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Danchin T.,CNRS Biological Evolution and Diversity Laboratory | Wagner R.H.,Austrian Academy of Sciences
Oikos | Year: 2010

Phenotypic variance results from variation in biological information possessed by individuals. Quantitative geneticists often strive to partition out all environmental variance to measure heritability. Behavioral biologists and ecologists however, require methods to integrate genetic and environmental components of inherited phenotypic variance in order to estimate the evolutionary potential of traits, which encompasses any form of information that is inherited. To help develop this integration, we build on the tools of quantitative genetics and offer the concept of 'inclusive heritability' which identifies and unifies the various mechanisms of information transmission across generations. A controversial component of non-genetic information is animal culture, which is the part of phenotypic variance inherited through social learning. Culture has the unique property of being transmitted horizontally and obliquely, as well as vertically. Accounting for cultural variation would allow us to examine a broader range of evolutionary mechanisms. Culture may, for instance, produce behavioral isolating mechanisms leading to speciation. To advance the study of animal culture, we offer a definition of culture that is rooted in quantitative genetics. We also offer four testable criteria to determine whether a trait is culturally inherited. These criteria may constitute a conceptual tool to study animal culture. We briefly discuss methods to partition out cultural variance. Several authors have recently called for 'modernizing the modern synthesis' by including non-genetic factors such as epigenetics and phenotypic plasticity in order to more fully explain phenotypic evolution. Here, we further propose to broaden the concept of inheritance by incorporating the cultural component of behavior. Applying the concept of inclusive heritability may advance the integration of multiple forms of inheritance into the study of evolution. © 2009 The Authors. Source

Rieucau G.,CNRS Biological Evolution and Diversity Laboratory | Giraldeau L.-A.,University of Quebec at Montreal
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2011

Research on social learning has focused traditionally on whether animals possess the cognitive ability to learn novel motor patterns from tutors. More recently, social learning has included the use of others as sources of inadvertent social information. This type of social learning seems more taxonomically widespread and its use can more readily be approached as an economic decision. Social sampling information, however, can be tricky to use and calls for a more lucid appraisal of its costs. In this four-part review, we address these costs. Firstly, we address the possibility that only a fraction of group members are actually providing social information at any one time. Secondly, we review experimental research which shows that animals are circumspect about social information use. Thirdly, we consider the cases where social information can lead to incorrect decisions and finally, we review studies investigating the effect of social information quality. We address the possibility that using social information or not is not a binary decision and present results of a study showing that nutmeg mannikins combine both sources of information, a condition that can lead to the establishment of informational cascades. We discuss the importance of empirically investigating the economics of social information use. © 2011 The Royal Society. Source

Woo K.L.,Metropolitan College of New York | Rieucau G.,CNRS Biological Evolution and Diversity Laboratory
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology | Year: 2011

Traditionally, studies that explored animal communication have been directed towards the observation of natural interactions between individuals. Over the years, researchers have long championed the use of artificial stimuli in place of natural ones in behavioral experiments to precisely control what the observers get to see or experience. The employment of diverse techniques to stage animal interactions has provided an alternative to observations and intrusive experimental methods. Technological advances now allow researchers to develop realistic computer animations of social partners that mimic behaviors with a high degree of fidelity for morphological and behavioral characteristics of tutors. The increasing use of the computer-generated animations technique reveals a desire to deliver standardized visual stimuli and to limit the variable behavior of demonstrators across experimental sessions. In the following review, we provide an appraisal of the computer-generated animations efficiency to stage animal interactions, and consider experimental studies in which this technique has been employed to simulate social interactions. We also present alternative methods that are used for designing animation models. Our aim is to evaluate the merits of computer-generated animations and how this technique may be more appropriate for certain types of staged interactions when compared to other classically employed approaches. We advocate that computer-generated animations appear to be the most flexible technique to date, and offers better control of visual cues that are presented, thus allowing researchers to program a large variety of stimuli. Finally, we suggest improvements of this technique, and especially how it may be used to study signal design in multimodal systems. © 2011 Springer-Verlag. Source

Murienne J.,CNRS Biological Evolution and Diversity Laboratory
Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society | Year: 2014

The current distributions of widespread groups of terrestrial animals and plants are supposedly the result of a mixture of either vicariance owing to continental split or more recent trans-oceanic dispersal. For organisms exhibiting a vicariant biogeographic pattern-achieving their current distribution by riding on the plates of former supercontinents-this view is largely inspired by the belief that Pangaea lacked geographical or ecological barriers, or that extinctions and dispersal would have erased any biogeographic signal since the early Mesozoic. We here present a time-calibrated molecular phylogeny of Onychophora (velvet worms), an ancient and exclusively terrestrial panarthropod group distributed throughout former Pangaean landmasses. Our data not only demonstrate that trans-oceanic dispersal does not need be invoked to explain contemporary distributions, but also reveal that the early diversification of the group pre-dates the break-up of Pangaea, maintaining regionalization even in landmasses that have remained contiguous throughout the history of the group. These results corroborate a growing body of evidence from palaeontology, palaeogeography and palaeoclimatic modelling depicting ancient biogeographic regionalization over the continuous landmass of Pangaea. Source

Jabot F.,CNRS Biological Evolution and Diversity Laboratory | Jabot F.,Laboratoire dIngenierie pour les Systemes Complexes | Chave J.,CNRS Biological Evolution and Diversity Laboratory
American Naturalist | Year: 2011

The neutral theory of biodiversity challenges the classical niche-based view of ecological communities, where species attributes and environmental conditions jointly determine community composition. Functional equivalence among species, as assumed by neutral ecological theory, has been recurrently falsified, yet many patterns of tropical tree communities appear consistent with neutral predictions. This may mean that neutral theory is a good first-approximation theory or that species abundance data sets contain too little information to reject neutrality. Here we present a simple test of neutrality based on species abundance distributions in ecological communities. Based on this test, we show that deviations from neutrality are more frequent than previously thought in tropical forest trees, especially at small spatial scales. We then develop a nonneutral model that generalizes Hubbell's dispersal-limited neutral model in a simple way by including one additional parameter of frequency dependence. We also develop a statistical method to infer the parameters of this model from empirical data by approximate Bayesian computation. In more than half of the permanent tree plots, we show that our new model fits the data better than does the neutral model. Finally, we discuss whether observed deviations from neutrality may be interpreted as the signature of environmental filtering on tropical tree species abundance distributions. © 2011 by The University of Chicago. Source

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