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  1. Synopsis

    This series of papers highlights research into how biological exchanges between salty and freshwater habitats have transformed the biosphere. Life in the ocean and in freshwaters have long been intertwined; multiple major branches of the tree of life originated in the oceans and then adapted to and diversified in freshwaters. Similar exchanges continue to this day, including some species that continually migrate between marine and fresh waters. The series addresses key themes of transitions, transformations, and current threats with a series of questions: When did major colonizations of fresh waters happen? What physiographic changes facilitated transitions? What organismal characteristics facilitate colonization? Once a lineage has colonized freshwater, how frequently is there a return to the sea? Have transitions impelled diversification? How do organisms adapt physiologically to changes in halohabitat, and are such adaptive changes predictable? How do marine and freshwater taxa differ in morphology? How are present-day global changes in the environment influencing halohabitat and how are organisms contending with them? The purpose of the symposium and the papers in this volume is to integrate findings at multiple levels of biological organization and from disparate fields, across biological and geoscience disciplines.

  2. Synopsis

    Ecological transitions across salinity boundaries have led to some of the most important diversification events in the animal kingdom, especially among fishes. Adaptations accompanying such transitions include changes in morphology, diet, whole-organism performance, and osmoregulatory function, which may be particularly prominent since divergent salinity regimes make opposing demands on systems that maintain ion and water balance. Research in the last decade has focused on the genetic targets underlying such adaptations, most notably by comparing populations of species that are distributed across salinity boundaries. Here, we synthesize research on the targets of natural selection using whole-genome approaches, with a particular emphasis on the osmoregulatory system. Given the complex, integrated and polygenic nature of this system, we expected that signatures of natural selection would span numerous genes across functional levels of osmoregulation, especially salinity sensing, hormonal control, and cellular ion exchange mechanisms. We find support for this prediction: genes coding for V-type, Ca2+, and Na+/K+-ATPases, which are key cellular ion exchange enzymes, are especially common targets of selection in species from six orders of fishes. This indicates that while polygenic selection contributes to adaptation across salinity boundaries, changes in ATPase enzymes may be of particular importance in supporting such transitions.

  3. Abstract

    Climate change is causing habitat salinity to transform at unprecedented rates across the globe. While much of the research on climate change has focused on rapid shifts in temperature, far less attention has focused on the effects of changes in environmental salinity. Consequently, predictive studies on the physiological, evolutionary, and migratory responses of organisms and populations to the threats of salinity change are relatively lacking. This omission represents a major oversight, given that salinity is among the most important factors that define biogeographic boundaries in aquatic habitats. In this perspective, we briefly touch on responses of organisms and populations to rapid changes in salinity occurring on contemporary time scales. We then discuss factors that might confer resilience to certain taxa, enabling them to survive rapid salinity shifts. Next, we consider approaches for predicting how geographic distributions will shift in response to salinity change. Finally, we identify additional data that are needed to make better predictions in the future. Future studies on climate change should account for the multiple environmental factors that are rapidly changing, especially habitat salinity.

  4. Abstract

    The Threespine Stickleback is ancestrally a marine fish, but many marine populations breed in fresh water (i.e., are anadromous), facilitating their colonization of isolated freshwater habitats a few years after they form. Repeated adaptation to fresh water during at least 10 My and continuing today has led to Threespine Stickleback becoming a premier system to study rapid adaptation. Anadromous and freshwater stickleback breed in sympatry and may hybridize, resulting in introgression of freshwater-adaptive alleles into anadromous populations, where they are maintained at low frequencies as ancient standing genetic variation. Anadromous stickleback have accumulated hundreds of freshwater-adaptive alleles that are disbursed as few loci per marine individual and provide the basis for adaptation when they colonize fresh water. Recent whole-lake experiments in lakes around Cook Inlet, Alaska have revealed how astonishingly rapid and repeatable this process is, with the frequency of 40% of the identified freshwater-adaptive alleles increasing from negligible (∼1%) in the marine founder to ≥50% within ten generations in fresh water, and freshwater phenotypes evolving accordingly. These high rates of genomic and phenotypic evolution imply very intense directional selection on phenotypes of heterozygotes. Sexual recombination rapidly assembles freshwater-adaptive alleles that originated in different founders into multilocus freshwater haplotypes, andmore »regions important for adaptation to freshwater have suppressed recombination that keeps advantageous alleles linked within large haploblocks. These large haploblocks are also older and appear to have accumulated linked advantageous mutations. The contemporary evolution of Threespine Stickleback has provided broadly applicable insights into the mechanisms that facilitate rapid adaptation.

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  5. Abstract

    Evolutionary transitions between marine and freshwater ecosystems have occurred repeatedly throughout the phylogenetic history of fishes. The theory of ecological opportunity predicts that lineages that colonize species-poor regions will have greater potential for phenotypic diversification than lineages invading species-rich regions. Thus, transitions between marine and freshwaters may promote phenotypic diversification in trans-marine/freshwater fish clades. We used phylogenetic comparative methods to analyze body size data in nine major fish clades that have crossed the marine/freshwater boundary. We explored how habitat transitions, ecological opportunity, and community interactions influenced patterns of phenotypic diversity. Our analyses indicated that transitions between marine and freshwater habitats did not drive body size evolution, and there are few differences in body size between marine and freshwater lineages. We found that body size disparity in freshwater lineages is not correlated with the number of independent transitions to freshwaters. We found a positive correlation between body size disparity and overall species richness of a given area, and a negative correlation between body size disparity and diversity of closely related species. Our results indicate that the diversity of incumbent freshwater species does not restrict phenotypic diversification, but the diversity of closely related taxa can limit body size diversification. Ecological opportunitymore »arising from colonization of novel habitats does not seem to have a major effect in the trajectory of body size evolution in trans-marine/freshwater clades. Moreover, competition with closely related taxa in freshwaters has a greater effect than competition with distantly related incumbent species.

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  6. Synopsis Early marine invertebrates like the Branchiopoda began their sojourn into dilute media some 500 million years ago in the Middle Cambrian. Others like the Mollusca, Annelida, and many crustacean taxa have followed, accompanying major marine transgressions and regressions, shifting landmasses, orogenies, and glaciations. In adapting to these events and new habitats, such invertebrates acquired novel physiological abilities that attenuate the ion loss and water gain that constitute severe challenges to life in dilute media. Among these taxon-specific adaptations, selected from the subcellular to organismal levels of organization, and constituting a feasible evolutionary blueprint for invading freshwater, are reduced body permeability and surface (S) to volume (V) ratios, lowered osmotic concentrations, increased osmotic gradients, increased surface areas of interface epithelia, relocation of membrane proteins in ion-transporting cells, and augmented transport enzyme abundance, activity, and affinity. We examine these adaptations in taxa that have penetrated into freshwater, revealing diversified modifications, a consequence of distinct body plans, morpho-physiological resources, and occupation routes. Contingent on life history and reproductive strategy, numerous patterns of osmotic regulation have emerged, including intracellular isosmotic regulation in weak hyper-regulators and well-developed anisosmotic extracellular regulation in strong hyper-regulators, likely reflecting inertial adaptations to early life in an estuarine environment.more »In this review, we address osmoregulation in those freshwater invertebrate lineages that have successfully invaded this biotope. Our analyses show that across 66 freshwater invertebrate species from six phyla/classes that have transmuted into freshwater from the sea, hemolymph osmolalities decrease logarithmically with increasing S:V ratios. The arthropods have the highest osmolalities, from 300 to 650 mOsmoles/kg H2O in the Decapoda with 220–320 mOsmoles/kg H2O in the Insecta; osmolalities in the Annelida range from 150 to 200 mOsmoles/kg H2O, and the Mollusca showing the lowest osmolalities at 40–120 mOsmoles/kg H2O. Overall, osmolalities reach a cut-off at ∼200 mOsmoles/kg H2O, independently of increasing S:V ratio. The ability of species with small S:V ratios to maintain large osmotic gradients is mirrored in their putatively higher Na+/K+-ATPase activities that drive ion uptake processes. Selection pressures on these morpho-physiological characteristics have led to differential osmoregulatory abilities, rendering possible the conquest of freshwater while retaining some tolerance of the ancestral medium.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 7, 2023
  7. Abstract The invasion of the land was a complex, protracted process, punctuated by mass extinctions, that involved multiple routes from marine environments. We integrate paleobiology, ichnology, sedimentology, and geomorphology to reconstruct Paleozoic terrestrialization. Cambrian landscapes were dominated by laterally mobile rivers with unstable banks in the absence of significant vegetation. Temporary incursions by arthropods and worm-like organisms into coastal environments apparently did not result in establishment of continental communities. Contemporaneous lacustrine faunas may have been inhibited by limited nutrient delivery and high sediment loads. The Ordovician appearance of early land plants triggered a shift in the primary locus of the global clay mineral factory, increasing the amount of mudrock on the continents. The Silurian–Devonian rise of vascular land plants, including the first forests and extensive root systems, was instrumental in further retaining fine sediment on alluvial plains. These innovations led to increased architectural complexity of braided and meandering rivers. Landscape changes were synchronous with establishment of freshwater and terrestrial arthropod faunas in overbank areas, abandoned fluvial channels, lake margins, ephemeral lakes, and inland deserts. Silurian–Devonian lakes experienced improved nutrient availability, due to increased phosphate weathering and terrestrial humic matter. All these changes favoured frequent invasions to permament establishment of jawlessmore »and jawed fishes in freshwater habitats and the subsequent tetrapod colonization of the land. The Carboniferous saw rapid diversification of tetrapods, mostly linked to aquatic reproduction, and land plants, including gymnosperms. Deeper root systems promoted further riverbank stabilization, contributing to the rise of anabranching rivers and braided systems with vegetated islands. New lineages of aquatic insects developed and expanded novel feeding modes, including herbivory. Late Paleozoic soils commonly contain pervasive root and millipede traces. Lacustrine animal communities diversified, accompanied by increased food-web complexity and improved food delivery which may have favored permanent colonization of offshore and deep-water lake environments. These trends continued in the Permian, but progressive aridification favored formation of hypersaline lakes, which were stressful for colonization. The Capitanian and end-Permian extinctions affected lacustrine and fluvial biotas, particularly the invertebrate infauna, although burrowing may have allowed some tetrapods to survive associated global warming and increased aridification.« less
  8. Synopsis Understanding the processes that shaped the distribution of species richness across the Tree of Life is a central macroevolutionary research agenda. Major ecological innovations, including transitions between habitats, may help to explain the striking asymmetries of diversity that are often observed between sister clades. Here, we test the impact of such transitions on speciation rates across decapod crustaceans, modeling diversification dynamics within a phylogenetic framework. Our results show that, while terrestrial lineages have higher speciation rates than either marine or freshwater lineages, there is no difference between mean speciation rates in marine and freshwater lineages across Decapoda. Partitioning our data by infraorder reveals that those clades with habitat heterogeneity have higher speciation rates in freshwater and terrestrial lineages, with freshwater rates up to 1.5 times faster than marine rates, and terrestrial rates approximately four times faster. This averaging out of marine and freshwater speciation rates results from the varying contributions of different clades to average speciation rates. However, with the exception of Caridea, we find no evidence for any causal relationship between habitat and speciation rate. Our results demonstrate that while statistical generalizations about ecological traits and evolutionary rates are valuable, there are many exceptions. Hence, while freshwater andmore »terrestrial lineages typically speciate faster than their marine relatives, there are many atypically slow freshwater lineages and fast marine lineages across Decapoda. Future work on diversification patterns will benefit from the inclusion of fossil data, as well as additional ecological factors.« less
  9. Abstract Evolutionary transitions of organisms between environments have long fascinated biologists, but attention has been focused almost exclusively on free-living organisms and challenges to achieve such transitions. This bias requires addressing because parasites are a major component of biodiversity. We address this imbalance by focusing on transitions of parasitic animals between marine and freshwater environments. We highlight parasite traits and processes that may influence transition likelihood (e.g., transmission mode, life cycle, host use), and consider mechanisms and directions of transitions. Evidence for transitions in deep time and at present are described, and transitions in our changing world are considered. We propose that environmental transitions may be facilitated for endoparasites because hosts reduce exposure to physiologically challenging environments and argue that adoption of an endoparasitic lifestyle entails an equivalent transitioning process as organisms switch from living in one environment (e.g., freshwater, seawater, or air) to living symbiotically within hosts. Environmental transitions of parasites have repeatedly resulted in novel forms and diversification, contributing to the tree of life. Recognizing the potential processes underlying present-day and future environmental transitions is crucial in view of our changing world and the current biodiversity crisis.
  10. Abstract Habitat transitions are key potential explanations for why some lineages have diversified and others have not—from Anolis lizards to Darwin's finches. The ecological ramifications of marine-to-freshwater transitions for fishes suggest evolutionary contingency: some lineages maintain their ancestral niches in novel habitats (niche conservatism), whereas others alter their ecological role. However, few studies have considered phenotypic, ecological, and lineage diversification concurrently to explore this issue. Here, we investigated the macroevolutionary history of the taxonomically and ecologically diverse Neotropical freshwater river rays (subfamily Potamotrygoninae), which invaded and diversified in the Amazon and other South American rivers during the late Oligocene to early Miocene. We generated a time-calibrated, multi-gene phylogeny for Potamotrygoninae and reconstructed evolutionary patterns of diet specialization. We measured functional morphological traits relevant for feeding and used comparative phylogenetic methods to examine how feeding morphology diversified over time. Potamotrygonine trophic and phenotypic diversity are evenly partitioned (non-overlapping) among internal clades for most of their history, until 20–16 mya, when more recent diversification suggests increasing overlap among phenotypes. Specialized piscivores (Heliotrygon and Paratrygon) evolved early in the history of freshwater stingrays, while later trophic specialization (molluscivory, insectivory, and crustacivory) evolved in the genus Potamotrygon. Potamotrygonins demonstrate ecological niche lability in dietsmore »and feeding apparatus; however, diversification has mostly been a gradual process through time. We suggest that competition is unlikely to have limited the potamotrygonine invasion and diversification in South America.« less