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Witzmann F.,Leibniz Institute For Evolutions Und Biodiversitatsforschung
Acta Zoologica | Year: 2011

The gastral scales of limbed tetrapodomorphs evolved from the 'elpistostegid'-type of scale by an enlargement and differentiation of the articulation facets and a shortening and broadening of the keel. These changes caused a tighter connection between gastral scales within a scale row and a greater overlap between the rows. Dorsal round scales of limbed tetrapodomorphs developed from a gastral scale-type by an alteration of the ontogenetic pathway. The posterolateral direction of scale rows in 'elpistostegids' was retained in the gastral scalation of most limbed tetrapodomorphs, whereas the arrangement of round dorsal scales is modified to a transverse orientation. Both gastral and dorsal scales of limbed tetrapodomorphs consist solely of parallel-fibred bone with circumferential growth marks. The proportionally larger overlap surfaces of gastral scales and their mode of articulation in the ventral midline indicate that the body of limbed tetrapodomorphs might have been more flexible than that of their finned relatives. The alteration of dermal scales was one of the most rapid morphological changes during the fish-to-tetrapod transition. Once established, gastral and dorsal scales were retained as a conservative character in different lineages of basal tetrapods, in both the amphibian and the amniote lineages. © 2010 The Author. Acta Zoologica © 2010 The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Source


Frommolt K.-H.,Leibniz Institute For Evolutions Und Biodiversitatsforschung | Tauchert K.-H.,BfUL Sachsische Vogelschutzwarte Neschwitz
Ecological Informatics | Year: 2014

Bioacoustic monitoring is becoming more and more popular as a non-invasive method to study populations and communities of vocalizing animals. Acoustic pattern recognition techniques allow for automated identification of species and an estimation of species composition within ecosystems. Here we describe an approach where on the basis of long term acoustic recordings not only the occurrence of a species was documented, but where the number of vocalizing animals was also estimated. This approach allows us to follow up changes in population density and to define breeding sites in a changing environment. We present the results of five years of continuous acoustic monitoring of Eurasian bittern (Botaurus stellaris) in a recent wetland restoration area. Using a setup consisting of four four-channel recorders equipped with cardioid microphones we recorded vocal activity during entire nights. Vocalizations of bitterns were detected on the recordings by spectrogram template matching. On basis of time differences of arrival (TDOA) of the acoustic signals at different recording devices booming bitterns could be mapped using hyperbolic localization. During the study period not only changes in the number of calling birds but also changes in their spatial distribution connected with changes in habitat structure could be documented. This semi-automated approach towards monitoring birds described here could be applied to a wide range of monitoring tasks for animals with long distance vocalizations. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. Source


Witzmann F.,Leibniz Institute For Evolutions Und Biodiversitatsforschung | Schoch R.R.,Staatliches Museum fur Naturkunde
Journal of Morphology | Year: 2013

The cranial and hyobranchial muscles of the Triassic temnospondyl Gerrothorax have been reconstructed based on direct evidence (spatial limitations, ossified muscle insertion sites on skull, mandible, and hyobranchium) and on phylogenetic reasoning (with extant basal actinopterygians and caudates as bracketing taxa). The skeletal and soft-anatomical data allow the reconstruction of the feeding strike of this bottom-dwelling, aquatic temnospondyl. The orientation of the muscle scars on the postglenoid area of the mandible indicates that the depressor mandibulae was indeed used for lowering the mandible and not to raise the skull as supposed previously and implies that the skull including the mandible must have been lifted off the ground during prey capture. It can thus be assumed that Gerrothorax raised the head toward the prey with the jaws still closed. Analogous to the bracketing taxa, subsequent mouth opening was caused by action of the strong epaxial muscles (further elevation of the head) and the depressor mandibulae and rectus cervicis (lowering of the mandible). During mouth opening, the action of the rectus cervicis muscle also rotated the hyobranchial apparatus ventrally and caudally, thus expanding the buccal cavity and causing the inflow of water with the prey through the mouth opening. The strongly developed depressor mandibulae and rectus cervicis, and the well ossified, large quadrate-articular joint suggest that this action occurred rapidly and that powerful suction was generated. Also, the jaw adductors were well developed and enabled a rapid mouth closure. In contrast to extant caudate larvae and most extant actinopterygians (teleosts), no cranial kinesis was possible in the Gerrothorax skull, and therefore suction feeding was not as elaborate as in these extant forms. This reconstruction may guide future studies of feeding in extinct aquatic tetrapods with ossified hyobranchial apparatus. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Source


Mietchen D.,Leibniz Institute For Evolutions Und Biodiversitatsforschung
PLoS Biology | Year: 2014

Central to research funding are grant proposals that researchers send in to potential funders for review, in the hope of approval. A survey of policies at major research funders found that there is room for more transparency in the process of grant review, which would strengthen the case for the efficiency of public spending on research. On that basis, debate was invited on which transparency measures should be implemented and how, with some concrete suggestions at hand. The present article adds to this discussion by providing further context from the literature, along with considerations on the effect size of the proposed measures. The article then explores the option of opening to the public key components of the process, makes the case for pilot projects in this area, and sketches out the potential that such measures might have to transform the research landscape in those areas in which they are implemented. © 2014 Daniel Mietchen. Source


Schoch R.R.,Staatliches Museum fur Naturkunde | Witzmann F.,Leibniz Institute For Evolutions Und Biodiversitatsforschung
Acta Zoologica | Year: 2011

The issue of which breathing mechanism was used by the earliest tetrapods is still unsolved. Recent discoveries of stem tetrapods suggest the presence of internal gills and fish-like underwater breathing. The same osteological features were used by Bystrow to infer a salamander-like breathing through external gills in temnospondyl amphibians. This apparent contradiction - here called Bystrow's Paradox - is resolved by reviewing the primary fossil evidence and the anatomy of the two gill types in extant taxa. Rather unexpectedly, we find that internal gills were present in a range of early crown tetrapods (temnospondyls), based on the anatomy of gill lamellae and location of branchial arteries on the ventral side of gill arch elements (ceratobranchials). Although it remains to be clarified which components are homologous in external and internal gills, both gill types are likely to have been present in Palaeozoic tetrapods - internal gills in aquatic adults of some taxa, and external gills in the larvae of these taxa and in larvae of numerous forms with terrestrial adults, which resorbed the external gills after the larval phase. Future developmental studies will hopefully clarify which mechanistic pathways are involved in gill formation and how these might have evolved. © 2010 The Authors. Acta Zoologica © 2010 The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Source

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