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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 themore »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. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2023
  3. 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.

  4. 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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