3,522 research outputs found

    Beyond similarity: A network approach for identifying and delimiting biogeographical regions

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    Biogeographical regions (geographically distinct assemblages of species and communities) constitute a cornerstone for ecology, biogeography, evolution and conservation biology. Species turnover measures are often used to quantify biodiversity patterns, but algorithms based on similarity and clustering are highly sensitive to common biases and intricacies of species distribution data. Here we apply a community detection approach from network theory that incorporates complex, higher order presence-absence patterns. We demonstrate the performance of the method by applying it to all amphibian species in the world (c. 6,100 species), all vascular plant species of the USA (c. 17,600), and a hypothetical dataset containing a zone of biotic transition. In comparison with current methods, our approach tackles the challenges posed by transition zones and succeeds in identifying a larger number of commonly recognised biogeographical regions. This method constitutes an important advance towards objective, data derived identification and delimitation of the world's biogeographical regions.Comment: 5 figures and 1 supporting figur

    Have giant lobelias evolved several times independently? Life form shifts and historical biogeography of the cosmopolitan and highly diverse subfamily Lobelioideae (Campanulaceae)

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    BACKGROUND: The tendency of animals and plants to independently develop similar features under similar evolutionary pressures - convergence - is a widespread phenomenon in nature. In plants, convergence has been suggested to explain the striking similarity in life form between the giant lobelioids (Campanulaceae, the bellflower family) of Africa and the Hawaiian Islands. Under this assumption these plants would have developed the giant habit from herbaceous ancestors independently, in much the same way as has been suggested for the giant senecios of Africa and the silversword alliance of Hawaii. RESULTS: Phylogenetic analyses based on plastid (rbcL, trnL-F) and nuclear (internal transcribed spacer [ITS]) DNA sequences for 101 species in subfamily Lobelioideae demonstrate that the large lobelioids from eastern Africa the Hawaiian Islands, and also South America, French Polynesia and southeast Asia, form a strongly supported monophyletic group. Ancestral state reconstructions of life form and distribution, taking into account phylogenetic uncertainty, indicate their descent from a woody ancestor that was probably confined to Africa. Molecular dating analyses using Penalized Likelihood and Bayesian relaxed clock approaches, and combining multiple calibration points, estimate their first diversification at approximately 25-33 million years ago (Ma), shortly followed by several long-distance dispersal events that resulted in the current pantropical distribution. CONCLUSION: These results confidently show that lobelioid species, commonly called 'giant', are very closely related and have not developed their giant form from herbaceous ancestors independently. This study, which includes the hitherto largest taxon sampling for subfamily Lobelioideae, highlights the need for a broad phylogenetic framework for testing assumptions about morphological development in general, and convergent evolution in particular

    Mass extinction, gradual cooling, or rapid radiation? Reconstructing the spatiotemporal evolution of the ancient Angiosperm genus Hedyosmum (Chloranthaceae) Using empirical and simulated approaches

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    Chloranthaceae is a small family of flowering plants (65 species) with an extensive fossil record extending back to the Early Cretaceous. Within Chloranthaceae, Hedyosmum is remarkable because of its disjunct distribution – one species in the Paleotropics and 44 confined to the Neotropics – and a long “temporal gap” between its stem age (Early Cretaceous) and the beginning of the extant radiation (late Cenozoic). Is this gap real, reflecting low diversification and a recent radiation, or the signature of extinction? Here we use paleontological data, relaxed clock molecular dating, diversification analyses, and parametric ancestral area reconstruction to investigate the timing, tempo, and mode of diversification in Hedyosmum. Our results, based on analyses of plastid and nuclear sequences for 40 species, suggest that the ancestor of Chloranthaceae and the Hedyosmum stem lineages were widespread in the Holarctic in the Late Cretaceous. High extinction rates, possibly associated with Cenozoic climatic fluctuations, may have been responsible for the low extant diversity of the family. Crown group Hedyosmum originated c. 36 – 43 Ma and colonized South America from the north during the Early-Middle Miocene (c. 20 Ma). This coincided with an increase in diversification rates, probably triggered by the uplift of the northern Andes from the Mid-Miocene onwards. This study illustrates the advantages of combining paleontological, phylogenetic, and biogeographic data to reconstruct the spatiotemporal evolution of an ancient lineage, for which the extant diversity is only a remnant of past radiations. It also shows the difficulties of inferring patterns of lineage diversification when incomplete taxon sampling is combined with high extinction rates.Peer reviewe

    Infomap Bioregions: Interactive mapping of biogeographical regions from species distributions

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    Biogeographical regions (bioregions) reveal how different sets of species are spatially grouped and therefore are important units for conservation, historical biogeography, ecology and evolution. Several methods have been developed to identify bioregions based on species distribution data rather than expert opinion. One approach successfully applies network theory to simplify and highlight the underlying structure in species distributions. However, this method lacks tools for simple and efficient analysis. Here we present Infomap Bioregions, an interactive web application that inputs species distribution data and generates bioregion maps. Species distributions may be provided as georeferenced point occurrences or range maps, and can be of local, regional or global scale. The application uses a novel adaptive resolution method to make best use of often incomplete species distribution data. The results can be downloaded as vector graphics, shapefiles or in table format. We validate the tool by processing large datasets of publicly available species distribution data of the world's amphibians using species ranges, and mammals using point occurrences. We then calculate the fit between the inferred bioregions and WWF ecoregions. As examples of applications, researchers can reconstruct ancestral ranges in historical biogeography or identify indicator species for targeted conservation.Comment: 8 pages, 4 figures, 2, tables, for interactive application, http://bioregions.mapequation.or

    Integrating deep-time palaeontology in conservation prioritisation

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    Halting biodiversity loss under growing anthropogenic pressure is arguably the greatest environmental challenge we face. Given that not all species are equally threatened and that resources are always limited, establishing robust prioritisation schemes is critical for implementing effective conservation actions. To this end, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species has become a widely used source of information on species’ extinction risk. Various metrics have been proposed that combine IUCN status with different aspects of biodiversity to identify conservation priorities. However, current strategies do not take full advantage of palaeontological data, with conservation palaeobiology often focussing on the near-time fossil record (the last 2 million years). Here, we make a case for the value of the deep-time (over 2 million years ago), as it can offer tangible parallels with today’s biodiversity crisis and inform on the intrinsic traits that make species prone to extinction. As such, palaeontological data holds great predictive power, which could be harnessed to flag species likely to be threatened but that are currently too poorly known to be identified as such. Finally, we identify key IUCN-based prioritisation metrics and outline opportunities for integrating palaeontological data to validate their implementation. Although the human signal of the current extinction crisis makes direct comparisons with the geological past challenging, the deep-time fossil record has more to offer to conservation than is currently recognised

    The effects of climate change on the distribution of South American antbirds (Thamnophilus punctatus complex) as affected by niche divergences and contact zone interactions between species

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    Several studies have shown that climatic change has been accelerating due to human activities, leading to dramatic effects on biodiversity. Modeling studies describe how species have reacted in the past to climatic change, and this information can help us to understand the degree of biotic susceptibility to current and future climatic change. This work aims to determine the effects of past, current and future climatic changes on the geographic distribution of the species complex Thamnophilus punctatus, a bird clade widely distributed across Neotropical dry forests. We also investigate if species that are phylogenetically similar have comparable climatic niches and, consequently, can be expected to respond similarly to climatic change. For this purpose, we calculated similarity, niche overlap, equivalence and genetic distance between all species, modeling their geographic distributions during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) as well as under current conditions and future (2050-2080) scenarios. Our results indicate that there are differences in responses to climatic changes from the LGM to the present among the five species of the T. punctatus complex and that the niches in the measured dimensions are not conserved among the studied species. We therefore suggest that the adequate environmental space of taxa of a widely distributed lineage can be shaped in distinct way, regardless of how closely related their species are or how much their niches overlap. Competitive exclusion in zones of contact is an important factor determining the geographical range of the species of the Thamnophilus punctatus complex, particularly for the very closely related species T. sticturus, T. pelzelni and T. ambiguus.Peer reviewe

    Phylogenomics and biogeography of the world's thrushes (Aves, Turdus) : new evidence for a more parsimonious evolutionary history

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    To elucidate the relationships and spatial range evolution across the world of the bird genus Turdus (Aves), we produced a large genomic dataset comprising ca 2 million nucleotides for ca 100 samples representing 53 species, including over 2000 loci. We estimated time-calibrated maximum-likelihood and multispecies coalescentphylogenies and carried out biogeographic analyses. Our results indicate that there have been considerably fewer trans-oceanic dispersals within the genus Turdus than previously suggested, such that the Palaearctic clade did not originate in America and the African clade was not involved in the colonization of the Americas. Instead, our findings suggest that dispersal from the Western Palaearctic via the Antilles to the Neotropics might have occurred in a single event, giving rise to the rich Neotropical diversity of Turdus observed today, with no reverse dispersals to thePalaearctic or Africa. Our large multilocus dataset, combined with dense species-level sampling and analysed under probabilistic methods, brings important insights into historical biogeography and systematics, even in a scenario of fast and spatially complex diversification.Peer reviewe

    Reassessing the temporal evolution of orchids with new fossils and a Bayesian relaxed clock, with implications for the diversification of the rare South American genus Hoffmannseggella (Orchidaceae: Epidendroideae)

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    BACKGROUND: The temporal origin and diversification of orchids (family Orchidaceae) has been subject to intense debate in the last decade. The description of the first reliable fossil in 2007 enabled a direct calibration of the orchid phylogeny, but little attention has been paid to the potential influence of dating methodology in obtaining reliable age estimates. Moreover, two new orchid fossils described in 2009 have not yet been incorporated in a molecular dating analysis. Here we compare the ages of major orchid clades estimated under two widely used methods, a Bayesian relaxed clock implemented in BEAST and Penalized Likelihood implemented in r8s. We then perform a new family-level analysis by integrating all 3 available fossils and using BEAST. To evaluate how the newly estimated ages may influence the evolutionary interpretation of a species-level phylogeny, we assess divergence times for the South American genus Hoffmannseggella (subfam. Epidendroideae), for which we present an almost complete phylogeny (40 out of 41 species sampled). RESULTS: Our results provide additional support that all extant orchids shared a most recent common ancestor in the Late Cretaceous (approximately 77 million years ago, Ma). However, we estimate the crown age of the five orchid subfamilies to be generally (approximately1-8 Ma) younger than previously calculated under the Penalized Likelihood algorithm and using a single internal fossil calibration. The crown age of Hoffmannseggella is estimated here at approximately 11 Ma, some 3 Ma more recently than estimated under Penalized Likelihood. CONCLUSIONS: Contrary to recent suggestions that orchid diversification began in a period of global warming, our results place the onset of diversification of the largest orchid subfamilies (Orchidoideae and Epidendroideae) in a period of global cooling subsequent to the Early Eocene Climatic Optimum. The diversification of Hoffmannseggella appears even more correlated to late Tertiary climatic fluctuations than previously suggested. With the incorporation of new fossils in the orchid phylogeny and the use of a method that is arguably more adequate given the present data, our results represent the most up-to-date estimate of divergence times in orchids

    Variable Markov dynamics as a multi-focal lens to map multi-scale complex networks

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    From traffic flows on road networks to electrical signals in brain networks, many real-world networks contain modular structures of different sizes and densities. In the networks where modular structures emerge due to coupling between nodes with similar dynamical functions, we can identify them using flow-based community detection methods. However, these methods implicitly assume that communities are dense or clique-like which can shatter sparse communities due to a field-of-view limit inherent in one-step dynamics. Taking multiple steps with shorter or longer Markov time enables us to effectively zoom in or out to capture small or long-range communities. However, zooming out to avoid the field-of-view limit comes at the expense of introducing or increasing a lower resolution limit. Here we relax the constant Markov time constraint and introduce variable Markov dynamics as a multi-focal lens to capture functional communities in networks with a higher range of scales. With variable Markov time, a random walker can keep one-step dynamics in dense areas to avoid the resolution limit and move faster in sparse areas to detect long-range modular structures and prevent the field-of-view limit. We analyze the performance of variable Markov time using the flow-based community detection method called the map equation. We have implemented the map equation with variable Markov time in the search algorithm Infomap without any complexity overhead and tested its performance on synthetic and real-world networks from different domains. Results show that it outperforms the standard map equation in networks with constrained structures and locally sparse regions. In addition, the method estimates the optimal Markov time and avoids parameter tuning

    Bayesian Estimation of Speciation and Extinction from Incomplete Fossil Occurrence Data

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    The temporal dynamics of species diversity are shaped by variations in the rates of speciation and extinction, and there is a long history of inferring these rates using first and last appearances of taxa in the fossil record. Understanding diversity dynamics critically depends on unbiased estimates of the unobserved times of speciation and extinction for all lineages, but the inference of these parameters is challenging due to the complex nature of the available data. Here, we present a new probabilistic framework to jointly estimate species-specific times of speciation and extinction and the rates of the underlying birth-death process based on the fossil record. The rates are allowed to vary through time independently of each other, and the probability of preservation and sampling is explicitly incorporated in the model to estimate the true lifespan of each lineage. We implement a Bayesian algorithm to assess the presence of rate shifts by exploring alternative diversification models. Tests on a range of simulated data sets reveal the accuracy and robustness of our approach against violations of the underlying assumptions and various degrees of data incompleteness. Finally, we demonstrate the application of our method with the diversification of the mammal family Rhinocerotidae and reveal a complex history of repeated and independent temporal shifts of both speciation and extinction rates, leading to the expansion and subsequent decline of the group. The estimated parameters of the birth-death process implemented here are directly comparable with those obtained from dated molecular phylogenies. Thus, our model represents a step towards integrating phylogenetic and fossil information to infer macroevolutionary processes.[BDMCMC; biodiversity trends; Birth-death process; incomplete fossil sampling; macroevolution; species rise and fall.
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