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Daryl C Yang, Jennifer R Deuis, Daniel Dashevsky, James Dobson, Timothy N W Jackson, Andreas Brust, Bing Xie, Ivan Koludarov, Jordan Debono, Iwan Hendrikx, Wayne C Hodgson, Peter Josh, Amanda Nouwens, Gregory J Baillie, Timothy J C Bruxner, Paul F Alewood, Kelvin Kok Peng Lim, Nathaniel Frank, Irina Vetter, Bryan G Fry
Millions of years of evolution have fine-tuned the ability of venom peptides to rapidly incapacitate both prey and potential predators. Toxicofera reptiles are characterized by serous-secreting mandibular or maxillary glands with heightened levels of protein expression. These glands are the core anatomical components of the toxicoferan venom system, which exists in myriad points along an evolutionary continuum. Neofunctionalisation of toxins is facilitated by positive selection at functional hotspots on the ancestral protein and venom proteins have undergone dynamic diversification in helodermatid and varanid lizards as well as advanced snakes...
October 18, 2016: Toxins
Alberto Muñoz, Xavier Santos, Ángel M Felicísimo
Ecological Niche Models (ENMs) are widely used to describe how environmental factors influence species distribution. Modelling at a local scale, compared to a large scale within a high environmental gradient, can improve our understanding of ecological species niches. The main goal of this study is to assess and compare the contribution of environmental variables to amphibian and reptile ENMs in two Spanish national parks located in contrasting biogeographic regions, i.e., the Mediterranean and the Atlantic area...
2016: PeerJ
Deborah S Bower, David M Scheltinga, Simon Clulow, John Clulow, Craig E Franklin, Arthur Georges
Freshwater biota experience physiological challenges in regions affected by salinization, but often the effects on particular species are poorly understood. Freshwater turtles are of particular concern as they appear to have limited ability to cope with environmental conditions that are hyperosmotic to their body fluids. Here, we determined the physiological responses of two Australian freshwater chelid turtles, Emydura macquarii and Chelodina expansa, exposed to freshwater (0‰) and brackish water (15‰, representing a hyperosmotic environment)...
2016: Conservation Physiology
Martin L Privalsky, Chelsea A Snyder, Michael L Goodson
BACKGROUND: SMRT and NCoR are corepressor paralogs that help mediate transcriptional repression by a variety of transcription factors, including the nuclear hormone receptors. The functions of both corepressors are extensively diversified in mice by alternative mRNA splicing, generating a series of protein variants that differ in different tissues and that exert different, even diametrically opposite, biochemical and biological effects from one another. RESULTS: We report here that the alternative splicing previously reported for SMRT appears to be a relatively recent evolutionary phenomenon, with only one of these previously identified sites utilized in a teleost fish and a limited additional number of the additional known sites utilized in a bird, reptile, and marsupial...
October 19, 2016: BMC Evolutionary Biology
Hong Li, Melanie Elphick, Richard Shine
Viviparity (live-bearing) has evolved from oviparity (egg-laying) in more than 100 lineages of squamate reptiles (lizards and snakes). This transition generally has occurred in cool climates, where thermal differentials between eggs in the (cool) nest versus the (warm) maternal oviduct influence embryonic development, in ways that may enhance offspring fitness. To identify specific traits potentially under selection, we incubated eggs of a montane scincid lizard at conditions simulating natural nests, maternal body temperatures, and an intermediate stage (2-week uterine retention of eggs prior to laying)...
October 14, 2016: Oecologia
Michael J Benton
The Triassic was a time of turmoil, as life recovered from near-annihilation. Archosauromorph reptiles flourished and diversified as they filled empty ecological niches, and some of them presaged later dinosaurian inventions, such as thickened skull roofs.
October 10, 2016: Current Biology: CB
Guilad Friedemann, Yossi Leshem, Lior Kerem, Boaz Shacham, Avi Bar-Massada, Krystaal M McClain, Gil Bohrer, Ido Izhaki
Ecologically-similar species were found to develop specific strategies to partition their resources, leading to niche differentiation and divergence, in order to avoid interspecific competition. Our study determines multi-dimensional differentiation of two sympatric top-predators, long-legged buzzards (LLB) and short-toed eagles (STE), which recently became sympatric during their breeding season in the Judean Foothills, Israel. By combining information from comprehensive diet and movement analyses we found four dimensions of differentiation: (1) Geographic foraging area: LLB tended to forage relatively close to their nests (2...
October 11, 2016: Scientific Reports
María Del Rocío Reyes-Montes, María Ameyali Pérez-Huitrón, Jorge Luis Ocaña-Monroy, María Guadalupe Frías-De-León, Erick Martínez-Herrera, Roberto Arenas, Esperanza Duarte-Escalante
BACKGROUND: Coccidioidomycosis, a potentially fatal fungal infection, is considered an emergent mycotic disease because of the increased incidence of fungal infections registered over recent years. Infection occurs through the inhalation of arthroconidia from two main species of Coccidioides: Coccidioides immitis and C. posadasii, which are both endemic to arid and semi-arid regions of North America. Coccidioides species not only infect humans but can also infect other mammals (land, aquatic, wild or domestic), reptiles and birds...
October 10, 2016: BMC Infectious Diseases
Enikő Fehér, Andor Doszpoly, Balázs Horváth, Szilvia Marton, Barbara Forró, Szilvia L Farkas, Krisztián Bányai, Tamás Juhász
Ranaviruses are emerging pathogens associated with high mortality diseases in fish, amphibians and reptiles. Here we describe the whole genome sequence of two ranavirus isolates from brown bullhead (Ameiurus nebulosus) specimens collected in 2012 at two different locations in Hungary during independent mass mortality events. The two Hungarian isolates were highly similar to each other at the genome sequence level (99.9% nucleotide identity) and to a European sheatfish (Silurus glanis) origin ranavirus (ESV, 99...
October 4, 2016: Infection, Genetics and Evolution
Erik M Blosser, Tanise Stenn, Carolina Acevedo, Nathan D Burkett-Cadena
Culex (Melanoconion) iolambdis (Dyar, 1918) is a mosquito (Diptera: Culicidae) species found throughout much of tropical America, including southern Florida. Relatively few reports are available regarding the ecology of Cx. iolambdis, despite its widespread distribution and putative involvement in transmission of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus. To quantify habitat and host utilization, adults of Cx. iolambdis were sampled from resting shelters at a field site in Vero Beach, Florida, over a 12-month period...
October 3, 2016: Acta Tropica
Félix Landry Yuan, Evan J Pickett, Timothy C Bonebrake
Susceptibility of species to climate change varies depending on many biological and environmental traits, such as reproductive mode and climatic exposure. For example, wider thermal tolerance breadths are associated with more climatically variable habitats and viviparity could be associated with greater vulnerability relative to oviparity. However, few examples exist detailing how such physiological and environmental traits together might shape species thermal performance. In this study we compared the thermal tolerance and performance of two sympatric skink congeners in Hong Kong that differ in habitat use and reproductive mode...
October 2016: Journal of Thermal Biology
R Bassini-Silva, F C Jacinavicius, J A Mendoza-Roldan, E Daemon, D M Barros-Battesti
The chigger mite genus Blankaartia includes 28 known species, of which 10 are distributed in the Nearctic and Neotropical regions. These species preferentially parasitize birds, but occasionally they can also be found on rodents, bats, and reptiles, showing low host selectivity. In the present study, we report the presence of this genus in Brazil for the first time, including the first report of Blankaartia sinnamaryi (Floch and Fauran) and the description of a new species of Blankaartia collected from birds (Order Passeriformes)...
October 5, 2016: Journal of Medical Entomology
Daniel J D Natusch, Jessica A Lyons, Gregory Brown, Richard Shine
Large numbers of metallic starlings (Aplonis metallica) migrate annually from New Guinea to the rainforests of tropical Australia, where they nest communally in single emergent trees (up to 1,000 birds). These aggregations create dense and species-rich faunal "hot-spots", attracting a diverse assemblage of local consumers that utilise this seasonal resource. The starlings nested primarily in poison-dart trees (Antiaris toxicaria) near the rainforest-woodland boundary. Surveys underneath these colonies revealed that bird-derived nutrients massively increased densities of soil invertebrates and mammals (primarily wild pigs) beneath trees, year-round...
2016: PloS One
Maiken Winter, Wolfgang Fiedler, Wesley M Hochachka, Arnulf Koehncke, Shai Meiri, Ignacio De la Riva
Climate change probably has severe impacts on animal populations, but demonstrating a causal link can be difficult because of potential influences by additional factors. Assessing global impacts of climate change effects may also be hampered by narrow taxonomic and geographical research foci. We review studies on the effects of climate change on populations of amphibians and reptiles to assess climate change effects and potential biases associated with the body of work that has been conducted within the last decade...
September 2016: Royal Society Open Science
Bruce A Young
Many reptiles, and other vertebrates, have internally coupled ears in which a patent anatomical connection allows pressure waves generated by the displacement of one tympanic membrane to propagate (internally) through the head and, ultimately, influence the displacement of the contralateral tympanic membrane. The pattern of tympanic displacement caused by this internal coupling can give rise to novel sensory cues. The auditory mechanics of reptiles exhibit more anatomical variation than in any other vertebrate group...
October 3, 2016: Biological Cybernetics
Kristopher J L Irizarry, Randall L Bryden
Color variation provides the opportunity to investigate the genetic basis of evolution and selection. Reptiles are less studied than mammals. Comparative genomics approaches allow for knowledge gained in one species to be leveraged for use in another species. We describe a comparative vertebrate analysis of conserved regulatory modules in pythons aimed at assessing bioinformatics evidence that transcription factors important in mammalian pigmentation phenotypes may also be important in python pigmentation phenotypes...
2016: Advances in Bioinformatics
Tom Hellebuyck, Richard Ducatelle, Leslie Bosseler, Annemie Van Caelenberg, Han Versnaeyen, Koen Chiers, An Martel
Neoplastic disorders are frequently encountered in the practice of reptile medicine. Herein we report the clinical behavior, antemortem diagnosis, and histopathologic characteristics of a recurrent intraoral keratinizing basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and a metastatic BCC of the carapace in 2 Hermann's tortoises (Testudo hermanni). Although squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) in tortoises show similar predilection sites and gross pathologic features, the BCCs described in our report were characterized by a remarkably fast and highly infiltrative growth in comparison to SCCs...
November 2016: Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Adam C Pritchard, Alan H Turner, Randall B Irmis, Sterling J Nesbitt, Nathan D Smith
The tetrapod forelimb is one of the most versatile structures in vertebrate evolution, having been co-opted for an enormous array of functions. However, the structural relationships between the bones of the forelimb have remained largely unchanged throughout the 375 million year history of Tetrapoda, with a radius and ulna made up of elongate, paralleling shafts contacting a series of shorter carpal bones. These features are consistent across nearly all known tetrapods, suggesting that the morphospace encompassed by these taxa is limited by some sort of constraint(s)...
September 24, 2016: Current Biology: CB
Taylor J Noble, Christopher J Lortie, Michael Westphal, H Scott Butterfield
BACKGROUND: Carrizo Plain National Monument (San Joaquin Desert, California, USA) is home to many threatened and endangered species including the blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia sila). Vegetation is dominated by annual grasses, and shrubs such as Mormon tea (Ephedra californica), which is of relevance to our target species, the federally listed blunt-nosed leopard lizard, and likely also provides key ecosystem services. We used relatively nonintrusive camera traps, or trail cameras, to capture interactions between animals and these shrubs using a paired shrub-open deployment...
September 27, 2016: GigaScience
Shala J Hankison, Meredith S Palmer
Many organisms use cues and signals beyond human sensitivity during social interactions. It is important to take into account how organisms perceive their worlds when trying to understand their behavior and ecology. Sensitivity to the ultraviolet spectrum (UV; 300 - 400 nm) is found across multiple genera of birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and even mammals. This protocol describes a technique for examining organisms for the presence of UV-reflecting structures and a method for testing whether these cues are used as social signals in the context of mate choice...
2016: Journal of Visualized Experiments: JoVE
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