Institut für Ökologie, Evolution und Diversität
- Biodiversität und Klima Forschungszentrum (BiK-F) (14)
Impact of carnivory on human development and evolution revealed by a new unifying model of weaning in mammals
- Our large brain, long life span and high fertility are key elements of human evolutionary success and are often thought to have evolved in interplay with tool use, carnivory and hunting. However, the specific impact of carnivory on human evolution, life history and development remains controversial. Here we show in quantitative terms that dietary profile is a key factor influencing time to weaning across a wide taxonomic range of mammals, including humans. In a model encompassing a total of 67 species and genera from 12 mammalian orders, adult brain mass and two dichotomous variables reflecting species differences regarding limb biomechanics and dietary profile, accounted for 75.5%, 10.3% and 3.4% of variance in time to weaning, respectively, together capturing 89.2% of total variance. Crucially, carnivory predicted the time point of early weaning in humans with remarkable precision, yielding a prediction error of less than 5% with a sample of forty-six human natural fertility societies as reference. Hence, carnivory appears to provide both a necessary and sufficient explanation as to why humans wean so much earlier than the great apes. While early weaning is regarded as essentially differentiating the genus Homo from the great apes, its timing seems to be determined by the same limited set of factors in humans as in mammals in general, despite some 90 million years of evolution. Our analysis emphasizes the high degree of similarity of relative time scales in mammalian development and life history across 67 genera from 12 mammalian orders and shows that the impact of carnivory on time to weaning in humans is quantifiable, and critical. Since early weaning yields shorter interbirth intervals and higher rates of reproduction, with profound effects on population dynamics, our findings highlight the emergence of carnivory as a process fundamentally determining human evolution.
A genomic approach to examine the complex evolution of laurasiatherian mammals
Björn M. Hallström
- Recent phylogenomic studies have failed to conclusively resolve certain branches of the placental mammalian tree, despite the evolutionary analysis of genomic data from 32 species. Previous analyses of single genes and retroposon insertion data yielded support for different phylogenetic scenarios for the most basal divergences. The results indicated that some mammalian divergences were best interpreted not as a single bifurcating tree, but as an evolutionary network. In these studies the relationships among some orders of the super-clade Laurasiatheria were poorly supported, albeit not studied in detail. Therefore, 4775 protein-coding genes (6,196,263 nucleotides) were collected and aligned in order to analyze the evolution of this clade. Additionally, over 200,000 introns were screened in silico, resulting in 32 phylogenetically informative long interspersed nuclear elements (LINE) insertion events.
The present study shows that the genome evolution of Laurasiatheria may best be understood as an evolutionary network. Thus, contrary to the common expectation to resolve major evolutionary events as a bifurcating tree, genome analyses unveil complex speciation processes even in deep mammalian divergences. We exemplify this on a subset of 1159 suitable genes that have individual histories, most likely due to incomplete lineage sorting or introgression, processes that can make the genealogy of mammalian genomes complex.
These unexpected results have major implications for the understanding of evolution in general, because the evolution of even some higher level taxa such as mammalian orders may sometimes not be interpreted as a simple bifurcating pattern.
Adaptive radiation within marine anisakid nematodes: a zoogeographical modeling of cosmopolitan, zoonotic parasites
- Parasites of the nematode genus Anisakis are associated with aquatic organisms. They can be found in a variety of marine hosts including whales, crustaceans, fish and cephalopods and are known to be the cause of the zoonotic disease anisakiasis, a painful inflammation of the gastro-intestinal tract caused by the accidental consumptions of infectious larvae raw or semi-raw fishery products. Since the demand on fish as dietary protein source and the export rates of seafood products in general is rapidly increasing worldwide, the knowledge about the distribution of potential foodborne human pathogens in seafood is of major significance for human health. Studies have provided evidence that a few Anisakis species can cause clinical symptoms in humans. The aim of our study was to interpolate the species range for every described Anisakis species on the basis of the existing occurrence data. We used sequence data of 373 Anisakis larvae from 30 different hosts worldwide and previously published molecular data (n = 584) from 53 field-specific publications to model the species range of Anisakis spp., using a interpolation method that combines aspects of the alpha hull interpolation algorithm as well as the conditional interpolation approach. The results of our approach strongly indicate the existence of species-specific distribution patterns of Anisakis spp. within different climate zones and oceans that are in principle congruent with those of their respective final hosts. Our results support preceding studies that propose anisakid nematodes as useful biological indicators for their final host distribution and abundance as they closely follow the trophic relationships among their successive hosts. The modeling might although be helpful for predicting the likelihood of infection in order to reduce the risk of anisakiasis cases in a given area.
The importance of the regional species pool, ecological species traits and local habitat conditions for the colonization of restored river reaches by fish
Armin W. Lorenz
- It is commonly assumed that the colonization of restored river reaches by fish depends on the regional species pools; however, quantifications of the relationship between the composition of the regional species pool and restoration outcome are lacking. We analyzed data from 18 German river restoration projects and adjacent river reaches constituting the regional species pools of the restored reaches. We found that the ability of statistical models to describe the fish assemblages established in the restored reaches was greater when these models were based on ‘biotic’ variables relating to the regional species pool and the ecological traits of species rather than on ‘abiotic’ variables relating to the hydromorphological habitat structure of the restored habitats and descriptors of the restoration projects. For species presence in restored reaches, ‘biotic’ variables explained 34% of variability, with the occurrence rate of a species in the regional species pool being the most important variable, while ’abiotic’ variables explained only the negligible amount of 2% of variability. For fish density in restored reaches, about twice the amount of variability was explained by ‘biotic’ (38%) compared to ‘abiotic’ (21%) variables, with species density in the regional species pool being most important. These results indicate that the colonization of restored river reaches by fish is largely determined by the assemblages in the surrounding species pool. Knowledge of species presence and abundance in the regional species pool can be used to estimate the likelihood of fish species becoming established in restored reaches.
Tree migration-rates: narrowing the gap between inferred post-glacial rates and projected rates
Shonil A. Bhagwat
Katherine J. Willis
H. John B. Birks
- Faster-than-expected post-glacial migration rates of trees have puzzled ecologists for a long time. In Europe, post-glacial migration is assumed to have started from the three southern European peninsulas (southern refugia), where large areas remained free of permafrost and ice at the peak of the last glaciation. However, increasing palaeobotanical evidence for the presence of isolated tree populations in more northerly microrefugia has started to change this perception. Here we use the Northern Eurasian Plant Macrofossil Database and palaeoecological literature to show that post-glacial migration rates for trees may have been substantially lower (60–260 m yr–1) than those estimated by assuming migration from southern refugia only (115–550 m yr–1), and that early-successional trees migrated faster than mid- and late-successional trees. Post-glacial migration rates are in good agreement with those recently projected for the future with a population dynamical forest succession and dispersal model, mainly for early-successional trees and under optimal conditions. Although migration estimates presented here may be conservative because of our assumption of uniform dispersal, tree migration-rates clearly need reconsideration. We suggest that small outlier populations may be a key factor in understanding past migration rates and in predicting potential future range-shifts. The importance of outlier populations in the past may have an analogy in the future, as many tree species have been planted beyond their natural ranges, with a more beneficial microclimate than their regional surroundings. Therefore, climate-change-induced range-shifts in the future might well be influenced by such microrefugia.
Genomic basis of ecological niche divergence among cryptic sister species of non-biting midges
- Background: There is a lack of understanding the evolutionary forces driving niche segregation of closely related organisms. In addition, pinpointing the genes driving ecological divergence is a key goal in molecular ecology. Here, larval transcriptome sequences obtained by next-generation-sequencing are used to address these issues in a morphologically cryptic sister species pair of non-biting midges (Chironomus riparius and C. piger).
Results: More than eight thousand orthologous open reading frames were screened for interspecific divergence and intraspecific polymorphisms. Despite a small mean sequence divergence of 1.53% between the sister species, 25.1% of 18,115 observed amino acid substitutions were inferred by α statistics to be driven by positive selection. Applying McDonald-Kreitman tests to 715 alignments of gene orthologues identified eleven (1.5%) genes driven by positive selection.
Conclusions: Three candidate genes were identified as potentially responsible for the observed niche segregation concerning nitrite concentration, habitat temperature and water conductivity. Additionally, signs of positive selection in the hydrogen sulfide detoxification pathway were detected, providing a new plausible hypothesis for the species’ ecological differentiation. Finally, a divergently selected, nuclear encoded mitochondrial ribosomal protein may contribute to reproductive isolation due to cytonuclear coevolution.
Are plant species able to keep pace with the rapidly changing climate?
- Future climate change is predicted to advance faster than the postglacial warming. Migration may therefore become a key driver for future development of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. For 140 European plant species we computed past range shifts since the last glacial maximum and future range shifts for a variety of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scenarios and global circulation models (GCMs). Range shift rates were estimated by means of species distribution modelling (SDM). With process-based seed dispersal models we estimated species-specific migration rates for 27 dispersal modes addressing dispersal by wind (anemochory) for different wind conditions, as well as dispersal by mammals (dispersal on animal's coat – epizoochory and dispersal by animals after feeding and digestion – endozoochory) considering different animal species. Our process-based modelled migration rates generally exceeded the postglacial range shift rates indicating that the process-based models we used are capable of predicting migration rates that are in accordance with realized past migration. For most of the considered species, the modelled migration rates were considerably lower than the expected future climate change induced range shift rates. This implies that most plant species will not entirely be able to follow future climate-change-induced range shifts due to dispersal limitation. Animals with large day- and home-ranges are highly important for achieving high migration rates for many plant species, whereas anemochory is relevant for only few species.
Coalescent-based genome analyses resolve the early branches of the euarchontoglires
Björn M. Hallström
- Despite numerous large-scale phylogenomic studies, certain parts of the mammalian tree are extraordinarily difficult to resolve. We used the coding regions from 19 completely sequenced genomes to study the relationships within the super-clade Euarchontoglires (Primates, Rodentia, Lagomorpha, Dermoptera and Scandentia) because the placement of Scandentia within this clade is controversial. The difficulty in resolving this issue is due to the short time spans between the early divergences of Euarchontoglires, which may cause incongruent gene trees. The conflict in the data can be depicted by network analyses and the contentious relationships are best reconstructed by coalescent-based analyses. This method is expected to be superior to analyses of concatenated data in reconstructing a species tree from numerous gene trees. The total concatenated dataset used to study the relationships in this group comprises 5,875 protein-coding genes (9,799,170 nucleotides) from all orders except Dermoptera (flying lemurs). Reconstruction of the species tree from 1,006 gene trees using coalescent models placed Scandentia as sister group to the primates, which is in agreement with maximum likelihood analyses of concatenated nucleotide sequence data. Additionally, both analytical approaches favoured the Tarsier to be sister taxon to Anthropoidea, thus belonging to the Haplorrhine clade. When divergence times are short such as in radiations over periods of a few million years, even genome scale analyses struggle to resolve phylogenetic relationships. On these short branches processes such as incomplete lineage sorting and possibly hybridization occur and make it preferable to base phylogenomic analyses on coalescent methods.
Range expansion of Ambrosia artemisiifolia in Europe is promoted by climate change
Marion Carmen Leiblein
- Ambrosia artemisiifolia L., native to North America, is a problematic invasive species, because of its highly allergenic pollen. The species is expected to expand its range due to climate change. By means of ecological niche modelling (ENM), we predict habitat suitability for A. artemisiifolia in Europe under current and future climatic conditions. Overall, we compared the performance and results of 16 algorithms commonly applied in ENM. As occurrence records of invasive species may be dominated by sampling bias, we also used data from the native range. To assess the quality of the modelling approaches we assembled a new map of current occurrences of A. artemisiifolia in Europe. Our results show that ENM yields a good estimation of the potential range of A. artemisiifolia in Europe only when using the North American data. A strong sampling bias in the European Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) data for A. artemisiifolia causes unrealistic results. Using the North American data reflects the realized European distribution very well. All models predict an enlargement and a northwards shift of potential range in Central and Northern Europe during the next decades. Climate warming will lead to an increase and northwards shift of A. artemisiifolia in Europe.
Evolution of microgastropods (Ellobioidea, Carychiidae): integrating taxonomic, phylogenetic and evolutionary hypotheses
- BACKGROUND: Current biodiversity patterns are considered largely the result of past climatic and tectonic changes. In an integrative approach, we combine taxonomic and phylogenetic hypotheses to analyze temporal and geographic diversification of epigean (Carychium) and subterranean (Zospeum) evolutionary lineages in Carychiidae (Eupulmonata, Ellobioidea). We explicitly test three hypotheses: 1) morphospecies encompass unrecognized evolutionary lineages, 2) limited dispersal results in a close genetic relationship of geographical proximally distributed taxa and 3) major climatic and tectonic events had an impact on lineage diversification within Carychiidae.
RESULTS: Initial morphospecies assignments were investigated by different molecular delimitation approaches (threshold, ABGD, GMYC and SP). Despite a conservative delimitation strategy, carychiid morphospecies comprise a great number of unrecognized evolutionary lineages. We attribute this phenomenon to historic underestimation of morphological stasis and phenotypic variability amongst lineages. The first molecular phylogenetic hypothesis for the Carychiidae (based on COI, 16S and H3) reveals Carychium and Zospeum to be reciprocally monophyletic. Geographical proximally distributed lineages are often closely related. The temporal diversification of Carychiidae is best described by a constant rate model of diversification. The evolution of Carychiidae is characterized by relatively few (long distance) colonization events. We find support for an Asian origin of Carychium. Zospeum may have arrived in Europe before extant members of Carychium. Distantly related Carychium clades inhabit a wide spectrum of the available bioclimatic niche and demonstrate considerable niche overlap.
CONCLUSIONS: Carychiid taxonomy is in dire need of revision. An inferred wide distribution and variable phenotype suggest underestimated diversity in Zospeum. Several Carychium morphospecies are results of past taxonomic lumping. By collecting populations at their type locality, molecular investigations are able to link historic morphospecies assignments to their respective evolutionary lineage. We propose that rare founder populations initially colonized a continent or cave system. Subsequent passive dispersal into adjacent areas led to in situ pan-continental or mountain range diversifications. Major environmental changes did not influence carychiid diversification. However, certain molecular delimitation methods indicated a recent decrease in diversification rate. We attribute this decrease to protracted speciation.