Ecology and Evolution
ISSN / EISSN : 2045-7758 / 2045-7758
Published by: Wiley-Blackwell (10.1002)
Total articles ≅ 8,004
Latest articles in this journal
Ecology and Evolution; https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8239
Environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding is an increasingly popular tool for measuring and cataloguing biodiversity. Because the environments and substrates in which DNA is preserved differ considerably, eDNA research often requires bespoke approaches to generating eDNA data. Here, we explore how two experimental choices in eDNA study design—the number of PCR replicates and the depth of sequencing of PCR replicates—influence the composition and consistency of taxa recovered from eDNA extracts. We perform 24 PCR replicates from each of six soil samples using two of the most common metabarcodes for Fungi and Viridiplantae (ITS1 and ITS2), and sequence each replicate to an average depth of ~84,000 reads. We find that PCR replicates are broadly consistent in composition and relative abundance of dominant taxa, but that low abundance taxa are often unique to one or a few PCR replicates. Taxa observed in one out of 24 PCR replicates make up 21–29% of the total taxa detected. We also observe that sequencing depth or rarefaction influences alpha diversity and beta diversity estimates. Read sampling depth influences local contribution to beta diversity, placement in ordinations, and beta dispersion in ordinations. Our results suggest that, because common taxa drive some alpha diversity estimates, few PCR replicates and low read sampling depths may be sufficient for many biological applications of eDNA metabarcoding. However, because rare taxa are recovered stochastically, eDNA metabarcoding may never fully recover the true amplifiable alpha diversity in an eDNA extract. Rare taxa drive PCR replicate outliers of alpha and beta diversity and lead to dispersion differences at different read sampling depths. We conclude that researchers should consider the complexity and unevenness of a community when choosing analytical approaches, read sampling depths, and filtering thresholds to arrive at stable estimates.
Ecology and Evolution; https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8226
Appendages have been reduced or lost hundreds of times during vertebrate evolution. This phenotypic convergence may be underlain by shared or different molecular mechanisms in distantly related vertebrate clades. To investigate, we reviewed the developmental and evolutionary literature of appendage reduction and loss in more than a dozen vertebrate genera from fish to mammals. We found that appendage reduction and loss was nearly always driven by modified gene expression as opposed to changes in coding sequences. Moreover, expression of the same genes was repeatedly modified across vertebrate taxa. However, the specific mechanisms by which expression was modified were rarely shared. The multiple routes to appendage reduction and loss suggest that adaptive loss of function phenotypes might arise routinely through changes in expression of key developmental genes.
Ecology and Evolution; https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8222
Inland salt marshes are rare habitats in the Great Lakes region of North America, formed on salt deposits from the Silurian period. These patchy habitats are abiotically stressful for the freshwater invertebrates that live there, and provide an opportunity to study the relationship between stress and diversity. We used morphological and COI metabarcoding data to assess changes in diversity and composition across both space (a transect from the salt seep to an adjacent freshwater area) and time (three sampling seasons). Richness was significantly lower at the seep site with both datatypes, while metabarcoding data additionally showed reduced richness at the freshwater transect end, consistent with a pattern where intermediate levels of stress show higher diversity. We found complementary, rather than redundant, patterns of community composition using the two datatypes: not all taxa were equally sequenced with the metabarcoding protocol. We identified taxa that are abundant at the salt seep of the marsh, including biting midges (Culicoides) and ostracods (Heterocypris). We conclude that (as found in other studies) molecular and morphological work should be used in tandem to identify the biodiversity in this rare habitat. Additionally, salinity may be a driver of community membership in this system, though further ecological research is needed to rule out alternate hypotheses.
Ecology and Evolution; https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8233
Studying parallel evolution (repeated, independent evolution of similar phenotypes in similar environments) is a powerful tool to understand environment-dependent selective forces. Surface-dwelling species that repeatedly and independently colonized caves provide unique models for such studies. The primarily surface-dwelling Asellus aquaticus species complex is a good candidate to carry out such research, because it colonized several caves in Europe. By comparing 17 functional morphological traits between six cave and nine surface populations of the A. aquaticus species complex, we investigated population divergence in morphology and sexual dimorphism. We found habitat-dependent population divergence in 10 out of 17 traits, likely reflecting habitat-driven changes in selection acting on sensory systems, feeding, grooming, and antipredator mechanisms. Sexual dimorphism was present in 15 traits, explained by sexual selection acting on male traits important in male–male agonistic behavior or mate guarding and fecundity selection acting on female traits affecting offspring number and nursing. In eight traits, the degree of sexual dimorphism was habitat dependent. We conclude that cave-related morphological changes are highly trait- and function-specific and that the strength of sexual/fecundity selection strongly differs between cave and surface habitats. The considerable population variation within habitat type warrants further studies to reveal cave-specific adaptations besides the parallel patterns.
Ecology and Evolution; https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8256
We aimed to infer ancestral area and historical colonization of Lobelia columnaris in the sky islands of Bioko and Cameroon through dated phylogeny using chloroplast genomes. Specifically, we aim to answer the following questions: (1) What are the phylogenetic relationships among Bioko Island and Cameroon populations? (2) Are the older populations found in the older sky islands? We assembled novel plastomes from 20 individuals of L. columnaris from 5 mountain systems. The plastome data were explored with phylogenetic analyses using Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian Inference. The populations of L. columnaris have a monophyletic origin, subdivided into three plastomes-geographic clades. The plastid phylogenomic results and age of the sky islands indicate that L. columnaris colonized first along with the Cameroon Volcanic Line's young sky islands of Bioko. The crown group (1.54 Ma) split the population in Bioko and mainland Cameroon. It is possible that Bioko was the ancestral area and likely isolated during cold and dry conditions in forest refugia. Presumably, the colonization history occurred during the middle-late Pleistocene from South Bioko's young sky island to North Bioko and the northern old sky islands in Cameroon. Furthermore, the central depression with lowland forest between North and South Bioko is a current geographic barrier that keeps separating the populations of Bioko from each other. Also, the shallow sea channel keeps isolated the populations of Bioko and the mainland populations. The Pleistocene climatic oscillations led to the divergence of the Cameroon and Bioko populations into three clades. L. columnaris colonized the older sky islands in mainland Cameroon after establishment in Bioko's younger sky islands. Contrary to expectations, the biogeography history was an inverse progression with respect to the age of the Afromontane sky islands.
Ecology and Evolution; https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8219
The shell morphologies of the freshwater mussel species Pleurobema clava (federally endangered) and Pleurobema oviforme (species of concern) are similar, causing considerable taxonomic confusion between the two species over the last 100 years. While P. clava was historically widespread throughout the Ohio River basin and tributaries to the lower Laurentian Great Lakes, P. oviforme was confined to the Tennessee and the upper Cumberland River basins. We used two mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genes, 13 novel nuclear DNA microsatellite markers, and shell morphometrics to help resolve this taxonomic confusion. Evidence for a single species was apparent in phylogenetic analyses of each mtDNA gene, revealing monophyletic relationships with minimal differentiation and shared haplotypes. Analyses of microsatellites showed significant genetic structuring, with four main genetic clusters detected, respectively, in the upper Ohio River basin, the lower Ohio River and Great Lakes, and upper Tennessee River basin, and a fourth genetic cluster, which included geographically intermediate populations in the Ohio and Tennessee river basins. While principal components analysis (PCA) of morphometric variables (i.e., length, height, width, and weight) showed significant differences in shell shape, only 3% of the variance in shell shape was explained by nominal species. Using Linear Discriminant and Random Forest (RF) analyses, correct classification rates for the two species' shell forms were 65.5% and 83.2%, respectively. Random Forest classification rates for some populations were higher; for example, for North Fork Holston (HOLS), it was >90%. While nuclear DNA and shell morphology indicate that the HOLS population is strongly differentiated, perhaps indicative of cryptic biodiversity, we consider the presence of a single widespread species the most likely biological scenario for many of the investigated populations based on our mtDNA dataset. However, additional sampling of P. oviforme populations at nuclear loci is needed to corroborate this finding.
Ecology and Evolution; https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8207
How organisms respond to variation in environmental conditions and whether behavioral responses can mitigate negative consequences on growth, condition, and other fitness measures are critical to our ability to conserve populations in changing environments. Offspring development is affected by environmental conditions and parental care behavior. When adverse environmental conditions are present, parents may alter behaviors to mitigate the impacts of poor environmental conditions on offspring. We determined whether parental behavior (provisioning rates, attentiveness, and nest temperature) varied in relation to environmental conditions (e.g., food availability and ectoparasites) and whether parental behavior mitigated negative consequences of the environment on their offspring in Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis). We found that offspring on territories with lower food availability had higher hematocrit, and when bird blow flies (Protocalliphora spp.) were present, growth rates were reduced. Parents increased provisioning and nest attendance in response to increased food availability but did not alter behavior in response to parasitism by blow flies. While parents altered behavior in response to resource availability, parents were unable to override the direct effects of negative environmental conditions on offspring growth and hematocrit. Our work highlights the importance of the environment on offspring development and suggests that parents may not be able to sufficiently alter behavior to ameliorate challenging environmental conditions.
Ecology and Evolution; https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8172
Factors influencing grazing behavior in species-rich grasslands have been little studied. Methodologies have mostly had a primary focus on grasslands with lower floristic diversity. We test the hypothesis that grazing behavior is influenced by both animal and plant factors and investigate the relative importance of these factors, using a novel combination of video technology and vegetation classification to analyze bite and step rates. In a semi-natural, partially wooded grassland in northern Estonia, images of the vegetation being grazed and records of steps and bites were obtained from four video cameras, each mounted on the sternum of a sheep, during 41 animal-hours of observation over five days. Plant species lists for the immediate field of view were compiled. Images were partnered by direct observation of the nearest-neighbor relationships of the sheep. TWINSPAN, a standard vegetation classification technique allocating species lists to objectively defined classes by a principal components procedure, was applied to the species lists and 25 vegetation classes (15 open pasture and 10 woodland) were identified from the images. Taking bite and step rates as dependent variables, relative importance of animal factors (sheep identity), relative importance of day, and relative importance of plant factors (vegetation class) were investigated. The strongest effect on bite rates was of vegetation class. Sheep identity was less influential. When the data from woodland were excluded, sheep identity was more important than vegetation class as a source of variability in bite rate on open pasture. The original hypothesis is therefore supported, and we further propose that, at least with sheep in species-rich open pastures, animal factors will be more important in determining grazing behavior than plant factors. We predict quantifiable within-breed and between-breed differences, which could be exploited to optimize conservation grazing practices and contribute to the sustainability of extensive grazing systems.
Ecology and Evolution; https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8228
Understanding the genetic properties of adaptive trait evolution is a fundamental crux of biological inquiry that links molecular processes to biological diversity. Important uncertainties persist regarding the genetic predictability of adaptive trait change, the role of standing variation, and whether adaptation tends to result in the fixation of favored variants. Here, we use the recurrent evolution of enhanced ethanol resistance in Drosophila melanogaster during this species’ worldwide expansion as a promising system to add to our understanding of the genetics of adaptation. We find that elevated ethanol resistance has evolved at least three times in different cooler regions of the species’ modern range—not only at high latitude but also in two African high-altitude regions. Applying a bulk segregant mapping framework, we find that the genetic architecture of ethanol resistance evolution differs substantially not only between our three resistant populations, but also between two crosses involving the same European population. We then apply population genetic scans for local adaptation within our quantitative trait locus regions, and we find potential contributions of genes with annotated roles in spindle localization, membrane composition, sterol and alcohol metabolism, and other processes. We also apply simulation-based analyses that confirm the variable genetic basis of ethanol resistance and hint at a moderately polygenic architecture. However, these simulations indicate that larger-scale studies will be needed to more clearly quantify the genetic architecture of adaptive evolution and to firmly connect trait evolution to specific causative loci.
Ecology and Evolution; https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8245
Climate change presents distinct ecological and physiological challenges to plants as extreme climate events become more common. Understanding how species have adapted to drought, especially ecologically important nonmodel organisms, will be crucial to elucidate potential biological pathways for drought adaptation and inform conservation strategies. To aid in genome-to-phenome research, a draft genome was assembled for a diploid individual of Artemisia tridentata subsp. tridentata, a threatened keystone shrub in western North America. While this taxon has few genetic resources available and genetic/genomics work has proven difficult due to genetic heterozygosity in the past, a draft genome was successfully assembled. Aquaporin (AQP) genes and their promoter sequences were mined from the draft genome to predict mechanisms regulating gene expression and generate hypotheses on key genes underpinning drought response. Fifty-one AQP genes were fully assembled within the draft genome. Promoter and phylogenetic analyses revealed putative duplicates of A. tridentata subsp. tridentata AQPs which have experienced differentiation in promoter elements, potentially supporting novel biological pathways. Comparison with nondrought-tolerant congener supports enrichments of AQP genes in this taxon during adaptation to drought stress. Differentiation of promoter elements revealed that paralogues of some genes have evolved to function in different pathways, highlighting these genes as potential candidates for future research and providing critical hypotheses for future genome-to-phenome work.