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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    Unraveling molecular mechanisms of adaptation to complex environments is crucial to understanding tolerance of abiotic pressures and responses to climatic change. Epigenetic variation is increasingly recognized as a mechanism that can facilitate rapid responses to changing environmental cues. To investigate variation in genetic and epigenetic diversity at spatial and thermal extremes, we use whole genome and methylome sequencing to generate a high-resolution map of DNA methylation in the bumble beeBombus vosnesenskii. We sample two populations representing spatial and environmental range extremes (a warm southern low-elevation site and a cold northern high-elevation site) previously shown to exhibit differences in thermal tolerance and determine positions in the genome that are consistently and variably methylated across samples. Bisulfite sequencing reveals methylation characteristics similar to other arthropods, with low global CpG methylation but high methylation concentrated in gene bodies and in genome regions with low nucleotide diversity. Differentially methylated sites (n = 2066) were largely hypomethylated in the northern high-elevation population but not related to local sequence differentiation. The concentration of methylated and differentially methylated sites in exons and putative promoter regions suggests a possible role in gene regulation, and this high-resolution analysis of intraspecific epigenetic variation in wildBombussuggests that the function of methylation in niche adaptation would be worth further investigation.

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  3. Abstract

    The United States of America has a diverse collection of freshwater mussels comprising 301 species distributed among 59 genera and two families (Margaritiferidae and Unionidae), each having a unique suite of traits. Mussels are among the most imperilled animals and are critical components of their ecosystems, and successful management, conservation and research requires a cohesive and widely accessible data source. Although trait-based analysis for mussels has increased, only a small proportion of traits reflecting mussel diversity in this region has been collated. Decentralized and non-standardized trait information impedes large-scale analysis. Assembling trait data in a synthetic dataset enables comparison across species and lineages and identification of data gaps. We collated data from the primary literature, books, state and federal reports, theses and dissertations, and museum collections into a centralized dataset covering information on taxonomy, morphology, reproductive ecology and life history, fish hosts, habitats, thermal tolerance, geographic distribution, available genetic information, and conservation status. By collating these traits, we aid researchers in assessing variation in mussel traits and modelling ecosystem change.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  4. Positive biodiversity–ecosystem functioning (BEF) relationships observed in experiments can be challenging to identify in natural communities. Freshwater animal communities are disproportionately harmed by global change that results in accelerated species loss. Understanding how animal-mediated ecosystems functions may change as a result of global change can help determine whether biodiversity or species-specific conservation will be effective at maintaining function. Unionid mussels represent half of imperiled species in freshwater ecosystems globally and perform important ecological functions such as water filtration and nutrient recycling. We explored BEF relationships for 22 naturally assembled mussel aggregations spanning three river basins. We used the Price equation to partition the contributions of species richness, composition, and context dependent interactions to two functions of interests: spatially-explicit standing-stock biomass (indirect proxy for function) and species-specific nitrogen (N) excretion rates (direct measure of N recycling). Random and non-random species loss each reduced biomass and N recycling. Many rare species with low contributions to biomass contributed to standing-stock biomass in all basins. Widespread species had variable function across sites, such that context dependent effects (CDEs) outweighed richness effects on standing-stock biomass in two basins, and were similar to richness effects in the third. Richness effects outweighed CDEs for N recycling. Thus, many species contributed a low proportion to overall N-recycling; a product we attribute to the high evenness and functional effect trait diversity associated with these communities. The loss of low-functioning species reduced the function of persisting species. This novel result using observational data adds evidence that positive species interactions, such as interspecific facilitation, may be a mechanism by which biodiversity enhances ecosystem functions. Our work stresses the importance of evaluating species-specific contributions to functions in diverse systems, such as nutrient cycling when maintaining specific animal-mediated functions is a management goal because indirect proxies may not completely characterize BEF relationships. 
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  5. Abstract

    Metacommunity theory predicts that the relative importance of regional and local processes structuring communities will change over ecological succession. Determining effects of these processes on taxonomic and evolutionary diversity in spatially structured freshwater habitats of different successional stages may greatly improve understanding of the maintenance of diversity across temporal and spatial scales. In this study, we evaluated crayfish diversity at local and regional scales in pond metacommunities undergoing secondary succession from beaver (Castor canadensis) disturbance. Following theoretical predictions from metacommunity ecology of the increasing importance of local processes over succession, we hypothesised a decline in crayfish local and β diversity over succession from stronger local structuring as the older ponds may provide less suitable habitat than streams.

    Crayfish species and phylogenetic diversity were evaluated in beaver pond metacommunities and reference headwater streams located in three catchment regions. DNA sequences from the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I gene were used to assign crayfish to species for community and phylogenetic diversity tests. Local and β diversity were contrasted across beaver ponds ranging in age from 24 to 70 years and as a function of metacommunity processes.

    Counter to predictions, local species diversity among streams and the successional stages of ponds categorised by age class (24–39 years; 42–57 years; 60–70 years) did not differ, but community and phylogenetic convergence occurred in the oldest pond ecosystems. Crayfish community composition differed between the youngest and oldest ponds, resulting from higher abundance in the youngest ponds and community convergence in the oldest ponds. The association between community composition and the environment was strongest in streams and decoupled with pond age. In contrast, the correlation between intraspecific haplotype composition and the environment increased over succession. Among the three metacommunities, the regional crayfish species diversity arose from a combination of the temporal and environmental drivers from beaver‐constructed ecosystems and dispersal limitation within catchments.

    This study represents the first investigation of the taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity response to the successional stages of beaver pond metacommunities. The detection of differential crayfish composition and haplotype sorting to pond age suggests a role for local structuring and further indicates that future studies should acknowledge succession in shaping species diversity at local and regional scales. Dispersal limitation within catchment regions probably contributes to the evolution of crayfish species diversity in metacommunities and the overall maintenance of biodiversity.

    The results support a transition in community and freshwater ecology from a recent emphasis on spatial processes towards the integration of temporal drivers to better identify regulators of taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity across scales.

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  6. Leppla, Norman (Ed.)

    Bombus vosnesenskii Radowszkowski, 1862 is one of three bumble bee species commercially available for pollination services in North America; however, little is documented about B. vosnesenskii colony life cycle or the establishment of ex situ rearing, mating, and overwintering practices. In this study, we documented nest success, colony size, and gyne production; recorded the duration of mating events; assessed overwintering survival of mated gynes; and evaluated second-generation nest success for colonies established from low- and high-elevation wild-caught B. vosnesenskii gynes. Of the 125 gynes installed, 62.4% produced brood cells (nest initiation) and 43.2% had at least 1 worker eclose (nest establishment). High-elevation B. vosnesenskii gynes had significantly higher nest initiation and establishment success than low-elevation gynes. However, low-elevation colonies were significantly larger with queens producing more gynes on average. Mating was recorded for 200 low-elevation and 37 high-elevation gynes, resulting in a mean duration of 62 and 51 min, respectively. Mated gynes were then placed into cold storage for 54 days to simulate overwintering, which resulted in 59.1% of low-elevation gynes surviving and 91.9% of high-elevation gynes surviving. For second-generation low-elevation gynes, 26.4% initiated nesting and 14.3% established nesting. Second-generation high-elevation gynes did not initiate nesting despite CO2 narcosis treatments. Overall, these results increase our understanding of B. vosnesenskii nesting, mating, and overwintering biology from 2 elevations. Furthermore, this study provides information on successful husbandry practices that can be used by researchers and conservationists to address knowledge gaps and enhance the captive rearing of bumble bees.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  7. Abstract

    Studies of species that experience environmental heterogeneity across their distributions have become an important tool for understanding mechanisms of adaptation and predicting responses to climate change. We examine population structure, demographic history and environmentally associated genomic variation inBombus vosnesenskii, a common bumble bee in the western USA, using whole genome resequencing of populations distributed across a broad range of latitudes and elevations. We find thatB. vosnesenskiiexhibits minimal population structure and weak isolation by distance, confirming results from previous studies using other molecular marker types. Similarly, demographic analyses with Sequentially Markovian Coalescent models suggest that minimal population structure may have persisted since the last interglacial period, with genomes from different parts of the species range showing similar historical effective population size trajectories and relatively small fluctuations through time. Redundancy analysis revealed a small amount of genomic variation explained by bioclimatic variables. Environmental association analysis with latent factor mixed modelling (LFMM2) identified few outlier loci that were sparsely distributed throughout the genome and although a few putative signatures of selective sweeps were identified, none encompassed particularly large numbers of loci. Some outlier loci were in genes with known regulatory relationships, suggesting the possibility of weak selection, although compared with other species examined with similar approaches, evidence for extensive local adaptation signatures in the genome was relatively weak. Overall, results indicateB. vosnesenskiiis an example of a generalist with a high degree of flexibility in its environmental requirements that may ultimately benefit the species under periods of climate change.

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  8. Ware, Jessica (Ed.)
    Abstract Broadly distributed species experience divergent abiotic conditions across their ranges that may drive local adaptation. Montane systems where populations are distributed across both latitudinal and elevational gradients are especially likely to produce local adaptation due to spatial variation in multiple abiotic factors, including temperature, oxygen availability, and air density. We use whole-genome resequencing to evaluate the landscape genomics of Bombus vancouverensis Cresson (Hymenoptera: Apidae), a common montane bumble bee that is distributed throughout the western part of North America. Combined statistical approaches revealed several large windows of outlier SNPs with unusual levels of differentiation across the region and indicated that isothermality and elevation were the environmental features most strongly associated with these variants. Genes found within these regions had diverse biological functions, but included neuromuscular function, ion homeostasis, oxidative stress, and hypoxia that could be associated with tolerance of temperature, desiccation, or high elevation conditions. The whole-genome sequencing approach revealed outliers occurred in genome regions with elevated linkage disequilibrium, elevated mean FST, and low intrapopulation nucleotide diversity. Other kinds of structural variations were not widely associated with environmental predictors but did broadly match geographic separation. Results are consistent with other studies suggesting that regions of low recombination may harbor adaptive variation in bumble bees within as well as between species and refine our understanding of candidate genes that could be further investigated as possible targets of selection across the B. vancouverensis range. 
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