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Biodiversity loss may increase the risk of infectious disease in a phenomenon known as the dilution effect. Circumstances that increase the likelihood of disease dilution are: (i) when hosts vary in their competence, and (ii) when communities disassemble predictably, such that the least competent hosts are the most likely to go extinct. Despite the central role of competence in diversity–disease theory, we lack a clear understanding of the factors underlying competence, as well as the drivers and extent of its variation. Our perspective piece encourages a mechanistic understanding of competence and a deeper consideration of its role in diversity–disease relationships. We outline current evidence, emerging questions and future directions regarding the basis of competence, its definition and measurement, the roots of its variation and its role in the community ecology of infectious disease.
A previously unrecognized specimen of Protoichthyosaurus prostaxalis, LEICT G142.1991, from the Lower Jurassic of Barrow-upon-Soar, Leicestershire, UK, includes an almost complete three-dimensional skull that provides new information on the configuration of the skull roof. The position of the pineal foramen (between the frontals and the parietals) and an elongated internasal foramen in a depression along the midline of the nasals are clearly shown. The maxilla makes up a significant portion of the external naris ventral margin, an unusual character for the genus/species. This reflects intraspecific variation, not evidence of a new taxon. The specimen enables comparisons of skull roof morphology with Ichthyosaurus and Stenopterygius, two common Early Jurassic taxa. In particular, the position of the pineal foramen is similar to Stenopterygius, but distinguishes Protoichthyosaurus from Ichthyosaurus. The lack of a frontal–prefrontal contact and the posteriorly wide nasals distinguishes Protoichthyosaurus from Stenopterygius. We also present a revised reconstruction of the skull roof morphology of Ichthyosaurus. Three additional specimens of Protoichthyosaurus are referred to the genus: another partial skull, referred to P. prostaxalis, and two isolated forefins, identified by their unique morphology.
The extinction of megafauna may lead to the trophic collapse of ecosystems that depend on the dung that they produce. Some dung beetle species may undergo phenotypic changes in response to altered resource availability. The pronotal width of dung beetles is a trait that can be used as a proxy measure for the amount of dung provisioned during the larval stage. In this study conducted in Peninsular Malaysia, we compare the intraspecific difference in pronotal widths of dung beetles in forests with and without megafauna. Beetles were collected using burrowing interception traps baited with elephant dung. Six species with a minimum sample size of 55 beetles per species were used. Pronotum widths were compared using Bayesian estimation (BEST). There was no credible difference between intraspecific pronotal widths of four species, but credible differences between the mean parameters of two species, Liatongus femoratus and Oniticellus tessellatus. Both these species belong to genera that have a close association with megafauna, while the other are believed to be generalists. This may indicate that species that depend on megafauna dung as a breeding resource undergo a phenotypic change following the loss of their preferred dung type. Phenotypic changes appear to be a pathway which allows species to survive the initial trophic collapse of an ecosystem.
The abundance of specimens of Ichthyosaurus provides an opportunity to assess morphological variation without the limits of a small sample size. This research evaluates the variation and taxonomic utility of hindfin morphology. Two seemingly distinct morphotypes of the mesopodium occur in the genus. Morphotype 1 has three elements in the third row: metatarsal two, distal tarsal three and distal tarsal four. This is the common morphology in Ichthyosaurus breviceps, I. conybeari and I. somersetensis. Morphotype 2 has four elements in the third row, owing to a bifurcation. This morphotype occurs in at least some specimens of each species, but it has several variations distinguished by the extent of contact of elements in the third row with the astragalus. Two specimens display a different morphotype in each fin, suggesting that the difference reflects individual variation. In Ichthyosaurus, the hindfin is taxonomically useful at the genus level, but species cannot be identified unequivocally from a well-preserved hindfin, although certain morphologies are more common in certain species than others. The large sample size filled in morphological gaps between what initially appeared to be taxonomically distinct characters. The full picture of variation would have been obscured with a small sample size. Furthermore, we have found several unusual morphologies which, in isolation, could have been mistaken for new taxa. Thus, one must be cautious when describing new species or genera on the basis of limited material, such as isolated fins and fragmentary specimens.
My purpose is to introduce a special issue of Seed Science Research devoted to papers resulting from material presented at Seed Ecology V held in Caeté, Brazil on 21–25 August 2016. An overview of the field of seed ecology is presented that includes a short summary of what I consider to be the eight basic subcategories of this field, and the five new areas of investigation that have developed as extensions and/or recombinations of basic areas. Seed ecology conferences allow researchers to communicate with each other and build new collaborative relationships. At Seed Ecology V, information was presented that related to each area of seed ecology. The nine papers in this special issue are a small sample of the information presented at the meeting, and each paper is briefly described and placed into one of the subcategories of seed ecology research.
Five orthopteran specimens from the uppermost Middle–lowermost Upper Jurassic of Daohugou, Inner Mongolia, China are described and attributed to the genus Sigmaboilus Fang, Zhang & Wang, 2007 (Prophalangopsidae); and a new species, S. calophlebius sp. nov., is established herein. The diagnostic characters for Sigmaboilus are revised and a key to species of Sigmaboilus, based on male forewings, is provided. Intraspecific variation in forewings of this genus is also discussed.
Ichthyosaurs, a lineage of extinct Mesozoic marine reptiles, have garnered attention in both the palaeontological and developmental literature for the unique limb morphology seen in derived genera. These morphologies include an increase in the number of phalanges per digit (hyperphalangy) and in the number of digits (hyperdactyly), but most interestingly also a shift in element identity. Elements distal to the stylopodium acquire characteristics of mesopodial elements, such as a rounded, nodular shape and a loss of perichondral bone on the anterior and posterior surfaces. Here, we examine numerous aspects of the loss of proximodistal identity in ichthyosaur limbs including phylogenetic progression of the loss of perichondral bone, histology and microstructure of the elements retaining perichondral bone in derived taxa, and correlates of intraspecific variation in degree of perichondral bone reduction in a derived ichthyosaur, Stenopterygius quadriscissus. Results show that loss of limb element identity occurred progressively over ichthyosaurian evolution, and the notches seen on the anterior surface of limb elements in derived ichthyosaurs are homologous to the long bone shafts in terrestrial tetrapods. Variation in the number of notches in S. quadriscissus can best be explained through delayed ossification of the anterior perichondrium, indicating a heterochronic component to the loss of identity. We propose a developmental mechanism – gradual expansion of the polyalanine region of HoxD13 over ichthyosaurian evolution – to explain the progressive loss of limb regionalization as well as the heterochronic delay in perichondral ossification.
Four morphologically cryptic species of the Bactrocera dorsalis fruit fly complex (B. dorsalis s.s., B. papayae, B. carambolae and B. philippinensis) are serious agricultural pests. As they are difficult to diagnose using traditional taxonomic techniques, we examined the potential for geometric morphometric analysis of wing size and shape to discriminate between them. Fifteen wing landmarks generated size and shape data for 245 specimens for subsequent comparisons among three geographically distinct samples of each species. Intraspecific wing size was significantly different within samples of B. carambolae and B. dorsalis s.s. but not within samples of B. papayae or B. philippinensis. Although B. papayae had the smallest wings (average centroid size=6.002 mm±0.061 SE) and B. dorsalis s.s. the largest (6.349 mm±0.066 SE), interspecific wing size comparisons were generally non-informative and incapable of discriminating species. Contrary to the wing size data, canonical variate analysis based on wing shape data discriminated all species with a relatively high degree of accuracy; individuals were correctly reassigned to their respective species on average 93.27% of the time. A single sample group of B. carambolae from locality ‘TN Malaysia’ was the only sample to be considerably different from its conspecific groups with regards to both wing size and wing shape. This sample was subsequently deemed to have been originally misidentified and likely represents an undescribed species. We demonstrate that geometric morphometric techniques analysing wing shape represent a promising approach for discriminating between morphologically cryptic taxa of the B. dorsalis species complex.
Phenotypic variation on shell size and shape of Olivancillaria carcellesi from four representative localities is confirmed using geometric morphometric techniques. This species lives along the entire range of the genus in subtidal soft bottoms from Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) to Punta Pardelas (Chubut, Argentina). Thickness of columellar callus, length and width are the main shell differences from specimens collected at several intermediate localities: Cassino (Brazil), La Paloma (Uruguay) and Mar del Plata (Argentina). All forms showed significant differences in shell size except O. carcellesi from La Paloma compared with those from Mar del Plata. The group with larger specimens was from Cassino. Olivancillaria carcellesi from Punta Pardelas, the southernmost population, was the smaller sized group and showed allometry between size and shape and this is responsible for their relatively higher spires. The possible ecological implications of the observed pattern are discussed. It is confirmed that O. carcellesi although variable, is a clearly defined species.
The evolution of host specificity and the potential trade-off between being a generalist and a specialist are central issues in the evolutionary ecology of parasites. Different species of parasites or even different populations of the same species often show different degrees of host specificity. However, less is known about intraspecific variation in host specificity within a population. We investigated intraspecific variation by experimentally exposing cercariae from different clones of the trematode Curtuteria australis to two species of second intermediate hosts, the New Zealand cockle Austrovenus stutchburyi and the wedge shell Macomona liliana. We found an overall difference in infection success between the two bivalve species, with A. stutchburyi being the more heavily infected host. However, the cercariae showed a consistent preference for encysting at the tip of the bivalve's foot, regardless of host species. Importantly, there were no significant differences among parasite clones in either relative infection success in the two hosts or preference for the host foot tip. This lack of intraspecific variation may be due to the life-history traits of both parasite and hosts in our system, which may limit opportunities for variation in performance and exploitation strategies in different hosts to evolve within the population.
The present study addresses the effect of varying temperature and host species on the size and shape of the opisthaptoral hard-parts in isogenic strains of Gyrodactylus salaris and G. thymalli. Variation in shape was examined using geometric morphometrics. Since the opisthaptoral hard-parts of Gyrodactylus have few specific landmarks, their shape information mostly being represented by outlines and surfaces, a method based on sliding semi-landmarks was applied. The ventral bars of G. salaris did not follow the previously postulated negative correlation between size and temperature, and the largest hamuli and marginal hooks from G. salaris and the smallest from G. thymalli clearly overlapped in size. Consistent shape differences with temperature were detected for the hard-parts from G. thymalli but not from G. salaris. The hard-parts of G. salaris were similar in size but significantly different in shape when grown on secondary hosts rather than the primary host.
Antheraea assamensis (Helfer, 1837) is a sericigenous insect with distinct coloration, namely green, blue, orange and yellow in their larval stages and these are multivoltine in culture. However, wild morphs with diapause are found in dense forests. In this study, the wing venation and its variation in A. assamensis were analysed using traditional as well as landmark-based morphometric methods. The venation patterns are reviewed and significant changes in veins recorded. The samples were analysed using geometric morphometric methods and other conventional statistical methods. Landmark-based data were measured among selected veins and the centroid sizes, procrustes to tangent distance of different veins were analysed. Results show significant differences in some of the veins among the intraspecies of A. assamensis. The results suggest that both visual comparison as well as a quantitative approach in A. assamensis may lead to unsound taxonomic conclusions at intraspecies level.
Seed persistence is poorly quantified for invasive plants of subtropical and tropical environments and Lantana camara, one of the world's worst weeds, is no exception. We investigated germination, seedling emergence, and seed survival of two lantana biotypes (Pink and pink-edged red [PER]) in southeastern Queensland, Australia. Controlled experiments were undertaken in 2002 and repeated in 2004, with treatments comprising two differing environmental regimes (irrigated and natural rainfall) and sowing depths (0 and 2 cm). Seed survival and seedling emergence were significantly affected by all factors (time, biotype, environment, sowing depth, and cohort) (P < 0.001). Seed dormancy varied with treatment (environment, sowing depth, biotype, and cohort) (P < 0.001), but declined rapidly after 6 mo. Significant differential responses by the two biotypes to sowing depth and environment were detected for both seed survival and seedling emergence (P < 0.001). Seed mass was consistently lower in the PER biotype at the population level (P < 0.001), but this variation did not adequately explain the differential responses. Moreover, under natural rainfall the magnitude of the biotype effect was unlikely to result in ecologically significant differences. Seed survival after 36 mo under natural rainfall ranged from 6.8 to 21.3%. Best fit regression analysis of the decline in seed survival over time yielded a five-parameter exponential decay model with a lower asymptote approaching −0.38 (% seed survival = [(55 − (−0.38)) · e (k · t)] + −0.38; R2 = 88.5%; 9 df). Environmental conditions and burial affected the slope parameter or k value significantly (P < 0.01). Seed survival projections from the model were greatest for buried seeds under natural rainfall (11 yr) and least under irrigation (3 yr). Experimental data and model projections suggest that lantana has a persistent seed bank and this should be considered in management programs, particularly those aimed at eradication.
Recent trawling in the Southern Ocean has yielded individuals of a number of species of the deep sea octopod genus Thaumeledone. This paper provides the first molecular study of the genus, employing molecular sequences from five mitochondrial (12S rDNA, 16S rDNA, COI, COIII, cytochrome oxidase b) and a single nuclear gene (rhodopsin) and includes representatives of each of the known Southern Ocean species. Thaumeledone rotunda, believed to be circumpolar in distribution and found in relatively deep water is the sister taxa to T. gunteri, known only from South Georgia. A notable level of sequence variability was evident between a T. peninsulae individual recently captured from the Powell Basin, and two T. peninsulae individuals captured from the continental slope, north of the South Shetland Islands. This is likely to represent population level intraspecific variation within this species.
The objectives of this research were to characterize the extent of intraspecifc variation in seed characteristics of Powell amaranth and to evaluate whether such variation was correlated with crop rotation history of the collection sites. We compared characteristics of seeds originating from dairy farms with a corn–alfalfa crop rotation history with seeds originating from farms with a history of intensive vegetable production. We hypothesized that (1) multiple years of perennial alfalfa would select for greater seed dormancy and longevity in seeds of the summer annual Powell amaranth, (2) earlier spring planting dates of corn and alfalfa compared with most vegetable crops would select for earlier emergence, and (3) greater competition and lower soil moisture in the nonirrigated corn–alfalfa rotation would select for greater seed size. Seeds from 10 to 20 plants from each of 10 farms from each habitat were collected in the fall of 2002 and 2003 in central New York. To control for maternal effects on seed dormancy, a second generation of seeds was produced from plants grown under common greenhouse conditions. Germination in petri dishes was greater for second-generation seeds from vegetable farms (46%) than for those from dairy farms (32%). Total emergence following overwinter burial in the field was greater for seeds originating from dairy farms (62%) compared with those from vegetable farms (52%). Neither seed weight nor the rate of emergence varied by habitat of origin. Our results suggest that perennial alfalfa in dairy rotations may have selected for greater dormancy and longevity of Powell amaranth seeds. The large intraspecific variation in seed characteristics observed, underscores the importance of considering multiple populations when making comparisons of germination characteristics across biotyes (e.g., resistant vs. susceptible) or species, or when developing and interpreting models of weed emergence or weed population dynamics.
Ontogenetic and seasonal variation in diet was examined for 11 species of insectivorous forest-floor frogs and lizards from a lowland wet forest in north-eastern Costa Rica. Specimens were collected systematically over an entire seasonal cycle and represented individuals of all sizes. Individual prey items were removed from stomachs of preserved specimens, measured and identified. Ontogenetic shifts in prey size were pervasive. Ontogenetic shifts in prey composition were limited to four species; these were not the species with greatest range in body size, nor the species with the broadest diets. Small prey types (ants, mites, collembolans) decreased in representation and large prey types (roaches, orthopterans, millipedes) increased in importance over ontogeny; this could be because prey selection is based primarily on prey size or because of different prey preferences among age classes. There is little evidence for size-structure in this assemblage. There is no evidence that total availability of arthropod prey varies among seasons, but some evidence that preferred prey are less common in the wet season. Diet was similar between lizards and frogs. Lizards were more likely to have empty stomachs, but also greater stomach volume, than frogs; this indicates a difference in food-gathering strategies. Our study indicates strong similarity between frogs and lizards in diet despite enormous differences in physiology and behaviour.
Three males of Cryptocandona vavrai were discovered in geographically distant sites (UK, France, Romania), representing
different environments (surface and underground waters). The species may be considered a parthenogen with rare occurrence of
single males, the morphology of which was hitherto poorly known. The first complete description of males is given, which, together
with comparative descriptions of females from surface waters at the UK site and underground waters at an additional site
in eastern France, as well as consideration of the shape and size of the last juvenile stages, permits the presentation of a more
complete description and an amended diagnosis of the species. Cryptocandona vavrai takes an intermediate position in the
genus, lodged between stygobitic species and the cluster of more primitive C. reducta and C. brehmi. Due to a number of traits
(broad calcified inner lamella of the valves, 3rd ramus podomere of the antennule lacking the posterior seta, hook-like shortest
terminal seta of the cleaning leg, specific morphology of the male prehensile palps and hemipenis lobes) C. vavrai is fairly easily
recognised, although there seems to be considerable intraspecific variation. The comparison between females from surface
and underground waters revealed substantial elongation of the apical antennal claws, aesthetascs and the distal claw of the walking
leg in the latter population. The major difference recorded among the compared males is the underdevelopment of the external
claw z2 on the 3rd endopodial podomere of the antenna in the male from the underground waters in Romania. The revealed
variation could indicate that some populations may deserve a separate (sub-specific) taxonomic status. Finally, available data on
the distribution and ecology of this species are summarised.
Plants of catchweed bedstraw from different Norwegian locations and from three other countries were compared with respect to morphological factors, herbicide sensitivity, and genetic variation. For the morphological comparison of cotyledons, whorls, leaves, and fruits five populations, grown outdoors but sheltered from rain, were used. Plants from Belgium and Sweden showed a high similarity, whereas one Norwegian population differed significantly in nearly all parameters. The same populations were used for a comparison of the sensitivity to the herbicide mecoprop-P. In this study, only slight differences appeared between the five populations. Finally, a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequence analysis of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions was performed. The entire sequence of the ITS1 and ITS2 and the 5.8S subunit of ribosomal DNA were obtained from 15 populations (12 from Norway and one each from Sweden, Belgium, and Germany). The sequences had a length between 590 and 662 base pairs; intraspecific length variation was observed. Based on six insertions–deletions and 26 nucleotide substitutions, two DNA types could be distinguished. The first type consisted of eight Norwegian populations, whereas the second one contained the other seven populations including all non-Norwegian populations. The sequence alignments were used to build a phylogenetic tree. The results of the morphological comparison mostly corresponded with the results of the ITS sequence analysis. The variation was only to some extent correlated with the geographic distribution of the populations.
Prior research indicated that analysis of nuclear DNA content by flow cytometry could be used to distinguish smooth pigweed × tall waterhemp hybrids when the parent lines are known. Flow cytometry was performed on nuclei isolated from several Illinois populations of smooth pigweed and tall waterhemp. The smooth pigweed and tall waterhemp analyzed had nonoverlapping 2C nuclear DNA content values, with mean values of 1.04 and 1.34 pg, respectively. The consistent difference in DNA content observed between the two species indicates that DNA content analysis can be used to distinguish their hybrid progeny in natural populations.
New holococcolith–heterococcolith life-cycle associations are documented based on observations of combination coccospheres. Daktylethra pirus is shown to be a life-cycle phase of Syracosphaera pulchra and Syracolithus quadriperforatus a life-cycle phase of Calcidiscus leptoporus. In addition, new observations from cultures confirm the life-cycle associations of Crystallolithus braarudii with Coccolithus pelagicus and of Zygosphaera hellenica with Coronosphaera mediterranea. In all four cases previous work has shown that the heterococcolithophorid species is associated with another holococcolithophorid. Two other examples of a heterococcolithophorid being associated with two holococcolithophorids have previously been identified, so this seems to be a common phenomenon. The six examples are reviewed to determine whether a single underlying mechanism is likely to be responsible for all cases. It is concluded that there is no single mechanism but rather that the six examples fall into three categories: (a) in two cases the holococcolith types are probably simply ecophenotypic morphotypes; (b) in two other cases the holococcolith types are discrete and are paralleled by morphometric differences in the heterococcolith types; (c) in the final two cases the holococcolith types are discrete but are not paralleled by any obvious morphological variation in the heterococcolith morphology. We infer that cryptic speciation may be widespread in heterococcolithophorid phases and that study of holococcolithophorid phases can provide key data to elucidate this phenomenon.