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1.  Strong selection on mandible and nest features in a carpenter bee that nests in two sympatric host plants 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):1820-1827.
Host plants are used by herbivorous insects as feeding or nesting resources. In wood-boring insects, host plants features may impose selective forces leading to phenotypic differentiation on traits related to nest construction. Carpenter bees build their nests in dead stems or dry twigs of shrubs and trees; thus, mandibles are essential for the nesting process, and the nest is required for egg laying and offspring survival. We explored the shape and intensity of natural selection on phenotypic variation on three size measures of the bees (intertegular width, wing length, and mandible area) and two nest architecture measures (tunnel length and diameter) on bees using the native species Chusquea quila (Poaceae), and the alloctonous species Rubus ulmifolius (Rosaceae), in central Chile. Our results showed significant and positive linear selection gradients for tunnel length on both hosts, indicating that bees building long nests have more offspring. Bees with broader mandibles show greater fitness on C. quila but not on R. ulmifolius. Considering that C. quila represents a selective force on mandible area, we hypothesized a high adaptive value of this trait, resulting in higher fitness values when nesting on this host, despite its wood is denser and hence more difficult to be bored.
PMCID: PMC4063478  PMID: 24963379
Fitness; nest architecture; nesting substrate; plant–insect interactions; selection gradients
2.  Issue Information 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):i-iii.
PMCID: PMC4063470  PMID: 24963395
3.  Very low levels of direct additive genetic variance in fitness and fitness components in a red squirrel population 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):1729-1738.
A trait must genetically correlate with fitness in order to evolve in response to natural selection, but theory suggests that strong directional selection should erode additive genetic variance in fitness and limit future evolutionary potential. Balancing selection has been proposed as a mechanism that could maintain genetic variance if fitness components trade off with one another and has been invoked to account for empirical observations of higher levels of additive genetic variance in fitness components than would be expected from mutation–selection balance. Here, we used a long-term study of an individually marked population of North American red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) to look for evidence of (1) additive genetic variance in lifetime reproductive success and (2) fitness trade-offs between fitness components, such as male and female fitness or fitness in high- and low-resource environments. “Animal model” analyses of a multigenerational pedigree revealed modest maternal effects on fitness, but very low levels of additive genetic variance in lifetime reproductive success overall as well as fitness measures within each sex and environment. It therefore appears that there are very low levels of direct genetic variance in fitness and fitness components in red squirrels to facilitate contemporary adaptation in this population.
PMCID: PMC4063471  PMID: 24963372
Genetic covariance; heritability; Robertson–Price identity; sexual antagonism; temporal fluctuations in selection
4.  Egg load dynamics and the risk of egg and time limitation experienced by an aphid parasitoid in the field 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):1739-1750.
Insect parasitoids and herbivores must balance the risk of egg limitation and time limitation in order to maximize reproductive success. Egg and time limitation are mediated by oviposition and egg maturation rates as well as by starvation risk and other determinants of adult lifespan. Here, we assessed egg load and nutritional state in the soybean aphid parasitoid Binodoxys communis under field conditions to estimate its risk of becoming either egg- or time-limited. The majority of female B. communis showed no signs of egg limitation. Experimental field manipulations of B. communis females suggested that an average of 4–8 eggs were matured per hour over the course of a day. Regardless, egg loads remained constant over the course of the day at approximately 80 eggs, suggesting that egg maturation compensates for oviposition. This is the first case of such “egg load buffering” documented for a parasitoid in the field. Despite this buffering, egg loads dropped slightly with increasing host (aphid) density. This suggests that egg limitation could occur at very high host densities as experienced in outbreak years in some locations in the Midwestern USA. Biochemical analyses of sugar profiles showed that parasitoids fed upon sugar in the field at a remarkably high rate. Time limitation through starvation thus seems to be very low and aphid honeydew is most likely a source of dietary sugar for these parasitoids. This latter supposition is supported by the fact that body sugar levels increase with host (aphid) density. Together, these results suggest that fecundity of B. communis benefits from both dynamic egg maturation strategies and sugar-feeding.
PMCID: PMC4063472  PMID: 24963373
Aphis glycines; Binodoxys communis; biological control; egg load; soybean aphid
5.  Optimal surveillance strategy for invasive species management when surveys stop after detection 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):1751-1760.
Invasive species are a cause for concern in natural and economic systems and require both monitoring and management. There is a trade-off between the amount of resources spent on surveying for the species and conducting early management of occupied sites, and the resources that are ultimately spent in delayed management at sites where the species was present but undetected. Previous work addressed this optimal resource allocation problem assuming that surveys continue despite detection until the initially planned survey effort is consumed. However, a more realistic scenario is often that surveys stop after detection (i.e., follow a “removal” sampling design) and then management begins. Such an approach will indicate a different optimal survey design and can be expected to be more efficient. We analyze this case and compare the expected efficiency of invasive species management programs under both survey methods. We also evaluate the impact of mis-specifying the type of sampling approach during the program design phase. We derive analytical expressions that optimize resource allocation between monitoring and management in surveillance programs when surveys stop after detection. We do this under a scenario of unconstrained resources and scenarios where survey budget is constrained. The efficiency of surveillance programs is greater if a “removal survey” design is used, with larger gains obtained when savings from early detection are high, occupancy is high, and survey costs are not much lower than early management costs at a site. Designing a surveillance program disregarding that surveys stop after detection can result in an efficiency loss. Our results help guide the design of future surveillance programs for invasive species. Addressing program design within a decision-theoretic framework can lead to a better use of available resources. We show how species prevalence, its detectability, and the benefits derived from early detection can be considered.
PMCID: PMC4063473  PMID: 24963374
Cost-effectiveness; detectability; imperfect detection; optimization; removal design; survey design
6.  Immune priming and pathogen resistance in ant queens 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):1761-1767.
Growing empirical evidence indicates that invertebrates become more resistant to a pathogen following initial exposure to a nonlethal dose; yet the generality, mechanisms, and adaptive value of such immune priming are still under debate. Because life-history theory predicts that immune priming and large investment in immunity should be more frequent in long-lived species, we here tested for immune priming and pathogen resistance in ant queens, which have extraordinarily long life span. We exposed virgin and mated queens of Lasius niger and Formica selysi to a low dose of the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana, before challenging them with a high dose of the same pathogen. We found evidence for immune priming in naturally mated queens of L. niger. In contrast, we found no sign of priming in virgin queens of L. niger, nor in virgin or experimentally mated queens of F. selysi, which indicates that immune priming in ant queens varies according to mating status and mating conditions or species. In both ant species, mated queens showed higher pathogen resistance than virgin queens, which suggests that mating triggers an up-regulation of the immune system. Overall, mated ant queens combine high reproductive output, very long life span, and elevated investment in immune defense. Hence, ant queens are able to invest heavily in both reproduction and maintenance, which can be explained by the fact that mature queens will be protected and nourished by their worker offspring.
PMCID: PMC4063474  PMID: 24963375
formicine ants; immune priming; immunity; life-history; life span; mating
7.  Intraspecific variation in vertical habitat use by tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) in the western North Atlantic 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):1768-1786.
Tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) are a wide ranging, potentially keystone predator species that display a variety of horizontal movement patterns, making use of coastal and pelagic waters. Far less, however, is known about their vertical movements and use of the water column. We used pop-up satellite archival tags with two data sampling rates (high rate and standard rate tags) to investigate the vertical habitat use and diving behavior of tiger sharks tagged on the Puerto Rico–Virgin Islands platform and off Bermuda between 2008 and 2009. Useable data were received from nine of 14 sharks tagged, tracked over a total of 529 days. Sharks spent the majority of their time making yo-yo dives within the upper 50 m of the water column and considerable time within the upper 5 m of the water column. As a result, sharks typically occupied a narrow daily temperature range (∼2°C). Dives to greater than 200 m were common, and all sharks made dives to at least 250 m, with one shark reaching a depth of 828 m. Despite some similarities among individuals, a great deal of intraspecific variability in vertical habit use was observed. Four distinct depth distributions that were not related to tagging location, horizontal movements, sex, or size were detected. In addition, similar depth distributions did not necessitate similar dive patterns among sharks. Recognition of intraspecific variability in habitat use of top predators can be crucial for effective management of these species and for understanding their influence on ecosystem dynamics.
PMCID: PMC4063475  PMID: 24963376
Depth distribution; dive behavior; individual variation; movements; Pop-up Archival Transmitting tag; telemetry
8.  Fin whale MDH-1 and MPI allozyme variation is not reflected in the corresponding DNA sequences 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):1787-1803.
The appeal of genetic inference methods to assess population genetic structure and guide management efforts is grounded in the correlation between the genetic similarity and gene flow among populations. Effects of such gene flow are typically genomewide; however, some loci may appear as outliers, displaying above or below average genetic divergence relative to the genomewide level. Above average population, genetic divergence may be due to divergent selection as a result of local adaptation. Consequently, substantial efforts have been directed toward such outlying loci in order to identify traits subject to local adaptation. Here, we report the results of an investigation into the molecular basis of the substantial degree of genetic divergence previously reported at allozyme loci among North Atlantic fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) populations. We sequenced the exons encoding for the two most divergent allozyme loci (MDH-1 and MPI) and failed to detect any nonsynonymous substitutions. Following extensive error checking and analysis of additional bioinformatic and morphological data, we hypothesize that the observed allozyme polymorphisms may reflect phenotypic plasticity at the cellular level, perhaps as a response to nutritional stress. While such plasticity is intriguing in itself, and of fundamental evolutionary interest, our key finding is that the observed allozyme variation does not appear to be a result of genetic drift, migration, or selection on the MDH-1 and MPI exons themselves, stressing the importance of interpreting allozyme data with caution. As for North Atlantic fin whale population structure, our findings support the low levels of differentiation found in previous analyses of DNA nucleotide loci.
PMCID: PMC4063476  PMID: 24963377
Adaptation; marine mammals; metabolic enzymes; outlier loci; population structure; selection
9.  Predicting future coexistence in a North American ant community 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):1804-1819.
Global climate change will remodel ecological communities worldwide. However, as a consequence of biotic interactions, communities may respond to climate change in idiosyncratic ways. This makes predictive models that incorporate biotic interactions necessary. We show how such models can be constructed based on empirical studies in combination with predictions or assumptions regarding the abiotic consequences of climate change. Specifically, we consider a well-studied ant community in North America. First, we use historical data to parameterize a basic model for species coexistence. Using this model, we determine the importance of various factors, including thermal niches, food discovery rates, and food removal rates, to historical species coexistence. We then extend the model to predict how the community will restructure in response to several climate-related changes, such as increased temperature, shifts in species phenology, and altered resource availability. Interestingly, our mechanistic model suggests that increased temperature and shifts in species phenology can have contrasting effects. Nevertheless, for almost all scenarios considered, we find that the most subordinate ant species suffers most as a result of climate change. More generally, our analysis shows that community composition can respond to climate warming in nonintuitive ways. For example, in the context of a community, it is not necessarily the most heat-sensitive species that are most at risk. Our results demonstrate how models that account for niche partitioning and interspecific trade-offs among species can be used to predict the likely idiosyncratic responses of local communities to climate change.
PMCID: PMC4063477  PMID: 24963378
Ant communities; climate change; differential equations; mechanistic models; species interactions
10.  Spatial genetic structure in Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima and Beta macrocarpa reveals the effect of contrasting mating system, influence of marine currents, and footprints of postglacial recolonization routes 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):1828-1852.
Understanding the factors that contribute to population genetic divergence across a species' range is a long-standing goal in evolutionary biology and ecological genetics. We examined the relative importance of historical and ecological features in shaping the present-day spatial patterns of genetic structure in two related plant species, Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima and Beta macrocarpa. Using nuclear and mitochondrial markers, we surveyed 93 populations from Brittany (France) to Morocco – the southern limit of their species' range distribution. Whereas B. macrocarpa showed a genotypic structure and a high level of genetic differentiation indicative of selfing, the population genetic structure of B. vulgaris subsp. maritima was consistent with an outcrossing mating system. We further showed (1) a strong geographic clustering in coastal B. vulgaris subsp. maritima populations that highlighted the influence of marine currents in shaping different lineages and (2) a peculiar genetic structure of inland B. vulgaris subsp. maritima populations that could indicate the admixture of distinct evolutionary lineages and recent expansions associated with anthropogenic disturbances. Spatial patterns of nuclear diversity and differentiation also supported a stepwise recolonization of Europe from Atlantic-Mediterranean refugia after the last glacial period, with leading-edge expansions. However, cytoplasmic diversity was not impacted by postglacial recolonization: stochastic long-distance seed dispersal mediated by major oceanic currents may mitigate the common patterns of reduced cytoplasmic diversity observed for edge populations. Overall, the patterns we documented here challenge the general view of reduced genetic diversity at the edge of a species' range distribution and provide clues for understanding how life-history and major geographic features interact to shape the distribution of genetic diversity.
PMCID: PMC4063479  PMID: 24963380
Cytonuclear genetic diversity; glacial refugia; marine currents; postglacial expansion; spatial genetics
11.  A multiscale analysis of gene flow for the New England cottontail, an imperiled habitat specialist in a fragmented landscape 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):1853-1875.
Landscape features of anthropogenic or natural origin can influence organisms' dispersal patterns and the connectivity of populations. Understanding these relationships is of broad interest in ecology and evolutionary biology and provides key insights for habitat conservation planning at the landscape scale. This knowledge is germane to restoration efforts for the New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis), an early successional habitat specialist of conservation concern. We evaluated local population structure and measures of genetic diversity of a geographically isolated population of cottontails in the northeastern United States. We also conducted a multiscale landscape genetic analysis, in which we assessed genetic discontinuities relative to the landscape and developed several resistance models to test hypotheses about landscape features that promote or inhibit cottontail dispersal within and across the local populations. Bayesian clustering identified four genetically distinct populations, with very little migration among them, and additional substructure within one of those populations. These populations had private alleles, low genetic diversity, critically low effective population sizes (3.2–36.7), and evidence of recent genetic bottlenecks. Major highways and a river were found to limit cottontail dispersal and to separate populations. The habitat along roadsides, railroad beds, and utility corridors, on the other hand, was found to facilitate cottontail movement among patches. The relative importance of dispersal barriers and facilitators on gene flow varied among populations in relation to landscape composition, demonstrating the complexity and context dependency of factors influencing gene flow and highlighting the importance of replication and scale in landscape genetic studies. Our findings provide information for the design of restoration landscapes for the New England cottontail and also highlight the dual influence of roads, as both barriers and facilitators of dispersal for an early successional habitat specialist in a fragmented landscape.
PMCID: PMC4063480  PMID: 24963381
Connectivity; dispersal; early successional habitat; fragmentation; landscape genetics; New England cottontail; roads
12.  Fitness dynamics within a poplar hybrid zone: II. Impact of exotic sex on native poplars in an urban jungle 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):1876-1889.
Trees bearing novel or exotic gene components are poised to contribute to the bioeconomy for a variety of purposes such as bioenergy production, phytoremediation, and carbon sequestration within the forestry sector, but sustainable release of trees with novel traits in large-scale plantations requires the quantification of risks posed to native tree populations. Over the last century, exotic hybrid poplars produced through artificial crosses were planted throughout eastern Canada as ornamentals or windbreaks and these exotics provide a proxy by which to examine the fitness of exotic poplar traits within the natural environment to assess risk of exotic gene escape, establishment, and spread into native gene pools. We assessed postzygotic fitness traits of native and exotic poplars within a naturally regenerated stand in eastern Canada (Quebec City, QC). Pure natives (P. balsamifera and P. deltoides spp. deltoides), native hybrids (P. deltoides × P. balsamifera), and exotic hybrids (trees bearing Populus nigra and P. maximowiczii genetic components) were screened for reproductive biomass, yield, seed germination, and fungal disease susceptibility. Exotic hybrids expressed fitness traits intermediate to pure species and were not significantly different from native hybrids. They formed fully viable seed and backcrossed predominantly with P. balsamifera. These data show that exotic hybrids were not unfit and were capable of establishing and competing within the native stand. Future research will seek to examine the impact of exotic gene regions on associated biotic communities to fully quantify the risk exotic poplars pose to native poplar forests.
PMCID: PMC4063481  PMID: 24963382
Anthropogenic disturbance; disease susceptibility; hybridization; Populus; postzygotic fitness; SNP genotyping; urban–forest interface
13.  Needle morphological evidence of the homoploid hybrid origin of Pinus densata based on analysis of artificial hybrids and the putative parents, Pinus tabuliformis and Pinus yunnanensis 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):1890-1902.
Genetic analyses indicate that Pinus densata is a natural homoploid hybrid originating from Pinus tabuliformis and Pinus yunnanensis. Needle morphological and anatomical features show relative species stability and can be used to identify coniferous species. Comparative analyses of these needle characteristics and phenotypic differences between the artificial hybrids, P. densata, and parental species can be used to determine the genetic and phenotypic evolutionary consequences of natural hybridization. Twelve artificial hybrid families, the two parental species, and P. densata were seeded in a high-altitude habitat in Linzhi, Tibet. The needles of artificial hybrids and the three pine species were collected, and 24 needle morphological and anatomical traits were analyzed. Based on these results, variations in 10 needle traits among artificial hybrid families and 22 traits among species and artificial hybrids were predicted and found to be under moderate genetic control. Nineteen needle traits in artificial hybrids were similar to those in P. densata and between the two parental species, P. tabuliformis and P. yunnanensis. The ratio of plants with three needle clusters in artificial hybrids was 22.92%, which was very similar to P. densata. The eight needle traits (needle length, the mean number of stomata in sections 2 mm in length of the convex and flat sides of the needle, mean stomatal density, mesophyll/vascular bundle area ratio, mesophyll/resin canal area ratio, mesophyll/(resin canals and vascular bundles) area ratio, vascular bundle/resin canal area ratio) relative to physiological adaptability were similar to the artificial hybrids and P. densata. The similar needle features between the artificial hybrids and P. densata could be used to verify the homoploid hybrid origin of P. densata and helps to better understand of the hybridization roles in adaptation and speciation in plants.
PMCID: PMC4063482  PMID: 24963383
Anatomy; artificial hybrid; morphology; Pinus densata; Pinus tabuliformis; Pinus yunnanensis
14.  A hidden Markov model to identify and adjust for selection bias: an example involving mixed migration strategies 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):1903-1912.
An important assumption in observational studies is that sampled individuals are representative of some larger study population. Yet, this assumption is often unrealistic. Notable examples include online public-opinion polls, publication biases associated with statistically significant results, and in ecology, telemetry studies with significant habitat-induced probabilities of missed locations. This problem can be overcome by modeling selection probabilities simultaneously with other predictor–response relationships or by weighting observations by inverse selection probabilities. We illustrate the problem and a solution when modeling mixed migration strategies of northern white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Captures occur on winter yards where deer migrate in response to changing environmental conditions. Yet, not all deer migrate in all years, and captures during mild years are more likely to target deer that migrate every year (i.e., obligate migrators). Characterizing deer as conditional or obligate migrators is also challenging unless deer are observed for many years and under a variety of winter conditions. We developed a hidden Markov model where the probability of capture depends on each individual's migration strategy (conditional versus obligate migrator), a partially latent variable that depends on winter severity in the year of capture. In a 15-year study, involving 168 white-tailed deer, the estimated probability of migrating for conditional migrators increased nonlinearly with an index of winter severity. We estimated a higher proportion of obligates in the study cohort than in the population, except during a span of 3 years surrounding back-to-back severe winters. These results support the hypothesis that selection biases occur as a result of capturing deer on winter yards, with the magnitude of bias depending on the severity of winter weather. Hidden Markov models offer an attractive framework for addressing selection biases due to their ability to incorporate latent variables and model direct and indirect links between state variables and capture probabilities.
PMCID: PMC4063483  PMID: 24963384
Bayesian; facultative migrator; jags; latent variable; obligate migrator; partially observed state; state-space
15.  Geographic variation in seed traits within and among forty-two species of Rhododendron (Ericaceae) on the Tibetan plateau: relationships with altitude, habitat, plant height, and phylogeny 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):1913-1923.
Seed mass and morphology are plant life history traits that influence seed dispersal ability, seeding establishment success, and population distribution pattern. Southeastern Tibet is a diversity center for Rhododendron species, which are distributed from a few hundred meters to 5500 m above sea level. We examined intra- and interspecific variation in seed mass and morphology in relation to altitude, habitat, plant height, and phylogeny. Seed mass decreased significantly with the increasing altitude and increased significantly with increasing plant height among populations of the same species. Seed mass differed significantly among species and subsections, but not among sections and subgenera. Seed length, width, surface area, and wing length were significantly negative correlated with altitude and significantly positive correlated with plant height. Further, these traits differed significantly among habitats and varied among species and subsection, but not among sections and subgenera. Species at low elevation had larger seeds with larger wings, and seeds became smaller and the wings of seeds tended to be smaller with the increasing altitude. Morphology of the seed varied from flat round to long cylindrical with increasing altitude. We suggest that seed mass and morphology have evolved as a result of both long-term adaptation and constraints of the taxonomic group over their long evolutionary history.
PMCID: PMC4063484  PMID: 24963385
Altitude; geographic variation; habitat; plant height; Rhododendron; seed mass; seed morphology
16.  The causal pie model: an epidemiological method applied to evolutionary biology and ecology 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):1924-1930.
A general concept for thinking about causality facilitates swift comprehension of results, and the vocabulary that belongs to the concept is instrumental in cross-disciplinary communication. The causal pie model has fulfilled this role in epidemiology and could be of similar value in evolutionary biology and ecology. In the causal pie model, outcomes result from sufficient causes. Each sufficient cause is made up of a “causal pie” of “component causes”. Several different causal pies may exist for the same outcome. If and only if all component causes of a sufficient cause are present, that is, a causal pie is complete, does the outcome occur. The effect of a component cause hence depends on the presence of the other component causes that constitute some causal pie. Because all component causes are equally and fully causative for the outcome, the sum of causes for some outcome exceeds 100%. The causal pie model provides a way of thinking that maps into a number of recurrent themes in evolutionary biology and ecology: It charts when component causes have an effect and are subject to natural selection, and how component causes affect selection on other component causes; which partitions of outcomes with respect to causes are feasible and useful; and how to view the composition of a(n apparently homogeneous) population. The diversity of specific results that is directly understood from the causal pie model is a test for both the validity and the applicability of the model. The causal pie model provides a common language in which results across disciplines can be communicated and serves as a template along which future causal analyses can be made.
PMCID: PMC4063485  PMID: 24963386
Agents of selection; aging; causation; causes of mortality; correlated traits; natural selection; semi-neutral mutations; trade-offs
17.  Untangling the relationships among regional occupancy, species traits, and niche characteristics in stream invertebrates 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):1931-1942.
The regional occupancy and local abundance of species are affected by various species traits, but their relative effects are poorly understood. We studied the relationships between species traits and occupancy (i.e., proportion of sites occupied) or abundance (i.e., mean local abundance at occupied sites) of stream invertebrates using small-grained data (i.e., local stream sites) across a large spatial extent (i.e., three drainage basins). We found a significant, yet rather weak, linear relationship between occupancy and abundance. However, occupancy was strongly related to niche position (NP), but it showed a weaker relationship with niche breadth (NB). Abundance was at best weakly related to these explanatory niche-based variables. Biological traits, including feeding modes, habit traits, dispersal modes and body size classes, were generally less important in accounting for variation in occupancy and abundance. Our findings showed that the regional occupancy of stream invertebrate species is mostly related to niche characteristics, in particular, NP. However, the effects of NB on occupancy were affected by the measure itself. We conclude that niche characteristics determine the regional occupancy of species at relatively large spatial extents, suggesting that species distributions are determined by environmental variation among sites.
PMCID: PMC4063486  PMID: 24963387
Body size; invertebrates; niche breadth; niche position; species traits; streams
18.  Microsatellite and Wolbachia analysis in Rhagoletis cerasi natural populations: population structuring and multiple infections 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):1943-1962.
Rhagoletis cerasi (Diptera: Tephritidae) is a major pest of sweet and sour cherries in Europe and parts of Asia. Despite its economic significance, there is a lack of studies on the genetic structure of R. cerasi populations. Elucidating the genetic structure of insects of economic importance is crucial for developing phenological-predictive models and environmental friendly control methods. All natural populations of R. cerasi have been found to harbor the endosymbiont Wolbachia pipientis, which widely affects multiple biological traits contributing to the evolution of its hosts, and has been suggested as a tool for the biological control of insect pests and disease vectors. In the current study, the analysis of 18 R. cerasi populations collected in Greece, Germany, and Russia using 13 microsatellite markers revealed structuring of R. cerasi natural populations, even at close geographic range. We also analyzed the Wolbachia infection status of these populations using 16S rRNA-, MLST- and wsp-based approaches. All 244 individuals screened were positive for Wolbachia. Our results suggest the fixation of the wCer1 strain in Greece while wCer2, wCer4, wCer5, and probably other uncharacterized strains were also detected in multiply infected individuals. The role of Wolbachia and its potential extended phenotypes needs a thorough investigation in R. cerasi. Our data suggest an involvement of this symbiont in the observed restriction in the gene flow in addition to a number of different ecological factors.
PMCID: PMC4063487  PMID: 24963388
Insect symbiosis; microsatellites; Rhagoletis cerasi; Tephritidae; Wolbachia
19.  Bird and mammal species composition in distinct geographic regions and their relationships with environmental factors across multiple spatial scales 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):1963-1971.
Global patters of species distributions and their underlying mechanisms are a major question in ecology, and the need for multi-scale analyses has been recognized. Previous studies recognized climate, topography, habitat heterogeneity and disturbance as important variables affecting such patterns. Here we report on analyses of species composition – environment relationships among different taxonomic groups in two continents, and the components of such relationships, in the contiguous USA and Australia. We used partial Canonical Correspondence Analysis of occurrence records of mammals and breeding birds from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, to quantify relationships between species composition and environmental variables in remote geographic regions at multiple spatial scales, with extents ranging from 105 to 107 km2 and sampling grids from 10 to 10,000 km2. We evaluated the concept that two elements contribute to the impact of environmental variables on composition: the strength of species' affinity to an environmental variable, and the amount of variance in the variable. To disentangle these two elements, we analyzed correlations between resulting trends and the amount of variance contained in different environmental variables to isolate the mechanisms behind the observed relationships. We found that climate and land use-land cover are responsible for most explained variance in species composition, regardless of scale, taxonomic group and geographic region. However, the amount of variance in species composition attributed to land use / land cover (LULC) was closely related to the amount of intrinsic variability in LULC in the USA, but not in Australia, while the effect of climate on species composition was negatively correlated to the variability found in the climatic variables. The low variance in climate, compared to LULC, suggests that species in both taxonomic groups have strong affinity to climate, thus it has a strong effect on species distribution and community composition, while the opposite is true for LULC.
PMCID: PMC4063488  PMID: 24963389
Canonical correspondence analysis; environmental determinants; multiple scales; occurrence data
20.  Relating annual increments of the endangered Blanding's turtle plastron growth to climate 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):1972-1980.
This research is the first published study to report a relationship between climate variables and plastron growth increments of turtles, in this case the endangered Nova Scotia Blanding's turtle (Emydoidea blandingii). We used techniques and software common to the discipline of dendrochronology to successfully cross-date our growth increment data series, to detrend and average our series of 80 immature Blanding's turtles into one common chronology, and to seek correlations between the chronology and environmental temperature and precipitation variables. Our cross-dated chronology had a series intercorrelation of 0.441 (above 99% confidence interval), an average mean sensitivity of 0.293, and an average unfiltered autocorrelation of 0.377. Our master chronology represented increments from 1975 to 2007 (33 years), with index values ranging from a low of 0.688 in 2006 to a high of 1.303 in 1977. Univariate climate response function analysis on mean monthly air temperature and precipitation values revealed a positive correlation with the previous year's May temperature and current year's August temperature; a negative correlation with the previous year's October temperature; and no significant correlation with precipitation. These techniques for determining growth increment response to environmental variables should be applicable to other turtle species and merit further exploration.
PMCID: PMC4063489  PMID: 24963390
Blanding's turtle; Emydoidea blandingii; plastron growth increments; temperature; dendrochronology; climate change
21.  Physiological and ecological effects of increasing temperature on fish production in lakes of Arctic Alaska 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):1981-1993.
Lake ecosystems in the Arctic are changing rapidly due to climate warming. Lakes are sensitive integrators of climate-induced changes and prominent features across the Arctic landscape, especially in lowland permafrost regions such as the Arctic Coastal Plain of Alaska. Despite many studies on the implications of climate warming, how fish populations will respond to lake changes is uncertain for Arctic ecosystems. Least Cisco (Coregonus sardinella) is a bellwether for Arctic lakes as an important consumer and prey resource. To explore the consequences of climate warming, we used a bioenergetics model to simulate changes in Least Cisco production under future climate scenarios for lakes on the Arctic Coastal Plain. First, we used current temperatures to fit Least Cisco consumption to observed annual growth. We then estimated growth, holding food availability, and then feeding rate constant, for future projections of temperature. Projected warmer water temperatures resulted in reduced Least Cisco production, especially for larger size classes, when food availability was held constant. While holding feeding rate constant, production of Least Cisco increased under all future scenarios with progressively more growth in warmer temperatures. Higher variability occurred with longer projections of time mirroring the expanding uncertainty in climate predictions further into the future. In addition to direct temperature effects on Least Cisco growth, we also considered changes in lake ice phenology and prey resources for Least Cisco. A shorter period of ice cover resulted in increased production, similar to warming temperatures. Altering prey quality had a larger effect on fish production in summer than winter and increased relative growth of younger rather than older age classes of Least Cisco. Overall, we predicted increased production of Least Cisco due to climate warming in lakes of Arctic Alaska. Understanding the implications of increased production of Least Cisco to the entire food web will be necessary to predict ecosystem responses in lakes of the Arctic.
PMCID: PMC4063490  PMID: 24963391
Arctic Coastal Plain; climate change; coregonidae; fish bioenergetics; lake food webs
22.  Comparison of the effects of symmetric and asymmetric temperature elevation and CO2 enrichment on yield and evapotranspiration of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):1994-2003.
Under the changing climate, asymmetric warming pattern would be more likely during day and night time, instead of symmetric one. Concurrently, the growth responses and water use of plants may be different compared with those estimated based on symmetric warming. In this work, it was compared with the effects of symmetric (ETs) and asymmetric (ETa) elevation of temperature alone, and in interaction with elevated carbon dioxide concentration (EC), on the grain yield (GY) and evapotranspiration in winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) based on pot experiment in the North China Plain (NCP). The experiment was carried out in six enclosed-top chambers with following climate treatments: (1) ambient temperature and ambient CO2 (CON), (2) ambient temperature and elevated CO2 (EC), (3) elevated temperature and ambient CO2 (ETs; ETa), and (4) elevated temperature and elevated CO2 (ECETs, ECETa). In symmetric warming, temperature was increased by 3°C and in asymmetric one by 3.5°C during night and 2.5°C during daytime, respectively. As a result, GY was in ETa and ETs 15.6 (P < 0.05) and 10.3% (P < 0.05) lower than that in CON. In ECETs and ECETa treatments, GY was 14.9 (P < 0.05) and 9.1% (P < 0.05) higher than that in CON. Opposite to GY, evapotranspiration was 7.8 (P < 0.05) and 17.9% (P < 0.05) higher in ETa and ETs treatments and 7.2 (P < 0.05) and 2.1% (P > 0.05) lower in ECETs and ECETa treatments compared with CON. Thus, GY of wheat could be expected to increase under the changing climate with concurrent elevation of CO2 and temperature as a result of increased WUE under the elevated CO2. However, the gain would be lower under ETa than that estimated based on ETs due to higher evapotranspiration.
PMCID: PMC4063491  PMID: 24963392
Aboveground biomass; grain yield; root biomass; soil water depletion; yield components
23.  Influence of whitebark pine decline on fall habitat use and movements of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):2004-2018.
When abundant, seeds of the high-elevation whitebark pine (WBP; Pinus albicaulis) are an important fall food for grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Rates of bear mortality and bear/human conflicts have been inversely associated with WBP productivity. Recently, mountain pine beetles (Dendroctonus ponderosae) have killed many cone-producing WBP trees. We used fall (15 August–30 September) Global Positioning System locations from 89 bear years to investigate temporal changes in habitat use and movements during 2000–2011. We calculated Manly–Chesson (MC) indices for selectivity of WBP habitat and secure habitat (≥500 m from roads and human developments), determined dates of WBP use, and documented net daily movement distances and activity radii. To evaluate temporal trends, we used regression, model selection, and candidate model sets consisting of annual WBP production, sex, and year. One-third of sampled grizzly bears had fall ranges with little or no mapped WBP habitat. Most other bears (72%) had a MC index above 0.5, indicating selection for WBP habitats. From 2000 to 2011, mean MC index decreased and median date of WBP use shifted about 1 week later. We detected no trends in movement indices over time. Outside of national parks, there was no correlation between the MC indices for WBP habitat and secure habitat, and most bears (78%) selected for secure habitat. Nonetheless, mean MC index for secure habitat decreased over the study period during years of good WBP productivity. The wide diet breadth and foraging plasticity of grizzly bears likely allowed them to adjust to declining WBP. Bears reduced use of WBP stands without increasing movement rates, suggesting they obtained alternative fall foods within their local surroundings. However, the reduction in mortality risk historically associated with use of secure, high-elevation WBP habitat may be diminishing for bears residing in multiple-use areas.
PMCID: PMC4063492  PMID: 24963393
activity radius; diet; food; foraging; habitat selection; Manly–Chesson index; mast production; Pinus albicaulis; roads; Ursus arctos
24.  Hybridization in a warmer world 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(10):2019-2031.
Climate change is profoundly affecting the evolutionary trajectory of individual species and ecological communities, in part through the creation of novel species assemblages. How climate change will influence competitive interactions has been an active area of research. Far less attention, however, has been given to altered reproductive interactions. Yet, reproductive interactions between formerly isolated species are inevitable as populations shift geographically and temporally as a result of climate change, potentially resulting in introgression, speciation, or even extinction. The susceptibility of hybridization rates to anthropogenic disturbance was first recognized in the 1930s. To date, work on anthropogenically mediated hybridization has focused primarily on either physical habitat disturbance or species invasion. Here, I review recent literature on hybridization to identify how ecological responses to climate change will increase the likelihood of hybridization via the dissolution of species barriers maintained by habitat, time, or behavior. Using this literature, I identify several cases where novel hybrid zones have recently formed, likely as a result of changing climate. Future research should focus on identifying areas and taxonomic groups where reproductive species interactions are most likely to be influenced by climate change. Furthermore, a better understanding of the evolutionary consequences of climate-mediated secondary contact is urgently needed. Paradoxically, hybridization is both a major conservation concern and an important source of novel genetic and phenotypic variation. Hybridization may therefore both contribute to increasing rates of extinction and stimulate the creation of novel phenotypes that will speed adaptation to novel climates. Predicting which result will occur following secondary contact will be an important contribution to conservation for many species.
PMCID: PMC4063493  PMID: 24963394
Global change; hybrid zone dynamics; mate choice; phenology; species distribution
25.  Issue Information 
Ecology and Evolution  2014;4(9):i-iii.
PMCID: PMC4063453  PMID: 24967087

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