Aim The aim of this study is to model the past, current and future distribution of J. phoenicea s.s., J. turbinata and J. canariensis, based on bioclimatic variables using a maximum entropy model (MaxEnt) in the Mediterranean and Macaronesian regions. Location Mediterranean and Macaronesian Taxon Cupressaceae, Juniperus Methods Data on the occurrence of the J. phoenicea complex was obtained from the GBIF, the literature, herbaria, and the authors’ field notes. The bioclimatic variables were obtained from the WorldClim database (http://worldclim.org/) and Paleoclim (http://www.paleoclim.org/). The climate data related to species localities were used for predictions of niches by implementation of MaxEnt and we evaluated the model with ENMeval. Results The potential niches of Juniperus phoenicea during the LIG, LGM and MH covered 30%, 10% and almost 100%, respectively, of the current potential niche. Climate warming could reduce potential niches by 30% and 90% in scenarios RCP2.6 and RCP8.5, respectively. The potential niches of Juniperus turbinata had a broad circum-Mediterranean and Canarian distribution during the LIG and the MH, extending its distribution during the LGM when it was found in more areas than at present; the predicted warming in scenario RCP2.6 and RCP8.5 could reduce the current potential niche by 30% and 50%, respectively. The model did not find suitable niches for J. canariensis during the LIG and the LGM, but during the MH its potential niche was 30% larger than at present. The climate warming scenario RCP2.6 indicates a reduction of the potential niche by 30%, while RCP8.5 does so by almost 60%. Main conclusions This research can provide information to increase the protection of the juniper forest and to try to counteract the phenomenon of local extinctions caused by anthropic pressure and climate changes.
Seed dispersal by ants is an important means of migration for plants. Although many 34 myrmecochorous plants have seeds containing elaiosome, a nutritional reward for ants, some 35 non-myrmecochorous seeds without elaiosomes are also dispersed by ant species. However, the 36 mechanism by which seeds without elaiosomes enable efficient dispersal by ants is scarcely 37 investigated. The seeds of the achlorophyllous and myco-heterotrophic herbaceous plant 38 Monotropastrum humile are very small without elaiosomes and require a fungal host for 39 germination and survival. We performed a bioassay using seeds of M. humile and the ant 40 Nylanderia flavipes to demonstrate ant-mediated seed dispersal. We also analyzed the volatile 41 odors emitted from M. humile seeds and conducted bioassays using dummy seeds coated with 42 seed volatiles. Although elaiosomes were absent from the M. humile seeds, the ants carried the 43 seeds to their nests. They also carried the dummy seeds coated with the seed volatile mixture to 44 the nest, and left some dummy seeds inside the nest and discarded the rest of the dummy seeds 45 outside the nest with a bias toward locations with moisture conditions, which might be 46 conducive to germination. We concluded that seeds of M. humile were dispersed by the ants, 47 and that seed odors were sufficient to induce directed dispersal even without elaiosomes. It is 48 probable that the fleshy fruit producing genus Monotropastrum evolved from the related 49 anemochorous genus Monotropa, which produces capsule fruit. This transformation from 50 anemochory to myrmecochory presents a novel evolutionary pathway toward ant-mediated seed 51 dispersal in an achlorophyllous plant.
The muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) is an iconic species in Canada, valued for both its fur and its integral role in wetland ecosystems, and widely regarded for its perseverance. However, the resilience of this semi-aquatic mammal seems to be in question now as increasing evidence points to widespread population declines. Recent analyses of harvest data across North America suggest a reduction in their numbers, but this has not been widely corroborated by population surveys. In this study we replicated historic muskrat house count surveys at two large Great Lakes coastal wetlands and present confirmation that declines in muskrat harvest correspond to actual declines in muskrat abundance. At the Point Pelee National Park marsh and the Matchedash Bay-Gray Marsh wetland we found that mean muskrat house counts declined by 93% and 91% respectively between historic surveys 40-50 years ago and contemporary surveys over the past five years. The factors responsible for these dramatic declines remain unclear but there may be a relationship with changes in the habitat quality of these wetlands that have occurred over the same time frame. Not only is the loss of muskrats an issue for the resulting loss of the wetland ecosystem services they provide, but it may be an indication of broader marsh ecosystem degradation. As such, a scarcity of muskrats should be considered a red flag for the state of biodiversity in our wetlands. Continued surveys and ongoing research are needed to shed more light on the current status of muskrat populations and their marsh habitats across their native range. Keywords: Fur harvest; Muskrat; Ondatra; Population decline; Typha; Wetlands
Populations adapt to novel environmental conditions by genetic changes or phenotypic plasticity. Plastic responses are generally faster and can buffer fitness losses under variable conditions. Plasticity is typically modelled as random noise and linear reaction norms that assume simple one-to-one genotype-phenotype maps and no limits to the phenotypic response. Most studies on plasticity have focused on its effect on population viability. However, it is not clear, whether the advantage of plasticity depends solely on environmental fluctuations or also on the genetic and demographic properties (life histories) of populations. Here we present an individual-based model and study the relative importance of adaptive and non-adaptive plasticity for populations of sexual species with different life histories experiencing directional stochastic climate change. Environmental fluctuations were simulated using differentially autocorrelated climatic stochasticity or noise color, and scenarios of directional climate change. Non-adaptive plasticity was simulated as a random environmental effect on trait development, while adaptive plasticity as a linear, logistic, or sinusoidal reaction norm. The last two imposed limits to the plastic response and emphasized flexible interactions of the genotype with the environment. Interestingly, this assumption led to (i) smaller phenotypic than genotypic variance in the population and the coexistence of polymorphisms, (ii) many-to-one genotype-phenotype map, and (iii) the maintenance of higher genetic variation – compared to linear reaction norms and genetic determinism – even when the population was exposed to a constant environment for several generations. Limits to plasticity led to genetic accommodation, when costs were negligible, and to the appearance of cryptic variation when limits were exceeded. We found that adaptive plasticity promoted population persistence under red noise stochasticity and was particularly important for life histories with low fecundity. Populations producing more offspring could cope with environmental fluctuations solely by genetic changes or random plasticity, unless environmental change was too fast.
Alternative reproductive tactics (ARTs) have provided valuable insights into how sexual selection and life history tradeoffs can lead to variation within a sex. However, the possibility that tactics may constrain evolution through intralocus tactical conflict (IATC) is rarely considered. In addition, when IATC has been considered, the focus has often been on the genetic correlations between the ARTs, while evidence that the ARTs have different optima for associated traits and that at least one of the tactics is not at its optima is often missing. Here we investigate selection on three traits associated with the ARTs in the swordtail fish Xiphophorus multilineatus; body size, body shape and the sexually selected trait for which these fishes were named, sword length (elongation of the caudal fin). All three traits are tactically dimorphic, with courter males being larger, deeper bodied and having longer swords, and the sneaker males being smaller, more fusiform and having shorter swords. Using measures of reproductive success in a wild population we calculated selection differentials, linear and quadratic gradients, demonstrate that the tactics have different optima and at least one of the tactics is not at its optima for body size and sword length. Our results provide the first evidence of selection in the wild on the sword, an iconic trait for sexual selection. In addition, given the high probability that these traits are genetically correlated to some extent between the two tactics, our study suggests that IATC is constraining both body size and the sword from reaching their phenotypic optima. We discuss the importance of considering the role of IATC in the evolution of tactical dimorphism, how this conflict can be present despite tactical dimorphism, and how it is important to consider this conflict when explaining not only variation within a species but differences across species as well.
Many insects possess the plastic ability to either develop directly to adulthood, or enter diapause and postpone reproduction until the next year, depending on environmental cues (primarily photoperiod) that signal the amount of time remaining until the end of the growth season. These two developmental pathways often differ in co-adapted life history traits, e.g. with slower development and larger size in individuals headed for diapause. The developmental timing of these differences may be of adaptive importance: if pathways diverge late, the scope for phenotypic differences is smaller, whereas if pathways diverge early, the risk is higher of expressing a maladaptive phenotype if the selective environment changes. Here we explore the effects of changes in photoperiodic information during life on pupal diapause and associated life history traits in the butterfly Pararge aegeria. We find that both pupal diapause and larval development rate are asymmetrically regulated: while exposure to long days late in life (regardless of earlier experiences) was sufficient to produce nondiapause development and accelerate larval development accordingly, more prolonged exposure to short days was required to induce diapause and slow down pre-diapause larval development. While the two developmental pathways diverged early in development, development rates could be partially reversed by altered environmental cues. Meanwhile, pathway differences in body size were more inflexible, despite emerging late in development. Hence, in P. aegeria several traits are regulated by photoperiod, along subtly different ontogenies, into an integrated phenotype that strikes a balance between flexibility and phenotype-environment matching.
Hybridization is a common and important stage in species formation in plants and animals. The evolutionary consequences of hybridization depend not only on reproductive compatibility between sympatric species, but also on factors like vulnerability to each other’s predators and parasites. We examine infection patterns of the blood parasite Haemoproteus lophortyx, a causative agent of avian malaria, at a site in the contact zone between California quail (Callipepla californica) and Gambel’s quail (C. gambelii). We tested whether species identity, sex, and year predicted infection status and intensity. While we found no effect of sex on the status or intensity of infection, we found differences in infection status and intensity across species and between years. The prevalence of infection in California and hybrid quail was lower than in Gambel’s quail. Once infected, however, California and hybrid quail had higher infection intensities than Gambel’s quail. California and hybrid quail exhibited no significant differences in prevalence or intensity of infection. These findings suggest that infection by H. lophortyx has the potential to influence species barrier dynamics in this system, however, more work is necessary to determine the exact evolutionary consequences of this blood parasite.
Kauri dieback, caused by Phytophthora agathidicida, is an ecosystem disturbance that poses a recent threat to the survival of kauri (Agathis australis) forests in New Zealand. Throughfall and stemflow play an important role in meeting the nutrient requirements of kauri forests. However, the effects of kauri dieback on canopy nutrient deposition remain unknown. Here we measured throughfall, stemflow and forest floor water yield and nutrient concentrations and fluxes (potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, silicon, sulphur, sodium, iron) of ten kauri trees differing in soil P. agathidicida DNA concentration and health status. We did not observe an effect of soil P. agathidicida DNA concentration on throughfall and stemflow water yield. Throughfall and forest floor nutrient concentrations and fluxes tended to decrease (up to 50%) with increasing soil P. agathidicida DNA concentration. Significant effects were found for potassium and manganese fluxes in throughfall, and calcium and silicon fluxes in forest floor leachate. The decline in nutrient input will have implications on plant nutrition, tree health and susceptibility to future pathogen infection in these ecologically unique kauri forests. Given our findings and the increasing spread of Phytophthora species worldwide, research on the underlying physiological mechanisms linking dieback and plant-soil nutrient fluxes is critical.
Understanding what variables affect ungulate neonate survival is imperative to successful conservation and management of the species. Predation is commonly cited as a cause-specific source of mortality and ecological covariates often influence neonate survival. However, variation in survival estimates related to capture methodology has been documented with opportunistically captured neonates generally displaying greater survival than those captured via aid of vaginal implant transmitters (VITs), likely because of increased left truncation observed in the opportunistically captured datasets. Our goal was to assess if 3- and 6-month survival estimates varied by capture method while simultaneously assessing if capture method affected model selection and interpretation of ecological covariates for white-tailed deer neonates captured from three study sites in North Dakota and South Dakota, USA. We found survival varied by capture method for 3-month neonate survival with opportunistically captured neonates displaying up to 26% greater survival than their counterparts captured via VITs; however, this relationship was not present for 6-month survival. We also found model selection and subsequent interpretation of ecological covariates varied when analyzing datasets comprised of neonates captured via VITs, neonates captured opportunistically, and all neonates combined regardless of capture method. When interpreting results from our VIT only analysis for 3-month survival, we found survival varied by three time intervals and was lowest in the first two weeks of life. Capture method did not affect 6-month survival which was most influenced by total precipitation occurring during 3 – 8 weeks of a neonate’s life and percent canopy cover found at a neonate’s capture site. Our results support previous research that capture method must be accounted for when deriving survival estimates for ungulate neonates as it can impact derived estimates and subsequent interpretation of results.
Seed recruitment is a major driver of mangrove restoration globally. It is hypothesized that soil condition and channel hydrology can accelerate seedling recruitment and regeneration after a major disturbance. Species abundance, diversity indices, microbial and chemical concentrations in sand-filled mangrove forest was studied. Eight plots (area = 3902.16 m2) were established with ten transects in each plot in a random block design to investigate the effect of soil conditions on seedling growth. A total of 1, 886 seedlings were physically counted. Seedling abundance was significantly different between red (Rizophora racemosa), white (Laguncularia racemosa) and black (Avicennia germinans) mangroves and nypa palm (nypa fruticans). The most dominant species was black mangroves and the least dominant species was nypa palm. Muddy soils had the most abundant species while sandy soils had the least abundant species. Furthermore, semi-muddy soils had the highest species diversity (H = 0.948) whereas muddy soils had the least species diversity (H = 0.022). The soil metal concentration has no correlation with seed abundance and occur in the order Iron>Nitrate>Copper>Cadmium. Soil with high species diversity had high soil microbial population; however, seedling abundance was correlated with soil nutrients and not heavy metals. Small seeds are easily recruited while good soil condition plus existing hydrological connection facilitated natural seedling regeneration in the disturbed mangrove forest.
Cooperative breeding, which is commonly characterized by non-breeding individuals that assist others with reproduction, is common in avian species. However, few accounts have been reported in Charadriiformes, particularly island-nesting species. We present observations of cooperative breeding behaviors in Hawaiian Stilts during the 2012-2020 nesting seasons on the Hawaiian islands of O‘ahu and Moloka‘i. We describe three different behaviors that indicate cooperative breeding: (1) nest sharing; (2) helper at the nest; (3) cooperative chick rearing. Our observations suggest an ideal opportunity to examine the evolution of cooperative breeding behaviors in the order Charadriiformes.
Capture-mark-recapture (CMR) studies have been used extensively in ecology and evolution. While it is feasible to apply CMR in some animals, it is considerably more challenging in small fast-moving species such as insects. In these groups, low recapture rates can bias estimates of demographic parameters, thereby, handicapping effective management of wild populations. Here we use high-speed videos (HSV) of the adults of two large dragonfly species that rarely land and, thus, are particularly challenging for CMR studies. We specifically test whether HSV, compared to conventional eye observations, increases the “resighting” rates and improves the certainty of the estimates of survival rate, and the effects of demographic covariates on survival rates. We show that the use of HSV increases the number of resights substantially. HSV improved our estimates of resighting and survival probability which were either under- or overestimated with the conventional observations. HSV increased the accuracy of the estimates of effect sizes of important covariates (age and body size). Integrating HSV in CMR of highly mobile animals is valuable because it is easy, non-invasive, and has the potential to improve demographic estimates. Hence, it opens the door for a wide range of research possibilities on species that are traditionally difficult to monitor, including within insects, birds, and mammals.
The main strategy for animal diversity conservation is to increase the territory size but little consideration is given to habitat characteristics requirement, which lead to a decrease in effectiveness for protected areas. Marginal of protected areas are considered to have higher species richness due to the edge effect. Strategy in these sites are still adopts to increase territory size or pay no attention to needs of specific habitat characteristics that is an important topic for the planner and manager. In this study, camera traps was used to estimate composition, diversity and habitat characteristics of mammals in a non-protected area near Huangshan Mountains in Anhui Province, China. We ran 49 liner models with the relative abundance index and 13 habitat characteristic factors of 11 mammals. To answer the question of habitat characteristics or territory size: which is more important to composition and diversity of mammals in non-protect area? We hypothesized that: (1) Non-protected areas have more mammal species than protected areas with the edge effect. (2) Non-protected areas have more species associated with habitat characteristics. We predicted that the habitat characteristics should be firstly considered, territory size secondly in non-protected areas, would provide a last refuge for mammals. Cameras were operated from June 2017 to October 2019, for a total of 29 months, 2,212 independent photos, 9,485 trap-days, recorded 18 species of mammals more than any other protected areas confirmed first hypothesis 1. The model analysis results showed that, habitat characteristics of mammals were different and showed a significant correlation, supported hypothesis 2. In addition, most species are related to vegetation characteristics except to primates (Macaca. thibetana) and rodent (Leopoldamys edwardsi) confirmed our prediction. We suggested conservation policies in non-protected areas: Habitat characteristics should be concerned at first and then increasing protected areas to provide the last refuge for species conservation.
1. Behavior and organization of social groups is thought to be vital to the functioning of societies, yet the contributions of various roles within social groups towards population growth and dynamics have been difficult to quantify. A common approach to quantifying these role-based contributions is evaluating the number of individuals conducting certain roles, which ignores how behavior might scale up to effects at the population-level. Manipulative experiments are another common approach to determine population-level effects, but they often ignore potential feedbacks associated with these various roles. 2. Here, we evaluate the effects of worker size distribution in bumblebee colonies on worker production in 24 observational colonies across three environments, using functional linear models. Functional linear models are an underused correlative technique that has been used to assess lag effects of environmental drivers on plant performance. We demonstrate potential applications of this technique for exploring high-dimensional ecological systems, such as the contributions of individuals with different traits to colony dynamics. 3. We found that more larger workers had mostly positive effects and more smaller workers had negative effects on worker production. Most of these effects were only detected under low or fluctuating resource environments suggesting that the advantage of colonies with larger-bodied workers becomes more apparent under stressful conditions. 4. We also demonstrate the wider ecological application of functional linear models. We highlight the advantages and limitations when considering these models, and how they are a valuable complement to many of these performance-based and manipulative experiments.
Elevation is involved in determining plant diversity in montane ecosystems. This study examined whether the species distribution of plants in the Yatsugatake Mountains, central Japan, substantiated hypotheses associated with an elevational diversity gradient. Species richness of trees, shrubs, herbs, ferns, and bryophytes was investigated in study plots established at 200-m elevational intervals from 1800 to 2800 m. The changes in plant diversity (alpha and beta diversities, plant functional types, and elevational ranges) with elevation were analyzed in relation to climatic factors and elevational diversity gradient hypotheses, that is, mass effect, mid-domain effect, and Rapoport’s elevational rule. A comparison of alpha and beta diversities revealed that different plant groups respond variably to elevation; the alpha diversity of trees and ferns decreased, that of herbs increased, whereas the alpha diversity of shrubs and bryophytes showed a U-shaped relationship and a hump-shaped pattern. The beta diversity of shrubs, herbs, and bryophytes increased above the subalpine–alpine transition ecotone. In accordance with these changes, the dominance of evergreen shrubs and graminoids increased above this ecotone, whereas that of evergreen trees and liverworts decreased. None of the plant groups showed a wide elevational range at higher elevations. These elevational patterns of plant groups were explained by climatic factors, and not by elevational diversity gradient hypotheses. These patterns were further influenced by plant–plant interactions via competition for light availability and physical habitat alternation.
1. The volatiles from damaged plants induce defense in neighboring plants. The phenomenon is called plant-plant communication, plant talk or plant eavesdropping. Plant-plant communication has been reported to be stronger between kin plants than genetically far plants in sagebrush. 2. Why do plants distinguish volatiles from kin or genetically far plants? We hypothesize that plants respond only to important conditions; the induced defense is not free of cost for the plant. To clarify the hypothesis, we conducted experiments and investigations using goldenrod of 4 different genotypes. 3. The arthropods community on tall goldenrods were different among 4 genotypes. The response to volatiles was stronger from genetically close plants to the emitter than from genetically distant plants from the emitter. The volatiles from each genotype of goldenrods were different; and they were categorized accordingly. Moreover, the arthropod community on each genotype of goldenrods were different. 4. Synthesis: Our results support the hypothesis: goldenrods respond to volatiles from genetically close plants because they would have similar arthropod species. These results are important clues elucidating adaptive significance of plant-plant communication.
1. The dissimilarity and hierarchy of trait values that characterize niche and fitness differences, respectively, have been increasingly applied to infer mechanisms driving community assembly and to explain species co-occurrence patterns. Here, we predict that limiting similarity should result in the spatial segregation of functionally similar species, while functionally similar species will be more likely to co-occur together either due to environmental filtering or competitive exclusion of inferior competitors (hereafter hierarchical competition). 2. We used a fully mapped 50-ha subtropical forest plot in southern China to explore how pairwise spatial associations were influenced by trait dissimilarity and hierarchy between species in order to gain insight into assembly mechanisms. We assessed pairwise spatial associations using two summary statistics of spatial point patterns at different spatial scales and compared the effects of trait dissimilarity and trait hierarchy of different functional traits on the interspecific spatial associations. These comparisons allow us to disentangle the effects of limiting similarity, environmental filtering and hierarchical competition on species co-occurrence. 3. We found that trait dissimilarity was generally negatively correlated with interspecific spatial associations, meaning that species with similar trait values were more likely to co-occur together and thus supporting environmental filtering or hierarchical competition. We further found that leaf area, wood density and maximum height had stronger trait hierarchy effects on the pairwise spatial associations relative to their corresponding trait dissimilarity effects, which suggests that hierarchical competition played a more (or at least equally) important role in structuring our forest community compared to environmental filtering. 4. This study employed a novel method to disentangle the relative importance of multiple assembly mechanisms in structuring co-occurrence patterns, especially the mechanisms of environmental filtering and hierarchical competition, which lead to indistinguishable co-occurrence patterns. This study also reinforced the importance of trait hierarchy rather than trait dissimilarity in driving neighborhood competition.
The Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus), smallest of the “grey” geese, is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and protected in all range states. There are three sub-populations, with the least studied being the East Asian sub-population, shared between Russia and China. The extreme remoteness of breeding enclaves makes them largely inaccessible to researchers. As a substitute for visitation, remotely tracking birds from wintering grounds allows exploration of their summer range. Over a period of three years, and using highly accurate GPS tracking devices, eleven individuals of A. erythropus were tracked from the key wintering site of Dongting Lake, China, to breeding, molting, and staging sites in north-eastern Russia. Data obtained from that tracking, bolstered by ground survey and literature records, were used to model the summer distribution of A. erythropus. Although earlier literature suggests the summer range is patchy, the model confirms a contiguous summer range. The most suitable habitats are located along the coasts of the Laptev Sea, primarily the Lena-Delta, in the Yana-Kolyma Lowland, and smaller lowlands of Chukotka with narrow riparian extensions upstream along major rivers such as the Lena, Indigirka and Kolyma. The probability of A. erythropus presence is related to sites with altitude less than 500 m with abundant wetlands, especially riparian habitat, and a climate with precipitation of warmest quarter around 55 mm and mean temperature of wettest quarter around 14oC. Human disturbance also affects site suitability, with a gradual decrease in species presence starting around 160 km from human settlements. Remote tracking of animal species can bridge the knowledge gap required for robust estimation of species distribution patterns in remote areas. Better knowledge of species’ distribution is important in understanding the large-scale ecological consequences of rapid global change and establishing conservation management strategies.