Institut für Ökologie, Evolution und Diversität
The importance of the regional species pool, ecological species traits and local habitat conditions for the colonization of restored river reaches by fish
Armin W. Lorenz
- It is commonly assumed that the colonization of restored river reaches by fish depends on the regional species pools; however, quantifications of the relationship between the composition of the regional species pool and restoration outcome are lacking. We analyzed data from 18 German river restoration projects and adjacent river reaches constituting the regional species pools of the restored reaches. We found that the ability of statistical models to describe the fish assemblages established in the restored reaches was greater when these models were based on ‘biotic’ variables relating to the regional species pool and the ecological traits of species rather than on ‘abiotic’ variables relating to the hydromorphological habitat structure of the restored habitats and descriptors of the restoration projects. For species presence in restored reaches, ‘biotic’ variables explained 34% of variability, with the occurrence rate of a species in the regional species pool being the most important variable, while ’abiotic’ variables explained only the negligible amount of 2% of variability. For fish density in restored reaches, about twice the amount of variability was explained by ‘biotic’ (38%) compared to ‘abiotic’ (21%) variables, with species density in the regional species pool being most important. These results indicate that the colonization of restored river reaches by fish is largely determined by the assemblages in the surrounding species pool. Knowledge of species presence and abundance in the regional species pool can be used to estimate the likelihood of fish species becoming established in restored reaches.
The rediscovery of a long described species reveals additional complexity in speciation patterns of poeciliid fishes in sulfide springs
- The process of ecological speciation drives the evolution of locally adapted and reproductively isolated populations in response to divergent natural selection. In Southern Mexico, several lineages of the freshwater fish species of the genus Poecilia have independently colonized toxic, hydrogen sulfide-rich springs. Even though ecological speciation processes are increasingly well understood in this system, aligning the taxonomy of these fish with evolutionary processes has lagged behind. While some sulfide spring populations are classified as ecotypes of Poecilia mexicana, others, like P. sulphuraria, have been described as highly endemic species. Our study particularly focused on elucidating the taxonomy of the long described sulfide spring endemic, Poecilia thermalis Steindachner 1863, and investigates if similar evolutionary patterns of phenotypic trait divergence and reproductive isolation are present as observed in other sulfidic species of Poecilia. We applied a geometric morphometric approach to assess body shape similarity to other sulfidic and non-sulfidic fish of the genus Poecilia. We also conducted phylogenetic and population genetic analyses to establish the phylogenetic relationships of P. thermalis and used a population genetic approach to determine levels of gene flow among Poecilia from sulfidic and non-sulfidic sites. Our results indicate that P. thermalis' body shape has evolved in convergence with other sulfide spring populations in the genus. Phylogenetic analyses placed P. thermalis as most closely related to one population of P. sulphuraria, and population genetic analyses demonstrated that P. thermalis is genetically isolated from both P. mexicana ecotypes and P. sulphuraria. Based on these findings, we make taxonomic recommendations for P. thermalis. Overall, our study verifies the role of hydrogen sulfide as a main factor shaping convergent, phenotypic evolution and the emergence of reproductive isolation between Poecilia populations residing in adjacent sulfidic and non-sulfidic environments.
Predator avoidance in extremophile fish
Jeane Rimber Indy
- Extreme habitats are often characterized by reduced predation pressures, thus representing refuges for the inhabiting species. The present study was designed to investigate predator avoidance of extremophile populations of Poecilia mexicana and P. sulphuraria that either live in hydrogen sulfide-rich (sulfidic) springs or cave habitats, both of which are known to have impoverished piscine predator regimes. Focal fishes that inhabited sulfidic springs showed slightly weaker avoidance reactions when presented with several naturally occurring predatory cichlids, but strongest differences to populations from non-sulfidic habitats were found in a decreased shoaling tendency with non-predatory swordtail (Xiphophorus hellerii) females. When comparing avoidance reactions between P. mexicana from a sulfidic cave (Cueva del Azufre) and the adjacent sulfidic surface creek (El Azufre), we found only slight differences in predator avoidance, but surface fish reacted much more strongly to the non-predatory cichlid Vieja bifasciata. Our third experiment was designed to disentangle learned from innate effects of predator recognition. We compared laboratory-reared (i.e., predator-naïve) and wild-caught (i.e., predator-experienced) individuals of P. mexicana from a non-sulfidic river and found no differences in their reaction towards the presented predators. Overall, our results indicate (1) that predator avoidance is still functional in extremophile Poecilia spp. and (2) that predator recognition and avoidance reactions have a strong genetic basis.
Adaptive Radiation und Zoogeographie anisakider Nematoden verschiedener Klimazonen und Ozeane
- Anisakide Nematoden sind Parasiten aquatischer Organismen und weltweit in marinen Habitaten verbreitet. Ihre Übertragungswege sind tief im marinen Nahrungsnetz verwurzelt und schließen ein breites Spektrum pelagisch/benthischer Invertebraten (z.B. Cephalopoda, Gastropoda, Crustacea, Polychaeta) und Vertebraten (z.B. Teleostei, Elasmobranchia, Cetacea, Pinnipedia, Aves) als Zwischen- bzw. Endwirte ein. Aufgrund der hohen Befallszahlen u.a. in der Muskulatur und Viszera kommerziell intensiv genutzter Fischarten (z.B. Clupea harengus, Gadus morhua, Salmo salar) sowie ihrer Rolle als Auslöser der menschlichen Anisakiasis nehmen die Vertreter der Gattung Anisakis unter den anisakiden Nematoden eine Sonderstellung ein. Anhand der verbesserten Diagnostik und der Etablierung sowie Weiterentwicklung molekularbiologischer Methoden ist es in den letzten zwei Dekaden gelungen, die bestehende Taxonomie und Systematik der Gattung Anisakis zu erweitern bzw. zu revidieren. Aktuelle molekulare Analysen weisen auf die Existenz von insgesamt neun distinkten Arten hin, welche eine hohe genetische Heterogenität und Wirtsspezifität aufweisen, äußerlich jedoch nahezu identisch sind (sog. kryptische Arten). Trotz kontinuierlicher Forschung auf dem Gebiet ist das Wissen über die Biologie von Anisakis immer noch unzureichend.
Die vorliegende Dissertation ist in kumulativer Form verfasst und umfasst drei (ISI-) Einzelpublikationen. Die Zielsetzung der durchgeführten Studien bestand unter anderem darin, unter Verwendung molekularbiologischer und computergestützter Analyseverfahren, Fragestellungen zur Zoogeographie, (Co-)Phylogenie, Artdiagnostik, Lebenszyklus-Ökologie sowie des bioindikatorischen Potentials dieser Gattung zu bearbeiten und bestehende Wissenslücken zu schließen.
Die Verbreitung von Anisakis, welche bisher ausschließlich anhand von biogeographischen Einzelnachweisen abgeschätzt wurde, konnte durch den angewandten Modellierungsansatz erstmalig interpoliert und in Kartenform vergleichend dargestellt werden. Dabei wurde gezeigt, dass die Verbreitung von Anisakis spp. in den Ozeanen und Klimazonen nicht gleichmäßig ist. Die Analysen deuten auf die Existenz spezies-spezifischer horizontaler und vertikaler Verbreitungsmuster hin, welche neben abiotischen Faktoren durch die Verbreitung und Abundanz der jeweiligen Zwischen- und Endwirte sowie deren Tiefenverteilung und Nahrungspräferenzen geprägt sind.
Durch die umfangreiche Zusammenstellung und anschließende Kategorisierung der (mit molekularen Methoden) geführten Zwischenwirtsnachweise konnten indirekte Rückschlüsse über die vertikale Verbreitung von Anisakis spp. entlang der Tiefenhabitate gezogen werden.
Während Anisakis auf Gattungsebene in der gesamten Wassersäule entlang verschiedener Tiefenhabitate abundant ist, wurde für die stenoxene Art Anisakis paggiae ein meso-/bathypelagisch orientierter Lebenszyklus postuliert. Durch den Einbezug eines breiten Spektrums (paratenischer) Zwischen- und Transportwirte aus unterschiedlichen trophischen Ebenen werden Transmissionslücken im Lebenszyklus der Gattung weitestgehend minimiert und der Transmissionserfolg auf den Endwirt, und damit die Wahrscheinlichkeit einer erfolgreichen Reproduktion, erhöht. Ausgeprägte Wirtspräferenzen sowie phylogenetische Analysen des ribosomalen ITS-Markers stützen eine Theorie zur co-evolutiven Anpassung der Parasiten an ihre Endwirte. Anisakis eignet sich daher unter Einschränkungen als Bioindikator für die vertikale und horizontale Verbreitung und Abundanz der Endwirte und lässt Rückschlüsse auf trophische Interaktionen im Nahrungsnetz zu. Durch die weitere Beprobung von Zwischenwirten aus verschiedenen trophischen Ebenen in zukünftigen Studien, kann eine genauere Bewertung potentiell abweichender Lebenszyklus-Strategien gewährleistet werden. Insbesondere ist die Datenlage zur Prävalenz und Abundanz anisakider Nematoden in Cephalopoda und Crustacea noch unzureichend. Die Probennahme sollte dabei unter besonderer Berücksichtigung bislang wenig oder unbeprobter geographischer Regionen, Tiefenhabitate und Wirtsarten durchgeführt werden.
Movement behaviour and seed dispersal patterns of trumpeter hornbills (Bycanistes bucinator) in fragmented landscapes
- Long-distance seed dispersal is a crucial process allowing the dispersal of fleshy-fruited tree species among forest fragments. In particular, large frugivorous bird species have a high potential to provide inter-patch and long-distance seed transport, both important for maintaining fundamental genetic and demographic processes of plant populations in isolated forest fragments. In the face of increasing worldwide forest fragmentation, the investigation of long-distance seed dispersal and the factors influencing seed dispersal processes has recently become a central issue in ecology. In my thesis, I studied the movement behaviour and the seed dispersal patterns of the trumpeter hornbill (Bycanistes bucinator), a large obligate frugivorous bird, in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. I investigated (i) the potential of trumpeter hornbills to provide long-distance seed dispersal within different landscape structures, (ii) seasonal variations in ranging behaviour of this species, and (iii) the potential of this species to enhance the functional connectivity of a fragmented landscape. I used highresolution GPS-data loggers to record temporally and spatially fine-scaled movement data of trumpeter hornbills within both continuous forests and fragmented agricultural landscapes during the breeding- and the non-breeding season. First, combining these data with data on seed-retention times, I calculated seed dispersal kernels, able to distinguish between seed dispersal kernels from the continuous forests and those from the fragmented agricultural landscapes. The seed dispersal distributions showed a generally high ability of trumpeter hornbills to generate seed transport over a distance of more than 100 m and for potential dispersal distances of up to 14.5 km. Seed dispersal distributions were considerably different between the two landscape types, with a bimodal distribution showing larger dispersal distances for fragmented agricultural landscapes and a unimodal one for continuous forests. My results showed that the landscape structure strongly influenced the movement behaviour of trumpeter hornbills, and this variation in behaviour is likely reflected in the shape of the seed dispersal distributions. Second, for each individual bird I calculated daily ranges and investigated differences in daily ranging behaviour and in the process of range expansion comparatively between the breeding- and the non-breeding season. I considered differences in habitat use and possible consequences resulting for seed dispersal function during different seasons. I found that within the breeding season multi-day ranges were built from strongly overlapping and nearly stationary daily ranges which were almost completely restricted to continuous forest. In the non-breeding season, however, birds assembled multi-day ranges by shifting their range site to a generally different area, frequently utilizing the fragmented agricultural landscape. Thereby, several small daily ranges and few large daily ranges composed larger multi-day ranges within the non-breeding season. Seasonal differences in ranging behaviour and range assembly processes resulted in important consequences for seed dispersal function, with short distances and less spatial variation during the breeding season and more inter-patch dispersal across the fragmented landscape during the non-breeding season. Last, I used a projection of simulated seed dispersal events on a high-resolution habitat map to assess the extent to which trumpeter hornbills potentially facilitate functional connectivity between plant populations of isolated forest fragments. About 7% of dispersal events resulted in potential between-patch dispersal and trumpeter hornbills connected a network of about 100 forest patches with an overall extent of about 50 km. Trumpeter hornbills increased the potential of functional connectivity of the landscape more than twofold and seed dispersal pathways revealed certain forest patches as important stepping-stones for seed dispersal among forest fragments. Overall, my study highlights the overriding role that large frugivorous bird species, like trumpeter hornbills, play in seed dispersal in fragmented landscapes. In addition, it shows the importance of fine-scaled movement data combined with high-resolution habitat data and consideration of different landscape structures and seasonality for a comprehensive understanding of seed dispersal function.
Flora et Vegetatio Sudano-Sambesica : Volume 16 - 2013
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.
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.
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.
Unravelling the functional biomechanics of dental features and tooth wear
Huynh Nhu Nguyen
- Most of the morphological features recognized in hominin teeth, particularly the topography of the occlusal surface, are generally interpreted as an evolutionary functional adaptation for mechanical food processing. In this respect, we can also expect that the general architecture of a tooth reflects a response to withstand the high stresses produced during masticatory loadings. Here we use an engineering approach, finite element analysis (FEA), with an advanced loading concept derived from individual occlusal wear information to evaluate whether some dental traits usually found in hominin and extant great ape molars, such as the trigonid crest, the entoconid-hypoconulid crest and the protostylid have important biomechanical implications. For this purpose, FEA was applied to 3D digital models of three Gorilla gorilla lower second molars (M2) differing in wear stages. Our results show that in unworn and slightly worn M2s tensile stresses concentrate in the grooves of the occlusal surface. In such condition, the trigonid and the entoconid-hypoconulid crests act to reinforce the crown locally against stresses produced along the mesiodistal groove. Similarly, the protostylid is shaped like a buttress to suffer the high tensile stresses concentrated in the deep buccal groove. These dental traits are less functional in the worn M2, because tensile stresses decrease physiologically in the crown with progressing wear due to the enlargement of antagonistic contact areas and changes in loading direction from oblique to nearly parallel direction to the dental axis. This suggests that the wear process might have a crucial influence in the evolution and structural adaptation of molars enabling to endure bite stresses and reduce tooth failure throughout the lifetime of an individual.