Institut für Ökologie, Evolution und Diversität
- Biodiversität und Klima Forschungszentrum (BiK-F) (13)
Impact of carnivory on human development and evolution revealed by a new unifying model of weaning in mammals
- Our large brain, long life span and high fertility are key elements of human evolutionary success and are often thought to have evolved in interplay with tool use, carnivory and hunting. However, the specific impact of carnivory on human evolution, life history and development remains controversial. Here we show in quantitative terms that dietary profile is a key factor influencing time to weaning across a wide taxonomic range of mammals, including humans. In a model encompassing a total of 67 species and genera from 12 mammalian orders, adult brain mass and two dichotomous variables reflecting species differences regarding limb biomechanics and dietary profile, accounted for 75.5%, 10.3% and 3.4% of variance in time to weaning, respectively, together capturing 89.2% of total variance. Crucially, carnivory predicted the time point of early weaning in humans with remarkable precision, yielding a prediction error of less than 5% with a sample of forty-six human natural fertility societies as reference. Hence, carnivory appears to provide both a necessary and sufficient explanation as to why humans wean so much earlier than the great apes. While early weaning is regarded as essentially differentiating the genus Homo from the great apes, its timing seems to be determined by the same limited set of factors in humans as in mammals in general, despite some 90 million years of evolution. Our analysis emphasizes the high degree of similarity of relative time scales in mammalian development and life history across 67 genera from 12 mammalian orders and shows that the impact of carnivory on time to weaning in humans is quantifiable, and critical. Since early weaning yields shorter interbirth intervals and higher rates of reproduction, with profound effects on population dynamics, our findings highlight the emergence of carnivory as a process fundamentally determining human evolution.
Evolution of microgastropods (Ellobioidea, Carychiidae): integrating taxonomic, phylogenetic and evolutionary hypotheses
- BACKGROUND: Current biodiversity patterns are considered largely the result of past climatic and tectonic changes. In an integrative approach, we combine taxonomic and phylogenetic hypotheses to analyze temporal and geographic diversification of epigean (Carychium) and subterranean (Zospeum) evolutionary lineages in Carychiidae (Eupulmonata, Ellobioidea). We explicitly test three hypotheses: 1) morphospecies encompass unrecognized evolutionary lineages, 2) limited dispersal results in a close genetic relationship of geographical proximally distributed taxa and 3) major climatic and tectonic events had an impact on lineage diversification within Carychiidae.
RESULTS: Initial morphospecies assignments were investigated by different molecular delimitation approaches (threshold, ABGD, GMYC and SP). Despite a conservative delimitation strategy, carychiid morphospecies comprise a great number of unrecognized evolutionary lineages. We attribute this phenomenon to historic underestimation of morphological stasis and phenotypic variability amongst lineages. The first molecular phylogenetic hypothesis for the Carychiidae (based on COI, 16S and H3) reveals Carychium and Zospeum to be reciprocally monophyletic. Geographical proximally distributed lineages are often closely related. The temporal diversification of Carychiidae is best described by a constant rate model of diversification. The evolution of Carychiidae is characterized by relatively few (long distance) colonization events. We find support for an Asian origin of Carychium. Zospeum may have arrived in Europe before extant members of Carychium. Distantly related Carychium clades inhabit a wide spectrum of the available bioclimatic niche and demonstrate considerable niche overlap.
CONCLUSIONS: Carychiid taxonomy is in dire need of revision. An inferred wide distribution and variable phenotype suggest underestimated diversity in Zospeum. Several Carychium morphospecies are results of past taxonomic lumping. By collecting populations at their type locality, molecular investigations are able to link historic morphospecies assignments to their respective evolutionary lineage. We propose that rare founder populations initially colonized a continent or cave system. Subsequent passive dispersal into adjacent areas led to in situ pan-continental or mountain range diversifications. Major environmental changes did not influence carychiid diversification. However, certain molecular delimitation methods indicated a recent decrease in diversification rate. We attribute this decrease to protracted speciation.
Are plant species able to keep pace with the rapidly changing climate?
- Future climate change is predicted to advance faster than the postglacial warming. Migration may therefore become a key driver for future development of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. For 140 European plant species we computed past range shifts since the last glacial maximum and future range shifts for a variety of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scenarios and global circulation models (GCMs). Range shift rates were estimated by means of species distribution modelling (SDM). With process-based seed dispersal models we estimated species-specific migration rates for 27 dispersal modes addressing dispersal by wind (anemochory) for different wind conditions, as well as dispersal by mammals (dispersal on animal's coat – epizoochory and dispersal by animals after feeding and digestion – endozoochory) considering different animal species. Our process-based modelled migration rates generally exceeded the postglacial range shift rates indicating that the process-based models we used are capable of predicting migration rates that are in accordance with realized past migration. For most of the considered species, the modelled migration rates were considerably lower than the expected future climate change induced range shift rates. This implies that most plant species will not entirely be able to follow future climate-change-induced range shifts due to dispersal limitation. Animals with large day- and home-ranges are highly important for achieving high migration rates for many plant species, whereas anemochory is relevant for only few species.
Range expansion of Ambrosia artemisiifolia in Europe is promoted by climate change
Marion Carmen Leiblein
- Ambrosia artemisiifolia L., native to North America, is a problematic invasive species, because of its highly allergenic pollen. The species is expected to expand its range due to climate change. By means of ecological niche modelling (ENM), we predict habitat suitability for A. artemisiifolia in Europe under current and future climatic conditions. Overall, we compared the performance and results of 16 algorithms commonly applied in ENM. As occurrence records of invasive species may be dominated by sampling bias, we also used data from the native range. To assess the quality of the modelling approaches we assembled a new map of current occurrences of A. artemisiifolia in Europe. Our results show that ENM yields a good estimation of the potential range of A. artemisiifolia in Europe only when using the North American data. A strong sampling bias in the European Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) data for A. artemisiifolia causes unrealistic results. Using the North American data reflects the realized European distribution very well. All models predict an enlargement and a northwards shift of potential range in Central and Northern Europe during the next decades. Climate warming will lead to an increase and northwards shift of A. artemisiifolia in Europe.
Tree migration-rates: narrowing the gap between inferred post-glacial rates and projected rates
Shonil A. Bhagwat
Katherine J. Willis
H. John B. Birks
- Faster-than-expected post-glacial migration rates of trees have puzzled ecologists for a long time. In Europe, post-glacial migration is assumed to have started from the three southern European peninsulas (southern refugia), where large areas remained free of permafrost and ice at the peak of the last glaciation. However, increasing palaeobotanical evidence for the presence of isolated tree populations in more northerly microrefugia has started to change this perception. Here we use the Northern Eurasian Plant Macrofossil Database and palaeoecological literature to show that post-glacial migration rates for trees may have been substantially lower (60–260 m yr–1) than those estimated by assuming migration from southern refugia only (115–550 m yr–1), and that early-successional trees migrated faster than mid- and late-successional trees. Post-glacial migration rates are in good agreement with those recently projected for the future with a population dynamical forest succession and dispersal model, mainly for early-successional trees and under optimal conditions. Although migration estimates presented here may be conservative because of our assumption of uniform dispersal, tree migration-rates clearly need reconsideration. We suggest that small outlier populations may be a key factor in understanding past migration rates and in predicting potential future range-shifts. The importance of outlier populations in the past may have an analogy in the future, as many tree species have been planted beyond their natural ranges, with a more beneficial microclimate than their regional surroundings. Therefore, climate-change-induced range-shifts in the future might well be influenced by such microrefugia.
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.
Invasive Ponto-Caspian amphipods and fish increase the distribution range of the acanthocephalan Pomphorhynchus tereticollis in the river Rhine
Harry W. Palm
- Non-indigenous species that become invasive are one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss worldwide. In various freshwater systems in Europe, populations of native amphipods and fish are progressively displaced by highly adaptive non-indigenous species that can perform explosive range extensions. A total of 40 Ponto-Caspian round gobies Neogobius melanostomus from the Rhine River near Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, were examined for metazoan parasites and feeding ecology. Three metazoan parasite species were found: two Nematoda and one Acanthocephala. The two Nematoda, Raphidascaris acus and Paracuaria adunca, had a low prevalence of 2.5%. The Acanthocephala, Pomphorhynchus tereticollis, was the predominant parasite species, reaching a level of 90.0% prevalence in the larval stage, correlated with fish size. In addition, four invasive amphipod species, Corophium curvispinum (435 specimens), Dikerogammarus villosus (5,454), Echinogammarus trichiatus (2,695) and Orchestia cavimana (1,448) were trapped at the sampling site. Only D. villosus was infected with P. tereticollis at a prevalence of 0.04%. The invasive goby N. melanostomus mainly preys on these non-indigenous amphipods, and may have replaced native amphipods in the transmission of P. tereticollis into the vertebrate paratenic host. This study gives insight into a potential parasite-host system that consists mainly of invasive species, such as the Ponto-Caspian fish and amphipods in the Rhine. We discuss prospective distribution and migration pathways of non-indigenous vertebrate (round goby) and invertebrates (amphipods) under special consideration of parasite dispersal.
Host genotype shapes the foliar fungal microbiome of balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera)
Robert B. O'Hara
Matthew S. Olson
Johnathon D. Fankhauser
- Foliar fungal communities of plants are diverse and ubiquitous. In grasses endophytes may increase host fitness; in trees, their ecological roles are poorly understood. We investigated whether the genotype of the host tree influences community structure of foliar fungi. We sampled leaves from genotyped balsam poplars from across the species' range, and applied 454 amplicon sequencing to characterize foliar fungal communities. At the time of the sampling the poplars had been growing in a common garden for two years. We found diverse fungal communities associated with the poplar leaves. Linear discriminant analysis and generalized linear models showed that host genotypes had a structuring effect on the composition of foliar fungal communities. The observed patterns may be explained by a filtering mechanism which allows the trees to selectively recruit fungal strains from the environment. Alternatively, host genotype-specific fungal communities may be present in the tree systemically, and persist in the host even after two clonal reproductions. Both scenarios are consistent with host tree adaptation to specific foliar fungal communities and suggest that there is a functional basis for the strong biotic interaction.
Coalescent-based genome analyses resolve the early branches of the euarchontoglires
Björn M. Hallström
- Despite numerous large-scale phylogenomic studies, certain parts of the mammalian tree are extraordinarily difficult to resolve. We used the coding regions from 19 completely sequenced genomes to study the relationships within the super-clade Euarchontoglires (Primates, Rodentia, Lagomorpha, Dermoptera and Scandentia) because the placement of Scandentia within this clade is controversial. The difficulty in resolving this issue is due to the short time spans between the early divergences of Euarchontoglires, which may cause incongruent gene trees. The conflict in the data can be depicted by network analyses and the contentious relationships are best reconstructed by coalescent-based analyses. This method is expected to be superior to analyses of concatenated data in reconstructing a species tree from numerous gene trees. The total concatenated dataset used to study the relationships in this group comprises 5,875 protein-coding genes (9,799,170 nucleotides) from all orders except Dermoptera (flying lemurs). Reconstruction of the species tree from 1,006 gene trees using coalescent models placed Scandentia as sister group to the primates, which is in agreement with maximum likelihood analyses of concatenated nucleotide sequence data. Additionally, both analytical approaches favoured the Tarsier to be sister taxon to Anthropoidea, thus belonging to the Haplorrhine clade. When divergence times are short such as in radiations over periods of a few million years, even genome scale analyses struggle to resolve phylogenetic relationships. On these short branches processes such as incomplete lineage sorting and possibly hybridization occur and make it preferable to base phylogenomic analyses on coalescent methods.
Genomic basis of ecological niche divergence among cryptic sister species of non-biting midges
- Background: There is a lack of understanding the evolutionary forces driving niche segregation of closely related organisms. In addition, pinpointing the genes driving ecological divergence is a key goal in molecular ecology. Here, larval transcriptome sequences obtained by next-generation-sequencing are used to address these issues in a morphologically cryptic sister species pair of non-biting midges (Chironomus riparius and C. piger).
Results: More than eight thousand orthologous open reading frames were screened for interspecific divergence and intraspecific polymorphisms. Despite a small mean sequence divergence of 1.53% between the sister species, 25.1% of 18,115 observed amino acid substitutions were inferred by α statistics to be driven by positive selection. Applying McDonald-Kreitman tests to 715 alignments of gene orthologues identified eleven (1.5%) genes driven by positive selection.
Conclusions: Three candidate genes were identified as potentially responsible for the observed niche segregation concerning nitrite concentration, habitat temperature and water conductivity. Additionally, signs of positive selection in the hydrogen sulfide detoxification pathway were detected, providing a new plausible hypothesis for the species’ ecological differentiation. Finally, a divergently selected, nuclear encoded mitochondrial ribosomal protein may contribute to reproductive isolation due to cytonuclear coevolution.