- Senckenbergische Naturforschende Gesellschaft (41)
Diversity and Distribution Patterns in High Southern Latitude Sponges
Rachel V. Downey
Huw J. Griffiths
- Sponges play a key role in Antarctic marine benthic community structure and dynamics and are often a dominant component of many Southern Ocean benthic communities. Understanding the drivers of sponge distribution in Antarctica enables us to understand many of general benthic biodiversity patterns in the region. The sponges of the Antarctic and neighbouring oceanographic regions were assessed for species richness and biogeographic patterns using over 8,800 distribution records. Species-rich regions include the Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetland Islands, South Georgia, Eastern Weddell Sea, Kerguelen Plateau, Falkland Islands and north New Zealand. Sampling intensity varied greatly within the study area, with sampling hotspots found at the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia, north New Zealand and Tierra del Fuego, with limited sampling in the Bellingshausen and Amundsen seas in the Southern Ocean. In contrast to previous studies we found that eurybathy and circumpolar distributions are important but not dominant characteristics in Antarctic sponges. Overall Antarctic sponge species endemism is ~43%, with a higher level for the class Hexactinellida (68%). Endemism levels are lower than previous estimates, but still indicate the importance of the Polar Front in isolating the Southern Ocean fauna. Nineteen distinct sponge distribution patterns were found, ranging from regional endemics to cosmopolitan species. A single, distinct Antarctic demosponge fauna is found to encompass all areas within the Polar Front, and the sub-Antarctic regions of the Kerguelen Plateau and Macquarie Island. Biogeographical analyses indicate stronger faunal links between Antarctica and South America, with little evidence of links between Antarctica and South Africa, Southern Australia or New Zealand. We conclude that the biogeographic and species distribution patterns observed are largely driven by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and the timing of past continent connectivity.
Implications of hybridisation and cytotypic differentiation in speciation assessed by AFLP and plastid haplotypes - a case study of Potentilla alpicola La Soie
- Background: Hybridisation is presumed to be an important mechanism in plant speciation and a creative evolutionary force often accompanied by polyploidisation and in some cases by apomixis. The Potentilla collina group constitutes a particularly suitable model system to study these phenomena as it is morphologically extensively variable, exclusively polyploid and expresses apomixis. In the present study, the alpine taxon Potentilla alpicola has been chosen in order to study its presumed hybrid origin, identify underlying evolutionary processes and infer the discreteness or taxonomic value of hybrid forms.
Results: Combined analysis of AFLP, cpDNA sequences and ploidy level variation revealed a hybrid origin of the P. alpicola populations from South Tyrol (Italy) resulting from crosses between P. pusilla and two cytotypes of P. argentea. Hybrids were locally sympatric with at least one of the parental forms. Three lineages of different evolutionary origin comprising two ploidy levels were identified within P. alpicola. The lineages differed in parentage and the complexity of the evolutionary process. A geographically wide-spread lineage thus contrasted with locally distributed lineages of different origins. Populations of P. collina studied in addition, have been regarded rather as recent derivatives of the hexaploid P. argentea. The observation of clones within both P. alpicola and P. collina suggested a possible apomictic mode of reproduction.
Conclusions: Different hybridisation scenarios taking place on geographically small scales resulted in viable progeny presumably stabilised by apomixis. The case study of P. alpicola supports that these processes played a significant role in the creation of polymorphism in the genus Potentilla. However, multiple origin of hybrids and backcrossing are considered to produce a variety of evolutionary spontaneous forms existing aside of reproductively stabilised, established lineages.
Hand to mouth in a Neandertal: right-handedness in regourdou 1
David W. Frayer
- We describe and analyze a Neandertal postcranial skeleton and dentition, which together show unambiguous signs of right-handedness. Asymmetries between the left and right upper arm in Regourdou 1 were identified nearly 20 years ago, then confirmed by more detailed analyses of the inner bone structure for the clavicle, humerus, radius and ulna. The total pattern of all bones in the shoulder and arm reveals that Regourdou 1 was a right-hander. Confirmatory evidence comes from the mandibular incisors, which display a distinct pattern of right oblique scratches, typical of right-handed manipulations performed at the front of the mouth. Regourdou's right handedness is consistent with the strong pattern of manual lateralization in Neandertals and further confirms a modern pattern of left brain dominance, presumably signally linguistic competence. These observations along with cultural, genetic and morphological evidence indicate language competence in Neandertals and their European precursors.
Field notes on findings of threatened amphibian species in the central mountain range of western Panama
- 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.
Morphology and Molecules Reveal Unexpected Cryptic Diversity in the Enigmatic Genus Sinobirma Bryk, 1944 (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae)
Wolfgang A. Nässig
- The wild silkmoth genus Sinobirma Bryk, 1944 is a poorly known monotypic taxon from the eastern end of the Himalaya Range. It was convincingly proposed to be closely related to some members of an exclusively Afro-tropical group of Saturniidae, but its biogeographical and evolutionary history remains enigmatic. After examining recently collected material from Tibet, northern India, and northeastern Myanmar, we realized that this unique species, S. malaisei Bryk, 1944 only known so far from a few specimens and from a very restricted area near the border between north-eastern Myanmar and the Yunnan province of China, may in fact belong to a group of closely related cryptic species. In this work, we combined morphological comparative study, DNA barcoding, and the sequences of a nuclear marker (D2 expansion segment of the 28S rRNA gene) to unequivocally delimit three distinct species in the genus Sinobirma, of which two are described as new to science: S. myanmarensis sp. n. and S. bouyeri sp. n. An informative DNA barcode sequence was obtained from the female holotype of S. malaisei—collected in 1934—ensuring the proper assignation of this name to the newly collected and studied specimens. Our findings represent another example of the potential of coupling traditional taxonomy and DNA barcoding for revealing and solving difficult cases of cryptic diversity. This approach is now being generalized to the world fauna of Saturniidae, with the participation of most of the taxonomists studying these moths.
Physico-chemical variables determining the invasion risk of freshwater habitats by alien mollusks and crustaceans
- The aim of this study was to assess the invasion risk of freshwater habitats and determine the environmental variables that are most favorable for the establishment of alien amphipods, isopods, gastropods, and bivalves. A total of 981 sites located in streams and rivers in Germany. Therefore we analyzed presence-absence data of alien and indigenous amphipods, isopods, gastropods, and bivalves from 981 sites located in small to large rivers in Germany with regard to eight environmental variables: chloride, ammonium, nitrate, oxygen, orthophosphate, distance to the next navigable waterway, and maximum and minimum temperature. Degraded sites close to navigable waters were exposed to an increased invasion risk by all major groups of alien species. Moreover, invaded sites by all four groups of alien species were similar, whereas the sites where indigenous members of the four groups occurred were more variable. Increased temperature and chloride concentration as well as decreased oxygen concentration were identified as major factors for the invasibility of a site. Species-specific analyses showed that chloride was among the three most predictive environmental variables determining species assemblage in all four taxonomic groups. Also distance to the next navigable waterways was similarly important. Additionally, the minimum temperature was among the most important variables for amphipods, isopods, and bivalves. The bias in the occurrence patterns of alien species toward similarly degraded habitats suggests that the members of all four major groups of freshwater alien species are a non-random, more tolerant set of species. Their common tolerance to salinity, high temperature, and oxygen depletion may reflect that most alien species were spread in ballast water tanks, where strong selective pressures, particularly temperature fluctuations, oxygen depletion, and increased salinity may create a bottleneck for successful invasion. Knowledge on the major factors that influence the invasion risk of a habitat is needed to develop strategies to limit the spread of invasive species.
Die Gamma-Strahlen-Meßkurve der Oberjura-Gesteinsfolgen in Preußisch Oldendorf und Wehrendorf (Westliches Wiehengebirge, Nordwestdeutschland)
Franz Jürgen Harms
- Im Wiehengebirge (Osnabrücker Bergland) wurden die lithostratigraphisch gegliederten
Gesteinsfolgen des Oberjura (Oxford, Kimmeridge, Gigas-Schichten bis Eimbeckhäuser Platten kalk) in
zwei Tagesaufschlüssen am Linken-Berg bei Preußisch Oldendorf und am Osterberg bei Wehrendorf
mit einer Gamma-Sonde nach dem Scintillometer-Prinzip vermessen. Oie synthetisch erzeugten Gamma-
Kurven lassen sich eindeutig mit den Gamma-ray-Kurven der in der Nähe niedergebrachten Bohrungen
Which Morphological Characteristics Are Most Influenced by the Host Matrix in Downy Mildews? A Case Study in Pseudoperonospora cubensis
Marco Fabian Runge
- Before the advent of molecular phylogenetics, species concepts in the downy mildews, an economically important group of obligate biotrophic oomycete pathogens, have mostly been based upon host range and morphology. While molecular phylogenetic studies have confirmed a narrow host range for many downy mildew species, others, like Pseudoperonospora cubensis affect even different genera. Although often morphological differences were found for new, phylogenetically distinct species, uncertainty prevails regarding their host ranges, especially regarding related plants that have been reported as downy mildew hosts, but were not included in the phylogenetic studies. In these cases, the basis for deciding if the divergence in some morphological characters can be deemed sufficient for designation as separate species is uncertain, as observed morphological divergence could be due to different host matrices colonised. The broad host range of P. cubensis (ca. 60 host species) renders this pathogen an ideal model organism for the investigation of morphological variations in relation to the host matrix and to evaluate which characteristics are best indicators for conspecificity or distinctiveness. On the basis of twelve morphological characterisitcs and a set of twelve cucurbits from five different Cucurbitaceae tribes, including the two species, Cyclanthera pedata and Thladiantha dubia, hitherto not reported as hosts of P. cubensis, a significant influence of the host matrix on pathogen morphology was found. Given the high intraspecific variation of some characteristics, also their plasticity has to be taken into account. The implications for morphological species determination and the confidence limits of morphological characteristics are discussed. For species delimitations in Pseudoperonospora it is shown that the ratio of the height of the first ramification to the sporangiophore length, ratio of the longer to the shorter ultimate branchlet, and especially the length and width of sporangia, as well as, with some reservations, their ratio, are the most suitable characteristics for species delimitation.
Genetic Basis of Self-Incompatibility in the Lichen-Forming Fungus Lobaria pulmonaria and Skewed Frequency Distribution of Mating-Type Idiomorphs: Implications for Conservation
Francesco Dal Grande
- Fungal populations that reproduce sexually are likely to be genetically more diverse and have a higher adaptive potential than asexually reproducing populations. Mating systems of fungal species can be self-incompatible, requiring the presence of isolates of different mating-type genes for sexual reproduction to occur, or self-compatible, requiring only one. Understanding the distribution of mating-type genes in populations can help to assess the potential of self-incompatible species to reproduce sexually. In the locally threatened epiphytic lichen-forming fungus Lobaria pulmonaria (L.) Hoffm., low frequency of sexual reproduction is likely to limit the potential of populations to adapt to changing environmental conditions. Our study provides direct evidence of self-incompatibility (heterothallism) in L. pulmonaria. It can thus be hypothesized that sexual reproduction in small populations might be limited by an unbalanced distribution of mating-type genes. We therefore assessed neutral genetic diversity (using microsatellites) and mating-type ratio in 27 lichen populations (933 individuals). We found significant differences in the frequency of the two mating types in 13 populations, indicating a lower likelihood of sexual reproduction in these populations. This suggests that conservation translocation activities aiming at maximizing genetic heterogeneity in threatened and declining populations should take into account not only presence of fruiting bodies in transplanted individuals, but also the identity and balanced representation of mating-type genes.
Waves of genomic hitchhikers shed light on the evolution of gamebirds (Aves: Galliformes) : research article
Jan Ole Kriegs
- Background The phylogenetic tree of Galliformes (gamebirds, including megapodes, currassows, guinea fowl, New and Old World quails, chicken, pheasants, grouse, and turkeys) has been considerably remodeled over the last decades as new data and analytical methods became available. Analyzing presence/absence patterns of retroposed elements avoids the problems of homoplastic characters inherent in other methodologies. In gamebirds, chicken repeats 1 (CR1) are the most prevalent retroposed elements, but little is known about the activity of their various subtypes over time. Ascertaining the fixation patterns of CR1 elements would help unravel the phylogeny of gamebirds and other poorly resolved avian clades. Results We analyzed 1,978 nested CR1 elements and developed a multidimensional approach taking advantage of their transposition in transposition character (TinT) to characterize the fixation patterns of all 22 known chicken CR1 subtypes. The presence/absence patterns of those elements that were active at different periods of gamebird evolution provided evidence for a clade (Cracidae + (Numididae + (Odontophoridae + Phasianidae))) not including Megapodiidae; and for Rollulus as the sister taxon of the other analyzed Phasianidae. Genomic trace sequences of the turkey genome further demonstrated that the endangered African Congo Peafowl (Afropavo congensis) is the sister taxon of the Asian Peafowl (Pavo), rejecting other predominantly morphology-based groupings, and that phasianids are monophyletic, including the sister taxa Tetraoninae and Meleagridinae. Conclusions The TinT information concerning relative fixation times of CR1 subtypes enabled us to efficiently investigate gamebird phylogeny and to reconstruct an unambiguous tree topology. This method should provide a useful tool for investigations in other taxonomic groups as well.