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Proceedings. Biological Sciences

Jennifer D McCabe, He Yin, Jennyffer Cruz, Volker Radeloff, Anna Pidgeon, David N Bonter, Benjamin Zuckerberg
Urbanization causes the simplification of natural habitats, resulting in animal communities dominated by exotic species with few top predators. In recent years, however, many predators such as hawks, and in the US coyotes and cougars, have become increasingly common in urban environments. Hawks in the Accipiter genus, especially, are recovering from widespread population declines and are increasingly common in urbanizing landscapes. Our goal was to identify factors that determine the occupancy, colonization and persistence of Accipiter hawks in a major metropolitan area...
November 7, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Fletcher W Halliday, James Umbanhowar, Charles E Mitchell
Parasite epidemics can depend on priority effects, and parasite priority effects can result from the host immune response to prior infection. Yet we lack experimental evidence that such immune-mediated priority effects influence epidemics. To address this research gap, we manipulated key host immune hormones, then measured the consequences for within-host parasite interactions, and ultimately parasite epidemics in the field. Specifically, we applied plant immune-signalling hormones to sentinel plants, embedded into a wild host population, and tracked foliar infections caused by two common fungal parasites...
November 7, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Vivian Y Y Lam, Milani Chaloupka, Angus Thompson, Christopher Doropoulos, Peter J Mumby
Understanding the dynamics of habitat-forming organisms is fundamental to managing natural ecosystems. Most studies of coral reef dynamics have focused on clear-water systems though corals inhabit many turbid regions. Here, we illustrate the key drivers of an inshore coral reef ecosystem using 10 years of biological, environmental, and disturbance data. Tropical cyclones, crown-of-thorns starfish, and coral bleaching are recognized as the major drivers of coral loss at mid- and offshore reefs along the Great Barrier Reef (GBR)...
November 7, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Caleb J Axelrod, Frédéric Laberge, Beren W Robinson
Variation in spatial complexity and foraging requirements between habitats can impose different cognitive demands on animals that may influence brain size. However, the relationship between ecologically related cognitive performance and brain size is not well established. We test whether variation in relative brain size and brain region size is associated with habitat use within a population of pumpkinseed sunfish composed of different ecotypes that inhabit either the structurally complex shoreline littoral habitat or simpler open-water pelagic habitat...
November 7, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Jack da Silva, Victoria L Drysdale
Although the gamete competition theory remains the dominant explanation for the evolution of anisogamy, well-known exceptions to its predictions have raised doubts about the completeness of the theory. One of these exceptions is isogamy in large or complex species of green algae. Here, we show that this exception may be explained in a manner consistent with a game-theoretic extension of the original theory: a constraint on the minimum size of a gamete may prevent the evolution of continuously stable anisogamy...
November 7, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Colleen S Nell, Luis Abdala-Roberts, Victor Parra-Tabla, Kailen A Mooney
Biodiversity affects the structure of ecological communities, but little is known about the interactive effects of diversity across multiple trophic levels. We used a large-scale forest diversity experiment to investigate the effects of tropical tree species richness on insectivorous birds, and the subsequent indirect effect on predation rates by birds. Diverse plots (four tree species) had higher bird abundance (61%), phylogenetic diversity (61%), and functional diversity (55%) than predicted based on single-species monocultures, which corresponded to higher attack rates on artificial caterpillars (65%)...
November 7, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Nathaniel P Sharp, Aneil F Agrawal
Despite decades of research, the factors that maintain genetic variation for fitness are poorly understood. It is unclear what fraction of the variance in a typical fitness component can be explained by mutation-selection balance (MSB) and whether fitness components differ in this respect. In theory, the level of standing variance in fitness due to MSB can be predicted using the rate of fitness decline under mutation accumulation, and this prediction can be directly compared to the standing variance observed...
November 7, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Michael A Litzow, Lorenzo Ciannelli, Patricia Puerta, Justin J Wettstein, Ryan R Rykaczewski, Michael Opiekun
Studies of climate effects on ecology often account for non-stationarity in individual physical and biological variables, but rarely allow for non-stationary relationships among variables. Here, we show that non-stationary relationships among physical and biological variables are central to understanding climate effects on salmon ( Onchorynchus spp.) in the Gulf of Alaska during 1965-2012. The relative importance of two leading patterns in North Pacific climate, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and North Pacific Gyre Oscillation (NPGO), changed around 1988/1989 as reflected by changing correlations with leading axes of sea surface temperature variability...
November 7, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
John A Mohan, Nathan R Miller, Sharon Z Herzka, Oscar Sosa-Nishizaki, Suzanne Kohin, Heidi Dewar, Michael Kinney, Owyn Snodgrass, R J David Wells
As upper-level predators, sharks are important for maintaining marine food web structure, but populations are threatened by fishery exploitation. Sustainable management of shark populations requires improved understanding of migration patterns and population demographics, which has traditionally been sought through physical and/or electronic tagging studies. The application of natural tags such as elemental variations in mineralized band pairs of elasmobranch vertebrae cartilage could also reveal endogenous and exogenous processes experienced by sharks throughout their life histories...
November 7, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Aaron R H LeBlanc, Kirstin S Brink, Megan R Whitney, Fernando Abdala, Robert R Reisz
The mammalian dentition is uniquely characterized by a combination of precise occlusion, permanent adult teeth and a unique tooth attachment system. Unlike the ankylosed teeth in most reptiles, mammal teeth are supported by a ligamentous tissue that suspends each tooth in its socket, providing flexible and compliant tooth attachment that prolongs the life of each tooth and maintains occlusal relationships. Here we investigate dental ontogeny through histological examination of a wide range of extinct synapsid lineages to assess whether the ligamentous tooth attachment system is unique to mammals and to determine how it evolved...
November 7, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Joseph M Eisaguirre, Travis L Booms, Christopher P Barger, Carol L McIntyre, Stephen B Lewis, Greg A Breed
For migrating animals, realized migration routes and timing emerge from hundreds or thousands of movement decisions made along migration routes. Local weather conditions along migration routes continually influence these decisions, and even relatively small changes in en route weather may cumulatively result in major shifts in migration patterns. Here, we analysed satellite tracking data to score a discrete navigation decision by a large migratory bird as it navigated a high-latitude, 5000 m elevation mountain range to understand how those navigational decisions changed under different weather conditions...
November 7, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Giovanna Di Ruocco, Riccardo Di Mambro, Raffaele Dello Ioio
A key question in biology is to understand how interspecies morphological diversities originate. Plant roots present a huge interspecific phenotypical variability, mostly because roots largely contribute to adaptation to different kinds of soils. One example is the interspecific cortex layer number variability, spanning from one to several. Here, we review the latest advances in the understanding of the mechanisms expanding and/or restricting cortical layer number in Arabidopsis thaliana and their involvement in cortex pattern variability among multi-cortical layered species such as Cardamine hirsuta or Oryza sativa ...
November 7, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Denon Start, Stephen De Lisle
Intraspecific variation can have important consequences for the structure and function of ecological communities, and serves to link community ecology to evolutionary processes. Differences between the sexes are an overwhelmingly common form of intraspecific variation, but its community-level consequences have never been experimentally investigated. Here, we manipulate the sex ratio of a sexually dimorphic predacious newt in aquatic mesocosms, then track their impact on prey communities. Female and male newts preferentially forage in the benthic and pelagic zones, respectively, causing corresponding reductions in prey abundances in those habitats...
November 7, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Yoshan Moodley, Isa-Rita M Russo, Jan Robovský, Desiré L Dalton, Antoinette Kotzé, Steve Smith, Jan Stejskal, Oliver A Ryder, Robert Hermes, Chris Walzer, Michael W Bruford
The white rhinoceros ( Ceratotherium simum ) has a discontinuous African distribution, which is limited by the extent of sub-Saharan grasslands. The southern population (SWR) declined to its lowest number around the turn of the nineteenth century, but recovered to become the world's most numerous rhinoceros. In contrast, the northern population (NWR) was common during much of the twentieth century, declining rapidly since the 1970s, and now only two post-reproductive individuals remain. Despite this species's conservation status, it lacks a genetic assessment of its demographic history...
November 7, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Chancey MacDonald, Geoffrey P Jones, Tom Bridge
Escalating climate-related disturbances and asymmetric habitat losses will increasingly result in species living in more marginal habitats. Marginal habitats may represent important refuges if individuals can acquire adequate resources to survive and reproduce. However, resources at range margins are often distributed more sparsely; therefore, increased effort to acquire resources can result in suboptimal performance and lead to marginal populations becoming non-self-sustaining sink-populations. Shifting resource availability is likely to be particularly problematic for dietary specialists...
November 7, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Vivek V Venkataraman, Andrew K Yegian, Ian J Wallace, Nicholas B Holowka, Ivan Tacey, Michael Gurven, Thomas S Kraft
The convergent evolution of the human pygmy phenotype in tropical rainforests is widely assumed to reflect adaptation in response to the distinct ecological challenges of this habitat (e.g. high levels of heat and humidity, high pathogen load, low food availability, and dense forest structure), yet few precise adaptive benefits of this phenotype have been proposed. Here, we describe and test a biomechanical model of how the rainforest environment can alter gait kinematics such that short stature is advantageous in dense habitats...
November 7, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
S L Russell, E McCartney, C M Cavanaugh
Transmission of bacteria vertically through host tissues ensures offspring acquire symbionts; however, horizontal transmission is an effective strategy for many associations and plays a role in some vertically transmitted symbioses. The bivalve Solemya velum and its gammaproteobacterial chemosynthetic symbionts exhibit evolutionary evidence of both transmission modes, but the dominant strategy on an ecological time scale is unknown. To address this, a specific primer set was developed and validated for the S...
October 31, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Evan C Palmer-Young, Thomas R Raffel, Quinn S McFrederick
Competition between organisms is often mediated by environmental factors, including temperature. In animal intestines, nonpathogenic symbionts compete physically and chemically against pathogens, with consequences for host infection. We used metabolic theory-based models to characterize differential responses to temperature of a bacterial symbiont and a co-occurring trypanosomatid parasite of bumblebees, which regulate body temperature during flight and incubation. We hypothesized that inhibition of parasites by bacterial symbionts would increase with temperature, due to symbionts having higher optimal growth temperatures than parasites...
October 31, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Shane J Macfarlan, Pamela I Erickson, James Yost, Jhanira Regalado, Lilia Jaramillo, Stephen Beckerman
The root of modern human warfare lies in the lethal coalitionary violence of males in small-scale societies. However, there is a paucity of quantitative data concerning the form and function of coalitionary violence in this setting. Debates exist over how lethal coalitions are constituted, as well as the motivations and benefits for males to join such groups. Data from a lowland Amazonian population, the Waorani of Ecuador, illuminate three issues: (i) the degree to which raiding parties are composed of groups of fraternal kin as opposed to strategic alliances of actual or potential affinal kin; (ii) the extent to which individuals use pre-existing affinal ties to motivate others to participate in war or leverage warfare as a mechanism to create such ties; and (iii) the extent to which participation in raiding is driven by rewards associated with future marriage opportunities...
October 31, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Dolores Genné, Anouk Sarr, Andrea Gomez-Chamorro, Jonas Durand, Claire Cayol, Olivier Rais, Maarten J Voordouw
Multiple-strain pathogens often establish mixed infections inside the host that result in competition between strains. In vector-borne pathogens, the competitive ability of strains must be measured in both the vertebrate host and the arthropod vector to understand the outcome of competition. Such studies could reveal the existence of trade-offs in competitive ability between different host types. We used the tick-borne bacterium Borrelia afzelii to test for competition between strains in the rodent host and the tick vector, and to test for a trade-off in competitive ability between these two host types...
October 31, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
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