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Integrative and Comparative Biology

Léo Botton-Divet, Raphaël Cornette, Anne-Claire Fabre, Anthony Herrel, Alexandra Houssaye
The locomotor environment and behavior of quadrupedal mammals exert functional constraints on their limbs. Therefore long bone shapes are thought to reflect at least partially the species' locomotor ecology. Semi-aquatic species move through two media with distinct density and viscosity and their locomotor apparatus should therefore reflect a trade-off between the divergent functional constraints it faces. Adaptation to a semi-aquatic lifestyle occurred independently in otters (Lutrinae) and minks (Mustelinae)...
October 29, 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Alexandra Houssaye, P Martin Sander, Nicole Klein
Numerous amniote groups adapted to an aquatic life. This change of habitat naturally led to numerous convergences. The various adaptive traits vary depending on the degree of adaptation to an aquatic life, notably between shallow water taxa still able to occasionally locomote on land and open-marine forms totally independent from the terrestrial environment, but also between surface swimmers and deep divers. As a consequence, despite convergences, there is a high diversity within aquatic amniotes in e.g., shape, size, physiology, swimming mode...
October 29, 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Theagarten Lingham-Soliar
Among extinct ichthyosaurs the Jurassic forms Ichthyosaurus and Stenopterygius share a number of anatomical specializations with lamnid sharks, characterized in the white shark, Carcharodon carcharias These features allow their inclusion within the mode of high-speed thunniform swimming to which only two other equally distinctive phylogenetic groups belong, tuna and dolphins-a striking testaments to evolutionary convergence. Jurassic ichthyosaurs evolved from reptiles that had returned to the sea (secondarily adapted) about 250 million years ago (MYA) while lamnid sharks evolved about 50 MYA from early cartilaginous fishes (originating ca...
October 29, 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Frank E Fish
Re-invasion of the aquatic environment by terrestrial vertebrates resulted in the evolution of species expressing a suite of adaptations for high-performance swimming. Examination of swimming by secondarily aquatic vertebrates provides opportunities to understand potential selection pressures and mechanical constraints, which may have directed the evolution of these aquatic species. Mammals and birds realigned the body and limbs for cursorial movements and flight, respectively, from the primitive tetrapod configuration...
October 3, 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Lisa Noelle Cooper, Mark T Clementz, Sharon Usip, Sunil Bajpai, S Taseer Hussain, Tobin L Hieronymus
The earliest cetaceans were interpreted as semi-aquatic based on the presence of thickened bones and stable oxygen isotopes in tooth enamel. However, the origin of aquatic behaviors in cetacean relatives (e.g., raoellids, anthracotheres) remains unclear. This study reconstructs the origins of aquatic behaviors based on long bone microanatomy and stable oxygen isotopes of tooth enamel in modern and extinct cetartiodactylans. Our findings are congruent with published accounts that microanatomy can be a reliable indicator of aquatic behaviors in taxa that are obligatorily aquatic, and also highlight that some "semi-aquatic" behaviors (fleeing into the water to escape predation) may have a stronger relationship to bone microanatomy than others (herbivory in near-shore aquatic settings)...
October 3, 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Donald L Mykles, Karen G Burnett, David S Durica, Blake L Joyce, Fiona M McCarthy, Carl J Schmidt, Jonathon H Stillman
High-throughput RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) technology has become an important tool for studying physiological responses of organisms to changes in their environment. De novo assembly of RNA-seq data has allowed researchers to create a comprehensive catalog of genes expressed in a tissue and to quantify their expression without a complete genome sequence. The contributions from the "Tapping the Power of Crustacean Transcriptomics to Address Grand Challenges in Comparative Biology" symposium in this issue show the successes and limitations of using RNA-seq in the study of crustaceans...
September 17, 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Melissa S Bowlin
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
November 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Cheryl Lewis Ames, Jason Macrander
Cubozoans (box jellyfish) have a reputation as the most venomous animals on the planet. Herein, we provide a review of cubozoan prey capture and digestion informed by the scientific literature. Like all cnidarians, box jellyfish envenomation originates from structures secreted within nematocyte post-Golgi vesicles called nematocysts. When tentacles come in contact with prey or would-be predators, a cocktail of toxins is rapidly deployed from nematocysts via a long spiny tubule that serves to immobilize the target organism...
November 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Jeffrey A Riffell, Ashlee H Rowe
What is Neuroecology? Animal behavior mediates many critical ecological processes that, in turn, have implications for the evolution of organismal interactions. Because the peripheral and central nervous systems ultimately control behavior, research in neuroecology seeks to link the neural basis of behavior with behavioral control of ecological interactions, and to determine how specific processes (e.g., environmental and genetic constraints, ecological and evolutionary forces) operating to alter nervous system function might constrain or facilitate adaptive behavior...
November 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Lynn B Martin, Anna N Ahn, Ryan Earley, Cameron K Ghalambor, H Arthur Woods
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
November 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Marymegan Daly, H Lisle Gibbs
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
November 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Stephen P Mackessy, Anthony J Saviola
Snake venoms represent an adaptive trophic response to the challenges confronting a limbless predator for overcoming combative prey, and this chemical means of subduing prey shows several dominant phenotypes. Many front-fanged snakes, particularly vipers, feed on various vertebrate and invertebrate prey species, and some of their venom components (e.g., metalloproteinases, cobratoxin) appear to have been selected for "broad-brush" incapacitation of different prey taxa. Using proteomic and genomic techniques, the compositional diversity of front-fanged snakes is becoming well characterized; however, this is not the case for most rear-fanged colubroid snakes...
November 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Patrício M V Simões, Swidbert R Ott, Jeremy E Niven
The ability to learn and store information should be adapted to the environment in which animals operate to confer a selective advantage. Yet the relationship between learning, memory, and the environment is poorly understood, and further complicated by phenotypic plasticity caused by the very environment in which learning and memory need to operate. Many insect species show polyphenism, an extreme form of phenotypic plasticity, allowing them to occupy distinct environments by producing two or more alternative phenotypes...
November 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Michael R Markham, Yue Ban, Austin G McCauley, Rosalie Maltby
Weakly electric freshwater fish use self-generated electric fields to image their worlds and communicate in the darkness of night and turbid waters. This active sensory/communication modality evolved independently in the freshwaters of South America and Africa, where hundreds of electric fish species are broadly and abundantly distributed. The adaptive advantages of the sensory capacity to forage and communicate in visually-unfavorable environments and outside the detection of visually-guided predators likely contributed to the broad success of these clades across a variety of Afrotropical and neotropical habitats...
November 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Daniel I Speiser, Yakir Luc Gagnon, Raghav K Chhetri, Amy L Oldenburg, Sönke Johnsen
The eyes of scallops form images using a concave spherical mirror and contain two separate retinas, one layered on top of the other. Behavioral and electrophysiological studies indicate that the images formed by these eyes have angular resolutions of about 2°. Based on previous ray-tracing models, it has been thought that the more distal of the two retinas lies near the focal point of the mirror and that the proximal retina, positioned closer to the mirror at the back of the eye, receives light that is out-of-focus...
November 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Brian Hoover, Gabrielle Nevitt
Understanding the genetic basis of mate choice in natural populations is a challenging undertaking. Mechanistic investigations of neural and genetic exemplars must be interpreted in the context of population-level effects, and complex demographic and ecological processes that may mask MHC-based mate-choice effects. This is particularly exacerbated in highly polymorphic MHC-based mate choice studies, which require a large sample size to sufficiently characterize an allele distribution in a population, and typically yield small effect sizes...
November 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Ricardo C Rodríguez de la Vega, Tatiana Giraud
The evolution of venoms is the story of how toxins arise and of the processes that generate and maintain their diversity. For animal venoms these processes include recruitment for expression in the venom gland, neofunctionalization, paralogous expansions, and functional divergence. The systematic study of these processes requires the reliable identification of the venom components involved in antagonistic interactions. High-throughput sequencing has the potential of uncovering the entire set of toxins in a given organism, yet the existence of non-venom toxin paralogs and the misleading effects of partial census of the molecular diversity of toxins make necessary to collect complementary evidence to distinguish true toxins from their non-venom paralogs...
November 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Thomas W Cronin, Sönke Johnsen
It has been recognized for decades that animals sense light using photoreceptors besides those that are devoted strictly to vision. However, the nature of these receptors, their molecular components, their physiological responses, and their biological functions are often obscure. Only recently have researchers begun to learn how critical these non-visual or very simple visual responses are to organismal function. New approaches, including high-throughput molecular genetic techniques, have led to a revolution in our understanding of the evolution, anatomical distribution, physiology, and-in some cases-function of non-visual photoreception in diverse organisms...
November 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
D W Miller, A D Jones, J S Goldston, M P Rowe, A H Rowe
Studies of venom variability have advanced from describing the mechanisms of action and relative potency of medically important toxins to understanding the ecological and evolutionary causes of the variability itself. While most studies have focused on differences in venoms among taxa, populations, or age-classes, there may be intersexual effects as well. Striped bark scorpions (Centruroides vittatus) provide a good model for examining sex differences in venom composition and efficacy, as this species exhibits dramatic sexual dimorphism in both size and defensive behavior; when threatened by an enemy, larger, slower females stand and fight while smaller, fleeter males prefer to run...
November 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Winnie W Ho, Jeffrey A Riffell
Plants experience often opposing energetic demands and selective pressures-for instance, where plants need to attract an insect that is both the pollinator and herbivore, or alternately, where plants attract prey (due to limited resources) and pollinators. Together, these selective pressures can modify the volatile signals available to the plant's mutualistic and antagonistic partners. Nevertheless, it remains an open question how changes in the information content of volatile signals modify behavioral responses in mutualists and antagonists, and what the underlying neural bases of these behaviors are...
November 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
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