264 Works

Data from: Signal design and courtship presentation coincide for highly biased delivery of an iridescent butterfly mating signal

Thomas Edward White, Jochen Zeil & Darrell J. Kemp
Sensory drive theory contends that signalling systems should evolve to optimize transmission between senders and intended receivers, while minimising visibility to eavesdroppers where possible. In visual communication systems, the high directionality afforded by iridescent colouration presents underappreciated avenues for mediating this trade-off. This hypothesis predicts functional links between signal design and presentation such that visual conspicuousness is maximised only under ecologically relevant settings and/or to select audiences. We addressed this prediction using Hypolimnas bolina, a...

Data from: Experimental heatwaves negatively impact sperm quality in the zebra finch

Laura L. Hurley, Callum S. McDiarmid, Christopher R. Friesen, Simon C. Griffith & Melissah Rowe
For sexually reproducing species, functionally competent sperm are critical to reproduction. While high atmospheric temperatures are known to influence the timing of breeding, incubation and reproductive success in birds, the effect of temperature on sperm quality remains largely unexplored. Here, we experimentally investigated the impact of ecologically relevant extreme temperatures on cloacal temperature and sperm morphology and motility in zebra finches Taeniopygia guttata. We periodically sampled males exposed to 30°C or 40°C temperatures daily for...

Data from: Measuring embryonic heart rate of wild birds: an opportunity to take the pulse on early development

Elizabeth L. Sheldon, Luke S. C. McCowan, Callum S. McDiarmid & Simon C. Griffith
Embryonic heart rate has the potential to provide great insight into physiological variation and ontogenic status in early development. The availability of a relatively inexpensive and portable piece of equipment – the Buddy egg monitor (Vetronic Services, UK), provides the opportunity to measure embryonic heart rate non-invasively in the field. Here we demonstrate the application of this equipment in the climatically harsh Australian outback. We characterize variation in embryonic heart rate in the zebra finch...

Data from: Selection for predation, not female fecundity, explains sexual size dimorphism in the orchid mantises

Gavin J. Svenson, Sydney K. Brannoch, Henrique M. Rodrigues, James C. O'Hanlon & Frank Wieland
Here we reconstruct the evolutionary shift towards floral simulation in orchid mantises and suggest female predatory selection as the likely driving force behind the development of extreme sexual size dimorphism. Through analysis of body size data and phylogenetic modelling of trait evolution, we recovered an ancestral shift towards sexual dimorphisms in both size and appearance in a lineage of flower-associated praying mantises. Sedentary female flower mantises dramatically increased in size prior to a transition from...

Data from: Hybridization of Southern Hemisphere blue whale subspecies and a sympatric area off Antarctica: impacts of whaling or climate change?

Catherine R. M. Attard, Luciano B. Beheregaray, K. Curt S. Jenner, Peter C. Gill, Micheline- N. Jenner, Margaret G. Morrice, Kelly M. Robertson & Luciana M. Möller
Understanding the degree of genetic exchange between subspecies and populations is vital for the appropriate management of endangered species. Blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) have two recognized Southern Hemisphere subspecies that show differences in geographic distribution, morphology, vocalizations and genetics. During the austral summer feeding season the pygmy blue whale (B. m. brevicauda) is found in temperate waters and the Antarctic blue whale (B. m. intermedia) in polar waters. Here we used genetic analyses to report...

Data from: Isolation rearing does not constrain social plasticity in a family-living lizard

Julia L. Riley, Côme Guidou, Caroline Fryns, Johann Mourier, Stephan T. Leu, Daniel W.A. Noble, Richard W. Byrne, Martin J. Whiting & Daniel W A Noble
An animal’s social environment can be both dynamic and complex. Thus, social species often garner fitness benefits through being plastic in their social behavior. Yet, social plasticity can be constrained by an individual’s experience. We examined the influence of early social environment on social behavior in the tree skink (Egernia striolata), a family-living lizard. In the first phase of this study, we reared juveniles in two different social environments for 1.5 years: either in isolation...

Data from: Morphological and moisture availability controls of the leaf area-to-sapwood area ratio: analysis of measurements on Australian trees

Henrique Furstenau Togashi, Ian Colin Prentice, Bradley John Evans, David Ian Forrester, Paul Drake, Paul Feikema, Kim Brooksbank, Derek Eamus, Daniel Taylor & Iain Colin Prentice
1. The leaf area-to-sapwood area ratio (LA:SA) is a key plant trait that links photosynthesis to transpiration. The pipe model theory states that the sapwood cross-sectional area of a stem or branch at any point should scale isometrically with the area of leaves distal to that point. Optimization theory further suggests that LA:SA should decrease toward drier climates. Although acclimation of LA:SA to climate has been reported within species, much less is known about the...

Data from: The genetic basis of discrete and quantitative colour variation in the polymorphic lizard, Ctenophorus decresii

Katrina J. Rankin, Claire A. McLean, Darrell J. Kemp & Devi Stuart-Fox
Background: Colour polymorphic species provide invaluable insight into processes that generate and maintain intra-specific variation. Despite an increasing understanding of the genetic basis of discrete morphs, sources of colour variation within morphs remain poorly understood. Here we use the polymorphic tawny dragon lizard Ctenophorus decresii to test simple Mendelian models for the inheritance of discrete morphs, and to investigate the genetic basis of continuous variation among individuals across morphs. Males of this species express either...

Data from: Scaling up flammability from individual leaves to fuel beds

Saskia Grootemaat, Ian Wright, Peter Van Bodegom, Johannes Cornelissen, Peter M. Van Bodegom, Ian J. Wright & Johannes H. C. Cornelissen
Wildfires play an important role in vegetation composition and structure, nutrient fluxes, human health and wealth, and are interlinked with climate change. Plants have an influence on wildfire behaviour and predicting this feedback is a high research priority. For upscaling from leaf traits to wildfire behaviour we need to know if the same leaf traits are important for the flammability of (i) individual leaves, and (ii) multiple leaves packed in fuel beds. Based on a...

Data from: Where did all the trees come from? A novel multispecies approach reveals the impacts of biogeographical history and functional diversity on rain forest assembly

Maurizio Rossetto, Hannah McPherson, Juelian Siow, Robert Kooyman, Marlien Van Der Merwe & Peter D. Wilson
Aim: We take advantage of next generation sequencing-based technology to assess how landscape-level dynamics, biogeographical history and functional factors shape the distribution of genetic diversity in rain forest trees. To achieve this, we explore chloroplast genomic diversity and divergence patterns across multiple, co-distributed species from three major centres of rain forest diversity. Location: Subtropical rain forests in south-eastern Australia: Nightcap–Border Ranges, Dorrigo and Washpool. Methods: We assembled chloroplast genomic data from whole-genome shotgun libraries for...

Data from: Screening of candidate substrates and coupling ions of transporters by thermostability shift assays

Homa Majd, Martin S. King, Shane M. Palmer, Anthony C. Smith, Liam D. H. Elbourne, Ian T. Paulsen, David Sharples, Peter J. F. Henderson, Edmund R. S. Kunji, Peter JF Henderson, Liam DH Elbourne & Edmund RS Kunji
Substrates of most transport proteins have not been identified, limiting our understanding of their role in physiology and disease. Traditional identification methods use transport assays with radioactive compounds, but they are technically challenging and many compounds are unavailable in radioactive form or are prohibitively expensive, precluding large-scale trials. Here, we present a high-throughput screening method that can identify candidate substrates from libraries of unlabeled compounds. The assay is based on the principle that transport proteins...

Data from: Divergent natural selection with gene flow along major environmental gradients in Amazonia: insights from genome scans, population genetics and phylogeography of the characin fish Triportheus albus

Georgina M. Cooke, Ning L. Chao & Luciano B. Beheregaray
The unparalleled diversity of tropical ecosystems like the Amazon Basin has been traditionally explained using spatial models within the context of climatic and geological history. Yet, it is adaptive genetic diversity that defines how species evolve and interact within an ecosystem. Here we combine genome scans, population genetics and sequenced-based phylogeographic analyses to examine spatial and ecological arrangements of selected and neutrally evolving regions of the genome of an Amazonian fish, Triportheus albus. Using a...

Data from: Cortical reorganisation during a 30-week tinnitus treatment program

Catherine M. McMahon, Ronny K. Ibrahim & Ankit Mathur
Subjective tinnitus is characterised by the conscious perception of a phantom sound. Previous studies have shown that individuals with chronic tinnitus have disrupted sound-evoked cortical tonotopic maps, time-shifted evoked auditory responses, and altered oscillatory cortical activity. The main objectives of this study were to: (i) compare sound-evoked brain responses and cortical tonotopic maps in individuals with bilateral tinnitus and those without tinnitus; and (ii) investigate whether changes in these sound-evoked responses occur with amelioration of...

Data from: Probabilistic divergence time estimation without branch lengths: dating the origins of dinosaurs, avian flight and crown birds

Graeme T. Lloyd, David W. Bapst, Matt Friedman & Katie E. Davis
Branch lengths—measured in character changes—are an essential requirement of clock-based divergence estimation, regardless of whether the fossil calibrations used represent nodes or tips. However, a separate set of divergence time approaches are typically used to date palaeontological trees, which may lack such branch lengths. Among these methods, sophisticated probabilistic approaches have recently emerged, in contrast with simpler algorithms relying on minimum node ages. Here, using a novel phylogenetic hypothesis for Mesozoic dinosaurs, we apply two...

Investment in chemical signalling glands facilitates the evolution of sociality in lizards

Simon Baeckens & Martin Whiting
The evolution of sociality and traits that correlate with, or predict, sociality, have been the focus of considerable recent study. In order to reduce the social conflict that ultimately comes with group living, and foster social tolerance, individuals need reliable information about group members and potential rivals. Chemical signals are one such source of information and are widely used in many animal taxa, including lizards. Here, we take a phylogenetic comparative approach to test the...

Effects of plant hydraulic traits on the flammability of live fine canopy fuels in 62 Australian plant species

Fiona Scarff, Tanja Lenz, Anna Richards, Amy Zanne, Ian Wright & Mark Westoby
Plant species vary in how they regulate moisture and this has implications for their flammability during wildfires. We explored how fuel moisture is shaped by variation within six hydraulic traits: saturated moisture content, cell wall rigidity, cell solute potential, symplastic water fraction and tissue capacitance. Using pressure-volume curves, we measured these hydraulic traits distal shoots (i.e. twigs + leaves) in 62 plant species across four wooded communities in south-eastern Australia. For a subset of 30...

Evolution of songbird eggs colour

Kiara L'Herpiniere
To understand why avian eggs are so variable in colour and patterning, we investigated contemporary species that provide insights into the evolutionary transitions that occurred during the early radiation of the songbirds. We quantified egg colour and patterning from museum collections of 269 species of Australian passerine and collated it to nest type data (cup or dome nesting species). Using phylogenetically reconstructed trait data, we showed that the ancestral passerine egg was likely to be...

Hibiscus harlequin bug developmental, weight, and iridescence data

Emily Burdfield-Steel & Darrell Kemp
Despite the fact their colouration functions as an aposematic signal, and is thus expected to be under purifying selection, Hibiscus harlequin bugs (Tectocoris diophthalmus) show an impressive level of variation in their iridescent colouration both within and between populations. Previous work has shown that part of this variation may be due to plasticity in response to temperature. However, populations vary both in the extent of plasticity, and in the distribution of different colour patterns, suggesting...

Genotype-environment interaction reveals varied developmental responses to unpredictable host phenology in a tropical insect

Darrell Kemp
Understanding the genetic architecture of life history plasticity may inform resilience under environmental change, but relatively little is known for the inhabitants of unpredictable wet-dry tropical environments. Here I explore the quantitative genetics of juvenile growth and development relative to hostplant phenology in the butterfly Eurema hecabe. Wet season generations of this species breed explosively on leguminous annuals whereas dry season generations subsist at low density upon an alternative perennial host. The wet-to-dry season transition...

Quantity discrimination in a lizard

Birgit Szabo, Daniel W. A. Noble, Martin J. Whiting, Marco E. S. Monteiro & Kaitlin J. McCloghry
While foraging or during social interactions, animals may benefit from judging relative quantity. Individuals may select larger prey or a patch with more food and likewise, it may pay to track the number and type of individuals and social interactions. We tested for spontaneous quantity discrimination in the gidgee skink (Egernia stokesii), a family-living lizard. Lizards were presented with food quantities differing in number or size and selected the larger quantity of food items when...

Data from: National assessments of species vulnerability to climate change strongly depend on selected data sources

Daniel Scherrer, Manuel Esperon-Rodriguez, Linda J. Beaumont, Victor L. Barradas & Antoine Guisan
Aim: Correlative species distribution models (SDMs) are among the most frequently used tools for conservation planning under climate and land-use changes. Conservation-focused climate change studies are often conducted on a national or local level and can use different sources of occurrence records (e.g., local databases, national biodiversity monitoring) collated at different geographic extents. However, little is known about how these restrictions in geographic space (i.e., Wallacean shortfall) can lead to restrictions in environmental space (i.e....

Prosopis trait data for reciprocal transplant and glasshouse experiments

Johannes Le Roux
The context-depency of biological invasions makes it difficult to understand why some species become succesfull invaders and others not. Such understanding requires studying closely-related invasive and non-invasive alien taxa sharing the same introduction history in the same environment. We identified this unusual situation in Kenya where the individuals that founded invasive Prosopis juliflora and non-invasive P. pallida populations are still present in original plantations. We evaluated field-measured traits, conducted greenhouse experiments simulating different nitrogen and...

Rates of expansion of invasive cane toads in New South Wales

Richard Shine, Lincoln Mcgregor, Matthew Greenlees & Mark DeBruyn
Geographical variation in abiotic and biotic conditions can significantly affect the rate that an invasive species expands its range. The colonisation of Australia by cane toads (Rhinella marina) has attracted extensive research, but mostly in tropical regions rather than cooler climatic zones. We assembled multiple datasets to characterise the historical spread of toads at their southern (cool-climate) invasion front in north-eastern New South Wales (NSW). Perhaps because toads are relatively easy to find, visual and...

Sexual dimorphism in size and shape of the head in the sea snake Emydocephalus annulatus

Richard Shine & Claire Goiran
In snakes, divergence in head size between the sexes has been interpreted as an adaptation to intersexual niche divergence. By overcoming gape-limitation, a larger head enables snakes of one sex to ingest larger prey items. Under this hypothesis, we do not expect a species that consumes only tiny prey items to exhibit sex differences in relative head size, or to show empirical links between relative head size and fitness-relevant traits such as growth and fecundity....

Zebra finch song and distance call amplitude measurements: A transmission experiment and observational transects in the natural environment

Hugo Loning, Simon C. Griffith & Marc Naguib
Birdsong is typically seen as a long-range signal functioning in mate attraction and territory defense. Among birds, the zebra finch is the prime model organism in bioacoustics, yet almost exclusively studied in the lab. In the wild, however, zebra finch song differs strikingly from songbirds commonly studied in the wild as zebra finch males sing most after mating and in the absence of territoriality. Using data from the wild, we here provide an ecological context...

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