Biodiversität und Klima Forschungszentrum (BiK-F)
First Nationwide Surveillance of Culex pipiens Complex and Culex torrentium Mosquitoes Demonstrated the Presence of Culex pipiens Biotype pipiens/molestus Hybrids in Germany
Heidrun von Thien
- Mosquitoes and other arthropods may transmit medically important pathogens, in particular viruses such as West Nile virus. The presence of suitable hosts and competent vectors for those zoonotic viruses is essential for an enzootic transmission, which is a prerequisite for epidemics. To establish reliable risk projections, it is an urgent need for an exact identification of mosquito species, which is especially challenging in the case of sibling species, such as Culex. pipiens pipiens biotypes pipiens and molestus. To facilitate detection of different Culex pipiens forms and their hybrids we established a multiplex real-time PCR. Culex pipiens samples were obtained by egg raft collection and rearing until imago stage or adult sampling using CO2 baited traps and gravid traps. In total, we tested more than 16,500 samples collected all over Germany in the years 2011 and 2012. The predominant species in Germany are Culex pipiens pipiens biotype pipiens and Culex. torrentium, but we also detected Culex pipiens pipiens biotype molestus and hybrids of the two pipiens biotypes at sites where both species occur sympatrically. This report of a potentially important bridge vector for West Nile virus might have major impact in the risk projections for West Nile virus in Germany.
A range-wide synthesis and timeline for phylogeographic events in the red fox (Vulpes vulpes)
Verena E. Kutschera
Alexander A. Sokolov
- Background: Many boreo-temperate mammals have a Pleistocene fossil record throughout Eurasia and North America, but only few have a contemporary distribution that spans this large area. Examples of Holarctic-distributed carnivores are the brown bear, grey wolf, and red fox, all three ecological generalists with large dispersal capacity and a high adaptive flexibility. While the two former have been examined extensively across their ranges, no phylogeographic study of the red fox has been conducted across its entire Holarctic range. Moreover, no study included samples from central Asia, leaving a large sampling gap in the middle of the Eurasian landmass.
Results: Here we provide the first mitochondrial DNA sequence data of red foxes from central Asia (Siberia), and new sequences from several European populations. In a range-wide synthesis of 729 red fox mitochondrial control region sequences, including 677 previously published and 52 newly obtained sequences, this manuscript describes the pattern and timing of major phylogeographic events in red foxes, using a Bayesian coalescence approach with multiple fossil tip and root calibration points. In a 335 bp alignment we found in total 175 unique haplotypes. All newly sequenced individuals belonged to the previously described Holarctic lineage. Our analyses confirmed the presence of three Nearctic- and two Japan-restricted lineages that were formed since the Mid/Late Pleistocene.
Conclusions: The phylogeographic history of red foxes is highly similar to that previously described for grey wolves and brown bears, indicating that climatic fluctuations and habitat changes since the Pleistocene had similar effects on these highly mobile generalist species. All three species originally diversified in Eurasia and later colonized North America and Japan. North American lineages persisted through the last glacial maximum south of the ice sheets, meeting more recent colonizers from Beringia during postglacial expansion into the northern Nearctic. Both brown bears and red foxes colonized Japan’s northern island Hokkaido at least three times, all lineages being most closely related to different mainland lineages. Red foxes, grey wolves, and brown bears thus represent an interesting case where species that occupy similar ecological niches also exhibit similar phylogeographic histories.
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.
Impact of climate change on renewable groundwater resources: assessing the benefits of avoided greenhouse gas emissions using selected CMIP5 climate projections
Felix Theodor Portmann
- Reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to minimize climate change requires very significant societal effort. To motivate this effort, it is important to clarify the benefits of avoided emissions. To this end, we analysed the impact of four emissions scenarios on future renewable groundwater resources, which range from 1600 GtCO2 during the 21st century (RCP2.6) to 7300 GtCO2 (RCP8.5). Climate modelling uncertainty was taken into account by applying the bias-corrected output of a small ensemble of five CMIP5 global climate models (GCM) as provided by the ISI-MIP effort to the global hydrological model WaterGAP. Despite significant climate model uncertainty, the benefits of avoided emissions with respect to renewable groundwater resources (i.e. groundwater recharge (GWR)) are obvious. The percentage of projected global population (SSP2 population scenario) suffering from a significant decrease of GWR of more than 10% by the 2080s as compared to 1971–2000 decreases from 38% (GCM range 27–50%) for RCP8.5 to 24% (11–39%) for RCP2.6. The population fraction that is spared from any significant GWR change would increase from 29% to 47% if emissions were restricted to RCP2.6. Increases of GWR are more likely to occur in areas with below average population density, while GWR decreases of more than 30% affect especially (semi)arid regions, across all GCMs. Considering change of renewable groundwater resources as a function of mean global temperature (GMT) rise, the land area that is affected by GWR decreases of more than 30% and 70% increases linearly with global warming from 0 to 3 ° C. For each degree of GMT rise, an additional 4% of the global land area (except Greenland and Antarctica) is affected by a GWR decrease of more than 30%, and an additional 1% is affected by a decrease of more than 70%.
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.
Mitochondrial lineage sorting in action – historical biogeography of the Hyles euphorbiae complex (Sphingidae, Lepidoptera) in Italy
- Background: Mitochondrial genes are among the most commonly used markers in studies of species’ phylogeography and to draw conclusions about taxonomy. The Hyles euphorbiae complex (HEC) comprises six distinct mitochondrial lineages in the Mediterranean region, of which one exhibits a cryptic disjunct distribution. The predominant mitochondrial lineage in most of Europe, euphorbiae, is also present on Malta; however, it is nowadays strangely absent from Southern Italy and Sicily, where it is replaced by 'italica'. A separate biological entity in Italy is further corroborated by larval colour patterns with a congruent, confined suture zone along the Northern Apennines. By means of historic DNA extracted from museum specimens, we aimed to investigate the evolution of the mitochondrial demographic structure of the HEC in Italy and Malta throughout the Twentieth Century.
Results: At the beginning of the Twentieth Century, the European mainland lineages were also present at a moderate frequency in Southern Italy and Sicily. The proportion of 'italica' then steadily increased in this area from below 60 percent to near fixation in about 120 years. Thus, geographical sorting of mitochondrial lineages in the HEC was not as complete then as the current demography suggests. The pattern of an integral 'italica' core region and a disjunct euphorbiae distribution evolved very recently. To explain these strong demographic changes, we propose genetic drift due to anthropogenic habitat loss and fragmentation in combination with an impact from recent climate warming that favoured the spreading of the potentially better adapted 'italica' populations.
Conclusions: The pattern of geographically separated mitochondrial lineages is commonly interpreted as representing long term separated entities. However, our results indicate that such a pattern can emerge surprisingly quickly, even in a widespread and rather common taxon. We thus caution against drawing hasty taxonomic conclusions from biogeographical patterns of mitochondrial markers derived from modern sampling alone.
Risikovorsorge im chemischen Pflanzenschutz : wie sich Anwendungsinteressen und Schutzanforderungen in Einklang bringen lassen
Intermediate Coupling between Aboveground and Belowground Biomass Maximises the Persistence of Grasslands
Steven I. Higgins
- Aboveground and belowground biomass compartments of vegetation fulfil different functions and they are coupled by complex interactions. These compartments exchange water, carbon and nutrients and the belowground biomass compartment has the capacity to buffer vegetation dynamics when aboveground biomass is removed by disturbances such as herbivory or fire. However, despite their importance, root-shoot interactions are often ignored in more heuristic vegetation models. Here, we present a simple two-compartment grassland model that couples aboveground and belowground biomass. In this model, the growth of belowground biomass is influenced by aboveground biomass and the growth of aboveground biomass is influenced by belowground biomass. We used the model to explore how the dynamics of a grassland ecosystem are influenced by fire and grazing. We show that the grassland system is most persistent at intermediate levels of aboveground-belowground coupling. In this situation, the system can sustain more extreme fire or grazing regimes than in the case of strong coupling. In contrast, the productivity of the system is maximised at high levels of coupling. Our analysis suggests that the yield of a grassland ecosystem is maximised when coupling is strong, however, the intensity of disturbance that can be sustained increases dramatically when coupling is intermediate. Hence, the model predicts that intermediate coupling should be selected for as it maximises the chances of persistence in disturbance driven ecosystems.
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.
Detailed regional predictions of N2O and NO emissions from a tropical highland rainforest
Nasrin Gharahi Ghehi
Eric Van Ranst
- Tropical forest soils are a significant source for the greenhouse gas N2O as well as for NO, a precursor of tropospheric ozone. However, current estimates are uncertain due to the limited number of field measurements. Furthermore, there is considerable spatial and temporal variability of N2O and NO emissions due to the variation of environmental conditions such as soil properties, vegetation characteristics and meteorology. In this study we used a process-based model (ForestDNDC-tropica) to estimate N2O and NO emissions from tropical highland forest (Nyungwe) soils in southwestern Rwanda. To extend the model inputs to regional scale, ForestDNDC-tropica was linked to an exceptionally large legacy soil dataset. There was agreement between N2O and NO measurements and the model predictions though the ForestDNDC-tropica resulted in considerable lower emissions for few sites. Low similarity was specifically found for acidic soil with high clay content and reduced metals, indicating that chemo-denitrification processes on acidic soils might be under-represented in the current ForestDNDC-tropica model. The results showed that soil bulk density and pH are the most influential factors driving spatial variations in soil N2O and NO emissions for tropical forest soils. The area investigated (1113 km2) was estimated to emit ca. 439 ± 50 t N2O-N yr−1 (2.8–5.5 kg N2O-N ha−1 yr−1) and 244 ± 16 t NO-N yr−1 (0.8–5.1 kg N ha−1 yr−1). Consistent with less detailed studies, we confirm that tropical highland rainforest soils are a major source of atmospheric N2O and NO.