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29 Sep 2023 at 01:56
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Bibliography on: Sociobiology


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RJR: Recommended Bibliography 29 Sep 2023 at 01:56 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.

Created with PubMed® Query: sociobiology NOT pmcbook NOT ispreviousversion

Citations The Papers (from PubMed®)


RevDate: 2023-09-06
CmpDate: 2023-09-06

Burini D (2023)

Multiscale and multi-physical problems: Comment on "What is life? Active particles tools towards behavioral dynamics in social-biology and economics" by N. Bellomo, M. Esfahanian, V. Secchini, and P. Terna.

Physics of life reviews, 46:275-276.

RevDate: 2023-09-01

Arican C, Schmitt FJ, Rössler W, et al (2023)

The mushroom body output encodes behavioral decision during sensory-motor transformation.

Current biology : CB pii:S0960-9822(23)01059-X [Epub ahead of print].

Animals form a behavioral decision by evaluating sensory evidence on the background of past experiences and the momentary motivational state. In insects, we still lack understanding of how and at which stage of the recurrent sensory-motor pathway behavioral decisions are formed. The mushroom body (MB), a central brain structure in insects[1] and crustaceans,[2][,][3] integrates sensory input of different modalities[4][,][5][,][6] with the internal state, the behavioral state, and external sensory context[7][,][8][,][9][,][10] through a large number of recurrent, mostly neuromodulatory inputs,[11][,][12] implicating a functional role for MBs in state-dependent sensory-motor transformation.[13][,][14] A number of classical conditioning studies in honeybees[15][,][16] and fruit flies[17][,][18][,][19] have provided accumulated evidence that at its output, the MB encodes the valence of a sensory stimulus with respect to its behavioral relevance. Recent work has extended this notion of valence encoding to the context of innate behaviors.[8][,][20][,][21][,][22] Here, we co-analyzed a defined feeding behavior and simultaneous extracellular single-unit recordings from MB output neurons (MBONs) in the cockroach in response to timed sensory stimulation with odors. We show that clear neuronal responses occurred almost exclusively during behaviorally responded trials. Early MBON responses to the sensory stimulus preceded the feeding behavior and predicted its occurrence or non-occurrence from the single-trial population activity. Our results therefore suggest that at its output, the MB does not merely encode sensory stimulus valence. We hypothesize instead that the MB output represents an integrated signal of internal state, momentary environmental conditions, and experience-dependent memory to encode a behavioral decision.

RevDate: 2023-08-29

Sless T, S Rehan (2023)

Phylogeny of the carpenter bees (Apidae: Xylocopinae) highlights repeated evolution of sociality.

Biology letters, 19(8):20230252.

Many groups of animals have evolved social behaviours in different forms, from intimate familial associations to the complex eusocial colonies of some insects. The subfamily Xylocopinae, including carpenter bees and their relatives, is a diverse clade exhibiting a wide range of social behaviours, from solitary to obligate eusociality with distinct morphological castes, making them ideal focal taxa in studying the evolution of sociality. We used ultraconserved element data to generate a broadly sampled phylogeny of the Xylocopinae, including several newly sequenced species. We then conducted ancestral state reconstructions on the evolutionary history of sociality in this group under multiple coding models. Our results indicate solitary origins for the Xylocopinae with multiple transitions to sociality across the tree and subsequent reversals to solitary life, demonstrating the lability and dynamic nature of social evolution in carpenter bees. Ultimately, this work clarifies the evolutionary history of the Xylocopinae, and expands our understanding of independent origins and gains and losses of social complexity.

RevDate: 2023-08-22

van der Kooi CJ, J Spaethe (2023)

Visual ecology: How glossy colours shine and confuse.

Current biology : CB, 33(16):R865-R867.

Most colours in nature are matte, but across the tree of life glossiness has evolved numerous times, suggesting that glossiness can be beneficial. Recent research finds that glossiness may confuse observers and protect against predators.

RevDate: 2023-08-22

Schüßler D, Blanco MB, Guthrie NK, et al (2023)

Morphological variability or inter-observer bias? A methodological toolkit to improve data quality of multi-researcher datasets for the analysis of morphological variation.

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

OBJECTIVES: The investigation of morphological variation in animals is widely used in taxonomy, ecology, and evolution. Using large datasets for meta-analyses has dramatically increased, raising concerns about dataset compatibilities and biases introduced by contributions of multiple researchers.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We compiled morphological data on 13 variables for 3073 individual mouse lemurs (Cheirogaleidae, Microcebus spp.) from 25 taxa and 153 different sampling locations, measured by 48 different researchers. We introduced and applied a filtering pipeline and quantified improvements in data quality (Shapiro-Francia statistic, skewness, and excess kurtosis). The filtered dataset was then used to test for genus-wide sexual size dimorphism and the applicability of Rensch's, Allen's, and Bergmann's rules.

RESULTS: Our pipeline reduced inter-observer bias (i.e., increased normality of data distributions). Inter-observer reliability of measurements was notably variable, highlighting the need to reduce data collection biases. Although subtle, we found a consistent pattern of sexual size dimorphism across Microcebus, with females being the larger (but not heavier) sex. Sexual size dimorphism was isometric, providing no support for Rensch's rule. Variations in tail length but not in ear size were consistent with the predictions of Allen's rule. Body mass and length followed a pattern contrary to predictions of Bergmann's rule.

DISCUSSION: We highlighted the usefulness of large multi-researcher datasets for testing ecological hypotheses after correcting for inter-observer biases. Using genus-wide tests, we outlined generalizable patterns of morphological variability across all mouse lemurs. This new methodological toolkit aims to facilitate future large-scale morphological comparisons for a wide range of taxa and applications.

RevDate: 2023-07-18
CmpDate: 2023-07-14

Fichtel C, Henke-von der Malsburg J, PM Kappeler (2023)

Cognitive performance is linked to fitness in a wild primate.

Science advances, 9(28):eadf9365.

Cognitive performance varies widely across animal species, but the processes underlying cognitive evolution remain poorly known. For cognitive abilities to evolve, performance must be linked to individual fitness benefits, but these links have been rarely studied in primates even though they exceed most other mammals in these traits. We subjected 198 wild gray mouse lemurs to four cognitive and two personality tests and subsequently monitored their survival in a mark-recapture study. Our study revealed that survival was predicted by individual variation in cognitive performance as well as body mass and exploration. Because cognitive performance covaried negatively with exploration, individuals gathering more accurate information enjoyed better cognitive performance and lived longer, but so did heavier and more explorative individuals. These effects may reflect a speed-accuracy trade-off, with alternative strategies yielding similar overall fitness. The observed intraspecific variation in selective benefits of cognitive performance, if heritable, can provide the basis for the evolution of cognitive abilities in members of our lineage.

RevDate: 2023-07-21

Homberg U, K Pfeiffer (2023)

Correction to: Unraveling the neural basis of spatial orientation in arthropods.

Journal of comparative physiology. A, Neuroethology, sensory, neural, and behavioral physiology, 209(4):465.

RevDate: 2023-07-18

van der Kooi CJ, Reuvers L, J Spaethe (2023)

Honesty, reliability, and information content of floral signals.

iScience, 26(7):107093.

Plants advertise their presence by displaying attractive flowers, which pollinators use to locate a floral reward. Understanding how floral traits scale with reward status lies at the heart of pollination biology, because it connects the different interests of plants and pollinators. Studies on plant phenotype-reward associations often use different terms and concepts, which limits developing a broader synthesis. Here, we present a framework with definitions of the key aspects of plant phenotype-reward associations and provide measures to quantify them across different species and studies. We first distinguish between cues and signals, which are often used interchangeably, but have different meanings and are subject to different selective pressures. We then define honesty, reliability, and information content of floral cues/signals and provide ways to quantify them. Finally, we discuss the ecological and evolutionary factors that determine flower phenotype-reward associations, how context-dependent and temporally variable they are, and highlight promising research directions.

RevDate: 2023-07-08

Kraft N, Muenz TS, Reinhard S, et al (2023)

Expansion microscopy in honeybee brains for high-resolution neuroanatomical analyses in social insects.

Cell and tissue research [Epub ahead of print].

The diffraction limit of light microscopy poses a problem that is frequently faced in structural analyses of social insect brains. With the introduction of expansion microscopy (ExM), a tool became available to overcome this limitation by isotropic physical expansion of preserved specimens. Our analyses focus on synaptic microcircuits (microglomeruli, MG) in the mushroom body (MB) of social insects, high-order brain centers for sensory integration, learning, and memory. MG undergo significant structural reorganizations with age, sensory experience, and during long-term memory formation. However, the changes in subcellular architecture involved in this plasticity have only partially been accessed yet. Using the western honeybee Apis mellifera as an experimental model, we established ExM for the first time in a social insect species and applied it to investigate plasticity in synaptic microcircuits within MG of the MB calyces. Using combinations of antibody staining and neuronal tracing, we demonstrate that this technique enables quantitative and qualitative analyses of structural neuronal plasticity at high resolution in a social insect brain.

RevDate: 2023-07-06

Pahl A, König von Borstel U, D Brucks (2023)

Llamas use social information from conspecifics and humans to solve a spatial detour task.

Animal cognition [Epub ahead of print].

Learning by observing others (i.e. social learning) is an important mechanism to reduce the costs of individual learning. Social learning can occur between conspecifics but also heterospecifics. Domestication processes might have changed the animals' sensitivity to human social cues and recent research indicates that domesticated species are particularly good in learning socially from humans. Llamas (Lama glama) are an interesting model species for that purpose. Llamas were bred as pack animals, which requires close contact and cooperative behaviour towards humans. We investigated whether llamas learn socially from trained conspecifics and humans in a spatial detour task. Subjects were required to detour metal hurdles arranged in a V-shape to reach a food reward. Llamas were more successful in solving the task after both a human and a conspecific demonstrated the task compared to a control condition with no demonstrator. Individual differences in behaviour (i.e. food motivation and distraction) further affected the success rate. Animals did not necessarily use the same route as the demonstrators, thus, indicating that they adopted a more general detour behaviour. These results suggest that llamas can extract information from conspecific and heterospecific demonstrations; hence, broadening our knowledge of domesticated species that are sensitive to human social behaviour.

RevDate: 2023-07-18

van Elst T, Schüßler D, Rakotondravony R, et al (2023)

Diversification processes in Gerp's mouse lemur demonstrate the importance of rivers and altitude as biogeographic barriers in Madagascar's humid rainforests.

Ecology and evolution, 13(7):e10254.

Madagascar exhibits exceptionally high levels of biodiversity and endemism. Models to explain the diversification and distribution of species in Madagascar stress the importance of historical variability in climate conditions which may have led to the formation of geographic barriers by changing water and habitat availability. The relative importance of these models for the diversification of the various forest-adapted taxa of Madagascar has yet to be understood. Here, we reconstructed the phylogeographic history of Gerp's mouse lemur (Microcebus gerpi) to identify relevant mechanisms and drivers of diversification in Madagascar's humid rainforests. We used restriction site associated DNA (RAD) markers and applied population genomic and coalescent-based techniques to estimate genetic diversity, population structure, gene flow and divergence times among M. gerpi populations and its two sister species M. jollyae and M. marohita. Genomic results were complemented with ecological niche models to better understand the relative barrier function of rivers and altitude. We show that M. gerpi diversified during the late Pleistocene. The inferred ecological niche, patterns of gene flow and genetic differentiation in M. gerpi suggest that the potential for rivers to act as biogeographic barriers depended on both size and elevation of headwaters. Populations on opposite sides of the largest river in the area with headwaters that extend far into the highlands show particularly high genetic differentiation, whereas rivers with lower elevation headwaters have weaker barrier functions, indicated by higher migration rates and admixture. We conclude that M. gerpi likely diversified through repeated cycles of dispersal punctuated by isolation to refugia as a result of paleoclimatic fluctuations during the Pleistocene. We argue that this diversification scenario serves as a model of diversification for other rainforest taxa that are similarly limited by geographic factors. In addition, we highlight conservation implications for this critically endangered species, which faces extreme habitat loss and fragmentation.

RevDate: 2023-07-05
CmpDate: 2023-07-05

Cristancho S, G Thompson (2023)

Building Resilient Healthcare Teams: Insights from Analogy to the Social Biology of Ants, Honey Bees and Other Social Insects.

Perspectives on medical education, 12(1):253-260.

The resilience of a healthcare system hinges on the adaptability of its teams. Thus far, healthcare teams have relied on well-defined scopes of practice to fulfill their safety mandate. While this feature has proven effective when dealing with stable situations, when it comes to disruptive events, healthcare teams find themselves navigating a fine balance between safety and resilience. Therefore, a better understanding of how the safety vs resilience trade-off varies under different circumstances is necessary if we are to promote and better train for resilience in modern healthcare teams. In this paper, we aim to bring awareness to the sociobiology analogy that healthcare teams might find useful during moments when safety and adaptability have the potential to conflict. Three principles underpin the sociobiology analogy: communication, decentralization, and plasticity. Of particular interest in this paper is plasticity whereby swapping roles or tasks becomes an adaptive, rather than a maladaptive, response teams could embrace when facing disruptive situations. While plasticity has naturally evolved in social insects, infusing plasticity in healthcare teams requires intentional training. Inspired by the sociobiology analogy, such training must value the ability: a) to read each other's cues and miscues, b) to step aside when others had the necessary skills, even if outside their scope, c) to deviate from protocols, and d) to foster cross-training. If the goal is to increase a team's behavioural flexibility and boost their resilience, this training mindset should become second nature.

RevDate: 2023-07-26

Schilcher F, R Scheiner (2023)

New insight into molecular mechanisms underlying division of labor in honeybees.

Current opinion in insect science, 59:101080 pii:S2214-5745(23)00077-9 [Epub ahead of print].

Honeybees are highly organized eusocial insects displaying a distinct division of labor. Juvenile hormone (JH) has long been hypothesized to be the major driver of behavioral transitions. However, more and more experiments in recent years have suggested that the role of this hormone is not as fundamental as hypothesized. Vitellogenin, a common egg yolk precursor protein, seems to be the major regulator of division of labor in honeybees, in connection with nutrition and the neurohormone and transmitter octopamine. Here, we review the role of vitellogenin in controlling honeybee division of labor and its modulation by JH, nutrition, and the catecholamine octopamine.

RevDate: 2023-06-29

Stuhrmann C (2023)

Sociobiology on Screen. The Controversy Through the Lens of Sociobiology: Doing What Comes Naturally.

Journal of the history of biology [Epub ahead of print].

When the sociobiology debate erupted in 1975, there were almost too many contributions to the heated exchanges between sociobiologists and their critics to count. In the fall of 1976, a Canadian educational film entitled Sociobiology: Doing What Comes Naturally sparked further controversy due to its graphic visuals and outrageous narration. While critics claimed the film was a promotional tool to further the sociobiological agenda in educational settings, sociobiologists quickly distanced themselves from the film and, in turn, accused the critics of consciously misrepresenting sociobiology by organizing showings of the film. Using audio, video, archival, and published sources, this paper explores the complicated history of Sociobiology: Doing What Comes Naturally and demonstrates how the public debate about the film reflects the positions, polemics, and polarization of the sociobiology debate as a whole.

RevDate: 2023-07-08
CmpDate: 2023-06-26

Römer D, Exl R, F Roces (2023)

Two feedback mechanisms involved in the control of leaf fragment size in leaf-cutting ants.

The Journal of experimental biology, 226(12):.

Polymorphic leaf-cutting ants harvest leaf fragments that correlate in size with the workers' body size. When cutting, workers anchor their hind legs on the leaf edge and rotate, removing approximately semicircular fragments. Workers show behavioural plasticity and modify their leg extension while holding onto the leaf edge depending on, for instance, leaf toughness, cutting smaller fragments out of tough leaves. What sensory information workers use to control the cutting trajectory remains unknown. We investigated whether sensory information from both the leg contact with the leaf edge and from head movements underlies fragment size determination. In the laboratory, we recorded Atta sexdens workers cutting standardised ®Parafilm pseudoleaves of different thickness, and quantified cutting behaviour and body reach, i.e. the distance between the mandible and the anchored hind leg tarsus. Experimentally preventing contact with the leaf edge resulted in smaller fragments, evincing that workers control the cutting trajectory using information from the contact of the hind legs with the leaf edge. However, ants were able to cut fragments even when contact of all six legs with the edge was prevented, indicating the use of additional sensory information. Ablation of mechanosensory hairs at the neck joint alone did not influence fragment size determination, yet simultaneously preventing sensory feedback from both mechanosensory hairs and edge contact led to a loss of control over the cutting trajectory. Leaf-cutting ants, therefore, control their cutting trajectory using sensory information from both the leg contact with the leaf edge and the lateral bending of the head.

RevDate: 2023-06-16

Ruedenauer FA, Parreño MA, Grunwald Kadow IC, et al (2023)

The ecology of nutrient sensation and perception in insects.

Trends in ecology & evolution pii:S0169-5347(23)00129-5 [Epub ahead of print].

Insects are equipped with neurological, physiological, and behavioral tools to locate potential food sources and assess their nutritional quality based on volatile and chemotactile cues. We summarize current knowledge on insect taste perception and the different modalities of reception and perception. We suggest that the neurophysiological mechanisms of reception and perception are closely linked to the species-specific ecology of different insects. Understanding these links consequently requires a multidisciplinary approach. We also highlight existing knowledge gaps, especially in terms of the exact ligands of receptors, and provide evidence for a perceptional hierarchy suggesting that insects have adapted their reception and perception to preferentially perceive nutrient stimuli that are important for their fitness.

RevDate: 2023-06-22
CmpDate: 2023-06-15

Püffel F, Meyer L, Imirzian N, et al (2023)

Developmental biomechanics and age polyethism in leaf-cutter ants.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 290(2000):20230355.

Many social insects display age polyethism: young workers stay inside the nest, and only older workers forage. This behavioural transition is accompanied by genetic and physiological changes, but the mechanistic origin of it remains unclear. To investigate if the mechanical demands on the musculoskeletal system effectively prevent young workers from foraging, we studied the biomechanical development of the bite apparatus in Atta vollenweideri leaf-cutter ants. Fully matured foragers generated peak in vivo bite forces of around 100 mN, more than one order of magnitude in excess of those measured for freshly eclosed callows of the same size. This change in bite force was accompanied by a sixfold increase in the volume of the mandible closer muscle, and by a substantial increase of the flexural rigidity of the head capsule, driven by a significant increase in both average thickness and indentation modulus of the head capsule cuticle. Consequently, callows lack the muscle force capacity required for leaf-cutting, and their head capsule is so compliant that large muscle forces would be likely to cause damaging deformations. On the basis of these results, we speculate that continued biomechanical development post eclosion may be a key factor underlying age polyethism, wherever foraging is associated with substantial mechanical demands.

RevDate: 2023-07-22
CmpDate: 2023-07-14

Püffel F, Roces F, D Labonte (2023)

Strong positive allometry of bite force in leaf-cutter ants increases the range of cuttable plant tissues.

The Journal of experimental biology, 226(13):.

Atta leaf-cutter ants are the prime herbivore in the Neotropics: differently sized foragers harvest plant material to grow a fungus as a crop. Efficient foraging involves complex interactions between worker size, task preferences and plant-fungus suitability; it is, however, ultimately constrained by the ability of differently sized workers to generate forces large enough to cut vegetation. In order to quantify this ability, we measured bite forces of Atta vollenweideri leaf-cutter ants spanning more than one order of magnitude in body mass. Maximum bite force scaled almost in direct proportion to mass; the largest workers generated peak bite forces 2.5 times higher than expected from isometry. This remarkable positive allometry can be explained via a biomechanical model that links bite forces with substantial size-specific changes in the morphology of the musculoskeletal bite apparatus. In addition to these morphological changes, we show that bite forces of smaller ants peak at larger mandibular opening angles, suggesting a size-dependent physiological adaptation, probably reflecting the need to cut leaves with a thickness that corresponds to a larger fraction of the maximum possible gape. Via direct comparison of maximum bite forces with leaf mechanical properties, we demonstrate (i) that bite forces in leaf-cutter ants need to be exceptionally large compared with body mass to enable them to cut leaves; and (ii), that the positive allometry enables colonies to forage on a wider range of plant species without the need for extreme investment in even larger workers. Our results thus provide strong quantitative arguments for the adaptive value of a positively allometric bite force.

RevDate: 2023-06-12
CmpDate: 2023-06-12

Urbani B, G Robinson-González (2023)

Amazonian Monkeys and Kafka's Ape at the German Primate Center.

Evolutionary anthropology, 32(3):131-134.

RevDate: 2023-05-30

Subasri M, Cressman C, Arje D, et al (2023)

Translating Precision Health for Pediatrics: A Scoping Review.

Children (Basel, Switzerland), 10(5):.

Precision health aims to personalize treatment and prevention strategies based on individual genetic differences. While it has significantly improved healthcare for specific patient groups, broader translation faces challenges with evidence development, evidence appraisal, and implementation. These challenges are compounded in child health as existing methods fail to incorporate the physiology and socio-biology unique to childhood. This scoping review synthesizes the existing literature on evidence development, appraisal, prioritization, and implementation of precision child health. PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Embase were searched. The included articles were related to pediatrics, precision health, and the translational pathway. Articles were excluded if they were too narrow in scope. In total, 74 articles identified challenges and solutions for putting pediatric precision health interventions into practice. The literature reinforced the unique attributes of children and their implications for study design and identified major themes for the value assessment of precision health interventions for children, including clinical benefit, cost-effectiveness, stakeholder values and preferences, and ethics and equity. Tackling these identified challenges will require developing international data networks and guidelines, re-thinking methods for value assessment, and broadening stakeholder support for the effective implementation of precision health within healthcare organizations. This research was funded by the SickKids Precision Child Health Catalyst Grant.

RevDate: 2023-06-02
CmpDate: 2023-05-26

Bachert A, R Scheiner (2023)

The ant's weapon improves honey bee learning performance.

Scientific reports, 13(1):8399.

Formic acid is the main component of the ant's major weapon against enemies. Being mainly used as a chemical defense, the acid is also exploited for recruitment and trail marking. The repelling effect of the organic acid is used by some mammals and birds which rub themselves in the acid to eliminate ectoparasites. Beekeepers across the world rely on this effect to control the parasitic mite Varroa destructor. Varroa mites are considered the most destructive pest of honey bees worldwide and can lead to the loss of entire colonies. Formic acid is highly effective against Varroa mites but can also kill the honeybee queen and worker brood. Whether formic acid can also affect the behavior of honey bees is unknown. We here study the effect of formic acid on sucrose responsiveness and cognition of honey bees treated at different live stages in field-relevant doses. Both behaviors are essential for survival of the honey bee colony. Rather unexpectedly, formic acid clearly improved the learning performance of the bees in appetitive olfactory conditioning, while not affecting sucrose responsiveness. This exciting side effect of formic acid certainly deserves further detailed investigations.

RevDate: 2023-07-21
CmpDate: 2023-07-21

Homberg U, K Pfeiffer (2023)

Unraveling the neural basis of spatial orientation in arthropods.

Journal of comparative physiology. A, Neuroethology, sensory, neural, and behavioral physiology, 209(4):459-464.

The neural basis underlying spatial orientation in arthropods, in particular insects, has received considerable interest in recent years. This special issue of the Journal of Comparative Physiology A seeks to take account of these developments by presenting a collection of eight review articles and eight original research articles highlighting hotspots of research on spatial orientation in arthropods ranging from flies to spiders and the underlying neural circuits. The contributions impressively illustrate the wide range of tools available to arthropods extending from specific sensory channels to highly sophisticated neural computations for mastering complex navigational challenges.

RevDate: 2023-06-15
CmpDate: 2023-05-18

Rother L, Müller R, Kirschenmann E, et al (2023)

Walking bumblebees see faster.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 290(1999):20230460.

The behavioural state of animals has profound effects on neuronal information processing. Locomotion changes the response properties of visual interneurons in the insect brain, but it is still unknown if it also alters the response properties of photoreceptors. Photoreceptor responses become faster at higher temperatures. It has therefore been suggested that thermoregulation in insects could improve temporal resolution in vision, but direct evidence for this idea has so far been missing. Here, we compared electroretinograms from the compound eyes of tethered bumblebees that were either sitting or walking on an air-supported ball. We found that the visual processing speed strongly increased when the bumblebees were walking. By monitoring the eye temperature during recording, we saw that the increase in response speed was in synchrony with a rise in eye temperature. By artificially heating the head, we show that the walking-induced temperature increase of the visual system is sufficient to explain the rise in processing speed. We also show that walking accelerates the visual system to the equivalent of a 14-fold increase in light intensity. We conclude that the walking-induced rise in temperature accelerates the processing of visual information-an ideal strategy to process the increased information flow during locomotion.

RevDate: 2023-07-03
CmpDate: 2023-07-03

Nebauer CA, Schleifer MC, Ruedenauer FA, et al (2023)

Perception, regulation, and fitness effects of pollen phytosterols in the bumble bee, Bombus terrestris.

American journal of botany, 110(6):e16165.

PREMISE: Many flowering plants depend on insects for pollination and thus attract pollinators by offering rewards, mostly nectar and pollen. Bee pollinators rely on pollen as their main nutrient source. Pollen provides all essential micro- and macronutrients including substances that cannot be synthesized by bees themselves, such as sterols, which bees need for processes such as hormone production. Variations in sterol concentrations may consequently affect bee health and reproductive fitness. We therefore hypothesized that (1) these variations in pollen sterols affect longevity and reproduction in bumble bees and (2) can thus be perceived via the bees' antennae before consumption.

METHODS: We studied the effect of sterols on longevity and reproduction of Bombus terrestris workers in feeding experiments and investigated sterol perception using chemotactile proboscis extension response (PER) conditioning.

RESULTS: Workers could perceive several sterols (cholesterol, cholestenone, desmosterol, stigmasterol, β-sitosterol) via their antennae but not differentiate between them. However, when sterols were presented in pollen, and not as a single compound, the bees were unable to differentiate between pollen differing in sterol content. Additionally, different sterol concentrations in pollen neither affected pollen consumption nor brood development or worker longevity.

CONCLUSIONS: Since we used both natural concentrations and concentrations higher than those found in pollen, our results indicate that bumble bees may not need to pay specific attention to pollen sterol content beyond a specific threshold. Naturally encountered concentrations might fully support their sterol requirements and higher concentrations do not seem to have negative effects.

RevDate: 2023-06-13
CmpDate: 2023-06-08

Habenstein J, Grübel K, Pfeiffer K, et al (2023)

3D atlas of cerebral neuropils with previously unknown demarcations in the honey bee brain.

The Journal of comparative neurology, 531(11):1163-1183.

Honey bees (Apis mellifera) express remarkable social interactions and cognitive capabilities that have been studied extensively. In many cases, behavioral studies were accompanied by neurophysiological and neuroanatomical investigations. While most studies have focused on primary sensory neuropils, such as the optic lobes or antennal lobes, and major integration centers, such as the mushroom bodies or the central complex, many regions of the cerebrum (the central brain without the optic lobes) of the honey bee are only poorly explored so far, both anatomically and physiologically. To promote studies of these brain regions, we used anti-synapsin immunolabeling and neuronal tract tracings followed by confocal imaging and 3D reconstructions to demarcate all neuropils in the honey bee cerebrum and close this gap at the anatomical level. We demarcated 35 neuropils and 25 fiber tracts in the honey bee cerebrum, most of which have counterparts in the fly (Drosophila melanogaster) and other insect species that have been investigated so far at this level of detail. We discuss the role of cerebral neuropils in multisensory integration in the insect brain, emphasize the importance of this brain atlas for comparative studies, and highlight specific architectural features of the honey bee cerebrum.

RevDate: 2023-05-24
CmpDate: 2023-05-19

Rössler W (2023)

Multisensory navigation and neuronal plasticity in desert ants.

Trends in neurosciences, 46(6):415-417.

Cataglyphis desert ants are skilled visual navigators. Here, I present a brief overview of multisensory learning and neuronal plasticity in ants, with a particular focus on the transition from the dark nest interior to performing first foraging trips. This highlights desert ants as experimental models for studying neuronal mechanisms underlying behavioral development into successful navigators.

RevDate: 2023-04-26
CmpDate: 2023-04-26

Schuhmann A, R Scheiner (2023)

A combination of the frequent fungicides boscalid and dimoxystrobin with the neonicotinoid acetamiprid in field-realistic concentrations does not affect sucrose responsiveness and learning behavior of honeybees.

Ecotoxicology and environmental safety, 256:114850.

The increasing loss of pollinators over the last decades has become more and more evident. Intensive use of plant protection products is one key factor contributing to this decline. Especially the mixture of different plant protection products can pose an increased risk for pollinators as synergistic effects may occur. In this study we investigated the effect of the fungicide Cantus® Gold (boscalid/dimoxystrobin), the neonicotinoid insecticide Mospilan® (acetamiprid) and their mixture on honeybees. Since both plant protection products are frequently applied sequentially to the same plants (e.g. oilseed rape), their combination is a realistic scenario for honeybees. We investigated the mortality, the sucrose responsiveness and the differential olfactory learning performance of honeybees under controlled conditions in the laboratory to reduce environmental noise. Intact sucrose responsiveness and learning performance are of pivotal importance for the survival of individual honeybees as well as for the functioning of the entire colony. Treatment with two sublethal and field relevant concentrations of each plant protection product did not lead to any significant effects on these behaviors but affected the mortality rate. However, our study cannot exclude possible negative sublethal effects of these substances in higher concentrations. In addition, the honeybee seems to be quite robust when it comes to effects of plant protection products, while wild bees might be more sensitive.

RevDate: 2023-04-12
CmpDate: 2023-03-29

Ozgul A, Fichtel C, Paniw M, et al (2023)

Destabilizing effect of climate change on the persistence of a short-lived primate.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 120(14):e2214244120.

Seasonal tropical environments are among those regions that are the most affected by shifts in temperature and rainfall regimes under climate change, with potentially severe consequences for wildlife population persistence. This persistence is ultimately determined by complex demographic responses to multiple climatic drivers, yet these complexities have been little explored in tropical mammals. We use long-term, individual-based demographic data (1994 to 2020) from a short-lived primate in western Madagascar, the gray mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus), to investigate the demographic drivers of population persistence under observed shifts in seasonal temperature and rainfall. While rainfall during the wet season has been declining over the years, dry season temperatures have been increasing, with these trends projected to continue. These environmental changes resulted in lower survival and higher recruitment rates over time for gray mouse lemurs. Although the contrasting changes have prevented the study population from collapsing, the resulting increase in life-history speed has destabilized an otherwise stable population. Population projections under more recent rainfall and temperature levels predict an increase in population fluctuations and a corresponding increase in the extinction risk over the next five decades. Our analyses show that a relatively short-lived mammal with high reproductive output, representing a life history that is expected to closely track changes in its environment, can nonetheless be threatened by climate change.

RevDate: 2023-03-01
CmpDate: 2023-02-28

Liudvytska O, Ponczek MB, Ciesielski O, et al (2023)

Rheum rhaponticum and Rheum rhabarbarum Extracts as Modulators of Endothelial Cell Inflammatory Response.

Nutrients, 15(4):.

BACKGROUND: Inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, and alterations in blood physiology are key factors contributing to atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular disorders. Hence, modulation of endothelial function and reducing its pro-inflammatory and pro-thrombotic activity is considered one of the most important cardioprotective strategies. This study aimed to evaluate the anti-inflammatory potential of rhubarb extracts isolated from petioles and underground organs of Rheum rhabarbarum L. (garden rhubarb) and R. rhaponticum L. (rhapontic rhubarb) as well as two stilbenoids, typically found in these plants, i.e., rhapontigenin (RHPG) and its glycoside, rhaponticin (RHPT).

METHODS: Analysis of the anti-inflammatory effects of the indicated rhubarb-derived substances involved different aspects of the endothelial cells' (HUVECs) response: release of the inflammatory mediators; cyclooxygenase (COX-2) and 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX) expression as well as the recruitment of leukocytes to the activated HUVECs. The ability of the rhubarb-derived extracts to inhibit COX-2 and 5-LOX activities was examined as well. The study was supplemented with the in silico analysis of major components of the analyzed extracts' interactions with COX-2 and 5-LOX.

RESULTS: The obtained results indicated that the examined plant extracts and stilbenes possess anti-inflammatory properties and influence the inflammatory response of endothelial cells. Biochemical and in silico tests revealed significant inhibition of COX-2, with special importance of rhaponticin, as a compound abundant in both plant species. In addition to the reduction in COX-2 gene expression and enzyme activity, a decrease in the cytokine level and leukocyte influx was observed. Biochemical tests and computational analyses indicate that some components of rhubarb extracts may act as COX-2 inhibitors, with marginal inhibitory effect on 5-LOX.

RevDate: 2023-02-24

Tieo S, Restrepo-Ortiz CX, Roura-Torres B, et al (2023)

The Mandrillus Face Database: A portrait image database for individual and sex recognition, and age prediction in a non-human primate.

Data in brief, 47:108939.

The Mandrillus Project is a long-term field research project in ecology and evolutionary biology, monitoring, since 2012, a natural population of mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx; primate) located in Southern Gabon. The Mandrillus Face Database was launched at the beginning of the project and now contains 29,495 photographic portraits collected on 397 individuals from this population, from birth to death for some of them. Portrait images have been obtained by manually processing images taken in the field with DSLR cameras: faces have been cropped to remove the ears and rotated to align the eyes horizontally. The database provides portrait images resized to 224 × 224 pixels associated with several manually annotated labels: individual identity, sex, age, face view, and image quality. Labels are stored within the image metadata and in a table accompanying the image database. This database will allow training and comparing methods on individual and sex recognition, and age prediction in a non-human animal.

RevDate: 2023-03-29
CmpDate: 2023-02-09

Poirotte C, MJE Charpentier (2023)

Mother-to-daughter transmission of hygienic anti-parasite behaviour in mandrills.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 290(1992):20222349.

Social animals are particularly exposed to infectious diseases. Pathogen-driven selection pressures have thus favoured the evolution of behavioural adaptations to decrease transmission risk such as the avoidance of contagious individuals. Yet, such strategies deprive individuals of valuable social interactions, generating a cost-benefit trade-off between pathogen avoidance and social opportunities. Recent studies revealed that hosts differ in these behavioural defences, but the determinants driving such inter-individual variation remain understudied. Using 6 years of behavioural and parasite data on a large natural population of mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx), we showed that, when parasite prevalence was high in the population, females avoided grooming their conspecifics' peri-anal region (PAR), where contagious gastro-intestinal parasites accumulate. Females varied, however, in their propensity to avoid this risky body region: across years, some females consistently avoided grooming it, while others did not. Interestingly, hygienic females (i.e. those avoiding the PAR) were less parasitized than non-hygienic females. Finally, age, dominance rank and grooming frequency did not influence a female's hygiene, but both mother-daughter and maternal half-sisters exhibited similar hygienic levels, whereas paternal half-sisters and non-kin dyads did not, suggesting a social transmission of this behaviour. Our study emphasizes that the social inheritance of hygiene may structure behavioural resistance to pathogens in host populations with potential consequences on the dynamics of infectious diseases.

RevDate: 2023-02-09
CmpDate: 2023-02-07

Moris VC, Podsiadlowski L, Martin S, et al (2023)

Intrasexual cuticular hydrocarbon dimorphism in a wasp sheds light on hydrocarbon biosynthesis genes in Hymenoptera.

Communications biology, 6(1):147.

Cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) cover the cuticle of insects and serve as desiccation barrier and as semiochemicals. While the main enzymatic steps of CHC biosynthesis are well understood, few of the underlying genes have been identified. Here we show how exploitation of intrasexual CHC dimorphism in a mason wasp, Odynerus spinipes, in combination with whole-genome sequencing and comparative transcriptomics facilitated identification of such genes. RNAi-mediated knockdown of twelve candidate gene orthologs in the honey bee, Apis mellifera, confirmed nine genes impacting CHC profile composition. Most of them have predicted functions consistent with current knowledge of CHC metabolism. However, we found first-time evidence for a fatty acid amide hydrolase also influencing CHC profile composition. In situ hybridization experiments furthermore suggest trophocytes participating in CHC biosynthesis. Our results set the base for experimental CHC profile manipulation in Hymenoptera and imply that the evolutionary origin of CHC biosynthesis predates the arthropods' colonization of land.

RevDate: 2023-02-02

Değirmenci L, Rogé Ferreira FL, Vukosavljevic A, et al (2022)

Sugar perception in honeybees.

Frontiers in physiology, 13:1089669.

Honeybees (Apis mellifera) need their fine sense of taste to evaluate nectar and pollen sources. Gustatory receptors (Grs) translate taste signals into electrical responses. In vivo experiments have demonstrated collective responses of the whole Gr-set. We here disentangle the contributions of all three honeybee sugar receptors (AmGr1-3), combining CRISPR/Cas9 mediated genetic knock-out, electrophysiology and behaviour. We show an expanded sugar spectrum of the AmGr1 receptor. Mutants lacking AmGr1 have a reduced response to sucrose and glucose but not to fructose. AmGr2 solely acts as co-receptor of AmGr1 but not of AmGr3, as we show by electrophysiology and using bimolecular fluorescence complementation. Our results show for the first time that AmGr2 is indeed a functional receptor on its own. Intriguingly, AmGr2 mutants still display a wildtype-like sugar taste. AmGr3 is a specific fructose receptor and is not modulated by a co-receptor. Eliminating AmGr3 while preserving AmGr1 and AmGr2 abolishes the perception of fructose but not of sucrose. Our comprehensive study on the functions of AmGr1, AmGr2 and AmGr3 in honeybees is the first to combine investigations on sugar perception at the receptor level and simultaneously in vivo. We show that honeybees rely on two gustatory receptors to sense all relevant sugars.

RevDate: 2023-02-01

Breininger DR, Stolen ED, Carter GM, et al (2023)

Territory and population attributes affect Florida scrub-jay fecundity in fire-adapted ecosystems.

Ecology and evolution, 13(1):e9704.

Fecundity, the number of young produced by a breeding pair during a breeding season, is a primary component in evolutionary and ecological theory and applications. Fecundity can be influenced by many environmental factors and requires long-term study due to the range of variation in ecosystem dynamics. Fecundity data often include a large proportion of zeros when many pairs fail to produce any young during a breeding season due to nest failure or when all young die independently after fledging. We conducted color banding and monthly censuses of Florida scrub-jays (Aphelocoma coerulescens) across 31 years, 15 populations, and 761 territories along central Florida's Atlantic coast. We quantified how fecundity (juveniles/pair-year) was influenced by habitat quality, presence/absence of nonbreeders, population density, breeder experience, and rainfall, with a zero-inflated Bayesian hierarchical model including both a Bernoulli (e.g., brood success) and a Poisson (counts of young) submodel, and random effects for year, population, and territory. The results identified the importance of increasing "strong" quality habitat, which was a mid-successional state related to fire frequency and extent, because strong territories, and the proportion of strong territories in the overall population, influenced fecundity of breeding pairs. Populations subject to supplementary feeding also had greater fecundity. Territory size, population density, breeder experience, and rainfall surprisingly had no or small effects. Different mechanisms appeared to cause annual variation in fecundity, as estimates of random effects were not correlated between the success and count submodels. The increased fecundity for pairs with nonbreeders, compared to pairs without, identified empirical research needed to understand how the proportion of low-quality habitats influences population recovery and sustainability, because dispersal into low-quality habitats can drain nonbreeders from strong territories and decrease overall fecundity. We also describe how long-term study resulted in reversals in our understanding because of complications involving habitat quality, sociobiology, and population density.

RevDate: 2023-02-01
CmpDate: 2023-01-24

Urbani B, D Youlatos (2023)

Simia langobardorum: Were African apes traded in late medieval Lombardy?.

American journal of primatology, 85(2):e23462.

Depictions of and references to apes (tailless hominoids) are very limited in early historical written accounts. The first known published representations of ape-like primates appear in Medieval European books during the first century following the invention of printing. Considering the current knowledge of ape iconography, this article examines an unusual image of a couple of ape-like creatures rendered in a European manuscript and explores the possible links of this challenging illustration with historical accounts and contexts during the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance. The studied manuscript is known as "BL Sloane MS 4016" and is a medieval herbal manuscript (Tratactus de Herbis) of Lombardian origin dated c. 1440. The illustration in question, which also appears in similar manuscripts, represents two primates. However, these representations differ significantly from those in the other manuscripts. The individuals have physical features that suggest attribution to chimpanzees. The location and the date of the manuscript in relation to the extended merchant and travel network between Europe and Africa during the late Medieval times and earlier Renaissance most likely indicate that free-living or traded chimpanzees or their images may have been the visual source for the illustration. The examination of early depictions and descriptions of apes helps us to understand how we, humans, have represented our own closest zoological relatives. In doing so, this study also provides a review of early ape iconography and historical accounts about African primates during the so-called Age of Discoveries.

RevDate: 2023-06-13
CmpDate: 2023-04-17

Zupanc GKH, Rössler W, Warrant EJ, et al (2023)

Contact chemoreception, magnetic maps, thermoregulation by a superorganism, and, thanks to Einstein, an all-time record: the Editors' and Readers' Choice Awards 2023.

Journal of comparative physiology. A, Neuroethology, sensory, neural, and behavioral physiology, 209(3):337-340.

During the 99 years of its history, the Journal of Comparative Physiology A has published many of the most influential papers in comparative physiology and related disciplines. To celebrate this achievement of the journal's authors, annual Editors' Choice Awards and Readers' Choice Awards are presented. The winners of the 2023 Editors' Choice Awards are 'Contact chemoreception in multi‑modal sensing of prey by Octopus' by Buresch et al. (J Comp Physiol A 208:435-442, 2022) in the Original Paper category; and 'Magnetic maps in animal navigation' by Lohmann et al. (J Comp Physiol A 208:41-67, 2022) in the Review/Review-History Article category. The winners of the 2023 Readers' Choice Awards are 'Coping with the cold and fighting the heat: thermal homeostasis of a superorganism, the honeybee colony' by Stabentheiner et al. (J Comp Physiol A 207:337-351; 2021) in the Original Paper category; and 'Einstein, von Frisch and the honeybee: a historical letter comes to light' by Dyer et al. (J Comp Physiol A 207:449-456, 2021) in the Review/Review-History category.

RevDate: 2023-07-21
CmpDate: 2023-07-21

Homberg U, Hensgen R, Jahn S, et al (2023)

The sky compass network in the brain of the desert locust.

Journal of comparative physiology. A, Neuroethology, sensory, neural, and behavioral physiology, 209(4):641-662.

Many arthropods and vertebrates use celestial signals such as the position of the sun during the day or stars at night as compass cues for spatial orientation. The neural network underlying sky compass coding in the brain has been studied in great detail in the desert locust Schistocerca gregaria. These insects perform long-range migrations in Northern Africa and the Middle East following seasonal changes in rainfall. Highly specialized photoreceptors in a dorsal rim area of their compound eyes are sensitive to the polarization of the sky, generated by scattered sunlight. These signals are combined with direct information on the sun position in the optic lobe and anterior optic tubercle and converge from both eyes in a midline crossing brain structure, the central complex. Here, head direction coding is achieved by a compass-like arrangement of columns signaling solar azimuth through a 360° range of space by combining direct brightness cues from the sun with polarization cues matching the polarization pattern of the sky. Other directional cues derived from wind direction and internal self-rotation input are likely integrated. Signals are transmitted as coherent steering commands to descending neurons for directional control of locomotion and flight.

RevDate: 2023-02-24
CmpDate: 2023-01-19

Goymann W, Brumm H, PM Kappeler (2023)

Biological sex is binary, even though there is a rainbow of sex roles: Denying biological sex is anthropocentric and promotes species chauvinism: Denying biological sex is anthropocentric and promotes species chauvinism.

BioEssays : news and reviews in molecular, cellular and developmental biology, 45(2):e2200173.

Biomedical and social scientists are increasingly calling the biological sex into question, arguing that sex is a graded spectrum rather than a binary trait. Leading science journals have been adopting this relativist view, thereby opposing fundamental biological facts. While we fully endorse efforts to create a more inclusive environment for gender-diverse people, this does not require denying biological sex. On the contrary, the rejection of biological sex seems to be based on a lack of knowledge about evolution and it champions species chauvinism, inasmuch as it imposes human identity notions on millions of other species. We argue that the biological definition of the sexes remains central to recognising the diversity of life. Humans with their unique combination of biological sex and gender are different from non-human animals and plants in this respect. Denying the concept of biological sex, for whatever cause, ultimately erodes scientific progress and may open the flood gates to "alternative truths."

RevDate: 2023-01-15
CmpDate: 2022-12-14

Murillo T, Schneider D, Heistermann M, et al (2022)

Assessing the drivers of gut microbiome composition in wild redfronted lemurs via longitudinal metacommunity analysis.

Scientific reports, 12(1):21462.

The gut microbiome influences host's immunity, development, and metabolism and participates in the gut-brain axis, thus impacting the health of the host. It is a dynamic community varying between individuals and within individuals at different time points. Hence, determining the factors causing this variability may elucidate their impact on host's health. However, understanding the drivers of variation has proven difficult particularly as multiple interactions occur simultaneously in the gut microbiome. We investigated the factors shaping the gut microbiome by applying the metacommunity concept where the gut microbiome is considered as a microbial community shaped by the interactions within the community, with the host and microbial communities outside the host, this through a longitudinal study in a wild primate. Focal behavioral data were collected for 1 year in four groups of redfronted lemurs to determine individual social and feeding behaviors. In addition, regular fecal samples were collected to assess bacteria, protozoa, and helminths through marker gene analysis and to measure fecal glucocorticoid metabolite (fGCM) concentrations to investigate the impact of physiological stress on the gut microbiome. Higher consumption of leaves and elevated fGCM concentrations correlated with higher alpha diversity, which also differed among groups. The major drivers of variation in beta diversity were group membership, precipitation and fGCM concentrations. We found positive and negative associations between bacterial genera and almost all studied factors. Correlations between bacterial indicator networks and social networks indicate transmission of bacteria between interacting individuals. We detected that processes occurring inside the gut environment are shaping the gut microbiome. Host associated factors such as, HPA axis, dietary changes, and fluctuations in water availability had a greater impact than interactions within the microbial community. The interplay with microbial communities outside the host also shape the gut microbiome through the exchange of bacteria through social relationships between individuals and the acquisition of microorganisms from environmental water sources.

RevDate: 2023-07-21
CmpDate: 2023-07-21

Rössler W, Grob R, PN Fleischmann (2023)

The role of learning-walk related multisensory experience in rewiring visual circuits in the desert ant brain.

Journal of comparative physiology. A, Neuroethology, sensory, neural, and behavioral physiology, 209(4):605-623.

Efficient spatial orientation in the natural environment is crucial for the survival of most animal species. Cataglyphis desert ants possess excellent navigational skills. After far-ranging foraging excursions, the ants return to their inconspicuous nest entrance using celestial and panoramic cues. This review focuses on the question about how naïve ants acquire the necessary spatial information and adjust their visual compass systems. Naïve ants perform structured learning walks during their transition from the dark nest interior to foraging under bright sunlight. During initial learning walks, the ants perform rotational movements with nest-directed views using the earth's magnetic field as an earthbound compass reference. Experimental manipulations demonstrate that specific sky compass cues trigger structural neuronal plasticity in visual circuits to integration centers in the central complex and mushroom bodies. During learning walks, rotation of the sky-polarization pattern is required for an increase in volume and synaptic complexes in both integration centers. In contrast, passive light exposure triggers light-spectrum (especially UV light) dependent changes in synaptic complexes upstream of the central complex. We discuss a multisensory circuit model in the ant brain for pathways mediating structural neuroplasticity at different levels following passive light exposure and multisensory experience during the performance of learning walks.

RevDate: 2023-01-24

Schacht R, Beissinger SR, Wedekind C, et al (2022)

Author Correction: Adult sex ratios: causes of variation and implications for animal and human societies.

Communications biology, 5(1):1341 pii:10.1038/s42003-022-04296-7.

RevDate: 2023-01-24
CmpDate: 2022-11-22

Schacht R, Beissinger SR, Wedekind C, et al (2022)

Adult sex ratios: causes of variation and implications for animal and human societies.

Communications biology, 5(1):1273.

Converging lines of inquiry from across the social and biological sciences target the adult sex ratio (ASR; the proportion of males in the adult population) as a fundamental population-level determinant of behavior. The ASR, which indicates the relative number of potential mates to competitors in a population, frames the selective arena for competition, mate choice, and social interactions. Here we review a growing literature, focusing on methodological developments that sharpen knowledge of the demographic variables underlying ASR variation, experiments that enhance understanding of the consequences of ASR imbalance across societies, and phylogenetic analyses that provide novel insights into social evolution. We additionally highlight areas where research advances are expected to make accelerating contributions across the social sciences, evolutionary biology, and biodiversity conservation.

RevDate: 2022-11-28
CmpDate: 2022-11-16

Charpentier MJE, Poirotte C, Roura-Torres B, et al (2022)

Mandrill mothers associate with infants who look like their own offspring using phenotype matching.

eLife, 11:.

Behavioral discrimination of kin is a key process structuring social relationships in animals. In this study, we provide evidence for discrimination towards non-kin by third-parties through a mechanism of phenotype matching. In mandrills, we recently demonstrated increased facial resemblance among paternally related juvenile and adult females indicating adaptive opportunities for paternal kin recognition. Here, we hypothesize that mandrill mothers use offspring's facial resemblance with other infants to guide offspring's social opportunities towards similar-looking ones. Using deep learning for face recognition in 80 wild mandrill infants, we first show that infants sired by the same father resemble each other the most, independently of their age, sex or maternal origin, extending previous results to the youngest age class. Using long-term behavioral observations on association patterns, and controlling for matrilineal origin, maternal relatedness and infant age and sex, we then show, as predicted, that mothers are spatially closer to infants that resemble their own offspring more, and that this maternal behavior leads to similar-looking infants being spatially associated. We then discuss the different scenarios explaining this result, arguing that an adaptive maternal behavior is a likely explanation. In support of this mechanism and using theoretical modeling, we finally describe a plausible evolutionary process whereby mothers gain fitness benefits by promoting nepotism among paternally related infants. This mechanism, that we call 'second-order kin selection', may extend beyond mother-infant interactions and has the potential to explain cooperative behaviors among non-kin in other social species, including humans.

RevDate: 2022-12-11
CmpDate: 2022-12-07

Maestripieri D, BB Boutwell (2022)

Human nature and personality variation: Reconnecting evolutionary psychology with the science of individual differences.

Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews, 143:104946.

The scientific study of human behavior from a modern evolutionary perspective began in the 20th century with disciplines such as human ethology and behavioral ecology as well as sociobiology. This early work focused on the characterization of a universal human nature that could be observed across all societies and cultures, one believed to have emerged in part from evolutionary processes. With the passage of time a newer evolutionary discipline, evolutionary psychology, emerged in the early 1990 s and quickly flourished. The focus on human nature was retained from its forerunners, but the primary focus of the field underwent a decided shift. Gone was the emphasis on observable behaviors and in its place moved psychological and cognitive functioning. At the same time, the new field took an interesting departure from other branches of psychology by largely relegating the significance of individual differences across cognitive and personality styles (whether heritable or environmental in origin) to a minor role. In this paper, we review the primary original arguments for minimizing or ignoring the importance of individual differences in personality and cognition, all in the service of making the case that the study of human nature, and evolutionary psychology more generally, is not at odds with individual differences research. The two fields have always been complementary, with one serving as a frequent source of insight for the other.

RevDate: 2023-03-21
CmpDate: 2023-03-14

Kappeler PM, Benhaiem S, Fichtel C, et al (2023)

Sex roles and sex ratios in animals.

Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, 98(2):462-480.

In species with separate sexes, females and males often differ in their morphology, physiology and behaviour. Such sex-specific traits are functionally linked to variation in reproductive competition, mate choice and parental care, which have all been linked to sex roles. At the 150th anniversary of Darwin's theory on sexual selection, the question of why patterns of sex roles vary within and across species remains a key topic in behavioural and evolutionary ecology. New theoretical, experimental and comparative evidence suggests that variation in the adult sex ratio (ASR) is a key driver of variation in sex roles. Here, we first define and discuss the historical emergence of the sex role concept, including recent criticisms and rebuttals. Second, we review the various sex ratios with a focus on ASR, and explore its theoretical links to sex roles. Third, we explore the causes, and especially the consequences, of biased ASRs, focusing on the results of correlational and experimental studies of the effect of ASR variation on mate choice, sexual conflict, parental care and mating systems, social behaviour, hormone physiology and fitness. We present evidence that animals in diverse societies are sensitive to variation in local ASR, even on short timescales, and propose explanations for conflicting results. We conclude with an overview of open questions in this field integrating demography, life history and behaviour.

RevDate: 2022-10-29

Schmid K, Knote A, Mück A, et al (2021)

Interactive, Visual Simulation of a Spatio-Temporal Model of Gas Exchange in the Human Alveolus.

Frontiers in bioinformatics, 1:774300.

In interdisciplinary fields such as systems biology, good communication between experimentalists and theorists is crucial for the success of a project. Theoretical modeling in physiology usually describes complex systems with many interdependencies. On one hand, these models have to be grounded on experimental data. On the other hand, experimenters must be able to understand the interdependent complexities of the theoretical model in order to interpret the model's results in the physiological context. We promote interactive, visual simulations as an engaging way to present theoretical models in physiology and to make complex processes tangible. Based on a requirements analysis, we developed a new model for gas exchange in the human alveolus in combination with an interactive simulation software named Alvin. Alvin exceeds the current standard with its spatio-temporal resolution and a combination of visual and quantitative feedback. In Alvin, the course of the simulation can be traced in a three-dimensional rendering of an alveolus and dynamic plots. The user can interact by configuring essential model parameters. Alvin allows to run and compare multiple simulation instances simultaneously. We exemplified the use of Alvin for research by identifying unknown dependencies in published experimental data. Employing a detailed questionnaire, we showed the benefits of Alvin for education. We postulate that interactive, visual simulation of theoretical models, as we have implemented with Alvin on respiratory processes in the alveolus, can be of great help for communication between specialists and thereby advancing research.

RevDate: 2022-12-16
CmpDate: 2022-10-31

Simberloff D (2022)

In Memoriam : Edward O. Wilson (1929-2021): It All Started with Ants.

The American naturalist, 200(5):627-633.

RevDate: 2022-10-19

Broekman MJE, Hilbers JP, Huijbregts MAJ, et al (2022)

Evaluating expert-based habitat suitability information of terrestrial mammals with GPS-tracking data.

Global ecology and biogeography : a journal of macroecology, 31(8):1526-1541.

AIM: Macroecological studies that require habitat suitability data for many species often derive this information from expert opinion. However, expert-based information is inherently subjective and thus prone to errors. The increasing availability of GPS tracking data offers opportunities to evaluate and supplement expert-based information with detailed empirical evidence. Here, we compared expert-based habitat suitability information from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with habitat suitability information derived from GPS-tracking data of 1,498 individuals from 49 mammal species.

LOCATION: Worldwide.

TIME PERIOD: 1998-2021.

MAJOR TAXA STUDIED: Forty-nine terrestrial mammal species.

METHODS: Using GPS data, we estimated two measures of habitat suitability for each individual animal: proportional habitat use (proportion of GPS locations within a habitat type), and selection ratio (habitat use relative to its availability). For each individual we then evaluated whether the GPS-based habitat suitability measures were in agreement with the IUCN data. To that end, we calculated the probability that the ranking of empirical habitat suitability measures was in agreement with IUCN's classification into suitable, marginal and unsuitable habitat types.

RESULTS: IUCN habitat suitability data were in accordance with the GPS data (> 95% probability of agreement) for 33 out of 49 species based on proportional habitat use estimates and for 25 out of 49 species based on selection ratios. In addition, 37 and 34 species had a > 50% probability of agreement based on proportional habitat use and selection ratios, respectively.

MAIN CONCLUSIONS: We show how GPS-tracking data can be used to evaluate IUCN habitat suitability data. Our findings indicate that for the majority of species included in this study, it is appropriate to use IUCN habitat suitability data in macroecological studies. Furthermore, we show that GPS-tracking data can be used to identify and prioritize species and habitat types for re-evaluation of IUCN habitat suitability data.

RevDate: 2022-10-15

Kaya-Zeeb S, Delac S, Wolf L, et al (2022)

Robustness of the honeybee neuro-muscular octopaminergic system in the face of cold stress.

Frontiers in physiology, 13:1002740.

In recent decades, our planet has undergone dramatic environmental changes resulting in the loss of numerous species. This contrasts with species that can adapt quickly to rapidly changing ambient conditions, which require physiological plasticity and must occur rapidly. The Western honeybee (Apis mellifera) apparently meets this challenge with remarkable success, as this species is adapted to numerous climates, resulting in an almost worldwide distribution. Here, coordinated individual thermoregulatory activities ensure survival at the colony level and thus the transmission of genetic material. Recently, we showed that shivering thermogenesis, which is critical for honeybee thermoregulation, depends on octopamine signaling. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that the thoracic neuro-muscular octopaminergic system strives for a steady-state equilibrium under cold stress to maintain endogenous thermogenesis. We can show that this applies for both, octopamine provision by flight muscle innervating neurons and octopamine receptor expression in the flight muscles. Additionally, we discovered alternative splicing for AmOARβ2. At least the expression of one isoform is needed to survive cold stress conditions. We assume that the thoracic neuro-muscular octopaminergic system is finely tuned in order to contribute decisively to survival in a changing environment.

RevDate: 2023-04-11
CmpDate: 2022-10-12

Eppley TM, Hoeks S, Chapman CA, et al (2022)

Factors influencing terrestriality in primates of the Americas and Madagascar.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 119(42):e2121105119.

Among mammals, the order Primates is exceptional in having a high taxonomic richness in which the taxa are arboreal, semiterrestrial, or terrestrial. Although habitual terrestriality is pervasive among the apes and African and Asian monkeys (catarrhines), it is largely absent among monkeys of the Americas (platyrrhines), as well as galagos, lemurs, and lorises (strepsirrhines), which are mostly arboreal. Numerous ecological drivers and species-specific factors are suggested to set the conditions for an evolutionary shift from arboreality to terrestriality, and current environmental conditions may provide analogous scenarios to those transitional periods. Therefore, we investigated predominantly arboreal, diurnal primate genera from the Americas and Madagascar that lack fully terrestrial taxa, to determine whether ecological drivers (habitat canopy cover, predation risk, maximum temperature, precipitation, primate species richness, human population density, and distance to roads) or species-specific traits (body mass, group size, and degree of frugivory) associate with increased terrestriality. We collated 150,961 observation hours across 2,227 months from 47 species at 20 sites in Madagascar and 48 sites in the Americas. Multiple factors were associated with ground use in these otherwise arboreal species, including increased temperature, a decrease in canopy cover, a dietary shift away from frugivory, and larger group size. These factors mostly explain intraspecific differences in terrestriality. As humanity modifies habitats and causes climate change, our results suggest that species already inhabiting hot, sparsely canopied sites, and exhibiting more generalized diets, are more likely to shift toward greater ground use.

RevDate: 2023-04-14
CmpDate: 2023-02-24

Pfeiffer K (2023)

The neuronal building blocks of the navigational toolkit in the central complex of insects.

Current opinion in insect science, 55:100972.

The central complex in the brain of insects is a group of midline-spanning neuropils at the interface between sensory and premotor tasks of the brain. It is involved in sleep control, decision-making and most prominently in goal-directed locomotion behaviors. The recently published connectome of the central complex of Drosophila melanogaster is a milestone in understanding the intricacies of the central-complex circuits and will provide inspiration for testable hypotheses for the coming years. Here, I provide a basic neuroanatomical description of the central complex of Drosophila and other species and discuss some recent advancements, some of which, such as the discovery of coordinate transformation through vector math, have been predicted from connectomics data.

RevDate: 2023-03-20
CmpDate: 2022-09-22

Schultheiss P, Nooten SS, Wang R, et al (2022)

The abundance, biomass, and distribution of ants on Earth.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 119(40):e2201550119.

Knowledge on the distribution and abundance of organisms is fundamental to understanding their roles within ecosystems and their ecological importance for other taxa. Such knowledge is currently lacking for insects, which have long been regarded as the "little things that run the world". Even for ubiquitous insects, such as ants, which are of tremendous ecological significance, there is currently neither a reliable estimate of their total number on Earth nor of their abundance in particular biomes or habitats. We compile data on ground-dwelling and arboreal ants to obtain an empirical estimate of global ant abundance. Our analysis is based on 489 studies, spanning all continents, major biomes, and habitats. We conservatively estimate total abundance of ground-dwelling ants at over 3 × 10[15] and estimate the number of all ants on Earth to be almost 20 × 10[15] individuals. The latter corresponds to a biomass of ∼12 megatons of dry carbon. This exceeds the combined biomass of wild birds and mammals and is equivalent to ∼20% of human biomass. Abundances of ground-dwelling ants are strongly concentrated in tropical and subtropical regions but vary substantially across habitats. The density of leaf-litter ants is highest in forests, while the numbers of actively ground-foraging ants are highest in arid regions. This study highlights the central role ants play in terrestrial ecosystems but also major ecological and geographic gaps in our current knowledge. Our results provide a crucial baseline for exploring environmental drivers of ant-abundance patterns and for tracking the responses of insects to environmental change.

RevDate: 2022-10-24
CmpDate: 2022-09-08

Yilmaz A, J Spaethe (2022)

Colour vision in ants (Formicidae, Hymenoptera).

Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 377(1862):20210291.

Ants are ecologically one of the most important groups of insects and exhibit impressive capabilities for visual learning and orientation. Studies on numerous ant species demonstrate that ants can learn to discriminate between different colours irrespective of light intensity and modify their behaviour accordingly. However, the findings across species are variable and inconsistent, suggesting that our understanding of colour vision in ants and what roles ecological and phylogenetic factors play is at an early stage. This review provides a brief synopsis of the critical findings of the past century of research by compiling studies that address molecular, physiological and behavioural aspects of ant colour vision. With this, we aim to improve our understanding of colour vision and to gain deeper insights into the mysterious and colourful world of ants. This article is part of the theme issue 'Understanding colour vision: molecular, physiological, neuronal and behavioural studies in arthropods'.

RevDate: 2022-11-15
CmpDate: 2022-08-09

Fichtel C, PM Kappeler (2022)

Coevolution of social and communicative complexity in lemurs.

Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 377(1860):20210297.

The endemic lemurs of Madagascar (Lemuriformes: Primates) exhibit great social and communicative diversity. Given their independent evolutionary history, lemurs provide an excellent opportunity to identify fundamental principles in the coevolution of social and communicative traits. We conducted comparative phylogenetic analyses to examine patterns of interspecific variation among measures of social complexity and repertoire sizes in the vocal, olfactory and visual modality, while controlling for environmental factors such as habitat and number of sympatric species. We also examined potential trade-offs in signal evolution as well as coevolution between body mass or brain size and communicative complexity. Repertoire sizes in the vocal, olfactory and visual modality correlated positively with group size, but not with environmental factors. Evolutionary changes in social complexity presumably antedated corresponding changes in communicative complexity. There was no trade-off in the evolution of signals in different modalities and neither body mass nor brain size correlated with any repertoire size. Hence, communicative complexity coevolved with social complexity across different modalities, possibly to service social relationships flexibly and effectively in pair- and group-living species. Our analyses shed light on the requirements and adaptive possibilities in the coevolution of core elements of social organization and social structure in a basal primate lineage. This article is part of the theme issue 'Cognition, communication and social bonds in primates'.

RevDate: 2022-08-12
CmpDate: 2022-08-02

Song 宋紫檀 Z, Liker A, Liu 刘阳 Y, et al (2022)

Evolution of Social Organization: Phylogenetic Analyses of Ecology and Sexual Selection in Weavers.

The American naturalist, 200(2):250-263.

AbstractCrook published a landmark study on the social organization of weavers (or weaverbirds, family Ploceidae) that contributed to the emergence of sociobiology, behavioral ecology, and phylogenetic comparative methods. By comparing ecology, spatial distribution, and mating systems, Crook suggested that the spatial distribution of food resources and breeding habitats influence weaver aggregation during both the nonbreeding season (flocking vs. solitary foraging) and the breeding season (colonial vs. solitary breeding), and the latter in turn impacts mating systems and sexual selection. Although Crook's study stimulated much follow-up research, his conclusions have not been scrutinized using phylogenetically controlled analyses. We revisited Crook's hypotheses using modern phylogenetic comparative methods on an extended data set of 107 weaver species. We showed that both diet and habitat type are associated with spatial distribution and that the latter predicts mating system, consistent with Crook's propositions. The best-supported phylogenetic path model also supported Crook's arguments and uncovered a direct relationship between nonbreeding distribution and mating system. Taken together, our phylogenetically corrected analyses confirm Crook's conjectures on the roles of ecology in social organizations of weavers; however, our analyses also uncovered an association between nonbreeding distributions and mating systems, which was not envisaged by Crook.

RevDate: 2022-12-24
CmpDate: 2022-07-28

Stöckl A, Grittner R, Taylor G, et al (2022)

Allometric scaling of a superposition eye optimizes sensitivity and acuity in large and small hawkmoths.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 289(1979):20220758.

Animals vary widely in body size within and across species. This has consequences for the function of organs and body parts in both large and small individuals. How these scale, in relation to body size, reveals evolutionary investment strategies, often resulting in trade-offs between functions. Eyes exemplify these trade-offs, as they are limited by their absolute size in two key performance features: sensitivity and spatial acuity. Due to their size polymorphism, insect compound eyes are ideal models for studying the allometric scaling of eye performance. Previous work on apposition compound eyes revealed that allometric scaling led to poorer spatial resolution and visual sensitivity in small individuals, across a range of insect species. Here, we used X-ray microtomography to investigate allometric scaling in superposition compound eyes-the second most common eye type in insects-for the first time. Our results reveal a novel strategy to cope with the trade-off between sensitivity and spatial acuity, as we show that the eyes of the hummingbird hawkmoth retain an optimal balance between these performance measures across all body sizes.

RevDate: 2022-10-11
CmpDate: 2022-09-28

Tiley GP, van Elst T, Teixeira H, et al (2022)

Population genomic structure in Goodman's mouse lemur reveals long-standing separation of Madagascar's Central Highlands and eastern rainforests.

Molecular ecology, 31(19):4901-4918.

Madagascar's Central Highlands are largely composed of grasslands, interspersed with patches of forest. The historical perspective was that Madagascar's grasslands had anthropogenic origins, but emerging evidence suggests that grasslands were a component of the pre-human Central Highlands vegetation. Consequently, there is now vigorous debate regarding the extent to which these grasslands have expanded due to anthropogenic pressures. Here, we shed light on the temporal dynamics of Madagascar's vegetative composition by conducting a population genomic investigation of Goodman's mouse lemur (Microcebus lehilahytsara; Cheirogaleidae). These small-bodied primates occur both in Madagascar's eastern rainforests and in the Central Highlands, making them a valuable indicator species. Population divergences among forest-dwelling mammals will reflect changes to their habitat, including fragmentation, whereas patterns of post-divergence gene flow can reveal formerly wooded migration corridors. To explore these patterns, we used RADseq data to infer population genetic structure, demographic models of post-divergence gene flow, and population size change through time. The results offer evidence that open habitats are an ancient component of the Central Highlands, and that widespread forest fragmentation occurred naturally during a period of decreased precipitation near the last glacial maximum. Models of gene flow suggest that migration across the Central Highlands has been possible from the Pleistocene through the recent Holocene via riparian corridors. Though our findings support the hypothesis that Central Highland grasslands predate human arrival, we also find evidence for human-mediated population declines. This highlights the extent to which species imminently threatened by human-mediated deforestation may already be vulnerable from paleoclimatic conditions.

RevDate: 2022-08-10
CmpDate: 2022-07-21

van der Kooi CJ, J Spaethe (2022)

Caution with colour calculations: spectral purity is a poor descriptor of flower colour visibility.

Annals of botany, 130(1):1-9.

BACKGROUND: The colours of flowers are of key interest to plant and pollination biologists. An increasing number of studies have investigated the importance of saturation of flower colours (often called 'spectral purity' or 'chroma') for visibility to pollinators, but the conceptual, physiological and behavioural foundations for these metrics as well as the calculations used rest on slender foundations.

METHODS: We discuss the caveats of colour attributes that are derived from human perception, and in particular spectral purity and chroma, as variables in flower colour analysis. We re-analysed seven published datasets encompassing 774 measured reflectance spectra to test for correlations between colour contrast, spectral purity and chroma.

MAIN FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS: We identify several concerns with common calculation procedures in animal colour spaces. Studies on animal colour vision provide no ground to assume that any pollinator perceives (or responds to) saturation, chroma or spectral purity in the way humans do. A re-analysis of published datasets revealed that values for colour contrast between flowers and their background are highly correlated with measures for spectral purity and chroma, which invalidates treating these factors as independent variables as is currently commonplace. Strikingly, spectral purity and chroma - both of which are metrics for saturation and are often used synonymously - are not correlated at all. We conclude that alternative, behaviourally validated metrics for the visibility of flowers to pollinators, such as colour contrast and achromatic contrast, are better in understanding the role of flower colour in plant-pollinator signalling.

RevDate: 2022-08-16
CmpDate: 2022-06-20

Hudel L, PM Kappeler (2022)

Sex-specific movement ecology of the shortest-lived tetrapod during the mating season.

Scientific reports, 12(1):10053.

Sex-specific reproductive strategies are shaped by the distribution of potential mates in space and time. Labord's chameleon (Furcifer labordi) from southwestern Madagascar is the shortest-lived tetrapod whose life-time mating opportunities are restricted to a few weeks. Given that these chameleons grow to sexual maturity within about three months and that all individuals die soon after breeding, their mating strategies should be adapted to these temporal constraints. The reproductive tactics of this or any other Malagasy chameleon species have not been studied, however. Radio-tracking and observations of 21 females and 18 males revealed that females exhibit high site fidelity, move small cumulative and linear distances, have low corresponding dispersal ratios and small occurrence distributions. In contrast, males moved larger distances in less predictable fashion, resulting in dispersal ratios and occurrence distributions 7-14 times larger than those of females, and males also had greater ranges of their vertical distribution. Despite synchronous hatching, males exhibited substantial inter-individual variation in body mass and snout-vent length that was significantly greater than in females, but apparently unrelated to their spatial tactics. Females mated with up to 6 individually-known mates, but frequent encounters with unmarked individuals indicate that much higher number of matings may be common, as are damaging fights among males. Thus, unlike perennial chameleons, F. labordi males do not seem to maintain and defend territories. Instead, they invest vastly more time and energy into locomotion for their body size than other species. Pronounced variation in key somatic traits may hint at the existence of alternative reproductive tactics, but its causes and consequences require further study. This first preliminary study of the mating system of a Malagasy chameleon indicates that, as in other semelparous tetrapods, accelerated life histories are tied to a mating system with intense contest and scramble competition among males.

RevDate: 2022-07-16

Theara GK, Ruíz Macedo J, Zárate Gómez R, et al (2022)

Fur rubbing in Plecturocebus cupreus - an incidence of self-medication?.

Primate biology, 9(1):7-10.

Fur rubbing, i.e. rubbing a substance or an object into the pelage, has been described in numerous Neotropical primate species, including species of titi monkeys, but it seems to be a rare behaviour. Here we describe a fur rubbing event in a wild coppery titi monkey (Plecturocebus cupreus) with Psychotria sp. (Rubiaceae) leaves observed and videotaped during a field study on vigilance behaviour between September-December 2019 in the Peruvian Amazon. Plants of the genus Psychotria contain a great diversity of secondary metabolites and are often used in traditional medicine. We suggest that the fur rubbing was an act of self-medication. This is the first record of fur rubbing in coppery titi monkeys in almost 4400 h of observation accumulated over more than 20 years.

RevDate: 2022-09-01
CmpDate: 2022-07-15

Davidian E, Surbeck M, Lukas D, et al (2022)

The eco-evolutionary landscape of power relationships between males and females.

Trends in ecology & evolution, 37(8):706-718.

In animal societies, control over resources and reproduction is often biased towards one sex. Yet, the ecological and evolutionary underpinnings of male-female power asymmetries remain poorly understood. We outline a comprehensive framework to quantify and predict the dynamics of male-female power relationships within and across mammalian species. We show that male-female power relationships are more nuanced and flexible than previously acknowledged. We then propose that enhanced reproductive control over when and with whom to mate predicts social empowerment across ecological and evolutionary contexts. The framework explains distinct pathways to sex-biased power: coercion and male-biased dimorphism constitute a co-evolutionary highway to male power, whereas female power emerges through multiple physiological, morphological, behavioural, and socioecological pathways.

RevDate: 2022-10-19
CmpDate: 2022-07-29

Kaiser A, Hensgen R, Tschirner K, et al (2022)

A three-dimensional atlas of the honeybee central complex, associated neuropils and peptidergic layers of the central body.

The Journal of comparative neurology, 530(14):2416-2438.

The central complex (CX) in the brain of insects is a highly conserved group of midline-spanning neuropils consisting of the upper and lower division of the central body, the protocerebral bridge, and the paired noduli. These neuropils are the substrate for a number of behaviors, most prominently goal-oriented locomotion. Honeybees have been a model organism for sky-compass orientation for more than 70 years, but there is still very limited knowledge about the structure and function of their CX. To advance and facilitate research on this brain area, we created a high-resolution three-dimensional atlas of the honeybee's CX and associated neuropils, including the posterior optic tubercles, the bulbs, and the anterior optic tubercles. To this end, we developed a modified version of the iterative shape averaging technique, which allowed us to achieve high volumetric accuracy of the neuropil models. For a finer definition of spatial locations within the central body, we defined layers based on immunostaining against the neuropeptides locustatachykinin, FMRFamide, gastrin/cholecystokinin, and allatostatin and included them into the atlas by elastic registration. Our honeybee CX atlas provides a platform for future neuroanatomical work.

RevDate: 2022-07-16

Schmalz F, El Jundi B, Rössler W, et al (2022)

Categorizing Visual Information in Subpopulations of Honeybee Mushroom Body Output Neurons.

Frontiers in physiology, 13:866807.

Multisensory integration plays a central role in perception, as all behaviors usually require the input of different sensory signals. For instance, for a foraging honeybee the association of a food source includes the combination of olfactory and visual cues to be categorized as a flower. Moreover, homing after successful foraging using celestial cues and the panoramic scenery may be dominated by visual cues. Hence, dependent on the context, one modality might be leading and influence the processing of other modalities. To unravel the complex neural mechanisms behind this process we studied honeybee mushroom body output neurons (MBON). MBONs represent the first processing level after olfactory-visual convergence in the honeybee brain. This was physiologically confirmed in our previous study by characterizing a subpopulation of multisensory MBONs. These neurons categorize incoming sensory inputs into olfactory, visual, and olfactory-visual information. However, in addition to multisensory units a prominent population of MBONs was sensitive to visual cues only. Therefore, we asked which visual features might be represented at this high-order integration level. Using extracellular, multi-unit recordings in combination with visual and olfactory stimulation, we separated MBONs with multisensory responses from purely visually driven MBONs. Further analysis revealed, for the first time, that visually driven MBONs of both groups encode detailed aspects within this individual modality, such as light intensity and light identity. Moreover, we show that these features are separated by different MBON subpopulations, for example by extracting information about brightness and wavelength. Most interestingly, the latter MBON population was tuned to separate UV-light from other light stimuli, which were only poorly differentiated from each other. A third MBON subpopulation was neither tuned to brightness nor to wavelength and encoded the general presence of light. Taken together, our results support the view that the mushroom body, a high-order sensory integration, learning and memory center in the insect brain, categorizes sensory information by separating different behaviorally relevant aspects of the multisensory scenery and that these categories are channeled into distinct MBON subpopulations.

RevDate: 2022-11-12
CmpDate: 2022-05-24

Zupanc GKH, W Rössler (2022)

Government funding of research beyond biomedicine: challenges and opportunities for neuroethology.

Journal of comparative physiology. A, Neuroethology, sensory, neural, and behavioral physiology, 208(3):443-456.

Curiosity-driven research is fundamental for neuroethology and depends crucially on governmental funding. Here, we highlight similarities and differences in funding of curiosity-driven research across countries by comparing two major funding agencies-the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the United States and the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG). We interviewed representatives from each of the two agencies, focusing on general funding trends, levels of young investigator support, career-life balance, and international collaborations. While our analysis revealed a negative trend in NSF funding of biological research, including curiosity-driven research, German researchers in these areas have benefited from a robust positive trend in DFG funding. The main reason for the decrease in curiosity-driven research in the US is that the NSF has only partially been able to compensate for the funding gap resulting from the National Institutes of Health restricting their support to biomedical research using select model organisms. Notwithstanding some differences in funding programs, particularly those relevant for scientists in the postdoctoral phase, both the NSF and DFG clearly support curiosity-driven research.

RevDate: 2022-07-31
CmpDate: 2022-06-13

Stuhrmann C (2022)

"It Felt More like a Revolution." How Behavioral Ecology Succeeded Ethology, 1970-1990.

Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte, 45(1-2):135-163.

As soon as ethology's status diminished in the early 1970s, it was confronted with two successor disciplines, sociobiology and behavioral ecology. They were able to challenge ethology because it no longer provided markers of strong disciplinarity such as theoretical coherence, leading figures and a clear identity. While behavioral ecology developed organically out of the UK ethological research community into its own disciplinary standing, sociobiology presented itself as a US competitor to the ethological tradition. I will show how behavioral ecology took the role of legitimate heir to ethology by rebuilding a theoretical core and an intellectual sense of community, while sociobiology failed to use its public appeal to reach disciplinary status. Meanwhile, ethology changed its disciplinary identity to encompass all biological studies of animal behavior.

RevDate: 2022-07-16
CmpDate: 2022-04-27

Römer D, Aguilar GP, Meyer A, et al (2022)

Symbiont demand guides resource supply: leaf-cutting ants preferentially deliver their harvested fragments to undernourished fungus gardens.

Die Naturwissenschaften, 109(3):25.

Leaf-cutting ants are highly successful herbivores in the Neotropics. They forage large amounts of fresh plant material to nourish a symbiotic fungus that sustains the colony. It is unknown how workers organize the intra-nest distribution of resources, and whether they respond to increasing demands in some fungus gardens by adjusting the amount of delivered resources accordingly. In laboratory experiments, we analyzed the spatial distribution of collected leaf fragments among nest chambers in Acromyrmex ambiguus leaf-cutting ants, and how it changed when one of the fungus gardens experienced undernourishment. Plant fragments were evenly distributed among nest chambers when the fungal symbiont was well nourished. That pattern changed when one of the fungus gardens was undernourished and had a higher leaf demand, resulting in more leaf discs delivered to the undernourished fungus garden over at least 2 days after deprivation. Some ants bypassed nourished gardens to directly deliver their resource to the chamber with higher nutritional demand. We hypothesize that cues arising from that chamber might be used for orientation and/or that informed individuals, presumably stemming from the undernourished chamber, may preferentially orient to them.

RevDate: 2022-04-05

Wilson Horch H, Rössler W, G Tavosanis (2022)

Editorial: Structural Plasticity of Invertebrate Neural Systems.

Frontiers in physiology, 13:874999.

RevDate: 2023-05-24
CmpDate: 2022-04-05

Smith JE, Fichtel C, Holmes RK, et al (2022)

Sex bias in intergroup conflict and collective movements among social mammals: male warriors and female guides.

Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 377(1851):20210142.

Intergroup conflict is a major evolutionary force shaping animal and human societies. Males and females should, on average, experience different costs and benefits for participating in collective action. Specifically, among mammals, male fitness is generally limited by access to mates whereas females are limited by access to food and safety. Here we analyse sex biases among 72 species of group-living mammals in two contexts: intergroup conflict and collective movements. Our comparative phylogenetic analyses show that the modal mammalian pattern is male-biased participation in intergroup conflict and female-biased leadership in collective movements. However, the probability of male-biased participation in intergroup conflicts decreased and female-biased participation increased with female-biased leadership in movements. Thus, female-biased participation in intergroup conflict only emerged in species with female-biased leadership in collective movements, such as in spotted hyenas and some lemurs. Sex differences are probably attributable to costs and benefits of participating in collective movements (e.g. towards food, water, safety) and intergroup conflict (e.g. access to mates or resources, risk of injury). Our comparative review offers new insights into the factors shaping sex bias in leadership across social mammals and is consistent with the 'male warrior hypothesis' which posits evolved sex differences in human intergroup psychology. This article is part of the theme issue 'Intergroup conflict across taxa'.

RevDate: 2022-05-11
CmpDate: 2022-04-05

Peckre LR, Michiels A, Socias-Martínez L, et al (2022)

Sex differences in audience effects on anogenital scent marking in the red-fronted lemur.

Scientific reports, 12(1):5266.

How the presence of conspecifics affects scent mark deposition remains an understudied aspect of olfactory communication, even though scent marking occurs in different social contexts. Sex differences in scent-marking behaviour are common, and sex-specific effects of the audience could therefore be expected. We investigated sex differences in intra-group audience effects on anogenital scent marking in four groups of wild red-fronted lemurs (Eulemur rufifrons) by performing focal scent-marking observations. We observed a total of 327 events divided into 223 anogenital scent-marking events and 104 pass-by events (i.e. passage without scent marking). Using a combination of generalised linear mixed models and exponential random graph models, we found that scent marking in red-fronted lemurs is associated with some behavioural flexibility linked to the composition of the audience at the time of scent deposition. In particular, our study revealed sex differences in the audience effects, with males being overall more sensitive to their audience than females. Moreover, we show that these audience effects were dependent on the relative degree of social integration of the focal individual compared to that of individuals in the audience (difference in Composite Sociality Index) as well as the strength of the dyadic affiliative relationship (rank of Dyadic Composite Sociality Index within the group). The audience effects also varied as a function of the audience radius considered. Hence, we showed that scent marking in red-fronted lemurs is associated with some behavioural flexibility linked to the composition of the audience, ascribing red-fronted lemurs' social competence in this context.

RevDate: 2023-03-08

Radford JM, Chen D, Chernyshova AM, et al (2022)

Differential Selection on Caste-Associated Genes in a Subterranean Termite.

Insects, 13(3):.

Analyzing the information-rich content of RNA can help uncover genetic events associated with social insect castes or other social polymorphisms. Here, we exploit a series of cDNA libraries previously derived from whole-body tissue of different castes as well as from three behaviourally distinct populations of the Eastern subterranean termite Reticulitermes flavipes. We found that the number (~0.5 M) of single nucleotide variants (SNVs) was roughly equal between nymph, worker and soldier caste libraries, but dN/dS (ratio of nonsynonymous to synonymous substitutions) analysis suggested that some of these variants confer a caste-specific advantage. Specifically, the dN/dS ratio was high (~4.3) for genes expressed in the defensively specialized soldier caste, relative to genes expressed by other castes (~1.7−1.8) and regardless of the North American population (Toronto, Raleigh, Boston) from which the castes were sampled. The populations, meanwhile, did show a large difference in SNV count but not in the manner expected from known demographic and behavioural differences; the highly invasive unicolonial population from Toronto was not the least diverse and did not show any other unique substitution patterns, suggesting any past bottleneck associated with invasion or with current unicoloniality has become obscured at the RNA level. Our study raises two important hypotheses relevant to termite sociobiology. First, the positive selection (dN/dS > 1) inferred for soldier-biased genes is presumably indirect and of the type mediated through kin selection, and second, the behavioural changes that accompany some social insect urban invasions (i.e., ‘unicoloniality’) may be detached from the loss-of-diversity expected from invasion bottlenecks.

RevDate: 2022-04-29
CmpDate: 2022-04-29

Kaya-Zeeb S, Engelmayer L, Straßburger M, et al (2022)

Octopamine drives honeybee thermogenesis.

eLife, 11:.

In times of environmental change species have two options to survive: they either relocate to a new habitat or they adapt to the altered environment. Adaptation requires physiological plasticity and provides a selection benefit. In this regard, the Western honeybee (Apis mellifera) protrudes with its thermoregulatory capabilities, which enables a nearly worldwide distribution. Especially in the cold, shivering thermogenesis enables foraging as well as proper brood development and thus survival. In this study, we present octopamine signaling as a neurochemical prerequisite for honeybee thermogenesis: we were able to induce hypothermia by depleting octopamine in the flight muscles. Additionally, we could restore the ability to increase body temperature by administering octopamine. Thus, we conclude that octopamine signaling in the flight muscles is necessary for thermogenesis. Moreover, we show that these effects are mediated by β octopamine receptors. The significance of our results is highlighted by the fact the respective receptor genes underlie enormous selective pressure due to adaptation to cold climates. Finally, octopamine signaling in the service of thermogenesis might be a key strategy to survive in a changing environment.

RevDate: 2022-06-13
CmpDate: 2022-06-13

Milam EL (2022)

Landscapes of Time: Building Long-Term Perspectives in Animal Behavior.

Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte, 45(1-2):164-188.

In the 1960s, scientists fascinated by the behavior of free-living animals founded research projects that expanded into multi-generation investigations. This paper charts the history of three scientists' projects to uncover the varied reasons for investing in a "long-term" perspective when studying animal behavior: Kenneth Armitage's study of marmots in the Rocky Mountains, Jeanne Altmann's analysis of baboons in Kenya, and Timothy Hugh Clutton-Brock's studies (among others) of red deer on the island of Rhum and meerkats in the Kalahari. The desire to study the behavior of the same group of animals over extended periods of time, I argue, came from different methodological traditions - population biology, primatology, and sociobiology - even as each saw themselves as contributing to the legacy of ethology. As scientists embraced and combined these approaches, a small number of long-running behavioral ecology projects like these grew from short pilot projects into decades-long centers of intellectual gravity within behavioral ecology as a discipline. By attending to time as well as place, we can see how this long-term perspective was crucial to their success; they measured evolutionary changes over generations of animals and their data provided insights into how the animals they studied were adapting (or not) to changing local and global environmental factors.

RevDate: 2022-11-12
CmpDate: 2022-05-24

Hensgen R, Zittrell F, Pfeiffer K, et al (2022)

Performance of polarization-sensitive neurons of the locust central complex at different degrees of polarization.

Journal of comparative physiology. A, Neuroethology, sensory, neural, and behavioral physiology, 208(3):387-403.

The polarization pattern of the sky is exploited by many insects for spatial orientation and navigation. It derives from Rayleigh scattering in the atmosphere and depends directly on the position of the sun. In the insect brain, the central complex (CX) houses neurons tuned to the angle of polarization (AoP), that together constitute an internal compass for celestial navigation. Polarized light is not only characterized by the AoP, but also by the degree of polarization (DoP), which can be highly variable, depending on sky conditions. Under a clear sky, the DoP of polarized sky light may reach up to 0.75 but is usually much lower especially when light is scattered by clouds or haze. To investigate how the polarization-processing network of the CX copes with low DoPs, we recorded intracellularly from neurons of the locust CX at different stages of processing, while stimulating with light of different DoPs. Significant responses to polarized light occurred down to DoPs of 0.05 indicating reliable coding of the AoP even at unfavorable sky conditions. Moreover, we found that the activity of neurons at the CX input stage may be strongly influenced by nearly unpolarized light, while the activity of downstream neurons appears less affected.

RevDate: 2022-05-13
CmpDate: 2022-03-21

Rudolph K, Schneider D, Fichtel C, et al (2022)

Drivers of gut microbiome variation within and between groups of a wild Malagasy primate.

Microbiome, 10(1):28.

BACKGROUND: Various aspects of sociality can benefit individuals' health. The host social environment and its relative contributions to the host-microbiome relationship have emerged as key topics in microbial research. Yet, understanding the mechanisms that lead to structural variation in the social microbiome, the collective microbial metacommunity of an animal's social network, remains difficult since multiple processes operate simultaneously within and among animal social networks. Here, we examined the potential drivers of the convergence of the gut microbiome on multiple scales among and within seven neighbouring groups of wild Verreaux's sifakas (Propithecus verreauxi) - a folivorous primate of Madagascar.

RESULTS: Over four field seasons, we collected 519 faecal samples of 41 animals and determined gut communities via 16S and 18S rRNA gene amplicon analyses. First, we examined whether group members share more similar gut microbiota and if diet, home range overlap, or habitat similarity drive between-group variation in gut communities, accounting for seasonality. Next, we examined within-group variation in gut microbiota by examining the potential effects of social contact rates, male rank, and maternal relatedness. To explore the host intrinsic effects on the gut community structure, we investigated age, sex, faecal glucocorticoid metabolites, and female reproductive state. We found that group members share more similar gut microbiota and differ in alpha diversity, while none of the environmental predictors explained the patterns of between-group variation. Maternal relatedness played an important role in within-group microbial homogeneity and may also explain why adult group members shared the least similar gut microbiota. Also, dominant males differed in their bacterial composition from their group mates, which might be driven by rank-related differences in physiology and scent-marking behaviours. Links to sex, female reproductive state, or faecal glucocorticoid metabolites were not detected.

CONCLUSIONS: Environmental factors define the general set-up of population-specific gut microbiota, but intrinsic and social factors have a stronger impact on gut microbiome variation in this primate species. Video abstract.

RevDate: 2022-11-12
CmpDate: 2022-05-24

Zupanc GKH, Arikawa K, Helfrich-Förster C, et al (2022)

It's all about seeing and hearing: the Editors' and Readers' Choice Awards 2022.

Journal of comparative physiology. A, Neuroethology, sensory, neural, and behavioral physiology, 208(3):351-353.

This year marks the inauguration of the annual Editors' Choice Award and the Readers' Choice Award, each presented for outstanding original papers and review articles published in the Journal of Comparative Physiology A. The winners of the 2022 Editors' Choice Award were determined by vote of the Editorial Board for the most highly recommended papers published in Volume 207 in 2021. They are 'Visual discrimination and resolution in freshwater stingrays (Potamotrygon motoro)' by Daniel et al. (J Comp Physiol A 207, 43-58, 2021) in the Original Paper category; and 'Neurophysiology goes wild: from exploring sensory coding in sound proof rooms to natural environments' by Römer (J Comp Physiol A 207, 303-319, 2021) in the Review Article category. The 2022 Readers' Choice Award was based on access number of articles published in Volume 206 in 2020, to ensure at least 12-month online presence. It is given to Nicholas et al. for their original paper titled 'Visual motion sensitivity in descending neurons in the hoverfly' (J Comp Physiol A 206, 149-163, 2020); and to Schnaitmann et al. for their review article entitled 'Color vision in insects: insights from Drosophila' (J Comp Physiol A 206, 183-198, 2020).

RevDate: 2022-05-16
CmpDate: 2022-05-16

Grob R, Holland Cunz O, Grübel K, et al (2022)

Rotation of skylight polarization during learning walks is necessary to trigger neuronal plasticity in Cataglyphis ants.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 289(1967):20212499.

Many animals use celestial cues for impressive navigational performances in challenging habitats. Since the position of the sun and associated skylight cues change throughout the day and season, it is crucial to correct for these changes. Cataglyphis desert ants possess a time-compensated skylight compass allowing them to navigate back to their nest using the shortest way possible. The ants have to learn the sun's daily course (solar ephemeris) during initial learning walks (LW) before foraging. This learning phase is associated with substantial structural changes in visual neuronal circuits of the ant's brain. Here, we test whether the rotation of skylight polarization during LWs is the necessary cue to induce learning-dependent rewiring in synaptic circuits in high-order integration centres of the ant brain. Our results show that structural neuronal changes in the central complex and mushroom bodies are triggered only when LWs were performed under a rotating skylight polarization pattern. By contrast, when naive ants did not perform LWs, but were exposed to skylight cues, plasticity was restricted to light spectrum-dependent changes in synaptic complexes of the lateral complex. The results identify sky-compass cues triggering learning-dependent versus -independent neuronal plasticity during the behavioural transition from interior workers to outdoor foragers.

RevDate: 2022-01-28

Schilcher F, Hilsmann L, Rauscher L, et al (2021)

In Vitro Rearing Changes Social Task Performance and Physiology in Honeybees.

Insects, 13(1):.

In vitro rearing of honeybee larvae is an established method that enables exact control and monitoring of developmental factors and allows controlled application of pesticides or pathogens. However, only a few studies have investigated how the rearing method itself affects the behavior of the resulting adult honeybees. We raised honeybees in vitro according to a standardized protocol: marking the emerging honeybees individually and inserting them into established colonies. Subsequently, we investigated the behavioral performance of nurse bees and foragers and quantified the physiological factors underlying the social organization. Adult honeybees raised in vitro differed from naturally reared honeybees in their probability of performing social tasks. Further, in vitro-reared bees foraged for a shorter duration in their life and performed fewer foraging trips. Nursing behavior appeared to be unaffected by rearing condition. Weight was also unaffected by rearing condition. Interestingly, juvenile hormone titers, which normally increase strongly around the time when a honeybee becomes a forager, were significantly lower in three- and four-week-old in vitro bees. The effects of the rearing environment on individual sucrose responsiveness and lipid levels were rather minor. These data suggest that larval rearing conditions can affect the task performance and physiology of adult bees despite equal weight, pointing to an important role of the colony environment for these factors. Our observations of behavior and metabolic pathways offer important novel insight into how the rearing environment affects adult honeybees.

RevDate: 2021-12-26

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):.

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: 2023-07-01

Walter T, Degen J, Pfeiffer K, et al (2021)

A new innovative real-time tracking method for flying insects applicable under natural conditions.

BMC zoology, 6(1):35.

BACKGROUND: Sixty percent of all species are insects, yet despite global efforts to monitor animal movement patterns, insects are continuously underrepresented. This striking difference between species richness and the number of species monitored is not due to a lack of interest but rather to the lack of technical solutions. Often the accuracy and speed of established tracking methods is not high enough to record behavior and react to it experimentally in real-time, which applies in particular to small flying animals.

RESULTS: Our new method of real-time tracking relates to frequencies of solar radiation which are almost completely absorbed by traveling through the atmosphere. For tracking, photoluminescent tags with a peak emission (1400 nm), which lays in such a region of strong absorption through the atmosphere, were attached to the animals. The photoluminescent properties of passivated lead sulphide quantum dots were responsible for the emission of light by the tags and provide a superb signal-to noise ratio. We developed prototype markers with a weight of 12.5 mg and a diameter of 5 mm. Furthermore, we developed a short wave infrared detection system which can record and determine the position of an animal in a heterogeneous environment with a delay smaller than 10 ms. With this method we were able to track tagged bumblebees as well as hawk moths in a flight arena that was placed outside on a natural meadow.

CONCLUSION: Our new method eliminates the necessity of a constant or predictable environment for many experimental setups. Furthermore, we postulate that the developed matrix-detector mounted to a multicopter will enable tracking of small flying insects, over medium range distances (>1000 m) in the near future because: a) the matrix-detector equipped with an 70 mm interchangeable lens weighs less than 380 g, b) it evaluates the position of an animal in real-time and c) it can directly control and communicate with electronic devices.

RevDate: 2022-05-13
CmpDate: 2022-04-05

Grittner R, Baird E, A Stöckl (2022)

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

Journal of comparative physiology. A, Neuroethology, sensory, neural, and behavioral physiology, 208(2):279-296.

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: 2022-04-11
CmpDate: 2022-04-11

Pisokas I, Rössler W, Webb B, et al (2022)

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

Current biology : CB, 32(2):445-452.e4.

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 moves[1-4] 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 anesthesia[13-15] has previously been shown to affect associative memory retention in fruit flies[14][,][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: 2021-12-03

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.

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: 2022-04-01
CmpDate: 2022-03-31

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: 2022-07-16
CmpDate: 2022-05-17

Eckert J, Bohn M, J Spaethe (2022)

Does quantity matter to a stingless bee?.

Animal cognition, 25(3):617-629.

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: 2022-04-27
CmpDate: 2022-04-27

Fleischmann PN, Grob R, W Rössler (2022)

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

Journal of comparative physiology. A, Neuroethology, sensory, neural, and behavioral physiology, 208(1):125-133.

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: 2021-12-28
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: 2022-01-11
CmpDate: 2022-01-11

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

Opposing Actions of Octopamine and Tyramine on Honeybee Vision.

Biomolecules, 11(9):.

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: 2021-09-30

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):.

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: 2022-09-10
CmpDate: 2021-10-29

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: 2022-03-25
CmpDate: 2022-03-25

Scherz P (2022)

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

Culture, medicine and psychiatry, 46(1):59-75.

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: 2021-10-19
CmpDate: 2021-10-19

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: 2022-07-31

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: 2023-02-05
CmpDate: 2021-11-03

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: 2022-03-24
CmpDate: 2022-03-24

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, 529(18):3882-3892.

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: 2021-10-25
CmpDate: 2021-10-25

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: 2022-05-31
CmpDate: 2022-02-08

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

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

Cell and tissue research, 386(1):29-45.

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: 2021-10-25
CmpDate: 2021-10-25

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, 176(4):614-624.

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: 2021-12-07
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: 2023-02-07

Ariansen AMS (2021)

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

The American sociologist, 52(3):477-504.

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.


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

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Curriculum Vitae for R J Robbins

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