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Proceedings. Biological Sciences

Ryann A Blennerhassett, Kim Bell-Anderson, Richard Shine, Gregory P Brown
Many animals capable of deploying chemical defences are reluctant to use them, suggesting that synthesis of toxins imposes a substantial cost. Typically, such costs have been quantified by measuring the elevation in metabolic rate induced by toxin depletion (i.e. during replenishment of toxin stores). More generally, we might expect that toxin depletion will induce shifts in a broad suite of fitness-relevant traits. In cane toads ( Rhinella marina), toxic compounds that protect against predators and pathogens are stored in large parotoid (shoulder) glands...
May 15, 2019: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Christopher P Jury, Robert J Toonen
Coral reefs have great biological and socioeconomic value, but are threatened by ocean acidification, climate change and local human impacts. The capacity for corals to adapt or acclimatize to novel environmental conditions is unknown but fundamental to projected reef futures. The coral reefs of Kāne'ohe Bay, Hawai'i were devastated by anthropogenic insults from the 1930s to 1970s. These reefs experience naturally reduced pH and elevated temperature relative to many other Hawaiian reefs which are not expected to face similar conditions for decades...
May 15, 2019: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Louis Bell-Roberts, Angela E Douglas, Gijsbert D A Werner
Some animal groups associate with the same vertically transmitted microbial symbionts over extended periods of evolutionary time, punctuated by occasional symbiont switches to different microbial taxa. Here we test the oft-repeated suggestion that symbiont switches are linked with host diet changes, focusing on hemipteran insects of the suborder Auchenorrhyncha. These insects include the only animals that feed on plant xylem sap through the life cycle, as well as taxa that feed on phloem sap and plant parenchyma cells...
May 15, 2019: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Thomas Scheuerl, Johannes Cairns, Lutz Becks, Teppo Hiltunen
Predation is one of the key ecological mechanisms allowing species coexistence and influencing biological diversity. However, ecological processes are subject to contemporary evolutionary change, and the degree to which predation affects diversity ultimately depends on the interplay between evolution and ecology. Furthermore, ecological interactions that influence species coexistence can be altered by reciprocal coevolution especially in the case of antagonistic interactions such as predation or parasitism...
May 15, 2019: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Matthew J Greenwold, Brady R Cunningham, Eric M Lachenmyer, John Michael Pullman, Tammi L Richardson, Jeffry L Dudycha
Evolutionary biologists have long sought to identify phenotypic traits whose evolution enhances an organism's performance in its environment. Diversification of traits related to resource acquisition can occur owing to spatial or temporal resource heterogeneity. We examined the ability to capture light in the Cryptophyta, a phylum of single-celled eukaryotic algae with diverse photosynthetic pigments, to better understand how acquisition of an abiotic resource may be associated with diversification. Cryptophytes originated through secondary endosymbiosis between an unknown eukaryotic host and a red algal symbiont...
May 15, 2019: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Dakota E McCoy, Victoria E McCoy, Nikolaj K Mandsberg, Anna V Shneidman, Joanna Aizenberg, Richard O Prum, David Haig
Male peacock spiders ( Maratus, Salticidae) compete to attract female mates using elaborate, sexually selected displays. They evolved both brilliant colour and velvety black. Here, we use scanning electron microscopy, hyperspectral imaging and finite-difference time-domain optical modelling to investigate the deep black surfaces of peacock spiders. We found that super black regions reflect less than 0.5% of light (for a 30° collection angle) in Maratus speciosus (0.44%) and Maratus karrie (0.35%) owing to microscale structures...
May 15, 2019: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
M J Daniel, L Koffinas, K A Hughes
Populations harbour enormous genetic diversity in ecologically important traits. Understanding the processes that maintain this variation is a long-standing challenge in evolutionary biology. Recent evidence indicates that a mating preference for novel sexual signals can be a powerful force maintaining genetic diversity. However, the proximate underpinnings of this preference, and its generality, remain unclear. Here, we test the hypothesis that preference for novel sexual signals is underpinned by habituation, a nearly ubiquitous form of learning whereby individuals become less responsive to repetitive stimuli...
May 15, 2019: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Anna Hughes, Eric Liggins, Martin Stevens
Camouflage is an important anti-predator strategy for many animals and is traditionally thought of as being tightly linked to a specific visual background. While much work focuses on optimizing camouflage against one background, this may not be relevant for many species and contexts, as animals may encounter many different habitats throughout their lives due to temporal and spatial variation in their environment. How should camouflage be optimized when an animal or object is seen against multiple visual backgrounds? Various solutions may exist, including colour change to match new environments or use of behaviour to maintain crypsis by choosing appropriate substrates...
May 15, 2019: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Mark T Swanson, Carl H Oliveros, Jacob A Esselstyn
Understanding the number of times a trait has evolved is a necessary foundation for comprehending its potential relationships with selective regimes, developmental constraints and evolutionary diversification. Rodents make up over 40% of extant mammalian species, and their ecological and evolutionary success has been partially attributed to the increase in biting efficiency that resulted from a forward shift of one or two portions of the masseter muscle from the zygomatic arch onto the rostrum. This forward shift has occurred in three discrete ways, but the number of times it has occurred has never been explicitly quantified...
May 15, 2019: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Joëlle Barido-Sottani, Gabriel Aguirre-Fernández, Melanie J Hopkins, Tanja Stadler, Rachel Warnock
Fossil information is essential for estimating species divergence times, and can be integrated into Bayesian phylogenetic inference using the fossilized birth-death (FBD) process. An important aspect of palaeontological data is the uncertainty surrounding specimen ages, which can be handled in different ways during inference. The most common approach is to fix fossil ages to a point estimate within the known age interval. Alternatively, age uncertainty can be incorporated by using priors, and fossil ages are then directly sampled as part of the inference...
May 15, 2019: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Aurelio F Malo, Tania C Gilbert, Philip Riordan
Parent sex ratio allocation has consequences for individual fitness, population dynamics, and conservation. Theory predicts that parents should adjust offspring sex ratio when the fitness returns of producing male or female offspring varies. Previous studies have assumed that only mothers are capable of biasing offspring sex ratios, but have neglected fathers, given the expectation of an equal proportion of X- and Y-chromosome-bearing (CBS) sperm in ejaculates due to sex chromosome segregation at meiosis. This assumption has been recently refuted and both paternal fertility and paternal genetic quality have been shown to bias sex ratios...
May 15, 2019: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Anieke van Leeuwen, Sarah A Budischak, Andrea L Graham, Clayton E Cressler
Over a billion people on earth are infected with helminth parasites and show remarkable variation in parasite burden and chronicity. These parasite distributions are captured well by classic statistics, such as the negative binomial distribution. But the within-host processes underlying this variation are not well understood. In this study, we explain variation in macroparasite infection outcomes on the basis of resource flows within hosts. Resource flows realize the interactions between parasites and host immunity and metabolism...
May 15, 2019: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Kevin M Kocot, Christiane Todt, Nina T Mikkelsen, Kenneth M Halanych
Recent molecular phylogenetic investigations strongly supported the placement of the shell-less, worm-shaped aplacophoran molluscs (Solenogastres and Caudofoveata) and chitons (Polyplacophora) in a clade called Aculifera, which is the sister taxon of all other molluscs. Thus, understanding the evolutionary history of aculiferan molluscs is important for understanding early molluscan evolution. In particular, fundamental questions about evolutionary relationships within Aplacophora have long been unanswered...
May 15, 2019: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Jacob D Berson, Marlene Zuk, Leigh W Simmons
While the reproductive benefits of sexual displays have been widely studied, we have relatively limited evidence of the fitness costs associated with most display traits. Insect cuticular hydrocarbon (CHC) profiles are sexually selected traits that also protect against desiccation. These two functions are thought to oppose each other, with investment in particular compounds believed to increase attractiveness at the expense of compounds that protect against water loss. We investigated this potential trade-off in a quantitative genetic framework using the Australian field cricket, Teleogryllus oceanicus...
May 15, 2019: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Laura Melissa Guzman, Diane S Srivastava
Predators and prey often differ in body mass. The ratio of predator to prey body mass influences the predator's functional response (how consumption varies with prey density), and therefore, the strength and stability of the predator-prey interaction. The persistence of food chains is maximized when prey species are neither too big nor too small relative to their predator. Nonetheless, we do not know if (i) food web persistence requires that all predator-prey body mass ratios are intermediate, nor (ii) if this constraint depends on prey diversity...
May 15, 2019: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Patrick Joye, Tadeusz J Kawecki
Resistance to pathogens is often invoked as an indirect benefit of female choice, but experimental evidence for links between father's sexual success and offspring resistance is scarce and equivocal. Two proposed mechanisms might generate such links. Under the first, heritable resistance to diverse pathogens depends on general immunocompetence; owing to shared condition dependence, male sexual traits indicate immunocompetence independently of the male's pathogen exposure. By contrast, other hypotheses (e.g...
May 15, 2019: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Martin Kolk, Kieron Barclay
We examine the relationship between cognitive ability and childbearing patterns in contemporary Sweden using administrative register data. The topic has a long history in the social sciences and has been the topic of a large number of studies, many reporting a negative gradient between intelligence and fertility. We link fertility histories to military conscription tests with intelligence scores for all Swedish men born 1951-1967. We find a positive relationship between intelligence scores and fertility, and this pattern is consistent across the cohorts we study...
May 15, 2019: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Pieter T J Johnson, Dana M Calhoun, Tawni Riepe, Travis McDevitt-Galles, Janet Koprivnikar
Debates over the relationship between biodiversity and disease dynamics underscore the need for a more mechanistic understanding of how changes in host community composition influence parasite transmission. Focusing on interactions between larval amphibians and trematode parasites, we experimentally contrasted the effects of host richness and species composition to identify the individual and joint contributions of both parameters on the infection levels of three trematode species. By combining experimental approaches with field surveys from 147 ponds, we further evaluated how richness effects differed between randomized and realistic patterns of species loss (i...
May 15, 2019: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Shaolin Tan
In this paper, a mechanism called proximity inheritance is introduced in the birth-death process of a networked population involving the Prisoner's Dilemma game. Different from the traditional birth-death process, in the proposed model, players are distributed in a spatial space and offspring is distributed in the neighbourhood of its parents. That is, offspring inherits not only the strategy but also the proximity of its parents. In this coevolutionary game model, a cooperative neighbourhood gives more neighbouring cooperative offspring and a defective neighbourhood gives more neighbouring defective offspring, leading to positive feedback among cooperative interactions...
May 15, 2019: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Alistair M Senior, Samantha M Solon-Biet, Victoria C Cogger, David G Le Couteur, Shinichi Nakagawa, David Raubenheimer, Stephen J Simpson
Protein and calorie restrictions extend median lifespan in many organisms. However, studies suggest that among-individual variation in the age at death is also affected. Ultimately, both of these outcomes must be caused by effects of nutrition on underlying patterns of age-specific mortality (ASM). Using model life tables, we tested for effects of dietary macronutrients on ASM in mice ( Mus musculus). High concentrations of protein and fat relative to carbohydrates were associated with low life expectancy and high variation in the age at death, a result caused predominantly by high mortality prior to middle age...
May 15, 2019: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
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