Year of publication
- From sea to land and beyond : new insights into the evolution of euthyneuran Gastropoda (Mollusca) (2008)
- Background The Euthyneura are considered to be the most successful and diverse group of Gastropoda. Phylogenetically, they are riven with controversy. Previous morphology-based phylogenetic studies have been greatly hampered by rampant parallelism in morphological characters or by incomplete taxon sampling. Based on sequences of nuclear 18S rRNA and 28S rRNA as well as mitochondrial 16S rRNA and COI DNA from 56 taxa, we reconstructed the phylogeny of Euthyneura utilising Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian inference methods. The evolution of colonization of freshwater and terrestrial habitats by pulmonate Euthyneura, considered crucial in the evolution of this group of Gastropoda, is reconstructed with Bayesian approaches. Results We found several well supported clades within Euthyneura, however, we could not confirm the traditional classification, since Pulmonata are paraphyletic and Opistobranchia are either polyphyletic or paraphyletic with several clades clearly distinguishable. Sacoglossa appear separately from the rest of the Opisthobranchia as sister taxon to basal Pulmonata. Within Pulmonata, Basommatophora are paraphyletic and Hygrophila and Eupulmonata form monophyletic clades. Pyramidelloidea are placed within Euthyneura rendering the Euthyneura paraphyletic. Conclusion Based on the current phylogeny, it can be proposed for the first time that invasion of freshwater by Pulmonata is a unique evolutionary event and has taken place directly from the marine environment via an aquatic pathway. The origin of colonisation of terrestrial habitats is seeded in marginal zones and has probably occurred via estuaries or semi-terrestrial habitats such as mangroves.
- Comparing the efficacy of morphologic and DNA-based taxonomy in the freshwater gastropod genus Radix (Basommatophora, Pulmonata) (2006)
- Background Reliable taxonomic identification at the species level is the basis for many biological disciplines. In order to distinguish species, it is necessary that taxonomic characters allow for the separation of individuals into recognisable, homogeneous groups that differ from other such groups in a consistent way. We compared here the suitability and efficacy of traditionally used shell morphology and DNA-based methods to distinguish among species of the freshwater snail genus Radix (Basommatophora, Pulmonata). Results Morphometric analysis showed that shell shape was unsuitable to define homogeneous, recognisable entities, because the variation was continuous. On the other hand, the Molecularly defined Operational Taxonomic Units (MOTU), inferred from mitochondrial COI sequence variation, proved to be congruent with biological species, inferred from geographic distribution patterns, congruence with nuclear markers and crossing experiments. Moreover, it could be shown that the phenotypically plastic shell variation is mostly determined by the environmental conditions experienced. Conclusion Contrary to DNA-taxonomy, shell morphology was not suitable for delimiting and recognising species in Radix. As the situation encountered here seems to be widespread in invertebrates, we propose DNA-taxonomy as a reliable, comparable, and objective means for species identification in biological research.
- Economic impact of the spread of alien species in Germany : research report 20186211 (2003)
- The European Strategy on Invasive Alien Species T-PWS(2002) 8 mandates intensified research by member nations on invasive species. This research will not be restricted solely to the biology and remediation of invasive species, but will also evaluate their adverse health effects and economic impact. Previous studies of these issues have only been carried out in the Unites States of America, or in a limited, regional manner. Consequently, 20 plant and animal species from various problem areas (species which pose a threat to public health; losses to agriculture, fisheries, and forestry; damage to public roads and waterways; costs associated with the protection of native species threatened by non-native species as mandated by Recommendation 77 of the Bern Convention were assessed in Germany nation-wide. The accruing costs were sorted into 3 categories: a) direct economic losses, such as those caused by destructive pest species; b) ecological costs, in the form of extra care and protection of native taxa, biotopes, or ecosystems threatened by invasive species; c) costs of measures to combat invasive species. Because of the nature of available data, as well as the different biology and ecology of the invasive species, each had to be treated individually, and the associated costs vary greatly from species to species. Moreover, not all of the species investigated cause economic losses. Accordingly, a nuanced approach to alien species is essential. Cost assessment of losses deriving from ecological damage was only possible in a few cases. Ongoing, multi-year studies incorporating cost/benefit analysis will be necessary to resolve remaining issues.
- Audience effects in the Atlantic molly (Poecilia mexicana)-prudent male mate choice in response to perceived sperm competition risk? (2009)
- Background Multidirectional interactions in social (or communication) networks can have a profound effect on mate choice behavior. For example, Poecilia mexicana males show weaker expression of mating preferences when being observed by an audience male. It was suggested that this behavior is an adaptation to reduce sperm competition risk, which arises because commonly preferred female phenotypes will receive attention also by surrounding males, and/or because the audience male can copy the focal male's mate choice. Do P. mexicana males indeed respond to perceived sperm competition risk? We gave males a choice between two females and repeated the tests under one of the following conditions: (1) during the 2nd part of the tests an empty transparent cylinder was presented (control); (2) an audience male inside the cylinder observed the focal male throughout the 2nd part, or (3) the audience male was presented only before the tests, but could not eavesdrop during the actual choice tests (non-specific sperm competition risk treatments); (4) the focal male could see a rival male sexually interacting with the previously preferred, or (5) with the non-preferred female before the 2nd part of the tests (specific sperm competition risk treatments). Results When comparing the strength of individual male preferences between the 1st and 2nd part of the tests (before and after presentation of an audience), male preferences declined slightly also during the control treatment (1). However, the decrease in strength of male preferences was more than two-fold stronger in audience treatment (2), i.e., with non-specific sperm competition risk including the possibility for visual eavesdropping by the audience male. No audience effect was found in treatments (3) and (5), but a weak effect was also seen when the focal male had seen the previously preferred female sexually interact with a rival male (treatment 4; specific sperm competition risk). Conclusions When comparing the two 'non-specific sperm competition risk' treatments (2 and 3), a very strong effect was found only when the audience male could actually observe the focal male during mate choice in treatment (2). This suggests that focal males indeed attempt to conceal their mating preferences in the visual presence of other males so as to avoid mate choice copying. When there is no potential for eavesdropping [treatment (3)], non-specific specific sperm competition risk seems to play a minor or no role. Congruent with studies on other poeciliid species, our results also show that P. mexicana males respond to perceived specific sperm competition risk, and tend to share their mating effort more equally among females when the resource value of their previously preferred mate decreases (after mating with a rival male). However, this effect is comparatively weak.
- The Middle Eastern Biodiversity Network: Generating and sharing knowledge for ecosystem management and conservation (2009)
- Despite prevailing arid conditions, the diversity of terrestrial and freshwater biota in the Middle East is amazingly high and marine biodiversity is among the highest on Earth. Th roughout the Region, threats to the environment are moderate to severe. Despite the outstanding economic and ecological importance of biological diversity, the capacity in biodiversity-related research and academic education is inadequate. The "Middle Eastern Biodiversity Network" (MEBN), founded in 2006 by six universities and research institutes in Iran, Jordan, Germany, Lebanon and Yemen was designed to fi ll this gap. An integrated approach is taken to upgrade biodiversity research and education in order to improve regional ecosystem conservation and management capacities. A wide range of activities are carried out in the framework of the Network, including capacity building in biological collection management and professional natural history curatorship, developing university curricula in biodiversity, conducting scientifi c research, organising workshops and conferences on Middle Eastern biodiversity, and translating the results of biodiversity research into conservation and sustainable development. Keywords: Middle Eastern biodiversity, nature museums, biodiversity research, biodiversity education, biodiversity conservation, biodiversity networks
- When Indian crabs were not yet Asian - biogeographic evidence for Eocene proximity of India and Southeast Asia (2010)
- Background: The faunal and floral relationship of northward-drifting India with its neighboring continents is of general biogeographic interest as an important driver of regional biodiversity. However, direct biogeographic connectivity of India and Southeast Asia during the Cenozoic remains largely unexplored. We investigate timing, direction and mechanisms of faunal exchange between India and Southeast Asia, based on a molecular phylogeny, molecular clock-derived time estimates and biogeographic reconstructions of the Asian freshwater crab family Gecarcinucidae. Results: Although the Gecarcinucidae are not an element of an ancient Gondwana fauna, their subfamily Gecarcinucinae, and probably also the Liotelphusinae, evolved on the Indian Subcontinent and subsequently dispersed to Southeast Asia. Estimated by a model testing approach, this dispersal event took place during the Middle Eocene, and thus before the final collision of India and the Tibet-part of Eurasia. Conclusions: We postulate that the India and Southeast Asia were close enough for exchange of freshwater organisms during the Middle Eocene, before the final Indian--Eurasian collision. Our data support geological models that assume the Indian plate having tracked along Southeast Asia during its move northwards.
- Casanovas are liars: behavioral syndromes, sperm competition risk, and the evolution of deceptive male mating behavior in live-bearing fishes [v1; ref status: approved with reservations 3, http://f1000r.es/pc] (2013)
- Mate choice in many species is sensitive to social cues from neighboring individuals; for example, animals can copy mate choice decisions. If males copy other males’ choices, sperm of two or more males can compete for fertilization of the female’s ova. In the internally fertilizing fish Poecilia mexicana, males respond to the presence of rivals with reduced expression of mating preferences (audience effect), thereby lowering the risk of by-standing rivals copying their mate choice. Also, males interact initially more with a non-preferred female when observed by a rival, which has been interpreted in previous studies as a strategy to mislead rivals, again reducing sperm competition risk (SCR). Using a comparative approach, we tested the hypothesis that SCR is indeed a driving force explaining the occurrence of audience-induced changes in poeciliid male mate choice behavior. If this were true, then males of species with higher overall sexual activity — and, thus, higher potential for multiple mating — should show stronger audience effects. We investigated ten poeciliid species (in two cases including multiple populations) and found support for our hypothesis as mean sexual activity correlated positively with the occurrence of potentially deceptive behavior. An alternative explanation for audience effects would be that males attempt to avoid aggressive encounters, which would predict stronger audience effects in more aggressive species, and so we also characterized the examined species for aggressiveness using staged contests of size-matched males. We demonstrate a positive correlation between mean aggressiveness and sexual activity (suggesting a hormonal link as a mechanistic explanation), but we detected no correlation between aggressiveness and audience effects. Suites of correlated behavioral tendencies are termed behavioral syndromes, and our present study provides correlational evidence for the evolutionary significance of SCR in shaping a behavioral syndrome at the species level across poeciliid taxa.
- Casanovas are liars: behavioral syndromes, sperm competition risk, and the evolution of deceptive male mating behavior in live-bearing fishes [v2; ref status: indexed, http://f1000r.es/1ko] (2013)
- Male reproductive biology can by characterized through competition over mates as well as mate choice. Multiple mating and male mate choice copying, especially in internally fertilizing species, set the stage for increased sperm competition, i.e., sperm of two or more males can compete for fertilization of the female’s ova. In the internally fertilizing fish Poecilia mexicana, males respond to the presence of rivals with reduced expression of mating preferences (audience effect), thereby lowering the risk of by-standing rivals copying their mate choice. Also, males interact initially more with a non-preferred female when observed by a rival, which has been interpreted in previous studies as a strategy to mislead rivals, again reducing sperm competition risk (SCR). Nevertheless, species might differ consistently in their expression of aggressive and reproductive behaviors, possibly due to varying levels of SCR. In the current study, we present a unique data set comprising ten poeciliid species (in two cases including multiple populations) and ask whether species can be characterized through consistent differences in the expression of aggression, sexual activity and changes in mate choice under increased SCR. We found consistent species-specific differences in aggressive behavior, sexual activity as well as in the level of misleading behavior, while decreased preference expression under increased SCR was a general feature of all but one species examined. Furthermore, mean sexual activity correlated positively with the occurrence of potentially misleading behavior. An alternative explanation for audience effects would be that males attempt to avoid aggressive encounters, which would predict stronger audience effects in more aggressive species. We demonstrate a positive correlation between mean aggressiveness and sexual activity (suggesting a hormonal link as a mechanistic explanation), but did not detect a correlation between aggressiveness and audience effects. Suites of correlated behavioral tendencies are termed behavioral syndromes, and our present study provides correlational evidence for the evolutionary significance of SCR in shaping a behavioral syndrome at the species level across poeciliid taxa.
- Field notes on findings of threatened amphibian species in the central mountain range of western Panama (2012)
- During field work along a transect in the Cordillera Central of western Panama between 2008 and 2010, we detected several populations of amphibian species which are considered as “Endangered” or “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN. Some of these species had suffered from serious population declines, probably due to chytridiomycosis, but all are generally threatened by habitat loss. We detected 53% of the Endangered and 56% of the Critically Endangered amphibian species that have previously been reported from within the investigated area. We report on findings of species that have not been found in Panama for many years, and provide locality data of newly discovered populations. There is a need to create a new protected area in the Cerro Colorado area of the Serranía de Tabasará, where we found 15% of the Endangered and Critically Endangered amphibian species known to Panama.