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Title Date Issued Date Released Description
Data from: Quantitative analysis of the ecological dominance of benthic disaster taxa in the aftermath of the end-Permian mass extinction
10-21-2015 08-12-2016
The end-Permian mass extinction, the largest extinction of the Phanerozoic, led to a severe reduction in both taxonomic richness and ecological complexity of marine communities in its aftermath, eventually culminating in a dramatic ecological restructuring of communities. During the Early Triassic recovery interval, disaster taxa proliferated and numerically dominated many marine benthic invertebrate assemblages. These disaster taxa include the bivalve genera Claraia, Unionites, Eumorphotis and Promyalina, and the inarticulate brachiopod Lingularia. The exact nature and extent of their dominance remains uncertain. Here, a quantitative analysis of the dominance of these taxa within the fossil communities of Panthalassa and Tethys benthic realms is undertaken for the stages of the Early Triassic to examine temporal and regional changes in disaster taxon dominance as recovery progresses. Community dominance and disaster taxon abundance is markedly different between Panthalassic and Tethyan communities. In Panthalassa, community evenness is low in the Induan stage, but increases significantly in the Smithian and Spathian. This is coincident with a significant decrease in the relative abundance and occurrence frequency of the disaster taxa, most notably of low-oxygen affinity taxa Claraia and Lingularia. While the disaster taxa are present in post-Induan assemblages, other taxa, including two articulate brachiopod genera, outrank the disaster taxa in relative abundance. In the Tethys, assemblages are generally more even than contemporaneous Panthalassic assemblages. We observe an averaged trend towards more even communities with fewer disaster taxa in both Panthalassic and Tethyan assemblages over time.
Data from: Sex ratio variation shapes the ecological effects of a globally introduced freshwater fish
10-21-2015 10-26-2015
Sex ratio and sexual dimorphism have long been of interest in population and evolutionary ecology, but consequences for communities and ecosystems remain untested. Sex ratio could influence ecological conditions whenever sexual dimorphism is associated with ecological dimorphism in species with strong ecological interactions. We tested for ecological implications of sex ratio variation in the sexually dimorphic western mosquitofish, Gambusia affinis. This species causes strong pelagic trophic cascades and exhibits substantial variation in adult sex ratios. We found that female-biased populations induced stronger pelagic trophic cascades compared with male-biased populations, causing larger changes to key community and ecosystem responses, including zooplankton abundance, phytoplankton abundance, productivity, pH and temperature. The magnitude of such effects indicates that sex ratio is important for mediating the ecological role of mosquitofish. Because both sex ratio variation and sexual dimorphism are common features of natural populations, our findings should encourage broader consideration of the ecological significance of sex ratio variation in nature, including the relative contributions of various sexually dimorphic traits to these effects.
Data from: Influence of the larval phase on connectivity: strong differences in the genetic structure of brooders and broadcasters in the Ophioderma longicauda species complex
11-07-2015 02-29-2016
Closely related species with divergent life-history traits are excellent models to infer the role of such traits in genetic diversity and connectivity. Ophioderma longicauda is a brittle star species complex composed of different genetic clusters, including brooders and broadcasters. These species diverged very recently and some of them are sympatric and ecologically syntopic, making them particularly suitable to study the consequences of their trait differences. At the scale of the geographic distribution of the broadcasters (Mediterranean Sea and north-eastern Atlantic), we sequenced the mitochondrial marker COI and genotyped an intron (i51) for 788 individuals. In addition, we sequenced 10 nuclear loci newly developed from transcriptome sequences, for six sympatric populations of brooders and broadcasters from Greece. At the large scale we found a high genetic structure within the brooders (COI: 0.07
Data from: Evolutionary radiations of Proteaceae are triggered by the interaction between traits and climates in open habitats
06-03-2016 11-16-2016
Aim: Ecologically driven diversification can create spectacular diversity in both species numbers and form. However, the prediction that the match between intrinsic (e.g. functional trait) and extrinsic (e.g. climatic niche) variables may lead to evolutionary radiation has not been critically tested. Here, we test this hypothesis in the Southern Hemisphere plant family Proteaceae, which shows a spectacular diversity in open mediterranean shrublands in the Southwest Australian Floristic Region (SWAFR) and the Cape Floristic Region (CFR). Species in the Proteaceae family occupy habitats ranging from tropical rain forests to deserts and are remarkably variable in leaf morphology. Location: Southern Hemisphere. Methods: We built a phylogenetic tree for 337 Proteaceae species (21% of the total), representing all main clades, climatic tolerances and morphologies, and collected leaf functional traits (leaf area, sclerophylly, leaf shape) for 261 species and climatic niche data for 1645 species. Phylogenetic generalized least squares regression and quantitative-trait evolutionary model testing were used to investigate the evolutionary pathways of traits and climatic niches, and their effect on diversification rates. Results: We found that divergent selection may have caused lineages in open vegetation types to evolve towards trait and climatic niche optima distinct from those in closed forests. Furthermore, we show that the interaction between open habitats, dry, warm and/or mediterranean climates, and small, sclerophyllous, toothed leaves increases net diversification rates in Proteaceae. Main conclusions: Our results suggest that the evolution of specific leaf adaptations may have allowed Proteaceae to adapt to variable climatic niches and diversify extensively in open ecosystems such as those in the CFR and SWAFR. This match between morphology and environment may therefore more generally lead to evolutionary radiation.
Data from: Nature of the coupling between neural drive and force-generating capacity in the human quadriceps muscle
11-25-2015 01-14-2016
The force produced by a muscle depends on both the neural drive it receives and several biomechanical factors. When multiple muscles act on a single joint the nature of the relationship between the neural drive and force-generating capacity of the synergistic muscles is largely unknown. This study aimed to determine the relationship between the ratio of neural drive and the ratio of muscle force-generating capacity between two synergist muscles (vastus lateralis[VL] and medialis[VM]) in humans. Twenty-one participants performed isometric knee extensions at 20% and 50% of maximal voluntary contractions (MVC). Myoelectric activity (surface electromyography [EMG]) provided an index of neural drive. Physiological cross-sectional area (PCSA) was estimated from measurements of muscle volume (magnetic resonance imaging) and muscle fascicle length (3D ultrasound imaging) to represent the muscles’ force-generating capacities. Neither PCSA nor neural drive was balanced between VL and VM. There was a large (r=0.68) and moderate (r=0.43) correlation between the ratio of VL/VM EMG amplitude and the ratio of VL/VM PCSA at 20% and 50% of MVC, respectively. This study provides evidence that neural drive is biased by muscle force-generating capacity, the greater the force generating capacity of VL compared to VM, the stronger bias of drive to the VL.
Data from: Asplenium pifongiae (Aspleniaceae: Polypodiales), a new species from Taiwan
02-11-2016 03-17-2016
We describe and illustrate a new species, Asplenium pifongia., currently known only from Taiwan. Although superficially similar to A. monanthe., this species is a sexual diploid and has little perforation on its spore surfaces. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrate that A. pifongia. is not closely related to A. monanthe., and is instead sister to the A. normal. complex. Asplenium pifongia. differs from A. normal. in having sori mostly only on, and parallel to, the basiscopic side of pinnae, a common feature in A. monanthes.
Data from: The divergence and positive selection of the plant-specific BURP-containing protein family
11-02-2015 12-10-2015
BURP domain-containing proteins belong to a plant-specific protein family and have diverse roles in plant development and stress responses. However, our understanding about the genetic divergence patterns and evolutionary rates of these proteins remain inadequate. In this study, 15 plant genomes were explored to elucidate the genetic origins, divergence, and functions of these proteins. One hundred and twenty-five BURP protein-encoding genes were identified from four main plant lineages, including 13 higher plant species. The absence of BURP family genes in unicellular and multicellular algae suggests that this family (1) appeared when plants shifted from relatively stable aquatic environments to land, where conditions are more variable and stressful, and (2) is critical in the adaptation of plants to adverse environments. Promoter analysis revealed that several responsive elements to plant hormones and external environment stresses are concentrated in the promoter region of BURP protein-encoding genes. This finding confirms that these genes influence plant stress responses. Several segmentally and tandem-duplicated gene pairs were identified from eight plant species. Thus, in general, BURP domain-containing genes have been subject to strong positive selection, even though these genes have conformed to different expansion models in different species. Our study also detected certain critical amino acid sites that may have contributed to functional divergence among groups or subgroups. Unexpectedly, all of the critical amino acid residues of functional divergence and positive selection were exclusively located in the C-terminal region of the BURP domain. In conclusion, our results contribute novel insights into the genetic divergence patterns and evolutionary rates of BURP proteins.
Data from: Macroevolution of leaf defenses and secondary metabolites across the genus Helianthus
11-19-2015 03-03-2016
Leaf defenses are widely recognized as key adaptations and drivers of plant evolution. Across environmentally diverse habitats, the macroevolution of leaf defenses can be predicted by the univariate trade-off model, which predicts that defenses are functionally redundant and thus trade off, and the resource availability hypothesis, which predicts that defense investment is determined by inherent growth rate and that higher defense will evolve in lower resource environments. Here, we examined the evolution of leaf physical and chemical defenses and secondary metabolites in relation to environmental characteristics and leaf economic strategy across 28 species of Helianthus (the sunflowers). Using a phylogenetic comparative approach, we found few evolutionary trade-offs among defenses and no evidence for defense syndromes. We also found that leaf defenses are strongly related to leaf economic strategy, with higher defense in more resource-conservative species, although there is little support for the evolution of higher defense in low-resource habitats. A wide variety of physical and chemical defenses predict resistance to different insect herbivores, fungal pathogens, and a parasitic plant, suggesting that most sunflower defenses are not redundant in function and that wild Helianthus represents a rich source of variation for the improvement of crop sunflower.
Data from: Ground ice melt in the high Arctic leads to greater ecological heterogeneity
10-19-2015 12-14-2015
1. The polar desert biome of the Canadian high Arctic Archipelago is currently experiencing some of the greatest mean annual air temperature increases on the planet, threatening the stability of ecosystems residing above temperature-sensitive permafrost. 2. Ice wedges are the most widespread form of ground ice, occurring in up to 25% of the world's terrestrial near-surface, and their melting (thermokarst) may catalyze a suite of biotic and ecological changes, facilitating major ecosystem shifts. 3. These unknown ecosystem shifts raise serious questions as to how permafrost stability, vegetation diversity, and edaphic conditions will change with a warming high Arctic. Ecosystem and thermokarst processes tend to be examined independently, limiting our understanding of a coupled system whereby the effect of climate change on one will affect the outcome of the other. 4. Using in-depth, comprehensive field observations and a space-for-time approach, we investigate the highly structured landscape that has emerged due to the thermokarst-induced partitioning of microhabitats. We examine differences in vegetation diversity, community composition, and soil conditions on the Fosheim Peninsula, Ellesmere Island, Nunavut. We hypothesize that: (i) greater ice wedge subsidence results in increased vegetation cover due to elevated soil moisture, thereby decreasing the seasonal depth of thaw and restricting groundwater outflow; (ii) thermokarst processes result in altered vegetation richness, turnover, and dispersion, with greater microhabitat diversity at the landscape scale; (iii) shifts in hydrology and plant community structure alter soil chemistry. 5. We found that the disturbance caused by melting ice wedges catalyzes a suite of environmental and biotic effects: topographical changes, a new hydrological balance, significant species richness and turnover changes, and distinct soil chemistries. Thermokarst areas favour a subset of species unique from the polar desert and are characterized by greater species turnover (β-diversity) across the landscape. 6. Synthesis. Our findings suggest that projected increases of thermokarst in the polar desert will lead to the increased partitioning of microhabitats, creating a more heterogeneous high arctic landscape through diverging vegetation communities and edaphic conditions, resulting in a wetland-like biome in the high Arctic that could replace much of the ice-rich polar desert.
Data from: Body size, swimming speed, or thermal sensitivity? Predator-imposed selection on amphibian larvae
11-02-2015 11-04-2015
Background: Many animals rely on their escape performance during predator encounters. Because of its dependence on body size and temperature, escape velocity is fully characterized by three measures, absolute value, size-corrected value, and its response to temperature (thermal sensitivity). The primary target of the selection imposed by predators is poorly understood. We examined predator (dragonfly larva)-imposed selection on prey (newt larvae) body size and characteristics of escape velocity using replicated and controlled predation experiments under seminatural conditions. Specifically, because these species experience a wide range of temperatures throughout their larval phases, we predict that larvae achieving high swimming velocities across temperatures will have a selective advantage over more thermally sensitive individuals. Results: Nonzero selection differentials indicated that predators selected for prey body size and both absolute and size-corrected maximum swimming velocity. Comparison of selection differentials with control confirmed selection only on body size, i.e., dragonfly larvae preferably preyed on small newt larvae. Maximum swimming velocity and its thermal sensitivity showed low group repeatability, which contributed to non-detectable selection on both characteristics of escape performance. Conclusions: In the newt-dragonfly larvae interaction, body size plays a more important role than maximum values and thermal sensitivity of swimming velocity during predator escape. This corroborates the general importance of body size in predator–prey interactions. The absence of an appropriate control in predation experiments may lead to potentially misleading conclusions about the primary target of predator-imposed selection. Insights from predation experiments contribute to our understanding of the link between performance and fitness, and further improve mechanistic models of predator–prey interactions and food web dynamics.
Data from: The aggregate site frequency spectrum (aSFS) for comparative population genomic inference
11-03-2015 02-29-2016
Understanding how assemblages of species responded to past climate change is a central goal of comparative phylogeography and comparative population genomics, and an endeavor that has increasing potential to integrate with community ecology. New sequencing technology now provides the potential to gain complex demographic inference at unprecedented resolution across assemblages of non-model species. To this end, we introduce the aggregate site frequency spectrum (aSFS), an expansion of the site frequency spectrum to use single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) datasets collected from multiple, co-distributed species for assemblage-level demographic inference. We describe how the aSFS is constructed over an arbitrary number of independent population samples and then demonstrate how the aSFS can differentiate various multi-species demographic histories under a wide range of sampling configurations while allowing effective population sizes and expansion magnitudes to vary independently. We subsequently couple the aSFS with a hierarchical approximate Bayesian computation (hABC) framework to estimate degree of temporal synchronicity in expansion times across taxa, including an empirical demonstration with a dataset consisting of five populations of the threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Corroborating what is generally understood about the recent post-glacial origins of these populations, the joint aSFS/hABC analysis strongly suggests that the stickleback data are most consistent with synchronous expansion after the Last Glacial Maximum (posterior probability = 0.99). The aSFS will have general application for multi-level statistical frameworks to test models involving assemblages and/or communities and as large-scale SNP data from non-model species become routine, the aSFS expands the potential for powerful next-generation comparative population genomic inference.
Dimethylsulfoniopropionate, superoxide dismutase and glutathione as stress response indicators in three corals under short-term hyposalinity stress
02-10-2016 06-03-2016
Corals are among the most active producers of dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP), a key molecule in marine sulfur cycling, yet the specific physiological role of DMSP in corals remains elusive. Here, we examine the oxidative stress response of three coral species (Acropora millepora, Stylophora pistillata and Pocillopora damicornis) and explore the antioxidant role of DMSP and its breakdown products under short-term hyposalinity stress. Symbiont photosynthetic activity declined with hyposalinity exposure in all three reef-building corals. This corresponded with the upregulation of superoxide dismutase and glutathione in the animal host of all three species. For the symbiont component, there were differences in antioxidant regulation, demonstrating differential responses to oxidative stress between the Symbiodinium subclades. Of the three coral species investigated, only A. millepora provided any evidence of the role of DMSP in the oxidative stress response. Our study reveals variability in antioxidant regulation in corals and highlights the influence life-history traits, and the subcladal differences can have on coral physiology. Our data expand on the emerging understanding of the role of DMSP in coral stress regulation and emphasizes the importance of exploring both the host and symbiont responses for defining the threshold of the coral holobiont to hyposalinity stress.
Data from: Joint torques in a freely walking insect reveal distinct functions of leg joints in propulsion and posture control
01-20-2016 08-31-2016
Determining the mechanical output of limb joints is critical for understanding the control of complex motor behaviours such as walking. In the case of insect walking, the neural infrastructure for single-joint control is well described. However, a detailed description of the motor output in form of time-varying joint torques is lacking. Here, we determine joint torques in the stick insect to identify leg joint function in the control of body height and propulsion. Torques were determined by measuring whole-body kinematics and ground reaction forces in freely walking animals. We demonstrate that despite strong differences in morphology and posture, stick insects show a functional division of joints similar to other insect model systems. Propulsion was generated by strong depression torques about the coxa-trochanter joint, not by retraction or flexion/extension torques. Torques about the respective thorax-coxa and femur-tibia joints were often directed opposite to fore-aft forces and joint movements. This suggests a posture-dependent mechanism that counteracts collapse of the leg under body load and directs the resultant force vector such that strong depression torques can control both body height and propulsion. Our findings parallel propulsive mechanisms described in other walking, jumping, and flying insects and challenge current control models of insect walking.
Data from: Artificial selection on introduced Asian haplotypes shaped the genetic architecture in European commercial pigs
12-23-2015 12-28-2015
Early pig farmers in Europe imported Asian pigs to cross with their local breeds in order to improve traits of commercial interest. Current genomics techniques enabled genome-wide identification of these Asian introgressed haplotypes in modern European pig breeds. We propose that the Asian variants are still present because they affect phenotypes that were important for ancient traditional, as well as recent, commercial pig breeding. Genome-wide introgression levels were only weakly correlated with gene content and recombination frequency. However, regions with an excess or absence of Asian haplotypes (AS) contained genes that were previously identified as phenotypically important such as FASN, ME1, and KIT. Therefore, the Asian alleles are thought to have an effect on phenotypes that were historically under selection. We aimed to estimate the effect of AS in introgressed regions in Large White pigs on the traits of backfat (BF) and litter size. The majority of regions we tested that retained Asian deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) showed significantly increased BF from the Asian alleles. Our results suggest that the introgression in Large White pigs has been strongly determined by the selective pressure acting upon the introgressed AS. We therefore conclude that human-driven hybridization and selection contributed to the genomic architecture of these commercial pigs.
Data from: Utility of geometric morphometrics for inferring feeding habit from mouthpart morphology in insects: tests with larval Carabidae (Insecta: Coleoptera)
12-21-2015 04-20-2016
Feeding habits are important life-history traits in animals; however, methods for their determination are not well established in many species. The larvae of the beetle family Carabidae are an example. The present study tested the utility of geometric morphometrics of mouthpart morphology to infer the feeding habits of carabid larvae. Using Pterostichus thunbergi as a model system, larval feeding habits were inferred using geometric morphometrics of mouthparts and the results were compared with those obtained from rearing experiments. The rearing experiments indicated that P. thunbergi larvae are carnivores that require snails as an essential part of the diet. Through geometric morphometrics, associations between mouthpart morphology and larval feeding habits were confirmed for species in which these two traits are known. A discriminant analysis using these associations classified P. thunbergi larvae as snail/slug feeders, which is a result compatible with the rearing experiments. Geometric morphometrics also revealed that morphological integration and ontogenetic shape change might play roles in the diversification of mouthpart morphology. Overall, these results demonstrate the utility of the geometric morphometrics of mouthparts to infer feeding habit and to clarify the mechanisms of mouthpart morphological diversification in the study group, and the results also serve as a basis for future studies of other insect groups.
Data from: Simulating the distribution of individual livestock farms and their populations in the united states: an example using domestic swine (Sus scrofa domesticus) farms
11-16-2015 11-20-2015
Livestock distribution in the United States (U.S.) can only be mapped at a county-level or worse resolution. We developed a spatial microsimulation model called the Farm Location and Agricultural Production Simulator (FLAPS) that simulated the distribution and populations of individual livestock farms throughout the conterminous U.S. Using domestic pigs (Sus scrofa domesticus) as an example species, we customized iterative proportional-fitting algorithms for the hierarchical structure of the U.S. Census of Agriculture and imputed unpublished state- or county-level livestock population totals that were redacted to ensure confidentiality. We used a weighted sampling design to collect data on the presence and absence of farms and used them to develop a national-scale distribution model that predicted the distribution of individual farms at a 100 m resolution. We implemented microsimulation algorithms that simulated the populations and locations of individual farms using output from our imputed Census of Agriculture dataset and distribution model. Approximately 19% of county-level pig population totals were unpublished in the 2012 Census of Agriculture and needed to be imputed. Using aerial photography, we confirmed the presence or absence of livestock farms at 10,238 locations and found livestock farms were correlated with open areas, cropland, and roads, and also areas with cooler temperatures and gentler topography. The distribution of swine farms was highly variable, but cross-validation of our distribution model produced an area under the receiver-operating characteristics curve value of 0.78, which indicated good predictive performance. Verification analyses showed FLAPS accurately imputed and simulated Census of Agriculture data based on absolute percent difference values of < 0.01% at the state-to-national scale, 3.26% for the county-to-state scale, and 0.03% for the individual farm-to-county scale. Our output data have many applications for risk management of agricultural systems including epidemiological studies, food safety, biosecurity issues, emergency-response planning, and conflicts between livestock and other natural resources.
Data from: Wavelet domain radiofrequency pulse design applied to magnetic resonance imaging
10-30-2015 10-30-2015
A new method for designing radiofrequency (RF) pulses with numerical optimization in the wavelet domain is presented. Numerical optimization may yield solutions that might otherwise have not been discovered with analytic techniques alone. Further, processing in the wavelet domain reduces the number of unknowns through compression properties inherent in wavelet transforms, providing a more tractable optimization problem. This algorithm is demonstrated with simultaneous multi-slice (SMS) spin echo refocusing pulses because reduced peak RF power is necessary for SMS diffusion imaging with high acceleration factors. An iterative, nonlinear, constrained numerical minimization algorithm was developed to generate an optimized RF pulse waveform. Wavelet domain coefficients were modulated while iteratively running a Bloch equation simulator to generate the intermediate slice profile of the net magnetization. The algorithm minimizes the L2-norm of the slice profile with additional terms to penalize rejection band ripple and maximize the net transverse magnetization across each slice. Simulations and human brain imaging were used to demonstrate a new RF pulse design that yields an optimized slice profile and reduced peak energy deposition when applied to a multiband single-shot echo planar diffusion acquisition. This method may be used to optimize factors such as magnitude and phase spectral profiles and peak RF pulse power for multiband simultaneous multi-slice (SMS) acquisitions. Wavelet-based RF pulse optimization provides a useful design method to achieve a pulse waveform with beneficial amplitude reduction while preserving appropriate magnetization response for magnetic resonance imaging.
Data from: New evidence for hybrid zones of forest and savanna elephants in Central and West Africa
11-17-2015 02-29-2016
The African elephant consists of forest and savanna subspecies. Both subspecies are highly endangered due to severe poaching and habitat loss, and knowledge of their population structure is vital to their conservation. Previous studies have demonstrated marked genetic and morphological differences between forest and savanna elephants and despite extensive sampling, genetic evidence of hybridization between them has been restricted largely to a few hybrids in the Garamba region of northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Here we present new genetic data on hybridization from previously unsampled areas of Africa. Novel statistical methods applied to these data identify 46 hybrid samples - many more than have been previously identified - only two of which are from the Garamba region. The remaining 44 are from three other geographically-distinct locations: a major hybrid zone along the border of the DRC and Uganda, a second potential hybrid zone in Central African Republic, and a smaller fraction of hybrids in the Pendjari-Arli complex of West Africa. Most of the hybrids show evidence of interbreeding over more than one generation, demonstrating that hybrids are fertile. Mitochondrial and Y chromosome data demonstrate that the hybridization is bidirectional, involving males and females from both subspecies. We hypothesize that the hybrid zones may have been facilitated by poaching and habitat modification. The localized geography and rarity of hybrid zones, their possible facilitation from human pressures, and the high divergence and genetic distinctness of forest and savanna elephants throughout their ranges, are consistent with calls for separate species classification.
Data from: Global mammal betadiversity show parallel assemblage structure in similar but isolated environments
08-24-2016 02-28-2017
The taxonomic, phylogenetic and trait dimensions of betadiversity each provide unique insight into the importance of historical isolation and environmental conditions in shaping global diversity. These three dimensions should, in general, be positively correlated. However, if similar environmental conditions filter species with similar trait values, then assemblages located in similar environmental conditions, but separated by large dispersal barriers, may show high taxonomic, high phylogenetic, but low trait betadiversity. Conversely, we expect lower phylogenetic diversity but higher trait biodiversity among assemblages that are connected but are in differing environmental conditions. We calculated all pairwise comparisons of ~110x110 km grid-cells across the globe for ~5,000 mammal species (~70 million comparisons). We considered realms as units representing geographic distance and historical isolation and biomes as units with similar environmental conditions. While betadiversity dimensions were generally correlated, we highlight geographic regions of decoupling among betadiversity dimensions. Our analysis shows that assemblages from tropical forests in different realms had low trait dissimilarity while phylogenetic betadiversity was significantly higher than expected, suggesting potential convergent evolution. Low trait betadiversity was surprisingly not found between isolated deserts, despite harsh environmental conditions. Overall, our results provide evidence for parallel assemblage structure of mammal assemblages driven by environmental conditions at a global scale.
Data from: Drift, not selection, shapes toll-like receptor variation among oceanic island populations
10-28-2015 02-29-2016
Understanding the relative role of different evolutionary forces in shaping the level and distribution of functional genetic diversity among natural populations is a key issue in evolutionary and conservation biology. To do so accurately genetic data must be analyzed in conjunction with an unambiguous understanding of the historical processes that have acted upon the populations. Here we focused on diversity at toll-like receptor (TLR) loci, which play a key role in the vertebrate innate immune system and, therefore, are expected to be under pathogen-mediated selection. We assessed TLR variation within and among 13 island populations (grouped into three archipelagos) of Berthelot's pipit, Anthus berthelotii, for which detailed population history has previously been ascertained. We also compared the variation observed with that found in its widespread sister species, the tawny pipit, Anthus campestris. We found strong evidence for positive selection at specific codons in TLR1LA, TLR3 and TLR4. Despite this, we found that at the allele frequency level, demographic history has played the major role in shaping patterns of TLR variation in Berthelot's pipit. Levels of diversity and differentiation within and across archipelagos at all TLR loci corresponded very closely with neutral microsatellite variation, and with the severity of the bottlenecks that occurred during colonization. Our study shows that despite the importance of TLRs in combating pathogens, demography can be the main driver of immune gene variation within and across populations, resulting in patterns of functional variation that can persist over evolutionary timescales.