132 research outputs found

    Interactions between Predation and Resources Shape Zooplankton Population Dynamics

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    Identifying the relative importance of predation and resources in population dynamics has a long tradition in ecology, while interactions between them have been studied less intensively. In order to disentangle the effects of predation by juvenile fish, algal resource availability and their interactive effects on zooplankton population dynamics, we conducted an enclosure experiment where zooplankton were exposed to a gradient of predation of roach (Rutilus rutilus) at different algal concentrations. We show that zooplankton populations collapse under high predation pressure irrespective of resource availability, confirming that juvenile fish are able to severely reduce zooplankton prey when occurring in high densities. At lower predation pressure, however, the effect of predation depended on algal resource availability since high algal resource supply buffered against predation. Hence, we suggest that interactions between mass-hatching of fish, and the strong fluctuations in algal resources in spring have the potential to regulate zooplankton population dynamics. In a broader perspective, increasing spring temperatures due to global warming will most likely affect the timing of these processes and have consequences for the spring and summer zooplankton dynamics

    Cloud Coverage Acts as an Amplifier for Ecological Light Pollution in Urban Ecosystems

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    The diurnal cycle of light and dark is one of the strongest environmental factors for life on Earth. Many species in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems use the level of ambient light to regulate their metabolism, growth, and behavior. The sky glow caused by artificial lighting from urban areas disrupts this natural cycle, and has been shown to impact the behavior of organisms, even many kilometers away from the light sources. It could be hypothesized that factors that increase the luminance of the sky amplify the degree of this “ecological light pollution”. We show that cloud coverage dramatically amplifies the sky luminance, by a factor of 10.1 for one location inside of Berlin and by a factor of 2.8 at 32 km from the city center. We also show that inside of the city overcast nights are brighter than clear rural moonlit nights, by a factor of 4.1. These results have important implications for choronobiological and chronoecological studies in urban areas, where this amplification effect has previously not been considered

    Strong differences in the clonal variation of two Daphnia species from mountain lakes affected by overwintering strategy

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    <p>Abstract</p> <p>Background</p> <p>The population structure of cyclical parthenogens such as water fleas is strongly influenced by the frequency of alternations between sexual and asexual (parthenogenetic) reproduction, which may differ among populations and species. We studied genetic variation within six populations of two closely related species of water fleas of the genus <it>Daphnia </it>(Crustacea, Cladocera). <it>D. galeata </it>and <it>D. longispina </it>both occur in lakes in the Tatra Mountains (Central Europe), but their populations show distinct life history strategies in that region. In three studied lakes inhabited by <it>D. galeata</it>, daphnids overwinter under the ice as adult females. In contrast, in lakes inhabited by <it>D. longispina</it>, populations apparently disappear from the water column and overwinter as dormant eggs in lake sediments. We investigated to what extent these different strategies lead to differences in the clonal composition of late summer populations.</p> <p>Results</p> <p>Analysis of genetic variation at nine microsatellite loci revealed that clonal richness (expressed as the proportion of different multilocus genotypes, MLGs, in the whole analysed sample) consistently differed between the two studied species. In the three <it>D. longispina </it>populations, very high clonal richness was found (MLG/N ranging from 0.97 to 1.00), whereas in <it>D. galeata </it>it was much lower (0.05 to 0.50). The dominant MLGs in all <it>D. galeata </it>populations were heterozygous at five or more loci, suggesting that such individuals all represented the same clonal lineages rather than insufficiently resolved groups of different clones.</p> <p>Conclusions</p> <p>The low clonal diversities and significant deviations from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium in <it>D. galeata </it>populations were likely a consequence of strong clonal erosion over extended periods of time (several years or even decades) and the limited influence of sexual reproduction. Our data reveal that populations of closely related <it>Daphnia </it>species living in relatively similar habitats (permanent, oligotrophic mountain lakes) within the same region may show strikingly different genetic structures, which most likely depend on their reproductive strategy during unfavourable periods. We assume that similar impacts of life history on population structures are also relevant for other cyclical parthenogen groups. In extreme cases, prolonged clonal erosion may result in the dominance of a single clone within a population, which might limit its microevolutionary potential if selection pressures suddenly change.</p

    Nucleic Acid Content in Crustacean Zooplankton: Bridging Metabolic and Stoichiometric Predictions

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    Metabolic and stoichiometric theories of ecology have provided broad complementary principles to understand ecosystem processes across different levels of biological organization. We tested several of their cornerstone hypotheses by measuring the nucleic acid (NA) and phosphorus (P) content of crustacean zooplankton species in 22 high mountain lakes (Sierra Nevada and the Pyrenees mountains, Spain). The P-allocation hypothesis (PAH) proposes that the genome size is smaller in cladocerans than in copepods as a result of selection for fast growth towards P-allocation from DNA to RNA under P limitation. Consistent with the PAH, the RNA:DNA ratio was >8-fold higher in cladocerans than in copepods, although ‘fast-growth’ cladocerans did not always exhibit higher RNA and lower DNA contents in comparison to ‘slow-growth’ copepods. We also showed strong associations among growth rate, RNA, and total P content supporting the growth rate hypothesis, which predicts that fast-growing organisms have high P content because of the preferential allocation to P-rich ribosomal RNA. In addition, we found that ontogenetic variability in NA content of the copepod Mixodiaptomus laciniatus (intra- and interstage variability) was comparable to the interspecific variability across other zooplankton species. Further, according to the metabolic theory of ecology, temperature should enhance growth rate and hence RNA demands. RNA content in zooplankton was correlated with temperature, but the relationships were nutrient-dependent, with a positive correlation in nutrient-rich ecosystems and a negative one in those with scarce nutrients. Overall our results illustrate the mechanistic connections among organismal NA content, growth rate, nutrients and temperature, contributing to the conceptual unification of metabolic and stoichiometric theories.This research was supported by the Spanish Ministries of Science and Innovation (CGL2011-23681/BOS), and Environment, Rural and Marine Affairs (OAPN2009/067); ‘Consejería de Innovación, Ciencia y Empresa – Junta de Andalucía’ (Excelencia CVI-02598; P09-RNM-5376); The Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (FORMAS) and Stockholm University’s strategic marine environmental research program ‘Baltic Ecosystem Adaptive Management’, and a Spanish government ‘Formación de Profesorado Universitario’ fellowship to F.J. Bullejos

    Maternal environment shapes the life history and susceptibility to malaria of Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes

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    BACKGROUND: It is becoming generally recognized that an individual's phenotype can be shaped not only by its own genotype and environmental experience, but also by its mother's environment and condition. Maternal environmental factors can influence mosquitoes' population dynamics and susceptibility to malaria, and therefore directly and indirectly the epidemiology of malaria. METHODS: In a full factorial experiment, the effects of two environmental stressors - food availability and infection with the microsporidian parasite Vavraia culicis - of female mosquitoes (Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto) on their offspring's development, survival and susceptibility to malaria were studied. RESULTS: The offspring of A. gambiae s.s. mothers infected with V. culicis developed into adults more slowly than those of uninfected mothers. This effect was exacerbated when mothers were reared on low food. Maternal food availability had no effect on the survival of their offspring up to emergence, and microsporidian infection decreased survival only slightly. Low food availability for mothers increased and V. culicis-infection of mothers decreased the likelihood that the offspring fed on malaria-infected blood harboured malaria parasites (but neither maternal treatment influenced their survival up to dissection). CONCLUSIONS: Resource availability and infection with V. culicis of A. gambiae s.s. mosquitoes not only acted as direct environmental stimuli for changes in the success of one generation, but could also lead to maternal effects. Maternal V. culicis infection could make offspring more resistant and less likely to transmit malaria, thus enhancing the efficacy of the microsporidian for the biological control of malaria

    Reproductive Flexibility: Genetic Variation, Genetic Costs and Long-Term Evolution in a Collembola

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    In a variable yet predictable world, organisms may use environmental cues to make adaptive adjustments to their phenotype. Such phenotypic flexibility is expected commonly to evolve in life history traits, which are closely tied to Darwinian fitness. Yet adaptive life history flexibility remains poorly documented. Here we introduce the collembolan Folsomia candida, a soil-dweller, parthenogenetic (all-female) microarthropod, as a model organism to study the phenotypic expression, genetic variation, fitness consequences and long-term evolution of life history flexibility. We demonstrate that collembola have a remarkable adaptive ability for adjusting their reproductive phenotype: when transferred from harsh to good conditions (in terms of food ration and crowding), a mother can fine-tune the number and the size of her eggs from one clutch to the next. The comparative analysis of eleven clonal populations of worldwide origins reveals (i) genetic variation in mean egg size under both good and bad conditions; (ii) no genetic variation in egg size flexibility, consistent with convergent evolution to a common physiological limit; (iii) genetic variation of both mean reproductive investment and reproductive investment flexibility, associated with a reversal of the genetic correlation between egg size and clutch size between environmental conditions ; (iv) a negative genetic correlation between reproductive investment flexibility and adult lifespan. Phylogenetic reconstruction shows that two life history strategies, called HIFLEX and LOFLEX, evolved early in evolutionary history. HIFLEX includes six of our 11 clones, and is characterized by large mean egg size and reproductive investment, high reproductive investment flexibility, and low adult survival. LOFLEX (the other five clones) has small mean egg size and low reproductive investment, low reproductive investment flexibility, and high adult survival. The divergence of HIFLEX and LOFLEX could represent different adaptations to environments differing in mean quality and variability, or indicate that a genetic polymorphism of reproductive investment reaction norms has evolved under a physiological tradeoff between reproductive investment flexibility and adult lifespan