98 Works

Evolution and development at the origin of a phylum

Bradley Deline, Jeffery Thompson, Nicholas Smith, Samuel Zamora, Imran Rahman, Sarah Sheffield, William Ausich, Thomas Kammer & Colin Sumrall
Quantifying morphological evolution is key to determining the patterns and processes underlying the origin of phyla. We constructed a hierarchical morphological character matrix to characterize the radiation and establishment of echinoderm body plans during the early Paleozoic. This showed that subphylum-level clades diverged gradually through the Cambrian, and the distinctiveness of the resulting body plans was amplified by the extinction of transitional forms and obscured by convergent evolution during the Ordovician. Higher-order characters that define...

Data from: Trophic niche size and overlap decreases with increasing ecosystem productivity

Justin Lesser, William James, Rachel Wilson, Chris Stallings & James Nelson
The production and transfer of biomass through trophic relationships is a core ecosystem function. The movement of energy through the food web is mediated by organisms operating in their niche space. For generalists, the size of this niche space is inherently plastic and changes in response to available food sources. Therefore, this relationship between ecosystem productivity and niche size is an important determinant of ecosystem function. Competing theories about the nature of this relationship predict...

Data from: Estimating dispersal and evolutionary dynamics in diploporan blastozoans (Echinodermata) across the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event

Adriane Lam, Sarah Sheffield & Nicholas Matzke
Echinoderms make up a substantial component of Ordovician marine invertebrates, yet their speciation and dispersal history as inferred within a rigorous phylogenetic and statistical framework is lacking. We use Biogeographic Stochastic Mapping (BSM; implemented in the R package BioGeoBEARS) to infer ancestral area relationships and the number and type of dispersal events through the Ordovician for diploporan blastozoans and related species. The BSM analysis was divided into three time slices to analyze how dispersal paths...

The effects of body mass on immune cell concentrations of terrestrial mammals

Cynthia J. Downs, Ned A. Dochtermann, Ray Ball, Kirk C. Klasing & Lynn B. Martin
Theory predicts that body mass should affect the way organisms evolve and use immune defenses. We investigated the relationship between body mass and blood neutrophil and lymphocyte concentrations among 250+ terrestrial mammalian species. We tested whether existing theories (e.g., Protecton Theory, immune system complexity, and rate of metabolism) accurately predicted the scaling of immune cell concentrations. We also evaluated the predictive power of body mass for these leukocyte concentrations compared to sociality, diet, life history,...

Data from: Palaeobiogeography and evolutionary patterns of the larger foraminifer Borelis de Montfort (Borelidae)

Davide Bassi, Juan Carlos Braga, Giovanni Di Domenico, Johannes Pignatti, Sigal Abramovich, Pamela Hallock, Janine Koenen, Zoltan Kovacs, Martin R. Langer, Giulio Pavia & Yasufumi Iryu
The palaeobiogeography of the alveolinoid Borelis species reveals the evolutionary patterns leading to the two extant representatives, which occur in shallow-water tropical carbonate, coral reef-related settings. Type material and new material of fossil Borelis species, along with Recent specimens were studied to assess their taxonomic status, species circumscriptions (based on proloculus size, occurrence of Y-shaped septula, and the index of elongation), palaeobiogeography and evolutionary dynamics. The species dealt with here are known from exclusively fossil...

Molecular systematics, species concepts and myrmecophytism in Cecropia (Cecropieae: Urticaceae): Insights from restriction-site associated DNA

Erin Treiber, Paul-Camilo Zalamea, Maria Fernanda Torres Jimenez, Santiago Madriñán & George Weiblen
Cecropia is a group of fast-growing pioneer trees that are important in forest regeneration and a common ant-plant mutualism in the Neotropics. To investigate the evolution of mutualism between Cecropia and associated ants a phylogenetic framework is necessary. Cecropia species are difficult to distinguish morphologically and conventional genetic markers are insufficiently variable to resolve phylogeny. Our study aimed to infer relationships in approximately half of the species in the genus using restriction site associated DNA...

Size-dependent predation and intraspecific inhibition of an estuarine snail feeding on oysters

Tim Pusack, J. Wilson White, Hanna G. Tillotson, David L. Kimbro & Christopher D. Stallings
Predator outbreaks have increased in the past two decades in many ecosystems and are predicted to become more common with climate change. During these outbreaks, predator densities increase rapidly, and can cause large reductions in prey populations or shifts in prey size structure. However, unexpected interactions may occur at high predator densities, necessitating a mechanistic understanding of how increased predator density affects predator-prey dynamics. In the northern Gulf of Mexico, outbreaks of southern oyster drill...

Data from: Epigenetic potential and DNA methylation in an ongoing House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) range expansion

Haley E Hanson, Chengqi Wang, Aaron W Schrey, Andrea L Liebl, Mark Ravinet, Rays H Y Jiang & Lynn B Martin
During range expansions, organisms can use epigenetic mechanisms to adjust to conditions in novel areas by altering gene expression and enabling phenotypic plasticity. Here, we predicted that the number of CpG sites within the genome, one form of epigenetic potential, would be important for successful range expansions because DNA methylation can modulate gene expression, and consequently plasticity. We asked how the number of CpG sites and DNA methylation varied across five locations in the ~70...

Data from: Parallel evolution of gene classes, but not genes: evidence from Hawai’ian honeycreeper populations exposed to avian malaria

Loren Cassin-Sackett, Taylor E. Callicrate & Robert C. Fleischer
Adaptation in nature is ubiquitous, yet characterizing its genomic basis is difficult because population demographics cause correlations with non-adaptive loci. Introduction events provide opportunities to observe adaptation over known spatial and temporal scales, facilitating the identification of genes involved in adaptation. The pathogen causing avian malaria, Plasmodium relictum, was introduced to Hawai’i in the 1930s and elicited extinctions and precipitous population declines in native honeycreepers. After a sharp initial population decline, the Hawai’i ‘amakihi (Chlorodrepanis...

Data from: DNA methylation predicts immune gene expression in introduced house sparrows (Passer domesticus)

Holly J. Kilvitis, Aaron W. Schrey, Alexandria K. Ragsdale, Alejandro Berrio, Steve M. Phelps & Lynn B. Martin
Populations undergoing range expansions are often faced with novel selective pressures, and to cope with such challenges, populations must either adapt quickly or exhibit phenotypic plasticity. This latter option allows for rapid phenotypic adjustments and persistence in novel environments, and thus could be advantageous at range‐edges. Our previous research on house sparrows in Kenya—a site of ongoing range expansion— and a growing literature suggests that invasion success is facilitated by epigenetic regulation of gene expression....

Data from: Using multi-response models to investigate pathogen coinfections across scales: insights from emerging diseases of amphibians

William E. Stutz, Andrew R. Blaustein, Cheryl J. Briggs, Jason T. Hoverman, Jason R. Rhor & Pieter T. J. Johnson
1.Associations among parasites affect many aspects of host-parasite dynamics, but a lack of analytical tools has limited investigations of parasite correlations in observational data that are often nested across spatial and biological scales. 2.Here we illustrate how hierarchical, multiresponse modeling can characterize parasite associations by allowing for hierarchical structuring, offering estimates of uncertainty, and incorporating correlational model structures. After introducing the general approach, we apply this framework to investigate coinfections among four amphibian parasites (the...

Data from: Intraspecific predator inhibition, not a prey size refuge, enables oyster population persistence during predator outbreaks

Harriet S. Booth, Timothy J. Pusack, J.Wilson White, Chris D. Stallings, David L. Kimbro, HS Booth, DL Kimbro, TJ Pusack, CD Stallings & JW White
Predators commonly structure natural communities, but predation effects can vary greatly. For example, increasing predator densities may not reduce prey populations as expected if intraspecific predator interactions suppress foraging efficiency or if prey size refuges exist. In northeastern Florida (USA), outbreaks of the predatory crown conch Melongena corona have contributed to declines in oyster populations and the commercial oyster fishery. However, despite expectations of oyster population collapse, reefs have persisted, albeit with reduced adult oyster...

Data from: Genetic and epigenetic variation in Spartina alterniflora following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Marta Robertson, Aaron Schrey, Ashley Shayter, Christina J. Moss & Christina Richards
Catastrophic events offer unique opportunities to study rapid population response to stress in natural settings. In concert with genetic variation, epigenetic mechanisms like DNA methylation may offer a mechanism of rapid response to organisms facing severe environmental challenges, and contribute to the high resilience of species like Spartina alterniflora, a foundation salt marsh grass which shows resilience to strong environmental disturbance. In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill devastated large portions of the coastline along...

Data from: Fish sound production in the presence of harmful algal blooms in the eastern Gulf of Mexico

Carrie C. Wall, Chad Lembke, Chuanmin Hu & David A. Mann
This paper presents the first known research to examine sound production by fishes during harmful algal blooms (HABs). Most fish sound production is species-specific and repetitive, enabling passive acoustic monitoring to identify the distribution and behavior of soniferous species. Autonomous gliders that collect passive acoustic data and environmental data concurrently can be used to establish the oceanographic conditions surrounding sound-producing organisms. Three passive acoustic glider missions were conducted off west-central Florida in October 2011, and...

Data from: Range expansion of house sparrows (Passer domesticus) in Kenya: evidence of genetic admixture and human-mediated dispersal

Aaron W. Schrey, Andrea L. Liebl, Christina L. Richards & Lynn B. Martin
Introduced species offer an opportunity to study the ecological process of range expansions. Recently, 3 mechanisms have been identified that may resolve the genetic paradox (the seemingly unlikely success of introduced species given the expected reduction in genetic diversity through bottlenecks or founder effects): multiple introductions, high propagule pressure, and epigenetics. These mechanisms are probably also important in range expansions (either natural or anthropogenic), yet this possibility remains untested in vertebrates. We used microsatellite variation...

Data from: Competition and constraint drove Cope's rule in the evolution of giant flying reptiles

Roger B. J. Benson, Rachel A. Frigot, Anjali Goswami, Brian Andres & Richard J. Butler
The pterosaurs, Mesozoic flying reptiles, attained wingspans of more than 10 m that greatly exceed the largest birds and challenge our understanding of size limits in flying animals. Pterosaurs have been used to illustrate Cope’s rule, the influential generalization that evolutionary lineages trend to increasingly large body sizes. However, unambiguous examples of Cope’s rule operating on extended timescales in large clades remain elusive, and the phylogenetic pattern and possible drivers of pterosaur gigantism are uncertain....

Data from: Fire increases genetic diversity of populations of Six-lined Racerunner

Alexandria K. Ragsdale, Bridget M. Frederick, David W. Dukes, Andrea L. Liebl, Kyle G. Ashton, Earl D. McCoy, Henry R. Mushinsky & Aaron W. Schrey
Wildfires are highly variable and can disturb habitats, leading to direct and indirect effects on the genetic characteristics of local populations. Florida scrub is a fire-dependent, highly fragmented, and severely threatened habitat. Understanding the effect of fire on genetic characteristics of the species that use this habitat is critically important. We investigated one such lizard, the Six-lined Racerunner (Aspidoscelis sexlineata), which has a strong preference for open areas. We collected Six-lined Racerunners (n=154) from 11...

Data from: Dietary niche variation and its relationship to lizard population density

Maria Novosolov, Gordon H. Rodda, Alison M. Gainsbury & Shai Meiri
(1) Insular species are predicted to broaden their niches, in response to having fewer competitors. They can thus exploit a greater proportion of the resource spectrum. In turn, broader niches are hypothesized to facilitate (or be a consequence of) increased population densities. (2) We tested whether insular lizards have broader dietary niches than mainland species, how it relates to competitor and predator richness, and the nature of the relationship between population density and dietary niche...

Data from: Repeated habitat disturbances by fire decrease local effective population size

Aaron W. Schrey, Alexandria K. Ragsdale, Earl D. McCoy & Henry R. Mushinsky
Effective population size is a fundamental parameter in population genetics, and factors that alter effective population size will shape the genetic characteristics of populations. Habitat disturbance may have a large effect on genetic characteristics of populations by influencing immigration and gene flow, particularly in fragmented habitats. We used the Florida Sand Skink (Plestiodon reynoldsi) to investigate the effect of fire-based habitat disturbances on the effective population size in the highly threatened, severely fragmented, and fire...

Data from: The evolutionary relationship between beak shape, mechanical advantage, and feeding ecology in modern birds

Guillermo Navalón, Jen A. Bright, Jesús Marugán-Lobón & Emily J. Rayfield
Extensive research on avian adaptive radiations has led to a presumption that beak morphology predicts feeding ecology in birds. However, this ecomorphological relationship has only been quantified in a handful of avian lineages, where associations are of variable strength, and never at a broad macroevolutionary scale. Here, we used shape analysis and phylogenetic comparative methods to quantify the relationships between beak shape, mechanical advantage, and two measures of feeding ecology (feeding behaviour and semi-quantitative dietary...

Data from: Mapping tropical dry forest succession using multiple criteria spectral mixture analysis

Sen Cao, Qiuyan Yu, Arturo Sanchez-Azofeifa, Jilu Feng, Benoit Rivard & Zhujun Gu
Tropical dry forests (TDFs) in the Americas are considered the first frontier of economic development with less than 1% of their total original coverage under protection. Accordingly, accurate estimates of their spatial extent, fragmentation, and degree of regeneration are critical in evaluating the success of current conservation policies. This study focused on a well-protected secondary TDF in Santa Rosa National Park (SRNP) Environmental Monitoring Super Site, Guanacaste, Costa Rica. We used spectral signature analysis of...

Observational data and model output for sediment nutrient cycling at Patagonian fjords

Hong Chin Ng, Jon R. Hawkings, Jemma L. Wadham, Katharine R. Hendry, Tim M. Conway, Sebastien Bertrand, Matthias Sieber, Brent A. Summers, Felipe S. Freitas, James P.J. Ward, Helena V. Pryer & Sandra Arndt
Glacier meltwater supplies a significant amount of silicon (Si) and iron (Fe) sourced from weathered bedrock to downstream ecosystems. However, the extent to which these essential nutrients reach the ocean is regulated by the nature of the benthic cycling of dissolved Si and Fe within fjord systems, given the rapid deposition of reactive particulate fractions at fjord heads. The dataset is used to examine the benthic cycling of the two nutrients at Patagonian fjord heads...

Data from: Performance of shark teeth during puncture and draw: implications for the mechanics of cutting

Lisa B. Whitenack & Philip J. Motta
The performance of an organism's feeding apparatus has obvious implications for its fitness and survival. However, the majority of studies that focus on chondrichthyan feeding have largely ignored the role of teeth. Studying the functional morphology of shark teeth not only elucidates the biological role that teeth play in feeding, but also provides insight specifically into the evolution of shark feeding because teeth are often the only structures available in the fossil record. In the...

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