy landscapes that vary in the distribution, abundance, and quality of food resources. Increasingly, urbanized and agricultural habitats provide supplemental food resources that can have profound consequences for host distributions, movement patterns, and pathogen exposure. Understanding how host and pathogen dispersal across landscapes is affected by the spatial extent of food-supplemented habitats is therefore important for predicting the consequences for pathogen spread and impacts on host occupancy...
October 2018: American Naturalist
Sonal Singhal, Huateng Huang, Maggie R Grundler, María R Marchán-Rivadeneira, Iris Holmes, Pascal O Title, Stephen C Donnellan, Daniel L Rabosky
Population divergence is the first step in allopatric speciation, as has long been recognized in both theoretical models of speciation and empirical explorations of natural systems. All else being equal, lineages with substantial population differentiation should form new species more quickly than lineages that maintain range-wide genetic cohesion through high levels of gene flow. However, there have been few direct tests of the extent to which population differentiation predicts speciation rates as measured on phylogenetic trees...
October 2018: American Naturalist
Scott L Nuismer, Bob Week, Marcelo A Aizen
Important groups of mutualistic species are threatened worldwide, and identifying factors that make them more or less fragile in the face of disturbance is becoming increasingly critical. Although much research has focused on identifying the ecological factors that favor the stability of communities rich in mutualists, much less has been devoted to understanding the role played by historical and contemporary evolution. Here we develop mathematical models and computer simulations of coevolving mutualistic communities that allow us to explore the importance of coevolution in stabilizing communities against anthropogenic disturbance...
October 2018: American Naturalist
Vérane Berger, Jean-François Lemaître, Dominique Allainé, Jean-Michel Gaillard, Aurélie Cohas
Sociality modulates life-history traits through changes in resource allocation to fitness-related traits. However, how social factors at different stages of the life cycle modulate senescence remains poorly understood. To address this question, we assessed the influence of social environment in both early life and adulthood on actuarial senescence in the Alpine marmot, a cooperative breeder. The influence of helpers on actuarial senescence strongly differed depending on when help was provided and on the sex of the dominant...
October 2018: American Naturalist
David Wheatcroft, Trevor D Price
Explaining why individuals participate in risky group behaviors has been a long-term challenge. We experimentally studied the formation of groups of birds (mobs) that aggressively confront predators and avian nest parasites and developed a theoretical model to evaluate the conditions under which mobs arise. We presented taxidermied mounts of predators on adult birds (hawks and owls) and of nest threats (crows and cuckoos) at different distances to nests of Phylloscopus warblers. Even when alone, birds are aggressive toward predators of adult birds, both at and away from their nests...
October 2018: American Naturalist
Raul Costa-Pereira, Márcio Silva Araújo, Renan da Silva Olivier, Franco L Souza, Volker H W Rudolf
Ecologists have long searched for a universal size-scaling constant that governs trophic interactions. Although this is an appealing theoretical concept, predator-prey size ratios (PPSRs) vary strikingly across and within natural food webs, meaning that predators deviate from their optimal prey size by consuming relatively larger or smaller prey. Here we suggest that this unexpected variation in allometric scaling of trophic interactions can be predicted by gradients of prey limitation consistent with predictions from optimal foraging theory...
October 2018: American Naturalist
Devin Arbuthnott
Why do we observe substantial variation in fitness-related traits under strong natural or sexual selection? While there is support for several selective and neutral mechanisms acting in select systems, we lack a comprehensive analysis of the relative importance of various mechanisms within a single system. Furthermore, while sexually selected male traits have been a central focus of this paradox, female sexual traits have rarely been considered. In this study, I evaluate the contribution of various selective mechanisms to the maintenance of substantial variation in female attractiveness and offspring production observed among Drosophila melanogaster genotypes...
October 2018: American Naturalist
Daniel E Naya, Hugo Naya, Craig R White
One of the most generalized conclusions arising from studies analyzing the ecological variation of energy metabolism in endotherms is the apparent negative correlation between ambient temperature and mass-independent basal metabolic rate (residual BMR). As a consequence, ambient temperature has been considered the most important external factor driving the evolution of residual BMR. It is not clear, however, whether this relationship is size dependent, and artifacts such as the biased sampling of body masses in physiological data sets could cause us to overstate the ubiquity of the relationship...
October 2018: American Naturalist
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