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Siddall M.E.,Sackler Institute of Comparative Genomics | Min G.-S.,Inha University | Fontanella F.M.,Brigham Young University | Phillips A.J.,Sackler Institute of Comparative Genomics | And 2 more authors.
Parasitology | Year: 2011

The evolutionary history of leeches is employed as a general framework for understanding more than merely the systematics of this charismatic group of annelid worms, and serves as a basis for understanding blood-feeding related correlates ranging from the specifics of gut-associated bacterial symbionts to salivary anticoagulant peptides. A variety of medicinal leech families were examined for intraluminal crop bacterial symbionts. Species of Aeromonas and Bacteroidetes were characterized with DNA gyrase B and 16S rDNA. Bacteroidetes isolates were found to be much more phylogenetically diverse and suggested stronger evidence of phylogenetic correlation than the gammaproteobacteria. Patterns that look like co-speciation with limited taxon sampling do not in the full context of phylogeny. Bioactive compounds that are expressed as gene products, like those in leech salivary glands, have passed the test of evolutionary selection. We produced and bioinformatically mined salivary gland EST libraries across medicinal leech lineages to experimentally and statistically evaluate whether evolutionary selection on peptides can identify structure-function activities of known therapeutically relevant bioactive compounds like antithrombin, hirudin and antistasin. The combined information content of a well corroborated leech phylogeny and broad taxonomic coverage of expressed proteins leads to a rich understanding of evolution and function in leech history. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011. Source

Wolfe J.M.,Yale University | Wolfe J.M.,Sackler Institute of Comparative Genomics | Hegna T.A.,Yale University | Hegna T.A.,Western Illinois University
Cladistics | Year: 2014

The study of ontogeny as an integral part of understanding the pattern of evolution dates back over 200 years, but only recently have ontogenetic data been explicitly incorporated into phylogenetic analyses. Pancrustaceans undergo radical ontogenetic changes. The spectacular upper Cambrian "Orsten" fauna preserves phosphatized fossil larvae, including putative crown-group pancrustaceans with amazingly complete developmental sequences. The putative presence and nature of adult stages remains a source of debate, causing spurious placements in a traditional morphological analysis. We introduce a new coding method where each semaphoront (discrete larval or adult stage) is considered an operational taxonomic unit. This avoids a priori assumptions of heterochrony. Characters and their states are defined to identify changes in morphology throughout ontogeny. Phylogenetic analyses of semaphoronts produced possible relationships of each Orsten fossil to the crown-group clade expected from morphology shared with extant larvae. Bredocaris is a member of the stem lineage of Thecostraca or (Thecostraca + Copepoda), and Yicaris and Rehbachiella are probably members of the stem lineage of Cephalocarida. These placements rely directly on comparisons between extant and fossil larval character states. The position of Phosphatocopina remains unresolved. This method may have broader applications to other phylogenetic problems which may rely on ontogenetically variable homology statements. © The Willi Hennig Society 2013. Source

Vynne C.,University of Washington | Vynne C.,World Wildlife Fund | Skalski J.R.,University of Washington | Machado R.B.,Conservation International Brazil | And 8 more authors.
Conservation Biology | Year: 2011

Most protected areas are too small to sustain populations of wide-ranging mammals; thus, identification and conservation of high-quality habitat for those animals outside parks is often a high priority, particularly for regions where extensive land conversion is occurring. This is the case in the vicinity of Emas National Park, a small protected area in the Brazilian Cerrado. Over the last 40 years the native vegetation surrounding the park has been converted to agriculture, but the region still supports virtually all of the animals native to the area. We determined the effectiveness of scat-detection dogs in detecting presence of five species of mammals threatened with extinction by habitat loss: maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), puma (Puma concolor), jaguar (Panthera onca), giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), and giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus). The probability of scat detection varied among the five species and among survey quadrats of different size, but was consistent across team, season, and year. The probability of occurrence, determined from the presence of scat, in a randomly selected site within the study area ranged from 0.14 for jaguars, which occur primarily in the forested areas of the park, to 0.91 for maned wolves, the most widely distributed species in our study area. Most occurrences of giant armadillos in the park were in open grasslands, but in the agricultural matrix they tended to occur in riparian woodlands. At least one target species occurred in every survey quadrat, and giant armadillos, jaguars, and maned wolves were more likely to be present in quadrats located inside than outside the park. The effort required for detection of scats was highest for the two felids. We were able to detect the presence for each of five wide-ranging species inside and outside the park and to assign occurrence probabilities to specific survey sites. Thus, scat dogs provide an effective survey tool for rare species even when accurate detection likelihoods are required. We believe the way we used scat-detection dogs to determine the presence of species can be applied to the detection of other mammalian species in other ecosystems. © 2010 Society for Conservation Biology. Source

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