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  1. Abstract Background

    Differences in morphology, ecology, and behavior through ontogeny can result in opposing selective pressures at different life stages. Most animals, however, transition through two or more distinct phenotypic phases, which is hypothesized to allow each life stage to adapt more freely to its ecological niche. How this applies to sensory systems, and in particular how sensory systems adapt across life stages at the molecular level, is not well understood. Here, we used whole-eye transcriptomes to investigate differences in gene expression between tadpole and juvenile southern leopard frogs (Lithobates sphenocephalus), which rely on vision in aquatic and terrestrial light environments, respectively. Because visual physiology changes with light levels, we also tested the effect of light and dark exposure.


    We found 42% of genes were differentially expressed in the eyes of tadpoles versus juveniles and 5% for light/dark exposure. Analyses targeting a curated subset of visual genes revealed significant differential expression of genes that control aspects of visual function and development, including spectral sensitivity and lens composition. Finally, microspectrophotometry of photoreceptors confirmed shifts in spectral sensitivity predicted by the expression results, consistent with adaptation to distinct light environments.


    Overall, we identified extensive expression-level differences in the eyes of tadpoles and juvenilesmore »related to observed morphological and physiological changes through metamorphosis and corresponding adaptive shifts to improve vision in the distinct aquatic and terrestrial light environments these frogs inhabit during their life cycle. More broadly, these results suggest that decoupling of gene expression can mediate the opposing selection pressures experienced by organisms with complex life cycles that inhabit different environmental conditions throughout ontogeny.

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  2. Abstract

    Cryptogenic species are those whose native and introduced ranges are unknown. The extent and long history of human migration rendered numerous species cryptogenic. Incomplete knowledge regarding the origin and native habitat of a species poses problems for conservation management and may confound ecological and evolutionary studies. The Lesser Antilles pose a particular challenge with regard to cryptogenic species because these islands have been anthropogenically connected since before recorded history. Here, we use population genetic and phylogeographic tools in an attempt to determine the origin ofEleutherodactylus johnstonei, a frog species with a potentially widespread introduced range and whose native range within the Lesser Antilles is unknown. Based on elevated estimates of genetic diversity and within-island geographic structure not present elsewhere in the range, we identify Montserrat as the native island ofE. johnstonei. We also document two major clades withinE. johnstonei, only one of which is the primary source of introduced populations throughout the Americas. Our results demonstrate the utility of genetic tools for resolving cryptogenic species problems and highlightE. johnstoneias a potential system for understanding differences in invasive potential among sister lineages.

  3. No abstract available.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 27, 2023
  4. Biodiversity loss is one major outcome of human-mediated ecosystem disturbance. One way that humans have triggered wildlife declines is by transporting disease-causing agents to remote areas of the world. Amphibians have been hit particularly hard by disease due in part to a globally distributed pathogenic chytrid fungus ( Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis [ Bd ]). Prior research has revealed important insights into the biology and distribution of Bd ; however, there are still many outstanding questions in this system. Although we know that there are multiple divergent lineages of Bd that differ in pathogenicity, we know little about how these lineages are distributed around the world and where lineages may be coming into contact. Here, we implement a custom genotyping method for a global set of Bd samples. This method is optimized to amplify and sequence degraded DNA from noninvasive skin swab samples. We describe a divergent lineage of Bd , which we call Bd ASIA3, that appears to be widespread in Southeast Asia. This lineage co-occurs with the global panzootic lineage ( Bd GPL) in multiple localities. Additionally, we shed light on the global distribution of Bd GPL and highlight the expanded range of another lineage, Bd CAPE. Finally, we arguemore »that more monitoring needs to take place where Bd lineages are coming into contact and where we know little about Bd lineage diversity. Monitoring need not use expensive or difficult field techniques but can use archived swab samples to further explore the history—and predict the future impacts—of this devastating pathogen.« less
  5. Abstract

    Theory predicts that sexually dimorphic traits under strong sexual selection, particularly those involved with intersexual signaling, can accelerate speciation and produce bursts of diversification. Sexual dichromatism (sexual dimorphism in color) is widely used as a proxy for sexual selection and is associated with rapid diversification in several animal groups, yet studies using phylogenetic comparative methods to explicitly test for an association between sexual dichromatism and diversification have produced conflicting results. Sexual dichromatism is rare in frogs, but it is both striking and prevalent in African reed frogs, a major component of the diverse frog radiation termed Afrobatrachia. In contrast to most other vertebrates, reed frogs display female-biased dichromatism in which females undergo color transformation, often resulting in more ornate coloration in females than in males. We produce a robust phylogeny of Afrobatrachia to investigate the evolutionary origins of sexual dichromatism in this radiation and examine whether the presence of dichromatism is associated with increased rates of net diversification. We find that sexual dichromatism evolved once within hyperoliids and was followed by numerous independent reversals to monochromatism. We detect significant diversification rate heterogeneity in Afrobatrachia and find that sexually dichromatic lineages have double the average net diversification rate of monochromaticmore »lineages. By conducting trait simulations on our empirical phylogeny, we demonstrate that our inference of trait-dependent diversification is robust. Although sexual dichromatism in hyperoliid frogs is linked to their rapid diversification and supports macroevolutionary predictions of speciation by sexual selection, the function of dichromatism in reed frogs remains unclear. We propose that reed frogs are a compelling system for studying the roles of natural and sexual selection on the evolution of sexual dichromatism across micro- and macroevolutionary timescales.

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