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19 March 2018

A distinctive new frog species (Anura, Mantellidae) supports the biogeographic linkage of two montane rainforest massifs in northern Madagascar [Zoosystematics and Evolution]

We describe a new species of the genus Gephyromantis, subgenus Gephyromantis Vatomantis (Mantellidae, Mantellinae), from moderately high elevation (1164–1394 m a.s.l.) on the Marojejy, Sorata, and Andravory Massifs in northern Madagascar. The new species, Gephyromantis (Vatomantis) lomorina sp. n. is highly distinct from all other species, and was immediately recognisable as an undescribed taxon upon its discovery. It is characterised by a granular, mottled black and green skin, reddish eyes, paired subgular vocal sacs of partly white colour, bulbous femoral glands present only in males and consisting of three large granules, white ventral spotting, and a unique, amplitude-modulated advertisement call consisting of a series of 24–29 rapid, quiet notes at a dominant frequency of 5124–5512 Hz.(...)

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19 March 2018

Diversity within diversity: Parasite species richness in poison frogs assessed by transcriptomics [Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution]

Keywords transcriptomics, co-diversification, amphibians, aposematism, parasitology

Symbionts (e.g., endoparasites and commensals) play an integral role in their host’s ecology, yet in many cases their diversity is likely underestimated. Although endoparasites are traditionally characterized using morphology, sequences of conserved genes, and shotgun metagenomics, host transcriptomes constitute an underused resource to identify these organisms’ diversity. By isolating non-host transcripts from host transcriptomes, individual host tissues can now simultaneously reveal their endoparasite species richness (i.e., number of different taxa) and provide insights into parasite gene expression. These approaches can be used in host taxa whose endoparasites are mostly unknown, such as those of tropical amphibians. Here, we focus on the poison frogs (Dendrobatidae) as hosts, which are a Neotropical clade known for their bright coloration and defensive alkaloids. These toxins are an effective protection against vertebrate predators (e.g., snakes and birds), bacteria, and skin-biting ectoparasites (e.g., mosquitoes); however, little is known about their deterrence against eukaryotic endoparasites.(...)

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16 March 2018

Freshwater ecoacoustics as a tool for continuous ecosystem monitoring [Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment]

Passive acoustic monitoring is gaining popularity in ecology as a practical and non-invasive approach to surveying ecosystems. This technique is increasingly being used to monitor terrestrial systems, particularly bird populations, given that it can help to track temporal dynamics of populations and ecosystem health without the need for expensive resampling. We suggest that underwater acoustic monitoring presents a viable, non-invasive, and largely unexplored approach to monitoring freshwater ecosystems, yielding information about three key ecological elements of aquatic environments – (1) fishes, (2) macroinvertebrates, and (3) physicochemical processes – as well as providing data on anthropogenic noise levels.(...)

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16 March 2018

Protecting marine mammals, turtles, and birds by rebuilding global fisheries [Science]

Reductions in global fishing pressure are needed to end overfishing of target species and maximize the value of fisheries. We ask whether such reductions would also be sufficient to protect non–target species threatened as bycatch. We compare changes in fishing pressure needed to maximize profits from 4713 target fish stocks—accounting for >75% of global catch—to changes in fishing pressure needed to reverse ongoing declines of 20 marine mammal, sea turtle, and seabird populations threatened as bycatch.(...)

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16 March 2018

Comparative analysis examining patterns of genomic differentiation across multiple episodes of population divergence in birds [Evolution Letters]

Keywords : bird, genomic differentiation, genomic hitchhiking, islands of differentiation, population divergence, speciation

Heterogeneous patterns of genomic differentiation are commonly documented between closely related populations and there is considerable interest in identifying factors that contribute to their formation. These factors could include genomic features (e.g., areas of low recombination) that promote processes like linked selection (positive or purifying selection that affects linked neutral sites) at specific genomic regions. Examinations of repeatable patterns of differentiation across population pairs can provide insight into the role of these factors. Birds are well suited for this work, as genome structure is conserved across this group. Accordingly, we reestimated relative (FST) and absolute (dXY) differentiation between eight sister pairs of birds that span a broad taxonomic range using a common pipeline.(...)

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