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Location Is Everything: Evaluating the Effects of Terrestrial and Marine Resource Subsidies on an Estuarine Bivalve

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015
Abstract: 

Estuaries are amongst the world’s most productive ecosystems, lying at the intersection between terrestrial and marine environments. They receive substantial inputs from adjacent landscapes but the importance of resource subsidies is not well understood. Here, we test hypotheses for the effects of both terrestrial- and salmon-derived resource subsidies on the diet (inferred from stable isotopes of muscle tissue), size and percent nitrogen of the soft-shell clam (Mya arenaria), a sedentary estuarine consumer. We examine how these relationships shift across natural gradients among 14 estuaries that vary in upstream watershed size and salmon density on the central coast of British Columbia, Canada. We also test how assimilation and response to subsidies vary at smaller spatial scales within estuaries. The depletion and enrichment of stable isotope ratios in soft-shell clam muscle tissue correlated with increasing upstream watershed size and salmon density, respectively. The effects of terrestrial- and salmon-derived subsidies were also strongest at locations near stream outlets. When we controlled for age of individual clams, there were larger individuals with higher percent nitrogen content in estuaries below larger watersheds, though this effect was limited to the depositional zones below river mouths. Pink salmon exhibited a stronger effect on isotope ratios of clams than chum salmon, which could reflect increased habitat overlap as spawning pink salmon concentrate in lower stream reaches, closer to intertidal clam beds. However, there were smaller clams in estuaries that had higher upstream pink salmon densities, possibly due to differences in habitat requirements. Our study highlights the importance of upstream resource subsidies to this bivalve species, but that individual responses to subsidies can vary at smaller scales within estuaries.

Document type: 
Article
Dataset

Prioritizing Populations for Conservation Using Phylogenetic Networks

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-02-28
Abstract: 

In the face of inevitable future losses to biodiversity, ranking species by conservation priority seems more than prudent. Setting conservation priorities within species (i.e., at the population level) may be critical as species ranges become fragmented and connectivity declines. However, existing approaches to prioritization (e.g., scoring organisms by their expected genetic contribution) are based on phylogenetic trees, which may be poor representations of differentiation below the species level. In this paper we extend evolutionary isolation indices used in conservation planning from phylogenetic trees to phylogenetic networks. Such networks better represent population differentiation, and our extension allows populations to be ranked in order of their expected contribution to the set. We illustrate the approach using data from two imperiled species: the spotted owl Strix occidentalis in North America and the mountain pygmy-possum Burramys parvus in Australia. Using previously published mitochondrial and microsatellite data, we construct phylogenetic networks and score each population by its relative genetic distinctiveness. In both cases, our phylogenetic networks capture the geographic structure of each species: geographically peripheral populations harbor less-redundant genetic information, increasing their conservation rankings. We note that our approach can be used with all conservation-relevant distances (e.g., those based on whole-genome, ecological, or adaptive variation) and suggest it be added to the assortment of tools available to wildlife managers for allocating effort among threatened populations.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Equations for Lipid Normalization of Carbon Stable Isotope Ratios in Aquatic Bird Eggs

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-01-22
Abstract: 

Stable isotope ratios are biogeochemical tracers that can be used to determine the source of nutrients and contaminants in avian eggs. However, the interpretation of stable carbon ratios in lipid-rich eggs is complicated because 13C is depleted in lipids. Variation in 13C abundance can therefore be obscured by variation in percent lipids. Past attempts to establish an algebraic equation to correct carbon isotope ratios for lipid content in eggs have been unsuccessful, possibly because they relied partly on data from coastal or migratory species that may obtain egg lipids from different habitats than egg protein. We measured carbon, nitrogen and sulphur stable isotope ratios in 175 eggs from eight species of aquatic birds. Carbon, nitrogen and sulphur isotopes were enriched in lipid-extracted egg samples compared with non extracted egg samples. A logarithmic equation using the C:N ratio and carbon isotope ratio from the non extracted egg tissue calculated 90% of the lipid-extracted carbon isotope ratios within ±0.5‰. Calculating separate equations for eggs laid by species in different habitats (pelagic, offshore and terrestrial-influenced) improved the fit. A logarithmic equation, rather than a linear equation as often used for muscle, was necessary to accurately correct for lipid content because the relatively high lipid content of eggs compared with muscle meant that a linear relationship did not accurately approximate the relationship between percent lipids and the C:N ratio. Because lipid extraction alters sulphur and nitrogen isotope ratios (and cannot be corrected algebraically), we suggest that isotopic measurement on bulk tissue followed by algebraic lipid normalization of carbon stable isotope ratio is often a good solution for homogenated eggs, at least when it is not possible to complete separate chemical analyses for each isotope.

Document type: 
Article
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Genetic Resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis Alters Feeding Behaviour in the Cabbage Looper, Trichoplusia ni

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-01-21
Abstract: 

Evolved resistance to xenobiotics and parasites is often associated with fitness costs when the selection pressure is absent. Resistance to the widely used microbial insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) has evolved in several insect species through the modification of insect midgut binding sites for Bt toxins, and reports of costs associated with Bt resistance are common. Studies on the costs of Bt-resistance restrict the insect to a single artificial diet or host-plant. However, it is well documented that insects can self-select appropriate proportions of multiple nutritionally unbalanced foods to optimize life-history traits. Therefore, we examined whether Bt-resistant and susceptible cabbage loopers Trichoplusia ni differed in their nutrient intake and fitness costs when they were allowed to compose their own protein:carbohydrate diet. We found that Bt-resistant T. ni composed a higher ratio of protein to carbohydrate than susceptible T. ni. Bt-resistant males exhibited no fitness cost, while the fitness cost (reduced pupal weight) was present in resistant females. The absence of the fitness cost in resistant males was associated with increased carbohydrate consumption compared to females. We demonstrate a sex difference in a fitness cost and a new behavioural outcome associated with Bt resistance.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Prey Vulnerability Limits Top-Down Control and Alters Reciprocal Feedbacks in a Subsidized Model Food Web

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-01-21
Abstract: 

Resource subsidies increase the productivity of recipient food webs and can affect ecosystem dynamics. Subsidies of prey often support elevated predator biomass which may intensify top-down control and reduce the flow of reciprocal subsidies into adjacent ecosystems. However, top-down control in subsidized food webs may be limited if primary consumers posses morphological or behavioral traits that limit vulnerability to predation. In forested streams, terrestrial prey support high predator biomass creating the potential for strong top-down control, however armored primary consumers often dominate the invertebrate assemblage. Using empirically based simulation models, we tested the response of stream food webs to variations in subsidy magnitude, prey vulnerability, and the presence of two top predators. While terrestrial prey inputs increased predator biomass (+12%), the presence of armored primary consumers inhibited top-down control, and diverted most aquatic energy (~75%) into the riparian forest through aquatic insect emergence. Food webs without armored invertebrates experienced strong trophic cascades, resulting in higher algal (~50%) and detrital (~1600%) biomass, and reduced insect emergence (−90%). These results suggest prey vulnerability can mediate food web responses to subsidies, and that top-down control can be arrested even when predator-invulnerable consumers are uncommon (20%) regardless of the level of subsidy.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Pharmacological Inhibition of O-GlcNAcase (OGA) Prevents Cognitive Decline and Amyloid Plaque Formation in Bigenic Tau/APP Mutant Mice

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

Background

Amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) are the defining pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Increasing the quantity of the O-linked N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) post-translational modification of nuclear and cytoplasmic proteins slows neurodegeneration and blocks the formation of NFTs in a tauopathy mouse model. It remains unknown, however, if O-GlcNAc can influence the formation of amyloid plaques in the presence of tau pathology.

Results

We treated double transgenic TAPP mice, which express both mutant human tau and amyloid precursor protein (APP), with a highly selective orally bioavailable inhibitor of the enzyme responsible for removing O-GlcNAc (OGA) to increase O-GlcNAc in the brain. We find that increased O-GlcNAc levels block cognitive decline in the TAPP mice and this effect parallels decreased β-amyloid peptide levels and decreased levels of amyloid plaques.

Conclusions

This study indicates that increased O-GlcNAc can influence β-amyloid pathology in the presence of tau pathology. The findings provide good support for OGA as a promising therapeutic target to alter disease progression in Alzheimer disease.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

A Meal or a Male: The ‘Whispers’ Of Black Widow Males Do Not Trigger a Predatory Response in Females

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

Introduction

Female spiders are fine-tuned to detect and quickly respond to prey vibrations, presenting a challenge to courting males who must attract a female’s attention but not be mistaken for prey. This is likely particularly important at the onset of courtship when a male enters a female’s web. In web-dwelling spiders, little is known about how males solve this conundrum, or about their courtship signals. Here we used laser Doppler vibrometry to study the vibrations produced by males and prey (house flies and crickets) on tangle webs of the western black widow Latrodectus hesperus and on sheet webs of the hobo spider Tegenaria agrestis. We recorded the vibrations at the location typically occupied by a hunting female spider. We compared the vibrations produced by males and prey in terms of their waveform, dominant frequency, frequency bandwidth, amplitude and duration. We also played back recorded male and prey vibrations through the webs of female L. hesperus to determine the vibratory parameters that trigger a predatory response in females.

Results

We found overlap in waveform between male and prey vibrations in both L. hesperus and T. agrestis. In both species, male vibrations were continuous, of long duration (on average 6.35 s for T. agrestis and 9.31 s for L. hesperus), and lacked complex temporal patterning such as repeated motifs or syllables. Prey vibrations were shorter (1.38 - 2.59 s), sporadic and often percussive. Based on the parameters measured, courtship signals of male L. hesperus differed more markedly from prey cues than did those of T. agrestis. Courtship vibrations of L. hesperus males differed from prey vibrations in terms of dominant frequency, amplitude and duration. Vibrations of T. agrestis males differed from prey in terms of duration only. During a playback experiment, L. hesperus females did not respond aggressively to low-amplitude vibrations irrespective of whether the playback recording was from a prey or a male.

Conclusions

Unlike courtship signals of other spider species, the courtship signals of L. hesperus and T. agrestis males do not have complex temporal patterning. The low-amplitude ‘whispers’ of L. hesperus males at the onset of courtship are less likely to trigger a predatory response in females than the high-amplitude vibrations of struggling prey.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Individual Quality Explains Association between Plumage Colouration, Arrival Dates and Mate Acquisition in Yellow Warblers (Setophaga petechia)

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

Background

In many bird species colour traits influence social dominance and breeding success. In our study we first evaluated whether the colour of the basic plumage (tail feathers grown at the end of the breeding season), that provides an index of individual quality, influenced winter habitat use by yellow warblers. We then evaluated whether winter habitat use (inferred using δ13C and δ15N signatures of winter grown greater-coverts) influenced alternate plumage colouration, after controlling for individual quality using basic plumage colouration. Finally, we investigated whether basic and alternate plumage colouration influenced arrival dates, mate acquisition, breeding phenology and reproductive success of yellow warblers breeding in southern (Revelstoke, B.C.) and arctic (Inuvik, N.W.T.) Canada.

Results

The colour (chroma and hue) of tail feathers, grown on the breeding grounds, was not related to subsequent winter habitat use. Greater covert and tail feather colour (chroma and hue) were correlated, suggesting genetics and/or individual quality played a role in pigment deposition. After controlling for individual difference in tail colour, δ13C values did not explain any variation in greater covert colour, but birds with high δ15N signatures had greater coverts with higher chroma. Male arrival dates varied with tail chroma in Revelstoke and tail hue in Inuvik. Males that arrived early paired with older and/or more colourful mates that initiated clutches earlier, and at one site (Revelstoke) were more likely to fledge young. In addition, in Revelstoke (but not Inuvik) males with high tail hue also acquired more colourful mates. In contrast, after controlling for individual differences in tail colour, greater covert colour did not affect male arrival date, the quality of the mate obtained or reproductive success in either population.

Conclusions

Our results suggest that plumage colour effects on breeding phenology and mate acquisition result from differences in the intrinsic quality of individuals rather than a carry-over effect of winter habitat use.

Document type: 
Article
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Basal Metabolic Rate and Maternal Energetic Investment Durations in Mammals

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

Background

The Metabolic Theory of Ecology (MTE) predicts that gestation duration, lactation duration, and their sum, total development time, are constrained by mass-specific basal metabolic rate such that they should scale with body mass with an exponent of 0.25. However, tests of the MTE’s predictions have yielded mixed results. In an effort to resolve this uncertainty, we used phylogenetically-controlled regression to investigate the allometries of gestation duration, lactation duration, and total development time in four well-studied mammalian orders, Artiodactyla, Carnivora, Primates, and Rodentia.

Results

The results we obtained are not consistent with the predictions of the MTE. Gestation duration scaling exponents are below 0.25 in all four orders. The scaling exponent for lactation duration is below 0.25 in Carnivora and Rodentia, indistinguishable from 0.25 in Artiodactyls, and steeper than 0.25 in Primates. Total development time scales with body mass as predicted by the MTE in Primates, but not in artiodactyls, carnivores, and rodents. In the latter three orders, the exponent is 0.15.

Conclusions

Together, these results indicate that the influence of basal metabolic rate on mammalian maternal investment durations must be more complicated than the MTE envisages, and that other factors must play an important role. Future research needs to allow for the possibility that different factors drive gestation duration and lactation duration, and that the drivers of the two durations may differ among orders.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Population Structure of Guppies in North-Eastern Venezuela, the Area of Putative Incipient Speciation

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

Background

Geographic barriers to gene flow and divergence among populations in sexual traits are two important causes of genetic isolation which may lead to speciation. Genetic isolation may be facilitated if these two mechanisms act synergistically. The guppy from the Cumaná region (within the Cariaco drainage) of eastern Venezuela has been previously described as a case of incipient speciation driven by sexual selection, significantly differentiated in sexual colouration and body shape from the common guppy, Poecilia reticulata. The latter occurs widely in northern Venezuela, including the south-eastern side of Cordillera de la Costa, where it inhabits streams belonging to the San Juan drainage. Here, we present molecular and morphological analyses of differentiation among guppy populations in the Cariaco and San Juan drainages. Our analyses are based on a 953 bp long mtDNA fragment, a set of 15 microsatellites (519 fish from 20 populations), and four phenotypic traits.

Results

Both microsatellite and mtDNA data showed that guppies inhabiting the two drainages are characterised by a significant genetic differentiation, but a higher proportion of the genetic variance was distributed among populations within regions. Most guppies in the Cariaco drainage had mtDNA from a distinct lineage, but we also found evidence for widespread introgression of mtDNA from the San Juan drainage into the Cariaco drainage. Phenotypically, populations in the two regions differed significantly only in the number of black crescents. Phenotypic clustering did not support existence of two distinct groupings, but indicated a degree of distinctiveness of Central Cumaná (CC) population. However, CC population showed little differentiation at the neutral markers from the proximate populations within the Cariaco drainage.

Conclusions

Our findings are consistent with only partial genetic isolation between the two geographic regions and indicate that the geographic barrier of Cordillera de la Costa has not played an important role in strengthening the incomplete pre-zygotic reproductive barrier between Cumaná and common guppy. Significant phenotypic differentiation between genetically similar (in terms of neutral variation) populations suggests that mate choice can maintain divergence at sexually selected traits despite gene flow. However, neither genetic nor phenotypic clustering supported delineation of two species within the region.

Document type: 
Article
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