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    Paternal arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal status affects DNA methylation in seeds.
    Biol Lett 2017 Sep;13(9)
    School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, Joseph Banks Laboratories, Lincoln LN6 7TS, UK.
    Most land plants grow in association with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) in their roots and these fungi can cause transgenerational effects on plants' offspring. These may be caused by changes in DNA methylation of the offspring. In this study, we compared the amount of global DNA methylation in seeds of the gynodioecious plant Geranium sylvaticum in relation to the gender and the AMF status of the parents producing the seeds. Read More

    Determinants of spring migration departure decision in a bat.
    Biol Lett 2017 Sep;13(9)
    Department of Immuno-ecology and Migration, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, 78315 Radolfzell, Germany
    Migratory decisions in birds are closely tied to environmental cues and fat stores, but it remains unknown if the same variables trigger bat migration. To learn more about the rare phenomenon of bat migration, we studied departure decisions of female common noctules (Nyctalus noctula) in southern Germany. We did not find the fattening period that modulates departure decisions in birds. Read More

    Colour and luminance contrasts predict the human detection of natural stimuli in complex visual environments.
    Biol Lett 2017 Sep;13(9)
    Department of Biological Science, Macquarie University, North Ryde 2109, Australia.
    Much of what we know about human colour perception has come from psychophysical studies conducted in tightly-controlled laboratory settings. An enduring challenge, however, lies in extrapolating this knowledge to the noisy conditions that characterize our actual visual experience. Here we combine statistical models of visual perception with empirical data to explore how chromatic (hue/saturation) and achromatic (luminant) information underpins the detection and classification of stimuli in a complex forest environment. Read More

    Fish face a trade-off between 'eating big' for growth efficiency and 'eating small' to retain aerobic capacity.
    Biol Lett 2017 Sep;13(9)
    University of Tasmania Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, and CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Hobart, Tasmania 7000, Australia.
    Feeding provides the necessary energy to fuel all fitness-related processes including activity, growth and reproduction. Nevertheless, prey consumption and digestive processes can have physical and physiological trade-offs with other critical functions, many of which are not clearly understood. Using an ambush predator, barramundi (Lates calcarifer), fed meals ranging 0. Read More

    Females can solve the problem of low signal reliability by assessing multiple male traits.
    Biol Lett 2017 Sep;13(9)
    School of Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68588-0118, USA
    Male signals that provide information to females about mating benefits are often of low reliability. It is thus not clear why females often express strong signal preferences. We tested the hypothesis that females can distinguish between males with preferred signals that provide lower and higher quality direct benefits. Read More

    Phylogenomic analyses of more than 4000 nuclear loci resolve the origin of snakes among lizard families.
    Biol Lett 2017 Sep;13(9)
    Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721-0088, USA.
    Squamate reptiles (lizards and snakes) are the most diverse group of terrestrial vertebrates, with more than 10 000 species. Despite considerable effort to resolve relationships among major squamates clades, some branches have remained difficult. Among the most vexing has been the placement of snakes among lizard families, with most studies yielding only weak support for the position of snakes. Read More

    Offspring telomere length in the long lived Alpine swift is negatively related to the age of their biological father and foster mother.
    Biol Lett 2017 Sep;13(9)
    Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 2TZ, UK
    A growing body of studies is showing that offspring telomere length (TL) can be influenced by the age of their parents. Such a relationship might be explained by variation in TL at conception (gamete effect) and/or by alteration of early growth conditions in species providing parental care. In a long-lived bird with bi-parental care, the Alpine swift (Apus melba), we exchanged an uneven number of 2 to 4-day-old nestlings between pairs as part of a brood size manipulation. Read More

    New perspectives in ocean acidification research: editor's introduction to the special feature on ocean acidification.
    Biol Lett 2017 Sep;13(9)
    ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia
    Ocean acidification, caused by the uptake of additional carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, will have far-reaching impacts on marine ecosystems (Gattuso & Hansson 2011 Ocean acidification Oxford University Press). The predicted changes in ocean chemistry will affect whole biological communities and will occur within the context of global warming and other anthropogenic stressors; yet much of the biological research conducted to date has tested the short-term responses of single species to ocean acidification conditions alone. While an important starting point, these studies may have limited predictive power because they do not account for possible interactive effects of multiple climate change drivers or for ecological interactions with other species. Read More

    Ancient whales did not filter feed with their teeth.
    Biol Lett 2017 Aug;13(8)
    School of Biological Sciences, Monash University, 8 Innovation Walk, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.
    The origin of baleen whales (Mysticeti), the largest animals on Earth, is closely tied to their signature filter-feeding strategy. Unlike their modern relatives, archaic whales possessed a well-developed, heterodont adult dentition. How these teeth were used, and what role their function and subsequent loss played in the emergence of filter feeding, is an enduring mystery. Read More

    Dental development in Homo naledi.
    Biol Lett 2017 Aug 30;13(8). Epub 2017 Aug 30.
    Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA.
    Humans' prolonged somatic development and life history are unique among primates, yet their evolutionary origins remain unclear. Dental development has been used as a proxy to reconstruct life history evolution in the hominin clade and indicates a recent emergence of the human developmental pattern. Here, we analyse tooth formation and eruption in two developing dentitions of Homo naledi, a late-surviving, morphologically mosaic hominin species. Read More

    Nuclear and mitochondrial RNA editing systems have opposite effects on protein diversity.
    Biol Lett 2017 Aug;13(8)
    Department of Biology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
    RNA editing can yield protein products that differ from those directly encoded by genomic DNA. This process is pervasive in the mitochondria of many eukaryotes, where it predominantly results in the restoration of ancestral protein sequences. Nuclear mRNAs in metazoans also undergo editing (adenosine-to-inosine or 'A-to-I' substitutions), and most of these edits appear to be nonadaptive 'misfirings' of adenosine deaminases. Read More

    Predation, metabolic priming and early life-history rearing environment affect the swimming capabilities of growth hormone transgenic rainbow trout.
    Biol Lett 2017 Aug;13(8)
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada, West Vancouver Laboratory, Centre for Aquaculture and Environmental Research, 4160 Marine Drive, West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V7 V 1N6.
    The period of first feeding, when young salmonid fishes emerge from natal stream beds, is one fraught with predation risk. Experiments conducted in semi-natural stream mesocosms have shown that growth hormone transgenic salmonids are at greater risk of predation than their non-transgenic siblings, due partly to the higher metabolic demands associated with transgenesis, which force risky foraging behaviours. This raises questions as to whether there are differences in the swim-performance of transgenic and non-transgenic fishes surviving predation experiments. Read More

    Responses of neurogenesis and neuroplasticity related genes to elevated CO2 levels in the brain of three teleost species.
    Biol Lett 2017 Aug;13(8)
    Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
    The continuous increase of anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere resulting in ocean acidification has been reported to affect brain function in some fishes. During adulthood, cell proliferation is fundamental for fish brain growth and for it to adapt in response to external stimuli, such as environmental changes. Here we report the first expression study of genes regulating neurogenesis and neuroplasticity in brains of three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus), cinnamon anemonefish (Amphiprion melanopus) and spiny damselfish (Acanthochromis polyacanthus) exposed to elevated CO2 The mRNA expression levels of the neurogenic differentiation factor (NeuroD) and doublecortin (DCX) were upregulated in three-spined stickleback exposed to high-CO2 compared with controls, while no changes were detected in the other species. Read More

    Ospreys do not teach offspring how to kill prey at the nest.
    Biol Lett 2017 Aug;13(8)
    School of Biology, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
    There is strong evidence for teaching in only a handful of species, most of which are cooperative breeders, leading some researchers to suggest that teaching may be more likely to evolve in such species. Alternatively, this initial distribution could be an artefact of the popularity and tractability of cooperative breeders as behavioural study systems. Therefore, establishing or refuting this potential evolutionary link requires researchers to assess potential cases of teaching in more non-cooperatively breeding species. Read More

    Sea-ice induced growth decline in Arctic shrubs.
    Biol Lett 2017 Aug;13(8)
    Department of Arctic Biology, The University Centre in Svalbard, Longyearbyen, Norway
    Measures of increased tundra plant productivity have been associated with the accelerating retreat of the Arctic sea-ice. Emerging studies document opposite effects, advocating for a more complex relationship between the shrinking sea-ice and terrestrial plant productivity. I introduce an autoregressive plant growth model integrating effects of biological and climatic conditions for analysing individual ring-width growth time series. Read More

    Prenatal environment affects embryonic response to song.
    Biol Lett 2017 Aug;13(8)
    School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, Australia
    Early environmental enrichment improves postnatal cognition in animals and humans. Here, we examined the effects of the prenatal acoustic environment (parental song rate) on prenatal attention in superb fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) embryos, the only songbird species with evidence of prenatal discrimination of maternal calls and in ovo call learning. Because both adults also sing throughout the incubation phase, we broadcast songs to embryos and measured their heart rate response in relation to parental song rate and tutor identity (familiarity, sex). Read More

    A dinosaur missing-link? Chilesaurus and the early evolution of ornithischian dinosaurs.
    Biol Lett 2017 Aug;13(8)
    Department of Earth Sciences, Natural History Museum, London, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK.
    The enigmatic dinosaur taxon Chilesaurus diegosuarezi was originally described as a tetanuran theropod, but this species possesses a highly unusual combination of features that could provide evidence of alternative phylogenetic positions within the clade. In order to test the relationships of Chilesaurus, we added it to a new dataset of early dinosaurs and other dinosauromorphs. Our analyses recover Chilesaurus in a novel position, as the earliest diverging member of Ornithischia, rather than a tetanuran theropod. Read More

    Modulation of social space by dopamine in Drosophila melanogaster, but no effect on the avoidance of the Drosophila stress odorant.
    Biol Lett 2017 Aug;13(8)
    Department of Biology, Western University, London, ON, Canada
    Appropriate response to others is necessary for social interactions. Yet little is known about how neurotransmitters regulate attractive and repulsive social cues. Using genetic and pharmacological manipulations in Drosophila melanogaster, we show that dopamine is contributing the response to others in a social group, specifically, social spacing, but not the avoidance of odours released by stressed flies (dSO). Read More

    A test for paedomorphism in domestic pig cranial morphology.
    Biol Lett 2017 Aug;13(8)
    Department of Archaeology, University of Aberdeen, St Mary's, Elphinstone Road, Aberdeen AB24 3UF, UK.
    Domestic animals are often described as paedomorphic, meaning that they retain juvenile characteristics into adulthood. Through a three-dimensional landmark-based geometric morphometric analysis of cranial morphology at three growth stages, we demonstrate that wild boar (n = 138) and domestic pigs (n = 106) (Sus scrofa) follow distinct ontogenetic trajectories. With the exception of the size ratio between facial and neurocranial regions, paedomorphism does not appear to be the primary pattern describing the observed differences between wild and domestic pig cranial morphologies. Read More

    Did true frogs 'dispersify'?
    Biol Lett 2017 Aug;13(8)
    Biodiversity Institute and Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA.
    The interplay between range expansion and concomitant diversification is of fundamental interest to evolutionary biologists, particularly when linked to intercontinental dispersal and/or large scale extinctions. The evolutionary history of true frogs has been characterized by circumglobal range expansion. As a lineage that survived the Eocene-Oligocene extinction event (EOEE), the group provides an ideal system to test the prediction that range expansion triggers increased net diversification. Read More

    Stable isotope analyses of feather amino acids identify penguin migration strategies at ocean basin scales.
    Biol Lett 2017 Aug;13(8)
    Department of Biology, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA.
    Identifying the at-sea distribution of wide-ranging marine predators is critical to understanding their ecology. Advances in electronic tracking devices and intrinsic biogeochemical markers have greatly improved our ability to track animal movements on ocean-wide scales. Here, we show that, in combination with direct tracking, stable carbon isotope analysis of essential amino acids in tail feathers provides the ability to track the movement patterns of two, wide-ranging penguin species over ocean basin scales. Read More

    Has snake fang evolution lost its bite? New insights from a structural mechanics viewpoint.
    Biol Lett 2017 Aug;13(8)
    CT Scanner Facility, Central Analytical Facilities, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
    Venomous snakes-the pinnacle of snake evolution-are characterized by their possession of venom-conducting fangs ranging from grooved phenotypes characterizing multiple lineages of rear-fanged taxa to tubular phenotypes present in elapids, viperids and atractaspidines. Despite extensive research, controversy still exists on the selective pressures involved in fang phenotype diversification. Here, we test the hypothesis that larger fangs and consequently a shift to an anterior position in the maxilla evolved to compensate for the costs of structural changes, i. Read More

    Feeding the enemy: loss of nectar and nectaries to herbivores reduces tepal damage and increases pollinator attraction in Iris bulleyana.
    Biol Lett 2017 Aug;13(8)
    State Key Laboratory of Hybrid Rice, College of Life Sciences, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China
    Floral nectar usually functions as a pollinator reward, yet it may also attract herbivores. However, the effects of herbivore consumption of nectar or nectaries on pollination have rarely been tested. We investigated Iris bulleyana, an alpine plant that has showy tepals and abundant nectar, in the Hengduan Mountains of SW China. Read More

    Possible co-option of engrailed during brachiopod and mollusc shell development.
    Biol Lett 2017 Aug;13(8)
    Department of Earth and Planetary Science, The University of Tokyo, Hongo, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan.
    In molluscs, two homeobox genes, engrailed (en) and distal-less (dlx), are transcription factors that are expressed in correlation with shell development. They are expressed in the regions between shell-forming and non-shell-forming cells, likely defining the boundaries of shell-forming fields. Here we investigate the expression of two transcription factors in the brachiopod Lingula anatina We find that en is expressed in larval mantle lobes, whereas dlx is expressed in larval tentacles. Read More

    Species integrity enhanced by a predation cost to hybrids in the wild.
    Biol Lett 2017 Jul;13(7)
    National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Silkeborg, Denmark.
    Species integrity can be challenged, and even eroded, if closely related species can hybridize and produce fertile offspring of comparable fitness to that of parental species. The maintenance of newly diverged or closely related species therefore hinges on the establishment and effectiveness of pre- and/or post-zygotic reproductive barriers. Ecological selection, including predation, is often presumed to contribute to reduced hybrid fitness, but field evidence for a predation cost to hybridization remains elusive. Read More

    Negative phenotypic and genetic correlation between natal dispersal propensity and nest-defence behaviour in a wild bird.
    Biol Lett 2017 Jul;13(7)
    Laboratoire Biométrie et Biologie Evolutive, Université de Lyon-Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1-CNRS, Villeurbanne, France
    Natural selection is expected to favour the integration of dispersal and phenotypic traits allowing individuals to reduce dispersal costs. Accordingly, associations have been found between dispersal and personality traits such as aggressiveness and exploration, which may facilitate settlement in a novel environment. However, the determinism of these associations has only rarely been explored. Read More

    Remarkable size-spectra stability in a marine system undergoing massive invasion.
    Biol Lett 2017 Jul;13(7)
    School of Zoology, Tel Aviv University, 6997801 Tel Aviv, Israel.
    The Mediterranean Sea is an invasion hotspot, with non-indigenous species suspected to be a major driver behind community changes. We used size spectra, a reliable index of food web structure, to examine how the influx of Red Sea fishes into the Mediterranean Sea has impacted the indigenous species community. This is the first attempt to use changes in the size spectra to reveal the effect of biological invasions. Read More

    Drought-induced starvation of aardvarks in the Kalahari: an indirect effect of climate change.
    Biol Lett 2017 Jul;13(7)
    Brain Function Research Group, School of Physiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, 7 York Road, Parktown, Johannesburg 2193, South Africa.
    Aardvarks (Orycteropus afer) are elusive burrowing mammals, predominantly nocturnal and distributed widely throughout Africa except for arid deserts. Their survival may be threatened by climate change via direct and indirect effects of increasing heat and aridity. To measure their current physiological plasticity, we implanted biologgers into six adult aardvarks resident in the semi-arid Kalahari. Read More

    California scrub-jays reduce visual cues available to potential pilferers by matching food colour to caching substrate.
    Biol Lett 2017 Jul;13(7)
    Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EB, UK.
    Some animals hide food to consume later; however, these caches are susceptible to theft by conspecifics and heterospecifics. Caching animals can use protective strategies to minimize sensory cues available to potential pilferers, such as caching in shaded areas and in quiet substrate. Background matching (where object patterning matches the visual background) is commonly seen in prey animals to reduce conspicuousness, and caching animals may also use this tactic to hide caches, for example, by hiding coloured food in a similar coloured substrate. Read More

    Dopamine D1 receptor activation leads to object recognition memory in a coral reef fish.
    Biol Lett 2017 Jul;13(7)
    Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.
    Object recognition memory is the ability to identify previously seen objects and is an adaptive mechanism that increases survival for many species throughout the animal kingdom. Previously believed to be possessed by only the highest order mammals, it is now becoming clear that fish are also capable of this type of memory formation. Similar to the mammalian hippocampus, the dorsolateral pallium regulates distinct memory processes and is modulated by neurotransmitters such as dopamine. Read More

    Direct and trans-generational effects of male and female gut microbiota in Drosophila melanogaster.
    Biol Lett 2017 Jul;13(7)
    Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, North Ryde, New South Wales 2109, Australia.
    There is increasing evidence of the far-reaching effects of gut bacteria on physiological and behavioural traits, yet the fitness-related consequences of changes in the gut bacteria composition of sexually interacting individuals remain unknown. To address this question, we manipulated the gut microbiota of fruit flies, Drosophila melanogaster, by monoinfecting flies with either Acetobacter pomorum (AP) or Lactobacillus plantarum (LP). Re-inoculated individuals were paired in all treatment combinations. Read More

    Effects of hypoxia and ocean acidification on the upper thermal niche boundaries of coral reef fishes.
    Biol Lett 2017 Jul;13(7)
    Marine Science Institute, University of Texas at Austin, Port Aransas, TX, USA.
    Rising ocean temperatures are predicted to cause a poleward shift in the distribution of marine fishes occupying the extent of latitudes tolerable within their thermal range boundaries. A prevailing theory suggests that the upper thermal limits of fishes are constrained by hypoxia and ocean acidification. However, some eurythermal fish species do not conform to this theory, and maintain their upper thermal limits in hypoxia. Read More

    Distinct developmental pathways underlie independent losses of flight in ratites.
    Biol Lett 2017 Jul;13(7)
    Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, 210 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT 06511, USA
    Recent phylogenetic studies question the monophyly of ratites (large, flightless birds incorporating ostriches, rheas, kiwis, emus and cassowaries), suggesting their paraphyly with respect to flying tinamous (Tinamidae). Flightlessness and large body size have thus likely evolved repeatedly among ratites, and separately in ostriches (Struthio) and emus (Dromaius). Here, we test this hypothesis with data from wing developmental trajectories in ostriches, emus, tinamous and chickens. Read More

    Mice as stowaways? Colonization history of Danish striped field mice.
    Biol Lett 2017 Jul;13(7)
    Natural History Museum, Aarhus, Wilhelm Meyers Allé 10, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark.
    Species from the steppe region of Eastern Europe likely colonized northwestern Europe in connection with agriculture after 6500 BP. The striped field mouse (Apodemus agrarius Pallas, 1783), is a steppe-derived species often found in human crops. It is common on the southern Danish islands of Lolland and Falster, which have been isolated from mainland Europe since approximately 10 300-8000 BP. Read More

    Perception of animacy in dogs and humans.
    Biol Lett 2017 Jun;13(6)
    Department of Ethology, Eötvös Loránd University, Pázmány Péter prom 1/c, H-1117, Budapest, Hungary.
    Humans have a tendency to perceive inanimate objects as animate based on simple motion cues. Although animacy is considered as a complex cognitive property, this recognition seems to be spontaneous. Researchers have found that young human infants discriminate between dependent and independent movement patterns. Read More

    Experimental species removals impact the architecture of pollination networks.
    Biol Lett 2017 Jun;13(6)
    Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, Crested Butte, CO 81224, USA.
    Mutualistic networks are key for the creation and maintenance of biodiversity, yet are threatened by global environmental change. Most simulation models assume that network structure remains static after species losses, despite theoretical and empirical reasons to expect dynamic responses. We assessed the effects of experimental single bumblebee species removals on the structure of entire flower visitation networks. Read More

    Physiological thermal limits predict differential responses of bees to urban heat-island effects.
    Biol Lett 2017 Jun;13(6)
    Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University, Campus Box 7613, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
    Changes in community composition are an important, but hard to predict, effect of climate change. Here, we use a wild-bee study system to test the ability of critical thermal maxima (CTmax, a measure of heat tolerance) to predict community responses to urban heat-island effects in Raleigh, NC, USA. Among 15 focal species, CTmax ranged from 44. Read More

    Discovery of the fossil otter Enhydritherium terraenovae (Carnivora, Mammalia) in Mexico reconciles a palaeozoogeographic mystery.
    Biol Lett 2017 Jun;13(6)
    Centro de Geociencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Boulevard Juriquilla 3001, Juriquilla, Querétaro 76230, Mexico.
    The North American fossil otter Enhydritherium terraenovae is thought to be partially convergent in ecological niche with the living sea otter Enhydra lutris, both having low-crowned crushing teeth and a close association with marine environments. Fossil records of Enhydritherium are found in mostly marginal marine deposits in California and Florida; despite presence of very rich records of fossil terrestrial mammals in contemporaneous localities inland, no Enhydritherium fossils are hitherto known in interior North America. Here we report the first occurrence of Enhydritherium outside of Florida and California, in a land-locked terrestrial mammal fauna of the upper Miocene deposits of Juchipila Basin, Zacatecas State, Mexico. Read More

    Preparatory responses to socially determined, mutually exclusive possibilities in chimpanzees and children.
    Biol Lett 2017 Jun;13(6)
    School of Psychology, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia.
    The capacity to imagine and prepare for alternative future possibilities is central to human cognition. Recent research suggests that between age 2 and 4 children gradually begin to demonstrate a capacity to prepare for two simple, mutually exclusive alternatives of an immediate future event. When children were given the opportunity to catch a target an experimenter dropped into an inverted Y-shaped tube, 2-year olds-as well as great apes-tended to cover only one of the exits, whereas 4-year-olds spontaneously and consistently prepared for both possible outcomes. Read More

    Body shape convergence driven by small size optimum in marine angelfishes.
    Biol Lett 2017 Jun;13(6)
    Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
    Convergent evolution of small body size occurs across many vertebrate clades and may reflect an evolutionary response to shared selective pressures. However it remains unclear if other aspects of phenotype undergo convergent evolution in miniaturized lineages. Here we present a comparative analysis of body size and shape evolution in marine angelfishes (Pomacanthidae), a reef fish family characterized by repeated transitions to small body size. Read More

    A circannual perspective on daily and total flight distances in a long-distance migratory raptor, the Montagu's harrier, Circus pygargus.
    Biol Lett 2017 Jun;13(6)
    Conservation Ecology Group, GELIFES, University of Groningen, PO Box 11103, 9700CC Groningen, The Netherlands.
    Long-distance migrants are particularly recognized for the distances covered on migration, yet little is known about the distances they cover during the rest of the year. GPS-tracks of 29 Montagu's harriers from breeding areas in France, The Netherlands and Denmark showed that harriers fly between 35 653 and 88 049 km yr(-1), of which on average only 28.5% is on migration. Read More

    No evidence for extrinsic post-zygotic isolation in a wild Saccharomyces yeast system.
    Biol Lett 2017 Jun;13(6)
    Institut de Biologie Intégrative et des Systèmes, Département de Biologie, PROTEO, Pavillon Charles-Eugène-Marchand, 1030 avenue de la Médecine - Université Laval, Québec, Canada G1 V 0A6.
    Although microorganisms account for the largest fraction of Earth's biodiversity, we know little about how their reproductive barriers evolve. Sexual microorganisms such as Saccharomyces yeasts rapidly develop strong intrinsic post-zygotic isolation, but the role of extrinsic isolation in the early speciation process remains to be investigated. We measured the growth of F1 hybrids between two incipient species of Saccharomyces paradoxus to assess the presence of extrinsic post-zygotic isolation across 32 environments. Read More

    Tyrannosauroid integument reveals conflicting patterns of gigantism and feather evolution.
    Biol Lett 2017 Jun;13(6)
    Houston Museum of Natural Science, Houston, TX 77030, USA.
    Recent evidence for feathers in theropods has led to speculations that the largest tyrannosaurids, including Tyrannosaurus rex, were extensively feathered. We describe fossil integument from Tyrannosaurus and other tyrannosaurids (Albertosaurus, Daspletosaurus, Gorgosaurus and Tarbosaurus), confirming that these large-bodied forms possessed scaly, reptilian-like skin. Body size evolution in tyrannosauroids reveals two independent occurrences of gigantism; specifically, the large sizes in Yutyrannus and tyrannosaurids were independently derived. Read More

    Climate and sex ratio variation in a viviparous lizard.
    Biol Lett 2017 May;13(5)
    School of Biological Sciences, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 5, Sandy Bay, Tasmania 7000, Australia.
    The extent to which key biological processes, such as sex determination, respond to environmental fluctuations is fundamental for assessing species' susceptibility to ongoing climate change. Few studies, however, address how climate affects offspring sex in the wild. We monitored two climatically distinct populations of the viviparous skink Niveoscincus ocellatus for 16 years, recording environmental temperatures, offspring sex and date of birth. Read More

    Wolbachia-induced meiotic drive and feminization is associated with an independent occurrence of selective mitochondrial sweep in a butterfly.
    Biol Lett 2017 May;13(5)
    Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, National Agriculture and Food Research Organization, Owashi, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0851, Japan
    Maternally inherited Wolbachia endosymbionts manipulate arthropod reproduction in various ways. In the butterfly Eurema mandarina, a cytoplasmic incompatibility-inducing Wolbachia strain wCI and the associated mtDNA haplotypes are known to originate from the sister species Eurema hecabe, which offered a good case study for microbe-mediated hybrid introgression. Besides wCI, some females with the Z0 karyotype harbour a distinct Wolbachia strain wFem, which causes all-female production by meiotic drive and feminization. Read More

    Establishment and maintenance of aphid endosymbionts after horizontal transfer is dependent on host genotype.
    Biol Lett 2017 May;13(5)
    Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
    Animal-associated microbial communities have important effects on host phenotypes. Individuals within and among species differ in the strains and species of microbes that they harbour, but how natural selection shapes the distribution and abundance of symbionts in natural populations is not well understood. Symbionts can be beneficial in certain environments but also impose costs on their hosts. Read More

    Horizontal and vertical species turnover in tropical birds in habitats with differing land use.
    Biol Lett 2017 May;13(5)
    Guangxi Key Laboratory of Forest Ecology and Conservation (under state evaluation status), College of Forestry, Guangxi University, Nanning 530004, China.
    Large tracts of tropical rainforests are being converted into intensive agricultural lands. Such anthropogenic disturbances are known to reduce species turnover across horizontal distances. But it is not known if they can also reduce species turnover across vertical distances (elevation), which have steeper climatic differences. Read More

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