• How has the environment shaped geographical patterns of insect body sizes? A test of hypotheses using sphingid moths.

      Beerli, N; Bärtschi, F; Kitching, IJ; Ballesteros-Mejia, L; Beck, J (Wiley, 2019-05-14)
      Aim: We mapped the geographical pattern of body sizes in sphingid moths and investigated latitudinal clines. We tested hypotheses concerning their possible environmental control, that is, effects of temperature (negative: temperature size rule or Bergmann's rule; positive: converse Bergmann rule), food availability, robustness to starvation during extreme weather and seasonality. Location: Old World and Australia/Pacific region. Methods: Body size data of 950 sphingid species were compiled and related to their distribution maps. Focusing on body length, we mapped the median and maximum size of all species occurring in 100 km grid cells. In a comparative approach, we tested the predictions from explanatory hypotheses by correlating species' size to the average environmental conditions encountered throughout their range, under univariate and multivariate models. We accounted for phylogeny by stepwise inclusion of phylogenetically informed taxonomic classifications into hierarchical random‐intercept mixed models. Results: Median body sizes showed a distinctive geographical pattern, with large species in the Middle East and the Asian tropics, and smaller species in temperate regions and the Afrotropics. Absolute latitude explained very little body size variation, but there was a latitudinal cline of maximum size. Species' median size was correlated with net primary productivity, supporting the food availability hypothesis, whereas support for other hypotheses was weak. Environmental correlations contributed much less (i.e. <10%) to explaining overall size variation than phylogeny (inclusion of which led to models explaining >70% of variability). Main conclusion: The intuitive impression of larger species in the tropics is shaped by larger size maxima. Median body sizes are only very weakly related to latitude. Most of the geographical variation in body size in sphingid moths is explained by their phylogenetic past. NPP and forest cover correlate positively with the body size, which supports the idea that food availability allowed the evolution of larger sizes.
    • Progress on bringing together raptor collections in Europe for contaminant research and monitoring in relation to chemicals regulation.

      Movalli, P; Duke, G; Ramello, G; Dekker, R; Vrezec, A; Shore, RF; García-Fernández, A; Wernham, C; Krone, O; Alygizakis, N; et al. (Springer-Verlag, 2019-05-27)
    • Accumulation and Dissolution of Magnetite Crystals in a Magnetically Responsive Ciliate

      Monteil, CL; Menguy, N; Prévéral, S; Warren, A; Pignol, D; Lefèvre, CT; Kelly, RM (American Society of Microbiology, 2018-02-09)
      Magnetotactic bacteria (MTB) represent a group of microorganisms that are widespread in aquatic habitats and thrive at the oxic-anoxic interfaces. They are able to scavenge high concentrations of iron thanks to the biomineralization of magnetic crystals in their unique organelle, the so-called magnetosome chain. Although their biodiversity has been intensively studied in recent years, their ecology and impact on iron cycling remain largely unexplored. Predation by protozoa was suggested as one of the ecological processes that could be involved in the release of iron back into the ecosystem. Magnetic protozoa have previously been observed in aquatic environments, but their diversity and the fate of particulate iron during grazing are poorly documented. In this study, we report the morphological and molecular characterization of a magnetically responsive MTB-grazing protozoan able to ingest high quantities of MTB. This protozoan is tentatively identified as Uronema marinum, a ciliate known to be a bacteria predator. Using light and electron microscopy, we investigate in detail the vacuoles in which lysis of phagocytized prokaryotes occurs. We carried out high-resolution observations of aligned magnetosome chains and ongoing dissolution of crystals. Particulate iron in the ciliate represented about 0.01% of its total volume. We show the ubiquity of this interaction in other types of environments and describe different grazing strategies. These data contribute to the mounting evidence that interaction between MTB-protozoan might play a significant role in iron turnover in microaerophilic habitats. IMPORTANCE Identifying participants of each biogeochemical cycle is a prerequisite to our understanding of ecosystems functioning. Magnetotactic bacteria (MTB) participate to iron cycling by concentrating large amounts of biomineralized iron minerals into their cells, which impacts their chemical environment at or below the oxic-anoxic transition zone in aquatic habitats. It was shown that some protozoa inhabiting this niche could become magnetic with the ingestion of magnetic crystals biomineralized by grazed MTB. In this study, we show that magnetic MTB-grazers are commonly observed in marine and freshwater sediments and can sometimes accumulate very large amounts of particulate iron. Using magnetic particles from MTB as tracers after their ingestion by the protozoa, different phagocytosis strategies are described. This study paves the way for potential scientific or medical applications using MTB-grazers as magnetosome-hyperaccumulators.
    • Stability in Lepidoptera names is not served by reversal to gender agreement: a response to Wiemers et al. (2018)

      van Nieukerken, EJ; Karsholt, O; Hausmann, A; Holloway, JD; Huemer, P; Kitching, IJ; Nuss, M; Pohl, GR; Rajaei, H; Rennwald, E; et al. (Pensoft Publishers, 2019-06-26)
      In a recent paper in ZooKeys, Wiemers et al. (2018) provided an updated list of European butterfly names. In this list the authors follow gender agreement for species names, when interpreted as adjectival in derivation, in contrast to the common practice among most lepidopterists. Here we comment on this aspect of the paper, and voice our concern that this reversal does not benefit the stability of Lepidoptera names and is, indeed, inimical to their stability. Modern zoological science needs the communities of taxonomists and users to agree on the names that are used to communicate information about the taxa we study and cherish. In this age, such collegiate acceptance is more important than ever, given that the number of users of scientific names has increased enormously. Agreement is particularly important when considering the numerous online databases, observation sites, Wikipedia, etc. Several global and local initiatives over the last several decades have begun to compile authoritative lists of taxonomic names to serve the community and build towards a greater stability, including Species 2000 / Catalogue of Life (Roskov et al. 2018; Roskov et al. 2019), Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF Secretariat 2019) and Fauna Europaea (de Jong et al. 2014; Fauna Europaea 2017). Unfortunately, the current (and likely future) funding situation for most of these projects is poor, to say the least, and populating these databases relies heavily on a diminishing number of taxonomists, who rarely receive recognition for their work. The Fauna Europaea database, which is of special importance as Europe’s main zoological taxonomic index, has suffered particularly, being an EU-supported project that was only funded by the European Commission between 2000 and 2004. Subsequently, updating was carried out at the Zoological Museum of Amsterdam (de Jong et al. 2014), first under the umbrella of the PESI project (PESI 2011; de Jong et al. 2015), then later without funding, until the Amsterdam museum was merged with Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden in 2011. Since then, the Fauna Europaea database has been run by the Museum für Naturkunde, Leibniz-Institute for Research on Evolution and Biodiversity, Berlin, Germany. Recently, however, updating has come to a stand-still, very much to the frustration both of taxonomists who wish to update their lists and of users who need an up-to-date and authoritative nomenclature. Given these circumstances, we enthusiastically applaud the initiative that several specialists of European butterflies have taken separately to publish an update for butterflies (superfamily Papilionoidea) in an open access journal, to produce a new list for the use of the scientific community (Wiemers et al. 2018).
    • Catalogue and composition of fossil Anthicidae and Ischaliidae (Insecta: Coleoptera)

      Telnov, Dmitry; Bukejs, A (Paleontological Society., 2019-04)
      Despite the increasing rate of systematic research on extant tenebrionoid Coleoptera of the Anthicidae and Ischaliidae, their fossil records remained largely unrevised. In the current paper we review all hitherto named ant-like flower beetles and false fire-coloured beetles fossils. We suggest 16 fossil species can be reliably assigned to the Anthicidae and three species to the Ischaliidae. We proposed new placements for two fossil Anthicidae taxa: Petratypus nigri Kaddumi, 2005 moved from Anthicidae to Cucujiformia Familia incertae sedis and “Eurygenius” wickhami Cockerell, 1917 is re-described and moved from Eurygeniinae Anthicidae to Tenebrionoidea Familia and Genus incertae sedis. Additionally, three new species are described from Eocene Baltic amber, namely Nitorus succinius sp. nov., Steropes eleticinoides sp. nov. and Tomoderus saecularis sp. nov. An annotated catalogue of fossil Anthicidae and Ischaliidae is provided. We made a qualitative analysis of available data, evaluated the distribution of fossils in the light of current biogeography and geological time. The oldest hitherto known fossil record of the Anthicidae is 130.0-125.5 Ma (same for Macratriinae), of the Anthicinae - 37.2-33.9 Ma, of the Eurygeniinae - 55.8-48.6 Ma, of the Notoxinae, Steropinae and Tomoderinae - 37.2-33.9 Ma. The oldest hitherto know fossil record of the Ischaliidae is 37.2-33.9 Ma.
    • Parasites lost: using natural history collections to track disease change across deep time

      Harmon, A; Littlewood, DTJ; Wood, CL (Ecological Society of America, 2019-03-04)
      Recent decades have brought countless outbreaks of infectious disease among wildlife. These events appear to be increasing in frequency and magnitude, but to objectively evaluate whether ecosystems are experiencing rising rates of disease, scientists require historical data on disease abundance. Specimens held in natural history collections represent a chronological archive of life on Earth and may, in many cases, be the only available source of data on historical disease patterns. It is possible to extract information on past disease rates by studying trace fossils (indirect fossilized evidence of an organism's presence or activity, including coprolites or feces), sequencing ancient DNA of parasites, and examining sediment samples, mummified remains, study skins (preserved animal skins prepared by taxidermy for research purposes), liquid‐preserved hosts, and hosts preserved in amber. Such use of natural history collections could expand scientific understanding of parasite responses to environmental change across deep time (that is, over the past several centuries), facilitating the development of baselines for managing contemporary wildlife disease.
    • Detection of ultrafine plastics ingested by seabirds using tissue digestion.

      Lavers, JL; Stivaktakis, G; Hutton, I; Bond, AL (Elsevier, 2019-04-06)
      Plastic debris is a major global threat to marine ecosystems and species. However, our knowledge of this issue may be incomplete due to a lack of a standardized method for quantifying ingested ultrafine particles (1 μm - 1 mm) in wildlife. This study provides the first quantification of ultrafine plastic in seabirds using chemical and biological digestion treatments to extract plastic items from seabird gizzards. The alkaline agent, potassium hydroxide, outperformed the enzyme corolase, based on cost and efficiency (e.g., digestion time). Ultrafine plastics were observed in 7.0% of Flesh-footed Shearwater (Ardenna carneipes) gizzards collected from Lord Howe Island, Australia and accounted for 3.6% of all plastic items recovered (13 out of 359 items). Existing methods for extracting ingested plastic from seabirds do not account for ultrafine particles, therefore our results indicate current seabird plastic loads, and the associated physical and biological impacts, are underestimated.
    • The chemical basis of a signal of individual identity: shell pigment concentrations track the unique appearance of Common Murre eggs.

      Hauber, ME; Bond, AL; Kouwenberg, A-L; Robertson, GJ; Hansen, ES; Holford, M; Dainson, M; Luro, A; Dale, J (Royal Society, 2019-04-26)
      In group-living species with parental care, the accurate recognition of one's own young is critical to fitness. Because discriminating offspring within a large colonial group may be challenging, progeny of colonial breeders often display familial or individual identity signals to elicit and receive parental provisions from their own parents. For instance, the common murre (or common guillemot: Uria aalge) is a colonially breeding seabird that does not build a nest and lays and incubates an egg with an individually unique appearance. How the shell's physical and chemical properties generate this individual variability in coloration and maculation has not been studied in detail. Here, we quantified two characteristics of the avian-visible appearance of murre eggshells collected from the wild: background coloration spectra and maculation density. As predicted by the individual identity hypothesis, there was no statistical relationship between avian-perceivable shell background coloration and maculation density within the same eggs. In turn, variation in both sets of traits was statistically related to some of their physico-chemical properties, including shell thickness and concentrations of the eggshell pigments biliverdin and protoporphyrin IX. These results illustrate how individually unique eggshell appearances, suitable for identity signalling, can be generated by a small number of structural mechanisms.
    • An updated checklist of the Culicidae (Diptera) of Morocco, with notes on species of historical and current medical importance

      Trari, B; Dakki, M; Harbach, RE (Society for Vector Ecology, 2017-06)
      An updated checklist of the mosquito species (Diptera: Culicidae) recorded in Morocco from 1916 to 2016 is provided, including synonyms and synonymous usage for each species. Forty‐three species belonging to seven genera are recorded so far: Anopheles (9), Aedes (12) Coquillettidia (2), Culex (12), Culiseta (5), Orthopodomyia (1) and Uranotaenia (2). Traditional and equivalent names in the polyphyletic concept of Aedes are provided for the aedine species. The historical importance and current potential threat of mosquitoes to human health in Morocco is reviewed.
    • A new species of Boulengerula Tornier, 1896 (Amphibia: Gymnophiona: Herpelidae) from Kenya and the “rediscovery” of Boulengerula denhardti

      Wilkinson, M; Malonza, PK; Campbell, P; Loader, SP (Magnolia Press, 2017-07-04)
      A new species of herpelid caecilian, Boulengerula spawlsi sp. nov., is described based on nine specimens from Ngaia (= Ngaya or Ngaja) Forest Reserve, Nyambene Hills, Meru County, Kenya collected between 2007 and 2013. The new species differs from all other Boulengerula in having more anteriorly positioned tentacular apertures and tentacular grooves that are partly or completely covered by the maxillopalatines. Specimens of the new species were previously erroneously reported as a rediscovery of the poorly known congener Boulengerula denhardti Neiden, 1912 together with a biogeographic scenario to explain their disjunct distribution that is not required.
    • A revision of the Morelloid Clade of Solanum L. (Solanaceae) in North and Central America andthe Caribbean

      Knapp, S; Barboza, GE; Bohs, L; Sarkinen, T (Pensoft Publishers, 2019-05-30)
      The Morelloid Clade, also known as the black nightshades or “Maurella” (Morella), is one of the 10 major clades within the mega-diverse genus Solanum L. The clade is most species rich in the central to southern Andes, but species occur around the tropics and subtropics, some extending well into the temperate zone. Plants of the group are herbaceous or short-lived perennials, with small white or purplish white flowers, and small juicy berries. Due to the complex morphological variation and weedy nature of these plants, coupled with the large number of published synonyms (especially for European taxa), our understanding of species limits and diversity in the Morelloid Clade has lagged behind that of other major groups in Solanum. Here we provide the second in a three-part series of revisions of the morelloid solanums treating the species occurring in North and Central America and the Caribbean (for the Old World see PhytoKeys 106, the third part will treat species of South America). Synonymy, morphological descriptions, distribution maps, and common names and uses are provided for all 18 species occurring in this region. We treat 10 of these species as native, and eight as putatively naturalised, introduced and/or invasive in the region. We provide complete descriptions with nomenclatural details, including lecto- and neotypifications, for all species. Keys to all species occurring in the whole region and for each area within it (i.e., North America, Central America and Mexico, and the islands of the Caribbean), illustrations to aid identification both in herbaria and in the field, and distribution maps are provided. Preliminary conservation assessments are provided for all species. Details of all specimens examined are provided in three Supplementary Materials files.
    • Early consequences of allopolyploidy alter floral evolution in Nicotiana (Solanaceae)

      McCarthy, EW; Landis, JB; Kurti, A; Lawhorn, AJ; Chase, MW; Knapp, S; Le Comber, SC; Leitch, AR; Litt, A (BMC, 2019-04-27)
      Background: Polyploidy has played a major role in angiosperm evolution. Previous studies have examined polyploid phenotypes in comparison to their extant progenitors, but not in context of predicted progenitor phenotypes at allopolyploid origin. In addition, differences in the trends of polyploid versus diploid evolution have not been investigated. We use ancestral character-state reconstructions to estimate progenitor phenotype at allopolyploid origin to determine patterns of polyploid evolution leading to morphology of the extant species. We also compare trends in diploid versus allopolyploid evolution to determine if polyploidy modifies floral evolutionary patterns. Results: Predicting the ancestral phenotype of a nascent allopolyploid from reconstructions of diploid phenotypes at the time of polyploid formation generates different phenotype predictions than when extant diploid phenotypes are used, the outcome of which can alter conclusions about polyploid evolution; however, most analyses yield the same results. Using ancestral reconstructions of diploid floral phenotypes indicate that young polyploids evolve shorter, wider corolla tubes, but older polyploids and diploids do not show any detectable evolutionary trends. Lability of the traits examined (floral shape, corolla tube length, and corolla tube width) differs across young and older polyploids and diploids. Corolla length is more evolutionarily labile in older polyploids and diploids. Polyploids do not display unique suites of floral characters based on both morphological and color traits, but some suites of characters may be evolving together and seem to have arisen multiple times within Nicotiana, perhaps due to the influence of pollinators. Conclusions: Young polyploids display different trends in floral evolution (shorter, wider corolla tubes, which may result in more generalist pollination) than older polyploids and diploids, suggesting that patterns of divergence are impacted by the early consequences of allopolyploidy, perhaps arising from genomic shock and/or subsequent genome stabilization associated with diploidization. Convergent evolution in floral morphology and color in Nicotiana can be consistent with pollinator preferences, suggesting that pollinators may have shaped floral evolution in Nicotiana.
    • Uncovering the sub-lethal impacts of plastic ingestion by shearwaters using fatty acid analysis.

      Puskic, PS; Lavers, JL; Adams, LR; Grünenwald, M; Hutton, I; Bond, AL (Oxford Academic, 2019-05-16)
      Marine plastic pollution is increasing exponentially, impacting an expanding number of taxa each year across all trophic levels. Of all bird groups, seabirds display the highest plastic ingestion rates and are regarded as sentinels of pollution within their foraging regions. The consumption of plastic contributes to sub-lethal impacts (i.e. morbidity, starvation) in a handful of species. Additional data on these sub-lethal effects are needed urgently to better understand the scope and severity of the plastics issue. Here we explore the application of fatty acid (FA) analysis as a novel tool to investigate sub-lethal impacts of plastic ingestion on seabird body condition and health. Using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, we identified 37 individual FAs within the adipose, breast muscle and liver of flesh-footed (Ardenna carneipes) and short-tailed (Ardenna tenuirostris) shearwaters. We found high amounts of FA 16:0, 18:0, 20:5n3 (eicosapentaenoic acid), 22:6n3 (docosahexaenoic acid) and 18:1n9 in both species; however, the overall FA composition of the two species differed significantly. In flesh-footed shearwaters, high amounts of saturated and mono-unsaturated FAs (needed for fast and slow release energy, respectively) in the adipose and muscle tissues were related to greater bird body mass. While total FAs were not related to the amount of plastic ingested in either species, these data are a valuable contribution to the limited literature on FAs in seabirds. We encourage studies to explore other analytical tools to detect these sub-lethal impacts of plastic.
    • Towards the identification of ancestrally shared regenerative mechanisms across the Metazoa: A Transcriptomic case study in the Demosponge Halisarca caerulea

      Kenny, NJ; de Goeij, JM; de Bakker, DM; Whalen, CG; Berezikov, E; Riesgo, A (Elsevier, 2018-02)
      Regeneration is an essential process for all multicellular organisms, allowing them to recover effectively from internal and external injury. This process has been studied extensively in a medical context in vertebrates, with pathways often investigated mechanistically, both to derive increased understanding and as potential drug targets for therapy. Several species from other parts of the metazoan tree of life, including Hydra, planarians and echinoderms, noted for their regenerative capabilities, have previously been targeted for study. Less well-documented for their regenerative abilities are sponges. This is surprising, as they are both one of the earliest-branching extant metazoan phyla on Earth, and are rapidly able to respond to injury. Their sessile lifestyle, lack of an external protective layer, inability to respond to predation and filter-feeding strategy all mean that regeneration is often required. In particular the demosponge genus Halisarca has been noted for its fast cell turnover and ability to quickly adjust its cell kinetic properties to repair damage through regeneration. However, while the rate and structure of regeneration in sponges has begun to be investigated, the molecular mechanisms behind this ability are yet to be catalogued. Here we describe the assembly of a reference transcriptome for Halisarca caerulea, along with additional transcriptomes noting response to injury before, shortly following (2 h post-), and 12 h after trauma. RNAseq reads were assembled using Trinity, annotated, and samples compared, to allow initial insight into the transcriptomic basis of sponge regenerative processes. These resources are deep, with our reference assembly containing > 92.6% of the BUSCO Metazoa set of genes, and well-assembled (N50s of 836, 957, 1688 and 2032 for untreated, 2 h, 12 h and reference transcriptomes respectively), and therefore represent excellent qualitative resources as a bedrock for future study. The generation of transcriptomic resources from sponges before and following deliberate damage has allowed us to study particular pathways within this species responsible for repairing damage. We note particularly the involvement of the Wnt cascades in this process in this species, and detail the contents of this cascade, along with cell cycle, extracellular matrix and apoptosis-linked genes in this work. This resource represents an initial starting point for the continued development of this knowledge, given H. caerulea's ability to regenerate and position as an outgroup for comparing the process of regeneration across metazoan lineages. With this resource in place, we can begin to infer the regenerative capacity of the common ancestor of all extant animal life, and unravel the elements of regeneration in an often-overlooked clade.
    • Delegating sex: differential gene expression in stolonizing syllids uncovers the hormonal control of reproduction in Annelida

      Alvarez-Campos, P; Kenny, NJ; Verdes, A; Fernandez, RM; Novo, M; Giribet, G; Riesgo, A (Oxford Academic, 2018-12-11)
      Stolonization in syllid annelids is a unique mode of reproduction among animals. During the breeding season, a structure resembling the adult but containing only gametes, called stolon, is formed generally at the posterior end of the animal. When stolons mature, they detach from the adult and gametes are released into the water column. The process is synchronized within each species, and it has been reported to be under environmental and endogenous control, probably via endocrine regulation. To further understand reproduction in syllids and to elucidate the molecular toolkit underlying stolonization, we generated Illumina RNA-seq data from different tissues of reproductive and nonreproductive individuals of Syllis magdalena and characterized gene expression during the stolonization process. Several genes involved in gametogenesis (ovochymase, vitellogenin, testis-specific serine/threonine-kinase), immune response (complement receptor 2), neuronal development (tyrosine-protein kinase Src42A), cell proliferation (alpha-1D adrenergic receptor), and steroid metabolism (hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 2) were found differentially expressed in the different tissues and conditions analyzed. In addition, our findings suggest that several neurohormones, such as methyl farnesoate, dopamine, and serotonin, might trigger stolon formation, the correct maturation of gametes and the detachment of stolons when gametogenesis ends. The process seems to be under circadian control, as indicated by the expression patterns of r-opsins. Overall, our results shed light into the genes that orchestrate the onset of gamete formation and improve our understanding of how some hormones, previously reported to be involved in reproduction and metamorphosis processes in other invertebrates, seem to also regulate reproduction via stolonization.
    • Convergent evolution of an extreme dietary specialisation, the olfactory system of worm-eating rodents

      Martinez, Q; Lebrun, R; Achmadi, AS; Esselstyn, JA; Evans, AR; Heaney, LR; Portela Miguez, R; Rowe, KC; Fabre, P-H (Nature Research, 2018-12-13)
      Turbinal bones are key components of the mammalian rostrum that contribute to three critical functions: (1) homeothermy, (2) water conservation and (3) olfaction. With over 700 extant species, murine rodents (Murinae) are the most species-rich mammalian subfamily, with most of that diversity residing in the Indo-Australian Archipelago. Their evolutionary history includes several cases of putative, but untested ecomorphological convergence, especially with traits related to diet. Among the most spectacular rodent ecomorphs are the vermivores which independently evolved in several island systems. We used 3D CT-scans (N = 87) of murine turbinal bones to quantify olfactory capacities as well as heat or water conservation adaptations. We obtained similar results from an existing 2D complexity method and two new 3D methodologies that quantify bone complexity. Using comparative phylogenetic methods, we identified a significant convergent signal in the rostral morphology within the highly specialised vermivores. Vermivorous species have significantly larger and more complex olfactory turbinals than do carnivores and omnivores. Increased olfactory capacities may be a major adaptive feature facilitating rats’ capacity to prey on elusive earthworms. The narrow snout that characterises vermivores exhibits significantly reduced respiratory turbinals, which may reduce their heat and water conservation capacities.
    • Bumblebees take the high road: climatically integrative biogeography shows that escape from Tibet, not Tibetan uplift, is associated with divergences of present-day Mendacibombus

      Williams, PH; Lobo, JM; Meseguer, AS (Wiley, 2018-03)
      Many claims that uplift of the Qinghai‐Tibetan plateau (QTP) drove the divergences of extant high‐elevation biota have recently been challenged. For Mendacibombus bumblebees, high‐elevation specialists with distributions centred on the QTP, we examine broader explanations. We extend integrative biogeography to cover multiple contributing factors by using a framework of sequential filters: 1) molecular evidence from four genes is used to estimate phylogenetic relationships, with time calibration from a published estimate; 2) spatial evidence from current distributions is combined with the phylogeny and constrained by a model of short‐distance dispersal along mountain corridors to estimate ancestral distributions by both S‐DIVA and S‐DEC analysis; 3) geological evidence from the literature is used to constrain when high mountain ranges were uplifted to become potential corridors; and 4) climatological evidence from Mendacibombus niche‐evolution reconstructions and from palaeoclimate simulations is used to constrain when habitat was suitable in key gaps within corridors. Explanations for Mendacibombus distributions can be identified that require only short‐distance dispersal along mountain corridors, commensurate with the limited dispersal ability observed for bumblebees. These explanations depend on the timing of uplift of mountain ranges, regional climate change, and climate‐niche evolution. The uplift of the QTP may have contributed to the initial Oligocene divergence of the common ancestor of Mendacibombus from other bumblebees, but for the first two thirds of the history of Mendacibombus, only a single lineage has present‐day descendants. Divergence of multiple extant Mendacibombus lineages coincided with the Late Miocene–Pliocene uplift of externally connecting mountains, combined with regional climate cooling. These changes provided greater connectivity of suitable habitat, allowing these bumblebees to disperse out of the western QTP via new high bridges, escaping along the mountain corridors of the Tian Shan and Hindu Kush ranges, reaching eventually far to the west (Iberian Peninsula) and to the north‐east (Kamchatka).
    • Oldfield Thomas: In His Own Words.

      Portela Miguez, R (Natural Sciences Collections Association, 2019-03-28)
      Compilation of a series of non-academic articles written by Oldfield Thomas for the public press.
    • A black page in the French partridge's history: the melanistic variety of Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa

      van Grouw, H; Besson, L; Mellier, B (The British Ornithologists' Club, 2018-12-14)
      The melanistic variety of Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa was described from a small population in western France around the 1850s. In this region, Red-legged Partridge population as a whole was hunted, but melanistic individuals were targeted for both private and museum bird collections, and by 1865 the variety was extinct in western France. An extensive search for extant specimens documented 13 melanistic birds in six museums, and their details are presented here. Remarkably, some of these specimens were collected in areas elsewhere in France or even in other countries. After 1915, the allele for melanism appears to have been lost within the Red-legged Partridge population as a whole, and we discuss possible reasons for this.
    • The timescale of early land plant evolution

      Morris, JL; Puttick, MN; Clark, JW; Edwards, D; Kenrick, P; Pressel, S; Wellman, CH; Yang, Z; Schneider, H; Donoghue, PCJ (National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2018-03-06)
      Establishing the timescale of early land plant evolution is essential for testing hypotheses on the coevolution of land plants and Earth’s System. The sparseness of early land plant megafossils and stratigraphic controls on their distribution make the fossil record an unreliable guide, leaving only the molecular clock. However, the application of molecular clock methodology is challenged by the current impasse in attempts to resolve the evolutionary relationships among the living bryophytes and tracheophytes. Here, we establish a timescale for early land plant evolution that integrates over topological uncertainty by exploring the impact of competing hypotheses on bryophyte−tracheophyte relationships, among other variables, on divergence time estimation. We codify 37 fossil calibrations for Viridiplantae following best practice. We apply these calibrations in a Bayesian relaxed molecular clock analysis of a phylogenomic dataset encompassing the diversity of Embryophyta and their relatives within Viridiplantae. Topology and dataset sizes have little impact on age estimates, with greater differences among alternative clock models and calibration strategies. For all analyses, a Cambrian origin of Embryophyta is recovered with highest probability. The estimated ages for crown tracheophytes range from Late Ordovician to late Silurian. This timescale implies an early establishment of terrestrial ecosystems by land plants that is in close accord with recent estimates for the origin of terrestrial animal lineages. Biogeochemical models that are constrained by the fossil record of early land plants, or attempt to explain their impact, must consider the implications of a much earlier, middle Cambrian–Early Ordovician, origin.