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Biology Letters

Christine Elizabeth Cooper, Philip Carew Withers
'Insensible' evaporative water loss of mammals has been traditionally viewed as a passive process, but recent studies suggest that insensible water loss is under regulatory control, although the physiological role of this control is unclear. We test the hypothesis that regulation of insensible water loss has a thermoregulatory function by quantifying for the first time evaporative water loss control, along with metabolic rate and body temperature, of a heterothermic mammal during normothermia and torpor. Evaporative water loss was independent of ambient relative humidity at ambient temperatures of 20 and 30°C, but not at 25°C or during torpor at 20°C...
November 2017: Biology Letters
Chloe Gonseth, Fumito Kawakami, Etsuko Ichino, Masaki Tomonaga
Referential signals, such as manual pointing or deictic words, allow individuals to efficiently locate a specific entity in the environment, using distance-specific linguistic and/or gestural units. To explore the evolutionary prerequisites of such deictic ability, the present study investigates the ability of chimpanzees to adjust their communicative signals to the distance of a referent. A food-request paradigm in which the chimpanzees had to request a close or distant piece of food on a table in the presence/absence of an experimenter was employed...
November 2017: Biology Letters
Chedly Kastally, Patrick Mardulyn
Mitochondrial genome heteroplasmy-the presence of more than one genomic variant in individuals-is considered only occasional in animals, and most often involves molecules differing only by a few recent mutations. Thanks to new sequencing technologies, a large number of DNA fragments from a single individual can now be sequenced and visualized separately, allowing new insights into intra-individual mitochondrial genome variation. Here, we report evidence from both (i) massive parallel sequencing (MPS) of genomic extracts and (ii) Sanger sequencing of PCR products, for the widespread co-occurrence of two distantly related (greater than 1% nucleotide divergence, excluding the control region) mitochondrial genomes in individuals of a natural population of the leaf beetle Gonioctena intermedia Sanger sequencing of PCR products using universal primers previously failed to identify heteroplasmy in this population...
November 2017: Biology Letters
Jodie Gruber, Martin J Whiting, Gregory Brown, Richard Shine
Individuals at the leading edge of a biological invasion constantly encounter novel environments. These pioneers may benefit from increased social attraction, because low population densities reduce competition and risks of pathogen transfer, and increase benefits of information transfer. In standardized trials, cane toads (Rhinella marina) from invasion-front populations approached conspecifics more often, and spent more time close to them, than did conspecifics from high-density, long-colonized populations...
November 2017: Biology Letters
David J Yurkowski, Nigel E Hussey, Aaron T Fisk, Kendra L Imrie, Ross F Tallman, Steven H Ferguson
Asymmetrical intraguild predation (AIGP), which combines both predation and competition between predator species, is pervasive in nature with relative strengths varying by prey availability. But with species redistributions associated with climate change, the response by endemic predators within an AIGP context to changing biotic-abiotic conditions over time (i.e. seasonal and decadal) has yet to be quantified. Furthermore, little is known on AIGP dynamics in ecosystems undergoing rapid directional change such as the Arctic...
November 2017: Biology Letters
J W G Slade, M J Watson, E A MacDougall-Shackleton
The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) plays a key role in vertebrate immunity, and pathogen-mediated selection often favours certain allelic combinations. Assessing potential mates' MHC profiles may provide receivers with genetic benefits (identifying MHC-compatible mates and producing optimally diverse offspring) and/or material benefits (identifying optimally diverse mates capable of high parental investment). Oscine songbirds learn songs during early life, such that song repertoire content can reflect population of origin while song complexity can reflect early life condition...
November 2017: Biology Letters
Collin Teague, Jacob P Youngblood, Kinley Ragan, Michael J Angilletta, John M VandenBrooks
We used quantitative genetics to test a controversial theory of heat stress, in which animals overheat when the demand for oxygen exceeds the supply. This theory, referred to as oxygen- and capacity-limited thermal tolerance, predicts a positive genetic correlation between hypoxia tolerance and heat tolerance. We demonstrate the first genetic correlation of this kind in a model organism, Drosophila melanogaster Genotypes more likely to fly under hypoxic stress (12% O2) were also more likely to fly under heat stress (39°C)...
November 2017: Biology Letters
Dómhnall J Jennings, Richard J Boys, Martin P Gammell
Antlers function as primary weapons during fights for many species of ungulate. We examined the association between antler damage and (i) contest dynamics: the behavioural tactics used during fighting including fight duration, and (ii) mating success, fighting rate and dominance. Structural damage of the antlers was associated with contest dynamics: damage was negatively associated with jump clash attacks by individuals with damaged antlers, whereas opponents were more likely to physically displace individuals with damaged antlers during fighting...
November 2017: Biology Letters
L Y Rutledge, S Devillard, J Q Boone, P A Hohenlohe, B N White
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
November 2017: Biology Letters
Zhuo Feng, Yong Lv, Yun Guo, Hai-Bo Wei, Hans Kerp
Today, cycads are a small group of gymnospermous plants with a limited distribution in the (sub)tropics, but they were major constituents of Mesozoic floras. Fossil leaves sporadically found in latest Carboniferous and Permian floras have putatively been ascribed to cycads. However, their true affinity remains unclear due to the lack of anatomical evidence. Virtually all modern cycads have pinnate leaves, but this type of leaf morphology is by no means unique for cycads. Pinnate leaves of Plagiozamites oblongifolius Halle 1927 with well-preserved cuticles showing the epidermal anatomy are here described from the upper Permian Xuanwei Formation of Yunnan Province, Southwest China...
November 2017: Biology Letters
Trevor J Willis, Kimberly T L Berglöf, Rona A R McGill, Luigi Musco, Stefano Piraino, Claire M Rumsey, Tomás Vega Fernández, Fabio Badalamenti
Predation occurs when an organism completely or partially consumes its prey. Partial consumption is typical of herbivores but is also common in some marine microbenthic carnivores that feed on colonial organisms. Associations between nudibranch molluscs and colonial hydroids have long been assumed to be simple predator-prey relationships. Here we show that while the aeolid nudibranch Cratena peregrina does prey directly on the hydranths of Eudendrium racemosum, it is stimulated to feed when hydranths have captured and are handling prey, thus ingesting recently captured plankton along with the hydroid polyp such that plankton form at least half of the nudibranch diet...
November 2017: Biology Letters
Kaja Wierucka, Benjamin J Pitcher, Robert Harcourt, Isabelle Charrier
Parental care is an important factor influencing offspring survival and adult reproductive success in many vertebrates. Parent-offspring recognition ensures care is only directed to filial young, avoiding the costs of misallocated resource transfer. It is essential in colonial mammal species, such as otariids (fur seals and sea lions), in which repeated mother-offspring separations increase the risk of misdirecting maternal effort. Identification of otariid pups by mothers is known to be multi-modal, yet the role of visual cues in this process remains uncertain...
November 2017: Biology Letters
Matthew D Regan, Ivan S Gill, Jeffrey G Richards
Anthropogenic increases in global temperature and agricultural runoff are increasing the prevalence of aquatic hypoxia throughout the world. We investigated the potential for a relatively rapid evolution of hypoxia tolerance using two isolated (for less than 11 000 years) populations of threespine stickleback: one from a lake that experiences long-term hypoxia (Alta Lake, British Columbia) and one from a lake that does not (Trout Lake, British Columbia). Loss-of-equilibrium (LOE) experiments revealed that the Alta Lake stickleback were significantly more tolerant of hypoxia than the Trout Lake stickleback, and calorimetry experiments revealed that the enhanced tolerance of Alta Lake stickleback may be associated with their ability to depress metabolic rate (as indicated by metabolic heat production) by 33% in hypoxia...
November 2017: Biology Letters
Alejandro Cantarero, Carlos Alonso-Alvarez
The evolution and production mechanisms of red carotenoid-based ornaments in animals are poorly understood. Recently, it has been suggested that enzymes transforming yellow carotenoids to red pigments (ketolases) in animal cells may be positioned in the inner mitochondrial membrane (IMM) intimately linked to the electron transport chain. These enzymes may mostly synthesize coenzyme Q10 (coQ10), a key redox-cycler antioxidant molecularly similar to yellow carotenoids. It has been hypothesized that this shared pathway favours the evolution of red traits as sexually selected individual quality indices by revealing a well-adjusted oxidative metabolism...
October 2017: Biology Letters
Kavita Isvaran, Sumithra Sankaran
Fertilizations by males outside the social breeding group (extra-group paternity, EGP) are widespread in birds and mammals. EGP is generally proposed to increase male reproductive skew and thereby increase the potential for sexual selection, but the generality of this relationship is unclear. We extracted data from 27 mammals in seven orders and used phylogenetic comparative methods to investigate the influence of EGP and social mating system on measures of inequality in male fertilization success, which are indices of the potential for sexual selection...
October 2017: Biology Letters
Daniel Smith
Numerous studies have indicated that father absence is associated with earlier age at menarche, with many evolutionary theories assuming that father absence is a causal factor that accelerates reproductive development. However, an alternative interpretation suggests that offspring may reproduce earlier in the presence of half- or step-siblings as the indirect fitness benefits to investing in them are lower, relative to delaying reproduction and investing in full siblings. From this perspective, father absence may perform no causal role in facilitating the onset of menarche...
October 2017: Biology Letters
Scott Davies, Nicole Haddad, Jenny Q Ouyang
A major challenge in urban ecology is to identify the environmental factors responsible for phenotypic differences between urban and rural individuals. However, the intercorrelation between the factors that characterize urban environments, combined with a lack of experimental manipulations of these factors in both urban and rural areas, hinder efforts to identify which aspects of urban environments are responsible for phenotypic differences. Among the factors modified by urbanization, anthropogenic sound, particularly traffic noise, is especially detrimental to animals...
October 2017: Biology Letters
Pauliina Järvinen, Edward Kluen, Jon E Brommer
In birds and other taxa, nest construction varies considerably between and within populations. Such variation is hypothesized to have an adaptive (i.e. genetic) basis, but estimates of heritability in nest construction are largely lacking. Here, we demonstrate with data collected over 10 years from 1010 nests built by blue tits in nest-boxes that nest size (height of nest material) and nest composition (proportion of feathers in the nest) are repeatable but only weakly (12-13%) heritable female traits. These findings imply that nest construction may evolve but only if subjected to strong and consistent selection pressures...
October 2017: Biology Letters
Julie Colpitts, Darla Williscroft, Harmandeep Singh Sekhon, Howard D Rundle
There is a general expectation that sexual selection should align with natural selection to aid the purging of deleterious mutations, yet experiments comparing purging under monogamy versus polygamy have provided mixed results. Recent studies suggest that this may be because the simplified mating environments used in these studies reduce the benefit of sexual selection through males and hamper natural selection through females by increasing costs associated with sexual conflict. To test the effect of the physical mating environment on purging, we use experimental evolution in Drosophila melanogaster to track the frequency of four separate deleterious mutations in replicate populations that experience polygamy under either a simple or structurally complex mating arena while controlling for arena size...
October 2017: Biology Letters
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