Biological Sciences, Department of

Receive updates for this collection

Dietary Mechanism behind the Costs Associated with Resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis in the Cabbage Looper, Trichoplusia ni

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-08-29
Abstract: 

Beneficial alleles that spread rapidly as an adaptation to a new environment are often associated with costs that reduce the fitness of the population in the original environment. Several species of insect pests have evolved resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins in the field, jeopardizing its future use. This has most commonly occurred through the alteration of insect midgut binding sites specific for Bt toxins. While fitness costs related to Bt resistance alleles have often been recorded, the mechanisms behind them have remained obscure. We asked whether evolved resistance to Bt alters dietary nutrient intake, and if reduced efficiency of converting ingested nutrients to body growth are associated with fitness costs and variation in susceptibility to Bt. We fed the cabbage looper Trichoplusia ni artificial diets differing in levels of dietary imbalance in two major macronutrients, protein and digestible carbohydrate. By comparing a Bt-resistant T. ni strain with a susceptible strain we found that the mechanism behind reduced pupal weights and growth rates associated with Bt-resistance in T. ni was reduced consumption rather than impaired conversion of ingested nutrients to growth. In fact, Bt-resistant T. ni showed more efficient conversion of nutrients than the susceptible strain under certain dietary conditions. Although increasing levels of dietary protein prior to Bt challenge had a positive effect on larval survival, the LC50 of the resistant strain decreased when fed high levels of excess protein, whereas the LC50 of the susceptible strain continued to rise. Our study demonstrates that examining the nutritional basis of fitness costs may help elucidate the mechanisms underpinning them.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

IglC and PdpA Are Important for Promoting Francisella Invasion and Intracellular Growth in Epithelial Cells

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-08-12
Abstract: 

The highly infectious bacteria, Francisella tularensis, colonize a variety of organs and replicate within both phagocytic as well as non-phagocytic cells, to cause the disease tularemia. These microbes contain a conserved cluster of important virulence genes referred to as the Francisella Pathogenicity Island (FPI). Two of the most characterized FPI genes, iglC and pdpA, play a central role in bacterial survival and proliferation within phagocytes, but do not influence bacterial internalization. Yet, their involvement in non-phagocytic epithelial cell infections remains unexplored. To examine the functions of IglC and PdpA on bacterial invasion and replication during epithelial cell infections, we infected liver and lung epithelial cells with F. novicida and F. tularensis ‘Type B’ Live Vaccine Strain (LVS) deletion mutants (ΔiglC and ΔpdpA) as well as their respective gene complements. We found that deletion of either gene significantly reduced their ability to invade and replicate in epithelial cells. Gene complementation of iglC and pdpA partially rescued bacterial invasion and intracellular growth. Additionally, substantial LAMP1-association with both deletion mutants was observed up to 12 h suggesting that the absence of IglC and PdpA caused deficiencies in their ability to dissociate from LAMP1-positive Francisella Containing Vacuoles (FCVs). This work provides the first evidence that IglC and PdpA are important pathogenic factors for invasion and intracellular growth of Francisella in epithelial cells, and further highlights the discrete mechanisms involved in Francisella infections between phagocytic and non-phagocytic cells.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Indigenous Knowledge and Science Unite to Reveal Spatial and Temporal Dimensions of Distributional Shift in Wildlife of Conservation Concern

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-07-23
Abstract: 

Range shifts among wildlife can occur rapidly and impose cascading ecological, economic, and cultural consequences. However, occurrence data used to define distributional limits derived from scientific approaches are often outdated for wide ranging and elusive species, especially in remote environments. Accordingly, our aim was to amalgamate indigenous and western scientific evidence of grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) records and detail a potential range shift on the central coast of British Columbia, Canada. In addition, we test the hypothesis that data from each method yield similar results, as well as illustrate the complementary nature of this coupled approach. Combining information from traditional and local ecological knowledge (TEK/LEK) interviews with remote camera, genetic, and hunting data revealed that grizzly bears are now present on 10 islands outside their current management boundary. LEK interview data suggested this expansion has accelerated over the last 10 years. Both approaches provided complementary details and primarily affirmed one another: all islands with scientific evidence for occupation had consistent TEK/LEK evidence. Moreover, our complementary methods approach enabled a more spatially and temporally detailed account than either method would have afforded alone. In many cases, knowledge already held by local indigenous people could provide timely and inexpensive data about changing ecological processes. However, verifying the accuracy of scientific and experiential knowledge by pairing sources at the same spatial scale allows for increased confidence and detail. A similarly coupled approach may be useful across taxa in many regions.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Time-Delayed Subsidies: Interspecies Population Effects in Salmon

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-06-09
Abstract: 

Cross-boundary nutrient inputs can enhance and sustain populations of organisms in nutrient-poor recipient ecosystems. For example, Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) can deliver large amounts of marine-derived nutrients to freshwater ecosystems through their eggs, excretion, or carcasses. This has led to the question of whether nutrients from one generation of salmon can benefit juvenile salmon from subsequent generations. In a study of 12 streams on the central coast of British Columbia, we found that the abundance of juvenile coho salmon was most closely correlated with the abundance of adult pink salmon from previous years. There was a secondary role for adult chum salmon and watershed size, followed by other physical characteristics of streams. Most of the coho sampled emerged in the spring, and had little to no direct contact with spawning salmon nutrients at the time of sampling in the summer and fall. A combination of techniques suggest that subsidies from spawning salmon can have a strong, positive, time-delayed influence on the productivity of salmon-bearing streams through indirect effects from previous spawning events. This is the first study on the impacts of nutrients from naturally-occurring spawning salmon on juvenile population abundance of other salmon species.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Genetic Similarity of Island Populations of Tent Caterpillars during Successive Outbreaks

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-05-23
Abstract: 

Cyclic or fluctuating populations experience regular periods of low population density. Genetic bottlenecks during these periods could give rise to temporal or spatial genetic differentiation of populations. High levels of movement among increasing populations, however, could ameliorate any differences and could also synchronize the dynamics of geographically separated populations. We use microsatellite markers to investigate the genetic differentiation of four island and one mainland population of western tent caterpillars, Malacosoma californicum pluviale, in two periods of peak or pre-peak density separated by 8 years. Populations showed high levels of genetic variation and little genetic differentiation either temporally between peaks or spatially among sites. Mitochondrial haplotypes were also shared between one island population and one mainland population in the two years studied. An isolation-by-distance analysis showed the FST values of the two geographically closest populations to have the highest level of differentiation in both years. We conclude that high levels of dispersal among populations maintain both synchrony of population dynamics and override potential genetic differentiation that might occur during population troughs. As far we are aware, this is the first time that genetic similarity between temporally separated population outbreaks in insects has been investigated. A review of genetic data for both vertebrate and invertebrate species of cyclic animals shows that a lack of spatial genetic differentiation is typical, and may result from high levels of dispersal associated with fluctuating dynamics.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Wind Speed during Migration Influences the Survival, Timing of Breeding, and Productivity of a Neotropical Migrant, Setophaga petechia

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-05-14
Abstract: 

Over the course of the annual cycle, migratory bird populations can be impacted by environmental conditions in regions separated by thousands of kilometers. We examine how climatic conditions during discrete periods of the annual cycle influence the demography of a nearctic-neotropical migrant population of yellow warblers (Setophaga petechia), that breed in western Canada and overwinter in Mexico. We demonstrate that wind conditions during spring migration are the best predictor of apparent annual adult survival, male arrival date, female clutch initiation date and, via these timing effects, annual productivity. We find little evidence that conditions during the wintering period influence breeding phenology and apparent annual survival. Our study emphasizes the importance of climatic conditions experienced by migrants during the migratory period and indicates that geography may play a role in which period most strongly impacts migrant populations.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Maternal Effects Underlie Ageing Costs of Growth in the Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata)

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-05-14
Abstract: 

Maternal effects provide a mechanism to adapt offspring phenotype and optimize the mother’s fitness to current environmental conditions. Transferring steroids to the yolk is one way mothers can translate environmental information into potential adaptive signals for offspring. However, maternally-derived hormones might also have adverse effects for offspring. For example, recent data in zebra finch chicks suggested that ageing related-processes (i.e. oxidative stress and telomere loss) were increased after egg-injection of corticosterone (CORT). Still, we have few experimental data describing the effect of maternal effects on the growth-ageing trade-off in offspring. Here, we chronically treated pre-laying zebra finch females (Taeniopygia guttata) with 17-β-estradiol (E2) or CORT, and followed offspring growth and cellular ageing rates (oxidative stress and telomere loss). CORT treatment decreased growth rate in male chicks and increased rate of telomere loss in mothers and female offspring. E2 increased body mass gain in male offspring, while reducing oxidative stress in both sexes but without affecting telomere loss. Since shorter telomeres were previously found to be a proxy of individual lifespan in zebra finches, maternal effects may, through pleiotropic effects, be important determinants of offspring life-expectancy by modulating ageing rate during embryo and post-natal growth.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Biogeography and Change among Regional Coral Communities across the Western Indian Ocean

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-04-09
Abstract: 

Coral reefs are biodiverse ecosystems structured by abiotic and biotic factors operating across many spatial scales. Regional-scale interactions between climate change, biogeography and fisheries management remain poorly understood. Here, we evaluated large-scale patterns of coral communities in the western Indian Ocean after a major coral bleaching event in 1998. We surveyed 291 coral reef sites in 11 countries and over 30° of latitude between 2004 and 2011 to evaluate variations in coral communities post 1998 across gradients in latitude, mainland-island geography and fisheries management. We used linear mixed-effect hierarchical models to assess total coral cover, the abundance of four major coral families (acroporids, faviids, pocilloporids and poritiids), coral genus richness and diversity, and the bleaching susceptibility of the coral communities. We found strong latitudinal and geographic gradients in coral community structure and composition that supports the presence of a high coral cover and diversity area that harbours temperature-sensitive taxa in the northern Mozambique Channel between Tanzania, northern Mozambique and northern Madagascar. Coral communities in the more northern latitudes of Kenya, Seychelles and the Maldives were generally composed of fewer bleaching-tolerant coral taxa and with reduced richness and diversity. There was also evidence for continued declines in the abundance of temperature-sensitive taxa and community change after 2004. While there are limitations of our regional dataset in terms of spatial and temporal replication, these patterns suggest that large-scale interactions between biogeographic factors and strong temperature anomalies influence coral communities while smaller-scale factors, such as the effect of fisheries closures, were weak. The northern Mozambique Channel, while not immune to temperature disturbances, shows continued signs of resistance to climate disturbances and remains a priority for future regional conservation and management actions.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Wary? Effect of Repeated Culling on the Behaviour of an Invasive Predator

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-04-04
Abstract: 

As a result of being hunted, animals often alter their behaviour in ways that make future encounters with predators less likely. When hunting is carried out for conservation, for example to control invasive species, these behavioural changes can inadvertently impede the success of future efforts. We examined the effects of repeated culling by spearing on the behaviour of invasive predatory lionfish (Pterois volitans/miles) on Bahamian coral reef patches. We compared the extent of concealment and activity levels of lionfish at dawn and midday on 16 coral reef patches off Eleuthera, The Bahamas. Eight of the patches had been subjected to regular daytime removals of lionfish by spearing for two years. We also estimated the distance at which lionfish became alert to slowly approaching divers on culled and unculled reef patches. Lionfish on culled reefs were less active and hid deeper within the reef during the day than lionfish on patches where no culling had occurred. There were no differences at dawn when removals do not take place. Lionfish on culled reefs also adopted an alert posture at a greater distance from divers than lionfish on unculled reefs. More crepuscular activity likely leads to greater encounter rates by lionfish with more native fish species because the abundance of reef fish outside of shelters typically peaks at dawn and dusk. Hiding deeper within the reef could also make remaining lionfish less likely to be encountered and more difficult to catch by spearfishers during culling efforts. Shifts in the behaviour of hunted invasive animals might be common and they have implications both for the impact of invasive species and for the design and success of invasive control programs.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

ss3sim: An R Package for Fisheries Stock Assessment Simulation with Stock Synthesis

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-04-03
Abstract: 

Simulation testing is an important approach to evaluating fishery stock assessment methods. In the last decade, the fisheries stock assessment modeling framework Stock Synthesis (SS3) has become widely used around the world. However, there lacks a generalized and scriptable framework for SS3 simulation testing. Here, we introduce ss3sim, an R package that facilitates reproducible, flexible, and rapid end-to-end simulation testing with SS3. ss3sim requires an existing SS3 model configuration along with plain-text control files describing alternative population dynamics, fishery properties, sampling scenarios, and assessment approaches. ss3sim then generates an underlying ‘truth’ from a specified operating model, samples from that truth, modifies and runs an estimation model, and synthesizes the results. The simulations can be run in parallel, reducing runtime, and the source code is free to be modified under an open-source MIT license. ss3sim is designed to explore structural differences between the underlying truth and assumptions of an estimation model, or between multiple estimation model configurations. For example, ss3sim can be used to answer questions about model misspecification, retrospective patterns, and the relative importance of different types of fisheries data. We demonstrate the software with an example, discuss how ss3sim complements other simulation software, and outline specific research questions that ss3sim could address.

Document type: 
Article
File(s):