Institut für Ökologie, Evolution und Diversität
Field notes on findings of threatened amphibian species in the central mountain range of western Panama
- During field work along a transect in the Cordillera Central of western Panama between
2008 and 2010, we detected several populations of amphibian species which are considered as
“Endangered” or “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN. Some of these species had suffered from
serious population declines, probably due to chytridiomycosis, but all are generally threatened by
habitat loss. We detected 53% of the Endangered and 56% of the Critically Endangered amphibian
species that have previously been reported from within the investigated area. We report on findings
of species that have not been found in Panama for many years, and provide locality data of newly
discovered populations. There is a need to create a new protected area in the Cerro Colorado area
of the Serranía de Tabasará, where we found 15% of the Endangered and Critically Endangered amphibian species known to Panama.
Morphology and Molecules Reveal Unexpected Cryptic Diversity in the Enigmatic Genus Sinobirma Bryk, 1944 (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae)
Wolfgang A. Nässig
- The wild silkmoth genus Sinobirma Bryk, 1944 is a poorly known monotypic taxon from the eastern end of the Himalaya Range. It was convincingly proposed to be closely related to some members of an exclusively Afro-tropical group of Saturniidae, but its biogeographical and evolutionary history remains enigmatic. After examining recently collected material from Tibet, northern India, and northeastern Myanmar, we realized that this unique species, S. malaisei Bryk, 1944 only known so far from a few specimens and from a very restricted area near the border between north-eastern Myanmar and the Yunnan province of China, may in fact belong to a group of closely related cryptic species. In this work, we combined morphological comparative study, DNA barcoding, and the sequences of a nuclear marker (D2 expansion segment of the 28S rRNA gene) to unequivocally delimit three distinct species in the genus Sinobirma, of which two are described as new to science: S. myanmarensis sp. n. and S. bouyeri sp. n. An informative DNA barcode sequence was obtained from the female holotype of S. malaisei—collected in 1934—ensuring the proper assignation of this name to the newly collected and studied specimens. Our findings represent another example of the potential of coupling traditional taxonomy and DNA barcoding for revealing and solving difficult cases of cryptic diversity. This approach is now being generalized to the world fauna of Saturniidae, with the participation of most of the taxonomists studying these moths.
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.
Species richness-environment relationships of European arthropods at two spatial grains: habitats and countries
Martin H. Entling
Ben A. Woodcock
- We study how species richness of arthropods relates to theories concerning net primary productivity, ambient energy, water-energy dynamics and spatial environmental heterogeneity. We use two datasets of arthropod richness with similar spatial extents (Scandinavia to Mediterranean), but contrasting spatial grain (local habitat and country). Samples of ground-dwelling spiders, beetles, bugs and ants were collected from 32 paired habitats at 16 locations across Europe. Species richness of these taxonomic groups was also determined for 25 European countries based on the Fauna Europaea database. We tested effects of net primary productivity (NPP), annual mean temperature (T), annual rainfall (R) and potential evapotranspiration of the coldest month (PETmin) on species richness and turnover. Spatial environmental heterogeneity within countries was considered by including the ranges of NPP, T, R and PETmin. At the local habitat grain, relationships between species richness and environmental variables differed strongly between taxa and trophic groups. However, species turnover across locations was strongly correlated with differences in T. At the country grain, species richness was significantly correlated with environmental variables from all four theories. In particular, species richness within countries increased strongly with spatial heterogeneity in T. The importance of spatial heterogeneity in T for both species turnover across locations and for species richness within countries suggests that the temperature niche is an important determinant of arthropod diversity. We suggest that, unless climatic heterogeneity is constant across sampling units, coarse-grained studies should always account for environmental heterogeneity as a predictor of arthropod species richness, just as studies with variable area of sampling units routinely consider area.
Simulated climate change conditions unveil the toxic potential of the fungicide pyrimethanil on the midge Chironomus riparius: a multigeneration experiment
Lucas S. Jagodzinski
Joao B. Diogo
- Although it has been suggested that temperature increase may alter the toxic potential of environmental pollutants, few studies have investigated the potential risk of chemical stressors for wildlife under Global Climate Change (GCC) impact. We applied a bifactorial multigeneration study in order to test if GCC conditions alter the effects of low pesticide concentrations on life history and genetic diversity of the aquatic model organism Chironomus riparius. Experimental populations of the species were chronically exposed to a low concentration of the fungicide pyrimethanil (half of the no-observed-adverse-effect concentration: NOAEC/2) under two dynamic present-day temperature simulations (11.0–22.7°C; 14.0–25.2°C) and one future scenario (16.5–28.1°C). During the 140-day multigeneration study, survival, emergence, reproduction, population growth, and genetic diversity of C. riparius were analyzed. Our results reveal that high temperature and pyrimethanil act synergistically on the midge C. riparius. In simulated present-day scenarios, a NOAEC/2 of pyrimethanil as derived from a life-cycle toxicity test provoked only slight-to-moderate beneficial or adverse effects on C. riparius. In contrast, exposure to a NOAEC/2 concentration of pyrimethanil at a thermal situation likely for a summer under GCC conditions uncovered adverse effects on mortality and population growth rate. In addition, genetic diversity was considerably reduced by pyrimethanil in the future scenario, but only slightly under current climatic conditions. Our multigeneration study under near-natural (climatic) conditions indicates that not only the impact of climate change, but also low concentrations of pesticides may pose a reasonable risk for aquatic insects in future.
Fördersituation ökotoxikologischer und umweltchemischer Forschung in Deutschland – Ergebnisse einer Online-Befragung
- In den vergangenen Jahren gab es verschiedene Initiativen, die auf die unzureichende Fördersituation der Schadstoffbezogenen Umweltwissenschaften in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland aufmerksam gemacht haben. Um eine objektive Analyse über die Fördersituation der Ökotoxikologie und Umweltchemie in Deutschland zu erhalten, wurde eine anonyme Online-Befragung ausgearbeitet. Mit Unterstützung der Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) – German Language Branch und der Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (GDCh) – Fachgruppe für Umweltchemie und Ökotoxikologie wurde eine Einladung zur Teilnahme an der Befragung an alle Mitglieder dieser beiden maßgeblichen Verbände der Ökotoxikologie und Umweltchemie im deutschsprachigen Raum versendet. Nur leitende Mitarbeiter aus den Bereichen Forschung, Behörden und Industrie sollten an der Befragung teilnehmen. Die Befragung gliedert sich in eine Sektion zur sozioökonomischen Charakterisierung der Teilnehmer, eine zur Förderung der Forschung durch die DFG und eine zur Förderung durch andere Geldgeber. Insgesamt haben 71Wissenschaftler und Wissenschaftlerinnen in leitenden Positionen aus verschiedenen Sparten an der Befragung teilgenommen. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass die Teilnehmer als sehr leistungsstark eingestuft werden können. 48,5 % der Befragten hatten bereits einen Antrag bei der DFG gestellt. Ein Drittel der Befragten gaben an, eine Förderung durch die DFG erhalten zu haben. 64 % sind mit der Förderung Schadstoffbezogener Umweltwissenschaften durch die DFG nicht zufrieden, nur 7 % sind zufrieden. Es zeigte sich, dass die Anträge insgesamt sehr heterogen auf verschiedene Fachbereiche der DFG verteilt sind. Geowissenschaften, Wasserforschung und Chemie nehmen die ersten Ränge ein, vor Biologie und Ökologie. Im Gegensatz dazu gaben 91,2 % der Befragten an, dass Sie bereits Drittmittelanträge bei anderen Förderinstitutionen (außer der DFG) gestellt haben, und 83,6 % wurden bereits entsprechende Drittmittelanträge bewilligt. 62,3 % der Befragten sind der Meinung, dass sich die Fördersituation für die Schadstoffbezogenen Umweltwissenschaften in den letzten Jahren insgesamt verschlechtert oder sogar deutlich verschlechtert hat. Der überwiegende Anteil der Befragten (60,9 %) ist mit der Fördersituation durch Drittmittelgeber unzufrieden, nur 10,9 % sind damit zufrieden. Auf die Frage „Ist die Forschungsförderung im europäischen Ausland insgesamt besser als in Deutschland?“ antworteten 30 % mit „ja“, 9 % mit „nein“ und 61 % mit „ich weiß nicht“. Zusammenfassend ergab die Befragung, dass die Fördersituation der Ökotoxikologie und Umweltchemie in Deutschland insgesamt als steigerungsbedürftig, bei der DFG jedoch als problematisch zu bewerten ist. Die auffällige Unterrepräsentation der DFG im Vergleich zu anderen Drittmittelgebern verdeutlicht, dass die wichtigste Förderinstitution Deutschlands den Bedürfnissen der Schadstoffbezogenen Umweltwissenschaften nicht hinreichend Rechnung trägt. Insbesondere die Antworten auf die offenen Fragen bezüglich Verbesserungsmöglichkeiten der Forschungsförderung sollten als Grundlage für einen offenen Dialog der Schadstoffbezogenen Umweltforschung mit den Drittmittelgebern DFG, BMBF und DBU bzw. den entsprechenden Institutionen in CH und A genutzt werden.
Which Morphological Characteristics Are Most Influenced by the Host Matrix in Downy Mildews? A Case Study in Pseudoperonospora cubensis
Marco Fabian Runge
- Before the advent of molecular phylogenetics, species concepts in the downy mildews, an economically important group of obligate biotrophic oomycete pathogens, have mostly been based upon host range and morphology. While molecular phylogenetic studies have confirmed a narrow host range for many downy mildew species, others, like Pseudoperonospora cubensis affect even different genera. Although often morphological differences were found for new, phylogenetically distinct species, uncertainty prevails regarding their host ranges, especially regarding related plants that have been reported as downy mildew hosts, but were not included in the phylogenetic studies. In these cases, the basis for deciding if the divergence in some morphological characters can be deemed sufficient for designation as separate species is uncertain, as observed morphological divergence could be due to different host matrices colonised. The broad host range of P. cubensis (ca. 60 host species) renders this pathogen an ideal model organism for the investigation of morphological variations in relation to the host matrix and to evaluate which characteristics are best indicators for conspecificity or distinctiveness. On the basis of twelve morphological characterisitcs and a set of twelve cucurbits from five different Cucurbitaceae tribes, including the two species, Cyclanthera pedata and Thladiantha dubia, hitherto not reported as hosts of P. cubensis, a significant influence of the host matrix on pathogen morphology was found. Given the high intraspecific variation of some characteristics, also their plasticity has to be taken into account. The implications for morphological species determination and the confidence limits of morphological characteristics are discussed. For species delimitations in Pseudoperonospora it is shown that the ratio of the height of the first ramification to the sporangiophore length, ratio of the longer to the shorter ultimate branchlet, and especially the length and width of sporangia, as well as, with some reservations, their ratio, are the most suitable characteristics for species delimitation.
Genomic resources for a model in adaptation and speciation research: characterization of the Poecilia mexicana transcriptome
Joanna L. Kelley
Courtney N. Passow
Lenin Arias Rodriguez
- Background: Elucidating the genomic basis of adaptation and speciation is a major challenge in natural systems with large quantities of environmental and phenotypic data, mostly because of the scarcity of genomic resources for non-model organisms. The Atlantic molly (Poecilia mexicana, Poeciliidae) is a small livebearing fish that has been extensively studied for evolutionary ecology research, particularly because this species has repeatedly colonized extreme environments in the form of caves and toxic hydrogen sulfide containing springs. In such extreme environments, populations show strong patterns of adaptive trait divergence and the emergence of reproductive isolation. Here, we used RNA-sequencing to assemble and annotate the first transcriptome of P. mexicana to facilitate ecological genomics studies in the future and aid the identification of genes underlying adaptation and speciation in the system.
Description: We provide the first annotated reference transcriptome of P. mexicana. Our transcriptome shows high congruence with other published fish transcriptomes, including that of the guppy, medaka, zebrafish, and stickleback. Transcriptome annotation uncovered the presence of candidate genes relevant in the study of adaptation to extreme environments. We describe general and oxidative stress response genes as well as genes involved in pathways induced by hypoxia or involved in sulfide metabolism. To facilitate future comparative analyses, we also conducted quantitative comparisons between P. mexicana from different river drainages. 106,524 single nucleotide polymorphisms were detected in our dataset, including potential markers that are putatively fixed across drainages. Furthermore, specimens from different drainages exhibited some consistent differences in gene regulation.
Conclusions: Our study provides a valuable genomic resource to study the molecular underpinnings of adaptation to extreme environments in replicated sulfide spring and cave environments. In addition, this study adds to the increasing number of genomic resources in the family Poeciliidae, which are widely used in comparative analyses of behavior, ecology, evolution, and medical genetics.
Species distribution modelling of stream macroinvertebrates under climate change scenarios
- There is increasing evidence that climate change will have a severe impact on species’ distributions by altering the climatic conditions within their present ranges. Especially species inhabiting stream ecosystems are expected to be strongly affected due to warming temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns. The aim of this thesis was to
investigate how distributions of aquatic insects, i.e., benthic stream macroinvertebrates would be impacted by warming climates. The methods comprised of an ensemble forecasting technique based on species distribution models (SDMs) and climate change scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the year 2080. Future model projections were generated for a wide variety of species from a number of taxonomic orders for two spatial scales: a stream network within the lower mountain ranges of Germany, and the entire territory across Europe. In addition, the effect of the modelling technique on habitat suitability projections was investigated by modifying the choice of study area (continuous area vs. stream network) and the choice of predictors (standard vs. corrected set).
Projections of future habitat suitability showed that potential climate-change impacts would be dependent on species’ thermal preferences, and with a similar pattern for both spatial scales. Future habitat suitability was projected to remain for most or all of the modelled species, and species were projected to track their climatically suitable conditions by shifting uphill along the river continuum within the lower mountain ranges, and into a north-easterly direction across Europe. Cold-adapted headwater and high-latitude species were projected to lose suitable habitats, whereas gains would be expected for warm-adapted river and low-latitude species along the river continuum and across Europe, respectively. Additionally, habitat specialist species in terms of endemics of the Iberian Peninsula were identified as potential climate-change losers, highlighting their restricted habitat availability and therefore vulnerability to warming climates.
The main findings of this thesis underline the high susceptibility of stream macroinvertebrates to ongoing climate change, and give insights into patterns of possible consequences due to changes in species’ habitat suitability. Concerning the methodology, a clear recommendation can be given for future modelling approaches of stream macroinvertebrates by building models within a stream network and with a careful choice of environmental predictors, to reduce uncertainties and thus to improve model projections.
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.