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Biology Letters

Eiluned Pearce, Rafael Wlodarski, Anna Machin, Robin I M Dunbar
The ratio between the second and fourth digits (2D:4D) has been widely used as a proxy for fetal exposure to androgens and has been linked to a number of sociosexual traits in humans. However, the role of genes in this equation remains unknown. Here ( N = 474), we test, firstly, for associations between 2D:4D and single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in nine neurochemical receptor genes ( AR, OXTR, AVPR1A, OPRM1, DRD1/2, ANKK1, 5HTR1A/2A ), and secondly, whether digit ratios mediate the relationship between genetic variation and sociosexuality...
December 5, 2018: Biology Letters
Sarah E Aamidor, Boris Yagound, Isobel Ronai, Benjamin P Oldroyd
Hymenoptera are haplodiploid: females arise from fertilized, diploid eggs, while males arise from unfertilized, haploid eggs. The cytogenetic mechanisms underlying haplodiploidy enable remarkable phenomena including female cloning, male cloning and gynandromorphy (sex mosaics). We collected 11 newly emerged putative gynandromorph honeybees from a single colony, assessed the sex of various tissues morphologically and determined the genetic origin (maternal or paternal) of each tissue by genotyping. Ten bees were gynandromorphs with one to three distinct paternal origins...
November 28, 2018: Biology Letters
Steven J Portugal, Craig R White, Jonathan A Green, Patrick J Butler
Waterfowl undergo an annual simultaneous flight-feather moult that renders them flightless for the duration of the regrowth of the flight feathers. In the wild, this period of flightlessness could restrict the capacity of moulting birds to forage and escape predation. Selection might therefore favour a short moult, but feather growth is constrained and presumably energetically demanding. We therefore tested the hypothesis that for birds that undergo a simultaneous flight-feather moult, this would be the period in the annual cycle with the highest minimum daily heart rates, reflecting these increased energetic demands...
November 28, 2018: Biology Letters
Tia L Harrison, Anna K Simonsen, John R Stinchcombe, Megan E Frederickson
How does mutualism affect range expansion? On the one hand, mutualists might thrive in new habitats thanks to the resources, stress tolerance or defence provided by their partners. On the other, specialized mutualists might fail to find compatible partners beyond their range margins, limiting further spread. A recent global analysis of legume ranges found that non-symbiotic legumes have been successfully introduced to more ranges than legumes that form symbioses with rhizobia, but there is still abundant unexplained variation in introduction success within symbiotic legumes...
November 28, 2018: Biology Letters
Sofia Paraskevopoulou, Ralph Tiedemann, Guntram Weithoff
Under global warming scenarios, rising temperatures can constitute heat stress to which species may respond differentially. Within a described species, knowledge on cryptic diversity is of further relevance, as different lineages/cryptic species may respond differentially to environmental change. The Brachionus calyciflorus species complex (Rotifera), which was recently described using integrative taxonomy, is an essential component of aquatic ecosystems. Here, we tested the hypothesis that these (formerly cryptic) species differ in their heat tolerance...
November 28, 2018: Biology Letters
Laurent Seuront
Microplastics are a ubiquitous source of contaminations in marine ecosystems, and have major implications for marine life. Much effort has been devoted to assessing the various effects of microplastics on marine life. No evidence exists, however, on the effects of microplastic leachates on chemically mediated predator-prey interactions and the ability of prey to detect and avoid its predator. This study shows that microplastic leachates have direct biological effects by disturbing the behavioural response of the intertidal gastropod Littorina littorea to the presence of Carcinus maenas chemical cues, hence increasing their vulnerability to predation...
November 28, 2018: Biology Letters
Hannes Baumann, Emma L Cross, Chris S Murray
Despite the remarkable expansion of laboratory studies, robust estimates of single species CO2 sensitivities remain largely elusive. We conducted a meta-analysis of 20 CO2 exposure experiments conducted over 6 years on offspring of wild Atlantic silversides ( Menidia menidia ) to robustly constrain CO2 effects on early life survival and growth. We conclude that early stages of this species are generally tolerant to CO2 levels of approximately 2000 µatm, likely because they already experience these conditions on diel to seasonal timescales...
November 28, 2018: Biology Letters
Varvara Fazalova, Bruno Nevado, Ailsa McLean, H Charles J Godfray
Human activities may weaken or destroy reproductive isolation between young taxa, leading to their fusion with consequences for population and community ecology. Pea aphid host races are adapted to different legume taxa, providing a degree of pre-mating isolation mediated by habitat choice. Yet, all races can feed and reproduce on the broad bean ( Vicia faba ), a major crop which represents a 'universal host plant', which can promote hybridization between races. Here, we ask if pea aphid host races have reproductive barriers which prevent or reduce gene flow when they co-occur on the universal host plant...
November 28, 2018: Biology Letters
William D Harcourt, Robert A Briers, Mark Huxham
Knowledge of seagrass distribution is limited to a few well-studied sites and poor where resources are scant (e.g. Africa), hence global estimates of seagrass carbon storage are inaccurate. Here, we analysed freely available Sentinel-2 and Landsat imagery to quantify contemporary coverage and change in seagrass between 1986 and 2016 on Kenya's coast. Using field surveys and independent estimates of historical seagrass, we estimate total cover of Kenya's seagrass to be 317.1 ± 27.2 km2 , following losses of 0...
November 28, 2018: Biology Letters
Rodrigo Temp Müller, Max Cardoso Langer, Sérgio Dias-da-Silva
The rise of sauropodomorphs is still poorly understood due to the scarcity of well-preserved fossils in early Norian rocks. Here, we present an association of complete and exceptionally well-preserved dinosaur skeletons that helps fill that gap. They represent a new species, which is recovered as a member of a clade solely composed of Gondwanan Triassic taxa. The new species allows the definition of a set of anatomical changes that shaped sauropodomorph evolution along a period from 233 to 225 Ma, as recorded in the well dated Late Triassic beds of Brazil...
November 21, 2018: Biology Letters
Norbert Sachser, Michael B Hennessy, Sylvia Kaiser
Developmental behavioural plasticity is a process by which organisms can alter development of their behavioural phenotype to be better adapted to the environment encountered later in life. This 'shaping' process depends on the presence of reliable cues by which predictions can be made. It is now established that cues detected by the mother can be used (primarily via hormones prenatally and maternal behaviour in the early postnatal stage) to shape the behavioural phenotype of her offspring. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that adolescence is another period in which conditions are well-suited for such shaping to occur...
November 21, 2018: Biology Letters
Kazunori Yoshizawa, Rodrigo L Ferreira, Izumi Yao, Charles Lienhard, Yoshitaka Kamimura
The cave-dwelling psocid tribe Sensitibillini ( Afrotrogla , Neotrogla and Sensitibilla ) is of special morphological and evolutionary interest because of its possession of reversed copulatory organs: i.e. females of Afrotrogla and Neotrogla have a penis-like organ. The female penis structure is highly variable among taxa, as is the case of the male penis in animals with normal copulatory organs. Here, we present the first molecular phylogeny of Sensitibillini and analyse the evolutionary pattern of their genitalia...
November 21, 2018: Biology Letters
Oona M Lönnstedt, Maud C O Ferrari, Douglas P Chivers
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
November 14, 2018: Biology Letters
Elizabeth A Murray, Silas Bossert, Bryan N Danforth
Pollinivory-the consumption of pollen rather than arthropod prey-is a defining feature of bees (Anthophila; the flower lovers). In virtually all bee species, larvae consume a diet composed of pollen mixed with nectar or floral oils. Bees arose from within a group of solitary, carnivorous, apoid wasps in the Early to Mid-Cretaceous, coincident with the rapid rise of flowering plants. It is assumed that the switch from carnivory to pollen-feeding was a key innovation that led to the rapid diversification of bees, but this has never been examined empirically...
November 14, 2018: Biology Letters
Phillip P A Staniczenko, K Blake Suttle, Richard G Pearson
Understanding the factors that determine species' geographical distributions is important for addressing a wide range of biological questions, including where species will be able to maintain populations following environmental change. New methods for modelling species distributions include the effects of biotic interactions alongside more commonly used abiotic variables such as temperature and precipitation; however, it is not clear which types of interspecific relationship contribute to shaping species distributions and should therefore be prioritized in models...
November 14, 2018: Biology Letters
Cecilia Nilsson, Kyle G Horton, Adriaan M Dokter, Benjamin M Van Doren, Andrew Farnsworth
Light cues elicit strong responses from nearly all forms of life, perhaps most notably as circadian rhythms entrained by periods of daylight and darkness. Atypical periods of darkness, like solar eclipses, provide rare opportunities to study biological responses to light cues. By using a continental scale radar network, we investigated responses of flying animals to the total solar eclipse of 21 August 2017. We quantified the number of biological targets in the atmosphere at 143 weather radar stations across the continental United States to investigate whether the decrease in light and temperature at an atypical time would initiate a response like that observed at sunset, when activity in the atmosphere usually increases...
November 14, 2018: Biology Letters
Wei Guan, Yanmei Xiong, Baowen Liao
Soil inorganic carbon (IC) is neglected in most blue carbon studies despite the globally significant role of the calcium carbonate cycle in ocean C balance and climate change. We sampled soils to 1 m depth from seven mangrove reserves in Hainan Island, China. Only 45 out of 509 samples were rich in IC (greater than 10 mg cm-3 ). Most of the IC-rich samples were found at the outer part of Qinglan Bay, which is adjacent to the largest coral reef zone of Hainan Island. Soil IC concentration ranged from 0 to 66 g kg-1 (or 0-67 mg cm-3 ), accounting for 0-92% of total C...
November 14, 2018: Biology Letters
Carolin C Wendling, Henry Goehlich, Olivia Roth
With their ability to integrate into the bacterial chromosome and thereby transfer virulence or drug-resistance genes across bacterial species, temperate phage play a key role in bacterial evolution. Thus, it is paramount to understand who infects whom to be able to predict the movement of DNA across the prokaryotic world and ultimately the emergence of novel (drug-resistant) pathogens. We empirically investigated lytic infection patterns among Vibrio spp. from distinct phylogenetic clades and their derived temperate phage...
November 14, 2018: Biology Letters
David P L Toews, Henry M Streby, Lowell Burket, Scott A Taylor
Hybridization between divergent taxa can provide insight into the breakdown of characters used in mate choice, as well as reproductive compatibility across deep evolutionary timescales. Hybridization can also occur more frequently in declining populations, as there is a smaller pool of conspecific mates from which to choose. Here, we report an unusual combination of factors that has resulted in a rare, three-species hybridization event among two genera of warblers, one of which is experiencing significant population declines...
November 7, 2018: Biology Letters
Christopher R Biggs, Susan K Lowerre-Barbieri, Brad Erisman
Spatial and temporal patterns of spawning activity are important measures of resilience in fishes that directly link environmental disturbances with reproductive success. We acoustically monitored spawning in spotted seatrout ( Cynoscion nebulosus ) from April through September 2017 at 15 sites near Port Aransas, Texas, which coincided with the landfall of a category 4 hurricane (Harvey) on 25 August. Spawning sounds were recorded every day of the study across all sites and were also confirmed during the hurricane at two sites located within the eye of the storm...
November 7, 2018: Biology Letters
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