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Impacts of Acidic Seawater on Early Developmental Stages of Fucus gardneri at Burrard Inlet, British Columbia

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-12-05
Abstract: 

Increases in stressors associated with climate change such as ocean acidification and warming temperatures pose a serious threat to intertidal ecosystems. Of crucial importance are the effects on foundational species, such as fucoid algae, a critical component of rocky intertidal shorelines around the world. The impact of climate change on adult fronds of fucoid algae has been documented but effects on early developmental stages are not as well understood. In particular, ocean acidification stands to impact these stages because zygotes and embryos are known to maintain internal pH and develop a cytosolic pH gradient during development. To assess the effects of seawater acidification on early development, zygotes of Fucus gardneri were exposed to artificial seawater (ASW) buffered to conditions that approximate current global averages and extend largely beyond future projections. Exposure to acidic seawater had significant effects on embryonic growth. Specifically, rhizoid elongation, which occurs by a process known as tip growth, was significantly reduced with each 0.5 unit drop in pH. When pH was decreased from 8.0 to 7.5, which is similar to levels that have been observed in Burrard Inlet, there was reduction in rhizoid growth rate of almost 20%. Under more extreme conditions, at pH 6, rhizoid growth rates were reduced by 64% in comparison to embryos exposed to seawater at pH 8.0. On the other hand, acidic seawater had no effect on earlier processes; zygotes became multicellular embryos with well-formed rhizoids on a similar time course within the first 24 h of development, even when exposed to pH 6, an extreme pH well below what is expected in the future. This suggests that zygotes can maintain an internal pH that allows germination and cell division to occur. Tip growth, however, depends on the extended maintenance of an internal pH gradient. It is therefore possible that disruptions to this gradient could account for the observed reductions in rhizoid elongation. Under acidic conditions proton influx into the cell becomes energetically more favorable than at pH 8, and expulsion would be more difficult. This could disrupt the cytosolic pH gradient and in turn affect rhizoid growth.

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Conservation Risk and Uncertainty in Recovery Prospects for a Collapsed and Culturally Important Salmon Population in a Mixed‐Stock Fishery

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-11-22
Abstract: 

Mixed‐stock fisheries simultaneously exploit populations that may differ in their conservation status, and uncertainty in stock‐specific harvest rates can hamper evaluations of recovery prospects for depressed populations. These difficulties are exemplified in the Sockeye Salmon population from the Atnarko watershed, which collapsed in the early 2000s, causing cultural and economic hardship. A recovery plan identified the incidental harvest of Sockeye Salmon by mixed‐stock fisheries in the Atnarko as a potential, but poorly understood, impediment to recovery. We reconstructed harvest rates for salmon in Indigenous and commercial fisheries and used an age‐structured state‐space model of stock–recruit dynamics to predict how a range of future mixed‐stock harvest rates would influence recovery. Under recent harvest rates, there is a 50–60% chance that the population will grow to exceed a recovery goal of 15,000 spawners over the next four generations. Eliminating the harvest of Sockeye Salmon altogether increased predicted recovery prospects to a maximum of 69%, suggesting that factors other than fisheries are contributing to the lack of recovery (e.g., ocean conditions) and that harvest management alone is unlikely to lead to recovery with a high degree of certainty. We developed a generalized migration, harvest, and catch monitoring simulation model to quantify how different monitoring scenarios might improve estimates for mixed‐stock harvest rates. Increasing the number of specimens collected for genetic samples improved the harvest rate estimates for each stock caught in the mixed‐stock fisheries, particularly for the smallest stocks, and relative to single sampling events conducted near the peak of the return migration, weekly sampling improved estimates only slightly but provided insurance against missing the peak of the return migration. Our study highlights collaborative research initiated and directed by the Nuxalk Nation to promote the recovery of a depressed stock that is inherent to traditional foods, thereby contributing to a global effort to integrate Indigenous cultural values with biological conservation.

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AMBRA1, Autophagy, and the Extreme Male Brain Theory of Autism

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-10-10
Abstract: 

The extreme male brain theory of autism posits that its male bias is mediated by exaggeration of male-biased sex differences in the expression of autism-associated traits found in typical populations. The theory is supported by extensive phenotypic evidence, but no genes have yet been described with properties that fit its predictions. The autophagy-associated gene AMBRA1 represents one of the top genome-wide “hits” in recent GWAS studies of schizophrenia, shows sex-differential expression, and has been linked with autism risk and traits in humans and mice, especially or exclusively among females. We genotyped the AMBRA1 autism-risk SNP in a population of typical humans who were scored for the dimensional expression of autistic and schizotypal traits. Females, but not males, homozygous for the GG genotype showed a significant increase in score for the single trait, the Autism Quotient-Imagination subscale, that exhibits a strong, significant male bias in typical populations. As such, females with this genotype resembled males for this highly sexually dimorphic, autism-associated phenotype. These findings support the extreme male brain hypothesis and indicate that sex-specific genetic effects can mediate aspects of risk for autism.

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Non-Specific Expression of Fertilization Genes in the Crown-of-Thorns Acanthaster Cf. Solaris: Unexpected Evidence of Hermaphroditism in a Coral Reef Predator

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-12-14
Abstract: 

The characterization of gene expression in gametes has advanced our understanding of the molecular basis for ecological variation in reproductive success and the evolution of reproductive isolation. These advances are especially significant for ecologically important keystone predators such as the coral-eating crown-of-thorns sea stars (COTS, Acanthaster) which are the most influential predator species in Indo-Pacific coral reef ecosystems and the focus of intensive management efforts. We used RNA-seq and transcriptome assemblies to characterize the expression of genes in mature COTS gonads. We described the sequence and domain organization of eight genes with sex-specific expression and well known functions in fertilization in other echinoderms. We found unexpected expression of genes in one ovary transcriptome that are characteristic of males and sperm, including genes that encode the sperm specific guanylate cyclase receptor for an egg pheromone, and the sperm acrosomal protein bindin. In a reassembly of previously published RNA-seq data from COTS testes, we found a complementary pattern: strong expression of four genes that are otherwise well known to encode egg-specific fertilization proteins, including the egg receptor for bindin (EBR1) and the acrosome reaction-inducing substance in the egg coat (ARIS1, ARIS2, ARIS3). We also found histological evidence of both eggs and sperm developing in the same gonad in several COTS individuals from a parallel study. These results suggest the occurrence of hermaphrodites, and the potential for reproductive assurance via self-fertilization. Our findings have implications for management of COTS populations, especially in consideration of the large size and massive fecundity of these sea stars.

Document type: 
Article

A Maternal High-Fat, High-Sucrose Diet Has Sex-Specific Effects on Fetal Glucocorticoids with Little Consequence for Offspring Metabolism and Voluntary Locomotor Activity in Mice

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2017-03-16
Abstract: 

Maternal overnutrition and obesity during pregnancy can have long-term effects on offspring physiology and behaviour. These developmental programming effects may be mediated by fetal exposure to glucocorticoids, which is regulated in part by placental 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11β-HSD) type 1 and 2. We tested whether a maternal high-fat, high-sucrose diet would alter expression of placental 11β-HSD1 and 2, thereby increasing fetal exposure to maternal glucocorticoids, with downstream effects on offspring physiology and behaviour. C57BL/6J mice were fed a high-fat, high-sucrose (HFHS) diet or a nutrient-matched low-fat, no-sucrose control diet prior to and during pregnancy and lactation. At day 17 of gestation, HFHS dams had ~20% lower circulating corticosterone levels than controls. Furthermore, there was a significant interaction between maternal diet and fetal sex for circulating corticosterone levels in the fetuses, whereby HFHS males tended to have higher corticosterone than control males, with no effect in female fetuses. However, placental 11β-HSD1 or 11β-HSD2 expression did not differ between diets or show an interaction between diet and sex. To assess potential long-term consequences of this sex-specific effect on fetal corticosterone, we studied locomotor activity and metabolic traits in adult offspring. Despite a sex-specific effect of maternal diet on fetal glucocorticoids, there was little evidence of sex-specific effects on offspring physiology or behaviour, although HFHS offspring of both sexes had higher circulating corticosterone at 9 weeks of age. Our results suggest the existence of as yet unknown mechanisms that mitigate the effects of altered glucocorticoid exposure early in development, making offspring resilient to the potentially negative effects of a HFHS maternal diet.

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Abundance and Distribution of Microplastics within Surface Sediments of a Key Shellfish Growing Region of Canada

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-05-23
Abstract: 

The abundance and distribution of microplastics within 5 sediment size classes (>5000 μm, 1000–5000 μm, 250–1000 μm, 250–0.63 μm and < 0.63 μm) were determined for 16 sites within Lambert Channel and Baynes Sound, British Columbia, Canada. This region is Canada’s premier growing area for the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas). Microplastics were found at all sampling locations indicating widespread contamination of this region with these particles. Three types of microplastics were recovered: microbeads, which occurred in the greatest number (up to 25000/kg dry sediment) and microfibers and microfragments, which were much less in number compared with microbeads and occurred in similar amounts (100–300/kg dry sediment). Microbeads were recovered primarily in the < 0.63 μm and 250–0.63 μm sediment size class, whereas microfragments and microfibers were generally identified in all 5 sediment size classes. Abundance and distribution of the three types of microplastics were spatially dependent with principal component analysis (PCA) indicating that 84 percent of the variation in abundance and distribution was due to the presence of high numbers of microbeads at three locations within the study region. At these sites, microbeads expressed as a percent component of the sediment by weight was similar to key geochemical components that govern trace metal behavior and availability to benthic organisms. Microbeads have been shown to accumulate metals from the aquatic environment, hence in addition to the traditional geochemical components such as silt and organic matter, microplastics also need to be considered as a sediment component that can influence trace metal geochemistry. Our findings have shown that BC’s premier oyster growing region is highly contaminated with microplastics, notably microbeads. It would be prudent to assess the degree to which oysters from this region are ingesting microplastics. If so, it would have direct implications for Canada’s oyster farming industry with respect to the health of the oyster and the quality of product that is being farmed and sets an example for other shellfish growing regions of the world.

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Macro and Micro Plastics Sorb and Desorb Metals and Act As A Point Source of Trace Metals To Coastal Ecosystems

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-02-14
Abstract: 

Nine urban intertidal regions in Burrard Inlet, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, were sampled for plastic debris. Debris included macro and micro plastics and originated from a wide diversity of uses ranging from personal hygiene to solar cells. Debris was characterized for its polymer through standard physiochemical characteristics, then subject to a weak acid extraction to remove the metals, zinc, copper, cadmium and lead from the polymer. Recently manufactured low density polyethylene (LDPE), nylon, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) were subject to the same extraction. Data was statistically analyzed by appropriate parametric and non-parametric tests when needed with significance set at P < 0.05. Polymers identified in field samples in order of abundance were; PVC (39), LDPE (28), PS (18), polyethylene (PE, 9), PP (8), nylon (8), high density polyethylene (HDPE, 7), polycarbonate (PC, 6), PET (6), polyurethane (PUR, 3) and polyoxymethylene (POM, 2). PVC and LDPE accounted for 46% of all samples. Field samples of PVC, HDPE and LDPE had significantly greater amounts of acid extracted copper and HDPE, LDPE and PUR significantly greater amounts of acid extracted zinc. PVC and LDPE had significantly greater amounts of acid extracted cadmium and PVC tended to have greater levels of acid extracted lead, significantly so for HDPE. Five of the collected items demonstrated extreme levels of acid extracted metal; greatest concentrations were 188, 6667, 698,000 and 930 μgg-1 of copper, zinc, lead and cadmium respectively recovered from an unidentified object comprised of PVC. Comparison of recently manufactured versus field samples indicated that recently manufactured samples had significantly greater amounts of acid extracted cadmium and zinc and field samples significantly greater amounts of acid extracted copper and lead which was primarily attributed to metal extracted from field samples of PVC. Plastic debris will affect metals within coastal ecosystems by; 1) providing a sorption site (copper and lead), notably for PVC 2) desorption from the plastic i.e., the “inherent” load (cadmium and zinc) and 3) serving as a point source of acute trace metal exposure to coastal ecosystems. All three mechanisms will put coastal ecosystems at risk to the toxic effects of these metals.

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Values-Led Management: The Guidance of Place-Based Values in Environmental Relationships of the Past, Present, and Future

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-10-01
Abstract: 

The prevalence of widespread, human-caused ecological degradation suggests that fundamental change is needed in how societies interact with the environment. In this paper we argue that durable models of environmental relationships already exist in approaches of place-based peoples, whose values connect people to their environments, provide guidance on appropriate behaviors, and structure sustained people-place relationships. To illustrate, we identify and discuss concordant values of indigenous peoples at opposite ends of the Pacific Ocean: the Māori of Aotearoa (New Zealand), and First Nations of the West Coast of Canada. We find that values of relatedness to, respect of, and reciprocity with other species and places correspond with sustained long-term relationships between people and places, and illustrate with examples from both regions. We propose that by integrating a values-led foundation into management broadly, values-led management could enable similar sustained relationships in places where they have been recently disrupted or where they are altogether lacking. We characterize values-led management as being founded on values that underpin stewardship-like relationships between people and place and that in turn guide related objectives, policies, and practices. We examine two contemporary values-led management plans that follow this structure, and provide additional examples of emergent values-led approaches elsewhere. From these we compile a set of questions that might guide the conception of place-based values-led management in decolonizing contexts, in contexts where people have a desire for place-based approaches but have not yet distilled foundational values for guidance, or in contexts where people have a united set of values but have not yet translated them into specific management approaches. We conclude by discussing both the challenges and learning opportunities that the resumption, or commencement, of values-led management might entail.

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Postfledging Survival and Local Recruitment of a Riparian Songbird in Habitat Influenced By Reservoir Operations

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-06-01
Abstract: 

The impact of anthropogenic activities on breeding bird populations are typically assessed using nest success despite the importance of the postfledging period and juvenile survival for the population dynamics of many birds. Using a combination of radio telemetry data collected between 2012 and 2014, and long-term monitoring data collected between 2005 and 2016, we evaluated whether postfledging survival of Yellow Warblers (Setophaga petechia) is affected when their riparian nesting habitat becomes inundated by the Upper Arrow Lakes Reservoir in the Columbia River Valley near Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada. Thirty-eight percent of radiotagged fledglings (n = 26) survived for at least 21 days after leaving the nest. Radio-tagged birds that fledged from nests in territories that were inundated by water tended to be have lower survival than those that fledged from nests in territories that were not inundated by water. Local recruitment was low (6.4%, n = 438). Local recruitment was nevertheless positively affected by nestling condition prior to fledging. Fledglings from territories that were not inundated by water also tended to be more likely to recruit locally than those that fledged from territories that were inundated by water. In both cases, we estimated that reservoir operations that flooded habitat reduced postfledging survival or local recruitment by approximately 50%. Our study emphasizes the importance of considering the postfledging period when developing mitigation measures or management plans aimed at minimizing the impact of anthropogenic activities on bird populations.

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Pathogens and Molds Affecting Production and Quality of Cannabis sativa L.

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-10-17
Abstract: 

Plant pathogens infecting marijuana (Cannabis sativa L.) plants reduce growth of the crop by affecting the roots, crown, and foliage. In addition, fungi (molds) that colonize the inflorescences (buds) during development or after harvest, and which colonize internal tissues as endophytes, can reduce product quality. The pathogens and molds that affect C. sativa grown hydroponically indoors (in environmentally controlled growth rooms and greenhouses) and field-grown plants were studied over multiple years of sampling. A PCR-based assay using primers for the internal transcribed spacer region (ITS) of ribosomal DNA confirmed identity of the cultures. Root-infecting pathogens included Fusarium oxysporum, Fusarium solani, Fusarium brachygibbosum, Pythium dissotocum, Pythium myriotylum, and Pythium aphanidermatum, which caused root browning, discoloration of the crown and pith tissues, stunting and yellowing of plants, and in some instances, plant death. On the foliage, powdery mildew, caused by Golovinomyces cichoracearum, was the major pathogen observed. On inflorescences, Penicillium bud rot (caused by Penicillium olsonii and Penicillium copticola), Botrytis bud rot (Botrytis cinerea), and Fusarium bud rot (F. solani, F. oxysporum) were present to varying extents. Endophytic fungi present in crown, stem, and petiole tissues included soil-colonizing and cellulolytic fungi, such as species of Chaetomium, Trametes, Trichoderma, Penicillium, and Fusarium. Analysis of air samples in indoor growing environments revealed that species of Penicillium, Cladosporium, Aspergillus, Fusarium, Beauveria, and Trichoderma were present. The latter two species were the result of the application of biocontrol products for control of insects and diseases, respectively. Fungal communities present in unpasteurized coconut (coco) fiber growing medium are potential sources of mold contamination on cannabis plants. Swabs taken from greenhouse-grown and indoor buds pre- and post-harvest revealed the presence of Cladosporium and up to five species of Penicillium, as well as low levels of Alternaria species. Mechanical trimming of buds caused an increase in the frequency of Penicillium species, presumably by providing entry points through wounds or spreading endophytes from pith tissues. Aerial distribution of pathogen inoculum and mold spores and dissemination through vegetative propagation are important methods of spread, and entry through wound sites on roots, stems, and bud tissues facilitates pathogen establishment on cannabis plants.

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