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Biology Letters

L J Henderson, Kathleen R Brazeal, Thomas P Hahn
Animals use multiple signals to attract mates, including elaborate song, brightly coloured ornaments and physical displays. Female birds often prefer both elaborate male song and intense carotenoid-based plumage coloration. This could lead less visually ornamented males to increase song production to maximize their attractiveness to females. We tested this possibility in the highly social and non-territorial house finch ( Haemorhous mexicanus ), in which females discriminate among males based on both song and on the intensity of red carotenoid-based plumage coloration...
July 2018: Biology Letters
Brian K Trevelline, Kirsty J MacLeod, Sarah A Knutie, Tracy Langkilde, Kevin D Kohl
Vertebrate gut microbiota mediate critical physiological processes known to affect host fitness, but the mechanisms that expose wildlife to pioneer members of this important microbial community are not well understood. For example, oviparous vertebrates are thought to acquire gut microbiota through post-natal exposure to the external environment, but recent evidence from placental mammals suggests that the vertebrate reproductive tract harbours microbiota that may inoculate offspring in utero These findings suggest that oviparous vertebrates may be capable of acquiring pioneer microbiota in ovo , but this phenomenon remains unexplored...
July 2018: Biology Letters
Damien T Maher, Mitchell Call, Isaac R Santos, Christian J Sanders
The blue carbon paradigm has evolved in recognition of the high carbon storage and sequestration potential of mangrove, saltmarsh and seagrass ecosystems. However, fluxes of the potent greenhouse gases CH4 and N2 O, and lateral export of carbon are often overlooked within the blue carbon framework. Here, we show that the export of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and alkalinity is approximately 1.7 times higher than burial as a long-term carbon sink in a subtropical mangrove system. Fluxes of methane offset burial by approximately 6%, while the nitrous oxide sink was approximately 0...
July 2018: Biology Letters
Sankar Subramanian
A number of previous studies reported that gene expression, tissue specificity, gene essentiality and the number of protein-protein interactions influence the rate of protein evolution. Here we investigated the influence of effective population size ( N e ) on these determinants of protein evolution. For this purpose, we compared the ratio of non-synonymous-to-synonymous diversities ( π N / π S ) estimated for protein-coding genes of Mus musculus castaneus and Mus musculus musculus : populations with high and low N e respectively...
July 2018: Biology Letters
Conor C Taff, Cedric Zimmer, Maren N Vitousek
The glucocorticoid stress response mediates a suite of physiological and behavioural changes that allow vertebrates to cope with transient stressors. Chronically elevated glucocorticoid levels are known to result in a variety of organismal costs, but relatively little is known about the downstream effects of mounting a series of brief, acute spikes in circulating glucocorticoids. Conceptual models of stress suggest that repeated acute stressors might produce 'wear-and-tear' on the stress-response system when encountered in sequence...
July 2018: Biology Letters
Janek Urvik, Kalev Rattiste, Mathieu Giraudeau, Monika Okuliarová, Peeter Hõrak, Tuul Sepp
While the general patterns of age-specific changes in reproductive success are quite well established in long-lived animals, we still do not know if allocation patterns of maternally transmitted compounds are related to maternal age. We measured the levels of yolk testosterone, carotenoids and vitamins A and E in a population of known-aged common gulls ( Larus canus ) and found an age-specific pattern in yolk lutein and vitamin A concentrations. Middle-aged mothers allocated more of these substances to yolk compared to young and old mothers...
July 2018: Biology Letters
Maggie D Johnson, Robert C Carpenter
Ocean acidification (OA) and nutrient enrichment threaten the persistence of near shore ecosystems, yet little is known about their combined effects on marine organisms. Here, we show that a threefold increase in nitrogen concentrations, simulating enrichment due to coastal eutrophication or consumer excretions, offset the direct negative effects of near-future OA on calcification and photophysiology of the reef-building crustose coralline alga, Porolithon onkodes Projected near-future pCO2 levels (approx. 850 µatm) decreased calcification by 30% relative to ambient conditions...
July 2018: Biology Letters
Kazuki Yokouchi, Françoise Daverat, Michael J Miller, Nobuto Fukuda, Ryusuke Sudo, Katsumi Tsukamoto, Pierre Elie, W Russell Poole
Many diadromous fishes such as salmon and eels that move between freshwater and the ocean have evolved semelparous reproductive strategies, but both groups display considerable plasticity in characteristics. Factors such as population density and growth, predation risk or reproduction cost have been found to influence timing of maturation. We investigated the relationship between female size at maturity and individual growth trajectories of the long-lived semelparous European eel, Anguilla anguilla A Bayesian model was applied to 338 individual growth trajectories of maturing migration-stage female silver eels from France, Ireland, the Netherlands and Hungary...
July 2018: Biology Letters
Teri B Jones, Samantha C Patrick, John P Y Arnould, Marlenne A Rodríguez-Malagón, Melanie R Wells, Jonathan A Green
Social foraging behaviours, which range from cooperative hunting to local enhancement, can result in increased prey capture and access to information, which may significantly reduce time and energy costs of acquiring prey. In colonial species, it has been proposed that the colony itself may act as a site of social information transfer and group formation. However, conclusive evidence from empirical studies is lacking. In particular, most studies in colonial species have generally focussed on behaviours either at the colony or at foraging sites in isolation, and have failed to directly connect social associations at the colony to social foraging...
July 2018: Biology Letters
Barbara Class, Jon E Brommer
Assortative mating is pervasive in wild populations and commonly described as a positive correlation between the phenotypes of males and females across mated pairs. This correlation is often assumed to reflect non-random mate choice based on phenotypic similarity. However, phenotypic resemblance between mates can also arise when their traits respond plastically to a shared environmental effect creating a (within-pair) residual correlation in traits. Using long-term data collected in pairs of wild blue tits and a covariance partitioning approach, we empirically demonstrate that such residual covariance indeed exists and can generate phenotypic correlations (or mask assortative mating) in behavioural and morphometric traits...
July 2018: Biology Letters
Florence Levrero, Nicolas Mathevon, Katarzyna Pisanski, Erik Gustafsson, David Reby
Voice pitch (fundamental frequency, F 0 ) is a key dimension of our voice that varies between sexes after puberty, and also among individuals of the same sex both before and after puberty. While a recent longitudinal study indicates that inter-individual differences in voice pitch remain stable in men during adulthood and may even be determined before puberty (Fouquet et al. 2016 R. Soc. open sci. 3 , 160395. (doi:10.1098/rsos.160395)), whether these differences emerge in infancy remains unknown. Here, using a longitudinal study design, we investigate the hypothesis that inter-individual differences in F 0 are already present in the cries of pre-verbal babies...
July 2018: Biology Letters
R J Boyd, T R Kelly, S A MacDougall-Shackleton, E A MacDougall-Shackleton
Immune defences often trade off with other life-history components. Within species, optimal allocation to immunity may differ between the sexes or between alternative life-history strategies. White-throated sparrows ( Zonotrichia albicollis ) are unusual in having two discrete plumage morphs, white-striped and tan-striped. Within each sex, white-striped individuals are more aggressive and provide less parental care than tan-striped individuals. We extended immunocompetence handicap models, which predict sex differences in immunity and parasitism, to hypothesize that infection susceptibility should be greater in white-striped than tan-striped birds...
July 2018: Biology Letters
Donald Davesne, François J Meunier, Matt Friedman, Roger B J Benson, Olga Otero
Endothermy, production and retention of heat by the body, appeared convergently in mammals, birds and four spiny-rayed teleost fish lineages. Of these, red-muscle endothermy over most or all of the body has only appeared in two groups: tunas and the opah ( Lampris ). Hitherto, tunas have been the only spiny-rayed fishes known to have bones containing embedded osteocyte cells; others have acellular bone. We examined bone histology in Lampris for the first time, demonstrating the presence of cellular bone very similar to that of tunas...
June 2018: Biology Letters
Talisin T Hammond, Rupert Palme, Eileen A Lacey
Differences in temporal patterns of activity can modulate the ambient conditions to which organisms are exposed, providing an important mechanism for responding to environmental change. Such differences may be particularly relevant to ecological generalists, which are expected to encounter a wider range of environmental conditions. Here, we compare temporal patterns of activity for partially sympatric populations of a generalist (the lodgepole chipmunk, Tamias speciosus ) and a more specialized congener (the alpine chipmunk, Tamias alpinus ) that have displayed divergent responses to the past century of environmental change...
June 2018: Biology Letters
Dorte Krause-Jensen, Paul Lavery, Oscar Serrano, Núria Marbà, Pere Masque, Carlos M Duarte
Macroalgae form the most extensive and productive benthic marine vegetated habitats globally but their inclusion in Blue Carbon (BC) strategies remains controversial. We review the arguments offered to reject or include macroalgae in the BC framework, and identify the challenges that have precluded macroalgae from being incorporated so far. Evidence that macroalgae support significant carbon burial is compelling. The carbon they supply to sediment stocks in angiosperm BC habitats is already included in current assessments, so that macroalgae are de facto recognized as important donors of BC...
June 2018: Biology Letters
Stephen P De Lisle, Samuel Paiva, Locke Rowe
Ecological differences between the sexes are often interpreted as evidence of within-species ecological character displacement (ECD), a hypothesis with almost no direct tests. Here, we experimentally test two predictions that are direct corollaries of ECD between the sexes, in a salamander. First, we find support for the prediction that each sex has a growth rate advantage in the aquatic microhabitat where it is most commonly found. Second, we test the prediction that selection for ECD in the breeding environment may affect partial migration out of this environment...
June 2018: Biology Letters
Walter D Koenig, Johannes M H Knops, William J Carmen, Mario B Pesendorfer, Janis L Dickinson
Mistletoes are a widespread group of plants often considered to be hemiparasitic, having detrimental effects on growth and survival of their hosts. We studied the effects of the Pacific mistletoe, Phoradendron villosum , a member of a largely autotrophic genus, on three species of deciduous California oaks. We found no effects of mistletoe presence on radial growth or survivorship and detected a significant positive relationship between mistletoe and acorn production. This latter result is potentially explained by the tendency of P...
June 2018: Biology Letters
Robert S Sansom, Peter G Choate, Joseph N Keating, Emma Randle
Reconstructing evolutionary histories requires accurate phylogenetic trees. Recent simulation studies suggest that probabilistic phylogenetic analyses of morphological data are more accurate than traditional parsimony techniques. Here, we use empirical data to compare Bayesian and parsimony phylogenies in terms of their congruence with the distribution of age ranges of the component taxa. Analysis of 167 independent morphological data matrices of fossil tetrapods finds that Bayesian trees exhibit significantly lower stratigraphic congruence than the equivalent parsimony trees...
June 2018: Biology Letters
Sandra Bouwhuis, Simon Verhulst, Christina Bauch, Oscar Vedder
Evidence for transgenerational effects of senescence, whereby offspring from older parents have a reduced lifetime reproductive success, is increasing. Such effects could arise from compromised germline maintenance in old parents, potentially reflected in reduced telomere length in their offspring. We test the relationship between parental age and offspring early-life telomere length in a natural population of common terns and find a significant negative correlation between paternal age and offspring telomere length...
June 2018: Biology Letters
Gerard Talavera, Clément Bataille, Dubi Benyamini, Martin Gascoigne-Pees, Roger Vila
The Palearctic-African migratory circuit has been typically associated with birds. Very few insects are known to endure annual trans-Saharan circuits, but the Painted Lady butterfly ( Vanessa cardui ) is an exception. While it was demonstrated that this species massively migrates from Europe to the Afrotropics during the autumn, the existence of a reverse migration from the Afrotropics to Europe in the early spring remains hypothetical. Here, we analysed wing stable hydrogen isotope values (δ2 H) of V. cardui migrants collected from February to April across the circum-Mediterranean region...
June 2018: Biology Letters
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