• Ancient mitogenomics clarifies radiation of extinct Mascarene giant tortoises (Cylindraspis spp.)

      Kehlmaier, C; Graciá, E; Campbell, P; Hofmeyr, MD; SCHWEIGER, S; Martínez-Silvestre, A; Joyce, W; Fritz, U (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2019-11-25)
      The five extinct giant tortoises of the genus Cylindraspis belong to the most iconic species of the enigmatic fauna of the Mascarene Islands that went largely extinct after the discovery of the islands. To resolve the phylogeny and biogeography of Cylindraspis, we analysed a data set of 45 mitogenomes that includes all lineages of extant tortoises and eight near-complete sequences of all Mascarene species extracted from historic and subfossil material. Cylindraspis is an ancient lineage that diverged as early as the late Eocene. Diversification of Cylindraspis commenced in the mid-Oligocene, long before the formation of the Mascarene Islands. This rejects any notion suggesting that the group either arrived from nearby or distant continents over the course of the last millions of years or had even been translocated to the islands by humans. Instead, Cylindraspis likely originated on now submerged islands of the Réunion Hotspot and utilized these to island hop to reach the Mascarenes. The final diversification took place both before and after the arrival on the Mascarenes. With Cylindraspis a deeply divergent clade of tortoises became extinct that evolved long before the dodo or the Rodrigues solitaire, two other charismatic species of the lost Mascarene fauna.
    • Training needs and recommendations for Citizen Science participants, facilitators and designers

      Lorke, Julia; Golumbic, YN; Ramjan, C; Atias, O (COST Action 15212, 2019-11-15)
      In this report, we aimed to systematise and elaborate on the ideas discussed during the COST Action WG2 workshop “Systematic review on training requirements and recommendations for Citizen Science” that took place in Riga on 12-13th November 2018. Building on the input from the workshop participants’ broad range of different perspectives and expertise in citizen science and education, we compiled a list of training needs for project participants, project facilitators and project designers in citizen science and categorised them into core, operational and engagement needs. Based on our experience we discussed challenges that may need to be considered when designing training in citizen science. We then addressed the needs by formulating recommendations and pointing out available resources that have been proven to be useful in our own citizen science research and practice. While we acknowledge that these training needs and training recommendations may not be complete, we believe that our approach from needs to recommendations can act as a helpful working model when designing training and the list of resources provides a starting point to delve deeper into the topic and good training examples to build on. We invite the community to provide further insights into training needs and recommendations and to contribute further resources to the list
    • The utility of micro-computed tomography for the non-destructive study of eye microstructure in snails

      Sumner-Rooney, L; Kenny, Nathan; Ahmed, F; Williams, ST (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2019-10-28)
      Molluscan eyes exhibit an enormous range of morphological variation, ranging from tiny pigment-cup eyes in limpets, compound eyes in ark clams and pinhole eyes in Nautilus, through to concave mirror eyes in scallops and the large camera-type eyes of the more derived cephalopods. Here we assess the potential of non-destructive micro-computed tomography (µ-CT) for investigating the anatomy of molluscan eyes in three species of the family Solariellidae, a group of small, deep-sea gastropods. We compare our results directly with those from traditional histological methods applied to the same specimens, and show not only that eye microstructure can be visualised in sufficient detail for meaningful comparison even in very small animals, but also that μ-CT can provide additional insight into gross neuroanatomy without damaging rare and precious specimens. Data from μ-CT scans also show that neurological innervation of eyes is reduced in dark-adapted snails when compared with the innervation of cephalic tentacles, which are involved in mechanoreception and possibly chemoreception. Molecular tests also show that the use of µ-CT and phosphotungstic acid stain do not prevent successful downstream DNA extraction, PCR amplification or sequencing. The use of µ-CT methods is therefore highly recommended for the investigation of difficult-to-collect or unique specimens.
    • Sex biases in bird and mammal natural history collections.

      Cooper, N; Bond, AL; Davis, JL; Portela Miguez, R; Tomsett, L; Helgen, Kristofer (Royal Society, 2019-10-23)
      Natural history specimens are widely used across ecology, evolutionary biology and conservation. Although biological sex may influence all of these areas, it is often overlooked in large-scale studies using museum specimens. If collections are biased towards one sex, studies may not be representative of the species. Here, we investigate sex ratios in over two million bird and mammal specimen records from five large international museums. We found a slight bias towards males in birds (40% females) and mammals (48% females), but this varied among orders. The proportion of female specimens has not significantly changed in 130 years, but has decreased in species with showy male traits like colourful plumage and horns. Body size had little effect. Male bias was strongest in name-bearing types; only 27% of bird and 39% of mammal types were female. These results imply that previous studies may be impacted by undetected male bias, and vigilance is required when using specimen data, collecting new specimens and designating types.
    • Cryptic diversity of limestone karst inhabiting land snails (Cyclophorus spp.) in northern Vietnam, their evolutionary history and the description of four new species

      von Oheimb, Katharina C. M.; von Oheimb, Parm Viktor; Hirano, T; Do, TV; Ablett, J; Luong, HV; Pham, SV; Naggs, F (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2019-10-23)
      Limestone karsts can form terrestrial habitat islands for calcium-dependent organisms. In Vietnam, many karst habitats are threatened, while their rich biodiversity is still far from being thoroughly explored. Given that conservation of karst biota strongly relies on correct species identification, the presence of undetected cryptic species can pose severe problems. The present study focuses on cryptic diversity among karst-inhabiting land snails of the genus Cyclophorus in northern Vietnam, where specimens with a similar shell morphology have been reported from various regions. In order to examine the diversity and evolutionary history of this “widespread morphotype”, we generated a Bayesian phylogeny based on DNA sequence data. Automatic Barcode Gap Discovery (ABGD) and the Bayesian implementation of the Poisson tree processes model (bPTP) contributed to species delimitation and analyses of shell shape and size aided the morphological characterisation of individual species. We found that the examined specimens of the widespread morphotype did not form a single monophyletic group in the phylogeny but clustered into several different clades. We delimited nine different species that develop the widespread morphotype and described four of them as new. Processes of convergent evolution were probably involved in the origin of the delimited species, while their generally allopatric distribution could result from interspecific competition. Our findings indicate ongoing processes of speciation and a potential case of morphological character displacement. The high degree of morphological overlap found among the species underlines the importance of DNA sequence data for species delimitation and description in the genus Cyclophorus. Given the findings of the present study and the high potential that as yet undiscovered cryptic taxa have also evolved in other groups of karst-inhabiting organisms, we argue for a systematic and efficient detection and description of Vietnam’s karst biodiversity to provide a solid basis for future conservation planning.
    • Combining simulation modeling and stable isotope analyses to reconstruct the last known movements of one of Nature’s giants

      Trueman, C; Jackson, A; Chadwick, K; Coombs, Ellen J; Feyrer, L; Magozzi, S; Sabin, R; Cooper, N (PeerJ Inc., 2019-10-18)
      The spatial ecology of rare, migratory oceanic animals is difficult to study directly. Where incremental tissues are available, their chemical composition can provide valuable indirect observations of movement and diet. Interpreting the chemical record in incremental tissues can be highly uncertain, however, as multiple mechanisms interact to produce the observed data. Simulation modeling is one approach for considering alternative hypotheses in ecology and can be used to consider the relative likelihood of obtaining an observed record under different combinations of ecological and environmental processes. Here we show how a simulation modeling approach can help to infer movement behaviour based on stable carbon isotope profiles measured in incremental baleen tissues of a blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus). The life history of this particular specimen, which stranded in 1891 in the UK, was selected as a case study due to its cultural significance as part of a permanent display at the Natural History Museum, London. We specifically tested whether measured variations in stable isotope compositions across the analysed baleen plate were more consistent with residency or latitudinal migrations. The measured isotopic record was most closely reproduced with a period of residency in sub-tropical waters for at least a full year followed by three repeated annual migrations between sub-tropical and high latitude regions. The latitudinal migration cycle was interrupted in the year prior to stranding, potentially implying pregnancy and weaning, but isotopic data alone cannot test this hypothesis. Simulation methods can help reveal movement information coded in the biochemical compositions of incremental tissues such as those archived in historic collections, and provides context and inferences that are useful for retrospective studies of animal movement, especially where other sources of individual movement data are sparse or challenging to validate.
    • Extensive sampling and thorough taxonomic assessment of Afrotropical Rhyssinae (Hymenoptera, Ichneumonidae) reveals two new species and demonstrates the limitations of previous sampling efforts

      Hopkins, T; Roininen, H; van Noort, S; Broad, G; Kaunisto, K; Sääksjärvi, IE (Pensoft Publishers, 2019-10-07)
      Tropical forest invertebrates, such as the parasitoid wasp family Ichneumonidae, are poorly known. This work reports some of the first results of an extensive survey implemented in Kibale National Park, Uganda. A total of 456 individuals was caught of the subfamily Rhyssinae Morley, 1913, which in the Afrotropical region was previously known from only 30 specimens. Here, the six species found at the site are described and the Afrotropical Rhyssinae are reviewed. Two new species, Epirhyssa johanna Hopkins, sp. nov. and E. quagga sp. nov., are described and a key, diagnostic characters, and descriptions for all 13 known Afrotropical species are provided, including the first description of the male of Epirhyssa overlaeti Seyrig, 1937. Epirhyssa gavinbroadi Rousse & van Noort, 2014, syn. nov. is proposed to be a synonym of E. uelensis Benoit, 1951. Extensive sampling with Malaise traps gave an unprecedented sample size, and the method is recommended for other poorly known tropical areas.
    • Reduction of eyes in last-instar beetle larvae: a special observation in Trictenotomidae, based on Trictenotoma formosana Kriesche, 1919

      Telnov, D; Hu, F-S; Pollock, DA; Lin, Z-R (2019-10-03)
      Recently, Lin & Hu (2018, 2019) unraveled the biology of Trictenotoma formosana Kriesche, 1919. For the first time since Gahan (1908) there is fresh immature stages material available for Trictenotomidae.
    • Phylogenomics resolves major relationships and reveals significant diversification rate shifts in the evolution of silk moths and relatives

      Hamilton, CA; St Laurent, RA; Dexter, K; Kitching, I; Breinholt, JW; Zwick, A; Timmermans, MJTN; Barber, JR; Kawahara, AY (BioMed Central, 2019-09-18)
      Background: Silkmoths and their relatives constitute the ecologically and taxonomically diverse superfamily Bombycoidea, which includes some of the most charismatic species of Lepidoptera. Despite displaying spectacular forms and diverse ecological traits, relatively little attention has been given to understanding their evolution and drivers of their diversity. To begin to address this problem, we created a new Bombycoidea-specific Anchored Hybrid Enrichment (AHE) probe set and sampled up to 571 loci for 117 taxa across all major lineages of the Bombycoidea, with a newly developed DNA extraction protocol that allows Lepidoptera specimens to be readily sequenced from pinned natural history collections. Results: The well-supported tree was overall consistent with prior morphological and molecular studies, although some taxa were misplaced. The bombycid Arotros Schaus was formally transferred to Apatelodidae. We identified important evolutionary patterns (e.g., morphology, biogeography, and differences in speciation and extinction), and our analysis of diversification rates highlights the stark increases that exist within the Sphingidae (hawkmoths) and Saturniidae (wild silkmoths). Conclusions: Our study establishes a backbone for future evolutionary, comparative, and taxonomic studies of Bombycoidea. We postulate that the rate shifts identified are due to the well-documented bat-moth “arms race”. Our research highlights the flexibility of AHE to generate genomic data from a wide range of museum specimens, both age and preservation method, and will allow researchers to tap into the wealth of biological data residing in natural history collections around the globe.
    • Cranial osteology and molecular phylogeny of Argyrogena fasciolata (Shaw, 1802) (Colubridae: Serpentes)

      Das, S; Campbell, P; Roy, S; Mukherjee, S; Pramanick, K; Biswas, A; Raha, S; Fritz, U (Museum of Zoology, Dresden (Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung), 2019-08-15)
      Descriptive accounts of the cranial osteology of snakes is important for systematics, functional morphology and also, to some extent, palaeontology. In the present study, we describe the skull of Argyrogena fasciolata, a south Asian colubrid snake, in detail. Bones of the snout unit of this snake are adapted for a fossorial mode of life whereas the braincase lacks any adaptations related to such an existence. We also compared its skull with other snakes belonging to sixteen other genera which together form the large clade containing Afrotropical, Palaearctic and Saharo-Arabian racers/whip snakes. The comparison shows that the cranium of A. fasciolata bears more similarity with that of Platyceps spp, differing mostly in three characteristics pertaining to premaxilla, nasal and pterygoid bones, than it does with crania of other genera. This suggests a closer relationship between those two genera. We also performed molecular phylogenetic analyses on three mitochondrial loci using Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian Inference optimality criteria. The resultant phylogenies indeed recover A. fasciolata as sister to Platyceps spp.
    • Warm Temperatures, Cool Sponges: The Effect of Increased Temperatures on the Antarctic Sponge Isodictya sp

      González-Aravena, M.; Kenny, N.J.; Osorio, M.; Font, A.; Riesgo, A.; Cárdenas, C.A. (bioRxiv, 2019-08-06)
      Although the cellular and molecular responses to exposure to relatively high temperatures (acute thermal stress or heat shock) have been studied previously, only sparse empirical evidence of how it affects cold-water species is available. As climate change becomes more pronounced in areas such as the Western Antarctic Peninsula, it has become crucial to understand the capacity of these species to respond to thermal stress. Here we use the Antarctic sponge Isodictya sp. to investigate how sessile organisms (particularly Porifera) can adjust to acute short-term heat stress, by exposing this species to 3 and 5 °C for 4 hours, corresponding to predicted temperatures under high-end 2080 IPCC-SRES scenarios. Assembling a de novo reference transcriptome (90,188 contigs, >93.7% metazoan BUSCO genes) we have begun to discern the molecular response employed by Isodictya to adjust to environmental insult. Our initial analyses suggest that TGF-β, ubiquitin and hedgehog cascades are involved, alongside other genes. However, the degree and type of response changed little from 3 to 5 °C, suggesting that even moderate rises in temperature could cause stress at the limits of this organism’s capacity. Given the importance of sponges to Antarctic ecosystems, our findings are vital for discerning the consequences of increases in Antarctic ocean temperature on these and other species.
    • Clinical Pathology of Plastic Ingestion in Marine Birds and Relationships with Blood Chemistry.

      Lavers, JL; Hutton, I; Bond, AL (American Chemical Society, 2019-07-15)
      Pollution of the environment with plastic debris is a significant and rapidly expanding threat to biodiversity due to its abundance, durability, and persistence. Current knowledge of the negative effects of debris on wildlife is largely based on consequences that are readily observed, such as entanglement or starvation. Many interactions with debris, however, result in less visible and poorly documented sublethal effects, and as a consequence, the true impact of plastic is underestimated. We investigated the sublethal effects of ingested plastic in Flesh-footed Shearwaters (Ardenna carneipes) using blood chemistry parameters as a measure of bird health. The presence of plastic had a significant negative effect on bird morphometrics and blood calcium levels and a positive relationship with the concentration of uric acid, cholesterol, and amylase. That we found blood chemistry parameters being related to plastic pollution is one of the few examples to date of the sublethal effects of marine debris and highlights that superficially healthy individuals may still experience the negative consequences of ingesting plastic debris. Moving beyond crude measures, such as reduced body mass, to physiological parameters will provide much needed insight into the nuanced and less visible effects of plastic.
    • Symbiosis, Selection, and Novelty: Freshwater Adaptation in the Unique Sponges of Lake Baikal

      Kenny, Nathan J.; Plese, Bruna; Riesgo, Ana; Itskovich, Valeria B. (Oxford Academic, 2019-06-27)
      Freshwater sponges (Spongillida) are a unique lineage of demosponges that secondarily colonized lakes and rivers and are now found ubiquitously in these ecosystems. They developed specific adaptations to freshwater systems, including the ability to survive extreme thermal ranges, long-lasting dessication, anoxia, and resistance to a variety of pollutants. Although spongillids have colonized all freshwater systems, the family Lubomirskiidae is endemic to Lake Baikal and plays a range of key roles in this ecosystem. Our work compares the genomic content and microbiome of individuals of three species of the Lubomirskiidae, providing hypotheses for how molecular evolution has allowed them to adapt to their unique environments. We have sequenced deep (>92% of the metazoan “Benchmarking Universal Single-Copy Orthologs” [BUSCO] set) transcriptomes from three species of Lubomirskiidae and a draft genome resource for Lubomirskia baikalensis. We note Baikal sponges contain unicellular algal and bacterial symbionts, as well as the dinoflagellate Gyrodinium. We investigated molecular evolution, gene duplication, and novelty in freshwater sponges compared with marine lineages. Sixty one orthogroups have consilient evidence of positive selection. Transporters (e.g., zinc transporter-2), transcription factors (aristaless-related homeobox), and structural proteins (e.g. actin-3), alongside other genes, are under strong evolutionary pressure in freshwater, with duplication driving novelty across the Spongillida, but especially in the Lubomirskiidae. This addition to knowledge of freshwater sponge genetics provides a range of tools for understanding the molecular biology and, in the future, the ecology (e.g., colonization and migration patterns) of these key species.
    • 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).
    • 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.
    • Genome-wide SNP data reveal an overestimation of species diversity in a group of hawkmoths.

      Hundsdoerfer, AK; Lee, KM; Kitching, IJ; Mutanen, M (Oxford University Press, 2019-05-29)
      The interface between populations and evolving young species continues to generate much contemporary debate in systematics depending on the species concept(s) applied but which ultimately reduces to the fundamental question of “when do nondiscrete entities become distinct,mutually exclusive evolutionary units”? Species are perceived as critical biological entities, and the discovery and naming of new species is perceived by many authors as a major research aim for assessing current biodiversity before much of it becomes extinct.However, less attention is given to determining whether these names represent valid biological entities because this is perceived as both a laborious chore and an undesirable research outcome. The charismatic spurge hawkmoths (Hyles euphorbiae complex, HEC) offer an opportunity to study this less fashionable aspect of systematics. To elucidate this intriguing systematic challenge, we analyzed over 10,000 ddRAD single nucleotide polymorphisms from 62 individuals using coalescent-based and population genomic methodology. These genome-wide data reveal a clear overestimation of (sub)species-level diversity and demonstrate that the HEC taxonomy has been seriously oversplit. We conclude that only one valid species name should be retained for the entire HEC, namely Hyles euphorbiae, and we do not recognize any formal subspecies or other taxonomic subdivisions within it. Although the adoption of genetic tools has frequently revealed morphologically cryptic diversity, the converse, taxonomic oversplitting of species, is generally (and wrongly in our opinion) accepted as rare. Furthermore, taxonomic oversplitting is most likely to have taken place in intensively studied popular and charismatic organisms such as the HEC.
    • 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)
    • Population substructure and signals of divergent adaptive selection despite admixture in the sponge Dendrilla antarctica from shallow waters surrounding the Antarctic Peninsula

      Leiva, Carlos; Taboada, Sergi; Kenny, Nathan J.; Combosch, David; Giribet, Gonzalo; Jombart, Thibaut; Riesgo, Ana (Wiley, 2019-05-24)
      Antarctic shallow‐water invertebrates are exceptional candidates to study population genetics and evolution, because of their peculiar evolutionary history and adaptation to extreme habitats that expand and retreat with the ice sheets. Among them, sponges are one of the major components, yet population connectivity of none of their many Antarctic species has been studied. To investigate gene flow, local adaptation and resilience to near‐future changes caused by global warming, we sequenced 62 individuals of the sponge Dendrilla antarctica along the Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) and the South Shetlands (spanning ~900 km). We obtained information from 577 double digest restriction site‐associated DNA sequencing (ddRADseq)‐derived single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), using RADseq techniques for the first time with shallow‐water sponges. In contrast to other studies in sponges, our 389 neutral SNPs data set showed high levels of gene flow, with a subtle substructure driven by the circulation system of the studied area. However, the 140 outlier SNPs under positive selection showed signals of population differentiation, separating the central–southern WAP from the Bransfield Strait area, indicating a divergent selection process in the study area despite panmixia. Fourteen of these outliers were annotated, being mostly involved in immune and stress responses. We suggest that the main selective pressure on D. antarctica might be the difference in the planktonic communities present in the central–southern WAP compared to the Bransfield Strait area, ultimately depending on sea‐ice control of phytoplankton blooms. Our study unveils an unexpectedly long‐distance larval dispersal exceptional in Porifera, broadening the use of genome‐wide markers within nonmodel Antarctic organisms.
    • 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.
    • 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.