The characteristics of macroinvertebrate community structure can effectively reflect the health status of lake ecosystem and the quality of the lake ecological environment. It is of great significance to identify the limiting factors of macroinvertebrate community structure for the maintenance of lake ecosystem health. In this study, the community composition of macroinvertebrate assemblages and their relationships with environmental variables in 13 small lakes within Linhuan Lake was investigated. Self-organizing map, K-means clustering analysis, principal component analysis, pearson correlation analysis, and redundancy analysis were used to analyze the correlation and variability between macroinvertebrates community index and environmental factors. The results showed that the environmental variables (pH, total phosphorus, nitrate, water temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, chemical oxygen demand, and ammonium) had a significant effect on the classification of macroinvertebrate community. Molluscs were significantly negatively correlated with pH and chlorophyll a, while annelids and aquatic insects were significantly positively correlated with chlorophyll a and dissolved oxygen. Species richness and Shannon’s diversity of macroinvertebrates were significantly negatively correlated with total phosphorus while biomass of macroinvertebrates was significantly negatively correlated with pH. High alkalinity characteristics and eutrophication of the lake have a serious impact on the macroinvertebrate community. Human interference and unreasonable industrial and surface runoff from agricultural farms destroy the ecological environment and affect the community structure of macroinvertebrate. Thus, the improvement of the macroinvertebrate’s community structure should be carried out by improving the Lianhuan Lake watershed ecological environment and controlling watershed environmental pollution.
Investigating the determinants of reproductive biology of fishes is an essential component of biological research. Breeding pattern was investigated to determine the impact of exotic Oreochromis niloticus on the native congeneric Oreochromis macrochir in the upper Kabompo River. Gonado-somatic index and sex ratio was used to investigate the breeding pattern in both invaded (where O. niloticus is present) and uninvaded (where O. niloticus is absent) sections of the river. Oreochromis macrochir was the only native congeneric species found in both sections. Results showed that the overall gonado-somatic index means for both sexes of O. macrochir in both sections were similar. For O. niloticus in invaded section indicated all year reproduction though reduced spawning in cold season (May-June), but with increased spawning activity in wet season (February-March). In O. macrochir, males and females were found breeding in both dry and wet seasons only, as for cold season no reproduction was recorded. Sex ratio (females: males) was 1:1.3 and 1:1.7 for O. niloticus and O. macrochir respectively, and both significantly deviated from the sex ratio of 1:1 (ꭓ2=8.42 and 9.37; p<0.05). Oreochromis niloticus formed the most abundant fish caught 221(63.5%) than O. macrochir 127(36.5%). Our study has revealed that O. niloticus was able to spawn in all seasons with 23% higher breeding population than O. macrochir, which explains the suppression in the abundance. We expect O. niloticus to invade further downstream of the Kabompo River due to natural dispersion.
Abstract Predator/Parasitoid functional response is one of the main tools used to study predation behaviour, and in assessing the potential of biological control candidates. It is generally accepted that predator learning in prey searching and manipulation can produce the appearance of type III functional response. Holling proposed that in the presence of alternative prey, at some point the predator would shift the preferred prey, leading to the appearance of a sigmoid function that characterized that functional response. This is supported by the analogy between enzyme kinetics and functional response that Holling used as the basis for developing this theory. However, after several decades, sigmoidal functional responses appear in the absence of alternative prey in most of the biological taxa studied. Here, we propose modelling the effect of learning on the functional response by using the explicit incorporation of learning curves in the parameters of the Holling functional response, the attack rate (a), and the manipulation time (h). We then study how the variation in the parameters of the learning curves causes variations in the shape of the functional response curve. We found that the functional response product of learning can be either type I, II or III, depending on what parameters act on the organism, and how much it can learn throughout the length of the study. Therefore the presence of other types of curves should not be automatically associated with the absence of learning. These results are important from an ecological point of view because when type III functional response is associated with learning, it is generally accepted that it can operate as a stabilizing factor in population dynamics. Our results, to the contrary, suggest that depending on how it acts, it may even be destabilizing by generating the appearance of functional responses close to type I.
Movement and demographic rates are critical to the persistence of populations in space and time. Despite their importance, estimates of these processes are often derived from a limited number of populations spanning broad habitat or environmental gradients. With increasing appreciation of the role fine-scale environmental variation in microgeographic adaptation, there is need and value to assessing within-site variation in movement, growth, and demographic rates. In this study, we analyze three years of spatial capture-recapture data collected from a mixed-use deciduous forest site in central Ohio, USA. Study plots were situated in mature forest on a slope and in successional forest on a ridge but were separated by less than 100-m distance. Our data showed that the density of salamanders was less on ridges, which corresponded with greater distance between nearest neighbors, less overlap in core use areas, greater space-use, and greater shifts in activity centers when compared to salamander occupying the slope habitat. However, these differences were moderate. In contrast, we estimated growth rates of salamanders occupying the ridge to be significantly greater than salamander on the slope. These differences result in ridge salamanders reaching maturity more than one year earlier than slope salamanders, increasing their lifetime fecundity by as much as 43%. The patterns we observed in space use and growth are likely the result of density-dependent processes, reflecting differences in resource availability or quality. Our study highlights how fine-scale, within-site, variation can shape population demographics. As research into the demographic and population consequences of climate change and habitat loss and alteration continue, future research should take care to acknowledge the role that fine-scale variation may play, especially for organisms with small home ranges or limited vagility.
Research that has been conducted documenting species richness patterns on tropical mountains has resulted in conflicting observations: monotonic declines with increasing elevation, monotonic increase with increasing elevation, and a mid-elevation ‘bulge.’ Currently, it is unclear if these differences are due to environmental differences associated with the various study areas, the taxonomic groups or ecological groups (e.g., growth form) sampled, or the scale of the study area along an elevation gradient. Because of the difficulty in sampling and identifying canopy-dwelling plants, the number of inventories quantifying tropical epiphytes is relatively limited and recent. In this study, we provide a detailed qualitative and quantitative assessment of the vascular epiphyte flora and its spatial distribution on Volcán Maderas, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua, including weather and environmental measurements along the entire elevation gradient of the volcano. We sampled epiphytes in five distinct forest types associated with increasing elevation as follows: dry forest, humid forest, wet forest, cloud forest, and elfin forest Five weather stations were placed along the elevation gradient for us to relate observed patterns to environmental conditions. A hump-shaped species richness pattern was detected for all vascular epiphytes at approximately 1000 m in elevation (cloud forest), yet species abundance increased with increasing elevation. In total we obtained 206 unique species identifications of vascular epiphytes belonging to 26 families and 73 genera. The most species-rich family was the Orchidaceae with 55 species for the entire elevation gradient, followed by Bromeliaceae (29 species), Araceae (23), Polypodiaceae (25), Dryopteridaceae (16), and Piperaceae (11), with all other families respresented by fewer than 10 species each. We found that richness patterns differ phylogenetically within epiphytes, possibly due to different adaptive strategies, and species for the most part appear to be narrowly distributed within specific habitat zones along the elevation gradient.
Habitat alterations that often accompany land-use change are one of the major drivers of global biodiversity losses. In Africa, these threats are especially severe, as this continent has the most rapidly growing of all human populations. Inevitably, increasing areas of land are being transformed for agriculture, including drought-prone drylands in southern and central Africa, despite often having poor soils. In Zimbabwe, a land reform programme provided a unique opportunity to study the biodiversity response to abrupt habitat modification in an extensive dryland area of mixed grassland and woodland savannah. Small-scale subsistence farms were created rapidly during 2001-2002 in formerly semi-natural savannah. We measured the changing compositions of bird communities in transformed and untransformed land over an 8-year period, commencing one decade after subsistence farms were established. Over the study period, repeated counts were made along identical transects in order to assess species' population changes that may have resulted from trait-filtering responses to habitat disturbance. We recorded significantly increased abundances in both land-use areas, accompanied by increases in species diversity and functional redundancy. Temporal trends showed increased abundances across all feeding guilds, and in species of virtually all sizes. Influxes of new species did not increase functional traits' diversity, and no species with distinctive traits appear to have been lost as a result of land-use change. Nearly two decades after habitat transformation, the bird communities in the transformed and untransformed areas had become more similar in composition. The broadly benign impact on birds of land conversion into subsistence farms is attributed to the relatively low-level of human activities and disturbance in the transformed land, and the large regional pool of non-specialist bird species.
In land plants, heteroblasty broadly refers to a drastic change in morphology during growth through ontogeny. Juniperus flaccida and Pinus cembroides are conifers of independent lineages known to exhibit leaf heteroblasty between the juvenile and adult life stage of development. Juvenile leaves of P. cembroides develop spirally on the main stem and appear decurrent, flattened and needle-like; whereas adult photosynthetic leaves are triangular or semi-circular needle-like, and grow in whorls on secondary or tertiary compact dwarf shoots. By comparison, J. flaccida juvenile leaves are decurrent and needle-like, and adult leaves are compact, short, and scale-like. Comparative analyses were performed to evaluate differences in anatomy and gene expression patterns between developmental phases in both species. RNA from twelve samples was sequenced and analyzed with available software. They were assembled de novo from the RNA-Seq reads. Following assembly, 63,741 high quality transcripts were functionally annotated in P. cembroides and 69,448 in J. flaccida. Evaluation of the orthologous groups yielded 4,140 shared gene families among the four references (adult and juvenile from each species). Activities related to cell division and development were more abundant in juveniles than adults in P. cembroides, and more abundant in adults than juveniles in J. flaccida. Overall, there were 509 up-regulated and 81 down-regulated genes in the juvenile condition of P. cembroides and 14 up-regulated and 22 down-regulated in J. flaccida. Gene interaction network analysis showed evidence of co-expression and co-localization of up-regulated genes involved in cell wall and cuticle formation, development, and phenylpropanoid pathway, in juvenile P. cembroides leaves. Whereas in J. flaccida, differential expression and gene interaction patterns were detected in genes involved in photosynthesis and chloroplast biogenesis. Although J. flaccida and P. cembroides both exhibit leaf heteroblastic development, little overlap was detected, and unique genes and pathways were highlighted in this study.Keywords : Heteroblasty, RNA-seq analysis, cell wall and cutin biosynthesis, conifer leaf development, Juniperus flaccida, Pinus cembroides.
Because of their range expansion across North America, coyotes (Canis latrans) now occur sympatrically with numerous other predator species, including red foxes (Vulpes vulpes). This raises several interesting ecological questions, including if and how sympatry affects the diet and gut microbiomes of coyotes and red foxes. We examined the gut microbiomes of sympatric populations of coyotes and red foxes within two different National Parks in Virginia, USA, that differ in land use, vegetation, and anthropogenic disturbance: Prince William Forest Park (PRWI) and Manassas National Battlefield Park (MANA). From 2012 to 2017, scat samples from PRWI and MANA were collected and analyzed. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) amplification of a region of the mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene followed by restriction enzyme digestion of the PCR product was used to determine the origin of each scat sample. Next-Generation DNA sequencing of a hypervariable 16S rRNA gene region was used to determine gut microbiome information about the scat samples. There was no evidence for a difference between the gut microbiomes of red foxes in either location, or for a difference between the gut microbiomes of red foxes at either location and coyotes at the location with lower human disturbance, PRWI. However, the gut microbiomes of coyotes at the location with higher anthropogenic disturbances, MANA, revealed a marked change from those found in red foxes at either location and from those in coyotes at the location with lower disturbances. The gut microbiomes of coyotes subjected to greater human impact revealed clear evidence of dysbiosis, indicative of increased physiological stress and reduced health. We discuss our observations in the context of understanding anthropogenic impacts on coyote and red fox interactions. Our results suggest that physiological stress in the form of human disturbance may play an important role in the composition of the gut microbiome of coyotes, which can affect their overall health.
Climate effects habitat and define species physiology. Climatic regimes were different in past and adaptability of different species varied. Climate change causes certain stress on animal, recorded as Enamel Hypoplasia (EH). Proboscideans, the mega herbivores were extensively represented in the Siwaliks of Pakistan between Middle Miocene to Pleistocene (~15.2 – ~1.0Ma). The study is carried out on 15 species from 9 genera and 4 families using 319 teeth from 266 individual quarries. Our results revealed 20.06% (64/319) teeth infected by EH. Family Deinotheriidae faced higher stress during the terminal of middle Miocene (EH 25%). Dental structure indicate that this family preferred soft vegetation like C3 plants and failed to survive in grassland ecology at the onset of Late Miocene (~10-9 Ma). Gomphotheriids (EH 21.05%) and Stegodontids (EH 23.40%) survived through warm and dry climatic conditions of the Late Miocene, but could not survive the cool and dry climate of Plio-Pleistocene where grasslands were abundant with less browsing activity. Family Elephantidae (EH 8.75%) was successful in drier conditions, and utilized the exclusive C4 diet in open grasslands as efficient grazers, indicated by their tooth morphology. Elephantids were dominant of the proboscideans in open grassland and drier climate during Plio-Pleistocene in Indian subcontinent. We assume that change in the Siwalik climate was governed by microclimate as in the present day Siwaliks grasslands are widely distributed at low altitudes with lower mean annual precipitation and forestlands still persist in Myanmar and Nepal which receives more rainfall and have lower mean annual temperature.
Plant competition experiments commonly suggest that larger species have an advantage, especially in light acquisition. However, within crowded natural vegetation, where competition evidently impacts fitness, most resident species are relatively small. It remains unclear, therefore, whether the size-advantage observed in controlled experiments is realized in habitats under intensive competition. We tested for evidence of a size-advantage in competition for light in an old-field plant community composed of herbaceous perennial species. We investigated whether larger species contributed to reduced light penetration (i.e., greater shading), and examined the impact of shade on smaller species by testing whether their abundance and richness were lower in plots with less light penetration. Light penetration in plots ranged from 0.3-72.4%. Plots with greater mean species height had significantly lower light penetration. Plots with lower light penetration had significantly lower small species abundance and richness. However, the impact of shade on small species abundance and richness was relatively small (R2 values between 8% and 15%) and depended on how we defined “small species”. Significant effects were more common when analyses focused on individuals that reached reproduction; focusing on only flowering plants can clarify patterns. Our results confirm that light penetration in herbaceous vegetation can be comparable to levels seen in forests, that plots with taller species cast more shade, and that smaller species are less abundant and diverse in plots where light penetration is low. However, variation in mean plot height explained less than 10% of variation in light penetration, and light penetration explained 5-15% of variation in small species abundance and richness. Coupled with the fact that reproductive small species were present even within the most heavily shaded plots, our results suggest that any advantage in light competition by large species is limited. One explanation is that some small species in these communities are shade tolerant.
Comparing genome scans among species is a powerful approach for investigating the patterns left by evolutionary processes. In particular, this offers a way to detect candidate genes that drive convergent evolution. We compared genome scan results to investigate if patterns of genetic diversity and divergence are shared among divergent species within the stickleback order (Gasterosteiformes): the threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus), ninespine stickleback (Pungitius pungitus) and tubesnout (Aulorhynchus flavidus). Populations were sampled from the southern and northern edges of each species’ range, to identify patterns associated with latitudinal changes in genetic diversity. Weak correlations in genetic diversity (FST and expected heterozygosity) and three different patterns in the genomic landscape were found among these species. Additionally, no candidate genes for convergent evolution were detected. This is a counterexample to the growing number of studies that have shown overlapping genetic patterns, demonstrating that genome scan comparisons can be noisy due to the effects of several interacting evolutionary forces.
This paper aims to investigate the ecological role of Merlucicius merluccius, Linnaeus, 1758, in the southern and central Tyrrhenian Sea (GSA 10, Resolution GFCM/33/2009/2 General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean), analysing ontogenetic diet shift, geographical variations on prey composition and feeding habits. A sample of 734 hake specimens between 6 cm and 73 cm of total length (TL) were collected in 2018. To value the ontogenetic shifts in prey composition, five size-classes were created from the sample and for each class were calculated quantitative feeding indices. The cluster and MDS analysis, based on the % IRI, resulted in three trophic groups of hake size classes. The most abundant preys for small hake (size class I) were the Euphausiids, Stylocheiron longicorne and Mysidacea, while for hake with size over 10.5 cm of TL were crustaceans and fish. Engraulis encrasicolus was the most abundant prey fish for hake, followed by Boops boops and Myctophids. The mesopelagic fauna had a relevant role in the European hake diet in the southern zone. The high presence of Euphausiids, Mysids, Myctophidae and Sternoptychidae in the gut content of juvenile hakes (6-23 cm) showed the importance of organic matter and energy flowed from the mesopelagic environment to the epipelagic. Important is also the presence of decapod crustaceans in hake with size over 36 cm TL considering that our study area includes an important Gulf for the fishing of decapod crustacea.
Understanding the impacts and constraints of climate change on the potential geographic distribution of wild Akebia trifoliata is crucial for its sustainable management and economic development as a medicinal material or fruit. In this study, according to the first-hand information obtained on-the-spot investigation, the geographic distribution and response to climate factors of Akebia trifoliata were studied by the MaxEnt model and ArcGIS. The genetic diversity and population structure of 21 natural populations of Akebia trifoliata were studied by SSR markers. The results showed that precipitation and temperature were the two most important climatic factors that restrict the geographic distribution of Akebia trifoliata. Under the current climate scenario, the suitable growth regions of Akebia trifoliata in China were 91.7-121.9 °E and 21.6-37.5 °N. Combined with the evolutionary relationship and prediction results, 21 populations of Akebia trifoliata tended to migrate to the north. In the scenarios (SSP2-4.5, SSP3-7.0, and SSP5-8.5) of higher greenhouse gas emission concentration, the distribution area of Akebia trifoliata continued to expand, while in the low concentration greenhouse gas emission scenario (SSP1-2.6), the distribution area of Akebia trifoliata remained stable. The distribution center of Akebia trifoliata in China will shift to high latitude regions with the increase of temperature in the future. The results evaluated the impact of climate factors on the spatial distribution of wild Akebia trifoliata, displayed the possible changes of geographical distribution of Akebia trifoliata under different climate scenarios, and provided scientific evidence for durative protection and supervise of Akebia trifoliata.
Despite many studies showing biodiversity responses to warming, the generality of such responses across taxonomic groups remains unclear. Very few studies have tested for evidence of bryophyte community responses to warming, even though bryophytes are major contributors to diversity and functioning in many ecosystems. Here we report an empirical study comparing long-term change of bryophyte and vascular plant communities in two sites with contrasting long-term warming trends, using “legacy” botanical records as a baseline for comparison with contemporary resurveys. We hypothesized that ecological changes would be greater in sites with a stronger warming trend, and that vascular plant communities, with narrower climatic niches, would be more sensitive than bryophyte communities to climate warming. For each taxonomic group in each site, we quantified the magnitude of changes in species’ distributions along the elevation gradient, species richness, and community composition. We found contrasted temporal changes in bryophyte vs. vascular plant communities, which only partially supported the warming hypothesis. In the area with a stronger warming trend, we found a significant increase of local diversity and beta-diversity for vascular plants, but not for bryophytes. Presence absence data did not provide sufficient power to detect elevational shifts in species distributions. The patterns observed for bryophytes are in accordance with recent literature showing that local diversity can remain unchanged despite strong changes in composition. Regardless of whether one taxon is systematically more or less sensitive to environmental change than another, our results suggest that vascular plants cannot be used as a surrogate for bryophytes in terms of predicting the nature and magnitude of responses to warming. Thus, to assess overall biodiversity responses to global change, abundance data from different taxonomic groups and different community properties need to be synthesized.
Mammals have experienced a massive decline in their populations and geographic ranges worldwide. The sloth bear, Melursus ursinus (Shaw, 1791), is one of many species facing conservation threats. Despite being endangered in Nepal, decades of inattention to the situation have hindered their conservation and management. We assessed the distribution and patterns of habitat use by sloth bears in Chitwan National Park (CNP), Nepal. We conducted sign surveys from March to June, 2020, in 4 × 4 km grids (n = 45). We collected detection/non-detection data along a 4-km trail that was divided into 20 continuous segments of 200 m each. We obtained environmental, ecological, and anthropogenic covariates to understand determinants of sloth bear habitat occupancy. The data were analyzed using the single-species single-season occupancy method, with a spatially correlated detection. Using repeated observations, these models accounted for the imperfect detectability of the species to provide robust estimates of habitat occupancy. The model-averaged occupancy estimate for the sloth bear was 69% and the detection probability was 0.25. The probability of habitat occupancy by sloth bears increased with the presence of termites and fruits and in rugged, dry, open, undisturbed habitats. Our results indicate that the sloth bear is elusive, functionally unique, and widespread in CNP. Future conservation interventions and action plans aimed at sloth bear management must adequately consider their habitat requirements.
The plant defence syndromes (PDSs) concept predicts host plants should develop diverse resistance profiles against their herbivores. We used Electrical Penetration Graphs (EPG) to investigate complex and genotype-specific penetration-barriers to Chaitophorous tremulae aphid feeding on Aspen (Populus tremula). Leaf condensed tannins were associated with enhanced probing activity and increased ingestion of xylem sap. Aphids probed less on Aspen genotypes low in tannins, suggesting other defence traits might be elicited. Our results support the idea of multi-layered PDS defence traits, and provide evidence of high plasticity in tannin profiles across temporal and spatial scales. We conclude that tannin plasticity may form a dynamically unpredictable aspect of the PDS defence arsenal that protects Aspen against piercing-sucking aphids.
Conspicuous female signals have recently received substantial scientific attention, but it remains unclear if their evolution is the result of selection acting on females independently of males or if mutual selection facilitates female change. Species that express female, but not male, phenotypic variation among populations represent a useful opportunity to address this knowledge gap. White-shouldered fairywrens (Malurus alboscapulatus) are tropical songbirds with a well-resolved phylogeny where female, but not male, coloration varies allopatrically across subspecies. We explored how four distinct signaling modalities, each putatively associated with increased social selection, are expressed in two populations that vary in competitive pressure on females. Females in a derived subspecies (M. a. moretoni) have evolved more ornamented plumage and have shorter tails (a signal of social dominance) relative to an ancestral subspecies (M. a. lorentzi) with drab females. In response to simulated territorial intrusions broadcasting female song, both sexes of M. a. moretoni are more aggressive and more coordinated with their mates in both movement and vocalizations. Finally, M. a. moretoni songs are more complex than M. a. lorentzi, but song complexity does not vary between sexes in either population. These results suggest that correlated phenotypic shifts in coloration and tail morphology in females as well as song complexity and aggression in both sexes may have occurred in response to changes in the intensity of social selection pressures. This highlights increased competitive pressures in both sexes can facilitate the evolution of complex multimodal signals.
Identifying and quantifying crop stressors interactions in agroecosystems is necessary to guide sustainable crop management strategies. Over the last 50 years, faba bean cropping area has been declining, partly due to yield instabilities associated to uneven insect pollination and herbivory. Yet, interactions between pollinators and a key pest, Bruchus rufimanus (florivorous and seed predating herbivore), on faba bean yield have not been investigated. Using a factorial cage experiment in the field we investigated how interactions between two potential stressors, lack of pollination from Bombus terrestris and herbivory by B. rufimanus, affect faba bean yield. Lack of insect pollination reduced bean weight per plant by 15%. Effects of B. rufimanus herbivory differed between the individual plant and the plant-stand scale (i.e. when averaging individual plant scale responses), likely due to high variation in the level of herbivory among individual plants. At the individual plant scale, B. rufimanus herbivory increased yield but only in the absence of pollinators, possibly due to plant over-compensation and/or pollination by B. rufimanus. At the plant-stand scale, we found no effect of B. rufimanus on yield. However, there was a tendency for heavier individual bean weight with insect pollination, but only when B. rufimanus herbivory was absent, possibly due to a negative effect of B. rufimanus on the proportion of legitimate flower visits by B. terrestris. This is the first experimental evidence of interactive effects of B. terrestris and B. rufimanus on faba bean yield. Our preliminary findings of negative and indirect associations between B. rufimanus and individual bean weight call for a better acknowledgment of these interactions in the field in order to understand drivers of crop yield variability in faba bean. This study showed that herbivory can increase yield, but this effect is only detectable when investigated in combination with lack of pollination.