ISSN / EISSN : 14242818 / 14242818
Current Publisher: MDPI (10.3390)
Total articles ≅ 618
Latest articles in this journal
Diversity, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/d11100175
Abstract:Acquarossa river (Viterbo, Italy) was the site of a prospering Etruscan civilization thanks to metallurgical activity around 625–550 B.C. This caused the spread of heavy metals throughout the area. Rocks along the river probably act as a filter for these elements and they are covered by two different biofilms (epilithons). They differ for both color and bacterial composition. One is red and is enriched with Pseudomonas strains, while the other one is black and Acinetobacter is the most represented genus. Along the river lay the Infernaccio waterfalls, whose surrounding rocks are covered only by the red epilithon. The bacterial composition of this biofilm was analyzed through high throughput sequencing and compared to those ones of red and black epilithons of Acquarossa river. Moreover, cultivable bacteria were isolated and their phenotype (i.e., resistance against antibiotics and heavy metals) was studied. As previously observed in the case of Acquarossa river, characterization of bacterial composition of the Infernaccio red epilithon revealed that the two most represented genera were Acinetobacter and Pseudomonas. Nonetheless, these strains differed from those isolated from Acquarossa, as revealed by RAPD analysis. This work, besides increasing knowledge about the ecological properties of this site, allowed to isolate new bacterial strains, which could potentially be exploited for biotechnological applications, because of their resistance against environmental pollutants.
Diversity, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/d11100174
Abstract:The Cleveland Bay (CB) is the United Kingdom’s oldest established horse breed. In this study we analyzed the genetic variability in CB horses and investigated its genetic relationships with other horse breeds. We examined the genetic variability among 90 CB horses sampled in the USA compared to a total of 3447 horses from 59 other breeds. Analysis of the genetic diversity and population structure was carried out using 15 microsatellite loci. We found that genetic diversity in CB horses was less than that for the majority of other tested breeds. The genetic similarity measures showed no direct relationship between the CB and Thoroughbred but suggested the Turkman horses (likely in the lineage of ancestors of the Thoroughbred) as a possible ancestor. Our findings reveal the genetic uniqueness of the CB breed and indicate its need to be preserved as a genetic resource.
Diversity, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/d11090173
Abstract:Short, standardized gene fragments for species identification (DNA barcodes) have proven effective in delineating closely-related insect species, and can be critical characters to include in taxonomic studies. This is also the case for the species-rich and widely distributed fly family Chironomidae (non-biting midges). Inspired by observed genetic differences in partial COI gene sequences between North American and European populations of the chironomid Ablabesmyia monilis sensu lato, we investigated whether or not the morphology of male and female adults supported the distinction of more than one species. Our results support that the junior synonym Ablabesmyia americana is a valid species separate from A. monilis, and that A. monilis sensu stricto is distributed both in the Palearctic region and in North America. We provide re-descriptions of all of the major life stages of A. americana and of the adult female of A. monilis.
Diversity, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/d11090172
Abstract:Carex rupestris is an endangered and rare arctic-alpine element of the Western Carpathian flora. Given the geographically isolated and spatially restricted peripheral ranges of arctic-alpine species, there is a good chance that many species of conservation concern irreversibly disappear from the regional flora under the ongoing climate change. In this study, we gathered all existing data on the presence of C. rupestris and focused on its current and future distribution in the Western Carpathians. We found that although the distribution of the species is fragmented and scarce, C. rupestris occurs in several mountain ranges, in four distinct plant community types, which differ considerably in altitude, geological bedrock, and other habitat characteristics. In contrast to the relatively broad range of occupied habitats, C. rupestris shows a narrow temperature niche (mean annual temperature range 0.4–4.0 °C). Ensembles of small models based on climatic characteristics and local topography show that regardless of the climate change scenario (rcp2.6, rcp8.5), many current occurrence sites, mainly in the peripheral zones of the range, will face the excessive loss of suitable environmental conditions. It is expected that the Tatra Mountains will be the only mountain range retaining potentially suitable habitats and providing possible refugia for this cold-adapted species in the future. Such severe shrinkage of distribution ranges and associated geographic isolation raises serious concerns for the fate of the arctic-alpine species in the Western Carpathians.
Diversity, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/d11090171
Abstract:Lichens are symbiotic organisms susceptible to environmental alteration due to their morphological and physiological features. For this reason, researchers and decision-makers are extensively using lichen biomonitoring for assessing the effects of various anthropogenic disturbances. The Special Issue was launched to fulfil some knowledge gaps in this field, such as the development of procedures to interpret and compare results. The SI includes three reviews that explore the application of lichen biomonitoring for detecting the effects of climate change. Three articles and one review paper examined the use at a decision level of biomonitoring of air pollution employing lichens, including the application in environmental forensic. Finally, six research articles are illustrative examples of lichen biomonitoring in poorly known habitats, providing data from the physiological to the community level of observation, and pose the basis for extending comparable approaches on a global scale.
Diversity, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/d11090168
Abstract:Although the effect of ecosystem engineers in structuring communities is common in several systems, it is seldom as evident as in shallow marine soft-bottoms. These systems lack abiotic three-dimensional structures but host biogenic structures that play critical roles in controlling abiotic conditions and resources. Here I review how reef-building polychaetes (RBP) engineer their environment and affect habitat quality, thus regulating community structure, ecosystem functioning, and the provision of ecosystem services in shallow waters. The analysis focuses on different engineering mechanisms, such as hard substrate production, effects on hydrodynamics, and sediment transport, and impacts mediated by filter feeding and biodeposition. Finally, I deal with landscape-level topographic alteration by RBP. In conclusion, RBP have positive impacts on diversity and abundance of many species mediated by the structure of the reef. Additionally, by feeding on phytoplankton and decreasing water turbidity, RBP can control primary production, increase light penetration, and might alleviate the effects of eutrophication affecting supporting ecosystem services, such as nutrient cycling. They can also modulate cultural ecosystem services by affecting recreational activities (e.g., negative impacts on boating and angling, increased value of sites as birdwatching sites). Acknowledging the multiplicity of synergistic and antagonistic effects of RBP on ecosystems and linking changes in habitat structure, filter-feeding activities, and biodeposition to ecosystem services are essential for effective decision-making regarding their management and restoration.
Diversity, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/d11090169
Abstract:Collembola (springtails) are an early diverging class of apterygotes, and mark the first substantial radiation of hexapods on land. Despite extensive work, the relationships between major collembolan lineages are still debated and, apart from the Early Devonian fossil Rhyniella praecursor, which demonstrates their antiquity, the time frame of springtail evolution is unknown. In this study, we sequence two new mitochondrial genomes and reanalyze all known Collembola mt-genomes, including selected metagenomic data, to produce an improved phylogenetic hypothesis for the group, develop a tentative time frame for their differentiation, and provide a comprehensive overview of gene order diversity. Our analyses support most taxonomically recognized entities. We find support for an Entomobryomorpha + Symphypleona clade, while the position of Neelipleona could not be assessed with confidence. A Silurian time frame for their basal diversification is recovered, with an indication that divergence times may be fairly old overall. The distribution of mitochondrial gene order indicates the pancrustacean arrangement as plesiomorphic and dominant in the group, with the exception of the family Onychiuridae. We distinguished multiple instances of different arrangements in individual genomes or small clusters. We further discuss the opportunities and drawbacks associated with the inclusion of metagenomic data in a classic study on mitochondrial genome diversity.
Diversity, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/d11090170
Abstract:Indonesia is famous for its underwater biodiversity, which attracts many tourists, especially divers. This is also true for Sangihe Islands Regency, an area composed of several islands in the northern part of North Sulawesi. However, Sangihe Islands Regency is much less known than, e.g., Bunaken National Park (BNP, North Sulawesi). The main island, Sangihe, has recently experienced an increase in tourism and mining activities with potentially high impact on the environment. Recently, monitoring projects began around BNP using marine Heterobranchia as indicators for coral reef health. No information about this taxon exists from the remote islands in North Sulawesi. The present study represents the first monitoring study ever and focuses on marine Heterobranchia around Sangihe. In total, 250 specimens were collected, which could be assigned to Sacoglossa (3), Anthobranchia (19), and Cladobranchia (1). Despite the low number (23 versus 172 in BNP), at least eight species (35%) are not recorded from BNP, probably indicating differences in habitat, but also influence of a strong El Niño year in 2016. Here we also report for the first time a Chromodoris annae specimen mimicking C. elisabethina, and the discovery of a new Phyllidia species.
Diversity, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/d11090165
Abstract:Bamboos are opportunistic species that rapidly colonize open areas following forest disturbance, forming dense clusters that alter the regenerative processes and maintain lower levels of tree diversity. Widespread forest degradation, especially in Latin America and Asia, and human-induced introduction have allowed native and non-native bamboo species to thrive, hindering successional pathways that would otherwise lead to more diverse forests; such a large-scale phenomenon is a key concern in the conservation of forest resources around the globe. Despite previous research on this phenomenon, little is known about the long-term effects of bamboo dominance on forest structure and composition and the corresponding interaction with natural regeneration. As such, we sought to evaluate the long-term effects of bamboo dominance on the dynamics of adult forest populations considering two forest types (Bamboo Forest—BF and Araucaria Forest—AF) over an 11-year period in the Embrapa Research Station in Caçador, Brazil. We monitored 20 plots (15 × 15 m) in each forest type where we tagged, identified, and measured the height and diameter of all the trees taller than 1.5 m (H) and diameter at breast height (DBH) greater than 3.18 cm. Comparisons were based on forest species diversity and structure parameters. In BF, diversity of species increased after the bamboo die-off that occurred in 2006 with a subsequent reduction in the number of pioneer species overtime. However, secondary species remained stagnant demonstrating that recruitment and transition into higher size classes is restricted to the immediate die-off aftermath. On the other hand, plant diversity and structure in the relatively bamboo-free AF were stable with secondary species accounting for the most richness. Our results confirm that BF maintains significantly lower levels of diversity that are restricted to pioneer species; AF structure and diversity are not significantly affected by bamboo die-off and recolonization; and BF tree species are caught in a closed cycle of arrested successional development. The widespread presence of bamboos as dominant species in the region should become a part of the conversation pertaining to forest management and conservation in Brazil and other countries in south America and Asia.
Diversity, Volume 11; doi:10.3390/d11090167
Abstract:Bioassessment assumes that ecological conditions remain stable in the absence of environmental changes. Evidence suggests this assumption may hold for reference streams, but knowledge gaps remain for impacted streams. Our study quantified interannual variation of benthic macroinvertebrate communities, monitored for at least 14 years in eight impacted streams in the Upper Thames River watershed in Ontario, Canada. Benthic communities exhibited moderate interannual variation in relative abundance of EPT (Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera) and Chironomidae taxa. Year-to-year changes were reflected in lower community persistence than that observed in studies of reference streams. In contrast, tolerance-based metrics showed minimal interannual variation, suggesting compositional changes were because of taxonomic substitutions, in which one tolerant taxon replaced another. Analyses indicated limited directionality in temporal variation for most bioassessment metrics. An exception was taxa richness, which increased at most sites, possibly because of changes in subsampling. However, no associations between calculated bioassessment metrics and measured environmental factors (stream flow and water chemistry) or sampling procedures were observed. We conclude interannual variation in ecological conditions can be substantial and may not be associated with deterministic factors routinely measured in stream assessments. We recommend increased sampling frequency and traits-based assessment as options for limiting effects of interannual variation on assessment results.