ASN RSS http://amnat.org/ Latest press releases and announcements from the ASN en-us Mon, 20 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT 60 “Maladaptation to acute metal exposure in resurrected Daphnia ambigua clones after decades of increasing contamination” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/AprRogalski.html Daphnia resurrected from egg banks have evolved increased sensitivity to metals following decades of contamination Human activities can drive rapid evolutionary responses in wild animal populations. These evolutionary responses often leave the population better able to cope with human activities, but sometimes populations appear to be maladapted to local conditions. While maladaptation has been observed in multiple systems, it has received much less attention than adaptation. One reason we don’t have a better understanding of maladaptation is that if we uncover a population that appears to be maladapted to local conditions, it is often impossible to determine the trajectory of that population and the environment over time. How have key traits in the population evolved over time? And how does that correspond with changes in the environment? In a new article in The American Naturalist, Dr. Rogalski uses dated lake sediment archives to quantify metal pollution and evolutionary responses to this contamination in three lakes in Connecticut, USA, over the past 50-75 years. She hatched microscopic animals known as Daphnia from long-lived resting eggs from multiple time periods to track their sensitivity to metals through time. In contrast to the predicted trend of adaptation to metal exposure, she found that Daphnia from contaminated time periods were more sensitive to copper and cadmium exposure. In one lake where copper contamination has dramatically declined, the Daphnia remain sensitive to copper 30 years after peak exposure. It is difficult to know what mechanisms are driving this evolutionary pattern or even whether the animals are truly maladapted to their natural environment (that is, to be sure that their fitness has declined over time). However, the release of toxicants (including heavy metals) is widespread and other researchers have also observed local maladaptation to contaminants. Thus, this research suggests that we need to do more to uncover both the drivers and implications of maladaptation in nature. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b><i>Daphnia</i> resurrected from egg banks have evolved increased sensitivity to metals following decades of contamination </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">H</span>uman activities can drive rapid evolutionary responses in wild animal populations. These evolutionary responses often leave the population better able to cope with human activities, but sometimes populations appear to be maladapted to local conditions. While maladaptation has been observed in multiple systems, it has received much less attention than adaptation. One reason we don’t have a better understanding of maladaptation is that if we uncover a population that appears to be maladapted to local conditions, it is often impossible to determine the trajectory of that population and the environment over time. How have key traits in the population evolved over time? And how does that correspond with changes in the environment? </p><p>In a new article in <i>The American Naturalist</i>, Dr. Rogalski uses dated lake sediment archives to quantify metal pollution and evolutionary responses to this contamination in three lakes in Connecticut, USA, over the past 50-75 years. She hatched microscopic animals known as <i>Daphnia</i> from long-lived resting eggs from multiple time periods to track their sensitivity to metals through time. In contrast to the predicted trend of adaptation to metal exposure, she found that <i>Daphnia</i> from contaminated time periods were more sensitive to copper and cadmium exposure. In one lake where copper contamination has dramatically declined, the <i>Daphnia</i> remain sensitive to copper 30 years after peak exposure. It is difficult to know what mechanisms are driving this evolutionary pattern or even whether the animals are truly maladapted to their natural environment (that is, to be sure that their fitness has declined over time). However, the release of toxicants (including heavy metals) is widespread and other researchers have also observed local maladaptation to contaminants. Thus, this research suggests that we need to do more to uncover both the drivers and implications of maladaptation in nature. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691077">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Ecological pleiotropy suppresses the dynamic feedback generated by a rapidly changing trait” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MayDeLong.html Ecological pleiotropy suppresses the dynamic feedback generated by a rapidly changing trait It has long been assumed that evolution is too slow to influence short-term ecological dynamics. More recently, there is growing recognition that not only can traits evolve rather quickly, but their evolution can feed back into the processes generating dynamics. Thus, ecological dynamics may look different when evolution occurs—a process known generally as eco-evolutionary dynamics. But changing traits may influence the ecological dynamics in more than one way. If so, different feedback signals could cancel out or amplify each other, an effect called ecological pleiotropy. John DeLong of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln has recently found evidence for the cancellation of feedback signals in the classic protist predator-prey system of Didinium nasutum foraging on Paramecium Aurelia. Large (tenfold) changes in the predator’s cell volume accompanied the predator-prey cycle, but there was no detectable feedback to the population dynamics. Predator cell volume affects multiple aspects of this predator-prey interaction, and each of these aspects on their own would cause some shift in the dynamics of the system. Yet when taken together, there was nearly a complete suppression of the feedback to the predator-prey dynamics. Thus, even when evolution alters ecological interactions, detecting the downstream ecological consequences depends on the net effects of different types of feedback. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Ecological pleiotropy suppresses the dynamic feedback generated by a rapidly changing trait </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">I</span>t has long been assumed that evolution is too slow to influence short-term ecological dynamics. More recently, there is growing recognition that not only can traits evolve rather quickly, but their evolution can feed back into the processes generating dynamics. Thus, ecological dynamics may look different when evolution occurs—a process known generally as eco-evolutionary dynamics. But changing traits may influence the ecological dynamics in more than one way. If so, different feedback signals could cancel out or amplify each other, an effect called ecological pleiotropy. John DeLong of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln has recently found evidence for the cancellation of feedback signals in the classic protist predator-prey system of <i>Didinium nasutum</i> foraging on <i>Paramecium Aurelia</i>. Large (tenfold) changes in the predator’s cell volume accompanied the predator-prey cycle, but there was no detectable feedback to the population dynamics. Predator cell volume affects multiple aspects of this predator-prey interaction, and each of these aspects on their own would cause some shift in the dynamics of the system. Yet when taken together, there was nearly a complete suppression of the feedback to the predator-prey dynamics. Thus, even when evolution alters ecological interactions, detecting the downstream ecological consequences depends on the net effects of different types of feedback. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691100">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT Vote! ASN Elections February 13 to March 13 http://amnat.org/announcements/ASNElections.html The ASN 2017 Elections are underway for tha offices of President, Vice President, and Treasurer. The election website randomizes the order for each person voting, but the names below are in alphabetical order.The PRESIDENT leads the ASN Executive Council and selects the membership of the award and officer nomination committees. The President selects the President’s Award for the “best” paper in The American Naturalist in the past year, gives the ASN Presidential Address and presents the Society’s awards at the annual meeting, and represents the ASN in multiple other ways through the year. The President serves on the Executive Council for five years, including one year as President-Elect and three years as a Past-President. Allen J. Moore, University of Georgia The first semester of graduate school, sometime in another century, my advisor told all of us that we should join a professional society. In trying to decide what defined me, I joined the American Society of Naturalists. After all, I was interested in evolutionary theory, behavior, and genetics, and I wanted to apply all of these in an attempt to understand how and why social interactions evolve. In particular, I wanted to investigate social evolution in natural populations. I have been a member ever since, and ASN with its integrative and broad approach continues to define my work and my professional life. I was one of the recipients of the ASN Young Investigator Prize. My first editorial appointment was as an associate editor of The American Naturalist, which I held for over 10 years, and I currently serve on an outreach committee, the workshop committee, of ASN. My allegiance to ASN has been consistent despite my many changes in academic appointments and country of residence. I have been a professor in a Department of Entomology in the University of Kentucky (USA), held chairs in evolutionary biology in the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester (UK) and evolutionary genetics in the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter (UK), and I am currently head of the Department of Genetics at the University of Georgia (USA). These diverse experiences reinforce my enthusiasm for social and scientific diversity and the varied approach I adopt in my own research. Conceptual unification remains my goal and my reason for identifying with ASN. In addition, I am staunchly international and pro-diversity in my outlook, as it is my opinion that categories and boundaries do nothing to enhance our understanding of the natural world. If elected president, my agenda would be to promote the principles of ASN to the wider public. The climate today presents many challenges, but this also offers an opportunity for ASN to provide a positive influence on policy and education. First, research funding is shrinking nearly everywhere, and I believe that officers from allied societies can join forces to provide a strong voice for the value of the research we perform. We should seek audiences with public and private funders. Society officers have a platform, and we should use it to help explain the value of our research. Second, we need to ensure the demography of researchers remains stable, and support early and mid-career researchers by recognizing and highlighting the accomplishments and importance of the contributions of our members as often as possible. Third, we need to promote open science, so that facts and data are available to anyone, while protecting the intellectual property of our members. Finally, ASN should be vocally supportive of diversity of our members, and public in our support and our actions. Michael Whitlock, University of British Columbia The American Society of Naturalists has been a very important part of my life, through its formative meetings, its outstanding journal, and its extraordinary encouragement of broad community. The role of the ASN (and indeed many other scientific societies) in producing a scientific journal with high standards and a science–first mentality is ever more crucial with the current challenges to the integrity of science and science publishing; and ASN’s role in connecting ecology, evolution and behavior is vital in today’s world of ever more isolated academic silos. The ASN needs to continue its efforts to be inclusive of all scientists in our fields, increasing its international reach and encouraging input from members at all career stages (especially students). I’ve been extremely lucky to be able to contribute to the ASN in a number of ways: as Editor and then Editor-in-Chief of The American Naturalist; as ASN’s representative to Dryad (and as chair of Dryad’s Executive Committee); as members and chairs of the Regional Meetings Liaison committee and the Sewall Wright Award committee; and most recently as Vice President. Aside from my roles at the ASN, I’m a Professor at the University of British Columbia. I’ve written about 100 articles and chapters, co-authored (with Dolph Schluter) the biostatistics text The Analysis of Biological Data, and co-edited The Princeton Guide To Evolution. I’ve been on the editorial boards of 9 journals, and I’ve reviewed for well over 100 journals and funding agencies. I am a big fan of the benefits of good conferences, having attended 25 Evolution meetings in a row and founded the Pacific Northwest regional meeting EVO-WIBO. I’m a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Science and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The VICE-PRESIDENT organizes the Vice-President’s Symposium for the annual meeting and edits the special supplement to The American Naturalist that contains the papers derived from the VP Symposium. The Vice-President is also the Society’s liaison for the organizers of the annual meeting. The Vice-President serves as a member of the Executive Council for three years, two as a regular member and one as ex officio member.&nbsp; Douglas J Emlen, University of Montana I am an evolutionary biologist and professor of biology at the University of Montana. My research provides insights into the development and evolution of exaggerated animal weaponry, such as the horns found in scarab beetles. My lab&#39;s current research leverages population genetics, genomics, and "muddy-boots" behavioral ecology to explore how and why the horns of Japanese rhinoceros beetles have changed rapidly and recently in size. From my earliest exposure to science, shadowing my father as he conducted field research on birds in Kenya, to years spent studying dung beetles in Panamanian tropical forests, to mentoring students as they spent long nights watching rhino beetles fighting and mating on the trunks of Asian trees or followed leaf-footed bugs on heliconius inflorescences or frog-legged leaf beetles on kudzu, everything I have done has been grounded firmly in natural history. As my research questions grew increasingly mechanistic, I discovered that there is a natural history to development too - a thrill of discovering how traits grow, how they take shape within the mini milieu of signals and stimuli and other traits that is the body of a developing insect. Exploring development in non-model species turned out to be every bit as adventurous as observing, for the first time, the behavior of previously unstudied species. In addition to my research and mentoring, I am committed to communicating the excitement, importance, and relevance of basic research, especially evolution, to audiences outside of biology. At a time when science literacy is at a frightening nadir and "anti-intellectualism" is rampant, I have found I can make as meaningful a contribution explaining science as I can actually doing science. To that end, I teamed up with Carl Zimmer to craft an undergraduate-level textbook in evolution that we hoped would be vibrant, accessible, colorful, and relevant - a book that students would read because they wanted to, not because they had to. I also explored parallels between arms races in animal and military weapons - parallels that started out merely as vehicles for articulating basic concepts of biology to broad audiences, but which soon turned out to be so real, and so alarming, that they now shape many aspects of my research. This work resulted in a book (Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle), which won the 2015 Phi Beta Kappa Prize in Science, and led to a young adult narrative non-fiction book, which is presently in revision. I have now conducted dozens of interviews for radio (e.g., Science Friday, Fresh Air), Science Blogs, and YouTube outlets like Hank Green&#39;s SciShow, and I just finished filming with BBC Natural History and NOVA on a documentary showcasing extreme animal weapons and parallels with military technology. All of this is motivated by a desire to "spread the word" that basic research in ecology and evolution is vital, exciting, and relevant. I like to think that everything I do embodies the spirit of the American Society of Naturalists, and I am proud to have been awarded two of its accolades, a Jasper Loftus-Hills Young Investigator Award (1997), and the E. O. Wilson Naturalist Award (2013). I have served on the ASN YIA selection committee (2009-2011), and as an elected council member of the Society for the Study of Evolution (2007-2009) and the International Society for Behavioral Ecology (2015-present). Kelly Zamudio, Cornell University I am an evolutionary biologist with interests in the evolutionary processes leading to the origin and maintenance of phenotypic and genetic diversification in vertebrates (especially New World reptiles and amphibians). I integrate field research in population biology, demography, and landscape/habitat change with laboratory research on the genetic underpinnings of population diversification, speciation, and conservation genetics. My most recent work, carried out with US and international collaborators, has focused on diversification in Atlantic Coastal Forest and Cerrado frogs of Brazil, comparative population genomics of New World lineages of the amphibian-killing fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), and the evolution of genetic immunity to Bd in amphibian hosts. My goal, if elected as Vice President of ASN, is to enhance the visibility of the natural history mission of the society. My planned symposium will integrate field natural history, cutting edge genomic methods, and the threats facing biodiversity on a global basis. The TREASURER manages the accounts of the ASN, tracks all revenues and expenses, arranges for official annual financial reviews and tax return preparation, files tax returns, makes payments for all annual awards and travel reimbursements related to the annual meeting, keeps track of revisions to the award amounts and reimbursement policies, and prepares the annual Treasurer’s Report. The Treasurer also convenes a Finance Committee comprised of two other members of the Executive Council, for making investment decisions as needed. The Treasurer serves on the Executive Council for six years, three as a regular member and three as Past Treasurer. Charles Baer, University of Florida I am a comparative evolutionary geneticist whose research is motivated by theoretical population genetics. My primary research interest is in how and why genetic variation differs between populations, species, and higher taxa, and between traits within a group. By trade, I count worms. If elected as Treasurer of the ASN, the care and husbandry of the resources of the society will be my highest professional priority. As an officer of the ASN, I will advocate for a broad view of what constitutes a "Naturalist", recognizing that RNA folding is no more or less relevant to the workings of Nature than is the mating behavior of polychaete worms. Christina M. (Chris) Caruso, University of Guelph I was inspired to become a biologist after taking an ecology class as a senior in high school. I went on to receive a B.A. from Oberlin College and a Ph.D from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After graduating from the University of Illinois, I was a postdoc at Grinnell College and Duke University. I then took a faculty position at the University of Guelph, where I am currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology. My research interests are in evolutionary ecology, including the causes of selection on floral traits, the mechanisms that maintain the sexual polymorphism gynodioecy, and the microevolution of photosynthetic traits. I have served on the editorial boards of Oecologia (2008-2014), Evolutionary Ecology (2010-2013), International Journal of Plant Sciences (2013-present), and The American Naturalist (2014-present). I am interested in serving as Treasurer because I value ASN’s unique niche as a society that promotes discussion between ecologists and evolutionary biologists. <p>The ASN 2017 Elections are underway for tha offices of President, Vice President, and Treasurer. The election website randomizes the order for each person voting, but the names below are in alphabetical order.</p><p>The PRESIDENT leads the ASN Executive Council and selects the membership of the award and officer nomination committees. The President selects the President&rsquo;s Award for the &ldquo;best&rdquo; paper in <i>The American Naturalist</i> in the past year, gives the ASN Presidential Address and presents the Society&rsquo;s awards at the annual meeting, and represents the ASN in multiple other ways through the year. The President serves on the Executive Council for five years, including one year as President-Elect and three years as a Past-President.</p> <h5>Allen J. Moore, University of Georgia</h5> <p>The first semester of graduate school, sometime in another century, my advisor told all of us that we should join a professional society. In trying to decide what defined me, I joined the American Society of Naturalists. After all, I was interested in evolutionary theory, behavior, and genetics, and I wanted to apply all of these in an attempt to understand how and why social interactions evolve. In particular, I wanted to investigate social evolution in natural populations. I have been a member ever since, and ASN with its integrative and broad approach continues to define my work and my professional life. I was one of the recipients of the ASN Young Investigator Prize. My first editorial appointment was as an associate editor of <em>The American Naturalist, </em>which I held for over 10 years, and I currently serve on an outreach committee, the workshop committee, of ASN. My allegiance to ASN has been consistent despite my many changes in academic appointments and country of residence.</p> <p>I have been a professor in a Department of Entomology in the University of Kentucky (USA), held chairs in evolutionary biology in the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester (UK) and evolutionary genetics in the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter (UK), and I am currently head of the Department of Genetics at the University of Georgia (USA). These diverse experiences reinforce my enthusiasm for social and scientific diversity and the varied approach I adopt in my own research. Conceptual unification remains my goal and my reason for identifying with ASN. In addition, I am staunchly international and pro-diversity in my outlook, as it is my opinion that categories and boundaries do nothing to enhance our understanding of the natural world.</p> <p>If elected president, my agenda would be to promote the principles of ASN to the wider public. The climate today presents many challenges, but this also offers an opportunity for ASN to provide a positive influence on policy and education. First, research funding is shrinking nearly everywhere, and I believe that officers from allied societies can join forces to provide a strong voice for the value of the research we perform. We should seek audiences with public and private funders. Society officers have a platform, and we should use it to help explain the value of our research. Second, we need to ensure the demography of researchers remains stable, and support early and mid-career researchers by recognizing and highlighting the accomplishments and importance of the contributions of our members as often as possible. Third, we need to promote open science, so that facts and data are available to anyone, while protecting the intellectual property of our members. Finally, ASN should be vocally supportive of diversity of our members, and public in our support and our actions.</p> <h5>Michael Whitlock, University of British Columbia</h5> <p>The American Society of Naturalists has been a very important part of my life, through its formative meetings, its outstanding journal, and its extraordinary encouragement of broad community. The role of the ASN (and indeed many other scientific societies) in producing a scientific journal with high standards and a science&ndash;first mentality is ever more crucial with the current challenges to the integrity of science and science publishing; and ASN&rsquo;s role in connecting ecology, evolution and behavior is vital in today&rsquo;s world of ever more isolated academic silos. The ASN needs to continue its efforts to be inclusive of all scientists in our fields, increasing its international reach and encouraging input from members at all career stages (especially students).</p> <p>I&rsquo;ve been extremely lucky to be able to contribute to the ASN in a number of ways: as Editor and then Editor-in-Chief of <em>The American Naturalist</em>; as ASN&rsquo;s representative to Dryad (and as chair of Dryad&rsquo;s Executive Committee); as members and chairs of the Regional Meetings Liaison committee and the Sewall Wright Award committee; and most recently as Vice President.</p> <p>Aside from my roles at the ASN, I&rsquo;m a Professor at the University of British Columbia. I&rsquo;ve written about 100 articles and chapters, co-authored (with Dolph Schluter) the biostatistics text <em>The Analysis of Biological Data,</em> and co-edited <em>The Princeton Guide To Evolution. </em>I&rsquo;ve been on the editorial boards of 9 journals, and I&rsquo;ve reviewed for well over 100 journals and funding agencies. I am a big fan of the benefits of good conferences, having attended 25 Evolution meetings in a row and founded the Pacific Northwest regional meeting EVO-WIBO. I&rsquo;m a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Science and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.</p> <hr /><p>The VICE-PRESIDENT organizes the Vice-President&rsquo;s Symposium for the annual meeting and edits the special supplement to <em>The American Naturalist</em> that contains the papers derived from the VP Symposium. The Vice-President is also the Society&rsquo;s liaison for the organizers of the annual meeting. The Vice-President serves as a member of the Executive Council for three years, two as a regular member and one as ex officio member.&nbsp;</p> <h5>Douglas J Emlen, University of Montana</h5> <p>I am an evolutionary biologist and professor of biology at the University of Montana. My research provides insights into the development and evolution of exaggerated animal weaponry, such as the horns found in scarab beetles. My lab&#39;s current research leverages population genetics, genomics, and &quot;muddy-boots&quot; behavioral ecology to explore how and why the horns of Japanese rhinoceros beetles have changed rapidly and recently in size. From my earliest exposure to science, shadowing my father as he conducted field research on birds in Kenya, to years spent studying dung beetles in Panamanian tropical forests, to mentoring students as they spent long nights watching rhino beetles fighting and mating on the trunks of Asian trees or followed leaf-footed bugs on heliconius inflorescences or frog-legged leaf beetles on kudzu, everything I have done has been grounded firmly in natural history. As my research questions grew increasingly mechanistic, I discovered that there is a natural history to development too - a thrill of discovering how traits grow, how they take shape within the mini milieu of signals and stimuli and other traits that is the body of a developing insect. Exploring development in non-model species turned out to be every bit as adventurous as observing, for the first time, the behavior of previously unstudied species.</p> <p>In addition to my research and mentoring, I am committed to communicating the excitement, importance, and relevance of basic research, especially evolution, to audiences outside of biology. At a time when science literacy is at a frightening nadir and &quot;anti-intellectualism&quot; is rampant, I have found I can make as meaningful a contribution explaining science as I can actually doing science. To that end, I teamed up with Carl Zimmer to craft an undergraduate-level textbook in evolution that we hoped would be vibrant, accessible, colorful, and relevant - a book that students would read because they wanted to, not because they had to. I also explored parallels between arms races in animal and military weapons - parallels that started out merely as vehicles for articulating basic concepts of biology to broad audiences, but which soon turned out to be so real, and so alarming, that they now shape many aspects of my research. This work resulted in a book (<em>Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle)</em>, which won the 2015 Phi Beta Kappa Prize in Science, and led to a young adult narrative non-fiction book, which is presently in revision. I have now conducted dozens of interviews for radio (e.g., Science Friday, Fresh Air), Science Blogs, and YouTube outlets like Hank Green&#39;s SciShow, and I just finished filming with BBC Natural History and NOVA on a documentary showcasing extreme animal weapons and parallels with military technology. All of this is motivated by a desire to &quot;spread the word&quot; that basic research in ecology and evolution is vital, exciting, and relevant.</p> <p>I like to think that everything I do embodies the spirit of the American Society of Naturalists, and I am proud to have been awarded two of its accolades, a Jasper Loftus-Hills Young Investigator Award (1997), and the E. O. Wilson Naturalist Award (2013). I have served on the ASN YIA selection committee (2009-2011), and as an elected council member of the Society for the Study of Evolution (2007-2009) and the International Society for Behavioral Ecology (2015-present).</p> <h5>Kelly Zamudio, Cornell University</h5> <p>I am an evolutionary biologist with interests in the evolutionary processes leading to the origin and maintenance of phenotypic and genetic diversification in vertebrates (especially New World reptiles and amphibians). I integrate field research in population biology, demography, and landscape/habitat change with laboratory research on the genetic underpinnings of population diversification, speciation, and conservation genetics. My most recent work, carried out with US and international collaborators, has focused on diversification in Atlantic Coastal Forest and Cerrado frogs of Brazil, comparative population genomics of New World lineages of the amphibian-killing fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), and the evolution of genetic immunity to Bd in amphibian hosts. My goal, if elected as Vice President of ASN, is to enhance the visibility of the natural history mission of the society. My planned symposium will integrate field natural history, cutting edge genomic methods, and the threats facing biodiversity on a global basis.</p> <hr /><p>The TREASURER manages the accounts of the ASN, tracks all revenues and expenses, arranges for official annual financial reviews and tax return preparation, files tax returns, makes payments for all annual awards and travel reimbursements related to the annual meeting, keeps track of revisions to the award amounts and reimbursement policies, and prepares the annual Treasurer&rsquo;s Report. The Treasurer also convenes a Finance Committee comprised of two other members of the Executive Council, for making investment decisions as needed. The Treasurer serves on the Executive Council for six years, three as a regular member and three as Past Treasurer.</p> <h5>Charles Baer, University of Florida</h5> <p>I am a comparative evolutionary geneticist whose research is motivated by theoretical population genetics. My primary research interest is in how and why genetic variation differs between populations, species, and higher taxa, and between traits within a group. By trade, I count worms. If elected as Treasurer of the ASN, the care and husbandry of the resources of the society will be my highest professional priority. As an officer of the ASN, I will advocate for a broad view of what constitutes a &quot;Naturalist&quot;, recognizing that RNA folding is no more or less relevant to the workings of Nature than is the mating behavior of polychaete worms.</p> <h5>Christina M. (Chris) Caruso, University of Guelph</h5> <p>I was inspired to become a biologist after taking an ecology class as a senior in high school. I went on to receive a B.A. from Oberlin College and a Ph.D from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After graduating from the University of Illinois, I was a postdoc at Grinnell College and Duke University. I then took a faculty position at the University of Guelph, where I am currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology. My research interests are in evolutionary ecology, including the causes of selection on floral traits, the mechanisms that maintain the sexual polymorphism gynodioecy, and the microevolution of photosynthetic traits. I have served on the editorial boards of <em>Oecologia </em>(2008-2014), <em>Evolutionary Ecology (</em>2010-2013), <em>International Journal of Plant Sciences (</em>2013-present), and <em>The American Naturalist (</em>2014-present). I am interested in serving as Treasurer because I value ASN&rsquo;s unique niche as a society that promotes discussion between ecologists and evolutionary biologists.</p> Mon, 13 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT Countdown to 150 http://amnat.org/announcements/Countdowns.html The first American Naturalist appeared in March 1867. In a countdown to the 150th anniversary, the editors have solicited short commentaries on neglected articles from the journal&#39;s past that deserve a second look. "Natural Selection, Coevolution, and the Web of Life," John N. Thompson on Brues 1920, 1921, 1924, and 1951 "Limiting Factors, Competitive Exclusion, and a More Expansive View of Species Coexistence," Mark A. McPeek on Levin 1970 "Bringing the Male Side of Plant Sex into Focus," James D. Thomson on Janzen 1977 and Willson 1979 "The Baldwin Effect: Neglected and Misunderstood," Samuel M. Scheiner on Baldwin 1896 "Observation, Natural History, and an Early Post-Darwinian View of Plant-Animal Interactions," Anurag A. Agrawal on James 1887 "Sexual Stimulation and Sexual Selection," Laurel B. Symes and Trevor D. Price on Huxley 1938 "Competition for Pollination and the Evolution of Flowering Time," Nickolas M. Waser on Robertson 1895 "Hamilton&#39;s Rule," Andy Gardner on Hamilton 1963 "A Naturalist’s Insight into the Evolution of Signal Redundancy,"&nbsp;Manuel Leal and Jonathan B. Losos on Rand and Williams 1970 "Invisible Trade-offs: Van Noordwijk and de Jong and Life-History Evolution,"&nbsp;C. Jessica Metcalf on van Noordwijk and de Jong 1986 "A Visionary Pioneer of Parasite Ecology and Evolution,"&nbsp; Samuel Alizon on Smith 1887 "Breaking Barriers in Evolutionary Biology: A Pioneering Woman in Science and Her Early Theory of Plant Chemical Macroevolution," Eric F. LoPresti and Marjorie G. Weber on Abbott 1887 "Placing the Time of Leaf Emergence in an Evolutionary Context," Susanne S. Renner on Lechowicz 1984 "From Lichens to the Law: Cooperation as a Theme in the Diverse Career of Roscoe Pound," Megan E. Frederickson and Judith L. Bronstein on Pound 1893 <p>The first <em>American Naturalist </em>appeared in March 1867. In a countdown to the 150th anniversary, the editors have solicited short commentaries on neglected articles from the journal&#39;s past that deserve a second look.</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/674238">&quot;Natural Selection, Coevolution, and the Web of Life,&quot;</a> John N. Thompson on Brues 1920, 1921, 1924, and 1951</li> <li><a href="http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/675305">&quot;Limiting Factors, Competitive Exclusion, and a More Expansive View of Species Coexistence,&quot;</a> Mark A. McPeek on Levin 1970</li> <li><a href="http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/676990">&quot;Bringing the Male Side of Plant Sex into Focus,&quot;</a> James D. Thomson on Janzen 1977 and Willson 1979</li> <li><a href="http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/677944">&quot;The Baldwin Effect: Neglected and Misunderstood,&quot;</a> Samuel M. Scheiner on Baldwin 1896</li> <li><a href="http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/678590">&quot;Observation, Natural History, and an Early Post-Darwinian View of Plant-Animal Interactions,&quot;</a> Anurag A. Agrawal on James 1887</li> <li><a href="http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/680414">&quot;Sexual Stimulation and Sexual Selection,&quot;</a> Laurel B. Symes and Trevor D. Price on Huxley 1938</li> <li><a href="http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/681255">&quot;Competition for Pollination and the Evolution of Flowering Time,&quot;</a> Nickolas M. Waser on Robertson 1895</li> <li><a href="http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/682082">&quot;Hamilton&#39;s Rule,&quot;</a> Andy Gardner on Hamilton 1963</li> <li><a href="http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/682704">&quot;A Naturalist&rsquo;s Insight into the Evolution of Signal Redundancy,&quot;</a>&nbsp;Manuel Leal and Jonathan B. Losos on Rand and Williams 1970</li> <li><a href="http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/685487">&quot;Invisible Trade-offs: Van Noordwijk and de Jong and Life-History Evolution,&quot;</a>&nbsp;C. Jessica Metcalf on van Noordwijk and de Jong 1986</li> <li><a href="http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/686526">&quot;A Visionary Pioneer of Parasite Ecology and Evolution,&quot;</a>&nbsp; Samuel Alizon on Smith 1887</li> <li><a href="http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/687295">&quot;Breaking Barriers in Evolutionary Biology: A Pioneering Woman in Science and Her Early Theory of Plant Chemical Macroevolution,&quot;</a> Eric F. LoPresti and Marjorie G. Weber on Abbott 1887</li> <li><a href="http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/690020">&quot;Placing the Time of Leaf Emergence in an Evolutionary Context,&quot;</a> Susanne S. Renner on Lechowicz 1984</li> <li><a href="http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/688598">&quot;From Lichens to the Law: Cooperation as a Theme in the Diverse Career of Roscoe Pound,</a>&quot; Megan E. Frederickson and Judith L. Bronstein on Pound 1893</li> </ul> Mon, 13 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Royal Darwinian demons: enforced changes in reproductive efforts do not affect the life expectancy of ant queens” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/AprSchrempf.html The trade-off between reproduction and longevity appears to be fundamental throughout animals and plants: to optimize their reproductive success, organisms have to find the best way of allocating limited resources to either the production of offspring or the maintenance of their own bodies. Accordingly, increased reproduction usually results in a decrease in lifespan and vice versa. In a study appearing in The American Naturalist, scientists of the university of Regensburg, Germany, report on the extraordinary lack of this trade-off in ant queens. In the study, they were able to show that ant queens actually do not suffer from artificially boosted reproduction: by continuously removing eggs from single-queen colonies of the ant Cardiocondyla obscurior, they induced randomly selected queens to augment their efforts into reproduction. Increased egg laying rate did not result in a decrease of longevity. Instead, they found a positive correlation between mean egg number and the lifespan of the females, suggesting that exhaustive reproduction even extends longevity. The results imply that queens are able to reduce the costs of reproduction without affecting other fitness traits negatively, and that they are able to counter or at least delay senescence. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">T</span>he trade-off between reproduction and longevity appears to be fundamental throughout animals and plants: to optimize their reproductive success, organisms have to find the best way of allocating limited resources to either the production of offspring or the maintenance of their own bodies. Accordingly, increased reproduction usually results in a decrease in lifespan and vice versa. In a study appearing in <i>The American Naturalist</I>, scientists of the university of Regensburg, Germany, report on the extraordinary lack of this trade-off in ant queens. </p><p>In the study, they were able to show that ant queens actually do not suffer from artificially boosted reproduction: by continuously removing eggs from single-queen colonies of the ant <i>Cardiocondyla obscurior</I>, they induced randomly selected queens to augment their efforts into reproduction. Increased egg laying rate did not result in a decrease of longevity. Instead, they found a positive correlation between mean egg number and the lifespan of the females, suggesting that exhaustive reproduction even extends longevity. The results imply that queens are able to reduce the costs of reproduction without affecting other fitness traits negatively, and that they are able to counter or at least delay senescence. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/691000">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Mon, 13 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics Workshop http://amnat.org/announcements/QuantGenWkshp.html The 1 March deadline is rapidly approaching for the Friday Harbor Workshop on Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics for graduate students, postdocs, and young investigators. &nbsp; This summer (5-9 June 2017) the course will be taught at the University of Washington’s field station in the San Juan Islands. The course is primarily aimed at two audiences: (1) students using comparative methods who wish to understand how quantitative genetics constitutes an underlying theory and constrains those methods, and (2) students with a background in quantitative genetics who wish to apply its approach to evolutionary problems on both short and long time scales. Although some background in statistics and evolutionary biology will be useful, we give a self-contained introduction to relevant disciplines and methods (e.g., matrix algebra, hypothesis testing and estimation with maximum likelihood). The course will also provide an opportunity to learn and use R, a statistical programming language. The workshop format is lectures and in-class computer exercises (consult the 2016 tutorial website for examples). Guest instructors in 2017 will include:&nbsp; Stevan J. Arnold, Integrative Biology, Oregon State University, Corvallis Marguerite Butler, Biology, Univ. Hawai&#39;i, Mānoa&nbsp; Patrick Carter, Evolutionary Physiology, Washington State University, Pullman Joseph Felsenstein, Genome Science, University of Washington, Seattle Adam Jones, Biology, Texas A&M University, College Station&nbsp; Brian O&#39;Meara, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville&nbsp; Josef Uyeda, Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg The $1000 fee for this workshop covers housing and meals at FHL and all other workshop expenses, except travel. Application form and details at http://tinyurl.com/EQG2017. This workshop is sponsored by The American Society of Naturalists. &nbsp;Student members of ASN are eligible for a $200 discount on the workshop fee. &nbsp;FHL will offer this discount to a maximum of 13 participants, first-come, first-serve, based on the date the workshop application is submitted. &nbsp;Apply for an ASN student membership ($20/yr) <p>The 1 March deadline is rapidly approaching for the Friday Harbor Workshop on Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics for graduate students, postdocs, and young investigators. &nbsp;</p> <p>This summer (5-9 June 2017) the course will be taught at the University of Washington&rsquo;s field station in the San Juan Islands. The course is primarily aimed at two audiences: (1) students using comparative methods who wish to understand how quantitative genetics constitutes an underlying theory and constrains those methods, and (2) students with a background in quantitative genetics who wish to apply its approach to evolutionary problems on both short and long time scales. Although some background in statistics and evolutionary biology will be useful, we give a self-contained introduction to relevant disciplines and methods (e.g., matrix algebra, hypothesis testing and estimation with maximum likelihood). The course will also provide an opportunity to learn and use R, a statistical programming language. The workshop format is lectures and in-class computer exercises (consult the 2016 tutorial website for examples).</p> <p>Guest instructors in 2017 will include:&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>Stevan J. Arnold, Integrative Biology, Oregon State University, Corvallis</li> <li>Marguerite Butler, Biology, Univ. Hawai&#39;i, Mānoa&nbsp;</li> <li>Patrick Carter, Evolutionary Physiology, Washington State University, Pullman</li> <li>Joseph Felsenstein, Genome Science, University of Washington, Seattle</li> <li>Adam Jones, Biology, Texas A&amp;M University, College Station&nbsp;</li> <li>Brian O&#39;Meara, Ecology &amp; Evolutionary Biology, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville&nbsp;</li> <li>Josef Uyeda, Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg</li> </ul> <p>The $1000 fee for this workshop covers housing and meals at FHL and all other workshop expenses, except travel. Application form and details at <a href="https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScN6--JeulJfw9E33IPqaS2nnCnuxNYqxLJGwKGp7YRiYCOPw/viewform">http://tinyurl.com/EQG2017</a>.</p> <p>This workshop is sponsored by The American Society of Naturalists. &nbsp;Student members of ASN are eligible for a $200 discount on the workshop fee. &nbsp;FHL will offer this discount to a maximum of 13 participants, first-come, first-serve, based on the date the workshop application is submitted. <a href="http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/journals/subscribe/an.html">&nbsp;Apply for an ASN student membership ($20/yr)</a></p> Mon, 13 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Complex relationships between competing guilds along large-scale environmental gradients” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/AprVegnon-A.html Abstract Despite much research over the past 30 years there is still little general understanding of how the outcomes of interactions vary along environmental gradients, particularly at large geographic scales. A simple expectation is that decreasing environmental quality should reduce densities of competitors and hence the effects of competition should weaken in poorer environments. A counter-intuitive consequence is that associations between densities of competitors might change from negative to positive as environments decrease in quality. Here we test these predictions in a set of vascular plant communities where perennial species share space and resources with less competitive annuals. We surveyed nine grey dune communities annually for 5 years along a cross-European latitudinal gradient of habitat quality. We find that densities of annual and perennial species are negatively correlated at the high-quality end of the gradient, while at the low-quality end guild densities are uncorrelated or positively correlated, consistent with a weakening of competition linked to increasing environmental limitations. Our results suggest that even simple interactions can give rise to non-obvious changes in species associations along environmental gradients. They highlight that understanding the outcome of species interactions may require explicit characterization of their changing intensity with environmental quality, and that the factors limiting species’ co-distribution can vary along environmental gradients. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <h3>Abstract</h3> <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">D</span>espite much research over the past 30 years there is still little general understanding of how the outcomes of interactions vary along environmental gradients, particularly at large geographic scales. A simple expectation is that decreasing environmental quality should reduce densities of competitors and hence the effects of competition should weaken in poorer environments. A counter-intuitive consequence is that associations between densities of competitors might change from negative to positive as environments decrease in quality. Here we test these predictions in a set of vascular plant communities where perennial species share space and resources with less competitive annuals. We surveyed nine grey dune communities annually for 5 years along a cross-European latitudinal gradient of habitat quality. We find that densities of annual and perennial species are negatively correlated at the high-quality end of the gradient, while at the low-quality end guild densities are uncorrelated or positively correlated, consistent with a weakening of competition linked to increasing environmental limitations. Our results suggest that even simple interactions can give rise to non-obvious changes in species associations along environmental gradients. They highlight that understanding the outcome of species interactions may require explicit characterization of their changing intensity with environmental quality, and that the factors limiting species’ co-distribution can vary along environmental gradients. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690765">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Mon, 13 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT 2017 Young Investigator Award http://amnat.org/announcements/ANNwinYIA.html The American Society of Naturalist’s Young Investigator Award is in honor of Jasper Loftus-Hill, a young scientist who died tragically 3 years after receiving his PhD. &nbsp; This award goes to applicants who completed their PhD three years preceding the application deadline or are in their last year of a PhD program. This year’s award committee [Rebecca Safran, chair, Jeremy Fox, and Luke Harmon] were tasked with choosing four awardees out of 25 stellar submissions (15 female and 10 male applicants). Narrowing these down to four awardees is always the hard part – each application is inspiring and exciting. There is great science being done by the next generation of leaders in our field! We are pleased to announce that this year’s recipients of the ASN YIA are:&nbsp;Sarah Fitzpatrick, Anna Hargreaves,&nbsp;Martha Mu&ntilde;oz, and Alison Wright.We very much looking forward to their participation in the ASN YIA symposium at the annual meeting in Portland this summer. &nbsp; <p>The American Society of Naturalist&rsquo;s Young Investigator Award is in honor of Jasper Loftus-Hill, a young scientist who died tragically 3 years after receiving his PhD. &nbsp;</p> <p>This award goes to applicants who completed their PhD three years preceding the application deadline or are in their last year of a PhD program. This year&rsquo;s award committee [Rebecca Safran, chair, Jeremy Fox, and Luke Harmon] were tasked with choosing four awardees out of 25 stellar submissions (15 female and 10 male applicants). Narrowing these down to four awardees is always the hard part &ndash; each application is inspiring and exciting. There is great science being done by the next generation of leaders in our field!</p> <p>We are pleased to announce that this year&rsquo;s recipients of the ASN YIA are:&nbsp;<a href="http://swfitz.com//">Sarah Fitzpatrick</a>, <a href="http://annahargreaves.wixsite.com/home">Anna Hargreaves</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.marthamunoz.com/">Martha Mu&ntilde;oz</a>, and <a href="http://www.alisonewright.co.uk">Alison Wright.</a>We very much looking forward to their participation in the ASN YIA symposium at the annual meeting in Portland this summer.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed, 08 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Fitness consequences of boldness in juvenile and adult largemouth bass” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/AprBallew.html Fitness consequences of boldness tradeoff across life stages and may help maintain variation within populations Many, perhaps most, animal species show consistent individual differences in behaviors—often referred to as “animal personalities” or “behavioral types”. While such personality differences between individuals are well-documented, biologists are only beginning to explore the fitness consequences of these behavioral types, especially in the field and across multiple life stages. In this study, three researchers from Michigan State University (Nicholas Ballew, Gary Mittelbach, and Kim Scribner) examined the effects of boldness in largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) on juvenile survival and adult reproductive success in a series of experiments conducted at the Kellogg Biological Station's experimental pond facility in southwest Michigan, USA (see photo). Four experiments conducted in these large outdoor ponds over multiple years produced two important results. First, juvenile bass scoring high in boldness had much lower survival than shy bass. Second, adult male (but not female) bass that were bold had higher reproductive success than their shyer counterparts. Additionally, measures of boldness were highly consistent in individuals measured over multiple years and boldness was significantly heritable as judged by parent-offspring regression. Taken together, these results demonstrate for one of the first times under semi-natural conditions that a heritable personality trait can affect fitness in different ways across an organism's life history. Such fitness tradeoffs provide a potential mechanism for the maintenance of personality variation within a population. These results also have important implications for the conservation and management of fishes. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Fitness consequences of boldness tradeoff across life stages and may help maintain variation within populations </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">M</span>any, perhaps most, animal species show consistent individual differences in behaviors—often referred to as “animal personalities” or “behavioral types”. While such personality differences between individuals are well-documented, biologists are only beginning to explore the fitness consequences of these behavioral types, especially in the field and across multiple life stages. In this study, three researchers from Michigan State University (Nicholas Ballew, Gary Mittelbach, and Kim Scribner) examined the effects of boldness in largemouth bass (<i>Micropterus salmoides</i>) on juvenile survival and adult reproductive success in a series of experiments conducted at the Kellogg Biological Station's experimental pond facility in southwest Michigan, USA (see photo). </p><p>Four experiments conducted in these large outdoor ponds over multiple years produced two important results. First, juvenile bass scoring high in boldness had much lower survival than shy bass. Second, adult male (but not female) bass that were bold had higher reproductive success than their shyer counterparts. Additionally, measures of boldness were highly consistent in individuals measured over multiple years and boldness was significantly heritable as judged by parent-offspring regression. Taken together, these results demonstrate for one of the first times under semi-natural conditions that a heritable personality trait can affect fitness in different ways across an organism's life history. Such fitness tradeoffs provide a potential mechanism for the maintenance of personality variation within a population. These results also have important implications for the conservation and management of fishes. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690909">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Mon, 06 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Ecological and social factors constrain spatial and temporal opportunities for mating in a migratory songbird” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MarKaiser.html Ecological and social factors affect the spatial and temporal opportunities for extra-pair paternity sexual selection In socially monogamous species, extrapair paternity – mating outside of social pair bonds – may increase the strength of sexual selection when males with preferred characteristics monopolize these matings. However, most studies of sexual selection have found weak associations between male sexual traits and their extrapair mating success. New research on a North American songbird shows that environmental heterogeneity generates variation in opportunities for extrapair mating, which could moderate the strength of sexual selection shaping sexual traits in natural populations and thus can explain why such strong associations are rarely found. In a study appearing in The American Naturalist, a team of researchers from Cornell University, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center examine how ecological and social conditions affect a male’s opportunity for extrapair paternity. The authors use genetic parentage data collected from an intensively studied population of black-throated blue warblers at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire to construct spatial networks of breeding individuals, which included over 5,000 possible female–male pairings over four years. The data revealed that most males mated with extrapair females in their local neighborhood and when their social mate was incubating her eggs. These spatial and temporal constraints on extrapair mating opportunities were stronger for males on food-abundant territories. This research sheds new light on the evolution of sexual traits, and shows that the ecological and social conditions under which sexual traits evolve are likely to be more constrained by the environment than previously appreciated. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Ecological and social factors affect the spatial and temporal opportunities for extra-pair paternity sexual selection </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">I</span>n socially monogamous species, extrapair paternity – mating outside of social pair bonds – may increase the strength of sexual selection when males with preferred characteristics monopolize these matings. However, most studies of sexual selection have found weak associations between male sexual traits and their extrapair mating success. New research on a North American songbird shows that environmental heterogeneity generates variation in opportunities for extrapair mating, which could moderate the strength of sexual selection shaping sexual traits in natural populations and thus can explain why such strong associations are rarely found. </p><p>In a study appearing in <i>The American Naturalist</i>, a team of researchers from Cornell University, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center examine how ecological and social conditions affect a male’s opportunity for extrapair paternity. The authors use genetic parentage data collected from an intensively studied population of black-throated blue warblers at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire to construct spatial networks of breeding individuals, which included over 5,000 possible female–male pairings over four years. </p><p>The data revealed that most males mated with extrapair females in their local neighborhood and when their social mate was incubating her eggs. These spatial and temporal constraints on extrapair mating opportunities were stronger for males on food-abundant territories. This research sheds new light on the evolution of sexual traits, and shows that the ecological and social conditions under which sexual traits evolve are likely to be more constrained by the environment than previously appreciated. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690203">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Thu, 02 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT Joint Societies' Letter to the Trump Administration on Travel Restrictions http://amnat.org/announcements/LTRvisa.html Dear President Trump, &nbsp; The success of the scientific endeavor in the United States depends on the free exchange of ideas, information, and training at an international scale. &nbsp;The scientific community is deeply concerned about immigration policy that aims to ban or suspend immigration from target countries. &nbsp;This policy has already led to organized movements to boycott American scientific conferences, and thousands of scientists have already pledged to participate in this boycott (“Inside Higher Ed” January 31, 2017). &nbsp;Restricting movement and communication among scientists will have a devastating effect on scientific and technological progress in the US. &nbsp; International exchange of expertise is in the interest of American science and security. First, to remain competitive in an international arena, the US needs to recruit the best talent globally. &nbsp;To solve persistent scientific challenges, US scientists need to exchange ideas and discoveries with scientists with different training, educational background, and starting premises. &nbsp;Second, such exchange broadens the application of scientific knowledge to meet challenges faced throughout the globe, some of which are now, or will in the future be, a priority for the United States. &nbsp;Being a leader in the application of scientific knowledge to technological, medical, agricultural, and environmental advancements should be a clear priority for the United States. Third, training of foreign scientists by Americans gives those scientists expertise they need to solve challenges in their own countries. &nbsp;When societies can address their own problems with creativity, technical competency, and efficiency, all parties benefit. &nbsp;Finally, as other countries consider reciprocal &nbsp;immigration bans, there is a real risk that researchers from the United States may be prevented from pursing data and collaborations elsewhere that would benefit science in this country. &nbsp; Science needs an international community to advance. &nbsp;Restrictions on international exchange by nation of origin will marginalize American science, cutting scientists off from valuable expertise, resources to conduct their research, creative scientific insight, and practical application of scientific findings. &nbsp;This is not what America needs to maintain its standing, remain competitive, and solve future challenges. &nbsp;We hope you will honor the value of international exchange during your time in office. Sincerely, &nbsp; Dr. Kathleen Donohue President, American Society of Naturalists &nbsp; Dr. Sally Otto President, Society for the Study of Evolution &nbsp; Dr. Luke Harmon President, Society of Systematic Biologists <p>Dear President Trump,<br /> &nbsp;<br /> The success of the scientific endeavor in the United States depends on the free exchange of ideas, information, and training at an international scale. &nbsp;The scientific community is deeply concerned about immigration policy that aims to ban or suspend immigration from target countries. &nbsp;This policy has already led to organized movements to boycott American scientific conferences, and thousands of scientists have already pledged to participate in this boycott (<a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/01/31/protest-trump-entry-ban-some-scholars-are-boycotting-us-based-conferences">&ldquo;Inside Higher Ed&rdquo;</a> January 31, 2017). &nbsp;Restricting movement and communication among scientists will have a devastating effect on scientific and technological progress in the US.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> International exchange of expertise is in the interest of American science and security. First, to remain competitive in an international arena, the US needs to recruit the best talent globally. &nbsp;To solve persistent scientific challenges, US scientists need to exchange ideas and discoveries with scientists with different training, educational background, and starting premises. &nbsp;Second, such exchange broadens the application of scientific knowledge to meet challenges faced throughout the globe, some of which are now, or will in the future be, a priority for the United States. &nbsp;Being a leader in the application of scientific knowledge to technological, medical, agricultural, and environmental advancements should be a clear priority for the United States. Third, training of foreign scientists by Americans gives those scientists expertise they need to solve challenges in their own countries. &nbsp;When societies can address their own problems with creativity, technical competency, and efficiency, all parties benefit. &nbsp;Finally, as other countries consider reciprocal <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iraq-donald-trump-parliament-committee-immigrant-muslim-travel-ban-reciprocal-americans-us-a7552546.html">&nbsp;immigration bans</a>, there is a real risk that researchers from the United States may be prevented from pursing data and collaborations elsewhere that would benefit science in this country.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Science needs an international community to advance. &nbsp;Restrictions on international exchange by nation of origin will marginalize American science, cutting scientists off from valuable expertise, resources to conduct their research, creative scientific insight, and practical application of scientific findings. &nbsp;This is not what America needs to maintain its standing, remain competitive, and solve future challenges. &nbsp;We hope you will honor the value of international exchange during your time in office.</p> <p>Sincerely,<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Dr. Kathleen Donohue<br /> President, American Society of Naturalists<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Dr. Sally Otto<br /> President, Society for the Study of Evolution<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Dr. Luke Harmon<br /> President, Society of Systematic Biologists</p> Wed, 01 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMT Joint Societies' Letter to the Trump Administration on Open Science http://amnat.org/announcements/LtrOpenSci.html Dear President Trump, The United States has one of the strongest communities of scientists globally. These scientists are committed to gathering and evaluating the evidence needed for informed decision making. Researchers, policy makers, and indeed citizens depend on access to unbiased information to make informed decisions about their lives. This access is fundamental to our democracy. As scientific societies, we ask that your administration embrace the principles of scientific integrity and openness. Every citizen has the right to make important decisions based on the best available scientific data, results, and conclusions. All scientific data must be made freely accessible to the taxpayers who funded it. On our part, scientists must communicate their results clearly and effectively to all audiences. In light of these principles, we are greatly concerned by the recent restrictions placed on government scientists, preventing them from publishing their results or speaking with the public, unless approved. Impeding public access to information that taxpayers have funded is damaging to the principles of our democracy and to scientific progress. We hope your administration will send a strong signal that citizens and businesses deserve unfettered access to the best available evidence. Science does not always bring good news, but armed with the data provided, everybody can become better prepared for the future. We are all better off when we know the foods that best support our health, the management measures that best protect our natural resources, and the energy alternatives and mitigation efforts that best avert future disasters. It should be a priority for your administration to ensure that government supports the research that will inform the decisions that the public and businesses will need to make about their health and environment. We live in a complex world. The free flow of information and data--always characteristic of the American approach to science--is especially critical heading into the future. We hope that you agree and will commit to open scientific inquiry during your time in office. Sincerely, Dr. Kathleen Donohue President, American Society of Naturalists Dr. Sally Otto President, Society for the Study of Evolution Dr. Luke Harmon President, Society of Systematic Biologists &nbsp; <p>Dear President Trump,</p> <p>The United States has one of the strongest communities of scientists globally. These scientists are committed to gathering and evaluating the evidence needed for informed decision making. Researchers, policy makers, and indeed citizens depend on access to unbiased information to make informed decisions about their lives. This access is fundamental to our democracy.</p> <p>As scientific societies, we ask that your administration embrace the principles of scientific integrity and openness. Every citizen has the right to make important decisions based on the best available scientific data, results, and conclusions. All scientific data must be made freely accessible to the taxpayers who funded it. On our part, scientists must communicate their results clearly and effectively to all audiences.</p> <p>In light of these principles, we are greatly concerned by the recent restrictions placed on government scientists, preventing them from publishing their results or speaking with the public, unless approved. Impeding public access to information that taxpayers have funded is damaging to the principles of our democracy and to scientific progress. We hope your administration will send a strong signal that citizens and businesses deserve unfettered access to the best available evidence.</p> <p>Science does not always bring good news, but armed with the data provided, everybody can become better prepared for the future. We are all better off when we know the foods that best support our health, the management measures that best protect our natural resources, and the energy alternatives and mitigation efforts that best avert future disasters. It should be a priority for your administration to ensure that government supports the research that will inform the decisions that the public and businesses will need to make about their health and environment.</p> <p>We live in a complex world. The free flow of information and data--always characteristic of the American approach to science--is especially critical heading into the future. We hope that you agree and will commit to open scientific inquiry during your time in office.</p> <p>Sincerely,<br /> <br /> Dr. Kathleen Donohue<br /> President, American Society of Naturalists<br /> <br /> Dr. Sally Otto<br /> President, Society for the Study of Evolution<br /> <br /> Dr. Luke Harmon<br /> President, Society of Systematic Biologists<br /> &nbsp;</p> Tue, 31 Jan 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Local adaptation interacts with expansion load during range expansion: Maladaptation reduces expansion load” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/AprGilbert.html Local adaptation to an environmental gradient reduces expansion load during species range expansions We have become increasingly aware of the role that demographic history can play in contributing to varying levels of genetic diversity and fitness of modern populations. In particular, species range expansions create a unique scenario of repeated population bottlenecks that prolong the reduced efficacy of selection in small populations through time and space. This can result in reductions in population fitness due to the expansion process, termed expansion load. The degree to which expansion load contributes to the fitness of populations in the real world is debated, with contrasting results being found in human populations that have expanded out of Africa. To investigate other processes that might contribute to expansion load, researchers from the University of British Columbia, CUNY, and University of Zurich have conducted simulations that combine the presence of deleterious mutations with the presence of an environmental gradient during range expansion to understand the impact and interactions that local adaptation has on load accumulation. They find that as the change in environment becomes greater over space, populations have more difficulty in locally adapting, leading to the slowing of range expansion. As this slowing occurs, less genetic drift acts at the range edges, reducing the potential for buildup of deleterious mutations through a process called allele surfing. Despite this reduction in expansion load, populations are still faced with the difficulty of locally adapting on steeper environmental gradients, so overall fitness is not improved. This research uncovers an important interaction that may explain the absence or reduction of expansion load found in nature compared with predictions from theoretical work. This also highlights an important concern for species undergoing future expansion due to climate change or other anthropogenic forces, where we may expect fitness reduction due to several interacting factors. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Local adaptation to an environmental gradient reduces expansion load during species range expansions </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">W</span>e have become increasingly aware of the role that demographic history can play in contributing to varying levels of genetic diversity and fitness of modern populations. In particular, species range expansions create a unique scenario of repeated population bottlenecks that prolong the reduced efficacy of selection in small populations through time and space. This can result in reductions in population fitness due to the expansion process, termed expansion load. The degree to which expansion load contributes to the fitness of populations in the real world is debated, with contrasting results being found in human populations that have expanded out of Africa. To investigate other processes that might contribute to expansion load, researchers from the University of British Columbia, CUNY, and University of Zurich have conducted simulations that combine the presence of deleterious mutations with the presence of an environmental gradient during range expansion to understand the impact and interactions that local adaptation has on load accumulation. </p><p>They find that as the change in environment becomes greater over space, populations have more difficulty in locally adapting, leading to the slowing of range expansion. As this slowing occurs, less genetic drift acts at the range edges, reducing the potential for buildup of deleterious mutations through a process called allele surfing. Despite this reduction in expansion load, populations are still faced with the difficulty of locally adapting on steeper environmental gradients, so overall fitness is not improved. </p><p> This research uncovers an important interaction that may explain the absence or reduction of expansion load found in nature compared with predictions from theoretical work. This also highlights an important concern for species undergoing future expansion due to climate change or other anthropogenic forces, where we may expect fitness reduction due to several interacting factors. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690673">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Mon, 30 Jan 2017 06:00:00 GMT “The evolutionary economics of embryonic-sac fluids in squamate reptiles” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MarBonnet.html Transition from oviparity to viviparity limited embryonic-sac fluids and created competition among offspring for water Although most species of reptiles reproduce by laying eggs, many groups—including vipers—have made the evolutionary leap to retaining those developing eggs inside the mother’s body instead of laying them in a nest. Thus, a mother viper gives birth to fully developed young. A team of French and Australian scientists has examined this evolutionary transition in detail, using an approach from economics to understand how the evolutionary switch from eggs to babies changes patterns of investment into the offspring. In particular, a reproducing mother in a live-bearing species can’t afford to put too much water into an “egg” inside her body—both because water is often hard to obtain, and because it takes up a lot of space. And so, a female reptile that produces live offspring instead of eggs is forced to be miserly with water for her babies. But she can’t reduce the water supply too far. An aquatic environment is essential for any embryo to develop. Water is needed for the yolk to be converted into the offspring’s tissues, and provides cushioning against shocks. The water is kept inside special membranes in the “eggs” of all species, even humans. In humans, when the amniotic sac ruptures (water breaks), approximately 1 liter of fluids is lost. What is the total amount of fluids lost at birth in species with multiple offspring? This was measured in France in more than 140 aspic vipers (a viviparous snake) that produced >1000 babies. Embryonic-sac fluids averaged 21% of maternal body mass, thus represent a heavy burden and challenge the mother’s hydric balance. Moreover, siblings compete for access to finite water supplies: In large litters, each baby has less water. These results reveal for the first time strong conflicts for water between the mother and her offspring, and among siblings. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Transition from oviparity to viviparity limited embryonic-sac fluids and created competition among offspring for water </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">A</span>lthough most species of reptiles reproduce by laying eggs, many groups—including vipers—have made the evolutionary leap to retaining those developing eggs inside the mother’s body instead of laying them in a nest. Thus, a mother viper gives birth to fully developed young. A team of French and Australian scientists has examined this evolutionary transition in detail, using an approach from economics to understand how the evolutionary switch from eggs to babies changes patterns of investment into the offspring. In particular, a reproducing mother in a live-bearing species can’t afford to put too much water into an “egg” inside her body—both because water is often hard to obtain, and because it takes up a lot of space. And so, a female reptile that produces live offspring instead of eggs is forced to be miserly with water for her babies. </p><p>But she can’t reduce the water supply too far. An aquatic environment is essential for any embryo to develop. Water is needed for the yolk to be converted into the offspring’s tissues, and provides cushioning against shocks. The water is kept inside special membranes in the “eggs” of all species, even humans. In humans, when the amniotic sac ruptures (water breaks), approximately 1 liter of fluids is lost. What is the total amount of fluids lost at birth in species with multiple offspring? This was measured in France in more than 140 aspic vipers (a viviparous snake) that produced >1000 babies. Embryonic-sac fluids averaged 21% of maternal body mass, thus represent a heavy burden and challenge the mother’s hydric balance. Moreover, siblings compete for access to finite water supplies: In large litters, each baby has less water. These results reveal for the first time strong conflicts for water between the mother and her offspring, and among siblings. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690119">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Tue, 24 Jan 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Clines arc through multivariate morphospace” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/AprLohman-A.html Abstract Evolutionary biologists typically represent clines as spatial gradients in a univariate character (or, a principal component axis) whose mean changes as a function of location along a transect spanning an environmental gradient or ecotone. This univariate approach may obscure the multivariate nature of phenotypic evolution across a landscape. Clines might instead be plotted as a series of vectors in multidimensional morphospace, connecting sequential geographic sites. We present a model showing that clines may trace non-linear paths that arc through morphospace, rather than elongating along a single major trajectory. Arcing clines arise because different characters diverge at different rates or locations along a geographic transect. We empirically confirm that some clines arc through morphospace, using morphological data from threespine stickleback, sampled along eight independent transects from lakes down their respective outlet streams. In all eight clines, successive vectors of lake-stream divergence fluctuate in direction and magnitude in trait space, rather than pointing along a single phenotypic axis. Most clines exhibit surprisingly irregular directions of divergence as one moves downstream, though a few clines exhibit more directional arcs through morphospace. Our results highlight the multivariate complexity of clines that cannot be captured with the traditional graphical framework. We discuss hypotheses regarding the causes, and implications, of such arcing multivariate clines. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <h3>Abstract</h3> <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">E</span>volutionary biologists typically represent clines as spatial gradients in a univariate character (or, a principal component axis) whose mean changes as a function of location along a transect spanning an environmental gradient or ecotone. This univariate approach may obscure the multivariate nature of phenotypic evolution across a landscape. Clines might instead be plotted as a series of vectors in multidimensional morphospace, connecting sequential geographic sites. We present a model showing that clines may trace non-linear paths that arc through morphospace, rather than elongating along a single major trajectory. Arcing clines arise because different characters diverge at different rates or locations along a geographic transect. We empirically confirm that some clines arc through morphospace, using morphological data from threespine stickleback, sampled along eight independent transects from lakes down their respective outlet streams. In all eight clines, successive vectors of lake-stream divergence fluctuate in direction and magnitude in trait space, rather than pointing along a single phenotypic axis. Most clines exhibit surprisingly irregular directions of divergence as one moves downstream, though a few clines exhibit more directional arcs through morphospace. Our results highlight the multivariate complexity of clines that cannot be captured with the traditional graphical framework. We discuss hypotheses regarding the causes, and implications, of such arcing multivariate clines. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690808">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Mon, 23 Jan 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Mimicry among unequally defended prey should be mutualistic when predators sample optimally” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MarAubier.html Controversial quasi-Batesian mimicry among unequally defended prey should be rare if predators sample optimally Open almost any textbook on evolutionary biology and you will read about two forms of mimicry that students and professors continue to confuse. Batesian mimics are sheep in wolves clothing: palatable species that have evolved a resemblance to an unpalatable or otherwise defended species (the “model”) to gain protection from predators. By contrast, Müllerian mimics are wolves in wolves clothing: unpalatable species that have evolved a resemblance to other unpalatable species (“co-models”) to reduce the cost of educating naïve predators to avoid them. Batesian mimics are widely regarded as parasites, eroding the effectiveness of their model’s signals. Indeed, this parasitism can undermine the deterrent effect of the model’s appearance to such an extent that the mimic species sometimes evolve multiple morphs, with each morph resembling a different model. By contrast, Müllerian mimics are as mutualistic and reinforcing – the more unpalatable species with a given appearance, the more effective the signal. Unfortunately however, life is not quite as simple as textbooks imply. In particular, species show wide variation in their level of defenses, so when a moderately unpalatable species resembles a highly unpalatable species, is it a “quasi-Batesian” mimic, eroding the effectiveness of the shared signal, or is it a classical Müllerian mimic? This question has been hotly debated for over a century, because it has long been recognized that Batesian and Müllerian mimicry may be on something of a continuum. Its answer is important because if moderately defended prey were parasites then it could help explain the puzzling cases of polymorphism observed in unpalatable species, such as that seen in Heliconius numata (left). In this paper Thomas Aubier and his colleagues tackled the question head on, by identifying from first principles what a naïve predator should do if it encountered models and mimics with these characteristics and the predator acted in a way that maximized its payoff. After all, you would expect natural selection to come up with good solutions. Despite a great deal of analysis, their answer was relatively clear-cut. The more individuals of a given appearance there are, the more optimally sampling predators will be motivated to find out their properties. However, attacking a weakly defended mimic still represents a vote in favor of avoiding the prey type in the future. The net result is that moderately defended mimics should act as mutualists, decreasing the overall mortality of prey with this appearance, rather than parasites. While this means that researchers will have to look elsewhere to explain the puzzling examples of polymorphism in unpalatable species, it suggests that mimicry among prey with unequal defenses is generally mutualistic. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Controversial quasi-Batesian mimicry among unequally defended prey should be rare if predators sample optimally </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">O</span>pen almost any textbook on evolutionary biology and you will read about two forms of mimicry that students and professors continue to confuse. Batesian mimics are sheep in wolves clothing: palatable species that have evolved a resemblance to an unpalatable or otherwise defended species (the “model”) to gain protection from predators. By contrast, Müllerian mimics are wolves in wolves clothing: unpalatable species that have evolved a resemblance to other unpalatable species (“co-models”) to reduce the cost of educating naïve predators to avoid them. Batesian mimics are widely regarded as parasites, eroding the effectiveness of their model’s signals. Indeed, this parasitism can undermine the deterrent effect of the model’s appearance to such an extent that the mimic species sometimes evolve multiple morphs, with each morph resembling a different model. By contrast, Müllerian mimics are as mutualistic and reinforcing – the more unpalatable species with a given appearance, the more effective the signal. </p> <p>Unfortunately however, life is not quite as simple as textbooks imply. In particular, species show wide variation in their level of defenses, so when a moderately unpalatable species resembles a highly unpalatable species, is it a “quasi-Batesian” mimic, eroding the effectiveness of the shared signal, or is it a classical Müllerian mimic? This question has been hotly debated for over a century, because it has long been recognized that Batesian and Müllerian mimicry may be on something of a continuum. Its answer is important because if moderately defended prey were parasites then it could help explain the puzzling cases of polymorphism observed in unpalatable species, such as that seen in <i>Heliconius numata</i> (<i>left</i>). </p><p> In this paper Thomas Aubier and his colleagues tackled the question head on, by identifying from first principles what a naïve predator should do if it encountered models and mimics with these characteristics and the predator acted in a way that maximized its payoff. After all, you would expect natural selection to come up with good solutions. Despite a great deal of analysis, their answer was relatively clear-cut. The more individuals of a given appearance there are, the more optimally sampling predators will be motivated to find out their properties. However, attacking a weakly defended mimic still represents a vote in favor of avoiding the prey type in the future. The net result is that moderately defended mimics should act as mutualists, decreasing the overall mortality of prey with this appearance, rather than parasites. While this means that researchers will have to look elsewhere to explain the puzzling examples of polymorphism in unpalatable species, it suggests that mimicry among prey with unequal defenses is generally mutualistic. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690121">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Thu, 19 Jan 2017 06:00:00 GMT “The behavioral type of a top predator drives the short-term dynamic of intraguild predation” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MarMichalko.html The behavioral types and abundances of interacting species can interactively determine the food-web dynamics Arthropod predators, like humans, show individual variation in behavior. For example, some individuals are choosy and pick up only certain prey, while others catch whatever they can overcome. Individual predators can also differ in their foraging aggressiveness, for instance killing more or fewer prey during a foraging bout. Consequently, the behavioral differences among individual predators (i.e. behavioral types) can shape the dynamic of interactions with pests and other predators occurring in an agroecosystem. Radek Michalko and Stano Pekár, researchers from Mendel and Masaryk Universities in Brno, Czech Republic, tried to disentangle the complex interactions among predators and pests in a pear orchard in order to reveal how the behavioral type of the predator can be used to improve pest control by natural enemies. They investigated the behavioral differences of the top predator and their effect on foraging efficiency against other predators and psylla pests. And then they used simulations of a mathematical model to predict the dynamic of interactions in the system during the winter and spring. They find that the timid individuals kill fewer pests and are choosy as they prefer pests to other predators. In contrast, the aggressive individuals kill more pests and do not prefer pests to other predators. Consequently, the agroecosystem with aggressive predatory individuals is generally more effective in pest control when other predators are less abundant, while the agroecosystem with timid predatory individuals is more effective when other predators are more abundant. The authors suggest that the aggressive / non-choosy predators might be useful for biocontrol in annual agroecosystems (e.g., fields of grain), while the timid / choosy predators might rather be useful in perennial agroecosystems (e.g., orchards). Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>The behavioral types and abundances of interacting species can interactively determine the food-web dynamics </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">A</span>rthropod predators, like humans, show individual variation in behavior. For example, some individuals are choosy and pick up only certain prey, while others catch whatever they can overcome. Individual predators can also differ in their foraging aggressiveness, for instance killing more or fewer prey during a foraging bout. Consequently, the behavioral differences among individual predators (i.e. behavioral types) can shape the dynamic of interactions with pests and other predators occurring in an agroecosystem. </p> <p>Radek Michalko and Stano Pekár, researchers from Mendel and Masaryk Universities in Brno, Czech Republic, tried to disentangle the complex interactions among predators and pests in a pear orchard in order to reveal how the behavioral type of the predator can be used to improve pest control by natural enemies. They investigated the behavioral differences of the top predator and their effect on foraging efficiency against other predators and psylla pests. And then they used simulations of a mathematical model to predict the dynamic of interactions in the system during the winter and spring. </p> <p>They find that the timid individuals kill fewer pests and are choosy as they prefer pests to other predators. In contrast, the aggressive individuals kill more pests and do not prefer pests to other predators. Consequently, the agroecosystem with aggressive predatory individuals is generally more effective in pest control when other predators are less abundant, while the agroecosystem with timid predatory individuals is more effective when other predators are more abundant. The authors suggest that the aggressive / non-choosy predators might be useful for biocontrol in annual agroecosystems (e.g., fields of grain), while the timid / choosy predators might rather be useful in perennial agroecosystems (e.g., orchards). <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690501">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Thu, 19 Jan 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Does co-history constrain information use? Evidence for generalized risk assessment in non-native prey” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MarGrason.html Strangers in strange lands: non-native prey rely on general information to assess risk from novel predators Recognizing the signs of a predator can mean the difference between living to see another day and becoming another critter’s midday snack. All prey animals, whether a swift-footed deer or a slow-moving snail, use cues from their environment to sense the presence of a threat. It’s what keeps them alive—or at least gives them a shot at getting away. But the specific cues that trigger prey defenses vary depending on the species of prey and their history in the ecosystem, a new University of Washington study finds. The research, appearing in the journal The&nbsp;American Naturalist, analyzed the behavior of seven species of marine snails found in Washington waters—three native and four invasive—and discovered that native and invasive snails use different cues to assess risk.The invasive snails were introduced unintentionally at least a century ago as hitchhikers on imported oysters. In experiments with these invasives, a UW researcher found that they fled quickly (as snails can do) and hid when they smelled chemicals released from crushed snails of the same species—meant to mimic a predator eating their close kin. This is surprising because these so-called “alarm cues” don’t provide the snails with much of a clue as to what or where the danger might be. Panicking with only vague information to go on could even be counter-productive, causing snails to miss their lunch unnecessarily, or actually make them more vulnerable to a predator. By contrast, the three species of native snails didn’t react when they encountered the same situation. Instead, they went about their business until they had multiple sources of information, including from a predator and other prey, before fleeing or hiding. In other words, the fear reactions in native snails were more finely tuned, while the invasive snails jumped ship at the first whiff of a threat. “It’s pretty rare for a distinction between native and invasive species to be as consistent as it is here—which suggests it might hold true in other species and locations,” said author Emily Grason, an invasion ecologist at UW-based Washington Sea Grant who recently completed her doctorate in biology at the UW. This study is the first to compare multiple species and their reactions to threats using many different predator cues. Because the reactions of native and non-native snails split neatly, it suggests there could be a link between sensitivity to alarm cues and invasion success. On one hand, that can keep them from important tasks like eating and mating, but it also can fortify their strength as an invader, Grason explained. “The non-native snails show up and they are just neurotic enough, and a bit wary, and that actually helps them survive in certain situations,” she said. “You end up with invasive snails that hide at the right time, even if they don’t know what the predator is. And that’s exactly what happens when snails show up in a new spot; they are surrounded by predators never encountered before. General wariness might keep them alive.” Grason ran separate lab experiments for each species of snail. Two bins, with flowing seawater, were attached by a pipe, and she manipulated cues of a predation threat in the upstream bin while recording snails’ behavior in the downstream bin. The cues tested for all species included a crab, either hungry or fed, crushed snails of the same species and two other combinations of these factors. The invasive snails’ catchall reaction to signals of danger can help ecologists better understand invasions and predict their impact on ecosystems, which is never easy. “Ultimately, biological invasions are a Pandora’s box because we don’t know what will happen,” Grason said. “Nevertheless, understanding the details of an invasion—especially where there are and aren’t patterns—is important. Thinking about biological invasions in new ways is going to offer us more tools with which to understand and hopefully intervene, or mitigate the impacts on other species.” This study was funded by the UW, the Conchologists of America, the National Shellfisheries Association, the Pacific Northwest Shell Club and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. For more information, contact Grason at egrason&nbsp;(at)&nbsp;uw.edu. Grason dedicates this research to the memory of the late UW ecologist Robert Paine, who published his seminal work on “keystone species” in the same journal 50 years ago. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Strangers in strange lands: non-native prey rely on general information to assess risk from novel predators </b></p><p><span style="line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-size: 40px; font-weight: bold; float: left;">R</span>ecognizing the signs of a predator can mean the difference between living to see another day and becoming another critter&rsquo;s midday snack. All prey animals, whether a swift-footed deer or a slow-moving snail, use cues from their environment to sense the presence of a threat. It&rsquo;s what keeps them alive&mdash;or at least gives them a shot at getting away. But the specific cues that trigger prey defenses vary depending on the species of prey and their history in the ecosystem, a new University of Washington study finds. The research, appearing in the journal <i>The&nbsp;American Naturalist</i>, analyzed the behavior of seven species of marine snails found in Washington waters&mdash;three native and four invasive&mdash;and discovered that native and invasive snails use different cues to assess risk.</p><p>The invasive snails were introduced unintentionally at least a century ago as hitchhikers on imported oysters. In experiments with these invasives, a UW researcher found that they fled quickly (as snails can do) and hid when they smelled chemicals released from crushed snails of the same species—meant to mimic a predator eating their close kin. This is surprising because these so-called “alarm cues” don’t provide the snails with much of a clue as to what or where the danger might be. Panicking with only vague information to go on could even be counter-productive, causing snails to miss their lunch unnecessarily, or actually make them more vulnerable to a predator. </p><p>By contrast, the three species of native snails didn’t react when they encountered the same situation. Instead, they went about their business until they had multiple sources of information, including from a predator and other prey, before fleeing or hiding. In other words, the fear reactions in native snails were more finely tuned, while the invasive snails jumped ship at the first whiff of a threat. “It’s pretty rare for a distinction between native and invasive species to be as consistent as it is here—which suggests it might hold true in other species and locations,” said author <a href="http://emilygrason.weebly.com/research.html">Emily Grason</a>, an invasion ecologist at UW-based Washington Sea Grant who recently completed her doctorate in biology at the UW. </p><p>This study is the first to compare multiple species and their reactions to threats using many different predator cues. Because the reactions of native and non-native snails split neatly, it suggests there could be a link between sensitivity to alarm cues and invasion success. On one hand, that can keep them from important tasks like eating and mating, but it also can fortify their strength as an invader, Grason explained. “The non-native snails show up and they are just neurotic enough, and a bit wary, and that actually helps them survive in certain situations,” she said. “You end up with invasive snails that hide at the right time, even if they don’t know what the predator is. And that’s exactly what happens when snails show up in a new spot; they are surrounded by predators never encountered before. General wariness might keep them alive.” </p><p>Grason ran separate lab experiments for each species of snail. Two bins, with flowing seawater, were attached by a pipe, and she manipulated cues of a predation threat in the upstream bin while recording snails’ behavior in the downstream bin. The cues tested for all species included a crab, either hungry or fed, crushed snails of the same species and two other combinations of these factors. </p><p>The invasive snails’ catchall reaction to signals of danger can help ecologists better understand invasions and predict their impact on ecosystems, which is never easy. “Ultimately, biological invasions are a Pandora’s box because we don’t know what will happen,” Grason said. “Nevertheless, understanding the details of an invasion—especially where there are and aren’t patterns—is important. Thinking about biological invasions in new ways is going to offer us more tools with which to understand and hopefully intervene, or mitigate the impacts on other species.” </p><p>This study was funded by the UW, the Conchologists of America, the National Shellfisheries Association, the Pacific Northwest Shell Club and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. For more information, contact Grason at egrason&nbsp;(at)&nbsp;uw.edu. Grason dedicates this research to the memory of the late UW ecologist <a href="http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/full/10.1086/689447">Robert Paine</a>, who published his seminal work on &ldquo;keystone species&rdquo; in the same journal 50 years ago. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690217">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a></p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"><span style="font-family: Georgia; font-size: large;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Fri, 13 Jan 2017 06:00:00 GMT “A novel, enigmatic basal leafflower moth lineage pollinating a derived leafflower host illustrates the dynamics of host shifts, partner replacement, and apparent co-adaptation in intimate mutualisms” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/AprLuo.html Moth plays Cupid by spending nearly its whole life inside its tree host, emerging only to assure their reproduction In a study appearing in The American Naturalist, scientists in China and the United States report the discovery of a symbiotic relationship between a tropical tree and a tiny moth which is one of the most intricately interconnected relationships between a plant and its pollinator ever described. Examining dried specimens of the leafflower tree Glochidion lanceolarium collected 80 years earlier, botanist Shixiao Luo noticed something bizarre: dried fruits that burst open to reveal not only seeds, but tiny adult moths. Intrigued, Luo hunted down some live G.&nbsp;lanceolarium trees (the nearest ones were, conveniently, growing wild in the South China Botanical Garden where he works) and, with his colleagues Gang Yao, Ziwei Wang, and Dianxiang Zhang, set about observing these trees’ flowers and fruit over the course of a year to unravel their relationship with the tiny moths. The moths were the species Epicephala lanceolaria, part of a genus which, as adults, pollinates the flowers of Glochidion trees and, as larvae, consumes seeds of the same trees. The relationship between Glochidion trees and Epicephala moths (leafflower moths) had been known to science since 2003. But the relationship between G. lanceolarium and E.&nbsp;lanceolaria was even more intimate and interconnected than that between other known species of leafflower trees and moths. E.&nbsp;lanceolaria caterpillars not only eat the seeds of their host tree, but they also spin their cocoons inside hollow chambers inside the fruit. The adult moths emerge inside these chambers right before the mature fruits split open—explaining the tiny dried moths Luo had found on the herbarium specimens. Instead of producing flowers and fruit continuously throughout the growing season like most of their relatives, G.&nbsp;lanceolarium take a year to develop their flowers into fruit. All fruits ripen at the same time in April, and over the course of a few nights, the fruits split open and the adult moths emerge, mate, and fly to the next year’s newly opened flowers to pollinate them and lay their eggs. In collaboration with David Hembry (University of Arizona), Luo and Wang sequenced DNA from E.&nbsp;lanceolaria and compared it to all known species in the same genus. This analysis revealed an evolutionary enigma: these moths were not part of the same clade that pollinates all other species of Glochidion trees. Rather, they were an unknown, distantly related lineage with no known close relatives—possibly, in fact, more closely related to leafflower moths that pollinate other genera of tropical leafflower trees in Asia (Phyllanthus and Breynia). How G. &nbsp;lanceolarium and its moth came to be associated is mysterious. Most likely, E. &nbsp;lanceolaria represents a lineage that, although ancient, shifted relatively recently onto the ancestor of G. &nbsp;lanceolarium. The moth probably had other close relatives which are either now extinct, or not yet discovered. This work highlights the extent to which highly intimate and coevolved associations may be more evolutionarily dynamic than had been previously realized, and how much remains to be discovered about the biodiversity and natural history of tropical Asia. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Moth plays Cupid by spending nearly its whole life inside its tree host, emerging only to assure their reproduction </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">I</span>n a study appearing in <i>The American Naturalist</i>, scientists in China and the United States report the discovery of a symbiotic relationship between a tropical tree and a tiny moth which is one of the most intricately interconnected relationships between a plant and its pollinator ever described. </p> <p> Examining dried specimens of the leafflower tree <i>Glochidion lanceolarium</i> collected 80 years earlier, botanist Shixiao Luo noticed something bizarre: dried fruits that burst open to reveal not only seeds, but tiny adult moths. Intrigued, Luo hunted down some live <i>G.&nbsp;lanceolarium</i> trees (the nearest ones were, conveniently, growing wild in the South China Botanical Garden where he works) and, with his colleagues Gang Yao, Ziwei Wang, and Dianxiang Zhang, set about observing these trees’ flowers and fruit over the course of a year to unravel their relationship with the tiny moths. </p> <p> The moths were the species <i>Epicephala lanceolaria</i>, part of a genus which, as adults, pollinates the flowers of <i>Glochidion</i> trees and, as larvae, consumes seeds of the same trees. The relationship between <i>Glochidion</i> trees and <i>Epicephala</i> moths (leafflower moths) had been known to science since 2003. But the relationship between <i>G. lanceolarium</i> and <i>E.&nbsp;lanceolaria</i> was even more intimate and interconnected than that between other known species of leafflower trees and moths. <i>E.&nbsp;lanceolaria</i> caterpillars not only eat the seeds of their host tree, but they also spin their cocoons inside hollow chambers inside the fruit. The adult moths emerge inside these chambers right before the mature fruits split open—explaining the tiny dried moths Luo had found on the herbarium specimens. Instead of producing flowers and fruit continuously throughout the growing season like most of their relatives, <i>G.&nbsp;lanceolarium</i> take a year to develop their flowers into fruit. All fruits ripen at the same time in April, and over the course of a few nights, the fruits split open and the adult moths emerge, mate, and fly to the next year’s newly opened flowers to pollinate them and lay their eggs. </p> <p> In collaboration with David Hembry (University of Arizona), Luo and Wang sequenced DNA from <i>E.&nbsp;lanceolaria</i> and compared it to all known species in the same genus. This analysis revealed an evolutionary enigma: these moths were not part of the same clade that pollinates all other species of <i>Glochidion</i> trees. Rather, they were an unknown, distantly related lineage with no known close relatives—possibly, in fact, more closely related to leafflower moths that pollinate other genera of tropical leafflower trees in Asia (<i>Phyllanthus</i> and <i>Breynia</i>). How <i>G. &nbsp;lanceolarium</i> and its moth came to be associated is mysterious. Most likely, <i>E. &nbsp;lanceolaria</i> represents a lineage that, although ancient, shifted relatively recently onto the ancestor of <i>G. &nbsp;lanceolarium</i>. The moth probably had other close relatives which are either now extinct, or not yet discovered. This work highlights the extent to which highly intimate and coevolved associations may be more evolutionarily dynamic than had been previously realized, and how much remains to be discovered about the biodiversity and natural history of tropical Asia. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690623">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Fri, 13 Jan 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Surviving in a cosexual world: a cost-benefit analysis of dioecy in tropical trees” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MarBruijning.html Dioecious species survive in a cosexual world due to increased fecundity and low overall costs Most tree species are hermaphroditic, meaning that individuals carry flowers with both male (stamens) and female (pistil) parts. In contrast, in dioecious species, individuals have either male or female flowers. This reduces the number of individuals in a population that can produce seeds, as only female flowers develop seeds. How dioecious species can compensate for this demographic cost has been a longstanding challenge in ecology, and was already recognized by Darwin: “There is much difficulty in understanding why hermaphroditic plants should ever have been rendered dioecious” (Darwin, 1877). Female trees must compensate for costs of having males in a population, but how do they do this? A team of researchers from Radboud University (the Netherlands), the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (Panama), Yale University, and the University of California (both USA) set out to test this. They used long-term data on more than 100 tree species from a tropical tree community on Barro Colorado Island (Panama). They combined data on seeds, seedlings, saplings, and adult trees to estimate growth, survival, and reproduction across the entire life cycle. Their results show that female trees compensate for the costs of males by producing almost twice as many seeds compared to hermaphroditic trees, perhaps because the latter do not carry the costs of male reproduction. When combining the costs and benefits of dioecy into a population model, they revealed that no net costs of dioecy existed. The model revealed another surprise: the cost of having males was far smaller than expected because tree survival rather than reproduction was overwhelmingly important for population maintenance. These results together can explain the persistence of dioecious species in a cosexual world, as well as the long-standing puzzle observed by Darwin. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Dioecious species survive in a cosexual world due to increased fecundity and low overall costs </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">M</span>ost tree species are hermaphroditic, meaning that individuals carry flowers with both male (stamens) and female (pistil) parts. In contrast, in dioecious species, individuals have either male or female flowers. This reduces the number of individuals in a population that can produce seeds, as only female flowers develop seeds. How dioecious species can compensate for this demographic cost has been a longstanding challenge in ecology, and was already recognized by Darwin: “There is much difficulty in understanding why hermaphroditic plants should ever have been rendered dioecious” (Darwin, 1877). Female trees must compensate for costs of having males in a population, but how do they do this? </p><p>A team of researchers from Radboud University (the Netherlands), the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (Panama), Yale University, and the University of California (both USA) set out to test this. They used long-term data on more than 100 tree species from a tropical tree community on Barro Colorado Island (Panama). They combined data on seeds, seedlings, saplings, and adult trees to estimate growth, survival, and reproduction across the entire life cycle. </p><p>Their results show that female trees compensate for the costs of males by producing almost twice as many seeds compared to hermaphroditic trees, perhaps because the latter do not carry the costs of male reproduction. When combining the costs and benefits of dioecy into a population model, they revealed that no net costs of dioecy existed. The model revealed another surprise: the cost of having males was far smaller than expected because tree survival rather than reproduction was overwhelmingly important for population maintenance. These results together can explain the persistence of dioecious species in a cosexual world, as well as the long-standing puzzle observed by Darwin. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690137">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Wed, 11 Jan 2017 06:00:00 GMT “From individual to group territoriality: Competitive environments promote the evolution of sociality” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MarPort.html Most of us might think that competition generates aggression. A study appearing in The American Naturalist shows, however, that this need not be the case – at least not in territorial animals, where competition can actually pave the way for the evolution of sociality. Male Verreaux’s sifaka can engage in fierce fights over territories, but they can also be fairly tolerant towards each other. As a result, some males defend exclusive access to small groups of females, whereas others share their territories with other males, and drive off competitors together. “At first glance, it looks like these lemurs are caught in an evolutionary transition between individual territoriality and sociality,” says Markus Port, first author of the study, “but our analyses show that social systems like the one of Verreaux’s sifaka can actually be a stable endpoint of evolution.” Port and his colleagues Oliver Schülke and Julia Ostner from Göttingen University in Germany have developed a game-theoretic model, in which they show that these ‘mixed equilibria’ can be the result of a coevolutionary feedback between the behavior of territory owners and outsiders, where owners adjust their degree of tolerance to the level of aggression imposed on them by outsiders and vice versa. Perhaps surprisingly, their analyses also show that elevated competition leads to more tolerance and lower levels of aggression. “The reason is that strong competition puts owners in strong demand for helpers to help them defend their territories,” explains Port, “such that tolerant owners and peaceful outsiders outperform mutually aggressive conspecifics.” Strong competition, therefore, does not necessarily select for elevated territorial aggression, but can rather drive the evolution of sociality. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">M</span>ost of us might think that competition generates aggression. A study appearing in <i>The American Naturalist</i> shows, however, that this need not be the case – at least not in territorial animals, where competition can actually pave the way for the evolution of sociality. </p><p>Male Verreaux’s sifaka can engage in fierce fights over territories, but they can also be fairly tolerant towards each other. As a result, some males defend exclusive access to small groups of females, whereas others share their territories with other males, and drive off competitors together. “At first glance, it looks like these lemurs are caught in an evolutionary transition between individual territoriality and sociality,” says Markus Port, first author of the study, “but our analyses show that social systems like the one of Verreaux’s sifaka can actually be a stable endpoint of evolution.” </p><p>Port and his colleagues Oliver Schülke and Julia Ostner from Göttingen University in Germany have developed a game-theoretic model, in which they show that these ‘mixed equilibria’ can be the result of a coevolutionary feedback between the behavior of territory owners and outsiders, where owners adjust their degree of tolerance to the level of aggression imposed on them by outsiders and vice versa. Perhaps surprisingly, their analyses also show that elevated competition leads to more tolerance and lower levels of aggression. </p><p>“The reason is that strong competition puts owners in strong demand for helpers to help them defend their territories,” explains Port, “such that tolerant owners and peaceful outsiders outperform mutually aggressive conspecifics.” Strong competition, therefore, does not necessarily select for elevated territorial aggression, but can rather drive the evolution of sociality. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690218">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Wed, 11 Jan 2017 06:00:00 GMT ASN Awards for Support of Regional Meetings in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior http://amnat.org/announcements/RegionalWkshpCall.html The American Society of Naturalists solicits proposals from organizers of regional meetings in the fields of ecology, evolution and behavior. The purpose of these small awards is to promote increased participation in regional meetings that fall along the research interests supported by the ASN and to use this support as a way of recruiting new membership to ASN. The awards typically provide subsidized registration for ASN members at these regional meetings. Please note that these awards are not intended to support workshops. Previous awardees have included meetings such as SEEPEG, SEEC, EVO-WIBO, and OE3C. Organizers of regional meetings should submit a brief proposal describing the research focus of the meeting for which funds are requested as well as details of the meeting such as anticipated number of participants, meeting venue and dates. Instructions:&nbsp;Proposals should include two components. One should clearly describe the (1) overlap of the regional meeting with ASN research interests, (2) extent that the support would reach out to new audiences to grow ASN&#39;s membership, and (3) potential size of the impact on ASN membership. The second component should include a brief budget justifying the amount requested and detailing how the funds will be used. To standardize the applications, there is a strict one-page limit (US Letter size paper, 1” margins, standard [e.g., Times] 12-point font, and no more than six lines per inch) for each component (i.e., 1 page for proposal, 1 page for budget description and use of funds). We anticipate funding 4-6 awards, typically valued at $2000-$3000. Please send proposals to the ASN Regional Society Liaison Committee Chair Rebecca Kimball (rkimball@ufl.edu) by February 15. <p>The American Society of Naturalists solicits proposals from organizers of regional meetings in the fields of ecology, evolution and behavior. The purpose of these small awards is to promote increased participation in regional meetings that fall along the research interests supported by the ASN and to use this support as a way of recruiting new membership to ASN. The awards typically provide subsidized registration for ASN members at these regional meetings. Please note that these awards are not intended to support workshops. Previous awardees have included meetings such as SEEPEG, SEEC, EVO-WIBO, and OE3C.</p> <p>Organizers of regional meetings should submit a brief proposal describing the research focus of the meeting for which funds are requested as well as details of the meeting such as anticipated number of participants, meeting venue and dates.</p> <p><strong>Instructions:</strong>&nbsp;Proposals should include two components. One should clearly describe the (1) overlap of the regional meeting with ASN research interests, (2) extent that the support would reach out to new audiences to grow ASN&#39;s membership, and (3) potential size of the impact on ASN membership. The second component should include a brief budget justifying the amount requested and detailing how the funds will be used. To standardize the applications, there is a strict one-page limit (US Letter size paper, 1&rdquo; margins, standard [e.g., Times] 12-point font, and no more than six lines per inch) for each component (i.e., 1 page for proposal, 1 page for budget description and use of funds). We anticipate funding 4-6 awards, typically valued at $2000-$3000.</p> <p><span style="line-height: 1.6em;">Please send proposals to the ASN Regional Society Liaison Committee Chair Rebecca Kimball (<a href="mailto:rkimball@ufl.edu?subject=ASN%20Regional%20Meeting%20Support">rkimball@ufl.edu</a>) by February 15.</span></p> Fri, 06 Jan 2017 06:00:00 GMT “What explains patterns of diversification and richness among animal phyla?” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MarJezkova.html Three traits explain most of the variation in the diversity of animal phyla, representing >80% of all known species A&nbsp;new study helps explain why different groups of animals have such different numbers of species, and how this is related to differences in their body forms and ways of life. All animal species are divided among ~30 phyla, but these phyla differ dramatically in how many species they contain, from a single species to more than 1.2 million (insects and relatives). However, the explanation for the remarkable variation in biodiversity among animal phyla remains largely unknown. Animals also have incredible variation in their body shapes and ways of life. For example, animals include plant-like, immobile marine phyla that lack heads, eyes, limbs, and complex organs (sponges), parasitic worms that live inside other organisms (e.g. nematodes, platyhelminths), and phyla with eyes, skeletons, limbs, and complex organs that dominate the land in terms of species numbers (arthropods) and body size (chordates). A fundamental but unresolved problem is whether the basic biology of these phyla is related to their species numbers. For example, does having a head, limbs, and eyes allow some groups to be more successful and thus have greater species numbers? In a new study, researchers from the University of Arizona have helped resolve this problem. They assembled a database of 18 traits, including traits related to anatomy, reproduction, and ecology. They then tested how each trait was related to the number of species in each phylum, and to how quickly species in each phylum multiplied over time (diversification). They found that just three traits explained most variation in diversification and species numbers among phyla: the most successful phyla have a skeleton (either internal or external), live on land (instead of in the ocean), and parasitize other organisms. They also found that many dramatic traits had surprisingly little impact on diversification and species numbers, such as having a head, limbs, and complex organ systems for circulation and digestion. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Three traits explain most of the variation in the diversity of animal phyla, representing >80% of all known species </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">A</span>&nbsp;new study helps explain why different groups of animals have such different numbers of species, and how this is related to differences in their body forms and ways of life. </p><p> All animal species are divided among ~30 phyla, but these phyla differ dramatically in how many species they contain, from a single species to more than 1.2 million (insects and relatives). However, the explanation for the remarkable variation in biodiversity among animal phyla remains largely unknown. Animals also have incredible variation in their body shapes and ways of life. For example, animals include plant-like, immobile marine phyla that lack heads, eyes, limbs, and complex organs (sponges), parasitic worms that live inside other organisms (e.g. nematodes, platyhelminths), and phyla with eyes, skeletons, limbs, and complex organs that dominate the land in terms of species numbers (arthropods) and body size (chordates). A fundamental but unresolved problem is whether the basic biology of these phyla is related to their species numbers. For example, does having a head, limbs, and eyes allow some groups to be more successful and thus have greater species numbers? </p><p> In a new study, researchers from the University of Arizona have helped resolve this problem. They assembled a database of 18 traits, including traits related to anatomy, reproduction, and ecology. They then tested how each trait was related to the number of species in each phylum, and to how quickly species in each phylum multiplied over time (diversification). They found that just three traits explained most variation in diversification and species numbers among phyla: the most successful phyla have a skeleton (either internal or external), live on land (instead of in the ocean), and parasitize other organisms. They also found that many dramatic traits had surprisingly little impact on diversification and species numbers, such as having a head, limbs, and complex organ systems for circulation and digestion. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690194">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Tue, 03 Jan 2017 06:00:00 GMT “Social information on fear and food drives animal grouping and fitness” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MarGil.html Applications like Facebook and Twitter show us, on a daily basis, the power of social networks to influence individual behavior. While wild animals do not surf the web, they are connected with other individuals in shared landscapes, and “share information” through their behavior. But how does this information affect surrounding animals? A new study appearing in The American Naturalist reveals that the information shared through animal social networks can provide profound fitness advantages to various animals across a range of environments. Using mathematical simulations, Mike Gil of the University of California, Davis, and co-authors Zachary Emberts, Harrison Jones, and Colette St. Mary of the University of Florida show that these advantages arise because information generated incidentally or intentionally from the actions of an individual provides others with insights on how to survive in often unforgiving natural settings. For example, an animal fleeing from a predator or chomping away at a patch of food can alert similar animals in the vicinity of a shared threat or opportunity. The researchers further found that information sharing among animals promotes animal group formation, but often favors the formation of mixed-species groups, in which members overlap less in the kind of food they eat but still share predators. These findings point to information sharing as a fundamental driver of animal group formation, shedding new light on the age-old question of why animal groups are so common in nature. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">A</span>pplications like Facebook and Twitter show us, on a daily basis, the power of social networks to influence individual behavior. While wild animals do not surf the web, they are connected with other individuals in shared landscapes, and “share information” through their behavior. But how does this information affect surrounding animals? </p><p>A new study appearing in <i>The American Naturalist</i> reveals that the information shared through animal social networks can provide profound fitness advantages to various animals across a range of environments. Using mathematical simulations, Mike Gil of the University of California, Davis, and co-authors Zachary Emberts, Harrison Jones, and Colette St. Mary of the University of Florida show that these advantages arise because information generated incidentally or intentionally from the actions of an individual provides others with insights on how to survive in often unforgiving natural settings. </p><p>For example, an animal fleeing from a predator or chomping away at a patch of food can alert similar animals in the vicinity of a shared threat or opportunity. </p><p>The researchers further found that information sharing among animals promotes animal group formation, but often favors the formation of mixed-species groups, in which members overlap less in the kind of food they eat but still share predators. These findings point to information sharing as a fundamental driver of animal group formation, shedding new light on the age-old question of why animal groups are so common in nature. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690055">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Tue, 03 Jan 2017 06:00:00 GMT “The evolution of reproductive phenology in broadcast spawners: frequency-dependent sexually antagonistic selection and the maintenance of polymorphism” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/FebOlito.html Sexual conflict in broadcast spawners: females want more kids, males want more kids than the other guys Choosing the best time to reproduce is a major challenge faced by all organisms. For broadcast spawning species that release eggs and sperm into water, the consequences of getting reproductive timing wrong can be profound for both sexes. If females spawn when there are too few mates, there is not enough sperm to fertilize all their eggs. If females spawn when there are too many mates, egg mortality due to polyspermy (where eggs are fertilized by multiple sperm) can be severe. For males, as more individuals spawn at the same time, there are more eggs but there are also more competitors. On top of all of this, there are often better times to spawn than others because environmental conditions may sometimes be hostile to offspring. Broadcast spawners must therefore balance many conflicting factors when it comes to timing their reproduction, and it’s unclear what factors matter the most. In their article appearing in The&nbsp;American Naturalist, the authors use mathematical models to show that males and females often prefer to spawn at different times, depending on how many individuals are participating in spawning events. Females favor spawning at the specific times that maximize egg fertilization and offspring survival. In contrast, males often favor spawning at multiple times as a means of competing more effectively against other males for fertilizations, even if this results in lower overall fertilization success of the population. These predictions help explain several well-documented, yet counterintuitive, patterns in aquatic species, including unexpectedly long spawning seasons, different spawning behaviors by males and females, and spawning during poor environmental conditions. The models also provide a fascinating example of how conflict between the sexes over a shared trait (reproductive timing) can emerge from fundamental processes of egg fertilization, the timing of reproduction, and the density of spawning individuals. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b>Sexual conflict in broadcast spawners: females want more kids, males want more kids than the other guys </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">C</span>hoosing the best time to reproduce is a major challenge faced by all organisms. For broadcast spawning species that release eggs and sperm into water, the consequences of getting reproductive timing wrong can be profound for both sexes. If females spawn when there are too few mates, there is not enough sperm to fertilize all their eggs. If females spawn when there are too many mates, egg mortality due to polyspermy (where eggs are fertilized by multiple sperm) can be severe. For males, as more individuals spawn at the same time, there are more eggs but there are also more competitors. On top of all of this, there are often better times to spawn than others because environmental conditions may sometimes be hostile to offspring. Broadcast spawners must therefore balance many conflicting factors when it comes to timing their reproduction, and it&rsquo;s unclear what factors matter the most.</p> <p>In their article appearing in <i>The&nbsp;American Naturalist</i>, the authors use mathematical models to show that males and females often prefer to spawn at different times, depending on how many individuals are participating in spawning events. Females favor spawning at the specific times that maximize egg fertilization and offspring survival. In contrast, males often favor spawning at multiple times as a means of competing more effectively against other males for fertilizations, even if this results in lower overall fertilization success of the population. These predictions help explain several well-documented, yet counterintuitive, patterns in aquatic species, including unexpectedly long spawning seasons, different spawning behaviors by males and females, and spawning during poor environmental conditions. The models also provide a fascinating example of how conflict between the sexes over a shared trait (reproductive timing) can emerge from fundamental processes of egg fertilization, the timing of reproduction, and the density of spawning individuals. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690010">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a></p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"><span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Thu, 29 Dec 2016 06:00:00 GMT “Age-dependent modulation of songbird summer feather molt by temporal and functional constraints” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/FebKiat.html Songbirds molt their feathers on an annual basis because feathers get worn with time due to exposure to UV radiation and other environmental factors. Feather molt is a timely undertaking that is considered among the three most energy-demanding processes in the life cycle of birds, and as such should be made at the most convenient time for the bird. Songbird feather molt usually takes place during fall, just after breeding and before migration, and might be constrained by these activities. To deal with time pressure, passerines may shorten their molt duration by only replacing part of the plumage, through increasing the speed of molt, or by postponing the renewal of some or all the plumage to a later season (i.e., from the summer to the over-wintering period). Yosef Kiat and Nir Sapir from the Hebrew University and the University of Haifa, Israel, used a comparative approach by measuring 12,349 individuals from 134 passerine species in different sites across Israel and two museum bird collections in Israel and the UK to explore how feather molt of juvenile and adult passerines is evolutionarily modulated under time constraints. The results indicate that breeding at northern latitudes and long-distance migration limit the time available for molt and that the consequences of these time constraints were age-dependent. While the duration of adult summer molt decreased, the extent, rather than the duration, of juvenile molt declined under time constraints. The findings suggest that two different adaptations to deal with time pressure have evolved in passerines, and that they are employed depending on bird age. This study highlights the importance of considering time constraints for better understanding the evolution of life history processes and their consequences throughout the annual routine. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">S</span>ongbirds molt their feathers on an annual basis because feathers get worn with time due to exposure to UV radiation and other environmental factors. Feather molt is a timely undertaking that is considered among the three most energy-demanding processes in the life cycle of birds, and as such should be made at the most convenient time for the bird. Songbird feather molt usually takes place during fall, just after breeding and before migration, and might be constrained by these activities. To deal with time pressure, passerines may shorten their molt duration by only replacing part of the plumage, through increasing the speed of molt, or by postponing the renewal of some or all the plumage to a later season (i.e., from the summer to the over-wintering period). Yosef Kiat and Nir Sapir from the Hebrew University and the University of Haifa, Israel, used a comparative approach by measuring 12,349 individuals from 134 passerine species in different sites across Israel and two museum bird collections in Israel and the UK to explore how feather molt of juvenile and adult passerines is evolutionarily modulated under time constraints. The results indicate that breeding at northern latitudes and long-distance migration limit the time available for molt and that the consequences of these time constraints were age-dependent. While the duration of adult summer molt decreased, the extent, rather than the duration, of juvenile molt declined under time constraints. The findings suggest that two different adaptations to deal with time pressure have evolved in passerines, and that they are employed depending on bird age. This study highlights the importance of considering time constraints for better understanding the evolution of life history processes and their consequences throughout the annual routine. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690031">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Thu, 29 Dec 2016 06:00:00 GMT “Radiating despite a lack of character: ecological divergence among closely related, morphologically similar honeyeaters (Aves: Meliphagidae) co-occurring in arid Australian environments” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/FebMiller.html Closely related honeyeaters have diverged in ecology despite conserved morphology Usually a bird’s beak offers clues to the type of food it eats. A hummingbird’s long, slender beak is perfect for sipping nectar. The crossbill uses its unique bill to extricate pinecone seeds. But sometimes, appearances can be deceiving, according to research on Australian honeyeaters appearing in The American Naturalist. Cornell Lab of Ornithology researchers Eliot Miller and Sarah Wagner crisscrossed the Australian continent to compare the diet, foraging behavior, and bill shape of the 75 species of honeyeaters that live there. Like hummingbirds, many honeyeaters take nectar, but some species also take insects and fruit. Their beaks generally reflect these species-specific dietary differences. Though honeyeaters originally occupied Australian rainforests millions of years ago, that habitat is now found only in a slim margin along the coast. As a result, almost half of the species of modern honeyeaters live in the desert, which now makes up a significant portion of the continent—over 50% of the landmass receives less than a foot of rain per year. “By and large, honeyeaters that live in the desert resemble their forest relatives in diet and foraging behavior. There are leaf-gleaning insect-eaters, nectar feeders, and those that feast on fruit. There is even a group of species that forages on bare ground like a little inland sandpiper. But morphologically, these species are only a subset of the diversity found in forests. These desert honeyeater species are using their ancestral morphologies in very different ways to survive.” For example, for a recent lecture, Miller stitched together a photograph of a Gibberbird and a photograph of a Green-backed Honeyeater into a single image of what appeared to be two individuals of the same species. But while the Green-backed Honeyeater gleans insects from leaves in the rainforest canopy, the Gibberbird wanders and feeds in the nearly bare expanses of inland gravel plain known as gibber. For their study, the researchers found at least 20 individuals of all but one of the honeyeater species in Australia. For each of these birds they recorded details of its foraging behavior and surrounding habitat. They then used museum specimens to measure beak, wing, tail, leg, and foot characteristics of at least 6 individuals of each honeyeater species. Comparing the two datasets, they found that desert honeyeaters appear to do more with less. The researchers’ quantitative natural history data, now publicly available on Dryad, allowed them to address their questions. “Across the board, the correspondence between a species’ morphology and its ecology is generally good,” Miller said. “But it appears that in the desert, ecological opportunity has allowed Australian honeyeaters to expand their foraging niches.” Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <p><b><!-- Radiating despite a lack of character: -->Closely related honeyeaters have diverged in ecology despite conserved morphology </b></p><p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">U</span>sually a bird’s beak offers clues to the type of food it eats. A hummingbird’s long, slender beak is perfect for sipping nectar. The crossbill uses its unique bill to extricate pinecone seeds. But sometimes, appearances can be deceiving, according to research on Australian honeyeaters appearing in <i>The American Naturalist</i>. </p><p>Cornell Lab of Ornithology researchers Eliot Miller and Sarah Wagner crisscrossed the Australian continent to compare the diet, foraging behavior, and bill shape of the 75 species of honeyeaters that live there. Like hummingbirds, many honeyeaters take nectar, but some species also take insects and fruit. Their beaks generally reflect these species-specific dietary differences. </p><p>Though honeyeaters originally occupied Australian rainforests millions of years ago, that habitat is now found only in a slim margin along the coast. As a result, almost half of the species of modern honeyeaters live in the desert, which now makes up a significant portion of the continent—over 50% of the landmass receives less than a foot of rain per year. </p><p>“By and large, honeyeaters that live in the desert resemble their forest relatives in diet and foraging behavior. There are leaf-gleaning insect-eaters, nectar feeders, and those that feast on fruit. There is even a group of species that forages on bare ground like a little inland sandpiper. But morphologically, these species are only a subset of the diversity found in forests. These desert honeyeater species are using their ancestral morphologies in very different ways to survive.” </p><p>For example, for a recent lecture, Miller stitched together a photograph of a Gibberbird and a photograph of a Green-backed Honeyeater into a single image of what appeared to be two individuals of the same species. But while the Green-backed Honeyeater gleans insects from leaves in the rainforest canopy, the Gibberbird wanders and feeds in the nearly bare expanses of inland gravel plain known as gibber. </p><p>For their study, the researchers found at least 20 individuals of all but one of the honeyeater species in Australia. For each of these birds they recorded details of its foraging behavior and surrounding habitat. They then used museum specimens to measure beak, wing, tail, leg, and foot characteristics of at least 6 individuals of each honeyeater species. Comparing the two datasets, they found that desert honeyeaters appear to do more with less. </p><p>The researchers’ quantitative natural history data, now publicly available on Dryad, allowed them to address their questions. “Across the board, the correspondence between a species’ morphology and its ecology is generally good,” Miller said. “But it appears that in the desert, ecological opportunity has allowed Australian honeyeaters to expand their foraging niches.” <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690008">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Thu, 29 Dec 2016 06:00:00 GMT “Selfing, local mate competition, and reinforcement” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/FebRausher-A.html Abstract Reinforcement can contribute to speciation by increasing the strength of prezygotic isolating mechanisms. Theoretical analyses over the past two decades have demonstrated that conditions for reinforcement are not unduly restrictive, and empirical investigations have documented over a dozen likely cases, indicating it may be a reasonably common phenomenon in nature. Largely uncharacterized, however, is the diversity of biological scenarios that can create the reduced hybrid fitness that drives reinforcement. Here I examine one such scenario—the evolution of the “selfing syndrome” (a suite of characters including reductions in flower size, and in nectar, pollen and scent production), in highly selfing plant species. Using a 4-locus model, where the loci are (1) a discrimination locus, (2) a target-of-discimination locus, (3) a pollen-production locus, and (4) a selfing-rate locus, I determine the conditions under which this syndrome can favor reinforcement, an increase in discrimination through change at locus (1), in an outcrossing species that experiences gene flow from a highly selfing species. In the absence of both linkage disequilibrium between loci and pollen discounting, reinforcement can occur, but only in a very small fraction of parameter combinations examined. Moderate linkage (r&nbsp;=&nbsp;0.1) between one pair of loci increases this fraction by a factor between moderately, depending on which two loci are linked. Pollen discounting (a reduction in pollen exported to other plants due to increased selfing), by contrast, can increase the fraction of parameter combinations that result in reinforcement substantially. The evolution of reduced pollen production in highly selfing species thus facilitates reinforcement, especially if substantial pollen discounting is associated with selfing. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <h3>Abstract</h3> <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">R</span>einforcement can contribute to speciation by increasing the strength of prezygotic isolating mechanisms. Theoretical analyses over the past two decades have demonstrated that conditions for reinforcement are not unduly restrictive, and empirical investigations have documented over a dozen likely cases, indicating it may be a reasonably common phenomenon in nature. Largely uncharacterized, however, is the diversity of biological scenarios that can create the reduced hybrid fitness that drives reinforcement. Here I examine one such scenario&mdash;the evolution of the &ldquo;selfing syndrome&rdquo; (a suite of characters including reductions in flower size, and in nectar, pollen and scent production), in highly selfing plant species. Using a 4-locus model, where the loci are (1) a discrimination locus, (2) a target-of-discimination locus, (3) a pollen-production locus, and (4) a selfing-rate locus, I determine the conditions under which this syndrome can favor reinforcement, an increase in discrimination through change at locus (1), in an outcrossing species that experiences gene flow from a highly selfing species. In the absence of both linkage disequilibrium between loci and pollen discounting, reinforcement can occur, but only in a very small fraction of parameter combinations examined. Moderate linkage (<i>r</i>&nbsp;=&nbsp;0.1) between one pair of loci increases this fraction by a factor between moderately, depending on which two loci are linked. Pollen discounting (a reduction in pollen exported to other plants due to increased selfing), by contrast, can increase the fraction of parameter combinations that result in reinforcement substantially. The evolution of reduced pollen production in highly selfing species thus facilitates reinforcement, especially if substantial pollen discounting is associated with selfing. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690009">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Thu, 29 Dec 2016 06:00:00 GMT “Behavioral hypervolumes of predator groups and predator-predator interactions shape prey survival rates and selection on prey behavior” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MarPruitt-A.html Abstract Predator-prey interactions often vary based on the traits of the individual predators and prey involved. Here we examine whether the multidimensional behavioral diversity of predator groups shapes prey mortality rates and selection on prey behavior. We ran individual sea stars (Pisaster ochraceus) through three behavioral assays to characterize individuals’ behavioral phenotype along three axes. We then created groups that varied in the volume of behavioral space that they occupied. We further manipulated the ability of predators to interact with one another physically via the addition of barriers. Prey snails (Chlorostome funebralis) were also run through an assay to evaluate their predator avoidance behavior prior to their use in mesocosm experiments. We then subjected pools of prey to predator groups and recorded the number of prey consumed and their behavioral phenotypes. We found that predator-predator interactions changed survival selection on prey traits: when predators were prevented from interacting, more fearful snails had higher survival rates, whereas prey fearfulness had no effect on survival when predators were free to interact. We also found that groups of predators that occupied a larger volume in behavioral trait space consumed 35% more prey snails than homogeneous predator groups. Finally, we found that behavioral hypervolumes were better predictors of prey survival rates than single behavioral traits or other multivariate statistics (i.e., PCA). Taken together, predator-predator interactions and multidimensional behavioral diversity determine prey survival rates and selection on prey traits in this system. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <h3>Abstract</h3> <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">P</span>redator-prey interactions often vary based on the traits of the individual predators and prey involved. Here we examine whether the multidimensional behavioral diversity of predator groups shapes prey mortality rates and selection on prey behavior. We ran individual sea stars (<i>Pisaster ochraceus</i>) through three behavioral assays to characterize individuals’ behavioral phenotype along three axes. We then created groups that varied in the volume of behavioral space that they occupied. We further manipulated the ability of predators to interact with one another physically via the addition of barriers. Prey snails (<i>Chlorostome funebralis</i>) were also run through an assay to evaluate their predator avoidance behavior prior to their use in mesocosm experiments. We then subjected pools of prey to predator groups and recorded the number of prey consumed and their behavioral phenotypes. We found that predator-predator interactions changed survival selection on prey traits: when predators were prevented from interacting, more fearful snails had higher survival rates, whereas prey fearfulness had no effect on survival when predators were free to interact. We also found that groups of predators that occupied a larger volume in behavioral trait space consumed 35% more prey snails than homogeneous predator groups. Finally, we found that behavioral hypervolumes were better predictors of prey survival rates than single behavioral traits or other multivariate statistics (i.e., PCA). Taken together, predator-predator interactions and multidimensional behavioral diversity determine prey survival rates and selection on prey traits in this system. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690292">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Thu, 29 Dec 2016 06:00:00 GMT “Evolution of thermal reaction norms in seasonally varying environments” http://amnat.org/an/newpapers/MarAmarasekare-A.html Abstract Thermal reaction norms of ectotherms exhibit a distinctive latitudinal pattern: the temperature at which performance is maximized coincides with the mean habitat temperature in tropical ectotherms but exceeds the mean temperature in temperate ectotherms. We hypothesize, based on Jensen's inequality, that this pattern is driven by latitudinal variation in seasonal temperature fluctuations. We test this hypothesis with an eco-evolutionary model that integrates quantitative genetics of reaction norm evolution with stage-structured population dynamics, which we parameterize with data from insects. We find that thermal optima of temperate and Mediterranean species evolve to exceed the mean habitat temperature if seasonal fluctuations are strong, while the thermal optimum of tropical species evolves to coincide with the mean habitat temperature if fluctuations are weak. Importantly, ecological dynamics can impose a constraint on reaction norm evolution. Tropical species cannot tolerate an increase in seasonal fluctuations at the high mean habitat temperature it experiences, while the temperate species cannot tolerate a reduction in seasonal fluctuations if the mean temperature is higher. In both cases, stochastic extinction during periods of low abundances precludes adaptation to a novel thermal environment. Our findings suggest a potential directionality in colonization success. Tropical ectotherms, because of their high thermal optima, can successfully colonize temperate habitats while temperate ectotherms, because of their low optima, are less successful in colonizing tropical habitats. Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article More forthcoming papers &raquo; <h3>Abstract</h3> <p><span style="float: left; font-size: 40px; line-height: 25px; padding-top: 4px; padding-right: 2px; padding-left: 2px; font-family: Garamond; font-weight: bold;">T</span>hermal reaction norms of ectotherms exhibit a distinctive latitudinal pattern: the temperature at which performance is maximized coincides with the mean habitat temperature in tropical ectotherms but exceeds the mean temperature in temperate ectotherms. We hypothesize, based on Jensen's inequality, that this pattern is driven by latitudinal variation in seasonal temperature fluctuations. We test this hypothesis with an eco-evolutionary model that integrates quantitative genetics of reaction norm evolution with stage-structured population dynamics, which we parameterize with data from insects. We find that thermal optima of temperate and Mediterranean species evolve to exceed the mean habitat temperature if seasonal fluctuations are strong, while the thermal optimum of tropical species evolves to coincide with the mean habitat temperature if fluctuations are weak. Importantly, ecological dynamics can impose a constraint on reaction norm evolution. Tropical species cannot tolerate an increase in seasonal fluctuations at the high mean habitat temperature it experiences, while the temperate species cannot tolerate a reduction in seasonal fluctuations if the mean temperature is higher. In both cases, stochastic extinction during periods of low abundances precludes adaptation to a novel thermal environment. Our findings suggest a potential directionality in colonization success. Tropical ectotherms, because of their high thermal optima, can successfully colonize temperate habitats while temperate ectotherms, because of their low optima, are less successful in colonizing tropical habitats. <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/690293">Read&nbsp;the&nbsp;Article</a> </p> <div style="float: right;"><a href="http://www.amnat.org/an/newpapers.html"> <span style="font-size: large; font-family: Georgia;"><i>More forthcoming papers</i> &raquo;</span></a></div> Thu, 29 Dec 2016 06:00:00 GMT