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26 Jan 2022 at 01:36
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Bibliography on: Sociobiology


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RJR: Recommended Bibliography 26 Jan 2022 at 01:36 Created: 


Sociobiology is a field of scientific study that is based on the hypothesis that social behavior has resulted from evolution and attempts to examine and explain social behavior within that context. Sociobiology investigates social behaviors, such as mating patterns, territorial fights, pack hunting, and the hive society of social insects. It argues that just as selection pressure led to animals evolving useful ways of interacting with the natural environment, it led to the genetic evolution of advantageous social behavior. While the term "sociobiology" can be traced to the 1940s, the concept did not gain major recognition until the publication of Edward O. Wilson's book Sociobiology: The New Synthesis in 1975.

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Citations The Papers (from PubMed®)


RevDate: 2021-12-28
CmpDate: 2021-12-28

Madeo D, Salvatore S, Mannarini T, et al (2021)

Modeling pluralism and self-regulation explains the emergence of cooperation in networked societies.

Scientific reports, 11(1):19226.

Understanding the dynamics of cooperative behavior of individuals in complex societies represents a fundamental research question which puzzles scientists working in heterogeneous fields. Many studies have been developed using the unitary agent assumption, which embeds the idea that when making decisions, individuals share the same socio-cultural parameters. In this paper, we propose the ECHO-EGN model, based on Evolutionary Game Theory, which relaxes this strong assumption by considering the heterogeneity of three fundamental socio-cultural aspects ruling the behavior of groups of people: the propensity to be more cooperative with members of the same group (Endogamic cooperation), the propensity to cooperate with the public domain (Civicness) and the propensity to prefer connections with members of the same group (Homophily). The ECHO-EGN model is shown to have high performance in describing real world behavior of interacting individuals living in complex environments. Extensive numerical experiments allowing the comparison of real data and model simulations confirmed that the introduction of the above mechanisms enhances the realism in the modelling of cooperation dynamics. Additionally, theoretical findings allow us to conclude that endogamic cooperation may limit significantly the emergence of cooperation.

RevDate: 2021-12-23

Iacob GM, Craioveanu C, Hula V, et al (2021)

Improving the Knowledge on Distribution, Food Preferences and DNA Barcoding of Natura 2000 Protected Species Paracossulus thrips (Lepidoptera, Cossidae) in Romania.

Insects, 12(12): pii:insects12121087.

Paracossulus thrips (Lepidoptera, Cossidae) is one of the locally distributed and endangered species. In Europe, it is also one of the few protected moth species, through Annexes II and IV of the Council Directive 92/43/EEC, Annex II of the Bern Convention. To date, little is known about the biology and ecology of this species. Our study was conducted in Transylvania, Romania. Romania hosts some of the strongest populations of the species in the European region. As part of the study, we conducted field observations, vegetation analyses, and genetic analyses. In our paper, we show the habitat types where we encounter P. thrips in Transylvania and confirm Phlomis tuberosa as a host plant. Furthermore, a piece of important information for habitat conservation is given. In this paper, we present the eggs and larvae of P. thrips, the first DNA barcoding sequences, and four new populations of P. thrips in Romania. Our study provides baseline knowledge about the biology and ecology of P. thrips, which is important for conservation and establishing management measures.

RevDate: 2021-12-11

Grittner R, Baird E, A Stöckl (2021)

Spatial tuning of translational optic flow responses in hawkmoths of varying body size.

Journal of comparative physiology. A, Neuroethology, sensory, neural, and behavioral physiology [Epub ahead of print].

To safely navigate their environment, flying insects rely on visual cues, such as optic flow. Which cues insects can extract from their environment depends closely on the spatial and temporal response properties of their visual system. These in turn can vary between individuals that differ in body size. How optic flow-based flight control depends on the spatial structure of visual cues, and how this relationship scales with body size, has previously been investigated in insects with apposition compound eyes. Here, we characterised the visual flight control response limits and their relationship to body size in an insect with superposition compound eyes: the hummingbird hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum. We used the hawkmoths' centring response in a flight tunnel as a readout for their reception of translational optic flow stimuli of different spatial frequencies. We show that their responses cut off at different spatial frequencies when translational optic flow was presented on either one, or both tunnel walls. Combined with differences in flight speed, this suggests that their flight control was primarily limited by their temporal rather than spatial resolution. We also observed strong individual differences in flight performance, but no correlation between the spatial response cutoffs and body or eye size.

RevDate: 2021-12-01

Pisokas I, Rössler W, Webb B, et al (2021)

Anesthesia disrupts distance, but not direction, of path integration memory.

Current biology : CB pii:S0960-9822(21)01598-0 [Epub ahead of print].

Solitary foraging insects, such as ants, maintain an estimate of the direction and distance to their starting location as they move away from it, in a process known as path integration. This estimate, commonly known as the "home vector," is updated continuously as the ant moves1-4 and is reset as soon as it enters its nest,5 yet ants prevented from returning to their nest can still use their home vector when released several hours later.6,7 This conjunction of fast update and long persistence of the home vector memory does not directly map to existing accounts of short-, mid-, and long-term memory;2,8-12 hence, the substrate of this memory remains unknown. Chill-coma anesthesia13-15 has previously been shown to affect associative memory retention in fruit flies14,16 and honeybees.9,17,18 We investigate the nature of path integration memory by anesthetizing ants after they have accumulated home vector information and testing if the memory persists on recovery. We show that after anesthesia the memory of the distance ants have traveled is degraded, but the memory of the direction is retained. We also show that this is consistent with models of path integration that maintain the memory in a redundant Cartesian coordinate system and with the hypothesis that chill-coma produces a proportional reduction of the memory, rather than a subtractive reduction or increase of noise. The observed effect is not compatible with a memory based on recurrent circuit activity and points toward an activity-dependent molecular process as the basis of path integration memory.

RevDate: 2021-12-01

Bollazzi M, Römer D, F Roces (2021)

Carbon dioxide levels and ventilation in Acromyrmex nests: significance and evolution of architectural innovations in leaf-cutting ants.

Royal Society open science, 8(11):210907 pii:rsos210907.

Leaf-cutting ant colonies largely differ in size, yet all consume O2 and produce CO2 in large amounts because of their underground fungus gardens. We have shown that in the Acromyrmex genus, three basic nest morphologies occur, and investigated the effects of architectural innovations on nest ventilation. We recognized (i) serial nests, similar to the ancestral type of the sister genus Trachymyrmex, with chambers excavated along a vertical tunnel connecting to the outside via a single opening, (ii) shallow nests, with one/few chambers extending shallowly with multiple connections to the outside, and (iii) thatched nests, with an above-ground fungus garden covered with plant material. Ventilation in shallow and thatched nests, but not in serial nests, occurred via wind-induced flows and thermal convection. CO2 concentrations were below the values known to affect the respiration of the symbiotic fungus, indicating that shallow and thatched nests are not constrained by harmful CO2 levels. Serial nests may be constrained depending on the soil CO2 levels. We suggest that in Acromyrmex, selective pressures acting on temperature and humidity control led to nesting habits closer to or above the soil surface and to the evolution of architectural innovations that improved gas exchanges.

RevDate: 2021-11-24

Henke-von der Malsburg J, Kappeler PM, C Fichtel (2021)

Linking cognition to ecology in wild sympatric mouse lemur species.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 288(1963):20211728.

Cognitive abilities covary with both social and ecological factors across animal taxa. Ecological generalists have been attributed with enhanced cognitive abilities, but which specific ecological factors may have shaped the evolution of which specific cognitive abilities remains poorly known. To explore these links, we applied a cognitive test battery (two personality, ten cognitive tests; n = 1104 tests) to wild individuals of two sympatric mouse lemur species (n = 120 Microcebus murinus, n = 34 M. berthae) varying in ecological adaptations but sharing key features of their social systems. The habitat and dietary generalist grey mouse lemurs were more innovative and exhibited better spatial learning abilities; a cognitive advantage in responding adaptively to dynamic environmental conditions. The more specialized Madame Berthe's mouse lemurs were faster in learning associative reward contingencies, providing relative advantages in stable environmental conditions. Hence, our study revealed key cognitive correlates of ecological adaptations and indicates potential cognitive constraints of specialists that may help explain why they face a greater extinction risk in the context of current environmental changes.

RevDate: 2021-11-23

Eckert J, Bohn M, J Spaethe (2021)

Does quantity matter to a stingless bee?.

Animal cognition [Epub ahead of print].

Quantitative information is omnipresent in the world and a wide range of species has been shown to use quantities to optimize their decisions. While most studies have focused on vertebrates, a growing body of research demonstrates that also insects such as honeybees possess basic quantitative abilities that might aid them in finding profitable flower patches. However, it remains unclear if for insects, quantity is a salient feature relative to other stimulus dimensions, or if it is only used as a "last resort" strategy in case other stimulus dimensions are inconclusive. Here, we tested the stingless bee Trigona fuscipennis, a species representative of a vastly understudied group of tropical pollinators, in a quantity discrimination task. In four experiments, we trained wild, free-flying bees on stimuli that depicted either one or four elements. Subsequently, bees were confronted with a choice between stimuli that matched the training stimulus either in terms of quantity or another stimulus dimension. We found that bees were able to discriminate between the two quantities, but performance differed depending on which quantity was rewarded. Furthermore, quantity was more salient than was shape. However, quantity did not measurably influence the bees' decisions when contrasted with color or surface area. Our results demonstrate that just as honeybees, small-brained stingless bees also possess basic quantitative abilities. Moreover, invertebrate pollinators seem to utilize quantity not only as "last resort" but as a salient stimulus dimension. Our study contributes to the growing body of knowledge on quantitative cognition in invertebrate species and adds to our understanding of the evolution of numerical cognition.

RevDate: 2021-11-17
CmpDate: 2021-11-17

Umek W, B Fischer (2020)

We Should Abandon "Race" as a Biological Category in Biomedical Research.

Female pelvic medicine & reconstructive surgery, 26(12):719-720.

RevDate: 2021-11-09
CmpDate: 2021-11-09

Crabtree SA, White DA, Bradshaw CJA, et al (2021)

Landscape rules predict optimal superhighways for the first peopling of Sahul.

Nature human behaviour, 5(10):1303-1313.

Archaeological data and demographic modelling suggest that the peopling of Sahul required substantial populations, occurred rapidly within a few thousand years and encompassed environments ranging from hyper-arid deserts to temperate uplands and tropical rainforests. How this migration occurred and how humans responded to the physical environments they encountered have, however, remained largely speculative. By constructing a high-resolution digital elevation model for Sahul and coupling it with fine-scale viewshed analysis of landscape prominence, least-cost pedestrian travel modelling and high-performance computing, we create over 125 billion potential migratory pathways, whereby the most parsimonious routes traversed emerge. Our analysis revealed several major pathways-superhighways-transecting the continent, that we evaluated using archaeological data. These results suggest that the earliest Australian ancestors adopted a set of fundamental rules shaped by physiological capacity, attraction to visually prominent landscape features and freshwater distribution to maximize survival, even without previous experience of the landscapes they encountered.

RevDate: 2021-10-22

Fleischmann PN, Grob R, W Rössler (2021)

Magnetosensation during re-learning walks in desert ants (Cataglyphis nodus).

Journal of comparative physiology. A, Neuroethology, sensory, neural, and behavioral physiology [Epub ahead of print].

At the beginning of their foraging careers, Cataglyphis desert ants calibrate their compass systems and learn the visual panorama surrounding the nest entrance. For that, they perform well-structured initial learning walks. During rotational body movements (pirouettes), naïve ants (novices) gaze back to the nest entrance to memorize their way back to the nest. To align their gaze directions, they rely on the geomagnetic field as a compass cue. In contrast, experienced ants (foragers) use celestial compass cues for path integration during food search. If the panorama at the nest entrance is changed, foragers perform re-learning walks prior to heading out on new foraging excursions. Here, we show that initial learning walks and re-learning walks are structurally different. During re-learning walks, foragers circle around the nest entrance before leaving the nest area to search for food. During pirouettes, they do not gaze back to the nest entrance. In addition, foragers do not use the magnetic field as a compass cue to align their gaze directions during re-learning walk pirouettes. Nevertheless, magnetic alterations during re-learning walks under manipulated panoramic conditions induce changes in nest-directed views indicating that foragers are still magnetosensitive in a cue conflict situation.

RevDate: 2021-09-28

Schilcher F, Thamm M, Strube-Bloss M, et al (2021)

Opposing Actions of Octopamine and Tyramine on Honeybee Vision.

Biomolecules, 11(9): pii:biom11091374.

The biogenic amines octopamine and tyramine are important neurotransmitters in insects and other protostomes. They play a pivotal role in the sensory responses, learning and memory and social organisation of honeybees. Generally, octopamine and tyramine are believed to fulfil similar roles as their deuterostome counterparts epinephrine and norepinephrine. In some cases opposing functions of both amines have been observed. In this study, we examined the functions of tyramine and octopamine in honeybee responses to light. As a first step, electroretinography was used to analyse the effect of both amines on sensory sensitivity at the photoreceptor level. Here, the maximum receptor response was increased by octopamine and decreased by tyramine. As a second step, phototaxis experiments were performed to quantify the behavioural responses to light following treatment with either amine. Octopamine increased the walking speed towards different light sources while tyramine decreased it. This was independent of locomotor activity. Our results indicate that tyramine and octopamine act as functional opposites in processing responses to light.

RevDate: 2021-09-26

Scheiner R, Lim K, Meixner MD, et al (2021)

Comparing the Appetitive Learning Performance of Six European Honeybee Subspecies in a Common Apiary.

Insects, 12(9): pii:insects12090768.

The Western honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) is one of the most widespread insects with numerous subspecies in its native range. How far adaptation to local habitats has affected the cognitive skills of the different subspecies is an intriguing question that we investigate in this study. Naturally mated queens of the following five subspecies from different parts of Europe were transferred to Southern Germany: A. m. iberiensis from Portugal, A. m. mellifera from Belgium, A. m. macedonica from Greece, A. m. ligustica from Italy, and A. m. ruttneri from Malta. We also included the local subspecies A. m. carnica in our study. New colonies were built up in a common apiary where the respective queens were introduced. Worker offspring from the different subspecies were compared in classical olfactory learning performance using the proboscis extension response. Prior to conditioning, we measured individual sucrose responsiveness to investigate whether possible differences in learning performances were due to differential responsiveness to the sugar water reward. Most subspecies did not differ in their appetitive learning performance. However, foragers of the Iberian honeybee, A. m. iberiensis, performed significantly more poorly, despite having a similar sucrose responsiveness. We discuss possible causes for the poor performance of the Iberian honeybees, which may have been shaped by adaptation to the local habitat.

RevDate: 2021-09-11

Püffel F, Pouget A, Liu X, et al (2021)

Morphological determinants of bite force capacity in insects: a biomechanical analysis of polymorphic leaf-cutter ants.

Journal of the Royal Society, Interface, 18(182):20210424.

The extraordinary success of social insects is partially based on division of labour, i.e. individuals exclusively or preferentially perform specific tasks. Task preference may correlate with morphological adaptations so implying task specialization, but the extent of such specialization can be difficult to determine. Here, we demonstrate how the physical foundation of some tasks can be leveraged to quantitatively link morphology and performance. We study the allometry of bite force capacity in Atta vollenweideri leaf-cutter ants, polymorphic insects in which the mechanical processing of plant material is a key aspect of the behavioural portfolio. Through a morphometric analysis of tomographic scans, we show that the bite force capacity of the heaviest colony workers is twice as large as predicted by isometry. This disproportionate 'boost' is predominantly achieved through increased investment in muscle volume; geometrical parameters such as mechanical advantage, fibre length or pennation angle are likely constrained by the need to maintain a constant mandibular opening range. We analyse this preference for an increase in size-specific muscle volume and the adaptations in internal and external head anatomy required to accommodate it with simple geometric and physical models, so providing a quantitative understanding of the functional anatomy of the musculoskeletal bite apparatus in insects.

RevDate: 2021-08-27

Scherz P (2021)

Life as an Intelligence Test: Intelligence, Education, and Behavioral Genetics.

Culture, medicine and psychiatry [Epub ahead of print].

Using the large datasets available with new gene sequencing and biobank projects, behavioral geneticists are developing tools that attempt to predict individual intelligence based on genetics. These predictive tools are meant to enable a 'precision education' that will transform society. These technological developments have not changed the fundamental aims of a program with a long history. Behavioral genetics is continuous with previous attempts to match personal characteristics to heredity, such as sociobiology and evolutionary psychology, and threatens racial and other forms of bias. From these older paradigms, it inherits an understanding of intelligence as informational processing shaped by mechanistic and computational metaphors as well as a view of society and education organized around competition. Because of these influences, these models misdescribe fundamental aspects of human engagement with the world and disregard other concepts of intelligence, which creates problems for the precision education that researchers hope to construct using genetic knowledge.

RevDate: 2021-09-25

Heinze S, El Jundi B, Berg BG, et al (2021)

A unified platform to manage, share, and archive morphological and functional data in insect neuroscience.

eLife, 10:.

Insect neuroscience generates vast amounts of highly diverse data, of which only a small fraction are findable, accessible and reusable. To promote an open data culture, we have therefore developed the InsectBrainDatabase (IBdb), a free online platform for insect neuroanatomical and functional data. The IBdb facilitates biological insight by enabling effective cross-species comparisons, by linking neural structure with function, and by serving as general information hub for insect neuroscience. The IBdb allows users to not only effectively locate and visualize data, but to make them widely available for easy, automated reuse via an application programming interface. A unique private mode of the database expands the IBdb functionality beyond public data deposition, additionally providing the means for managing, visualizing, and sharing of unpublished data. This dual function creates an incentive for data contribution early in data management workflows and eliminates the additional effort normally associated with publicly depositing research data.

RevDate: 2021-08-30

Kavanagh E, Street SE, Angwela FO, et al (2021)

Dominance style is a key predictor of vocal use and evolution across nonhuman primates.

Royal Society open science, 8(7):210873.

Animal communication has long been thought to be subject to pressures and constraints associated with social relationships. However, our understanding of how the nature and quality of social relationships relates to the use and evolution of communication is limited by a lack of directly comparable methods across multiple levels of analysis. Here, we analysed observational data from 111 wild groups belonging to 26 non-human primate species, to test how vocal communication relates to dominance style (the strictness with which a dominance hierarchy is enforced, ranging from 'despotic' to 'tolerant'). At the individual-level, we found that dominant individuals who were more tolerant vocalized at a higher rate than their despotic counterparts. This indicates that tolerance within a relationship may place pressure on the dominant partner to communicate more during social interactions. At the species-level, however, despotic species exhibited a larger repertoire of hierarchy-related vocalizations than their tolerant counterparts. Findings suggest primate signals are used and evolve in tandem with the nature of interactions that characterize individuals' social relationships.

RevDate: 2021-08-06

Guignard Q, Spaethe J, Slippers B, et al (2021)

Evidence for UV-green dichromacy in the basal hymenopteran Sirex noctilio (Siricidae).

Scientific reports, 11(1):15601.

A precondition for colour vision is the presence of at least two spectral types of photoreceptors in the eye. The order Hymenoptera is traditionally divided into the Apocrita (ants, bees, wasps) and the Symphyta (sawflies, woodwasps, horntails). Most apocritan species possess three different photoreceptor types. In contrast, physiological studies in the Symphyta have reported one to four photoreceptor types. To better understand the evolution of photoreceptor diversity in the Hymenoptera, we studied the Symphyta Sirex noctilio, which belongs to the superfamily Siricoidea, a closely related group of the Apocrita suborder. Our aim was to (i) identify the photoreceptor types of the compound eye by electroretinography (ERG), (ii) characterise the visual opsin genes of S. noctilio by genomic comparisons and phylogenetic analyses and (iii) analyse opsin mRNA expression. ERG measurements revealed two photoreceptor types in the compound eye, maximally sensitive to 527 and 364 nm. In addition, we identified three opsins in the genome, homologous to the hymenopteran green or long-wavelength sensitive (LW) LW1, LW2 and ultra-violet sensitive (UV) opsin genes. The LW1 and UV opsins were found to be expressed in the compound eyes, and LW2 and UV opsins in the ocelli. The lack of a blue or short-wavelength sensitive (SW) homologous opsin gene and a corresponding receptor suggests that S. noctilio is a UV-green dichromate.

RevDate: 2021-09-11

Grob R, Heinig N, Grübel K, et al (2021)

Sex-specific and caste-specific brain adaptations related to spatial orientation in Cataglyphis ants.

The Journal of comparative neurology [Epub ahead of print].

Cataglyphis desert ants are charismatic central place foragers. After long-ranging foraging trips, individual workers navigate back to their nest relying mostly on visual cues. The reproductive caste faces other orientation challenges, i.e. mate finding and colony foundation. Here we compare brain structures involved in spatial orientation of Cataglyphis nodus males, gynes, and foragers by quantifying relative neuropil volumes associated with two visual pathways, and numbers and volumes of antennal lobe (AL) olfactory glomeruli. Furthermore, we determined absolute numbers of synaptic complexes in visual and olfactory regions of the mushroom bodies (MB) and a major relay station of the sky-compass pathway to the central complex (CX). Both female castes possess enlarged brain centers for sensory integration, learning, and memory, reflected in voluminous MBs containing about twice the numbers of synaptic complexes compared with males. Overall, male brains are smaller compared with both female castes, but the relative volumes of the optic lobes and CX are enlarged indicating the importance of visual guidance during innate behaviors. Male ALs contain greatly enlarged glomeruli, presumably involved in sex-pheromone detection. Adaptations at both the neuropil and synaptic levels clearly reflect differences in sex-specific and caste-specific demands for sensory processing and behavioral plasticity underlying spatial orientation.

RevDate: 2021-08-11

Thamm M, Wagler K, Brockmann A, et al (2021)

Tyramine 1 Receptor Distribution in the Brain of Corbiculate Bees Points to a Conserved Function.

Brain, behavior and evolution, 96(1):13-25.

Sucrose represents an important carbohydrate source for most bee species. In the Western honeybee (Apis mellifera) it was shown that individual sucrose responsiveness correlates with the task performed in the colony, supporting the response threshold theory which states that individuals with the lowest threshold for a task-associated stimuli will perform the associated task. Tyramine was shown to modulate sucrose responsiveness, most likely via the tyramine 1 receptor. This receptor is located in brain areas important for the processing of gustatory stimuli. We asked whether the spatial expression pattern of the tyramine 1 receptor is a unique adaptation of honeybees or if its expression represents a conserved trait. Using a specific tyramine receptor 1 antibody, we compared the spatial expression of this receptor in the brain of different corbiculate bee species, including eusocial honeybees, bumblebees, stingless bees, and the solitary bee Osmia bicornis as an outgroup. We found a similar labeling pattern in the mushroom bodies, the central complex, the dorsal lobe, and the gnathal ganglia, indicating a conserved receptor expression. With respect to sucrose responsiveness this result is of special importance. We assume that the tyramine 1 receptor expression in these neuropiles provides the basis for modulation of sucrose responsiveness. Furthermore, the tyramine 1 receptor expression seems to be independent of size, as labeling is similar in bee species that differ greatly in their body size. However, the situation in the optic lobes appears to be different. Here, the lobula of stingless bees is clearly labeled by the tyramine receptor 1 antibody, whereas this labeling is absent in other species. This indicates that the regulation of this receptor is different in the optic lobes, while its function in this neuropile remains unclear.

RevDate: 2021-07-10

Uiuiu P, Lațiu C, Păpuc T, et al (2021)

Multi-Approach Assessment for Stress Evaluation in Rainbow Trout Females, Oncorhynchus mykiss (Walbaum, 1792) from Three Different Farms during the Summer Season.

Animals : an open access journal from MDPI, 11(6):.

Blood biochemistry parameters are valuable tools for monitoring fish health. Their baseline values are still undefined for a multitude of farmed fish species. In this study, changes in the blood profile of rainbow trout females (Oncorhynchus mykiss) from three farms were investigated using different biomarkers during the summer season. In the given context, the main water physicochemical parameters were investigated and twelve biochemical parameters were measured from blood samples of rainbow trout reared in the Fiad, Șoimul de Jos, and Strâmba farms. We selected these farms because the genetic background of the rainbow trout is the same, with all studied specimens coming from the Fiad farm, which has an incubation station. Forty-five samples were collected monthly (May to August) throughout summer to observe the changes in the blood profile of rainbow trout. Principal component analysis showed a clear separation both among the studied farms and months. Furthermore, significant correlations (p < 0.05) between the majority of the biochemical parameters were found, indicating that the environmental parameters can influence several blood parameters at the same time. The present study provides several useful norms for assessing the welfare of rainbow trout, indicating that the relationships among different parameters are important factors in interpreting the blood biochemical profiles.

RevDate: 2021-06-28

Rother L, Kraft N, Smith DB, et al (2021)

A micro-CT-based standard brain atlas of the bumblebee.

Cell and tissue research [Epub ahead of print].

In recent years, bumblebees have become a prominent insect model organism for a variety of biological disciplines, particularly to investigate learning behaviors as well as visual performance. Understanding these behaviors and their underlying neurobiological principles requires a clear understanding of brain anatomy. Furthermore, to be able to compare neuronal branching patterns across individuals, a common framework is required, which has led to the development of 3D standard brain atlases in most of the neurobiological insect model species. Yet, no bumblebee 3D standard brain atlas has been generated. Here we present a brain atlas for the buff-tailed bumblebee Bombus terrestris using micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) scans as a source for the raw data sets, rather than traditional confocal microscopy, to produce the first ever micro-CT-based insect brain atlas. We illustrate the advantages of the micro-CT technique, namely, identical native resolution in the three cardinal planes and 3D structure being better preserved. Our Bombus terrestris brain atlas consists of 30 neuropils reconstructed from ten individual worker bees, with micro-CT allowing us to segment neuropils completely intact, including the lamina, which is a tissue structure often damaged when dissecting for immunolabeling. Our brain atlas can serve as a platform to facilitate future neuroscience studies in bumblebees and illustrates the advantages of micro-CT for specific applications in insect neuroanatomy.

RevDate: 2021-06-25

Philippon J, Serrano-Martínez E, C Poirotte (2021)

Environmental and individual determinants of fecal avoidance in semi-free ranging woolly monkeys (Lagothrix lagotricha poeppigii).

American journal of physical anthropology [Epub ahead of print].

OBJECTIVES: Parasite selection pressures have driven the evolution of numerous behavioral defenses in host species, but recent studies revealed individual variation in their expression. As little is known about the factors causing heterogeneity among individuals in infection-avoidance behaviors, we investigated in woolly monkeys (Lagothrix lagotricha poeppigii) the influence of several environmental and individual characteristics on the tendency to avoid food contaminated by soil and by their own and conspecifics' feces.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We conducted feeding tests on 40 semi-free ranging individuals rescued from the pet trade. Using generalized linear mixed models, we investigated the effect of season, sex, age, dominance rank, and exposure to non-natural living conditions on feeding decisions.

RESULTS: Woolly monkeys did not avoid soil-contaminated food and equally avoided food contaminated by their own and conspecifics' feces. Individuals varied greatly in their level of fecal avoidance. Only females exhibited strong avoidance of fecally contaminated food, but adapted their behavior to food availability, highlighting the trade-off between nutritional intake and parasite avoidance. Additionally, low-ranking females, less competitive over food resources, exhibited lower avoidance than dominant ones. Juveniles were more cautious than adults, possibly to compensate for a higher parasite susceptibility. Finally, we reported an unknown effect of exposure to non-natural living conditions on behavioral defenses, as animals kept as household pets for an extended period apparently lost their ability to avoid fecally contaminated food.

CONCLUSION: We argue that striving to understand variation in infection-avoidance behaviors in natural populations is crucial to predict disease spread and inform conservation policies.

RevDate: 2021-07-03
CmpDate: 2021-06-28

Colchero F, Aburto JM, Archie EA, et al (2021)

The long lives of primates and the 'invariant rate of ageing' hypothesis.

Nature communications, 12(1):3666.

Is it possible to slow the rate of ageing, or do biological constraints limit its plasticity? We test the 'invariant rate of ageing' hypothesis, which posits that the rate of ageing is relatively fixed within species, with a collection of 39 human and nonhuman primate datasets across seven genera. We first recapitulate, in nonhuman primates, the highly regular relationship between life expectancy and lifespan equality seen in humans. We next demonstrate that variation in the rate of ageing within genera is orders of magnitude smaller than variation in pre-adult and age-independent mortality. Finally, we demonstrate that changes in the rate of ageing, but not other mortality parameters, produce striking, species-atypical changes in mortality patterns. Our results support the invariant rate of ageing hypothesis, implying biological constraints on how much the human rate of ageing can be slowed.

RevDate: 2021-06-09

Ariansen AMS (2021)

"Quiet is the New Loud": The Biosociology Debate's Absent Voices.

The American sociologist [Epub ahead of print].

In 2000, a controversial article about hormones and gender roles was published to stimulate debate about whether and how biological knowledge should be integrated in sociological research. Two decades later, this so-called biosociology debate is more relevant than ever, as biological knowledge has become widespread across societies and scientific disciplines. Hence, we as sociologists are regularly confronted with biological explanations that challenge our own explanations. Whether this happens in the scientific arena, the classroom, media, or even at social events, these situations often force us, individually, to take a stance on whether to meet such explanations with dialogue or opposition. One could therefore expect that sociologists have an interest in discussing these issues with their peers, but their lack of participation in the biosociology debate suggests otherwise. This paper explores possible reasons for this absence and how sociologists' views on biosociology are influenced by key agents - sociological associations and journals. Smith's "A Sacred project of American Sociology", and Scott's "A Sociology of Nothing" served as theoretical tools in the paper. A qualitative content analysis of presidential addresses of four sociological associations was conducted. The analyses suggest that sociologist avoid biosociology for widely different reasons, including fear that biosociology legitimizes oppression. This avoidance is probably reinforced by the leftish politization of the sociological discipline and the rightish politization of society. Overcoming obstacles to engagement in biosociology is required to safeguard the scientific integrity of sociology and enable sociologists to provide relevant contributions to research on the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change.

RevDate: 2021-06-05

Dinter K, Heistermann M, Kappeler PM, et al (2021)

Life on the edge: behavioural and physiological responses of Verreaux's sifakas (Propithecus verreauxi) to forest edges.

Primate biology, 8(1):1-13.

Forest edges change micro-environmental conditions, thereby affecting the ecology of many forest-dwelling species. Understanding such edge effects is particularly important for Malagasy primates because many of them live in highly fragmented forests today. The aim of our study was to assess the influence of forest edge effects on activity budgets, feeding ecology, and stress hormone output (measured as faecal glucocorticoid metabolite - fGCM - levels) in wild Verreaux's sifakas (Propithecus verreauxi), a group living, arboreal lemur. We observed five habituated groups: three living in the forest interior and two at an established forest edge. There was no difference in average daily temperatures between edge and interior habitats; however, within the edge site, the average daily temperature incrementally increased over 450 m from the forest edge towards the interior forest of the edge habitat, and the population density was lower at the edge site. Activity budgets differed between groups living in the two microhabitats, with individuals living near the edge spending more time travelling and less time feeding. Groups living near the edge also tended to have smaller home ranges and core areas than groups in the forest interior. In addition, edge groups had elevated average fGCM concentrations, and birth rates were lower for females living in the edge habitat. Combined with lower levels of fruit consumption at the edge, these results suggest that nutritional stress might be a limiting factor for Verreaux's sifakas when living near a forest edge. Hence, Verreaux's sifakas appear to be sensitive to microhabitat characteristics linked to forest edges; a result with implications for the conservation of this critically endangered lemurid species.

RevDate: 2021-06-15

Habenstein J, Thamm M, W Rössler (2021)

Neuropeptides as potential modulators of behavioral transitions in the ant Cataglyphis nodus.

The Journal of comparative neurology, 529(12):3155-3170.

Age-related behavioral plasticity is a major prerequisite for the ecological success of insect societies. Although ecological aspects of behavioral flexibility have been targeted in many studies, the underlying intrinsic mechanisms controlling the diverse changes in behavior along the individual life history of social insects are not completely understood. Recently, the neuropeptides allatostatin-A, corazonin, and tachykinin have been associated with the regulation of behavioral transitions in social insects. Here, we investigated changes in brain localization and expression of these neuropeptides following major behavioral transitions in Cataglyphis nodus ants. Our immunohistochemical analyses in the brain revealed that the overall branching pattern of neurons immunoreactive (ir) for the three neuropeptides is largely independent of the behavioral stages. Numerous allatostatin-A- and tachykinin-ir neurons innervate primary sensory neuropils and high-order integration centers of the brain. In contrast, the number of corazonergic neurons is restricted to only four neurons per brain hemisphere with cell bodies located in the pars lateralis and axons extending to the medial protocerebrum and the retrocerebral complex. Most interestingly, the cell-body volumes of these neurons are significantly increased in foragers compared to freshly eclosed ants and interior workers. Quantification of mRNA expression levels revealed a stage-related change in the expression of allatostatin-A and corazonin mRNA in the brain. Given the presence of the neuropeptides in major control centers of the brain and the neurohemal organs, these mRNA-changes strongly suggest an important modulatory role of both neuropeptides in the behavioral maturation of Cataglyphis ants.

RevDate: 2021-07-25

Fouks B, Brand P, Nguyen HN, et al (2021)

The genomic basis of evolutionary differentiation among honey bees.

Genome research [Epub ahead of print].

In contrast to the western honey bee, Apis mellifera, other honey bee species have been largely neglected despite their importance and diversity. The genetic basis of the evolutionary diversification of honey bees remains largely unknown. Here, we provide a genome-wide comparison of three honey bee species, each representing one of the three subgenera of honey bees, namely the dwarf (Apis florea), giant (A. dorsata), and cavity-nesting (A. mellifera) honey bees with bumblebees as an outgroup. Our analyses resolve the phylogeny of honey bees with the dwarf honey bees diverging first. We find that evolution of increased eusocial complexity in Apis proceeds via increases in the complexity of gene regulation, which is in agreement with previous studies. However, this process seems to be related to pathways other than transcriptional control. Positive selection patterns across Apis reveal a trade-off between maintaining genome stability and generating genetic diversity, with a rapidly evolving piRNA pathway leading to genomes depleted of transposable elements, and a rapidly evolving DNA repair pathway associated with high recombination rates in all Apis species. Diversification within Apis is accompanied by positive selection in several genes whose putative functions present candidate mechanisms for lineage-specific adaptations, such as migration, immunity, and nesting behavior.

RevDate: 2021-05-18

Khambhati K, Patel J, Saxena V, et al (2021)

Gene Regulation of Biofilm-Associated Functional Amyloids.

Pathogens (Basel, Switzerland), 10(4):.

Biofilms are bacterial communities encased in a rigid yet dynamic extracellular matrix. The sociobiology of bacterial communities within a biofilm is astonishing, with environmental factors playing a crucial role in determining the switch from planktonic to a sessile form of life. The mechanism of biofilm biogenesis is an intriguingly complex phenomenon governed by the tight regulation of expression of various biofilm-matrix components. One of the major constituents of the biofilm matrix is proteinaceous polymers called amyloids. Since the discovery, the significance of biofilm-associated amyloids in adhesion, aggregation, protection, and infection development has been much appreciated. The amyloid expression and assembly is regulated spatio-temporarily within the bacterial cells to perform a diverse function. This review provides a comprehensive account of the genetic regulation associated with the expression of amyloids in bacteria. The stringent control ensures optimal utilization of amyloid scaffold during biofilm biogenesis. We conclude the review by summarizing environmental factors influencing the expression and regulation of amyloids.

RevDate: 2021-09-09
CmpDate: 2021-09-09

Yan H, J Liebig (2021)

Genetic basis of chemical communication in eusocial insects.

Genes & development, 35(7-8):470-482.

Social behavior is one of the most fascinating and complex behaviors in humans and animals. A fundamental process of social behavior is communication among individuals. It relies on the capability of the nervous system to sense, process, and interpret various signals (e.g., pheromones) and respond with appropriate decisions and actions. Eusocial insects, including ants, some bees, some wasps, and termites, display intriguing cooperative social behavior. Recent advances in genetic and genomic studies have revealed key genes that are involved in pheromone synthesis, chemosensory perception, and physiological and behavioral responses to varied pheromones. In this review, we highlight the genes and pathways that regulate queen pheromone-mediated social communication, discuss the evolutionary changes in genetic systems, and outline prospects of functional studies in sociobiology.

RevDate: 2021-04-29
CmpDate: 2021-04-29

Ennis CC, Haeffner NN, Keyser CD, et al (2021)

Comparative mitochondrial genomics of sponge-dwelling snapping shrimps in the genus Synalpheus: Exploring differences between eusocial and non-eusocial species and insights into phylogenetic relationships in caridean shrimps.

Gene, 786:145624.

The genus Synalpheus is a cosmopolitan clade of marine shrimps found in most tropical regions. Species in this genus exhibit a range of social organizations, including pair-forming, communal breeding, and eusociality, the latter only known to have evolved within this genus in the marine realm. This study examines the complete mitochondrial genomes of seven species of Synalpheus and explores differences between eusocial and non-eusocial species considering that eusociality has been shown before to affect the strength of purifying selection in mitochondrial protein coding genes. The AT-rich mitochondrial genomes of Synalpheus range from 15,421 bp to 15,782 bp in length and comprise, invariably, 13 protein-coding genes (PCGs), two ribosomal RNA genes, and 22 transfer RNA genes. A 648 bp to 994 bp long intergenic space is assumed to be the D-loop. Mitochondrial gene synteny is identical among the studied shrimps. No major differences occur between eusocial and non-eusocial species in nucleotide composition and codon usage profiles of PCGs and in the secondary structure of tRNA genes. Maximum likelihood phylogenetic analysis of the complete concatenated PCG complement of 90 species supports the monophyly of the genus Synalpheus and its family Alpheidae. Moreover, the monophyletic status of the caridean families Alvinocaridae, Atyidae, Thoridae, Lysmatidae, Palaemonidae, and Pandalidae within caridean shrimps are fully or highly supported by the analysis. We therefore conclude that mitochondrial genomes contain sufficient phylogenetic information to resolve relationships at high taxonomic levels within the Caridea. Our analysis of mitochondrial genomes in the genus Synalpheus contributes to the understanding of the coevolution between genomic architecture and sociality in caridean shrimps and other marine organisms.

RevDate: 2021-09-21

Hurd PJ, Grübel K, Wojciechowski M, et al (2021)

Novel structure in the nuclei of honey bee brain neurons revealed by immunostaining.

Scientific reports, 11(1):6852.

In the course of a screen designed to produce antibodies (ABs) with affinity to proteins in the honey bee brain we found an interesting AB that detects a highly specific epitope predominantly in the nuclei of Kenyon cells (KCs). The observed staining pattern is unique, and its unfamiliarity indicates a novel previously unseen nuclear structure that does not colocalize with the cytoskeletal protein f-actin. A single rod-like assembly, 3.7-4.1 µm long, is present in each nucleus of KCs in adult brains of worker bees and drones with the strongest immuno-labelling found in foraging bees. In brains of young queens, the labelling is more sporadic, and the rod-like structure appears to be shorter (~ 2.1 µm). No immunostaining is detectable in worker larvae. In pupal stage 5 during a peak of brain development only some occasional staining was identified. Although the cellular function of this unexpected structure has not been determined, the unusual distinctiveness of the revealed pattern suggests an unknown and potentially important protein assembly. One possibility is that this nuclear assembly is part of the KCs plasticity underlying the brain maturation in adult honey bees. Because no labelling with this AB is detectable in brains of the fly Drosophila melanogaster and the ant Camponotus floridanus, we tentatively named this antibody AmBNSab (Apis mellifera Brain Neurons Specific antibody). Here we report our results to make them accessible to a broader community and invite further research to unravel the biological role of this curious nuclear structure in the honey bee central brain.

RevDate: 2021-07-15

Habenstein J, Schmitt F, Liessem S, et al (2021)

Transcriptomic, peptidomic, and mass spectrometry imaging analysis of the brain in the ant Cataglyphis nodus.

Journal of neurochemistry, 158(2):391-412.

Behavioral flexibility is an important cornerstone for the ecological success of animals. Social Cataglyphis nodus ants with their age-related polyethism characterized by age-related behavioral phenotypes represent a prime example for behavioral flexibility. We propose neuropeptides as powerful candidates for the flexible modulation of age-related behavioral transitions in individual ants. As the neuropeptidome of C. nodus was unknown, we collected a comprehensive peptidomic data set obtained by transcriptome analysis of the ants' central nervous system combined with brain extract analysis by Q-Exactive Orbitrap mass spectrometry (MS) and direct tissue profiling of different regions of the brain by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) MS. In total, we identified 71 peptides with likely bioactive function, encoded on 49 neuropeptide-, neuropeptide-like, and protein hormone prepropeptide genes, including a novel neuropeptide-like gene (fliktin). We next characterized the spatial distribution of a subset of peptides encoded on 16 precursor proteins with high resolution by MALDI MS imaging (MALDI MSI) on 14 µm brain sections. The accuracy of our MSI data were confirmed by matching the immunostaining patterns for tachykinins with MSI ion images from consecutive brain sections. Our data provide a solid framework for future research into spatially resolved qualitative and quantitative peptidomic changes associated with stage-specific behavioral transitions and the functional role of neuropeptides in Cataglyphis ants.

RevDate: 2021-08-16
CmpDate: 2021-08-13

Andersen SB, J Schluter (2021)

A metagenomics approach to investigate microbiome sociobiology.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(10):.

RevDate: 2021-07-09
CmpDate: 2021-07-09

Kihlström K, Aiello B, Warrant E, et al (2021)

Wing damage affects flight kinematics but not flower tracking performance in hummingbird hawkmoths.

The Journal of experimental biology, 224(Pt 4): pii:jeb.236240.

Wing integrity is crucial to the many insect species that spend distinct portions of their life in flight. How insects cope with the consequences of wing damage is therefore a central question when studying how robust flight performance is possible with such fragile chitinous wings. It has been shown in a variety of insect species that the loss in lift-force production resulting from wing damage is generally compensated by an increase in wing beat frequency rather than amplitude. The consequences of wing damage for flight performance, however, are less well understood, and vary considerably between species and behavioural tasks. One hypothesis reconciling the varying results is that wing damage might affect fast flight manoeuvres with high acceleration, but not slower ones. To test this hypothesis, we investigated the effect of wing damage on the manoeuvrability of hummingbird hawkmoths (Macroglossum stellatarum) tracking a motorised flower. This assay allowed us to sample a range of movements at different temporal frequencies, and thus assess whether wing damage affected faster or slower flight manoeuvres. We show that hummingbird hawkmoths compensate for the loss in lift force mainly by increasing wing beat amplitude, yet with a significant contribution of wing beat frequency. We did not observe any effects of wing damage on flight manoeuvrability at either high or low temporal frequencies.

RevDate: 2021-02-11
CmpDate: 2021-02-11

Boff S, Scheiner R, Raizer J, et al (2021)

Survival rate and changes in foraging performances of solitary bees exposed to a novel insecticide.

Ecotoxicology and environmental safety, 211:111869.

Solitary bees are among the most important pollinators worldwide however population declines especially in croplands has been noticed. The novel pesticide sulfoxaflor is a competitive modulator of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR) in insects. While there is evidence of a negative impact of neonicotinoids on bees of several social organization levels, our overall knowledge on the impact of sulfoxaflor on bees is poor. Here we present for the first time a study showing effects of field realistic doses of sulfoxaflor on solitary bees. Bees submitted to long term exposure of field realistic doses of sulfoxaflor (5 µg dm-3, 10 µg dm-3, 50 µg dm-3) and control were observed regarding their survival rate. Moreover, we recorded metrics related to flower visitation and flight performance. We discover that the highest field realistic dose is lethal to Osmia bicornis along five days of exposure. The effect of sulfoxaflor reduces the outcome of foraging, important features for fruit and seed production of cross-pollinated plant species. Bees exposed to pesticide visited flowers mostly walking rather than flying. Flight performance was also impaired by the pesticide.

RevDate: 2021-01-14

Junker J, Petrovan SO, Arroyo-Rodríguez V, et al (2021)

Corrigendum: A Severe Lack of Evidence Limits Effective Conservation of the World's Primates.

Bioscience, 71(1):105 pii:biaa143.

[This corrects the article DOI: 10.1093/biosci/biaa082.].

RevDate: 2020-12-22

Halawani O, Dunn RR, Grunden AM, et al (2020)

Bacterial exposure leads to variable mortality but not a measurable increase in surface antimicrobials across ant species.

PeerJ, 8:e10412.

Social insects have co-existed with microbial species for millions of years and have evolved a diversity of collective defenses, including the use of antimicrobials. While many studies have revealed strategies that ants use against microbial entomopathogens, and several have shown ant-produced compounds inhibit environmental bacterial growth, few studies have tested whether exposure to environmental bacteria represents a health threat to ants. We compare four ant species' responses to exposure to Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus epidermidis bacteria in order to broaden our understanding of microbial health-threats to ants and their ability to defend against them. In a first experiment, we measure worker mortality of Solenopsis invicta, Brachymyrmex chinensis, Aphaenogaster rudis, and Dorymyrmex bureni in response to exposure to E. coli and S. epidermidis. We found that exposure to E. coli was lethal for S. invicta and D. bureni, while all other effects of exposure were not different from experimental controls. In a second experiment, we compared the antimicrobial ability of surface extracts from bacteria-exposed and non-exposed S. invicta and B. chinensis worker ants, to see if exposure to E. coli or S. epidermidis led to an increase in antimicrobial compounds. We found no difference in the inhibitory effects from either treatment group in either species. Our results demonstrate the susceptibility to bacteria is varied across ant species. This variation may correlate with an ant species' use of surface antimicrobials, as we found significant mortality effects in species which also were producing antimicrobials. Further exploration of a wide range of both bacteria and ant species is likely to reveal unique and nuanced antimicrobial strategies and deepen our understanding of how ant societies respond to microbial health threats.

RevDate: 2021-08-03
CmpDate: 2021-08-03

Maes S, De Reu K, Van Weyenberg S, et al (2020)

Pseudomonas putida as a potential biocontrol agent against Salmonella Java biofilm formation in the drinking water system of broiler houses.

BMC microbiology, 20(1):373.

BACKGROUND: Environmental biofilms can induce attachment and protection of other microorganisms including pathogens, but can also prevent them from invasion and colonization. This opens the possibility for so-called biocontrol strategies, wherein microorganisms are applied to control the presence of other microbes. The potential for both positive and negative interactions between microbes, however, raises the need for in depth characterization of the sociobiology of candidate biocontrol agents (BCAs). The inside of the drinking water system (DWS) of broiler houses is an interesting niche to apply BCAs, because contamination of these systems with pathogens plays an important role in the infection of broiler chickens and consequently humans. In this study, Pseudomonas putida, which is part of the natural microbiota in the DWS of broiler houses, was evaluated as BCA against the broiler pathogen Salmonella Java.

RESULTS: To study the interaction between these species, an in vitro model was developed simulating biofilm formation in the drinking water system of broilers. Dual-species biofilms of P. putida strains P1, P2, and P3 with S. Java were characterized by competitive interactions, independent of P. putida strain, S. Java inoculum density and application order. When equal inocula of S. Java and P. putida strains P1 or P3 were simultaneously applied, the interaction was characterized by mutual inhibition, whereas P. putida strain P2 showed an exploitation of S. Java. Lowering the inoculum density of S. Java changed the interaction with P. putida strain P3 also into an exploitation of S. Java. A further increase in S. Java inhibition was established by P. putida strain P3 forming a mature biofilm before applying S. Java.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides the first results showing the potential of P. putida as BCA against S. Java in the broiler environment. Future work should include more complex microbial communities residing in the DWS, additional Salmonella strains as well as chemicals typically used to clean and disinfect the system.

RevDate: 2021-09-16
CmpDate: 2021-09-16

Anton S, W Rössler (2021)

Plasticity and modulation of olfactory circuits in insects.

Cell and tissue research, 383(1):149-164.

Olfactory circuits change structurally and physiologically during development and adult life. This allows insects to respond to olfactory cues in an appropriate and adaptive way according to their physiological and behavioral state, and to adapt to their specific abiotic and biotic natural environment. We highlight here findings on olfactory plasticity and modulation in various model and non-model insects with an emphasis on moths and social Hymenoptera. Different categories of plasticity occur in the olfactory systems of insects. One type relates to the reproductive or feeding state, as well as to adult age. Another type of plasticity is context-dependent and includes influences of the immediate sensory and abiotic environment, but also environmental conditions during postembryonic development, periods of adult behavioral maturation, and short- and long-term sensory experience. Finally, plasticity in olfactory circuits is linked to associative learning and memory formation. The vast majority of the available literature summarized here deals with plasticity in primary and secondary olfactory brain centers, but also peripheral modulation is treated. The described molecular, physiological, and structural neuronal changes occur under the influence of neuromodulators such as biogenic amines, neuropeptides, and hormones, but the mechanisms through which they act are only beginning to be analyzed.

RevDate: 2021-01-14
CmpDate: 2021-01-14

Eckhardt F, Pauliny A, Rollings N, et al (2020)

Stress-related changes in leukocyte profiles and telomere shortening in the shortest-lived tetrapod, Furcifer labordi.

BMC evolutionary biology, 20(1):160.

BACKGROUND: Life history theory predicts that during the lifespan of an organism, resources are allocated to either growth, somatic maintenance or reproduction. Resource allocation trade-offs determine the evolution and ecology of different life history strategies and define an organisms' position along a fast-slow continuum in interspecific comparisons. Labord's chameleon (Furcifer labordi) from the seasonal dry forests of Madagascar is the tetrapod species with the shortest reported lifespan (4-9 months). Previous investigations revealed that their lifespan is to some degree dependent on environmental factors, such as the amount of rainfall and the length of the vegetation period. However, the intrinsic mechanisms shaping such a fast life history remain unknown. Environmental stressors are known to increase the secretion of glucocorticoids in other vertebrates, which, in turn, can shorten telomeres via oxidative stress. To investigate to what extent age-related changes in these molecular and cellular mechanisms contribute to the relatively short lifetime of F. labordi, we assessed the effects of stressors indirectly via leukocyte profiles (H/L ratio) and quantified relative telomere length from blood samples in a wild population in Kirindy Forest. We compared our findings with the sympatric, but longer-lived sister species F. cf. nicosiai, which exhibit the same annual timing of reproductive events, and with wild-caught F. labordi that were singly housed under ambient conditions.

RESULTS: We found that H/L ratios were consistently higher in wild F. labordi compared to F. cf. nicosiai. Moreover, F. labordi already exhibited relatively short telomeres during the mating season when they were 3-4 months old, and telomeres further shortened during their post-reproductive lives. At the beginning of their active season, telomere length was relatively longer in F. cf. nicosiai, but undergoing rapid shortening towards the southern winter, when both species gradually die off. Captive F. labordi showed comparatively longer lifespans and lower H/L ratios than their wild counterparts.

CONCLUSION: We suggest that environmental stress and the corresponding accelerated telomere attrition have profound effects on the lifespan of F. labordi in the wild, and identify physiological mechanisms potentially driving their relatively early senescence and mortality.

RevDate: 2021-08-16

Grob R, Tritscher C, Grübel K, et al (2021)

Johnston's organ and its central projections in Cataglyphis desert ants.

The Journal of comparative neurology, 529(8):2138-2155.

The Johnston's organ (JO) in the insect antenna is a multisensory organ involved in several navigational tasks including wind-compass orientation, flight control, graviception, and, possibly, magnetoreception. Here we investigate the three dimensional anatomy of the JO and its neuronal projections into the brain of the desert ant Cataglyphis, a marvelous long-distance navigator. The JO of C. nodus workers consists of 40 scolopidia comprising three sensory neurons each. The numbers of scolopidia slightly vary between different sexes (female/male) and castes (worker/queen). Individual scolopidia attach to the intersegmental membrane between pedicel and flagellum of the antenna and line up in a ring-like organization. Three JO nerves project along the two antennal nerve branches into the brain. Anterograde double staining of the antennal afferents revealed that JO receptor neurons project to several distinct neuropils in the central brain. The T5 tract projects into the antennal mechanosensory and motor center (AMMC), while the T6 tract bypasses the AMMC via the saddle and forms collaterals terminating in the posterior slope (PS) (T6I), the ventral complex (T6II), and the ventrolateral protocerebrum (T6III). Double labeling of JO and ocellar afferents revealed that input from the JO and visual information from the ocelli converge in tight apposition in the PS. The general JO anatomy and its central projection patterns resemble situations in honeybees and Drosophila. The multisensory nature of the JO together with its projections to multisensory neuropils in the ant brain likely serves synchronization and calibration of different sensory modalities during the ontogeny of navigation in Cataglyphis.

RevDate: 2021-03-29
CmpDate: 2021-03-29

Dolotovskaya S, Roos C, EW Heymann (2020)

Genetic monogamy and mate choice in a pair-living primate.

Scientific reports, 10(1):20328.

In pair-living mammals, genetic monogamy is extremely rare. One possible reason is that in socially monogamous animals, mate choice can be severely constrained, increasing the risk of inbreeding or pairing with an incompatible or low-quality partner. To escape these constraints, individuals might engage in extra-pair copulations. Alternatively, inbreeding can be avoided by dispersal. However, little is known about the interactions between mating system, mate choice, and dispersal in pair-living mammals. Here we genotyped 41 wild individuals from 14 groups of coppery titi monkeys (Plecturocebus cupreus) in Peruvian Amazon using 18 microsatellite loci. Parentage analyses of 18 young revealed no cases of extra-pair paternity, indicating that the study population is mostly genetically monogamous. We did not find evidence for relatedness- or heterozygosity-based mate choice. Despite the lack of evidence for active inbreeding avoidance via mate choice, mating partners were on average not related. We further found that dispersal was not sex-biased, with both sexes dispersing opportunistically over varying distances. Our findings suggest that even opportunistic dispersal, as long as it is not constrained, can generate sufficient genetic diversity to prevent inbreeding. This, in turn, can render active inbreeding avoidance via mate choice and extra-pair copulations less necessary, helping to maintain genetic monogamy.

RevDate: 2020-11-19

Römer D, Cosarinsky MI, F Roces (2020)

Selection and spatial arrangement of building materials during the construction of nest turrets by grass-cutting ants.

Royal Society open science, 7(10):201312.

Ants build complex nest structures by reacting to simple, local stimuli. While underground nests result from the space generated by digging, some leaf- and grass-cutting ants also construct conspicuous aboveground turrets around nest openings. We investigated whether the selection of specific building materials occurs during turret construction in Acromyrmex fracticornis grass-cutting ants, and asked whether single building decisions at the beginning can modify the final turret architecture. To quantify workers' material selection, the original nest turret was removed and a choice between two artificial building materials, thin and thick sticks, was offered for rebuilding. Workers preferred thick sticks at the very beginning of turret construction, showed varying preferences thereafter, and changed to prefer thin sticks for the upper, final part of the turret, indicating that they selected different building materials over time to create a stable structure. The impact of a single building choice on turret architecture was evaluated by placing artificial beams that divided a colony's nest entrance at the beginning of turret rebuilding. Splitting the nest entrance led to the self-organized construction of turrets with branched galleries ending in multiple openings, showing that the spatial location of a single building material can strongly influence turret morphology.

RevDate: 2021-05-14
CmpDate: 2021-05-14

Kappeler PM (2020)

Evidence for a male sex pheromone in a primate?.

Current biology : CB, 30(22):R1358-R1359.

Pheromones mediate a wide range of functions across the animal kingdom [1], and such chemosensory communication is especially widespread among mammals [2]. In a recent paper in Current Biology, Shirasu, Ito et al. [3] describe the results of a series of chemical and behavioral studies that identified three aldehyde odors released from the wrist gland of ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) that could represent the first identified sex pheromones in male primates. Observations of a captive group and controlled presentations of isolated male scent samples showed captive female lemurs sniffing antebrachial scent marks longer on average during the breeding season. Comparison of the chemical profiles of antebrachial secretions between breeding- and non-breeding-season samples revealed three aldehydes putatively responsible for the female response, the concentration of one of these subsequently shown to increase following testosterone injection of one male. Average sniffing duration of two females increased slightly with increasing concentrations of two of the three aldehydes in one experiment, and so did the response of seven other females to swabs with mixtures of the three compounds, compared to individually presented aldehydes. From these results, the authors conclude that "it is conceivable that the identified C12 and C14 aldehydes are putative sex pheromones that aid male-female interactions among lemurs." Here, I argue that, in fact, more data are needed to determine whether antebrachial marking and these substances are actually involved in mediating the attractiveness of males to females during the breeding season. My specific concerns pertain to several aspects of the methods that produce ambiguous results and conclusions that are too strong, especially when considering the broader context of lemur biology.

RevDate: 2021-01-10
CmpDate: 2021-01-06

Kenyon C (2020)

Emergence of zoonoses such as COVID-19 reveals the need for health sciences to embrace an explicit eco-social conceptual framework of health and disease.

Epidemics, 33:100410.

An accurate understanding of why zoonoses such as SARS-CoV-2 are emerging at an increased rate, is vital to prevent future pandemics from the approximately 700,000 viruses with zoonotic potential. Certain authors have argued that the consumption of wildlife, or human contact with bats was responsible for the emergence of SARS-CoV-2. Others argue that a range of anthropogenic environmental degradations have played a vital role in the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 and other zoonoses. In this opinion piece, I argue that these divergent viewpoints stem, in part, from different foundational conceptual frameworks - biomedical individualist and eco-social frameworks, respectively. Based on the fact that the eco-social framework provides a more complete account of the different types of causal factors underpinning the emergence of zoonoses, I propose that the COVID-19 pandemic provides an additional reason for the health sciences to ground its theory of health and disease in an eco-social conceptual framework.

RevDate: 2020-11-28

Cavaletto G, Faccoli M, Marini L, et al (2020)

Effect of Trap Color on Captures of Bark-and Wood-Boring Beetles (Coleoptera; Buprestidae and Scolytinae) and Associated Predators.

Insects, 11(11):.

Traps baited with attractive lures are increasingly used at entry-points and surrounding natural areas to intercept exotic wood-boring beetles accidentally introduced via international trade. Several trapping variables can affect the efficacy of this activity, including trap color. In this study, we tested whether species richness and abundance of jewel beetles (Buprestidae), bark and ambrosia beetles (Scolytinae), and their common predators (i.e., checkered beetles, Cleridae) can be modified using trap colors different to those currently used for surveillance of jewel beetles and bark and ambrosia beetles (i.e., green or black). We show that green and black traps are generally efficient, but also that many flower-visiting or dark-metallic colored jewel beetles and certain bark beetles are more attracted by other colors. In addition, we show that checkered beetles have color preferences similar to those of their Scolytinae preys, which limits using trap color to minimize their inadvertent removal. Overall, this study confirmed that understanding the color perception mechanisms in wood-boring beetles can lead to important improvements in trapping techniques and thereby increase the efficacy of surveillance programs.

RevDate: 2021-09-21

Holze H, Schrader L, J Buellesbach (2021)

Advances in deciphering the genetic basis of insect cuticular hydrocarbon biosynthesis and variation.

Heredity, 126(2):219-234.

Cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) have two fundamental functions in insects. They protect terrestrial insects against desiccation and serve as signaling molecules in a wide variety of chemical communication systems. It has been hypothesized that these pivotal dual traits for adaptation to both desiccation and signaling have contributed to the considerable evolutionary success of insects. CHCs have been extensively studied concerning their variation, behavioral impact, physiological properties, and chemical compositions. However, our understanding of the genetic underpinnings of CHC biosynthesis has remained limited and mostly biased towards one particular model organism (Drosophila). This rather narrow focus has hampered the establishment of a comprehensive view of CHC genetics across wider phylogenetic boundaries. This review attempts to integrate new insights and recent knowledge gained in the genetics of CHC biosynthesis, which is just beginning to incorporate work on more insect taxa beyond Drosophila. It is intended to provide a stepping stone towards a wider and more general understanding of the genetic mechanisms that gave rise to the astonishing diversity of CHC compounds across different insect taxa. Further research in this field is encouraged to aim at better discriminating conserved versus taxon-specific genetic elements underlying CHC variation. This will be instrumental in greatly expanding our knowledge of the origins and variation of genes governing the biosynthesis of these crucial phenotypic traits that have greatly impacted insect behavior, physiology, and evolution.

RevDate: 2021-08-16

Homberg U, Hensgen R, Rieber E, et al (2021)

Orcokinin in the central complex of the locust Schistocerca gregaria: Identification of immunostained neurons and colocalization with other neuroactive substances.

The Journal of comparative neurology, 529(8):1876-1894.

The central complex is a group of highly interconnected neuropils in the insect brain. It is involved in the control of spatial orientation, based on external compass cues and various internal needs. The functional and neurochemical organization of the central complex has been studied in detail in the desert locust Schistocerca gregaria. In addition to classical neurotransmitters, immunocytochemistry has provided evidence for a major contribution of neuropeptides to neural signaling within the central complex. To complement these data, we have identified all orcokinin-immunoreactive neurons in the locust central complex and associated brain areas. About 50 bilateral pairs of neurons innervating all substructures of the central complex exhibit orcokinin immunoreactivity. Among these were about 20 columnar neurons, 33 bilateral pairs of tangential neurons of the central body, and seven pairs of tangential neurons of the protocerebral bridge. In silico transcript analysis suggests the presence of eight different orcokinin-A type peptides in the desert locust. Double label experiments showed that all orcokinin-immunostained tangential neurons of the lateral accessory lobe cluster were also immunoreactive for GABA and the GABA-synthesizing enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase. Two types of tangential neurons of the upper division of the central body were, furthermore, also labeled with an antiserum against Dip-allatostatin I. No colocalization was found with serotonin immunostaining. The data provide additional insights into the neurochemical organization of the locust central complex and suggest that orcokinin-peptides of the orcokinin-A gene act as neuroactive substances at all stages of signal processing in this brain area.

RevDate: 2020-11-03

Scheiner R, Strauß S, Thamm M, et al (2020)

The Bacterium Pantoea ananatis Modifies Behavioral Responses to Sugar Solutions in Honeybees.

Insects, 11(10):.

1. Honeybees, which are among the most important pollinators globally, do not only collect pollen and nectar during foraging but may also disperse diverse microbes. Some of these can be deleterious to agricultural crops and forest trees, such as the bacterium Pantoea ananatis, an emerging pathogen in some systems. P. ananatis infections can lead to leaf blotches, die-back, bulb rot, and fruit rot. 2. We isolated P. ananatis bacteria from flowers with the aim of determining whether honeybees can sense these bacteria and if the bacteria affect behavioral responses of the bees to sugar solutions. 3. Honeybees decreased their responsiveness to different sugar solutions when these contained high concentrations of P. ananatis but were not deterred by solutions from which bacteria had been removed. This suggests that their reduced responsiveness was due to the taste of bacteria and not to the depletion of sugar in the solution or bacteria metabolites. Intriguingly, the bees appeared not to taste ecologically relevant low concentrations of bacteria. 4. Synthesis and applications. Our data suggest that honeybees may introduce P. ananatis bacteria into nectar in field-realistic densities during foraging trips and may thus affect nectar quality and plant fitness.

RevDate: 2021-01-04
CmpDate: 2021-01-04

de Winter II, Umanets A, Gort G, et al (2020)

Effects of seasonality and previous logging on faecal helminth-microbiota associations in wild lemurs.

Scientific reports, 10(1):16818.

Gastrointestinal helminth-microbiota associations are shaped by various ecological processes. The effect of the ecological context of the host on the bacterial microbiome and gastrointestinal helminth parasites has been tested in a number of ecosystems and experimentally. This study takes the important step to look at these two groups at the same time and to start to examine how these communities interact in a changing host environment. Fresh faecal samples (N = 335) from eight wild Eulemur populations were collected over 2 years across Madagascar. We used 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing to characterise the bacterial microbiota composition, and faecal flotation to isolate and morphologically identify nematode eggs. Infections with nematodes of the genera Callistoura and Lemuricola occurred in all lemur populations. Seasonality significantly contributed to the observed variation in microbiota composition, especially in the dry deciduous forest. Microbial richness and Lemuricola spp. infection prevalence were highest in a previously intensely logged site, whereas Callistoura spp. showed no such pattern. In addition, we observed significant correlations between gastrointestinal parasites and bacterial microbiota composition in these lemurs, with 0.4-0.7% of the variation in faecal bacterial microbiota composition being explained by helminth infections. With this study, we show effects of environmental conditions on gastrointestinal nematodes and bacterial interactions in wild lemurs and believe it is essential to consider the potential role of microbiome-parasite associations on the hosts' GI stability, health, and survival.

RevDate: 2020-10-09

Fichtel C, Dinter K, PM Kappeler (2020)

The lemur baseline: how lemurs compare to monkeys and apes in the Primate Cognition Test Battery.

PeerJ, 8:e10025.

Primates have relatively larger brains than other mammals even though brain tissue is energetically costly. Comparative studies of variation in cognitive skills allow testing of evolutionary hypotheses addressing socioecological factors driving the evolution of primate brain size. However, data on cognitive abilities for meaningful interspecific comparisons are only available for haplorhine primates (great apes, Old- and New World monkeys) although strepsirrhine primates (lemurs and lorises) serve as the best living models of ancestral primate cognitive skills, linking primates to other mammals. To begin filling this gap, we tested members of three lemur species (Microcebus murinus, Varecia variegata, Lemur catta) with the Primate Cognition Test Battery, a comprehensive set of experiments addressing physical and social cognitive skills that has previously been used in studies of haplorhines. We found no significant differences in cognitive performance among lemur species and, surprisingly, their average performance was not different from that of haplorhines in many aspects. Specifically, lemurs' overall performance was inferior in the physical domain but matched that of haplorhines in the social domain. These results question a clear-cut link between brain size and cognitive skills, suggesting a more domain-specific distribution of cognitive abilities in primates, and indicate more continuity in cognitive abilities across primate lineages than previously thought.

RevDate: 2021-07-27
CmpDate: 2021-07-27

Muirhead CS, J Srinivasan (2020)

Small molecule signals mediate social behaviors in C. elegans.

Journal of neurogenetics, 34(3-4):395-403.

The last few decades have seen the structural and functional elucidation of small-molecule chemical signals called ascarosides in C. elegans. Ascarosides mediate several biological processes in worms, ranging from development, to behavior. These signals are modular in their design architecture, with their building blocks derived from metabolic pathways. Behavioral responses are not only concentration dependent, but also are influenced by the current physiological state of the animal. Cellular and circuit-level analyses suggest that these signals constitute a complex communication system, employing both synergistic molecular elements and sex-specific neuronal circuits governing the response. In this review, we discuss research from multiple laboratories, including our own, that detail how these chemical signals govern several different social behaviors in C. elegans. We propose that the ascaroside repertoire represents a link between diverse metabolic and neurobiological life-history traits and governs the survival of C. elegans in its natural environment.

RevDate: 2021-03-28
CmpDate: 2020-12-23

Zittrell F, Pfeiffer K, U Homberg (2020)

Matched-filter coding of sky polarization results in an internal sun compass in the brain of the desert locust.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 117(41):25810-25817.

Many animals use celestial cues for spatial orientation. These include the sun and, in insects, the polarization pattern of the sky, which depends on the position of the sun. The central complex in the insect brain plays a key role in spatial orientation. In desert locusts, the angle of polarized light in the zenith above the animal and the direction of a simulated sun are represented in a compass-like fashion in the central complex, but how both compasses fit together for a unified representation of external space remained unclear. To address this question, we analyzed the sensitivity of intracellularly recorded central-complex neurons to the angle of polarized light presented from up to 33 positions in the animal's dorsal visual field and injected Neurobiotin tracer for cell identification. Neurons were polarization sensitive in large parts of the virtual sky that in some cells extended to the horizon in all directions. Neurons, moreover, were tuned to spatial patterns of polarization angles that matched the sky polarization pattern of particular sun positions. The horizontal components of these calculated solar positions were topographically encoded in the protocerebral bridge of the central complex covering 360° of space. This whole-sky polarization compass does not support the earlier reported polarization compass based on stimulation from a small spot above the animal but coincides well with the previously demonstrated direct sun compass based on unpolarized light stimulation. Therefore, direct sunlight and whole-sky polarization complement each other for robust head direction coding in the locust central complex.

RevDate: 2020-10-01

Schubiger MN, Fichtel C, JM Burkart (2020)

Validity of Cognitive Tests for Non-human Animals: Pitfalls and Prospects.

Frontiers in psychology, 11:1835.

Comparative psychology assesses cognitive abilities and capacities of non-human animals and humans. Based on performance differences and similarities in various species in cognitive tests, it is inferred how their minds work and reconstructed how cognition might have evolved. Critically, such species comparisons are only valid and meaningful if the tasks truly capture individual and inter-specific variation in cognitive abilities rather than contextual variables that might affect task performance. Unlike in human test psychology, however, cognitive tasks for non-human primates (and most other animals) have been rarely evaluated regarding their measurement validity. We review recent studies that address how non-cognitive factors affect performance in a set of commonly used cognitive tasks, and if cognitive tests truly measure individual variation in cognitive abilities. We find that individual differences in emotional and motivational factors primarily affect performance via attention. Hence, it is crucial to systematically control for attention during cognitive tasks to obtain valid and reliable results. Aspects of test design, however, can also have a substantial effect on cognitive performance. We conclude that non-cognitive factors are a minor source of measurement error if acknowledged and properly controlled for. It is essential, however, to validate and eventually re-design several primate cognition tasks in order to ascertain that they capture the cognitive abilities they were designed to measure. This will provide a more solid base for future cognitive comparisons within primates but also across a wider range of non-human animal species.

RevDate: 2020-12-17
CmpDate: 2020-12-01

Fleischmann PN, Grob R, W Rössler (2020)

Magnetoreception in Hymenoptera: importance for navigation.

Animal cognition, 23(6):1051-1061.

The use of information provided by the geomagnetic field (GMF) for navigation is widespread across the animal kingdom. At the same time, the magnetic sense is one of the least understood senses. Here, we review evidence for magnetoreception in Hymenoptera. We focus on experiments aiming to shed light on the role of the GMF for navigation. Both honeybees and desert ants are well-studied experimental models for navigation, and both use the GMF for specific navigational tasks under certain conditions. Cataglyphis desert ants use the GMF as a compass cue for path integration during their initial learning walks to align their gaze directions towards the nest entrance. This represents the first example for the use of the GMF in an insect species for a genuine navigational task under natural conditions and with all other navigational cues available. We argue that the recently described magnetic compass in Cataglyphis opens up a new integrative approach to understand the mechanisms underlying magnetoreception in Hymenoptera on different biological levels.

RevDate: 2021-02-23

Junker J, Petrovan SO, Arroyo-RodrÍguez V, et al (2020)

A Severe Lack of Evidence Limits Effective Conservation of the World's Primates.

Bioscience, 70(9):794-803.

Threats to biodiversity are well documented. However, to effectively conserve species and their habitats, we need to know which conservation interventions do (or do not) work. Evidence-based conservation evaluates interventions within a scientific framework. The Conservation Evidence project has summarized thousands of studies testing conservation interventions and compiled these as synopses for various habitats and taxa. In the present article, we analyzed the interventions assessed in the primate synopsis and compared these with other taxa. We found that despite intensive efforts to study primates and the extensive threats they face, less than 1% of primate studies evaluated conservation effectiveness. The studies often lacked quantitative data, failed to undertake postimplementation monitoring of populations or individuals, or implemented several interventions at once. Furthermore, the studies were biased toward specific taxa, geographic regions, and interventions. We describe barriers for testing primate conservation interventions and propose actions to improve the conservation evidence base to protect this endangered and globally important taxon.

RevDate: 2021-05-20
CmpDate: 2021-05-20

Değirmenci L, Geiger D, Rogé Ferreira FL, et al (2020)

CRISPR/Cas 9-Mediated Mutations as a New Tool for Studying Taste in Honeybees.

Chemical senses, 45(8):655-666.

Honeybees rely on nectar as their main source of carbohydrates. Sucrose, glucose, and fructose are the main components of plant nectars. Intriguingly, honeybees express only 3 putative sugar receptors (AmGr1, AmGr2, and AmGr3), which is in stark contrast to many other insects and vertebrates. The sugar receptors are only partially characterized. AmGr1 detects different sugars including sucrose and glucose. AmGr2 is assumed to act as a co-receptor only, while AmGr3 is assumedly a fructose receptor. We show that honeybee gustatory receptor AmGr3 is highly specialized for fructose perception when expressed in Xenopus oocytes. When we introduced nonsense mutations to the respective AmGr3 gene using CRISPR/Cas9 in eggs of female workers, the resulting mutants displayed almost a complete loss of responsiveness to fructose. In contrast, responses to sucrose were normal. Nonsense mutations introduced by CRISPR/Cas9 in honeybees can thus induce a measurable behavioral change and serve to characterize the function of taste receptors in vivo. CRISPR/Cas9 is an excellent novel tool for characterizing honeybee taste receptors in vivo. Biophysical receptor characterization in Xenopus oocytes and nonsense mutation of AmGr3 in honeybees unequivocally demonstrate that this receptor is highly specific for fructose.

RevDate: 2021-02-26
CmpDate: 2021-02-26

Helfrecht C, Roulette JW, Lane A, et al (2020)

Life history and socioecology of infancy.

American journal of physical anthropology, 173(4):619-629.

OBJECTIVES: Evolution of human maternal investment strategies is hypothesized to be tied to biological constraints and environmental cues. It is likely, however, that the socioecological context in which mothers' decisions are made is equally important. Yet, a lack of studies examining maternal investment from a cross-cultural, holistic approach has hindered our ability to investigate the evolution of maternal investment strategies. Here, we take a systems-level approach to study how human life history characteristics, environments, and socioecology influence maternal investment in their children.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We test how infant age and sex, maternal age, parity, and child loss, and the composition of a child's cooperative breeding network are associated with maternal investment across three small-scale (hunter-gatherer, horticultural, and agropastoral), sub-Saharan populations (N = 212). Naturalistic behavioral observations also enable us to illustrate the breadth and depth of the human cooperative breeding system.

RESULTS: Results indicate that infant age, maternal age and parity, and an infant's cooperative childcare network are significantly associated with maternal investment, controlling for population. We also find that human allomaternal care is conducted by a range of caregivers, occupying different relational, sex, and age categories. Moreover, investment by allomothers is widely distributed.

DISCUSSION: Our findings illustrate the social context in which children are reared in contemporary small-scale populations, and in which they were likely reared throughout our evolutionary history. The diversity of the caregiving network, coupled with life history characteristics, is predictive of maternal investment strategies, demonstrating the importance of cooperation in the evolution of human ontogeny.

RevDate: 2021-01-30
CmpDate: 2021-01-26

Rasolofoniaina BN, Kappeler PM, C Fichtel (2021)

Neophobia and social facilitation in narrow-striped mongooses.

Animal cognition, 24(1):165-175.

Social learning is widespread in the animal kingdom, but individuals can differ in how they acquire and use social information. Personality traits, such as neophobia, may, for example, promote individual learning strategies. Here, we contribute comparative data on social learning strategies in carnivorans by examining whether narrow-striped mongooses (Mungotictis decemlineata), a group-living Malagasy euplerid, learn socially and whether neophobia influences social learning. To this end, we tested seven wild female groups with a two-option artificial feeding box, using a demonstrator-observer paradigm, and conducted novel object tests to assess neophobia. In five groups, one individual was trained as a demonstrator displaying one of the techniques, whereas the other two groups served as control groups. Neophobia did not co-vary with an individual's propensity to seek social information. However, less neophobic individuals, and individuals that tended to seek social information, learned the task faster. Moreover, individuals in demonstrator groups learned the task faster than those in groups without a demonstrator and used the demonstrated technique more often. Hence, narrow-striped mongooses rely on social facilitation and local or stimulus enhancement to solve new problems. Finally, our results suggest that several individual characteristics should be taken into consideration to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of social learning strategies.

RevDate: 2021-04-19
CmpDate: 2021-04-19

Cantor M, Maldonado-Chaparro AA, Beck KB, et al (2021)

The importance of individual-to-society feedbacks in animal ecology and evolution.

The Journal of animal ecology, 90(1):27-44.

The social decisions that individuals make-who to interact with and how frequently-give rise to social structure. The resulting social structure then determines how individuals interact with their surroundings-resources and risks, pathogens and predators, competitors and cooperators. However, despite intensive research on (a) how individuals make social decisions and (b) how social structure shapes social processes (e.g. cooperation, competition and conflict), there are still few studies linking these two perspectives. These perspectives represent two halves of a feedback loop: individual behaviour scales up to define the social environment, and this environment, in turn, feeds back by shaping the selective agents that drive individual behaviour. We first review well-established research areas that have captured both elements of this feedback loop-host-pathogen dynamics and cultural transmission. We then highlight areas where social structure is well studied but the two perspectives remain largely disconnected. Finally, we synthesise existing research on 14 distinct research topics to identify new prospects where the interplay between social structure and social processes are likely to be important but remain largely unexplored. Our review shows that the inherent links between individuals' traits, their social decisions, social structure and social evolution, warrant more consideration. By mapping the existing and missing connections among many research areas, our review highlights where explicitly considering social structure and the individual-to-society feedbacks can reveal new dimensions to old questions in ecology and evolution.

RevDate: 2020-10-30

Leonhardt SD, Lihoreau M, J Spaethe (2020)

Mechanisms of Nutritional Resource Exploitation by Insects.

Insects, 11(9):.

Insects have evolved an extraordinary range of nutritional adaptations to exploit other animals, plants, bacteria, fungi and soils as resources in terrestrial and aquatic environments. This special issue provides some new insights into the mechanisms underlying these adaptations. Contributions comprise lab and field studies investigating the chemical, physiological, cognitive and behavioral mechanisms that enable resource exploitation and nutrient intake regulation in insects. The collection of papers highlights the need for more studies on the comparative sensory ecology, underlying nutritional quality assessment, cue perception and decision making to fully understand how insects adjust resource selection and exploitation in response to environmental heterogeneity and variability.

RevDate: 2021-08-27
CmpDate: 2020-09-23

Ruedenauer FA, Sydow D, Spaethe J, et al (2020)

Young bumblebees may rely on both direct pollen cues and early experience when foraging.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 287(1933):20201615.

An adequate supply of macro- and micronutrients determines health and reproductive success in most animals. Many bee species, for example, collect nectar and pollen to satisfy their demands for carbohydrates, protein and fat, respectively. Bees can assess the quality of pollen by feeding on it, but also pre-digestively by means of chemotactile assessment. Whether they additionally use larval nutritional experience, as has been shown for Drosophila melanogaster and Bombyx mori, is unknown. In this study, we tested whether pollen selection of bumblebee foragers is affected by nutritional experience (acquired before the onset of foraging) or solely by food quality. Bumblebee larvae were fed with one out of three different pollen blends. As adults, they were offered all three blends when they started foraging for the first time. We found all treatment groups to prefer one out of the three blends. This blend provided the highest nutritional quality and increased the bees' lifespan, as shown by feeding studies with microcolonies. Besides, bees also chose the pollen blend fed during their larval stage more often than expected, indicating a significant effect of pre-foraging experience on adult pollen foraging behaviour. The combination of both direct pollen quality assessment and pre-foraging experience (i.e. during the larval phase or as early imagines) seems to allow foraging bumblebees to efficiently select the most suitable pollen for their colony.

RevDate: 2021-08-27
CmpDate: 2020-09-23

Imrit MA, Dogantzis KA, Harpur BA, et al (2020)

Eusociality influences the strength of negative selection on insect genomes.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 287(1933):20201512.

While much of the focus of sociobiology concerns identifying genomic changes that influence social behaviour, we know little about the consequences of social behaviour on genome evolution. It has been hypothesized that social evolution can influence the strength of negative selection via two mechanisms. First, division of labour can influence the efficiency of negative selection in a caste-specific manner; indirect negative selection on worker traits is theoretically expected to be weaker than direct selection on queen traits. Second, increasing social complexity is expected to lead to relaxed negative selection because of its influence on effective population size. We tested these two hypotheses by estimating the strength of negative selection in honeybees, bumblebees, paper wasps, fire ants and six other insects that span the range of social complexity. We found no consistent evidence that negative selection was significantly stronger on queen-biased genes relative to worker-biased genes. However, we found strong evidence that increased social complexity reduced the efficiency of negative selection. Our study clearly illustrates how changes in behaviour can influence patterns of genome evolution by modulating the strength of natural selection.

RevDate: 2020-10-30
CmpDate: 2020-10-30

Dent R (2020)

Subject 01: exemplary Indigenous masculinity in Cold War genetics.

British journal for the history of science, 53(3):311-332.

In 1962 a team of scientists conducted their first joint fieldwork in a Xavante village in Central Brazil. Recycling long-standing notions that living Indigenous people represented human prehistory, the scientists saw Indigenous people as useful subjects of study not only due to their closeness to nature, but also due to their sociocultural and political realities. The geneticists' vision crystalized around one subject - the famous chief Apöwẽ. Through Apöwẽ, the geneticists fixated on what they perceived as the political prowess, impressive physique, and masculine reproductive aptitude of Xavante men. These constructions of charismatic masculinity came at the expense of recognizing how profoundly colonial expansion into Mato Grosso had destabilized Xavante communities, stripping them of their land and introducing epidemic disease. The geneticists' theorizing prefigured debates to come in sociobiology, and set up an enduring research programme that Apöwẽ continues to animate even four decades after his death.

RevDate: 2021-02-11

Poelstra JW, Salmona J, Tiley GP, et al (2021)

Cryptic Patterns of Speciation in Cryptic Primates: Microendemic Mouse Lemurs and the Multispecies Coalescent.

Systematic biology, 70(2):203-218.

Mouse lemurs (Microcebus) are a radiation of morphologically cryptic primates distributed throughout Madagascar for which the number of recognized species has exploded in the past two decades. This taxonomic revision has prompted understandable concern that there has been substantial oversplitting in the mouse lemur clade. Here, we investigate mouse lemur diversity in a region in northeastern Madagascar with high levels of microendemism and predicted habitat loss. We analyzed RADseq data with multispecies coalescent (MSC) species delimitation methods for two pairs of sister lineages that include three named species and an undescribed lineage previously identified to have divergent mtDNA. Marked differences in effective population sizes, levels of gene flow, patterns of isolation-by-distance, and species delimitation results were found among the two pairs of lineages. Whereas all tests support the recognition of the presently undescribed lineage as a separate species, the species-level distinction of two previously described species, M. mittermeieri and M. lehilahytsara is not supported-a result that is particularly striking when using the genealogical discordance index (gdi). Nonsister lineages occur sympatrically in two of the localities sampled for this study, despite an estimated divergence time of less than 1 Ma. This suggests rapid evolution of reproductive isolation in the focal lineages and in the mouse lemur clade generally. The divergence time estimates reported here are based on the MSC calibrated with pedigree-based mutation rates and are considerably more recent than previously published fossil-calibrated relaxed-clock estimates. We discuss the possible explanations for this discrepancy, noting that there are theoretical justifications for preferring the MSC estimates in this case. [Cryptic species; effective population size; microendemism; multispecies coalescent; speciation; species delimitation.].

RevDate: 2020-09-28

Yordy J, Kraus C, Hayward JJ, et al (2020)

Body size, inbreeding, and lifespan in domestic dogs.

Conservation genetics (Print), 21(1):137-148.

Inbreeding poses a real or potential threat to nearly every species of conservation concern. Inbreeding leads to loss of diversity at the individual level, which can cause inbreeding depression, and at the population level, which can hinder ability to respond to a changing environment. In closed populations such as endangered species and ex situ breeding programs, some degree of inbreeding is inevitable. It is therefore vital to understand how different patterns of breeding and inbreeding can affect fitness in real animals. Domestic dogs provide an excellent model, showing dramatic variation in degree of inbreeding and in lifespan, an important aspect of fitness that is known to be impacted by inbreeding in other species. There is a strong negative correlation between body size and lifespan in dogs, but it is unknown whether the higher rate of aging in large dogs is due to body size per se or some other factor associated with large size. We used dense genome-wide SNP array data to calculate average inbreeding for over 100 dog breeds based on autozygous segment length and found that large breeds tend to have higher coefficients of inbreeding than small breeds. We then used data from the Veterinary medical Database and other published sources to estimate life expectancies for pure and mixed breed dogs. When controlling for size, variation in inbreeding was not associated with life expectancy across breeds. When comparing mixed versus purebred dogs, however, mixed breed dogs lived about 1.2 years longer on average than size-matched purebred dogs. Furthermore, individual pedigree coefficients of inbreeding and lifespans for over 9000 golden retrievers showed that inbreeding does negatively impact lifespan at the individual level. Registration data from the American Kennel Club suggest that the molecular inbreeding patterns observed in purebred dogs result from specific breeding practices and/or founder effects and not the current population size. Our results suggest that recent inbreeding, as reflected in variation within a breed, is more likely to affect fitness than historic inbreeding, as reflected in variation among breeds. Our results also indicate that occasional outcrosses, as in mixed breed dogs, can have a substantial positive effect on fitness.

RevDate: 2021-03-15
CmpDate: 2021-03-15

Sharma A, Singh P, Sarmah BK, et al (2020)

Quorum sensing: its role in microbial social networking.

Research in microbiology, 171(5-6):159-164.

Twentieth century observed a huge paradigm shift in the field of sociobiology, which moved from social intelligence of animals to microbes. Quorum Sensing Molecules (QSMs) are the small chemical molecules, which establish the mode of communication among microbes, and is called Quorum Sensing (QS). These molecules are crucial for determining the decisions of large groups of cells, which is a density-dependent process. Thus, this mechanism draws a very thin line between bacteria that are actually prokaryotes and clustered bacteria mimicking eukaryotes. This review discusses about the designs of microbial communication networks, and the role of QS in plant-microbe interaction.

RevDate: 2021-01-10
CmpDate: 2020-12-15

Sarkar S, P Majumder (2020)

COVID 19 draws attention to the adaptive evolutionary perspective of certain personality traits.

Asian journal of psychiatry, 53:102215.

RevDate: 2021-07-02

Charpentier MJE, Harté M, Poirotte C, et al (2020)

Same father, same face: Deep learning reveals selection for signaling kinship in a wild primate.

Science advances, 6(22):eaba3274.

Many animals rely on facial traits to recognize their kin; however, whether these traits have been selected specifically for this function remains unknown. Using deep learning for face recognition, we present the first evidence that interindividual facial resemblance has been selected to signal paternal kinship. Mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx) live in matrilineal societies, in which females spend their entire lives not only with maternal half-sisters (MHS) but also with paternal half-sisters (PHS). We show that PHS have more differentiated social relationships compared to nonkin, suggesting the existence of kin recognition mechanisms. We further demonstrate that facial resemblance increases with genetic relatedness. However, PHS resemble each other visually more than MHS do, despite both kin categories sharing similar degrees of genetic relatedness. This paternally derived facial resemblance among PHS indicates selection to facilitate kin recognition. This study also highlights the potential of artificial intelligence to study phenotypic evolution.

RevDate: 2021-05-07
CmpDate: 2021-05-07

Jundi BE (2020)

Underwater Path Integration: Using the Celestial Dome to Get Back Home.

Current biology : CB, 30(11):R639-R642.

A new study shows that mantis shrimp employ path integration, based on celestial and egocentric cues as orientation references, to return to their underwater burrows.

RevDate: 2020-06-06

Stöckl AL, O'Carroll DC, EJ Warrant (2020)

Hawkmoth lamina monopolar cells act as dynamic spatial filters to optimize vision at different light levels.

Science advances, 6(16):eaaz8645.

How neural form and function are connected is a central question of neuroscience. One prominent functional hypothesis, from the beginnings of neuroanatomical study, states that laterally extending dendrites of insect lamina monopolar cells (LMCs) spatially integrate visual information. We provide the first direct functional evidence for this hypothesis using intracellular recordings from type II LMCs in the hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum. We show that their spatial receptive fields broaden with decreasing light intensities, thus trading spatial resolution for higher sensitivity. These dynamic changes in LMC spatial properties can be explained by the density and lateral extent of their dendritic arborizations. Our results thus provide the first physiological evidence for a century-old hypothesis, directly correlating physiological response properties with distinctive dendritic morphology.

RevDate: 2021-07-07
CmpDate: 2021-03-22

Scharf HM, Suarez AV, Reeve HK, et al (2020)

The evolution of conspecific acceptance threshold models.

Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 375(1802):20190475.

How do organisms balance different types of recognition errors when cues associated with desirable and undesirable individuals or resources overlap? This is a fundamental question of signal detection theory (SDT). As applied in sociobiology, SDT is not limited to a single context or animal taxon, therefore its application can span what may be considered dissimilar systems. One of the applications of SDT is the suite of acceptance threshold models proposed by Reeve (1989), which analysed how individuals should balance acceptance and rejection errors in social discrimination decisions across a variety of recognition contexts, distinguished by how these costs and benefits relatively combine. We conducted a literature review to evaluate whether these models' specific predictions have been upheld. By examining over 350 research papers, we quantify how Reeve's models (Reeve 1989 Am. Nat. 133, 407-435 (doi:10.1086/284926)) have influenced the field of ecological and behavioural recognition systems research. We found overall empirical support for the predictions of the specific models proposed by Reeve, and argue for further expansion of their applications into more diverse taxonomic and additional recognition contexts. This article is part of the theme issue 'Signal detection theory in recognition systems: from evolving models to experimental tests'.

RevDate: 2021-07-09

Hensgen R, England L, Homberg U, et al (2021)

Neuroarchitecture of the central complex in the brain of the honeybee: Neuronal cell types.

The Journal of comparative neurology, 529(1):159-186.

The central complex (CX) in the insect brain is a higher order integration center that controls a number of behaviors, most prominently goal directed locomotion. The CX comprises the protocerebral bridge (PB), the upper division of the central body (CBU), the lower division of the central body (CBL), and the paired noduli (NO). Although spatial orientation has been extensively studied in honeybees at the behavioral level, most electrophysiological and anatomical analyses have been carried out in other insect species, leaving the morphology and physiology of neurons that constitute the CX in the honeybee mostly enigmatic. The goal of this study was to morphologically identify neuronal cell types of the CX in the honeybee Apis mellifera. By performing iontophoretic dye injections into the CX, we traced 16 subtypes of neuron that connect a subdivision of the CX with other regions in the bee's central brain, and eight subtypes that mainly interconnect different subdivisions of the CX. They establish extensive connections between the CX and the lateral complex, the superior protocerebrum and the posterior protocerebrum. Characterized neuron classes and subtypes are morphologically similar to those described in other insects, suggesting considerable conservation in the neural network relevant for orientation.

RevDate: 2020-10-26
CmpDate: 2020-10-26

Noonan MJ, Fleming CH, Tucker MA, et al (2020)

Effects of body size on estimation of mammalian area requirements.

Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology, 34(4):1017-1028.

Accurately quantifying species' area requirements is a prerequisite for effective area-based conservation. This typically involves collecting tracking data on species of interest and then conducting home-range analyses. Problematically, autocorrelation in tracking data can result in space needs being severely underestimated. Based on the previous work, we hypothesized the magnitude of underestimation varies with body mass, a relationship that could have serious conservation implications. To evaluate this hypothesis for terrestrial mammals, we estimated home-range areas with global positioning system (GPS) locations from 757 individuals across 61 globally distributed mammalian species with body masses ranging from 0.4 to 4000 kg. We then applied block cross-validation to quantify bias in empirical home-range estimates. Area requirements of mammals <10 kg were underestimated by a mean approximately15%, and species weighing approximately100 kg were underestimated by approximately50% on average. Thus, we found area estimation was subject to autocorrelation-induced bias that was worse for large species. Combined with the fact that extinction risk increases as body mass increases, the allometric scaling of bias we observed suggests the most threatened species are also likely to be those with the least accurate home-range estimates. As a correction, we tested whether data thinning or autocorrelation-informed home-range estimation minimized the scaling effect of autocorrelation on area estimates. Data thinning required an approximately93% data loss to achieve statistical independence with 95% confidence and was, therefore, not a viable solution. In contrast, autocorrelation-informed home-range estimation resulted in consistently accurate estimates irrespective of mass. When relating body mass to home range size, we detected that correcting for autocorrelation resulted in a scaling exponent significantly >1, meaning the scaling of the relationship changed substantially at the upper end of the mass spectrum.

RevDate: 2021-01-10

Scheiner R, Frantzmann F, Jäger M, et al (2020)

A Novel Thermal-Visual Place Learning Paradigm for Honeybees (Apis mellifera).

Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience, 14:56.

Honeybees (Apis mellifera) have fascinating navigational skills and learning capabilities in the field. To decipher the mechanisms underlying place learning in honeybees, we need paradigms to study place learning of individual honeybees under controlled laboratory conditions. Here, we present a novel visual place learning arena for honeybees which relies on high temperatures as aversive stimuli. Honeybees learn to locate a safe spot in an unpleasantly warm arena, relying on a visual panorama. Bees can solve this task at a temperature of 46°C, while at temperatures above 48°C bees die quickly. This new paradigm, which is based on pioneering work on Drosophila, allows us now to investigate thermal-visual place learning of individual honeybees in the laboratory, for example after controlled genetic knockout or pharmacological intervention.

RevDate: 2021-04-09

Habenstein J, Amini E, Grübel K, et al (2020)

The brain of Cataglyphis ants: Neuronal organization and visual projections.

The Journal of comparative neurology, 528(18):3479-3506.

Cataglyphis ants are known for their outstanding navigational abilities. They return to their inconspicuous nest after far-reaching foraging trips using path integration, and whenever available, learn and memorize visual features of panoramic sceneries. To achieve this, the ants combine directional visual information from celestial cues and panoramic scenes with distance information from an intrinsic odometer. The largely vision-based navigation in Cataglyphis requires sophisticated neuronal networks to process the broad repertoire of visual stimuli. Although Cataglyphis ants have been subjected to many neuroethological studies, little is known about the general neuronal organization of their central brain and the visual pathways beyond major circuits. Here, we provide a comprehensive, three-dimensional neuronal map of synapse-rich neuropils in the brain of Cataglyphis nodus including major connecting fiber systems. In addition, we examined neuronal tracts underlying the processing of visual information in more detail. This study revealed a total of 33 brain neuropils and 30 neuronal fiber tracts including six distinct tracts between the optic lobes and the cerebrum. We also discuss the importance of comparative studies on insect brain architecture for a profound understanding of neuronal networks and their function.

RevDate: 2021-05-24
CmpDate: 2021-05-24

Rudolph K, Fichtel C, Heistermann M, et al (2020)

Dynamics and determinants of glucocorticoid metabolite concentrations in wild Verreaux's sifakas.

Hormones and behavior, 124:104760.

Glucocorticoids have wide-ranging effects on animals' behaviour, but many of these effects remain poorly understood because numerous confounding factors have often been neglected in previous studies. Here, we present data from a 2-year study of 7 groups of wild Verreaux's sifakas (Propithecus verreauxi), in which we examined concentrations of faecal glucocorticoid metabolites (fGCMs, n = 2350 samples) simultaneously in relation to ambient temperatures, food intake, rank, reproduction, adult sex ratios, social interactions, vigilance and self-scratching. Multi-variate analyses revealed that fGCM concentrations were positively correlated with increases in daily temperature fluctuations and tended to decrease with increasing fruit intake. fGCM concentrations increased when males were sexually mature and began to disperse, and dominant males had higher fGCM concentrations than subordinate males. In contrast to males, older females showed a non-significant trend to have lower fGCM levels, potentially reflecting differences in male and female life-history strategies. Reproducing females had the highest fGCM concentrations during late gestation and had higher fGCM levels than non-reproducing females, except during early lactation. Variation in fGCM concentrations was not associated with variation in social interactions, adult sex ratios, vigilance and self-scratching. Altogether, we show that measures of glucocorticoid output constitute appropriate tools for studying energetic burdens of ecological and reproductive challenges. However, they seem to be insufficient indicators for immediate endocrinological responses to social and nonsocial behaviours that are not directly linked to energy metabolism.

RevDate: 2020-09-28

Grund-Mueller N, Ruedenauer FA, Spaethe J, et al (2020)

Adding Amino Acids to a Sucrose Diet Is Not Sufficient to Support Longevity of Adult Bumble Bees.

Insects, 11(4):.

Dietary macro-nutrients (i.e., carbohydrates, protein, and fat) are important for bee larval development and, thus, colony health and fitness. To which extent different diets (varying in macro-nutrient composition) affect adult bees and whether they can thrive on nectar as the sole amino acid source has, however, been little investigated. We investigated how diets varying in protein concentration and overall nutrient composition affected consumption, longevity, and breeding behavior of the buff-tailed bumble bee, Bombus terrestris (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Queenless micro-colonies were fed either natural nutrient sources (pollen), nearly pure protein (i.e., the milk protein casein), or sucrose solutions with low and with high essential amino acid content in concentrations as can be found in nectar. We observed micro-colonies for 110 days. We found that longevity was highest for pure pollen and lowest for pure sucrose solution and sucrose solution supplemented with amino acids in concentrations as found in the nectar of several plant species. Adding higher concentrations of amino acids to sucrose solution did only slightly increase longevity compared to sucrose alone. Consequently, sucrose solution with the applied concentrations and proportions of amino acids or other protein sources (e.g., casein) alone did not meet the nutritional needs of healthy adult bumble bees. In fact, longevity was highest and reproduction only successful in micro-colonies fed pollen. These results indicate that, in addition to carbohydrates and protein, adult bumble bees, like larvae, need further nutrients (e.g., lipids and micro-nutrients) for their well-being. An appropriate nutritional composition seemed to be best provided by floral pollen, suggesting that pollen is an essential dietary component not only for larvae but also for adult bees.

RevDate: 2020-09-28

Dolotovskaya S, Walker S, EW Heymann (2020)

What makes a pair bond in a Neotropical primate: female and male contributions.

Royal Society open science, 7(1):191489.

Pair living and pair bonding are rare in mammals, and the mechanisms of their maintenance remain a puzzle. Titi monkeys, a 'textbook example' for 'monogamous' primates, have strong pair bonds and extensive male care. To investigate mechanisms of pair-bond maintenance, we studied seven wild groups of red titis (Plecturocebus cupreus) in Peruvian Amazonia over a period of 14 months. We analysed pair bonds by measuring proximity, grooming and approaches/leaves within pairs, and collected data on intergroup encounters. Females contributed to grooming more than males, especially during infant dependency, when most of the grooming within pairs was done by females. Females were also more active in controlling proximity between pair mates, making most of the approaches and leaves. Males, on the other hand, invested more in territorial defences. They participated in more intergroup encounters than females and were more active during these encounters. Our data is most consistent with the 'male-services' hypothesis for pair-bond maintenance, where a female contributes more to the proximity and affiliation maintenance while a male provides beneficial services.

RevDate: 2021-03-11
CmpDate: 2021-03-11

Secor PR, AA Dandekar (2020)

More than Simple Parasites: the Sociobiology of Bacteriophages and Their Bacterial Hosts.

mBio, 11(2):.

Bacteria harbor viruses called bacteriophages that, like all viruses, co-opt the host cellular machinery to replicate. Although this relationship is at first glance parasitic, there are social interactions among and between bacteriophages and their bacterial hosts. These social interactions can take on many forms, including cooperation, altruism, and cheating. Such behaviors among individuals in groups of bacteria have been well described. However, the social nature of some interactions between phages or phages and bacteria is only now becoming clear. We are just beginning to understand how bacteriophages affect the sociobiology of bacteria, and we know even less about social interactions within bacteriophage populations. In this review, we discuss recent developments in our understanding of bacteriophage sociobiology, including how selective pressures influence the outcomes of social interactions between populations of bacteria and bacteriophages. We also explore how tripartite social interactions between bacteria, bacteriophages, and an animal host affect host-microbe interactions. Finally, we argue that understanding the sociobiology of bacteriophages will have implications for the therapeutic use of bacteriophages to treat bacterial infections.

RevDate: 2020-09-28

Dolotovskaya S, Flores Amasifuen C, Haas CE, et al (2019)

Active anti-predator behaviour of red titi monkeys (Plecturocebus cupreus).

Primate biology, 6(1):59-64.

Due to their inconspicuous behaviour and colouration, it has been assumed that titi monkeys' main anti-predator behaviour is passive crypsis and hiding. So far, active predator mobbing has been documented only for black-fronted titi monkeys, Callicebus nigrifrons. Here we report for the first time mobbing behaviour of red titi monkeys, Plecturocebus cupreus (previously Callicebus cupreus), as reaction to an ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) and a Boa constrictor. We also report other active anti-predator behaviours, such as alarm calling and approaching, as reactions to tayras (Eira barbara) and raptors. Our observations provide additional evidence for sex differences in anti-predator behaviour, possibly related to the evolution and maintenance of social monogamy.

RevDate: 2020-09-28

Cosarinsky MI, Römer D, F Roces (2020)

Nest Turrets of Acromyrmex Grass-Cutting Ants: Micromorphology Reveals Building Techniques and Construction Dynamics.

Insects, 11(2):.

Acromyrmex fracticornis grass-cutting ants construct conspicuous chimney-shaped nest turrets made of intermeshed grass fragments. We asked whether turrets are constructed by merely piling up nearby materials around the entrance, or whether ants incorporate different materials as the turret develops. By removing the original nest turrets and following their rebuilding process over three consecutive days, age-dependent changes in wall morphology and inner lining fabrics were characterized. Micromorphological descriptions based on thin sections of turret walls revealed the building behaviors involved. Ants started by collecting nearby twigs and dry grass fragments that are piled up around the nest entrance. Several large fragments held the structure like beams. As a net-like structure grew, soil pellets were placed in between the intermeshed plant fragments from the turret base to the top, reinforcing the structure. Concomitantly, the turret inner wall was lined with soil pellets, starting from the base. Therefore, the consolidation of the turret occurred both over time and from its base upwards. It is argued that nest turrets do not simply arise by the arbitrary deposition of nearby materials, and that workers selectively incorporate large materials at the beginning, and respond to the developing structure by reinforcing the intermeshed plant fragments over time.

RevDate: 2021-02-01
CmpDate: 2020-07-27

Poirotte C, MJE Charpentier (2020)

Unconditional care from close maternal kin in the face of parasites.

Biology letters, 16(2):20190869.

Several species mitigate relationships according to their conspecifics' parasite status. Yet, this defence strategy comes with the costs of depriving individuals from valuable social bonds. Animals therefore face a trade-off between the costs of pathogen exposure and the benefits of social relationships. According to the models of social evolution, social bonds are highly kin-biased. However, whether kinship mitigates social avoidance of contagious individuals has never been tested so far. Here, we build on previous research to demonstrate that mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx) modulate social avoidance of contagious individuals according to kinship: individuals do not avoid grooming their close maternal kin when contagious (parasitized with oro-faecally transmitted protozoa), although they do for more distant or non-kin. While individuals' parasite status has seldom been considered as a trait impacting social relationships in animals, this study goes a step beyond by showing that kinship balances the effect of health status on social behaviour in a non-human primate.

RevDate: 2020-06-05
CmpDate: 2020-06-05

Kappeler PM, L Pozzi (2019)

Evolutionary transitions toward pair living in nonhuman primates as stepping stones toward more complex societies.

Science advances, 5(12):eaay1276.

Nonhuman primate societies vary tremendously in size and composition, but how and why evolutionary transitions among different states occurred remains highly controversial. In particular, how many times pair living evolved and the social states of the ancestors of pair- and group-living species remains contentious. We examined evolutionary transitions in primate social evolution by using new, independent categorizations of sociality and different phylogenetic hypotheses with a vastly expanded dataset. Using Bayesian phylogenetic comparative methods, we consistently found the strongest support for a model that invokes frequent transitions between solitary ancestors and pair-living descendants, with the latter giving rise to group-living species. This result was robust to systematic variation in social classification, sample size, and phylogeny. Our analyses therefore indicate that pair living was a stepping stone in the evolution of structurally more complex primate societies, a result that bolsters the role of kin selection in social evolution.

RevDate: 2021-01-04
CmpDate: 2020-02-17

Gutmann DH (2020)

The Sociobiology of Brain Tumors.

Advances in experimental medicine and biology, 1225:115-125.

Brain tumors are complex cellular ecosystems, composed of populations of both neoplastic and non-neoplastic cell types. While the contributions of the cancer cells in low-grade and high-grade gliomas have been extensively studied, there is comparatively less known about the contributions of the non-neoplastic cells in these tumors. As such, a large proportion of the non-neoplastic cells in gliomas are resident brain microglia, infiltrating circulating macrophages, and T lymphocytes. These immune system-like stromal cells are recruited into the evolving tumor through the elaboration of chemokines, and are reprogrammed to adopt new cellular identities critical for glioma formation, maintenance, and progression. In this manner, these populations of tumor-associated microglia and macrophages produce growth factors that support gliomagenesis and continued tumor growth. As we begin to characterize these immune cell contributions, future therapies might emerge as adjuvant approaches to glioma treatment.

RevDate: 2020-09-04

Dore KM, Hansen MF, Klegarth AR, et al (2020)

Correction to: Review of GPS collar deployments and performance on nonhuman primates.

Primates; journal of primatology, 61(3):389-390.

In the original publication of the article, figure 1 was wrongly published as a duplication.

RevDate: 2021-08-06
CmpDate: 2021-08-06

Darling Rasmussen P, OJ Storebø (2021)

Attachment and Epigenetics: A Scoping Review of Recent Research and Current Knowledge.

Psychological reports, 124(2):479-501.

BACKGROUND: Epigenetic research has pointed to that the interaction between genetics and environmental factors may play a role in making some individuals more vulnerable than others.

AIM: The aim of this article was to present a broad perspective on the current state of knowledge in a relatively new and complex field of "attachment and epigenetic processes."

METHOD: We conducted a scoping review based on a systematic literature search in PsycINFO, PubMed, and Embase databases for relevant abstracts using the terms attachment and epigenet*.

RESULTS: In total, 11 studies were included. Research predating 2009 and animal studies were excluded in order to review the current state of research in humans.

CONCLUSION: Overall, there seems to be a consistency in the literature, pointing to a link between early childhood adversity, attachment processes, and epigenetic changes. However, research in human subjects is still limited.

RevDate: 2020-09-28

Prox L, D Farine (2020)

A framework for conceptualizing dimensions of social organization in mammals.

Ecology and evolution, 10(2):791-807.

Mammalian societies represent many different types of social systems. While some aspects of social systems have been extensively studied, there is little consensus on how to conceptualize social organization across species. Here, we present a framework describing eight dimensions of social organization to capture its diversity across mammalian societies. The framework uses simple information that is clearly separated from the three other aspects of social systems: social structure, care system, and mating system. By applying our framework across 208 species of all mammalian taxa, we find a rich multidimensional landscape of social organization. Correlation analysis reveals that the dimensions have relatively high independence, suggesting that social systems are able to evolve different aspects of social behavior without being tied to particular traits. Applying a clustering algorithm allows us to identify the relative importance of key dimensions on patterns of social organization. Finally, mapping mating system onto these clusters shows that social organization represents a distinct aspect of social systems. In the future, this framework will aid reporting on important aspects of natural history in species and facilitate comparative analyses, which ultimately will provide the ability to generate new insights into the primary drivers of social patterns and evolution of sociality.

RevDate: 2021-05-15
CmpDate: 2020-11-17

Dore KM, Hansen MF, Klegarth AR, et al (2020)

Review of GPS collar deployments and performance on nonhuman primates.

Primates; journal of primatology, 61(3):373-387.

Over the past 20 years, GPS collars have emerged as powerful tools for the study of nonhuman primate (hereafter, "primate") movement ecology. As the size and cost of GPS collars have decreased and performance has improved, it is timely to review the use and success of GPS collar deployments on primates to date. Here we compile data on deployments and performance of GPS collars by brand and examine how these relate to characteristics of the primate species and field contexts in which they were deployed. The compiled results of 179 GPS collar deployments across 17 species by 16 research teams show these technologies can provide advantages, particularly in adding to the quality, quantity, and temporal span of data collection. However, aspects of this technology still require substantial improvement in order to make deployment on many primate species pragmatic economically. In particular, current limitations regarding battery lifespan relative to collar weight, the efficacy of remote drop-off mechanisms, and the ability to remotely retrieve data need to be addressed before the technology is likely to be widely adopted. Moreover, despite the increasing utility of GPS collars in the field, they remain substantially more expensive than VHF collars and tracking via handheld GPS units, and cost considerations of GPS collars may limit sample sizes and thereby the strength of inferences. Still, the overall high quality and quantity of data obtained, combined with the reduced need for on-the-ground tracking by field personnel, may help defray the high equipment cost. We argue that primatologists armed with the information in this review have much to gain from the recent, substantial improvements in GPS collar technology.

RevDate: 2020-07-16
CmpDate: 2020-07-16

Szabo B, MJ Whiting (2020)

Do lizards have enhanced inhibition? A test in two species differing in ecology and sociobiology.

Behavioural processes, 172:104043.

Waiting for the right moment to strike, avoiding the ingestion of harmful foods, or ignoring stimuli associated with ephemeral or depleted resources requires the inhibition of prepotent responses. Good response inhibition facilities flexibility in behaviour which is associated with survival in unpredictable environments. To investigate differences in behavioural flexibility in lizards, we tested reversal learning in the sleepy lizard (Tiliqua rugosa asper) and compared its performance to the relatively closely related eastern blue-tongue skink (Tiliqua scincoides scincoides). We presented both species with a choice between either a light and dark blue stimulus or a triangle and X shape. Both species were able to learn to discriminate between these stimuli and showed similar learning ability during the acquisition of the discrimination. Sleepy lizards, however, demonstrated a higher probability of making a correct choice at the start of the reversal, hinting towards enhanced stimulus response inhibition. Sleepy lizards and blue-tongue skinks inhabit different environments and show differences in ecology and sociobiology, all of which could possibly lead to adaptive specialisation in cognitive ability. Although further research is required, we propose that selection might have led to a change in stimulus response inhibition in the arid-adapted sleepy lizard, because better response inhibition may help them avoid the costs of repeated choices towards stimuli which no longer predict a beneficial outcome.

RevDate: 2020-02-10
CmpDate: 2020-02-10

Ruedenauer FA, Raubenheimer D, Kessner-Beierlein D, et al (2020)

Best be(e) on low fat: linking nutrient perception, regulation and fitness.

Ecology letters, 23(3):545-554.

Preventing malnutrition through consuming nutritionally appropriate resources represents a challenge for foraging animals. This is due to often high variation in the nutritional quality of available resources. Foragers consequently need to evaluate different food sources. However, even the same food source can provide a plethora of nutritional and non-nutritional cues, which could serve for quality assessment. We show that bumblebees, Bombus terrestris, overcome this challenge by relying on lipids as nutritional cue when selecting pollen. The bees 'prioritised' lipid perception in learning experiments and avoided lipid consumption in feeding experiments, which supported survival and reproduction. In contrast, survival and reproduction were severely reduced by increased lipid contents. Our study highlights the importance of fat regulation for pollen foraging bumblebees. It also reveals that nutrient perception, nutrient regulation and reproductive fitness can be linked, which represents an effective strategy enabling quick foraging decisions that prevent malnutrition and maximise fitness.

RevDate: 2020-09-30

Groh C, W Rössler (2020)

Analysis of Synaptic Microcircuits in the Mushroom Bodies of the Honeybee.

Insects, 11(1):.

Mushroom bodies (MBs) are multisensory integration centers in the insect brain involved in learning and memory formation. In the honeybee, the main sensory input region (calyx) of MBs is comparatively large and receives input from mainly olfactory and visual senses, but also from gustatory/tactile modalities. Behavioral plasticity following differential brood care, changes in sensory exposure or the formation of associative long-term memory (LTM) was shown to be associated with structural plasticity in synaptic microcircuits (microglomeruli) within olfactory and visual compartments of the MB calyx. In the same line, physiological studies have demonstrated that MB-calyx microcircuits change response properties after associative learning. The aim of this review is to provide an update and synthesis of recent research on the plasticity of microcircuits in the MB calyx of the honeybee, specifically looking at the synaptic connectivity between sensory projection neurons (PNs) and MB intrinsic neurons (Kenyon cells). We focus on the honeybee as a favorable experimental insect for studying neuronal mechanisms underlying complex social behavior, but also compare it with other insect species for certain aspects. This review concludes by highlighting open questions and promising routes for future research aimed at understanding the causal relationships between neuronal and behavioral plasticity in this charismatic social insect.

RevDate: 2020-07-17
CmpDate: 2020-07-17

Ernst UR (2020)

Digest: Evolution of eusociality favored by split sex ratios under worker-control.

Evolution; international journal of organic evolution, 74(1):201-202.

Eusociality has repeatedly independently evolved in ants, bees, and wasps (Hymenoptera), leading to the idea that haplodiploidy may be an important driving factor in this group. Using a modeling approach, Quiñones et al. show that split sex ratios and worker control of sex ratios (achieved by removal of male brood) can promote the initial evolution of helping raise offspring of related individuals. However, over time, these factors can result in social polymorphism, that is, a mix of solitary and social nests, or to eusocial colonies with three different strategies, namely those that produce mostly females, mostly males, or a balanced sex ratio.

RevDate: 2020-12-07
CmpDate: 2020-06-09

Shell WA, SM Rehan (2019)

Social modularity: conserved genes and regulatory elements underlie caste-antecedent behavioural states in an incipiently social bee.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 286(1916):20191815.

The evolutionary origins of advanced eusociality, one of the most complex forms of phenotypic plasticity in nature, have long been a focus within the field of sociobiology. Although eusocial insects are known to have evolved from solitary ancestors, sociogenomic research among incipiently social taxa has only recently provided empirical evidence supporting theories that modular regulation and deeply conserved genes may play important roles in both the evolutionary emergence and elaboration of insect sociality. There remains, however, a paucity of data to further test the biological reality of these and other evolutionary theories among taxa in the earliest stages of social evolution. Here, we present brain transcriptomic data from the incipiently social small carpenter bee, Ceratina calcarata, which captures patterns of cis-regulation and gene expression associated with female maturation, and underlying two well-defined behavioural states, foraging and guarding, concurrently demonstrated by mothers and daughters during early autumn. We find that an incipiently social nest environment may dramatically affect gene expression. We further reveal foraging and guarding behaviours to be putatively caste-antecedent states in C. calcarata, and offer strong empirical support for the operation of modular regulation, involving deeply conserved and differentially expressed genes in the expression of early social forms.

RevDate: 2020-06-08
CmpDate: 2020-06-08

Fina PM, Cunningham FE, Zhao X, et al (2020)

Reporting of adverse drug events in the Veterans Health Administration for patients whose treatment with empagliflozin or apixaban was discontinued.

American journal of health-system pharmacy : AJHP : official journal of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, 77(1):22-32.

PURPOSE: To examine the reporting rates of adverse drug events (ADEs) with apixaban and empagliflozin as reports move up to the next level of spontaneous reporting.

METHODS: This was a retrospective cohort study of outpatients who discontinued apixaban or empagliflozin within 3 years of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. We enriched the sample using an active surveillance strategy to identify subsets of patients with International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes possibly associated with an ADE. Stratified random samples of charts were reviewed to determine if patients discontinued the medication due to an ADE. If so, we ascertained whether these were uploaded into the Veterans Administration (VA) electronic health record reporting system (Adverse Reaction Tracking System [ARTS]), VA national Web-based system (VA Adverse Drug Event Reporting System [VA ADERS]), and FDA MedWatch.

RESULTS: From the cohort of 2,973 patients who discontinued apixaban, 321 patients (10.8%) were randomly sampled for chart review (including 61 patients with relevant ICD codes). During chart review, 88 ADEs were identified, with 40/61 (65.6%) from the subset with ICD codes. Of the total of 88 ADEs, 18.2%, 10.2%, and 6.8% were reported in ARTS, VA ADERS, and MedWatch, respectively. Of the 1,555 patients who discontinued empagliflozin, 179 patients (11.5%) were randomly sampled for chart review (40 patients with relevant ICD codes). During chart review, 78 ADEs were identified, with 19/40 (47.5%) from the subset with ICD codes. Of the 78 ADEs, 28.2%, 19.2%, and 7.7% were reported in ARTS, VA ADERS, and MedWatch, respectively.

CONCLUSION: We found substantial underreporting of apixaban and empagliflozin ADEs that became worse at each higher level of spontaneous reporting.

RevDate: 2020-09-28

Cordoni G, E Palagi (2019)

Back to the Future: A Glance Over Wolf Social Behavior to Understand Dog-Human Relationship.

Animals : an open access journal from MDPI, 9(11):.

This review focuses on wolf sociobiology to delineate the traits of cooperative baggage driven by natural selection (wolf-wolf cooperation) and better understand the changes obtained by artificial selection (dog-human cooperation). We selected some behaviors of the dog's ancestors that provide the basis for the expression of a cooperative society, such as dominance relationships, leverage power, post-aggressive strategies, and playful dynamics between pack members. When possible, we tried to compare the data on wolves with those coming from the dog literature. Wolves can negotiate commodities when the interacting subjects occupy different ranking positions by bargaining social tolerance with helping and support. They are able to manage group disruption by engaging in sophisticated post-conflict maneuvers, thus restoring the relationship between the opponents and reducing the spreading of aggression in the group. Wolves engage in social play also as adults to manipulate social relationships. They are able to flexibly adjust their playful interactions to minimize the risk of escalation. Complex cognitive abilities and communicative skills are probably the main proximate causes for the evolution of inter-specific cooperation in wolves.

RevDate: 2020-01-08

Zinner D, Groeneveld LF, Keller C, et al (2019)

Correction to: Mitochondrial phylogeography of baboons (Papio spp.) - Indication for introgressive hybridization?.

BMC evolutionary biology, 19(1):198.

Following publication of the original article [1], we have been notified that some of the NCB accession numbers were incorrectly associated to their corresponding taxon in the Additional file 1.

RevDate: 2020-09-30

Fortunato A, A Aktipis (2019)

Social feeding behavior of Trichoplax adhaerens.

Frontiers in ecology and evolution, 7:.

Animals have evolved different foraging strategies in which some animals forage independently and others forage in groups. The evolution of social feeding does not necessarily require cooperation; social feeding can be a beneficial individual-level strategy if it provides mutualistic benefits, for example though increasing the efficiency of resource extraction or processing. We found that Trichoplax adhaerens, the simplest multicellular animal ever described, engages in social feeding behavior. T. adhaerens lacks muscle tissue, nervous and digestive systems - yet is capable of aggregating and forming groups of closely connected individuals who collectively feed. The tight physical interactions between the animals are transitory and appear to serve the goal of staying connected to neighbors during the external digestion of algae when enzymes are released on the biofilm and nutrients are absorbed through the ventral epithelium. We found that T. adhaerens are more likely to engage in social feeding when the concentrations of algae are high - both in a semi-natural conditions and in vitro. It is surprising that T. adhaerens - an organism without a nervous system - is able to engage in this social feeding behavior. Whether this behavior is cooperative is still an open question. Nevertheless, the social feeding behavior of T. adhaerens, an early multicellular animal, suggests that sociality may have played an important role in the early evolution of animals. It also suggests that T. adhaerens could be used as a simple model organism for exploring questions regarding ecology and sociobiology.

RevDate: 2020-10-01

Eckhardt F, Strube C, Mathes KA, et al (2019)

Parasite burden in a short-lived chameleon, Furcifer labordi.

International journal for parasitology. Parasites and wildlife, 10:231-240.

Life history theory predicts that species with shorter lifespan should show higher investments into growth and reproduction at the expense of immune defenses. Labord's chameleon (Furcifer labordi) is the tetrapod with the shortest known life span. To investigate to which extent immunosenescence influences the die-off of these chameleons when they are only about 6 months old, we examined the gastrointestinal-, blood- and ectoparasite burden in F. labordi in Kirindy Forest (western Madagascar) and compared them with sympatric and longer living F. cf. nicosiai. Moreover, we included data from wild F. labordi that were singly housed under ambient conditions with daily food and water supply. Gastrointestinal parasite prevalence of wild F. labordi increased dramatically during the last 3 months of their lives, which include the reproductive period. Furcifer cf. nicosiai was found to have a belated increase in gastrointestinal parasites compared to F. labordi. In F. cf. nicosiai higher prevalence of blood parasites were found, which probably result from the longer exposure to the arthropod intermediate host. Both species showed infestations with ectoparasites, which peaked in the rainy season but disappeared towards the dry season. Male F. labordi showed a significantly higher prevalence of gastrointestinal - and ectoparasites and higher intensities of coccidians and ectoparasites than females. Males of F. cf. nicosiai exhibited higher prevalence of blood- and ectoparasites, as well as higher intensities in ectoparasites. Caged individuals of both sexes showed delayed senescence, reduced parasite burden and lived longer than their wild conspecifics. Overall, the increase in the prevalence in gastrointestinal - and blood parasites towards the disappearance of the wild population of F. labordi indicates that this species invests comparatively less energy in efficient immune system function, supporting the prediction of life history theory.

RevDate: 2021-01-10
CmpDate: 2020-06-25

Davies NM, Howe LJ, Brumpton B, et al (2019)

Within family Mendelian randomization studies.

Human molecular genetics, 28(R2):R170-R179.

Mendelian randomization (MR) is increasingly used to make causal inferences in a wide range of fields, from drug development to etiologic studies. Causal inference in MR is possible because of the process of genetic inheritance from parents to offspring. Specifically, at gamete formation and conception, meiosis ensures random allocation to the offspring of one allele from each parent at each locus, and these are unrelated to most of the other inherited genetic variants. To date, most MR studies have used data from unrelated individuals. These studies assume that genotypes are independent of the environment across a sample of unrelated individuals, conditional on covariates. Here we describe potential sources of bias, such as transmission ratio distortion, selection bias, population stratification, dynastic effects and assortative mating that can induce spurious or biased SNP-phenotype associations. We explain how studies of related individuals such as sibling pairs or parent-offspring trios can be used to overcome some of these sources of bias, to provide potentially more reliable evidence regarding causal processes. The increasing availability of data from related individuals in large cohort studies presents an opportunity to both overcome some of these biases and also to evaluate familial environmental effects.


RJR Experience and Expertise


Robbins holds BS, MS, and PhD degrees in the life sciences. He served as a tenured faculty member in the Zoology and Biological Science departments at Michigan State University. He is currently exploring the intersection between genomics, microbial ecology, and biodiversity — an area that promises to transform our understanding of the biosphere.


Robbins has extensive experience in college-level education: At MSU he taught introductory biology, genetics, and population genetics. At JHU, he was an instructor for a special course on biological database design. At FHCRC, he team-taught a graduate-level course on the history of genetics. At Bellevue College he taught medical informatics.


Robbins has been involved in science administration at both the federal and the institutional levels. At NSF he was a program officer for database activities in the life sciences, at DOE he was a program officer for information infrastructure in the human genome project. At the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, he served as a vice president for fifteen years.


Robbins has been involved with information technology since writing his first Fortran program as a college student. At NSF he was the first program officer for database activities in the life sciences. At JHU he held an appointment in the CS department and served as director of the informatics core for the Genome Data Base. At the FHCRC he was VP for Information Technology.


While still at Michigan State, Robbins started his first publishing venture, founding a small company that addressed the short-run publishing needs of instructors in very large undergraduate classes. For more than 20 years, Robbins has been operating The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project, a web site dedicated to the digital publishing of critical works in science, especially classical genetics.


Robbins is well-known for his speaking abilities and is often called upon to provide keynote or plenary addresses at international meetings. For example, in July, 2012, he gave a well-received keynote address at the Global Biodiversity Informatics Congress, sponsored by GBIF and held in Copenhagen. The slides from that talk can be seen HERE.


Robbins is a skilled meeting facilitator. He prefers a participatory approach, with part of the meeting involving dynamic breakout groups, created by the participants in real time: (1) individuals propose breakout groups; (2) everyone signs up for one (or more) groups; (3) the groups with the most interested parties then meet, with reports from each group presented and discussed in a subsequent plenary session.


Robbins has been engaged with photography and design since the 1960s, when he worked for a professional photography laboratory. He now prefers digital photography and tools for their precision and reproducibility. He designed his first web site more than 20 years ago and he personally designed and implemented this web site. He engages in graphic design as a hobby.

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This is the book that really started the notion of sociobiology. It came out just as I was starting graduate school and the animal-behavior group organized a discussion group around the book. I was very lucky to have my introduction to in-depth academic discourse be centered around such an interesting book. R. Robbins

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Collection of publications by R J Robbins

Reprints and preprints of publications, slide presentations, instructional materials, and data compilations written or prepared by Robert Robbins. Most papers deal with computational biology, genome informatics, using information technology to support biomedical research, and related matters.

Research Gate page for R J Robbins

ResearchGate is a social networking site for scientists and researchers to share papers, ask and answer questions, and find collaborators. According to a study by Nature and an article in Times Higher Education , it is the largest academic social network in terms of active users.

Curriculum Vitae for R J Robbins

short personal version

Curriculum Vitae for R J Robbins

long standard version

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