• Genes Suggest Ancestral Colour Polymorphisms Are Shared across Morphologically Cryptic Species in Arctic Bumblebees

      Williams, PH; Byvaltsev, AM; Cederberg, B; Berezin, MV; Odegaard, F; Rasmussen, C; Richardson, LL; Huang, J; Sheffield, CS; Williams, ST; et al. (2015-12-10)
    • Genetic Diversity within Schistosoma haematobium: DNA Barcoding Reveals Two Distinct Groups

      Webster, BL; Emery, AM; Webster, JP; Gouvras, A; Garba, A; Diaw, O; Seye, MM; Tchuente, LAT; Simoonga, C; Mwanga, J; et al. (PLOS, 2012-10-25)
      Background Schistosomiasis in one of the most prevalent parasitic diseases, affecting millions of people and animals in developing countries. Amongst the human-infective species S. haematobium is one of the most widespread causing urogenital schistosomiasis, a major human health problem across Africa, however in terms of research this human pathogen has been severely neglected. Methodology/Principal Findings To elucidate the genetic diversity of Schistosoma haematobium, a DNA ‘barcoding’ study was performed on parasite material collected from 41 localities representing 18 countries across Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands. Surprisingly low sequence variation was found within the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I (cox1) and the NADH-dehydrogenase subunit 1 snad1). The 61 haplotypes found within 1978 individual samples split into two distinct groups; one (Group 1) that is predominately made up of parasites from the African mainland and the other (Group 2) that is made up of samples exclusively from the Indian Ocean Islands and the neighbouring African coastal regions. Within Group 1 there was a dominance of one particular haplotype (H1) representing 1574 (80%) of the samples analyzed. Population genetic diversity increased in samples collected from the East African coastal regions and the data suggest that there has been movement of parasites between these areas and the Indian Ocean Islands. Conclusions/Significance The high occurrence of the haplotype (H1) suggests that at some point in the recent evolutionary history of S. haematobium in Africa the population may have passed through a genetic ‘bottleneck’ followed by a population expansion. This study provides novel and extremely interesting insights into the population genetics of S. haematobium on a large geographic scale, which may have consequence for control and monitoring of urogenital schistosomiasis.
    • 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.
    • Geographic range extension of Speke's Hinge-back Tortoise Kinixys spekii Gray, 1863

      Ihlow, F; Farooq, H; Qvozdik, V; Hofmeyr, M; Conradie, W; Harvey, J; Campbell, P; Verburgt, L; Fritz, U (Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, 2019-11-06)
      Kinixys spekii has a wide distribution range across sub-Saharan Africa, having been reported from Angola, Botswana, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, eSwatini, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Kinixys spekii inhabits savannah and dry bushveld habitats and was previously considered an inland species. However, recent records suggest a more extensive geographical distribution. Here, we provide genetically verifed records for Angola, South Africa, and Mozambique, and discuss reliable sightings for Rwanda. These new records extend the range signifcantly to the east and west, and provide evidence for the occurrence of this species along the coast of the Indian Ocean in South Africa and Mozambique.
    • A global catalog of primary reptile type specimens

      Campbell, P; Uetz, P; CHERIKH, SAMI; Shea, G; Ineich, I; Doronin, I; ROSADO, J; WYNN, A; TIGHE, KA; MCDIARMID, R; et al. (Magnolia Press, 2019-11-12)
      We present information on primary type specimens for 13,282 species and subspecies of reptiles compiled in the Reptile Database, that is, holotypes, neotypes, lectotypes, and syntypes. These represent 99.4% of all 13,361 currently recognized taxa (11,050 species and 2311 subspecies). Type specimens of 653 taxa (4.9%) are either lost or not located, were never designated, or we did not find any information about them. 51 species are based on iconotypes. To map all types to physical GLOBAL TYPE CATALOG OF REPTILES Zootaxa 4695 (5) © 2019 Magnolia Press · 439collections we have consolidated all synonymous and ambiguous collection acronyms into an unambiguous list of 364 collections holding these primary types. The 10 largest collections possess more than 50% of all (primary) reptile types, the 36 largest collections possess more than 10,000 types and the largest 73 collections possess over 90% of all types. Of the 364 collections, 107 hold type specimens of only 1 species or subspecies. Dozens of types are still in private collections. In order to increase their utility, we recommend that the description of type specimens be supplemented with data from high-resolution images and CT-scans, and clear links to tissue samples and DNA sequence data (when available). We request members of the herpetological community provide us with any missing type information to complete the list.
    • A global checklist of the Bombycoidea (Insecta: Lepidoptera)

      Kitching, I; Rougerie, R; Zwick, A; Hamilton, CA; St Laurent, RA; Naumann, S; Ballesteros Mejia, L; Kawahara, AY (2018-02-12)
    • Global effects of land use on local terrestrial biodiversity

      Newbold, T; Hudson, L; Hill, SLL; Contu, S; Lysenko, I; Senior, RA; Boerger, L; Bennett, DJ; Choimes, A; Collen, B; et al. (2015-04)
    • The Global Genome Biodiversity Network (GGBN) Data Portal

      Droege, G; Barker, K; Astrin, JJ; Bartels, P; Butler, C; Cantrill, D; Coddington, J; Forest, F; Gemeinholzer, B; Hobern, D; et al. (2014-01)
    • Globally important islands where eradicating invasive mammals will benefit highly threatened vertebrates

      Holmes, N; Spatz, D; Oppel, S; Tershy, B; Croll, D; Keitt, B; Genovesi, P; Burfield, I; Will, D; Bond, A; et al. (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2019-03-27)
      Invasive alien species are a major threat to native insular species. Eradicating invasive mammals from islands is a feasible and proven approach to prevent biodiversity loss. We developed a conceptual framework to identify globally important islands for invasive mammal eradications to prevent imminent extinctions of highly threatened species using biogeographic and technical factors, plus a novel approach to consider socio-political feasibility. We applied this framework using a comprehensive dataset describing the distribution of 1,184 highly threatened native vertebrate species (i.e. those listed as Critically Endangered or Endangered on the IUCN Red List) and 184 non-native mammals on 1,279 islands worldwide. Based on extinction risk, irreplaceability, severity of impact from invasive species, and technical feasibility of eradication, we identified and ranked 292 of the most important islands where eradicating invasive mammals would benefit highly threatened vertebrates. When socio-political feasibility was considered, we identified 169 of these islands where eradication planning or operation could be initiated by 2020 or 2030 and would improve the survival prospects of 9.4% of the Earth’s most highly threatened terrestrial insular vertebrates (111 of 1,184 species). Of these, 107 islands were in 34 countries and territories and could have eradication projects initiated by 2020. Concentrating efforts to eradicate invasive mammals on these 107 islands would benefit 151 populations of 80 highly threatened vertebrates and make a major contribution towards achieving global conservation targets adopted by the world’s nations.
    • Habitat Configuration Alters Herbivory across the Tropical Seascape

      Swindells, KL; Murdoch, RJ; Bazen, WD; Harman, NW; Unsworth, RKF (Frontiers, 2017-02-28)
      There exists increasing evidence that top-down ecological processes such as herbivory are key in controlling marine ecosystems and their community structure. Herbivory has the potential to be altered by numerous environmental and ecological factors that operate at a variety of temporal and spatial scales, one such spatial factor is the influence of the marine landscape. We know little about how ecological processes such as herbivory change throughout the marine landscape and how the effects of these processes cascade. This is because most landscape scale studies observe species richness and abundance patterns. In terrestrial systems the landscape is well documented to influence ecological processes, but empirical evidence of this is limited in marine systems. In tropical seagrass meadows direct herbivory by parrotfish can be readily observed due to the clear hemispherical bite marks they leave on the seagrass. As with herbivory in other systems, this leaf consumption is thought to assist with leaf turnover, positively influencing leaf growth. Changes in its rate and extent are therefore likely to influence the characteristics of the plant. The faunal communities of seagrass meadows alter with respect to changes in the landscape, particularly with respect to connectivity to adjacent habitats. It might therefore be expected that a key ecological process such as herbivory will change with respect to habitat configuration and have cascading impacts upon the status of the seagrass. In the present study we examined indirect evidence of parrotfish grazing throughout the marine landscape and assessed this relative to plant condition. Seagrasses in locations of close proximity to mangroves were found to have double the amount of parrotfish grazing than sites away from mangroves. Evidence of herbivory was also found to be strongly and significantly negatively correlated to the abundance of plant attached epicover. The decreased epicover in the presence of elevated herbivory suggests increased leaf turnover. These results indicate that seagrass may have higher levels of ecosystem resilience in the presence of mangroves. Our research highlights how ecological processes can change throughout the marine landscape with cascade impacts on the resilience of the system.
    • Halioticida noduliformans infection in eggs of lobster ( Homarus gammarus ) reveals its generalist parasitic strategy in marine invertebrates

      Holt, C; Foster, R; Daniels, CL; van der Giezen, M; Feist, SW; Stentiford, GD; Bass, D (2018-05)
    • Halloween genes in panarthropods and the evolution of the early moulting pathway in Ecdysozoa

      Schumann, I; Kenny, NJ; Hui, J; Hering, L; Meyer, G (The Royal Society, 2018-09-12)
      Moulting is a characteristic feature of Ecdysozoa—the clade of moulting animals that includes the hyperdiverse arthropods and less speciose groups, such as onychophorans, tardigrades and nematodes. Moulting has been best analysed in arthropods, specifically in insects and crustaceans, in which a complex neuroendocrine system acts at the genomic level and initiates the transcription of genes responsible for moulting. The key moulting hormones, ecdysone and 20-hydroxyecdysone, are subsequently synthesized from cholesterol ingested with food. Their biosynthesis is regulated by the Rieske-domain protein Neverland and cytochrome P450 enzymes encoded by the so-called ‘Halloween’ genes. Ecdysone is then released into the haemolymph and modified into 20-hydroxyecdysone, which binds to the nuclear receptor EcR/USP and initiates transcription of the Early genes. As little is known about the moulting pathway of other ecdysozoans, we examined the occurrence of genes involved in ecdysteroid biosynthesis and the early moulting cascade across ecdysozoan subgroups. Genomic and transcriptomic searches revealed no Halloween genes in cycloneuralians, whereas only shadow (CYP315A1) is present in onychophorans and tardigrades, suggesting that the Halloween genes evolved stepwise in panarthropods. These findings imply that the genes which were responsible for the ecdysteroid biosynthesis in the last common ancestor of Ecdysozoa are currently unknown.
    • Has land use pushed terrestrial biodiversity beyond the planetary boundary? A global assessment

      Newbold, T; Hudson, L; Arnell, AP; Contu, S; De Palma, A; Ferrier, S; Hill, SLL; Hoskins, AJ; Lysenko, I; Phillips, HRP; et al. (2016-07-15)