45 Works

A fossil-calibrated time-tree of all Australian freshwater fishes

Amy Tims, Simon Ho & Peter Unmack
Australian freshwater fishes are a relatively species-poor assemblage, comprising a small number of Gondwanan lineages and a number of groups derived from repeated freshwater invasions by marine ancestors. In addition to being a comparatively small assemblage, they are both highly endemic and highly threatened. However, a comprehensive phylogeny for these taxa is lacking, which has hampered efforts to study their phylogenetic diversity, distribution of extinction risk, speciation rate, and rates of trait evolution. Here, we...

High fire frequency and the impact of the 2019–2020 megafires on Australian plant diversity

Rachael Gallagher, Stuart Allen, Berin MacKenzie, Colin Yates, Gosper Carl, David Keith, Cory Merow, Matthew White, Elizabeth Wenk, Brian Maitner, Kang He, Vanessa Adams, Tony Auld, Rachael V. Gallagher, Berin D. E. Mackenzie, Colin J. Yates, Carl R. Gosper, David A. Keith, Matthew D. White, Brian S. Maitner, Vanessa M. Adams & Tony D. Auld
This dataset details the proportion of the geographic range of 26,062 Australian plant species burnt in the 2019-2020 megafire; threatened listing status on state and Commonwealth threatened species legislation; species endemic status in each state/territory according to the Australian Plant Census; and risk ranking for exposure to high fire frequency (short intervals between fires) and cumulative impacts of fire (populations dominated by immature individuals). Further details are provided in the users should consult and cite...

Population dynamics of the sea snake Emydocephalus annulatus

Richard Shine, Gregory Brown & Claire Goiran
For sea snakes as for many types of animals, long-term studies on population biology are rare and hence, we do not understand the degree to which annual variation in population sizes is driven by density-dependent regulation versus by stochastic abiotic factors. We monitored three populations of turtle-headed sea snakes (Emydocephalus annulatus) in New Caledonia over an 18-year period. Annual recruitment (% change in numbers) showed negative density-dependence: that is, recruitment increased when population densities were...

Avian vampire fly (Philornis downsi) intensity and mortality

Lauren K Common, Petra Sumasgutner, Rachael Y Dudaniec, Diane Colombelli-Negrel & Sonia Kleindorfer
In invasive parasites, generalism is considered advantageous during the initial phase of introduction. Thereafter, fitness costs to parasites, such as host-specific mortality, can drive parasites towards specialism to avoid costly hosts. It is important to determine changes in host specificity of invasive populations to understand host-parasite dynamics and their effects on vulnerable host populations. We examined changes in mortality in the introduced avian vampire fly (Philornis downsi) (Diptera: Muscidae), a generalist myasis-causing ectoparasite, between 2004...

Rates of attraction of cane toad tadpoles to chemicals

Richard Shine
Chemical cues produced by late-stage embryos of the cane toad (Rhinella marina) attract older conspecific larvae, which are highly cannibalistic and can consume an entire clutch. To clarify the molecular basis of this attraction response, we presented captive tadpoles with components present in toad eggs. As previously reported, attractivity arises from the distinctive toxins (bufadienolides) produced by cane toads, with some toxins (e.g., bufagenins) much stronger attractants than others (e.g., bufotoxins). Extracts of frozen toad...

Evaluating evidence of mitonuclear incompatibilities with the sex chromosomes in an avian hybrid zone

Daniel Hooper, Kelsie A Lopez, Callum S McDiarmid, Simon Griffith & Irby Lovette
The exploration of hybrid zones and the intergenomic conflicts exposed through hybridization provide windows into the processes of divergence and speciation. Sex chromosomes and mitonuclear incompatibilities have strong associations with the genetics of hybrid dysfunction. In ZW sex-determining systems, maternal co-inheritance of the mitochondrial and W chromosomes immediately exposes incompatibilities between these maternal contributions of one species and the Z chromosome of another. We analyze mitochondrial and Z chromosome admixture in the long-tailed finch (Poephila...

Genomic and transcriptomic data for the frog Platyplectrum ornatum

Scott Edwards, Sangeet Lamichhaney, Renee Catullo, Scott Keogh, Simon Clulow & Tariq Ezaz
The diversity of genome sizes across the tree of life is of key interest in evolutionary biology. Various correlates of variation in genome size, such as accumulation of transposable elements or rate of DNA gain and loss, are well known, but the underlying molecular mechanisms that drive or constrain genome size are poorly understood. Here we study one of the smallest genomes among frogs characterized thus far, that of the ornate burrowing frog (Platyplectrum ornatum)...

Population genetics informs the management of a controversial Australian waterbird

Skye Davis, Adam Stow & Kate Brandis
Widespread degradation across Australia’s inland wetland network has contributed to severe declines for many waterbird species. In contrast, breeding colonies of the Australian white ibis (Threskiornis molucca) have increased in urbanised areas along the coast, but the level of dispersal and gene flow between inland and coastal areas remain unknown. This study uses single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to ascertain the variables influencing genetic connectivity among several inland and urban colonies of white ibis across south-eastern...

Data from: Social transmission in the wild reduces predation pressure on novel prey signals

Liisa Hämäläinen, William Hoppitt, Hannah Rowland, Johanna Mappes, Anthony Fulford, Sebastian Sosa & Rose Thorogood
Social transmission of information is taxonomically widespread and could have profound effects on the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of animal communities. Demonstrating this in the wild, however, has been challenging. Here we show by field experiment that social transmission among predators can shape how selection acts on prey defences. Using artificial prey and a novel approach in statistical analyses of social networks, we find that blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) and great tit (Parus major) predators...

Bisulfite sequencing (RRBS-seq): CpG methylation reports for Australian invasive cane toads

Roshmi Rekha Sarma, Michael R Crossland, Harrison J.F Eyck, Jayna L DeVore, Richard J Edwards, Michael Cocomazzo, Jia Zhou, Gregory P Brown, Richard Shine & Lee Ann Rollins
In response to novel environments, invasive populations often evolve rapidly. Standing genetic variation is an important predictor of evolutionary response but epigenetic variation may also play a role. Here we use an iconic invader, the cane toad (Rhinella marina), to investigate how manipulating epigenetic status affects phenotypic traits. We collected wild toads from across Australia, bred them, and experimentally manipulated DNA methylation of the subsequent two generations (G1, G2) through exposure to the DNA methylation...

Comparison of an extracellular vs. total DNA extraction approach for environmental DNA-based monitoring of sediment biota

Anthony Chariton, Johan Pansu, Grant Hose & Michelle Chapman
Monitoring sediment biota is an essential step for the quality assessment of aquatic ecosystems. Environmental DNA-based approaches for biomonitoring are increasing in popularity; yet, commercial kits and protocols for extracting total DNA from sediments remain expensive and time-consuming. Furthermore, they can accommodate only small amounts of sediments, potentially preventing an adequate representation of local biodiversity, especially for macro-organisms. Here, we assessed the reliability of a cost- and time- effective extracellular DNA extraction approach, able to...

Latitudinal clines in sexual selection, sexual size dimorphism, and sex-specific genetic dispersal during a poleward range expansion

Rachael Dudaniec, Alexander Carey, Erik Svensson, Bengt Hansson, Chuan Ji Yong & Lesley Lancaster
Range expansions can be shaped by sex differences in behaviours and other phenotypic traits affecting dispersal and reproduction. Here, we investigate sex differences in morphology, behaviour and genomic population differentiation along a climate-mediated range expansion in the common bluetail damselfly Ischnura elegans in northern Europe. We sampled 65 sites along a 583 km gradient spanning the I. elegans range in Sweden and quantified latitudinal gradients in site relative abundance, sex ratio and sex-specific shifts in...

Data on infection experiments of cane toads

Martin Mayer, Lia Schlippe Justicia, Richard Shine & Gregory Brown
This dataset contains data from an infection experiment described in the paper: “Mayer, M., Schlippe Justicia, L, Shine, R., & Brown, G. P. (2021). Host defense or parasite cue: Skin secretions mediate interactions between amphibians and their parasites. Ecology Letters, in revision”. Amphibian skin secretions (substances produced by the amphibian plus microbiota) plausibly act as a first line of defense against parasite/pathogen attack, but may also provide chemical cues for pathogens. To clarify the role...

Minding the gap: Learning and visual scanning behaviour in nocturnal bull ants

Muzahid Islam, Sudhakar Deeti, J. Frances Kamhi & Ken Cheng
Insects possess small brains but exhibit sophisticated behaviour, specifically their ability to learn to navigate within complex environments. To understand how they learn to navigate in a cluttered environment, we focused on learning and visual scanning behaviour in the Australian nocturnal bull ant, Myrmecia midas, which are exceptional visual navigators. We tested how individual ants learn to detour via a gap and how they cope with substantial spatial changes over trips. Homing M. midas ants...

Uncovering key metabolic determinants of the drug interactions between trimethoprim and erythromycin in Escherichia coli

Qin Qi, S Andreas Angermayr & Tobias Bollenbach
Understanding interactions between antibiotics used in combination is an important theme in microbiology. Using the interactions between the antifolate drug trimethoprim and the ribosome-targeting antibiotic erythromycin in Escherichia coli as a model, we applied a transcriptomic approach for dissecting interactions between two antibiotics with different modes of action. When trimethoprim and erythromycin were combined, the transcriptional response of genes from the sulfate reduction pathway deviated from the dominant effect of trimethoprim on the transcriptome. We...

Functional biogeography of Neotropical moist forests: trait-climate relationships and assembly patterns of tree communities

Bruno Pinho, Marcelo Tabarelli, Cajo Ter Braak, S. J. Wright, Victor Arroyo-Rodriguez, Maíra Benchimol, Bettina Engelbrecht, Simon Pierce, Peter Hietz, Bráulio Santos, Carlos Peres, Sandra Müller, Ian Wright, Frans Bongers, Madelon Lohbeck, Ülo Niinemets, Martijn Slot, Steven Jansen, Davi Jamelli, Renato Augusto Ferreira De Lima, Nathan Swenson, Richard Condit, Jos Barlow, Ferry Slik, Manuel Hernández-Ruedas … & Felipe Melo
Aim: Here we examine the functional profile of regional tree species pools across the latitudinal distribution of Neotropical moist forests, and test trait-climate relationships among local communities. We expected opportunistic strategies (acquisitive traits, small seeds) to be overrepresented in species pools further from the equator due to long-term instability, but also in terms of abundance in local communities in currently wetter, warmer and more seasonal climates. Location: Neotropics. Time period: Recent. Major taxa studied: Trees....

Male courtship reduces the risk of cannibalism in web-building spiders but varies in structure

Anne Wignall & Marie Herberstein
Male courtship serves multiple functions in addition to inducing females to accept them as a mate. In predatory species, male courtship can function to reduce the risk of sexual cannibalism. This is particularly important in web-building spiders in which males risk being mistaken for prey when they enter the female’s predatory trap – the web – in order to commence courtship. Male spiders generate vibrations by shuddering in the female’s web. Shudder vibrations can delay...

Understanding degraded speech leads to perceptual gating of a brainstem reflex in human listeners

Heivet Hernandez Perez, Jason Mikiel-Hunter, David McAlpine, Sumitrajit Dhar, Sriram Boothalingam, Jessica J.M. Monaghan & Catherine M. McMahon
The ability to navigate “cocktail-party” situations by focussing on sounds of interest over irrelevant, background sounds is often considered in terms of cortical mechanisms. However, subcortical circuits such as the pathway underlying the medial olivocochlear (MOC) reflex modulate the activity of the inner ear itself, supporting the extraction of salient features from auditory scene prior to any cortical processing. To understand the contribution of auditory subcortical nuclei and the cochlea in complex listening tasks, we...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Registration Year

  • 2021

Resource Types

  • Dataset


  • Macquarie University
  • University of Sydney
  • Flinders University
  • UNSW Sydney
  • Northwest University
  • University of Cambridge
  • Australian National University
  • National Autonomous University of Mexico
  • University of New Caledonia
  • University of Canberra