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Singh D.,University of Texas at Austin | Dixson B.J.,Victoria University of Wellington | Jessop T.S.,Zoos Victoria | Morgan B.,Conservation and Research for Endangered Species | And 2 more authors.
Evolution and Human Behavior | Year: 2010

In women of reproductive age, a gynoid body fat distribution as measured by the size of waist-hip ratio (WHR) is a reliable indicator of their sex hormone profile, greater success in pregnancy and less risk for major diseases. According to evolutionary mate selection theory, such indicators of health and fertility should be judged as attractive. Previous research has confirmed this prediction. In this current research, we use the same stimulus for diverse racial groups (Bakossiland, Cameroon, Africa; Komodo Island, Indonesia; Samoa; and New Zealand) to examine the universality of relationships between WHR and attractiveness. As WHR is positively correlated with body mass index (BMI), we controlled BMI by using photographs of women who have gone through micrograft surgery for cosmetic reasons. Results show that in each culture participants selected women with low WHR as attractive, regardless of increases or decreases in BMI. This cross-cultural consensus suggests that the link between WHR and female attractiveness is due to adaptation shaped by the selection process. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.


Gomes N.M.V.,University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center | Gomes N.M.V.,University of Lisbon | Ryder O.A.,Conservation and Research for Endangered Species | Houck M.L.,Conservation and Research for Endangered Species | And 11 more authors.
Aging Cell | Year: 2011

Progressive telomere shortening from cell division (replicative aging) provides a barrier for human tumor progression. This program is not conserved in laboratory mice, which have longer telomeres and constitutive telomerase. Wild species that do/do not use replicative aging have been reported, but the evolution of different phenotypes and a conceptual framework for understanding their uses of telomeres is lacking. We examined telomeres/telomerase in cultured cells from >60 mammalian species to place different uses of telomeres in a broad mammalian context. Phylogeny-based statistical analysis reconstructed ancestral states. Our analysis suggested that the ancestral mammalian phenotype included short telomeres (<20kb, as we now see in humans) and repressed telomerase. We argue that the repressed telomerase was a response to a higher mutation load brought on by the evolution of homeothermy. With telomerase repressed, we then see the evolution of replicative aging. Telomere length inversely correlated with lifespan, while telomerase expression co-evolved with body size. Multiple independent times smaller, shorter-lived species changed to having longer telomeres and expressing telomerase. Trade-offs involving reducing the energetic/cellular costs of specific oxidative protection mechanisms (needed to protect <20kb telomeres in the absence of telomerase) could explain this abandonment of replicative aging. These observations provide a conceptual framework for understanding different uses of telomeres in mammals, support a role for human-like telomeres in allowing longer lifespans to evolve, demonstrate the need to include telomere length in the analysis of comparative studies of oxidative protection in the biology of aging, and identify which mammals can be used as appropriate model organisms for the study of the role of telomeres in human cancer and aging. © 2011 The Authors. Aging Cell © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland.


Linklater W.L.,Victoria University of Wellington | Linklater W.L.,Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University | Linklater W.L.,Conservation and Research for Endangered Species | MacDonald E.A.,Conservation and Research for Endangered Species | And 3 more authors.
Animal Conservation | Year: 2010

Concentrations of adrenal steroid metabolites in feces are routinely used to assess the welfare of animals that are the subject of conservation efforts. The assumption that low and declining corticoid concentrations indicate the absence of stress and acclimation, respectively, is often made without experimental support or wild-animal comparisons, although intrinsic control of adrenal steroids might occur even under ongoing stress and distress. We adopted the capture and 11-week captivity of 18 black (Diceros bicornis: 11 males, seven females) and 52 white (Ceratotherium simum: 22 males, 30 females) rhinoceros as an experimental test of the relationship between corticoid concentrations and stress (translocation) and measured for suppressed gonad function as an indicator of distress - the biological cost of cumulative stressors. Fecal samples collected from the rectum at capture and during captivity were stored frozen and their corticoid, and androgen (in males) or progestin (in females), concentrations determined by radioimmunoassay. Corticoid profiles followed the expected pattern of being two to five times pre-capture levels (ng g-1: black rhino: female 24.5±3.7, male 23.9±2.2; white rhino: female 16.3±1.6, male 12.3±2.4) for up to 17 days after capture and declined with time in captivity. Black rhinoceros and male white rhinoceros corticoids declined below pre-capture values and were associated with suppressed levels of androgens and progestins with increased time in captivity. Declining corticoids could not be interpreted as acclimation or the absence of stressors, without also measuring for distress in African rhinoceros. White rhinoceros female corticoid values remained elevated, although their gonad steroid levels were also suppressed. We discuss our findings for the management of rhinoceros in the wild and captivity. © 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2009 The Zoological Society of London.


Hamlin H.J.,University of Florida | Hamlin H.J.,Mote Marine Laboratory | Milnes M.R.,Conservation and Research for Endangered Species | Beaulaton C.M.,Mote Marine Laboratory | And 2 more authors.
Journal of the World Aquaculture Society | Year: 2011

Stages of gonadal development, in association with plasma concentrations of the sex steroids 17β-estradiol (E2), progesterone (P4), testosterone (T), and 11-ketotestosterone (11-KT), were investigated for a single time point during a natural breeding season in 7-yr-old Siberian sturgeon, Acipenser baeri Brandt, exposed lifelong to a warmwater environment. Among females, examination of gonadal tissue showed variation in ovarian stage, with 12.5, 47.5, 22.5, and 17.5% of females found at Stages 2 (previtellogenic), 3 (early vitellogenic), 4 (mid-vitellogenic), and 5 (migratory nucleus), respectively. Although patterns varied among the hormones, plasma concentrations of E2, T, and 11-KT became increasingly elevated in females as maturation progressed. On the basis of histological criteria, males were classified as either premeiotic (quiescent) or meiotic and 50% of the males sampled were found at each stage. Significant elevations in circulating concentrations of plasma E2 and T were observed in meiotic versus premeiotic males, and there was a rise in plasma 11-KT concentration that approached significance (P = 0.056). © by the World Aquaculture Society 2011.


Gower D.J.,Natural History Museum in London | Kouete M.T.,Conservation Biology Foundation | Doherty-Bone T.M.,Natural History Museum in London | Ndeme E.S.,Conservation and Research for Endangered Species | Wilkinson M.,Natural History Museum in London
Journal of Natural History | Year: 2015

The indotyphlid caecilian amphibian Idiocranium russeli Parker, 1936 is the only nominal species in its genus. Apart from two additional, largely overlooked locality records that we consider to be of an undescribed species, I. russeli is known with certainty from only a single collection of c.50 specimens from a single locality in 1933. We report new material from fieldwork in 2012 carried out in the vicinity of the type locality. Digging surveys at 34 sites for a total of >2000 person minutes found 50 I. russeli at 15 of these sites, extending the known range of the species by more than 40 km south and from an elevation of c.670 m to 104–820 m. The species probably occurs in nearby Nigeria and in some protected areas, is tolerant of some human disturbance, and is likely to move from Data Deficient to Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. Males have relatively longer and wider heads than females. Total length measured for preserved specimens is less than for freshly anaesthetized specimens, by up to 14.1%. Previously, preserved I. russeli were reported as having a maximum length of 114 mm, but the new sample includes specimens with total lengths of 145 mm in preservation and 167 mm when fresh. The sex of the smallest independent specimens (total length 62 mm in preservation) could be determined from examination of the gonads, hatchlings are c.30 mm, and I. russeli is confirmed as one of the smallest known caecilian species. © 2014, © 2014 Taylor & Francis.


Harlow H.J.,University of Wyoming | Purwandana D.,Komodo Survival Program | Jessop T.S.,University of Melbourne | Phillips J.A.,Conservation and Research for Endangered Species
Journal of Thermal Biology | Year: 2010

Komodo dragons from hatchlings (≈0.1 kg) to adults (≤80 kg) express the full magnitude of varanid species size distributions. We found that all size groups of dragons regulated a similar preferred body temperature by exploiting a heterogeneous thermal environment within savanna, forest and mangrove habitats. All dragons studied, regardless of size, were able to regulate a daytime active body temperature within the range 34-35.6 °C for 5.1-5.6 h/day. The index of effectiveness of thermoregulation (a numerical rating of thermoregulatory activity) was not different among size groups of dragons. However, the index of closeness of thermoregulation, which rates the variability of body temperature, suggests a greater precision for regulating a preferred body temperature for medium compared to small and large dragons. Reference copper cylinders simulating small, medium and large Komodo dragons heated and cooled at the same rate, whereas actual dragons of all size groups heated faster than they cooled. Larger dragons heated and cooled more slowly than smaller ones. The mean operative environmental temperatures of copper cylinders representing medium sized dragons were 42.5, 32.0 and 29.4° C for savannah, forest and mangrove habitats, respectively. The index for average thermal quality of a habitat as measured by the absolute difference between operative environmental temperature and the dragon's thermal range suggests the forest habitat offers the highest thermal quality to dragons and the savannah the lowest. The percent of total daytime that the operative environmental temperature was within the central 50% of the body temperatures selected by dragons in a thermal gradient (Phillips, 1984) was 45%, 15%, and 9% for forest, mangrove and savannah, respectively. Forest habitat offers the most suitable thermal environment and provides the greatest number of hours with conditions falling within the dragon's thermal activity zone. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

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