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  1. Abstract

    We report an elevational record for the Andean sigmodontine Puna Mouse Punomys, which is also the first record of the genus in Chile. The record is based on a mummified specimen that we discovered at an elevation of 5,461 m (17,917 feet) in the caldera of Volcán Acamarachi, Región de Antofagasta, Chile. Results of a morphological assessment suggest that the specimen can be provisionally referred to the species P. lemminus. This new record also extends the known geographic distribution of the genus by 700 km to the south and brings the known Chilean mammal richness to a total of 170 living species and 88 genera. This finding highlights the need for increased survey efforts in more remote, high-elevation regions and demonstrates that there is still much to be learned about the mammal fauna of the Andean Altiplano.

     
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  2. Malik, Harmit (Ed.)
    Abstract

    The recurrent evolution of resistance to cardiotonic steroids (CTS) across diverse animals most frequently involves convergent amino acid substitutions in the H1-H2 extracellular loop of Na+,K+-ATPase (NKA). Previous work revealed that hystricognath rodents (e.g., chinchilla) and pterocliform birds (sandgrouse) have convergently evolved amino acid insertions in the H1-H2 loop, but their functional significance was not known. Using protein engineering, we show that these insertions have distinct effects on CTS resistance in homologs of each of the two species that strongly depend on intramolecular interactions with other residues. Removing the insertion in the chinchilla NKA unexpectedly increases CTS resistance and decreases NKA activity. In the sandgrouse NKA, the amino acid insertion and substitution Q111R both contribute to an augmented CTS resistance without compromising ATPase activity levels. Molecular docking simulations provide additional insight into the biophysical mechanisms responsible for the context-specific mutational effects on CTS insensitivity of the enzyme. Our results highlight the diversity of genetic substrates that underlie CTS insensitivity in vertebrate NKA and reveal how amino acid insertions can alter the phenotypic effects of point mutations at key sites in the same protein domain.

     
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  3. Abstract

    Environmental heterogeneity in temperate latitudes is expected to maintain seasonally plastic life‐history strategies that include the tuning of morphologies and metabolism that support overwintering. For species that have expanded their ranges into tropical latitudes, it is unclear the extent to which the capacity for plasticity will be maintained or will erode with disuse. The migratory generations of the North American (NA) monarch butterflyDanaus plexippuslead distinctly different lives from their summer generation NA parents and their tropical descendants living in Costa Rica (CR). NA migratory monarchs postpone reproduction, travel thousands of kilometers south to overwinter in Mexico, and subsist on little food for months. Whether recently dispersed populations of monarchs such as those in Costa Rica, which are no longer subject to selection imposed by migration, retain ancestral seasonal plasticity is unclear. To investigate the differences in seasonal plasticity, we reared the NA and CR monarchs in summer and autumn in Illinois, USA, and measured the seasonal reaction norms for aspects of morphology and metabolism related to flight. NA monarchs were seasonally plastic in forewing and thorax size, increasing wing area and thorax to body mass ratio in autumn. While CR monarchs increased thorax mass in autumn, they did not increase the area of the forewing. NA monarchs maintained similar resting and maximal flight metabolic rates across seasons. However, CR monarchs had elevated metabolic rates in autumn. Our findings suggest that the recent expansion of monarchs into habitats that support year‐round breeding may be accompanied by (1) the loss of some aspects of morphological plasticity as well as (2) the underlying physiological mechanisms that maintain metabolic homeostasis in the face of temperature heterogeneity.

     
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  4. Abstract Background

    Complex organismal traits are often the result of multiple interacting genes and sub-organismal phenotypes, but how these interactions shape the evolutionary trajectories of adaptive traits is poorly understood. We examined how functional interactions between cardiorespiratory traits contribute to adaptive increases in the capacity for aerobic thermogenesis (maximal O2consumption,O2max, during acute cold exposure) in high-altitude deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus). We crossed highland and lowland deer mice to produce F2inter-population hybrids, which expressed genetically based variation in hemoglobin (Hb) O2affinity on a mixed genetic background. We then combined physiological experiments and mathematical modeling of the O2transport pathway to examine the links between cardiorespiratory traits andO2max.

    Results

    Physiological experiments revealed that increases in Hb-O2affinity of red blood cells improved blood oxygenation in hypoxia but were not associated with an enhancement inO2max. Sensitivity analyses performed using mathematical modeling showed that the influence of Hb-O2affinity onO2max in hypoxia was contingent on the capacity for O2diffusion in active tissues.

    Conclusions

    These results suggest that increases in Hb-O2affinity would only have adaptive value in hypoxic conditions if concurrent with or preceded by increases in tissue O2diffusing capacity. In high-altitude deer mice, the adaptive benefit of increasing Hb-O2affinity is contingent on the capacity to extract O2from the blood, which helps resolve controversies about the general role of hemoglobin function in hypoxia tolerance.

     
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  5. Abstract

    Many ecological processes are profoundly influenced by abiotic factors, such as temperature and snow. However, despite strong evidence linking shifts in these ecological processes to corresponding shifts in abiotic factors driven by climate change, the mechanisms connecting population size to season‐specific climate drivers are little understood. Using a 21‐year dataset and a Bayesian state space model, we identified biologically informed seasonal climate covariates that influenced densities of snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus), a cold‐adapted boreal herbivore. We found that snow and temperature had strong but conflicting season‐dependent effects. Reduced snow duration in spring and fall and warmer summers were associated with lowered hare density, whereas warmer winters were associated with increased density. When modeled simultaneously and under two climate change scenarios, the negative effects of reduced fall and spring snow duration and warmer summers overwhelm the positive effect of warmer winters, producing projected population declines. Ultimately, the contrasting population‐level impacts of climate change across seasons emphasize the critical need to examine the entire annual climate cycle to understand potential long‐term population consequences of climate change.

     
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  6. Premise

    Across taxa, vegetative and floral traits that vary along a fast‐slow life‐history axis are often correlated with leaf functional traits arrayed along the leaf economics spectrum, suggesting a constrained set of adaptive trait combinations. Such broad‐scale convergence may arise from genetic constraints imposed by pleiotropy (or tight linkage) within species, or from natural selection alone. Understanding the genetic basis of trait syndromes and their components is key to distinguishing these alternatives and predicting evolution in novel environments.

    Methods

    We used a line‐cross approach and quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping to characterize the genetic basis of twenty leaf functional/physiological, life history, and floral traits in hybrids between annualized and perennial populations of scarlet monkeyflower (Mimulus cardinalis).

    Results

    We mapped both single and multi‐trait QTLs for life history, leaf function and reproductive traits, but found no evidence of genetic co‐ordination across categories. A major QTL for three leaf functional traits (thickness, photosynthetic rate, and stomatal resistance) suggests that a simple shift in leaf anatomy may be key to adaptation to seasonally dry habitats.

    Conclusions

    Our results suggest that the co‐ordination of resource‐acquisitive leaf physiological traits with a fast life‐history and more selfing mating system results from environmental selection rather than functional or genetic constraint. Independent assortment of distinct trait modules, as well as a simple genetic basis to leaf physiological traits associated with drought escape, may facilitate adaptation to changing climates.

     
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  7. Abstract

    Biologists have long pondered the extreme limits of life on Earth, including the maximum elevation at which species can live and reproduce. Here we review evidence of a self-sustaining population of mice at an elevation that exceeds that of all previously reported for mammals. Five expeditions over 10 years to Volcán Llullaillaco on the Argentina/Chile border observed and collected mice at elevations ranging from 5,070 m at the mountain’s base to the summit at 6,739 m (22,110 feet). Previously unreported evidence includes observations and photographs of live animals and mummified remains, environmental DNA, and a soil microbial community reflecting animal activity that are evaluated in combination with previously reported video recordings and capture of live mice. All of the evidence identifies the mouse as the leaf-eared mouse Phyllotis vaccarum, and it robustly places the population within a haplotype group containing individuals from the Chilean Atacama Desert and nearby regions of Argentina. A critical review of the literature affirms that this population is not only an elevational record for mammals but for all terrestrial vertebrates to date, and we further find that many extreme elevations previously reported for mammals are based on scant or dubious evidence.

     
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  8. Abstract Aim

    Phenological mismatches, when life‐events become mistimed with optimal environmental conditions, have become increasingly common under climate change. Population‐level susceptibility to mismatches depends on how phenology and phenotypic plasticity vary across a species’ distributional range. Here, we quantify the environmental drivers of colour moult phenology, phenotypic plasticity, and the extent of phenological mismatch in seasonal camouflage to assess vulnerability to mismatch in a common North American mammal.

    Location

    North America.

    Time period

    2010–2017.

    Major taxa studied

    Snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus).

    Methods

    We used > 5,500 by‐catch photographs of snowshoe hares from 448 remote camera trap sites at three independent study areas. To quantify moult phenology and phenotypic plasticity, we used multinomial logistic regression models that incorporated geospatial and high‐resolution climate data. We estimated occurrence of camouflage mismatch between hares’ coat colour and the presence and absence of snow over 7 years of monitoring.

    Results

    Spatial and temporal variation in moult phenology depended on local climate conditions more so than on latitude. First, hares in colder, snowier areas moulted earlier in the fall and later in the spring. Next, hares exhibited phenotypic plasticity in moult phenology in response to annual variation in temperature and snow duration, especially in the spring. Finally, the occurrence of camouflage mismatch varied in space and time; white hares on dark, snowless background occurred primarily during low‐snow years in regions characterized by shallow, short‐lasting snowpack.

    Main conclusions

    Long‐term climate and annual variation in snow and temperature determine coat colour moult phenology in snowshoe hares. In most areas, climate change leads to shorter snow seasons, but the occurrence of camouflage mismatch varies across the species’ range. Our results underscore the population‐specific susceptibility to climate change‐induced stressors and the necessity to understand this variation to prioritize the populations most vulnerable under global environmental change.

     
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  9. Abstract

    Understanding the links between genetic variation and fitness in natural populations is a central goal of evolutionary genetics. This monumental task spans the fields of classical and molecular genetics, population genetics, biochemistry, physiology, developmental biology, and ecology. Advances to our molecular and developmental toolkits are facilitating integrative approaches across these traditionally separate fields, providing a more complete picture of the genotype‐phenotype map in natural and non‐model systems. Here, we summarize research presented at the first annual symposium of the UNVEIL Network, an NSF‐funded collaboration between the University of Montana and the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, which took place from the 1st to the 3rd of June, 2018. We discuss how this body of work advances basic evolutionary science, what it implies for our ability to predict evolutionary change, and how it might inform novel conservation strategies.

     
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  10. Abstract

    Elevations >2,000 m represent consistently harsh environments for small endotherms because of abiotic stressors such as cold temperatures and hypoxia.

    These environmental stressors may limit the ability of populations living at these elevations to respond to biotic selection pressures—such as parasites or pathogens—that in other environmental contexts would impose only minimal energetic‐ and fitness‐related costs.

    We studied deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus rufinus) living along two elevational transects (2,300–4,400 m) in the Colorado Rockies and found that infection prevalence by botfly larvae (Cuterebridae) declined at higher elevations. We found no evidence of infections at elevations >2,400 m, but that 33.6% of all deer mice, and 52.2% of adults, were infected at elevations <2,400 m.

    Botfly infections were associated with reductions in haematocrit levels of 23%, haemoglobin concentrations of 27% and cold‐induced VO2maxmeasures of 19% compared to uninfected individuals. In turn, these reductions in aerobic performance appeared to influence fitness, as infected individuals exhibited 19‐34% lower daily survival rates.

    In contrast to studies at lower elevations, we found evidence indicating that botfly infections influence the aerobic capabilities and fitness of deer mice living at elevations between 2,000 and 2,400 m. Our results therefore suggest that the interaction between botflies and small rodents is likely highly context‐dependent and that, more generally, high‐elevation populations may be susceptible to additional biotic selection pressures.

    Aplain language summaryis available for this article.

     
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