84 Works

Limits to host colonisation and speciation in a radiation of parasitic finches

Gabriel Jamie, Silky Hamama, Collins Moya, Rebecca Kilner & Claire Spottiswoode
Parasite lineages vary widely in species richness. In some clades, speciation is linked to the colonisation of new hosts. This is the case in the indigobirds and whydahs (Vidua), brood-parasitic finches whose nestlings mimic the phenotypes of their specific hosts. To understand the factors limiting host colonisation, and therefore speciation, we simulated the colonisation of a host using cross-fostering experiments in the field. Despite DNA barcoding suggesting that host species feed their chicks similar diets,...

Heliconiini butterflies can learn time-dependent reward associations

Wyatt Toure, Fletcher Young, W. McMillan & Stephen Montgomery
For many pollinators, flowers provide predictable temporal schedules of resource availability, meaning an ability to learn time-dependent information could be widely beneficial. However, this ability has only been demonstrated in a handful of species. Observational studies of Heliconius butterflies suggest that they may have an ability to form time-dependent foraging preferences. Heliconius are unique among butterflies in actively collecting pollen, a dietary behaviour linked to spatiotemporally faithful ‘trap-line’ foraging. Time-dependency of foraging preferences is hypothesised...

Data from: How do predators generalize warning signals in simple and complex prey communities? Insights from a videogame

Monica Arias, John W. Davey, Simon Martin, Chris Jiggins, Nicola Nadeau, Mathieu Joron & Violaine Llaurens
The persistence of distinct warning signals within and between sympatric mimetic communities is a puzzling evolutionary question because selection favours convergence of colour patterns among toxic species. Such convergence is partly shaped by predators’ reaction to similar but not identical stimulus, i.e. generalization behaviour. And generalisation by predators is likely to be shaped by the diversity of local prey. However, studying generalization behaviour is generally limited to simple variations of prey colour patterns. Here, we...

Evaluating spatially explicit sharing-sparing scenarios for multiple environmental outcomes

Tom Finch, Brett Day, Dario Massimino, John Redhead, Rob Field, Andrew Balmford, Rhys Green & Will Peach
1. Understanding how to allocate land for the sustainable delivery of multiple, competing objectives is a major societal challenge. The land sharing-sparing framework presents a heuristic for understanding the trade-off between food production and biodiversity conservation by comparing region-wide land use scenarios which are equivalent in terms of overall food production. 2. Here, for two contrasting regions of lowland England (The Fens and Salisbury Plain), we use empirical data and predictive models to compare a...

Nicotiana benthamiana as a transient expression host to produce auxin analogues: Pisum sativum seed transcriptomic data

Sarah O'Connor, Lorenzo Caouti & Katy Davis
Plant secondary metabolites have applications for the food, biofuel, and pharmaceutical industries. Recent advances in pathway elucidation and host expression systems now allow metabolic engineering of plant metabolic pathways to produce “new-to-nature” derivatives with novel biological activities, thereby amplifying the range of industrial uses for plant metabolites. Here we use a transient expression system in the model plant Nicotiana benthamiana to reconstitute the two-step plant-derived biosynthetic pathway for auxin (indole acetic acid) to achieve accumulation...

Foraging behaviour alters with social environment in a juvenile songbird

Victoria Franks, John Ewen, Mhairi McCready & Rose Thorogood
Early independence from parents is a critical period where social information acquired vertically may become outdated, or conflict with new information. However, across natural populations it is unclear if newly-independent young persist in using information from parents, or if group-level effects of conformity override previous behaviours. Here we test if wild juvenile hihi (Notiomystis cincta, a New Zealand passerine) retain a foraging behaviour from parents, or if they change in response to the behaviour of...

Meerkat helpers buffer the detrimental effects of adverse environmental conditions on fecundity, growth and survival

Frank Groenewoud & Tim H. Clutton-Brock
1. Recent comparative studies show that cooperative breeding is positively correlated with harsh and unpredictable environments and it is suggested that this association occurs because helpers buffer the negative effects of adverse ecological conditions on fitness. 2. In the Kalahari, rainfall varies widely between- and within years, affecting primary production and the availability of the principal prey of cooperatively breeding Kalahari meerkats, Suricata suricatta. Our study aimed to establish whether the presence and number of...

A time-lagged association between the gut microbiome, nestling weight and nestling survival in wild great tits

Gabrielle Davidson, Shane Somers, Niamh Wiley, Crystal Johnson, Micheal Reichert, R. Paul Ross, Catherine Stanton & John Quinn
Natal body mass is a key predictor of viability and fitness in many animals. While variation in body mass and therefore viability of juveniles may be explained by genetic and environmental factors, emerging evidence points to the gut microbiota as an important factor influencing host health. The gut microbiota is known to change during development, but it remains unclear whether the microbiome predicts fitness, and if it does, at which developmental stage it affects fitness...

Data From: Breeders are less active foragers than non-breeders in wild Damaraland mole-rats

Yannick Francioli, Jack Thorley, Kyle Finn, Tim Clutton-Brock & Markus Zöttl
Eusocial insect societies are characterised by a clear division of labour between non-breeding workers and breeding queens and queens often do not contribute to foraging, defence and other maintenance tasks. It has been suggested that the structure and organisation of social mole-rat groups resembles that of eusocial insect societies. However, the division of labour has rarely been investigated in wild mole-rats and it is unknown whether breeders show decreased foraging activity compared to non-breeding helpers...

Maternal predation risk increases offspring’s exploration but does not affect schooling behavior

Silvia Cattelan, James Herbert-Read, Paolo Panizzon, Alessandro Devigili, Matteo Griggio, Andrea Pilastro & Chiara Morosinotto
The environment that parents experience can influence their reproductive output and their offspring’s fitness via parental effects. Perceived predation risk can affect both parent and offspring phenotype, but it remains unclear to what extent offspring behavioral traits are affected when the mother is exposed to predation risk. This is particularly unclear in live-bearing species where maternal effects could occur during embryogenesis. Here, using a half-sib design to control for paternal effects, we experimentally exposed females...

Data from: Why do zoos attract crows? A comparative study from Europe and Asia

László Kövér, Szabolcs Lengyel, Makiko Takenaka, Alice Kirchmeir, Florian Uhl, Rachel Miller & Christine Schwab
Crows have successfully colonized many cities and urban zoos have been important in this process. To evaluate why zoos attract crows, we quantified crow numbers and behaviour in three zoos in Europe (Debrecen, Edinburgh, Vienna) and one in Asia (Sapporo). Data were collected in 445 surveys over 297 days in summer 2014 and winter 2014-15. We found that crow numbers were highest in Vienna, intermediate in Debrecen and Edinburgh and lowest in Sapporo, increased significantly...

Data from: A unified rheological model for cells and cellularised materials

Alessandra Bonfanti, Jonathan Fouchard, Nargess Khalilgharibi, Guillaume Charras & Alexandre Kabla
The mechanical response of single cells and tissues exhibits a broad distribution of time scales that gives often rise to a distinctive power-law rheology. Such complex behaviour cannot be easily captured by traditional rheological approaches, making material characterisation and predictive modelling very challenging. Here, we present a novel model combining conventional viscoelastic elements with fractional calculus that successfully captures the macroscopic relaxation response of epithelial monolayers. The parameters extracted from the fitting of the relaxation...

Male mate choice in the Spot-tail shark Carcharhinus sorrah: are males choosy or opportunistic?

Dareen Almojil
Male mate choice has been documented in different taxa including insects, lizards, fish, birds and mammals. However, in sharks, male mate choice is not clearly reported but field observations suggest that it is probable. In this study, I tested for evidence of male mating preference of the spot-tail shark Carcharhinus sorrah towards three female traits that are typically associated with female fecundity, these are: (1) body size, (2) parasite burden, and (3) mean heterozygosity. I...

Data from: The smallest known Devonian tetrapod shows unexpectedly derived features, Part 1 of 2

Per Ahlberg & Jennifer Clack
A new genus and species of Devonian tetrapod, Brittagnathus minutus gen. et sp. nov., is described from a single complete right lower jaw ramus recovered from the Acanthostega mass-death deposit in the upper part of the Britta Dal Formation (upper Famennian) of Stensiö Bjerg, Gauss Peninsula, East Greenland. Visualisation by propagation phase contrast synchrotron microtomography (PPC-SRμCT) allows a complete digital dissection of the specimen. With a total jaw ramus length of 44.8 mm, Brittagnathus is...

Data from: Prey speed influences the speed and structure of the raptorial strike of a ‘sit-and-wait’ predator

Sergio Rossoni & Jeremy Niven
Predators must often employ flexible strategies to capture prey. Particular attention has been given to the strategies of visual predators that actively pursue their prey, but sit-and-wait predators have been largely overlooked, their strategies often characterised as stereotyped. Praying mantids are primarily sit-and-wait predators that often employ crypsis to catch their prey using a raptorial strike produced by their highly modified forelimbs. Here we show that the raptorial strike of the Madagascan marbled mantis (Polyspilota...

Data from: Genetic analysis of Boletus edulis suggests that intra-specific competition may reduce local genetic diversity as a woodland ages

Vivienne Litzke, Rebecca Nagel, Joseph Hoffman, David Wells & William Amos
Ectomycorrhizal fungi are key players in terrestrial ecosystems yet their mating systems and population dynamics remain poorly understood. We investigated the fine-scale relatedness structure and genetic diversity of Boletus edulis, one of the world’s most commercially important wild mushrooms. Microsatellite genotyping of fruiting bodies from 14 different sites around Bielefeld in Germany revealed little in the way of population structure over a geographic scale of several kilometers. However, on a more local scale we found...

Wolbachia affect behavior and possibly reproductive compatibility but not thermoresistance, fecundity, and morphology in a novel transinfected host, Drosophila nigrosparsa

Matsapume Detcharoen, Wolfgang Arthofer, Francis Jiggins, Florian Steiner & Birgit Schlick-Steiner
Wolbachia, intracellular endosymbionts, are estimated to infect about half of all arthropod species. These bacteria manipulate their hosts in various ways for their maximum benefits. The rising global temperature may accelerate species migration and, thus, horizontal transfer of Wolbachia may occur across species previously not in contact. We transinfected and then cured the alpine fly Drosophila nigrosparsa with Wolbachia strain wMel to study its effects on this species. We found low Wolbachia titer, possibly cytoplasmic...

Data from: Differential divergence in autosomes and sex chromosomes is associated with intra-island diversification at a very small spatial scale in a songbird lineage

Yann Bourgeois, Joris Bertrand, Boris Delahaie, Helene Holota, Christophe Thebaud & Borja Mila
Recently diverged taxa showing marked phenotypic and ecological diversity are optimal systems to understand the genetic processes underlying speciation. We used genome-wide markers to investigate the diversification of the Reunion grey white eye (Zosterops borbonicus) on the small volcanic island of Reunion (Mascarene archipelago), where this species complex exhibits four geographic forms that are parapatrically distributed across the island and differ strikingly in plumage colour. One form restricted to the highlands is separated by a...

Signals interpreted as archaic introgression are driven primarily by accelerated evolution in Africa

William Amos
Non-African humans appear to carry a few percent archaic DNA due to ancient inter-breeding. This modest legacy and its likely recent timing imply that most introgressed fragments will be rare and hence will occur mainly in the heterozygous state. I tested this prediction by calculating D statistics, a measure of legacy size, for pairs of humans where one of the pair was conditioned always to be either homozygous or heterozygous. Using coalescent simulations, I confirmed...

Data from: Multimodal mimicry of hosts in a radiation of parasitic finches

Gabriel Jamie, Steven M. Van Belleghem, Benedict G. Hogan, Silky Hamama, Collins Moya, Jolyon Troscianko, Mary Stoddard, Rebecca Kilner & Claire Spottiswoode
Brood parasites use the parental care of others to raise their young and sometimes employ mimicry to dupe their hosts. The brood-parasitic finches of the genus Vidua are a textbook example of the role of imprinting in sympatric speciation. Sympatric speciation is thought to occur in Vidua because their mating traits and host preferences are strongly influenced by their early host environment. However, this alone may not be sufficient to isolate parasite lineages, and divergent...

Can behaviour impede evolution? persistence of singing effort after morphological song loss in crickets

Jack Rayner, Will Schneider & Nathan Bailey
Evolutionary loss of sexual signals is widespread. Examining the consequences for behaviours associated with such signals can provide insight into factors promoting or inhibiting trait loss. We tested whether a behavioural component of a sexual trait, male calling effort, has been evolutionary reduced in silent populations of Hawaiian field crickets (Teleogryllus oceanicus). Cricket song requires energetically costly wing movements, but ‘flatwing’ males have feminised wings that preclude song and protect against a lethal, eavesdropping parasitoid....

Teaching and learning in ecology: a horizon scan of emerging challenges and solutions

Zenobia Lewis, Julia Cooke, Yoseph Araya, Karen Bacon, Joanna Bagniewska, Lesley Batty, Tom Bishop, Moya Burns, Magda Charalambous, David Daversa, Liam Dougherty, Miranda Dyson, Adam Fisher, Dan Forman, Cristina Garcia, Ewan Harney, Thomas Hesselberg, Elizabeth John, Robert Knell, Kadmiel Maseyk, Alice Mauchline, Julie Peacock, Angelo Pernetto, Jeremy Pritchard, William Sutherland … & Nicholas Worsfold
We currently face significant, anthropogenic, global environmental challenges and therole of ecologists in mitigating these challenges is arguably more important than ever. Consequently there is an urgent need to recruit and train future generations of ecologists, both those whose main area is ecology, but also those involved in the geological, biological and environmental sciences. Here we present the results of a horizon scanning exercise that identified current and future challenges facing the teaching of ecology,...

Disentangling sources of gene tree discordance in phylogenomic datasets: testing ancient hybridizations in Amaranthaceae s.l.

Diego F. Morales-Briones, Gudrun Kadereit, Delphine Tefarikis, Michael Moore, Stephen Smith, Samuel Brockington, Alfonso Timoneda, Won Yim, John Cushman & Ya Yang
Gene tree discordance in large genomic datasets can be caused by evolutionary processes such as incomplete lineage sorting and hybridization, as well as model violation, and errors in data processing, orthology inference, and gene tree estimation. Species tree methods that identify and accommodate all sources of conflict are not available, but a combination of multiple approaches can help tease apart alternative sources of conflict. Here, using a phylotranscriptomic analysis in combination with reference genomes, we...

How butterflies keep their cool: physical and ecological traits influence thermoregulatory ability and population trends.

Andrew Bladon, Matthew Lewis, Eleanor Bladon, Sam Buckton, Stuart Corbett, Steven Ewing, Matthew Hayes, Gwen Hitchcock, Richard Knock, Colin Lucas, Adam McVeigh, Rosa Menendez, Jonah Walker, Tom Fayle & Edgar Turner
Understanding which factors influence the ability of individuals to respond to changing temperatures is fundamental to species conservation under climate change. We investigated how a community of butterflies responded to fine-scale changes in air temperature, and whether species-specific responses were predicted by ecological or morphological traits. Using data collected across a UK reserve network, we investigated the ability of 29 butterfly species to buffer thoracic temperature against changes in air temperature. First, we tested whether...

Data from: Group size elevates inequality in cooperative behaviour

Shay Rotics & Tim Clutton-Brock
In cooperatively breeding species where rearing effort is shared among multiple group members, increases in group size typically reduce average per capita contributions to offspring care in all group members (load-lightening) but it is not known how changes in group size affect the distribution of workload among group members. The socioeconomic collective action theory suggests that, in larger groups, the incentives for free riding are stronger, leading to greater inequalities in work-division among group members....

Registration Year

  • 2020

Resource Types

  • Dataset


  • University of Cambridge
  • Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Oxford
  • Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive
  • Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
  • Oklahoma State University
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Pretoria
  • Linnaeus University