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Proceedings. Biological Sciences

Emily L Behrman, Virginia M Howick, Martin Kapun, Fabian Staubach, Alan O Bergland, Dmitri A Petrov, Brian P Lazzaro, Paul S Schmidt
Understanding the rate of evolutionary change and the genetic architecture that facilitates rapid adaptation is a current challenge in evolutionary biology. Comparative studies show that genes with immune function are among the most rapidly evolving genes across a range of taxa. Here, we use immune defence in natural populations of Drosophila melanogaster to understand the rate of evolution in natural populations and the genetics underlying rapid change. We probed the immune system using the natural pathogens Enterococcus faecalis and Providencia rettgeri to measure post-infection survival and bacterial load of wild D...
January 10, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Cagla Stevenson, James P J Hall, Michael A Brockhurst, Ellie Harrison
Plasmids accelerate bacterial adaptation by sharing ecologically important traits between lineages. However, explaining plasmid stability in bacterial populations is challenging owing to their associated costs. Previous theoretical and experimental studies suggest that pulsed positive selection may explain plasmid stability by favouring gene mobility and promoting compensatory evolution to ameliorate plasmid cost. Here we test how the frequency of pulsed positive selection affected the dynamics of a mercury-resistance plasmid, pQBR103, in experimental populations of Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25...
January 10, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Massimo Bernardi, Fabio Massimo Petti, Michael J Benton
The Permian-Triassic mass extinction (PTME) had an enormous impact on life in three ways: by substantially reducing diversity, by reshuffling the composition of ecosystems and by expelling life from the tropics following episodes of intense global warming. But was there really an 'equatorial tetrapod gap', and how long did it last? Here, we consider both skeletal and footprint data, and find a more complex pattern: (i) tetrapods were distributed both at high and low latitudes during this time; (ii) there was a clear geographic disjunction through the PTME, with tetrapod distribution shifting 10-15° poleward; and (iii) there was a rapid expansion phase across the whole of Pangea following the PTME...
January 10, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Jamie M Caldwell, Megan J Donahue, C Drew Harvell
Understanding how disease risk varies over time and across heterogeneous populations is critical for managing disease outbreaks, but this information is rarely known for wildlife diseases. Here, we demonstrate that variation in host and pathogen factors drive the direction, duration and intensity of a coral disease outbreak. We collected longitudinal health data for 200 coral colonies, and found that disease risk increased with host size and severity of diseased neighbours, and disease spread was highest among individuals between 5 and 20 m apart...
January 10, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Keng-Lou James Hung, Jennifer M Kingston, Matthias Albrecht, David A Holway, Joshua R Kohn
The western honey bee (Apis mellifera) is the most frequent floral visitor of crops worldwide, but quantitative knowledge of its role as a pollinator outside of managed habitats is largely lacking. Here we use a global dataset of 80 published plant-pollinator interaction networks as well as pollinator effectiveness measures from 34 plant species to assess the importance of A. mellifera in natural habitats. Apis mellifera is the most frequent floral visitor in natural habitats worldwide, averaging 13% of floral visits across all networks (range 0-85%), with 5% of plant species recorded as being exclusively visited by A...
January 10, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Colin T Kremer, Samuel B Fey, Aldo A Arellano, David A Vasseur
Environmental variability is ubiquitous, but its effects on populations are not fully understood or predictable. Recent attention has focused on how rapid evolution can impact ecological dynamics via adaptive trait change. However, the impact of trait change arising from plastic responses has received less attention, and is often assumed to optimize performance and unfold on a separate, faster timescale than ecological dynamics. Challenging these assumptions, we propose that gradual plasticity is important for ecological dynamics, and present a study of the plastic responses of the freshwater green algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii as it acclimates to temperature changes...
January 10, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Rachel Wood, Amelia Penny
The ability to encrust in order to secure and maintain growth on a substrate is a key competitive innovation in benthic metazoans. Here we describe the substrate growth dynamics, mode of biomineralization and possible affinity of Namapoikia rietoogensis, a large (up to 1 m), robustly skeletal, and modular Ediacaran metazoan which encrusted the walls of synsedimentary fissures within microbial-metazoan reefs. Namapoikia formed laminar or domal morphologies with an internal structure of open tubules and transverse elements, and had a very plastic, non-deterministic growth form which could encrust both fully lithified surfaces as well as living microbial substrates, the latter via modified skeletal holdfasts...
January 10, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Gabriel Pigeon, Fanie Pelletier
Cohort effects, when a common environment affects long-term performance, can have a major impact on population dynamics. Very few studies of wild animals have obtained the necessary data to study the mechanisms leading to cohort effects. We exploited 42 years of individual-based data on bighorn sheep to test for causal links between birth density, body mass, age at first reproduction (AFR), longevity and lifetime reproductive success (LRS) using path analysis. Specifically, we investigated whether the effect of early-life environment on lifetime fitness was the result of indirect effects through body mass or direct effects of early-life environment on fitness...
January 10, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Stacie J Robinson, Michelle M Barbieri, Samantha Murphy, Jason D Baker, Albert L Harting, Meggan E Craft, Charles L Littnan
Where disease threatens endangered wildlife populations, substantial resources are required for management actions such as vaccination. While network models provide a promising tool for identifying key spreaders and prioritizing efforts to maximize efficiency, population-scale vaccination remains rare, providing few opportunities to evaluate performance of model-informed strategies under realistic scenarios. Because the endangered Hawaiian monk seal could be heavily impacted by disease threats such as morbillivirus, we implemented a prophylactic vaccination programme...
January 10, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Miguel Barbosa, Amy E Deacon, Maria Joao Janeiro, Indar Ramnarine, Michael Blair Morrissey, Anne E Magurran
Variation in predation risk is a major driver of ecological and evolutionary change, and, in turn, of geographical variation in behaviour. While predation risk is rarely constant in natural populations, the extent to which variation in predation risk shapes individual behaviour in wild populations remains unclear. Here, we investigated individual differences in reproductive behaviour in 16 Trinidadian guppy populations and related it to the observed variation in predator biomass each population experienced...
January 10, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
P Reglero, A Ortega, R Balbín, F J Abascal, A Medina, E Blanco, F de la Gándara, D Alvarez-Berastegui, M Hidalgo, L Rasmuson, F Alemany, Ø Fiksen
Life-history traits such as spawning migrations and timing of reproduction are adaptations to specific environmental constraints and seasonal cycles in many organisms' annual routines. In this study we analyse how offspring fitness constrains spawning phenology in a large migratory apex predator, the Atlantic bluefin tuna. The reproductive schedule of Atlantic bluefin tuna varies between spawning sites, suggesting plasticity to local environmental conditions. Generally, temperature is considered to be the main constraint on tuna spawning phenology...
January 10, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Spencer C H Barrett
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
January 10, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Valeria Marasco, Winnie Boner, Kate Griffiths, Britt Heidinger, Pat Monaghan
The relationship between environmental stress exposure and ageing is likely to vary with stressor severity, life-history stage and the time scale over which effects are measured. Such factors could influence whether stress exposure accelerates or slows the ageing process, but their interactions have not previously been experimentally investigated. We found that experimental exposure of zebra finches to mildly challenging environmental circumstances from young to old adulthood, which increased exposure to stress hormones, reduced breeding performance during early adulthood, but had positive effects when individuals were bred in old adulthood...
January 10, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
John Axelsson, Tina Sundelin, Mats J Olsson, Kimmo Sorjonen, Charlotte Axelsson, Julie Lasselin, Mats Lekander
Detection and avoidance of sick individuals have been proposed as essential components in a behavioural defence against disease, limiting the risk of contamination. However, almost no knowledge exists on whether humans can detect sick individuals, and if so by what cues. Here, we demonstrate that untrained people can identify sick individuals above chance level by looking at facial photos taken 2 h after injection with a bacterial stimulus inducing an immune response (2.0 ng kg-1 lipopolysaccharide) or placebo, the global sensitivity index being d' = 0...
January 10, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Michael I Coates, John A Finarelli, Ivan J Sansom, Plamen S Andreev, Katharine E Criswell, Kristen Tietjen, Mark L Rivers, Patrick J La Riviere
Although relationships among the major groups of living gnathostomes are well established, the relatedness of early jawed vertebrates to modern clades is intensely debated. Here, we provide a new description of Gladbachus, a Middle Devonian (Givetian approx. 385-million-year-old) stem chondrichthyan from Germany, and one of the very few early chondrichthyans in which substantial portions of the endoskeleton are preserved. Tomographic and histological techniques reveal new details of the gill skeleton, hyoid arch and jaws, neurocranium, cartilage, scales and teeth...
January 10, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Shi-Xiao Luo, Lian-Jie Zhang, Shuai Yuan, Zhong-Hui Ma, Dian-Xiang Zhang, Susanne S Renner
Insect pollination in basal angiosperms is assumed to mostly involve 'generalized' insects looking for food, but direct observations of ANITA grade (283 species) pollinators are sparse. We present new data for numerous Schisandraceae, the largest ANITA family, from fieldwork, nocturnal filming, electron microscopy, barcoding and molecular clocks to infer pollinator/plant interactions over multiple years at sites throughout China to test the extent of pollinator specificity. Schisandraceae are pollinated by nocturnal gall midges that lay eggs in the flowers and whose larvae then feed on floral exudates...
January 10, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Tim S Doherty, Don A Driscoll
Habitat conversion in production landscapes is among the greatest threats to biodiversity, not least because it can disrupt animal movement. Using the movement ecology framework, we review animal movement in production landscapes, including areas managed for agriculture and forestry. We consider internal and external drivers of altered animal movement and how this affects navigation and motion capacities and population dynamics. Conventional management approaches in fragmented landscapes focus on promoting connectivity using structural changes in the landscape...
January 10, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
G Smith, J E Kelly, A Macias-Muñoz, C T Butts, R W Martin, A D Briscoe
Multi-omic approaches promise to supply the power to detect genes underlying disease and fitness-related phenotypes. Optimal use of the resulting profusion of data requires detailed investigation of individual candidate genes, a challenging proposition. Here, we combine transcriptomic and genomic data with molecular modelling of candidate enzymes to characterize the evolutionary history and function of the serine protease cocoonase. Heliconius butterflies possess the unique ability to feed on pollen; recent work has identified cocoonase as a candidate gene in pollen digestion...
January 10, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Darin A Croft, Russell K Engelman, Tatiana Dolgushina, Gina Wesley
This study investigates whether terrestrial mammalian carnivore guilds of ancient South America, which developed in relative isolation, were similar to those of other continents. We do so through analyses of clade diversification, ecomorphology and guild structure in the Sparassodonta, metatherians that were the predominant mammalian carnivores of pre-Pleistocene South America. Body mass and 16 characters of the dentition are used to quantify morphological diversity (disparity) in sparassodonts and to compare them to extant marsupial and placental carnivores and extinct North American carnivoramorphans...
January 10, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Edward D Burress, Lubomír Piálek, Jorge R Casciotta, Adriana Almirón, Milton Tan, Jonathan W Armbruster, Oldřich Říčan
Parallel adaptive radiations have arisen following the colonization of islands by lizards and lakes by fishes. In these classic examples, parallel adaptive radiation is a response to the ecological opportunities afforded by the colonization of novel ecosystems and similar adaptive landscapes that favour the evolution of similar suites of ecomorphs, despite independent evolutionary histories. Here, we demonstrate that parallel adaptive radiations of cichlid fishes arose in South American rivers. Speciation-assembled communities of pike cichlids (Crenicichla) have independently diversified into similar suites of novel ecomorphs in the Uruguay and Paraná Rivers, including crevice feeders, periphyton grazers and molluscivores...
January 10, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
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