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Damien B Wilburn, Kari A Doty, Adam J Chouinard, Sarah L Eddy, Sarah K Woodley, Lynne D Houck, Richard C Feldhoff
Chemical communication via chemosensory signaling is an essential process for promoting and modifying reproductive behavior in many species. During courtship in plethodontid salamanders, males deliver a mixture of non-volatile proteinaceous pheromones that activate chemosensory neurons in the vomeronasal epithelium (VNE) and increase female receptivity. One component of this mixture, Plethodontid Modulating Factor (PMF), is a hypervariable pheromone expressed as more than 30 unique isoforms that differ between individual males-likely driven by co-evolution with female receptors to promote gene duplication and positive selection of the PMF gene complex...
2017: PloS One
Chris W Fonner, Shreya A Patel, Shelby M Boord, Matthew D Venesky, Sarah K Woodley
Although it is well established that glucocorticoid hormones (GCs) alter immune function and disease resistance in humans and laboratory animal models, fewer studies have linked elevated GCs to altered immune function and disease resistance in wild animals. The chytrid fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) infects amphibians and can cause the disease chytridiomycosis, which is responsible for worldwide amphibian declines. It is hypothesized that long-term exposure to environmental stressors reduces host resistance to Bd by suppressing host immunity via stress-induced release of GCs such as corticosterone (CORT)...
March 6, 2017: Diseases of Aquatic Organisms
Carly R Muletz-Wolz, Graziella V DiRenzo, Stephanie A Yarwood, Evan H Campbell Grant, Robert C Fleischer, Karen R Lips
Diverse bacteria inhabit amphibian skin; some of those bacteria inhibit growth of the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis Yet there has been no systematic survey of anti-B. dendrobatidis bacteria across localities, species, and elevations. This is important given geographic and taxonomic variations in amphibian susceptibility to B. dendrobatidis Our collection sites were at locations within the Appalachian Mountains where previous sampling had indicated low B. dendrobatidis prevalence. We determined the numbers and identities of anti-B...
May 1, 2017: Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Timothy A Clay, Matthew E Gifford
Thermal adaptation predicts that thermal sensitivity of physiological traits should be optimized to thermal conditions most frequently experienced. Furthermore, thermodynamic constraints predict that species with higher thermal optima should have higher performance maxima and narrower performance breadths. We tested these predictions by examining the thermal sensitivity of energy assimilation between populations within two species of terrestrial-lungless salamanders, Plethodon albagula and P. montanus. Within P...
February 2017: Journal of Thermal Biology
Catherine E Newman, T Ryan Gregory, Christopher C Austin
The genus Plethodon is the most species-rich salamander genus in North America, and nearly half of its species face an uncertain future. It is also one of the most diverse families in terms of genome sizes, which range from 1C = 18.2 to 69.3 pg, or 5-20 times larger than the human genome. Large genome size in salamanders results in part from accumulation of transposable elements and is associated with various developmental and physiological traits. However, genome sizes have been reported for only 25% of the species of Plethodon (14 of 55)...
April 2017: Genome Génome / Conseil National de Recherches Canada
David J Muñoz, Kyle Miller Hesed, Evan H Campbell Grant, David A W Miller
Multiple pathways exist for species to respond to changing climates. However, responses of dispersal-limited species will be more strongly tied to ability to adapt within existing populations as rates of environmental change will likely exceed movement rates. Here, we assess adaptive capacity in Plethodon cinereus, a dispersal-limited woodland salamander. We quantify plasticity in behavior and variation in demography to observed variation in environmental variables over a 5-year period. We found strong evidence that temperature and rainfall influence P...
December 2016: Ecology and Evolution
Catherine E Newman, Christopher C Austin
Amidst the rapid advancement in next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology over the last few years, salamanders have been left behind. Salamanders have enormous genomes-up to 40 times the size of the human genome-and this poses challenges to generating NGS data sets of quality and quantity similar to those of other vertebrates. However, optimization of laboratory protocols is time-consuming and often cost prohibitive, and continued omission of salamanders from novel phylogeographic research is detrimental to species facing decline...
December 2016: Molecular Ecology
Jeffrey N Zeyl, Carol E Johnston
Early amphibious tetrapods may have detected aquatic sound pressure using sound-induced lung vibrations, but their lack of tympanic middle ears would have restricted aerial sensitivity. Sharing these characteristics, salamanders could be models for the carryover of auditory function across an aquatic-terrestrial boundary without tympanic middle ears. We measured amphibious auditory evoked potential audiograms in five phylogenetically and ecologically distinct salamanders (Amphiuma means, Notophthalmus viridescens, Ambystoma talpoideum, Eurycea spp...
October 20, 2016: Journal of Comparative Physiology. A, Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Tim Ruhl, Sabrina Hanslian, Ursula Dicke
In amphibians, visual information in the midbrain tectum is relayed via the thalamus to telencephalic centres. Lesions of the dorsal thalamus of the salamander Plethodon shermani result in impairment of orienting behaviour and in modulation of spike pattern of tectal neurons. These effects may be induced by an interruption of a tectum-thalamus-telencephalon-tectum feedback loop enabling spatial attention and selection of visual objects. The striatum is a potential candidate for involvement in this pathway; accordingly, we investigated the effects of lesioning the dorsal striatum...
October 2016: European Journal of Neuroscience
Julie L Ziemba, Cari-Ann M Hickerson, Carl D Anthony
Asian pheretimoid earthworms (e.g. Amynthas and Metaphire spp.) are invading North American forests and consuming the vital detrital layer that forest floor biota [including the keystone species Plethodon cinereus (Eastern Red-backed Salamander)], rely on for protection, food, and habitat. Plethodon cinereus population declines have been associated with leaf litter loss following the invasion of several exotic earthworm species, but there have been few studies on the specific interactions between pheretimoid earthworms and P...
2016: PloS One
Karolina A Budzik, Krystyna Żuwała, Ryan Kerney
The latest research on direct developing caecilian and anuran species indicate presence of only one generation of taste organs during their ontogeny. This is distinct from indirect developing batrachians studied thus far, which possess taste buds in larvae and anatomically distinct taste discs in metamorphs. This study is a description of the tongue and taste organ morphology and development in direct developing salamander Plethodon cinereus (Plethodontidae) using histology and electron microscopy techniques...
July 2016: Journal of Morphology
Shawn R Kuchta, Ashley D Brown, Paul E Converse, Richard Highton
Species are a fundamental unit of biodiversity, yet can be challenging to delimit objectively. This is particularly true of species complexes characterized by high levels of population genetic structure, hybridization between genetic groups, isolation by distance, and limited phenotypic variation. Previous work on the Cumberland Plateau Salamander, Plethodon kentucki, suggested that it might constitute a species complex despite occupying a relatively small geographic range. To examine this hypothesis, we sampled 135 individuals from 43 populations, and used four mitochondrial loci and five nuclear loci (5693 base pairs) to quantify phylogeographic structure and probe for cryptic species diversity...
2016: PloS One
Stephen M Deban, Jeffrey A Scales
Low temperature reduces the performance of muscle-powered movements, but in movements powered by elastic recoil mechanisms, this effect can be mitigated and performance can be increased. To better understand the morphological basis of high performance and thermal robustness of elastically powered movements, we compared feeding dynamics at a range of temperatures (5-25°C) in two species of terrestrial plethodontid salamanders, Plethodon metcalfi and Ensatina eschscholtzii, which differ in tongue muscle architecture and the mechanism of tongue projection...
February 2016: Journal of Experimental Biology
Kari A Doty, Damien B Wilburn, Kathleen E Bowen, Pamela W Feldhoff, Richard C Feldhoff
Gene co-option is a major force in the evolution of novel biological functions. In plethodontid salamanders, males deliver proteinaceous courtship pheromones to the female olfactory system or transdermally to the bloodstream. Molecular studies identified three families of highly duplicated, rapidly evolving pheromones (PRF, PMF, and SPF). Analyses for Plethodon salamanders revealed pheromone mixtures of primarily PRF and PMF. The current study demonstrates that in Desmognathus ocoee--a plesiomorphic species with transdermal delivery--SPF is the major pheromone component representing >30% of total protein...
March 1, 2016: Journal of Proteomics
Janek von Byern, Ursula Dicke, Egon Heiss, Ingo Grunwald, Stanislav Gorb, Yannick Staedler, Norbert Cyran
Amphibians have evolved a wide variety of mechanisms that provide a certain degree of protection against predators, including camouflage, tail autonomy, encounter behavior and noxious or toxic skin secretions. In addition to these strategies, some amphibians release a glue-like secretion onto the surface of their skin when threatened. While some information regarding the origin and production of these adhesive secretions is available for frogs such as Notaden bennetti, these aspects are only partially understood in salamanders...
October 2015: Zoology: Analysis of Complex Systems, ZACS
Catherine E Newman, Christopher C Austin
The dynamic geologic history of the southeastern United States has played a major role in shaping the geographic distributions of amphibians in the region. In the phylogeographic literature, the predominant pattern of distribution shifts through time of temperate species is one of contraction during glacial maxima and persistence in refugia. However, the diverse biology and ecology of amphibian species suggest that a "one-size-fits-all" model may be inappropriate. Nearly 10% of amphibian species in the region have a current distribution comprised of multiple disjunct, restricted areas that resemble the shape of Pleistocene refugia identified for other temperate taxa in the literature...
2015: PloS One
M C Fisher-Reid, J J Wiens
The relationship between microevolution and macroevolution is a central topic in evolutionary biology. An aspect of this relationship that remains very poorly studied in modern evolutionary biology is the relationship between within-species geographic variation and among-species patterns of trait variation. Here, we tested the relationship between climate and morphology among and within species in the salamander genus Plethodon. We focus on a discrete colour polymorphism (presence and absence of a red dorsal stripe) that appears to be related to climatic distributions in a common, wide-ranging species (Plethodon cinereus)...
August 2015: Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Ahmed A Siddig, Aaron M Ellison, Scott Jackson
Herpetologists and conservation biologists frequently use convenient and cost-effective, but less accurate, abundance indices (e.g., number of individuals collected under artificial cover boards or during natural objects surveys) in lieu of more accurate, but costly and destructive, population size estimators to detect and monitor size, state, and trends of amphibian populations. Although there are advantages and disadvantages to each approach, reliable use of abundance indices requires that they be calibrated with accurate population estimators...
2015: PeerJ
A C Kraemer, J M Serb, D C Adams
Conspicuousness, or having high contrast relative to the surrounding background, is a common feature of unpalatable species. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the occurrence of conspicuousness, and while most involve the role of conspicuousness as a direct signal of unpalatability to potential predators, one hypothesis suggests that exaggerated conspicuousness may evolve in unpalatable species to reduce predator confusion with palatable species (potential Batesian mimics). This hypothesis of antagonistic coevolution between palatable and unpalatable species hinges on the 'cost of conspicuousness', in which conspicuousness increases the likelihood of predation more in palatable species than in unpalatable species...
May 2015: Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Katherine M O'Donnell, Frank R Thompson, Raymond D Semlitsch
Detectability of individual animals is highly variable and nearly always < 1; imperfect detection must be accounted for to reliably estimate population sizes and trends. Hierarchical models can simultaneously estimate abundance and effective detection probability, but there are several different mechanisms that cause variation in detectability. Neglecting temporary emigration can lead to biased population estimates because availability and conditional detection probability are confounded. In this study, we extend previous hierarchical binomial mixture models to account for multiple sources of variation in detectability...
2015: PloS One
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