Recent declines in eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) has prompted increased interest in management and research of this important game species. However, the mechanisms underlying these declines are unclear, leaving uncertainty in how best to manage this species. Foundational to effective management of wildlife species is understanding the biotic and abiotic factors that influence demographic parameters and the contribution of vital rates to population growth. Our objectives for this study were to: 1) conduct a literature review to collect all published vital rates for eastern wild turkey over the last 50 years, 2) perform a scoping review of the biotic and abiotic factors that have been studied relative to wild turkey vital rates and highlight areas that require additional research, and 3) use the published vital rates to populate a life-stage simulation analysis (LSA) and identify the vital rates that make the greatest contribution to population growth. Based on published vital rates for eastern wild turkey, we estimated a mean asymptotic population growth rate (λ) of 0.91 (95% CI = 0.71, 1.12). Vital rates associated with after second year (ASY) females were most influential in determining population growth. Survival of ASY females had the greatest elasticity (0.53), while reproduction of ASY females had lower elasticity (0.21), but high process variance, causing it to explain a greater proportion of variance in λ. Our scoping review found that most research has focused on the effects of habitat characteristics at nest sites and the direct effects of harvest on adult survival, while research on topics such as disease, weather, predators, or anthropogenic activity on vital rates have received less attention. We recommend that future research take a more mechanistic approach to understanding variation in wild turkey vital rates as this will assist managers in determining the most appropriate management approach.
Quantifying spatiotemporally explicit interactions within animal populations facilitates the understanding of social structure and its relationship with ecological processes. Data from animal tracking technologies (Global Positioning Systems [“GPS”]) can circumvent longstanding challenges in the estimation of spatiotemporally explicit interactions, but the discrete nature and coarse temporal resolution of data mean that ephemeral interactions that occur between consecutive GPS locations go undetected. Here, we developed a method to quantify individual and spatial patterns of interaction using continuous-time movement models (CTMMs) fit to GPS tracking data. We first applied CTMMs to infer the full movement trajectories at an arbitrarily fine temporal scale before estimating interactions, thus allowing inference of interactions occurring between observed GPS locations. Our framework then infers indirect interactions – individuals occurring at the same location, but at different times– while allowing the identification of indirect interactions to vary with ecological context based on CTMM outputs. We assessed the performance of our new method using simulations and illustrated its implementation by deriving disease-relevant interaction networks for two behaviorally differentiated species, wild pigs (Sus scrofa) that can host African Swine Fever and mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) that can host Chronic Wasting Disease. Simulations showed that interactions derived from observed GPS data can be substantially underestimated when temporal resolution of movement data exceeds 30-minute intervals. Empirical application suggested that underestimation occurred in both interaction rates and their spatial distributions. CTMM-Interaction method, which can introduce uncertainties, recovered the majority of true interactions. Our method leverages advances in movement ecology to quantify fine-scale spatiotemporal interactions between individuals from lower temporal resolution GPS data. It can be leveraged to infer dynamic social networks, transmission potential in disease systems, consumer-resource interactions, information sharing, and beyond. The method also sets the stage for future predictive models linking observed spatiotemporal interaction patterns to environmental drivers.
Ant societies are primarily composed of females, whereby labor is divided into reproductive and non-reproductive, worker, castes. Workers and reproductive queens can differ greatly in behavior, longevity, physiology, and morphology, but their differences are usually modest relative to the differences relative to males. Males are short-lived, typically do not provide the colony with labor, often look like a different species, and only occur seasonally. It is these differences that have historically led to their neglect in social insect research, but also why they may facilitate novel phenotypic variation – by increasing the phenotypic variability that is available for selection. In this study, worker variation along a size-shape axis corresponded with variation in male-queen size and shape. As worker variation increased within species, so did sexual variation. Across species in two independent genera, sexual size dimorphism correlated with worker polymorphism regardless of whether the ancestral condition was large or small worker/sexual dimorphism. These results, along with mounting molecular data showing that process of queen-worker caste determination has co-opted many genes/pathways from sex determination, lead to the hypothesis that sexual selection and selection on colony-level traits are non-independent and that sexual dimorphism may even have facilitated the evolution of the distinct worker caste.
Wolf spiders are typically the most common group of arthropod predators on both lake and marine shorelines, because of the high prey availability in these habitats. However, shores are also harsh environments due to flooding and, in proximity to marine waters, to toxic salinity levels. Here, we describe the spider community, prey availabilities and spider diets between shoreline sites with different salinities, albeit with comparatively small differences (5 vs. 7‰). Despite the small environmental differences, spider communities between low and higher saline sites showed an almost complete species turnover. At the same time, differences in prey availability or spider gut contents did not match changes in spider species composition but rather changed with habitat characteristics within region, where spiders collected at sites with thick wrack beds had a different diet than sites with little wrack. These data suggest that shifts in spider communities are due to habitat characteristics rather than prey availabilities, and the most likely candidate restricting species in high salinity would be saline sensitivity. At the same time, species absences from low-saline habitats remain unresolved.
Aim: To test whether the occupancy of shorebirds has changed in the eastern Canadian Arctic, and whether these changes could indicate that shorebird distributions are shifting in response to long-term climate change Location: Foxe Basin and Rasmussen Lowlands, Nunavut, Canada Methods: We used a unique set of observations, made 25 years apart, using general linear models to test if there was a relationship between changes in shorebird species’ occupancy and their Species Temperature Index, a simple version of a species climate envelope. Results: Changes in occupancy and density varied widely across species, with some increasing and some decreasing. This is despite that overall population trends are known to be negative for all of these species, based on surveys during migration. The changes in occupancy that we observed were positively related to the Species Temperature Index, such that the warmer-breeding species appear to be moving into these regions, while colder-breeding species appear to be shifting out of the regions, likely northwards. Main Conclusions: Our results suggest that we should be concerned about declining breeding habitat availability for bird species whose current breeding ranges are centred on higher and colder latitudes.
Major aridification events in Australia during the Pliocene may have had significant impact on the distribution and structure of widespread species. To explore the potential impact of Pliocene and Pleistocene climate oscillations we estimated the timing of population fragmentation and past connectivity of the currently isolated but morphologically similar subspecies of the widespread brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula). We use ecological niche modelling (ENM) with the current fragmented distribution of brushtail possum to estimate the environmental envelope of this marsupial. We projected the ENM on models of past climatic conditions in Australia to infer the potential distribution of brushtail possums over six million years. D-loop haplotypes were used to describe population structure. From shotgun sequencing we assembled whole mitochondrial DNA genomes and estimated timing of intraspecific divergence. Our projections of ENMs suggest current possum populations were unlikely to have been in contact during the Pleistocene. Although lowered sea level during glacial periods enabled colonisation of Tasmania, climate fluctuation during this time would not have facilitated gene flow. The most recent common ancestor of sampled intraspecific diversity dates to the early Pliocene when continental aridification caused significant changes to Australian ecology and Trichosurus vulpecula distribution was likely fragmented. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the subspecies T. v. hypoleucus (koomal; southwest), T. v. arnhemensis (langkurr; north) and T. v. vulpecula (bilda; southeast) correspond to distinct mitochondrial lineages. Despite little phenotypic differentiation, Trichosurus vulpecula populations probably experienced little gene flow with one another since the Pliocene, supporting the recognition of several subspecies and explaining their adaptations to the regional plant assemblages on which they feed.
Quantifying space use and segregation, as well as the extrinsic and intrinsic factors affecting them, is crucial to increase our knowledge of species-specific movement ecology and to design effective management and conservation measures. This is particularly relevant in the case of species that are highly mobile and dependent on sparse and unpredictable trophic resources, such as vultures. Here, we used the GPS-tagged data of 127 adult Griffon Vultures Gyps fulvus captured at five different breeding regions in Spain to describe the movement patterns (home-range size and fidelity, and monthly cumulative distance). We also examined how individual sex, season and breeding region determined the cumulative distance travelled and the size and overlap between consecutive monthly home-ranges. Overall, Griffon Vultures exhibited very large annual home-range sizes of 5,027 ± 2,123 km2, mean monthly cumulative distances of 1,776 ± 1,497 km, and showed a monthly home-range fidelity of 67.8 ± 25.5 %. However, individuals from northern breeding regions showed smaller home-ranges and travelled shorter monthly distances than those from southern ones. In all cases, home-ranges were larger in spring and summer than in winter and autumn. Moreover, females showed larger home-ranges and less monthly fidelity than males, indicating that the latter tended to use the similar areas throughout the year. Overall, our results indicate that both extrinsic and intrinsic factors modulate the home-range the social Griffon Vulture and that spatial segregation depend on sex and season at the individual level, without relevant differences between breeding regions in individual site fidelity.
A combination of short-read paired-end and mate-pair libraries of large insert sizes is used as a standard method to generate genome assemblies with high contiguity. The third-generation sequencing techniques also are used to improve the quality of assembled genomes. However, both mate-pair libraries and the third-generation libraries require high-molecular-weight DNA, making the use of these libraries inappropriate for samples with only degraded DNA. An in silico method that generates mate-pair libraries using a reference genome was devised for the task of assembling target genomes. Although the contiguity and completeness of assembled genomes were significantly improved by this method, a high level of errors manifested in the assembly, further to which the methods for using reference genomes were not optimized. Here, we tested different strategies for using reference genomes to generate in silico mate-pairs. The results showed that using a closely related reference genome from the same genus was more effective than using divergent references. Conservation of in silico mate-pairs by comparing two references and using those to guide genome assembly reduced the number of misassemblies (18.6% – 46.1%) and increased the contiguity of assembled genomes (9.7% – 70.7%), while maintaining gene completeness at a level that was either similar or marginally lower than that obtained via the current method. Finally, we developed a pipeline of optimized method and compared it with another reference-guided assembler, Ragtag. We found that Ragtag produced longer scaffolds (17.8 Mbp vs. 3.0 Mbp), but resulted in a much higher misassembly rate (85.68%) than our optimized in silico mate-pair method. This optimized in silico pipeline developed in this study should facilitate further studies on genomics, population genetics and conservation of endangered species.
Conservation and management professionals often works across jurisdictional boundaries to identify broad ecological patterns. These collaborations help to protect populations whose distributions span political borders. One common limitation to multijurisdictional collaboration is consistency in data recording and reporting. This limitation can impact genetic research which relies on data about specific markers in an organism’s genome. Incomplete overlap of markers between separate studies can prevent direct comparisons. Standardized marker panels can reduce the impact this issue and provide a common starting place for new research. Genotyping-in-thousands (GTSeq) is one approach used to create standardized marker panels for non-model organisms. Here we describe the development, optimization, and early assessments of a new GTSeq panel for use with walleye (Sander vitreus) from the Great Lakes region of North America. High genome-coverage sequencing conducted using RAD-capture provided genotypes for thousands of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). From these markers, SNP and microhaplotype makers were chosen that were informative for genetic stock identification (GSI) and kinship analysis. The final GTSeq panel contained 500 markers, including 197 microhaplotypes and 303 SNPs. Leave-one-out GSI simulations indicated that GSI accuracy should be greater than 80% in most jurisdictions. The false-positive rates of parent-offspring and full-sibling kinship identification was found to be low. Finally, genotypes could be consistently scored among separate sequencing runs >94% of the time. Results indicate that the GTSeq panel we developed should perform well for multijurisdictional research throughout the Great Lakes region.
Myriad ecological and evolutionary factors can influence whether a particular parasite successfully transmits to a new host during a disease outbreak, with consequences for the structure and diversity of parasite populations. However, even though the diversity and evolution of parasite populations is of clear fundamental and applied importance, we have surprisingly few studies that track how genetic structure of parasites changes during naturally occurring outbreaks in non-human populations. Here, we used population genetic approaches to reveal how genotypes of a bacterial parasite, Pasteuria ramosa, change over time, focusing on how infecting P. ramosa genotypes change during the course of epidemics in Daphnia populations in two lakes. We found evidence for genetic change – and, therefore, evolution – of the parasite during outbreaks. In one lake, P. ramosa genotypes structured by sampling date; in both lakes, genetic distance between groups of P. ramosa isolates increased with time between sampling. Diversity in parasite populations remained constant over epidemics, though one epidemic (which was large) had low genetic diversity while the other epidemic (which was small) had high genetic diversity. Our findings demonstrate that patterns of parasite evolution differ between outbreaks; future studies exploring the feedbacks between epidemic size, host diversity, and parasite genetic diversity would improve our understanding of parasite dynamics and evolution.
1. The Environmental Data Initiative (EDI) is a trustworthy, stable data repository and data management support organization for the environmental scientist. In a bottom-up community process EDI was built with the premise that freely and easily available data are necessary to advance the understanding of complex environmental processes and change, to improve transparency of research results, and to democratize ecological research. 2. EDI provides tools and support that allow the environmental researcher to easily integrate data publishing into the research workflow. 3. Almost ten years since going into production, we analyze metadata to provide a general description of EDI’s collection of data and its data management philosophy and placement in the repository landscape. We discuss how comprehensive metadata and the repository infrastructure lead to highly findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (FAIR) data by evaluating compliance with specific community proposed FAIR criteria. 4. Finally, we review measures and patterns of data (re)use, assuring that EDI is fulfilling its stated premise.
Plasmids are extra-chromosomal genetic elements that encode a wide variety of phenotypes and can be maintained in bacterial populations through vertical and horizontal transmission, thus increasing bacterial adaptation to hostile environmental conditions like those imposed by antimicrobial substances. To circumvent the segregational instability resulting from randomly distributing plasmids between daughter cells upon division, non-transmissible plasmids tend to be carried in multiple copies per cell, which also results in a metabolic burden to the bacterial host, therefore reducing the overall fitness. This trade-off poses an existential question for plasmids: What is the optimal plasmid copy number? We address this question using a combination of population genetics modeling with microbiology experiments consisting of Escherichia coli K12 bearing a multi-copy plasmid encoding for blaTEM-1, a gene conferring resistance to b-lactam antibiotics. We use a Wright-Fisher model to evaluate the interaction between the above mentioned opposing forces. By numerically determining the optimal plasmid copy number for constant and fluctuating selection regimes, we conclude that plasmid copy number is an optimized evolutionary trait that depends on the rate of environmental fluctuation and balances the benefit between increased stability in the absence of selection with the burden associated with carrying multiple copies of the plasmid.
Designing appropriate management plans requires knowledge of both the dispersal ability and what has shaped the current distribution of the species under consideration. Here we investigated the evolutionary history of the endangered grey reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) across its range by sequencing thousands of RAD-seq loci in 173 individuals in the Indo-Pacific (IP) . We first bring evidence of the occurrence of a range expansion (RE) originating close to the Indo-Australian Archipelago (IAA) where two stepping-stone waves (east and westward) colonized almost the entire IP. Coalescent modeling additionally highlighted a homogenous connectivity (Nm~10 per generation) throughout the range, and an isolation by distance model suggested the absence of barriers to dispersal despite the affinity of C. amblyrhynchos to coral reefs. This coincides with long-distance swims previously recorded, suggesting that the strong genetic structure at the IP scale (FST ~ 0.56 between its ends) is the consequence of its broad current distribution and organization in a large number of demes. Our results strongly suggest that management plans for the grey reef shark should be designed on a range-wide rather than a local scale due to its continuous genetic structure. We further contrasted these results with those obtained previously for the sympatric but strictly lagoon-associated Carcharhinus melanopterus, known for its restricted dispersal ability. C. melanopterus exhibits similar RE dynamic, but is characterized by stronger genetic structure and a non-homogeneous connectivity largely dependent on local coral reefs availability. This sheds new light on shark evolution, emphasizing the roles of IAA as source of biodiversity and of life history traits in shaping the extent of genetic structure and diversity.
Terrestrial resource pulses can significantly affect the community dynamics of freshwater ecosystems. Previously, its effect on the river community is considered to be stronger in summer, while weaker in winter when terrestrial invertebrates are less abundant. The movement of the terrestrial earthworms are triggered in winter, so they may be supplied to winter rivers as terrestrial resource pulse, but little is known about it. Here, we report that the massive numbers of the terrestrial earthworms were supplied intensively to an upstream of the small river in early winter. In particular, we found large numbers of Megascolecidae earthworms were supplied in an upstream of the small river in Northern Japan. Furthermore, we observed that supplied earthworms were consumed by salmonid fish species (masu salmon, white spotted char and rainbow trout) and aquatic invertebrates (gammarid amphipod, planarian flatworm and stonefly larvae). These findings suggests that the terrestrial earthworms may play a key role in ecosystem functioning in winter when severe and other resources are scarce.
In many species, offspring display conspicuous adult-like colouration already early in life, even though they might be very vulnerable to predation at this stage. Yet, the signalling function of adult-like traits in nestlings has been little explored to date. Here, we investigated whether the yellow breast plumage of blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) nestlings shows patterns of condition-dependence and hence signals individual quality, as has been described for adult birds. During three consecutive breeding seasons, we therefore explored the association between nestling body mass and three colour components of the yellow breast plumage (i.e., UV chroma, carotenoid chroma and total brightness), considering both within and among nest effects. Carotenoid chroma was not affected by body mass. However, UV chroma and total brightness showed an among-nest effect of body mass, suggesting that they might signal aspects of genetic quality or parental rearing capacity. Interestingly, we also found a within-nest effect of body mass on total brightness, suggesting that this is a good candidate for a condition-dependent signal within the family. Thus, other family members could rely on brightness to adjust their behavioural strategies, such as feeding behaviour in parents. Our study thus reveals that certain colour components of the yellow breast plumage signal different aspects of offspring quality and suggest that they might have a correlated signalling value across life-history stages.
Aim: Species’ environmental requirements and large-scale spatial and evolutionary processes are known to determine the structure and composition of local communities. However, ecological interactions and historical processes also have major effects on community assembly at landscape and local scales. In this work we evaluate whether two xerophytic shrub communities follow fixed ecological assembly dynamics throughout large geographical extents, or their composition is rather driven by species individualistic responses to environmental and macroecological constraints. Location: SW Iberian Peninsula (Portugal and Spain) Taxa: Stauracanthus genistoides agg. and Ulex australis agg (Fabaceae). Methods:Inland dune xerophytic shrub communities were sampled in 95 plots distributed within their potential area of occurrence. Then, we described the main gradients of vegetation composition and assess the relevance of biotic interactions. We also characterized the habitat suitability of the dominant species, S. genistoides and U. australis, to map the potential distribution of the xerophytic shrub communities. Finally, to identify the relative importance of each factor driving changes in community composition, we examined the relationships between the vegetation gradients and a broad set of explanatory variables. Results: Our results show that xerophytic shrubs follow uniform successional patterns throughout the whole geographical area, but also that these communities respond differently to the main environmental gradients in each region. Soil organic matter is the main determinant of community variations in the northern regions, Setúbal Peninsula and Comporta, while in the South/South-Western region most of the variation between both types of communities is explained by temperature seasonality. Main conclusions: The relative importance of the main factors causing community-level responses varies according to regional processes and the suitability of the environmental conditions for the dominant species in these communities. These responses are also determined by intrinsic community mechanisms that result in a high degree of similarity in the gradient-driven community stages in different regions.
Whole-genome sequencing for generating SNP data is increasingly used in population genetic studies. However, obtaining genomes for massive numbers of samples is still not within the budgets of many researchers. It is thus imperative to select an appropriate reference genome and sequencing coverage to ensure the accuracy of the results for a specific research question, while balancing cost and feasibility. To evaluate the effect of the choice of the reference genome and sequencing coverage on downstream analyses, we used five confamilial reference genomes of variable relatedness and three levels of sequencing coverage (3.5x, 7.5x and 12x) in a population genomic study on two caddisfly species: Himalopsyche digitata and H. tibetana. Using these 30 datasets (five reference genomes × three coverages × two target species), we estimated population genetic indices (inbreeding coefficient, nucleotide diversity, pairwise and genome-wide FST) based on variants and population structure (PCA and admixture) based on genotype likelihood estimates. The results showed that both distantly related reference genomes and lower sequencing coverage lead to degradation of resolution. In addition, choosing a more closely related reference genome may significantly remedy the defects caused by low coverage. Therefore, we conclude that population genetic studies would benefit from closely related reference genomes, especially as the costs of obtaining a high-quality reference genome continue to decrease. However, to determine a cost-efficient strategy for a specific population genomic study, a trade-off between reference genome relatedness and sequencing depth can be considered.
Species distribution patterns are essential for the conservation of biodiversity. The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of multiple ecological hypotheses on the spatial patterns of rodent species richness in China. First, we divided the geographic region of China into 80 × 80 km2 grid cells and mapped the distribution ranges of the 237 rodent species. Rodent taxa were separated into three response variables based on their distribution: (a) all species, (b) non-endemic species, and (c) endemic species. The predictors were divided into four factor sets: (a) energy-water, (b) climatic seasonality, (c) habitat heterogeneity, and (d) human factors, which were used to represent four different ecological hypotheses. We then performed multiple regression analysis (OLS), spatial autoregressive models (SAR), and variation partitioning analyses to determine the effects of predictors on the spatial patterns of rodent species. The Hengduan Mountains and surrounding mountains in southwest China showed the highest species richness and endemism. Habitat heterogeneity is the most important factor explaining the species richness distribution patterns across all species and non-endemic species. Endemic species richness patterns are most susceptible to seasonal changes in climate and least affected by human factors. The effects of energy and water on the three response variables showed consistent levels of importance.