X-ray image of a female Neolamprologus pulcher originating from a study population with medium sand cover, intermediate predation risk and average shelter sizes. (c) Annika Freudiger

Ecological variation leads to body shape differences in a highly social fish

Annika Freudiger, Dario Josi, Timo Thunken, Fabian Herder, Jana M. Flury, David A. Marques, Michael Taborsky & Joachim G. Frommen The environment experienced by an organism can affect the expression of individual traits, such as body shape and behaviour. Furthermore, adjustments of one trait may inhibit or increase adaptation of another trait. Such adaptation of certain features might eventually feed back to higher organisational levels, … Continue reading Ecological variation leads to body shape differences in a highly social fish

Mallotus japonicus sapling with many ants attracted to the extrafloral nectaries on the leaves. Photo: Akira Yamawo

Species diversity and biological trait function: Effectiveness of ant–plant mutualism decreases as ant species diversity increases

Akira Yamawo, Nobuhiko Suzuki, and Jun Tagawa The compositions of communities of interacting species in different regions often differ. In each region, organisms interact with multiple species, and community composition may alter the outcome of both species interactions and trait evolution. In this study, we investigated relationships between the number of ant species in a community (ant species richness) and the outcomes of an ant–plant … Continue reading Species diversity and biological trait function: Effectiveness of ant–plant mutualism decreases as ant species diversity increases

Aerodynamic simulation of an anole grasping a vertical cylinder showing wind streamlines and aerodynamic pressures on the lizard. (credit: Sam Van Wassenbergh).

Lizards with longer hind legs are likely to catch more wind in a hurricane

Shamil F. Debaere, Colin M. Donihue, Anthony Herrel, Sam Van Wassenbergh After Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the Caribbean in 2017, two island populations of anole lizards displayed shorter thighs than before the storms. It is not that the lizards’ legs shrunk, but rather their longer-legged comrades seemed to have succumbed to the destructive forces of the tropical cyclones. But why did the anoles with … Continue reading Lizards with longer hind legs are likely to catch more wind in a hurricane

Examples of species involved in the domestication of grain crops, including the wild sunflower (Helianthus annuus) that is the progenitor of most cultivars, and two cultivated species, oilseed rape (Brassica napus subsp. napus) and oats (Avena sativa) (photo by Lawrence Harder).

The influences of progenitor filtering, domestication selection and the boundaries of nature on the domestication of grain crops

Garibaldi, Lucas; Aizen, Marcelo; Saez, Agustin; Gleiser, Gabriela; Strelin, Marina; Harder, Lawrence Since humans began domesticating plants ~12,000 years ago the seeds of a small number of annual grain-crop species have increasingly become key components of human diets. Characteristics of these domesticated species commonly differ from those of their wild relatives, depending on the influences of two stages of domestication. During initial “progenitor filtering”, farmers … Continue reading The influences of progenitor filtering, domestication selection and the boundaries of nature on the domestication of grain crops

Completely plated (upper) and low plated (lower) threespine sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Fish have been stained with Alizarin Red S to help visualise lateral plates and spines. Image credit: Carl Smith.

Elevated temperatures drive the evolution of armour loss in the threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus

Smith, Carl; Zieba, Grzegorz; Przybylski, Miroslaw Sticklebacks are small fishes, related to seahorses, that are found in fresh, brackish and seawater. Notably, the three-spined stickleback is a ‘model’ research animal of huge significance that has been used by scientists for over a century in research to understand animal behaviour, evolution and, latterly, genetics. While three-spined sticklebacks can live in a wide variety of habitats, they … Continue reading Elevated temperatures drive the evolution of armour loss in the threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus

How do frequent hot days alter the relative dominance of two cereal aphids?

Zhu, Liang; Hoffmann, Ary; Li, Shimin; Ma, Chun-sen The relative dominance of coexisting species in a natural community can change with environmental conditions and can also shift under climate warming. Such changes have been documented in a broad range of taxa, including plants, terrestrial and aquatic animals, bacteria and fungi. In our study we investigated dominance changes in two common cereal aphids (Rhopalosiphum padi and … Continue reading How do frequent hot days alter the relative dominance of two cereal aphids?

Oak tree (Quercus petraea) producing acorns at high elevation in the French Pyrenees. Photo credit: Thomas Caignard

Oaks adapt their reproduction to counteract the harsh environment

Caignard, Thomas; Kremer, Antoine; Bouteiller, Xavier; Parmentier, Julien; Louvet, Jean-Marc; Venner, Samuel; Delzon, Sylvain To understand and predict the response of forests to climate change, researchers in ecology study the variability of specific functional traits, also known as life history traits. These traits characterize the capacity of a tree to grow, survive and reproduce in its environment. Understanding their variability in response to contrasting environments … Continue reading Oaks adapt their reproduction to counteract the harsh environment

The damselfly Ischnura elegans larva. Photo credit: Christophe Brochard.

Thermal evolution can shape how temperature affects predator-prey interactions

Wang, Ying-Jie; Sentis, Arnaud; Tüzün, Nedim; Stoks, Robby To date, we know a lot about the effects of global warming on individual species. Yet, in nature, species constantly interact with each other, for example predators hunting their prey. One way to cope with global warming is by evolving adaptations to higher temperatures. But how does the evolution of one species affect its interaction with another … Continue reading Thermal evolution can shape how temperature affects predator-prey interactions

Male and Female thrips with various egg sizes

Egg size determines fertilization success and underpins sex allocation in haplodiploid thrips

Alihan Katlav, James M. Cook, Markus Riegler How far a mother can control the sex of her offspring varies greatly across the Animal Kingdom. Many insects and other arthropods have a haplodiploid genetic system, in which males develop from unfertilized eggs and females from fertilized eggs. In such species, mothers can produce male offspring even without mating; while mated mothers can adjust their offspring sex … Continue reading Egg size determines fertilization success and underpins sex allocation in haplodiploid thrips

Infectious disease benefits from higher amounts of available energy within its host (the difference (in grey) between the energy acquired (green) and used on metabolic processes (orange)) and this benefit is mediated both by an increase in host size and more energy available for exploitation.

Does energy availability matter for disease outcomes?

Louise Solveig Nørgaard, Giulia Ghedini, Ben L. Phillips & Matthew D. Hall Understanding what influences the spread and severity of infectious disease is key to managing epidemics. The amount of energy available to the host organism is an important factor affecting disease dynamics. Hosts that acquire more energy might be better able to fight disease, for example by activating their immune system, but the pathogen … Continue reading Does energy availability matter for disease outcomes?