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  1. Abstract Background

    Empirical field studies allow us to view how ecological and environmental processes shape the biodiversity of our planet, but collecting samples in situ creates inherent challenges. The majority of empirical vertebrate gut microbiome research compares multiple host species against abiotic and biotic factors, increasing the potential for confounding environmental variables. To minimize these confounding factors, we focus on a single species of passerine bird found throughout the geologically complex island of Sulawesi, Indonesia. We assessed the effects of two environmental factors, geographic Areas of Endemism (AOEs) and elevation, as well as host sex on the gut microbiota assemblages of the Sulawesi Babbler,Pellorneum celebense,from three different mountains across the island. Using cloacal swabs, high-throughput-amplicon sequencing, and multiple statistical models, we identified the core microbiome and determined the signal of these three factors on microbial composition.


    The five most prevalent bacterial phyla within the gut microbiome ofP. celebensewereProteobacteria(32.6%),Actinobacteria(25.2%),Firmicutes(22.1%),Bacteroidetes(8.7%), andPlantomycetes(2.6%). These results are similar to those identified in prior studies of passeriform microbiomes. Overall, microbiota diversity decreased as elevation increased, irrespective of sex or AOE. A single ASV ofClostridiumwas enriched in higher elevation samples, while lower elevation samples were enriched with the generaPerlucidibaca(FamilyMoraxellaceae),Lachnoclostridium(FamilyLachnospiraceae), and an unidentified species in the FamilyPseudonocardiaceae.


    While the core microbiota families recovered here are consistent with other passerine studies, the decreases in diversity as elevation increases has only been seen in non-avian hosts. Additionally, the increased abundance ofClostridiumat high elevations suggests a potential microbial response to lower oxygen levels. This study emphasizes the importance of incorporating multiple statistical models and abiotic factors such as elevation in empirical microbiome research, and is the first to describe an avian gut microbiome from the island of Sulawesi.

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  2. Tropical islands are renowned as natural laboratories for evolutionary study. Lineage radiations across tropical archipelagos are ideal systems for investigating how colonization, speciation, and extinction processes shape biodiversity patterns. The expansion of the island thrush across the Indo-Pacific represents one of the largest yet most perplexing island radiations of any songbird species. The island thrush exhibits a complex mosaic of pronounced plumage variation across its range and is arguably the world’s most polytypic bird. It is a sedentary species largely restricted to mountain forests, yet it has colonized a vast island region spanning a quarter of the globe. We conducted a comprehensive sampling of island thrush populations and obtained genome-wide SNP data, which we used to reconstruct its phylogeny, population structure, gene flow, and demographic history. The island thrush evolved from migratory Palearctic ancestors and radiated explosively across the Indo-Pacific during the Pleistocene, with numerous instances of gene flow between populations. Its bewildering plumage variation masks a biogeographically intuitive stepping stone colonization path from the Philippines through the Greater Sundas, Wallacea, and New Guinea to Polynesia. The island thrush’s success in colonizing Indo-Pacific mountains can be understood in light of its ancestral mobility and adaptation to cool climates; however, shifts in elevational range, degree of plumage variation and apparent dispersal rates in the eastern part of its range raise further intriguing questions about its biology. 
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  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 22, 2024
  4. Abstract

    Intraspecific polymorphism in birds, especially plumage colour polymorphism, and the mechanisms that control it are an area of active research in evolutionary biology. The black‐headed bulbul (Brachypodius atriceps) is a polymorphic species with two distinct morphs, yellow and grey. This species inhabits the mainland and virtually all continental islands of Southeast Asia where yellow morphs predominate, but on two islands in the Sunda region, Bawean and Maratua, grey morphs are common or exclusive. Here, we generated a high‐quality reference genome of a yellow individual and resequenced genomes of multiple individuals of both yellow and grey morphs to study the genetic basis of coloration and population history of the species. Using PCA and STRUCTURE analysis, we found the Maratua Island population (which is exclusively grey) to be distinct from all otherB.atricepspopulations, having been isolated c. 1.9 million years ago (Ma). In contrast, Bawean grey individuals (a subset of yellow and grey individuals on that island) are embedded within an almost panmictic Sundaic clade of yellow birds. UsingFSTanddxyto compare variable genomic segments between Maratua and yellow individuals, we located peaks of divergence and identified candidate loci involved in the colour polymorphism. Tests of selection among coding‐proteins in highFSTregions, however, did not indicate selection on the candidate genes. Overall, we report on some loci that are potentially responsible for the grey/yellow polymorphism in a species that otherwise shows little genetic diversification across most of its range.

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  5. Abstract

    Hybridization, introgression, and reciprocal gene flow during speciation, specifically the generation of mitonuclear discordance, are increasingly observed as parts of the speciation process. Genomic approaches provide insight into where, when, and how adaptation operates during and after speciation and can measure historical and modern introgression. Whether adaptive or neutral in origin, hybridization can cause mitonuclear discordance by placing the mitochondrial genome of one species (or population) in the nuclear background of another species. The latter, introgressed species may eventually have its own mtDNA replaced or “captured” by other species across its entire geographical range. Intermediate stages in the capture process should be observable. Two nonsister species of Australasian monarch‐flycatchers, Spectacled Monarch (Symposiachrus trivirgatus) mostly of Australia and Indonesia and Spot‐winged Monarch (S. guttula) of New Guinea, present an opportunity to observe this process. We analysed thousands of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) derived from ultraconserved elements of all subspecies of both species. Mitochondrial DNA sequences of Australian populations ofS. trivirgatusform two paraphyletic clades, one being sister to and presumably introgressed byS. guttuladespite little nuclear signal of introgression. Population genetic analyses (e.g., tests for modern and historical gene flow and selection) support at least one historical gene flow event betweenS. guttulaand AustralianS. trivirgatus. We also uncovered introgression from the Maluku Islands subspecies ofS. trivirgatusinto an island population ofS. guttula, resulting in apparent nuclear paraphyly. We find that neutral demographic processes, not adaptive introgression, are the most likely cause of these complex population histories. We suggest that a Pleistocene extinction ofS. guttulafrom mainland Australia resulted from range expansion byS. trivirgatus.

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