Institut für Ökologie, Evolution und Diversität
The antiquity of the Rhine River: stratigraphic coverage of the Dinotheriensande (Eppelsheim Formation) of the Mainz Basin (Germany)
Mammalian fossils from the Eppelsheim Formation (Dinotheriensande) have been a benchmark for Neogene vertebrate palaeontology since 200 years. Worldwide famous sites like Eppelsheim serve as key localities for biochronologic, palaeobiologic, environmental, and mammal community studies. So far the formation is considered to be of early Late Miocene age (~9.5 Ma, Vallesian), representing the oldest sediments of the Rhine River. The stratigraphic unity of the formation and of its fossil content was disputed at times, but persists unresolved.
Here we investigate a new fossil sample from Sprendlingen, composed by over 300 mammalian specimens and silicified wood. The mammals comprise entirely Middle Miocene species, like cervids Dicrocerus elegans, Paradicrocerus elegantulus, and deinotheres Deinotherium bavaricum and D. levius. A stratigraphic evaluation of Miocene Central European deer and deinothere species proof the stratigraphic inhomogenity of the sample, and suggest late Middle Miocene (~12.5 Ma) reworking of early Middle Miocene (~15 Ma) sediments. This results agree with taxonomic and palaeoclimatic analysis of plant fossils from above and within the mammalian assemblage. Based on the new fossil sample and published data three biochronologic levels within the Dinotheriensand fauna can be differentiated, corresponding to early Middle Miocene (late Orleanian to early Astaracian), late Middle Miocene (late Astaracian), and early Late Miocene (Vallesian) ages.
This study documents complex faunal mixing of classical Dinotheriensand fauna, covering at least six million years, during a time of low subsidence in the Mainz Basin and shifts back the origination of the Rhine River by some five million years. Our results have severe implications for biostratigraphy and palaeobiology of the Middle to Late Miocene. They suggest that turnover events may be obliterated and challenge the proposed ‘supersaturated’ biodiversity, caused by Middle Miocene superstites, of Vallesian ecosystems in Central Europe.
Dental tissue proportions in fossil orangutans from mainland Asia and Indonesia
Tanya M. Smith
Kim Thuy Nguyen
John de Vos
John P. Zermeno
- Orangutans (Pongo) are the only great ape genus with a substantial Pleistocene and Holocene fossil record, demonstrating a much larger geographic range than extant populations. In addition to having an extensive fossil record, Pongo shows several convergent morphological similarities with Homo, including a trend of dental reduction during the past million years. While studies have documented variation in dental tissue proportions among species of Homo, little is known about variation in enamel thickness within fossil orangutans. Here we assess dental tissue proportions, including conventional enamel thickness indices, in a large sample of fossil orangutan postcanine teeth from mainland Asia and Indonesia. We find few differences between regions, except for significantly lower average enamel thickness (AET) values in Indonesian mandibular first molars. Differences between fossil and extant orangutans are more marked, with fossil Pongo showing higher AET in most postcanine teeth. These differences are significant for maxillary and mandibular first molars. Fossil orangutans show higher AET than extant Pongo due to greater enamel cap areas, which exceed increases in enamel-dentine junction length (due to geometric scaling of areas and lengths for the AET index calculation). We also find greater dentine areas in fossil orangutans, but relative enamel thickness indices do not differ between fossil and extant taxa. When changes in dental tissue proportions between fossil and extant orangutans are compared with fossil and recent Homo sapiens, Pongo appears to show isometric reduction in enamel and dentine, while crown reduction in H. sapiens appears to be due to preferential loss of dentine. Disparate selective pressures or developmental constraints may underlie these patterns. Finally, the finding of moderately thick molar enamel in fossil orangutans may represent an additional convergent dental similarity with Homo erectus, complicating attempts to distinguish these taxa in mixed Asian faunas.
Do contaminants originating from state-of-the-art treated wastewater impact the ecological quality of surface waters?
- Since the 1980s, advances in wastewater treatment technology have led to considerably improved surface water quality in the urban areas of many high income countries. However, trace concentrations of organic wastewater-associated contaminants may still pose a key environmental hazard impairing the ecological quality of surface waters. To identify key impact factors, we analyzed the effects of a wide range of anthropogenic and environmental variables on the aquatic macroinvertebrate community. We assessed ecological water quality at 26 sampling sites in four urban German lowland river systems with a 0–100% load of state-of-the-art biological activated sludge treated wastewater. The chemical analysis suite comprised 12 organic contaminants (five phosphor organic flame retardants, two musk fragrances, bisphenol A, nonylphenol, octylphenol, diethyltoluamide, terbutryn), 16 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and 12 heavy metals. Non-metric multidimensional scaling identified organic contaminants that are mainly wastewater-associated (i.e., phosphor organic flame retardants, musk fragrances, and diethyltoluamide) as a major impact variable on macroinvertebrate species composition. The structural degradation of streams was also identified as a significant factor. Multiple linear regression models revealed a significant impact of organic contaminants on invertebrate populations, in particular on Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera species. Spearman rank correlation analyses confirmed wastewater-associated organic contaminants as the most significant variable negatively impacting the biodiversity of sensitive macroinvertebrate species. In addition to increased aquatic pollution with organic contaminants, a greater wastewater fraction was accompanied by a slight decrease in oxygen concentration and an increase in salinity. This study highlights the importance of reducing the wastewater-associated impact on surface waters. For aquatic ecosystems in urban areas this would lead to: (i) improvement of the ecological integrity, (ii) reduction of biodiversity loss, and (iii) faster achievement of objectives of legislative requirements, e.g., the European Water Framework Directive.
Ordnung des Fachbereichs Biowissenschaften der Johann Wolfgang Goethe für den Masterstudiengang Ökologie und Evolution mit dem Abschluss "Master of Science" (M. Sc.) vom 16. Juni 2009 : genehmigt vom Präsidium der Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt a. M. am 27. April 2010 ; hier: Änderungen vom 04. Juni 2012 ; genehmigt vom Präsidium der Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt a. M. am 21. August 2012
The Evolutionary Paradox of Tooth Wear: Simply Destruction or Inevitable Adaptation?
Huynh Nhu Nguyen
Ian R. Grosse
- Over the last century, humans from industrialized societies have witnessed a radical increase in some dental diseases. A severe problem concerns the loss of dental materials (enamel and dentine) at the buccal cervical region of the tooth. This “modern-day” pathology, called non-carious cervical lesions (NCCLs), is ubiquitous and worldwide spread, but is very sporadic in modern humans from pre-industrialized societies. Scholars believe that several factors are involved, but the real dynamics behind this pathology are far from being understood. Here we use an engineering approach, finite element analysis (FEA), to suggest that the lack of dental wear, characteristic of industrialized societies, might be a major factor leading to NCCLs. Occlusal loads were applied to high resolution finite element models of lower second premolars (P2) to demonstrate that slightly worn P2s envisage high tensile stresses in the buccal cervical region, but when worn down artificially in the laboratory the pattern of stress distribution changes and the tensile stresses decrease, matching the results obtained in naturally worn P2s. In the modern industrialized world, individuals at advanced ages show very moderate dental wear when compared to past societies, and teeth are exposed to high tensile stresses at the buccal cervical region for decades longer. This is the most likely mechanism explaining enamel loss in the cervical region, and may favor the activity of other disruptive processes such as biocorrosion. Because of the lack of dental abrasion, our masticatory apparatus faces new challenges that can only be understood in an evolutionary perspective.
Use of axonal projection patterns for the homologisation of cerebral nerves in Opisthobranchia, Mollusca and Gastropoda
Roger P. Croll
- Introduction: Gastropoda are guided by several sensory organs in the head region, referred to as cephalic sensory organs (CSOs). These CSOs are innervated by distinct nerves. This study proposes a unified terminology for the cerebral nerves and the categories of CSOs and then investigates the neuroanatomy and cellular innervation patterns of these cerebral nerves, in order to homologise them. The homologisation of the cerebral nerves in conjunction with other data, e.g. ontogenetic development or functional morphology, may then provide insights into the homology of the CSOs themselves.
Results: Nickel-lysine axonal tracing (“backfilling”) was used to stain the somata projecting into specific nerves in representatives of opisthobranch Gastropoda. Tracing patterns revealed the occurrence, size and relative position of somata and their axons and enabled these somata to be mapped to specific cell clusters. Assignment of cells to clusters followed a conservative approach based primarily on relative location of the cells. Each of the four investigated cerebral nerves could be uniquely identified due to a characteristic set of soma clusters projecting into the respective nerves via their axonal pathways.
Conclusions: As the described tracing patterns are highly conserved morphological characters, they can be used to homologise nerves within the investigated group of gastropods. The combination of adequate number of replicates and a comparative approach allows us to provide preliminary hypotheses on homologies for the cerebral nerves. Based on the hypotheses regarding cerebral nerve homology together with further data on ultrastructure and immunohistochemistry of CSOs published elsewhere, we can propose preliminary hypotheses regarding homology for the CSOs of the Opisthobranchia themselves.
Assessing the combined effects of xenobiotics, climate change and predators on aquatic organisms in multiple stressor experiments : a case study with pyrimethanil
- The environmental impact of climate change is meanwhile not only discussed in the scientific community but also in the general public. However, little is known about the interaction between climate change and pollutants like pesticides. A combination of multiple stressors (e.g. temperature, pollutants, predators) may lead to severe alterations for organisms such as changes in time of reproduction, reproductive success and growth performance, mortality and geographic distribution. The questions if aquatic organisms tend to react more sensitive towards incidents under climate change conditions remains. Therefore, within the present thesis the aquatic ecotoxicological profile of the fungicide pyrimethanil, as an exemplarily anthropogenic used contaminant, was examined.
A large test battery of ecotoxicological standard tests and supplement bioassays with non-model species was conducted to investigate if species-specific or life stage-specific differences occur or if temperature alteration may change the impact of the fungicide. Two of the most sensitive species (Chironomus riparius and Daphnia magna) were used to investigate the acute and chronic thermal dependence of pyrimethanil effects. The results clearly depict that the ecotoxicity of pyrimethanil at optimal thermal conditions did not depend on the trophic level, but was species-specific. With regard to EC10 values the acute pyrimethanil toxicity on C. riparius increased with higher temperature (6.78 mg L-1 at 14°C and 3.06 mg L-1 at 26°C). The chronic response of D. magna to the NOEC (no observed effect concentration) of the fungicide (0.5 mg L-1) was examined in an experiment which lasted for several generations under three simulated near-natural temperature regimes (‘cold year, today’ (11 to 22.7°C), ‘warm year, today’ (14 to 25.2°C) and ‘warm year, 2080’ (16.5 to 28.1°C)). A pyrimethanil-induced mortality increase was buffered by the strongly related increase of the general reproductive capacity, while population growth was stronger influenced by temperature than by the fungicide. At a further pyrimethanil concentration (LOEC – lowest observed effect concentration: 1 mg L-1), a second generation could not be established by D. magna under all thermal regimes.
Besides daphnids, the midge C. riparius was used for a second multigeneration study. In a bifactorial test design it was tested if climate change conditions alter or affect the impact of a low fungicide concentration on life history and genetic diversity. The NOAEC/2 (half of the no observed adverse effect concentration derived from a standard toxicity test) was used as a low pyrimethanil concentration to which laboratory populations of the midges were chronically exposed under the mentioned temperature scenarios. During the 140-day-multigeneration study, survival, emergence, reproduction, population growth, and genetic diversity of C. riparius were analyzed. The results reveal that high temperatures and pyrimethanil act synergistically on life history parameters of C. riparius. In simulated present-day scenarios, a NOAEC/2 of pyrimethanil provoked only slight to moderate beneficial or adverse effects. In contrast, an exposure to a NOAEC/2 concentration of pyrimethanil at a thermal situation likely for a summer under the future expactations uncovered adverse effects on mortality and population growth rate. In addition, genetic diversity was considerably reduced by pyrimethanil in the ‘warm year, 2080’ scenario, but only slightly under current climatic conditions. The multigeneration studies under near-natural thermal conditions indicate that not only the impact of climate change, but also low concentrations of pesticides may pose a reasonable risk for aquatic invertebrates in the future. This clearly shows that thermal and multigenerational effects should be considered when appraising the ecotoxicity of pesticides and assessing their future risk for the environment.
In addition to temperature further multiple abiotic and biotic stressors alterate pollutant effects. Moreover, to better discriminate and understand the intrinsic and environmental correlates of changing aquatic ecosystems, it was experimentally unraveled how the effects of a low-dose of pyrimethanil on daphnids becomes modified by different temperatures (15°C, 20°C, 25°C) and in the presence/ absence of predator kairomones of Chaoborus flavicans larvae. The usage of a fractional multifactorial test design provided the possibility to investigate the individual growth, reproduction and population growth rate of Daphnia pulex via different exposure routes to the fungicide pyrimethanil at an environmentally relevant concentration (0.05 mg L-1) - either directly (via the water phase), indirectly (via algae food), dually (via water and food) or for multiple generations (fungicide treated source population).
The number of neonates increased with increasing temperatures. At a temperature of 25°C no significant differences between the individual treatment groups were observed although the growth was overall inhibited due to pyrimethanil. Besides, at 15 and 20°C it is obvious that daphnids which were fed with contaminated algae had the lowest reproduction and growth rate. The obtained results clearly demonstrate that multiple stress factors can modify the response of daphnids to pollutants. The exposure routes of the contaminant are of minor importance, while temperature and the presence of a predator are the dominant factors impacting the reproduction of D. pulex. It can be concluded that low concentrations of pyrimethanil may disturb the zooplankton community at suboptimal temperature conditions, but the effects will become masked if chaoborid larvae are present. Therefore it seems necessary to observe prospectively if the combination of several stress factors like pesticide exposure and suboptimal temperature may influence the life history and sensitivity of several aquatic invertebrates differently.
Besides standard test organisms it is inevitable to conduct test with aquatic invertebrate which are not yet considered regularly in ecotoxicological experiments. For example molluscs represent one of the largest phyla of macroinvertebrates with more than 100.000 species, being ecologically and economically important. Therefore, within the present study embryo, juvenile, half- and full-life cycle toxicity tests with the snail Physella acuta were performed to investigate the impact of pollutants on various life stages. Different concentrations of pyrimethanil (0.06-0.5 or 1.0 mg L-1) assessed at three temperatures (15°C, 20°C, 25°C) revealed that pyrimethanil caused concentration-dependent effects independent of temperature. Interestingly, the ecotoxicity of pyrimethanil was higher at lower temperature for the embryo hatching and F1 reproduction, but its ecotoxicity for the growth of juveniles and the F0 reproduction increased with increasing temperature. More specifically, it could have been observed that especially during the reproduction test high mortality rates occurred at the highest concentration of 1 mg L-1 at all temperatures. Due to high mortality rates no snails were available for the F1 at the highest concentrations (0.5 and 1.0 mg L-1). Compared to the F0, overall more egg masses were produced in the F1, being all fertile and no mortality occurred. For the F1-generation the strongest pyrimethanil effects were detected at 15°C. A comparison of effect concentrations between both generations showed that the F1 is more sensitive than the F0.
These results indicate that an exposure over more than one generation may give a better overview of the impact of xenobiotics. With the establishment of an embryo and reproduction test under different temperatures and various concentrations of pyrimethanil with P. acuta we could successfully show that molluscs can respond more sensitive than model organisms and that both, chemical and thermal stressor strongly influence the behaviour of the pulmonates. It can be concluded that the high susceptibility for the fungicide observed in gastropods clearly demonstrates the complexity of pesticide-temperature interactions and the challenge to draw conclusions for the ecotoxicological risk assessment of pesticides under the impact of global climate change.
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.
Adaptive radiation within marine anisakid nematodes: a zoogeographical modeling of cosmopolitan, zoonotic parasites
- Parasites of the nematode genus Anisakis are associated with aquatic organisms. They can be found in a variety of marine hosts including whales, crustaceans, fish and cephalopods and are known to be the cause of the zoonotic disease anisakiasis, a painful inflammation of the gastro-intestinal tract caused by the accidental consumptions of infectious larvae raw or semi-raw fishery products. Since the demand on fish as dietary protein source and the export rates of seafood products in general is rapidly increasing worldwide, the knowledge about the distribution of potential foodborne human pathogens in seafood is of major significance for human health. Studies have provided evidence that a few Anisakis species can cause clinical symptoms in humans. The aim of our study was to interpolate the species range for every described Anisakis species on the basis of the existing occurrence data. We used sequence data of 373 Anisakis larvae from 30 different hosts worldwide and previously published molecular data (n = 584) from 53 field-specific publications to model the species range of Anisakis spp., using a interpolation method that combines aspects of the alpha hull interpolation algorithm as well as the conditional interpolation approach. The results of our approach strongly indicate the existence of species-specific distribution patterns of Anisakis spp. within different climate zones and oceans that are in principle congruent with those of their respective final hosts. Our results support preceding studies that propose anisakid nematodes as useful biological indicators for their final host distribution and abundance as they closely follow the trophic relationships among their successive hosts. The modeling might although be helpful for predicting the likelihood of infection in order to reduce the risk of anisakiasis cases in a given area.
A Bayesian framework to estimate diversification rates and their variation through time and space
- Background: Patterns of species diversity are the result of speciation and extinction processes, and molecular phylogenetic data can provide valuable information to derive their variability through time and across clades. Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo methods offer a promising framework to incorporate phylogenetic uncertainty when estimating rates of diversification.
Results: We introduce a new approach to estimate diversification rates in a Bayesian framework over a distribution of trees under various constant and variable rate birth-death and pure-birth models, and test it on simulated phylogenies. Furthermore, speciation and extinction rates and their posterior credibility intervals can be estimated while accounting for non-random taxon sampling. The framework is particularly suitable for hypothesis testing using Bayes factors, as we demonstrate analyzing dated phylogenies of Chondrostoma (Cyprinids) and Lupinus (Fabaceae). In addition, we develop a model that extends the rate estimation to a meta-analysis framework in which different data sets are combined in a single analysis to detect general temporal and spatial trends in diversification.
Conclusions: Our approach provides a flexible framework for the estimation of diversification parameters and hypothesis testing while simultaneously accounting for uncertainties in the divergence times and incomplete taxon sampling.