• The origin and diversification of pteropods precede past perturbations in the Earth’s carbon cycle

      Peijnenburg, KTCA; Janssen, AW; Wall-Palmer, D; Goetze, E; Maas, AE; Todd, JA; Marlétaz, F (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2020-09-24)
      Pteropods are a group of planktonic gastropods that are widely regarded as biological indicators for assessing the impacts of ocean acidification. Their aragonitic shells are highly sensitive to acute changes in ocean chemistry. However, to gain insight into their potential to adapt to current climate change, we need to accurately reconstruct their evolutionary history and assess their responses to past changes in the Earth’s carbon cycle. Here, we resolve the phylogeny and timing of pteropod evolution with a phylogenomic dataset (2,654 genes) incorporating new data for 21 pteropod species and revised fossil evidence. In agreement with traditional taxonomy, we recovered molecular support for a division between “sea butterflies” (Thecosomata; mucus-web feeders) and “sea angels” (Gymnosomata; active predators). Molecular dating demonstrated that these two lineages diverged in the early Cretaceous, and that all main pteropod clades, including shelled, partially-shelled, and unshelled groups, diverged in the mid- to late Cretaceous. Hence, these clades originated prior to and subsequently survived major global change events, including the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), the closest analog to modern-day ocean acidification and warming. Our findings indicate that planktonic aragonitic calcifiers have shown resilience to perturbations in the Earth’s carbon cycle over evolutionary timescales.
    • Precision mapping of snail habitat provides a powerful indicator of human schistosomiasis transmission

      Wood, CL; Sokolow, SH; Jones, IJ; Chamberlin, AJ; Lafferty, KD; Kuris, AM; Jocque, M; Hopkins, S; Adams, G; Buck, JC; et al. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019-10-28)
      Recently, the World Health Organization recognized that efforts to interrupt schistosomiasis transmission through mass drug administration have been ineffective in some regions; one of their new recommended strategies for global schistosomiasis control emphasizes targeting the freshwater snails that transmit schistosome parasites. We sought to identify robust indicators that would enable precision targeting of these snails. At the site of the world’s largest recorded schistosomiasis epidemic—the Lower Senegal River Basin in Senegal—intensive sampling revealed positive relationships between intermediate host snails (abundance, density, and prevalence) and human urogenital schistosomiasis reinfection (prevalence and intensity in schoolchildren after drug administration). However, we also found that snail distributions were so patchy in space and time that obtaining useful data required effort that exceeds what is feasible in standard monitoring and control campaigns. Instead, we identified several environmental proxies that were more effective than snail variables for predicting human infection: the area covered by suitable snail habitat (i.e., floating, nonemergent vegetation), the percent cover by suitable snail habitat, and size of the water contact area. Unlike snail surveys, which require hundreds of person-hours per site to conduct, habitat coverage and site area can be quickly estimated with drone or satellite imagery. This, in turn, makes possible large-scale, high-resolution estimation of human urogenital schistosomiasis risk to support targeting of both mass drug administration and snail control efforts.