Browsing by Subject "EAST-AFRICA"

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  • Žliobaite, Indrė (2019)
    Fossils are the remains organisms from earlier geological periods preserved in sedimentary rock. The global fossil record documents and characterizes the evidence about organisms that existed at different times and places during the Earth's history. One of the major directions in computational analysis of such data is to reconstruct environmental conditions and track climate changes over millions of years. Distribution of fossil animals in space and time make informative features for such modeling, yet concept drift presents one of the main computational challenges. As species continuously go extinct and new species originate, animal communities today are different from the communities of the past, and the communities at different times in the past are different from each other. The fossil record is continuously increasing as new fossils and localities are being discovered, but it is not possible to observe or measure their environmental contexts directly, because the time is gone. Labeled data linking organisms to climate is available only for the present day, where climatic conditions can be measured. The approach is to train models on the present day and use them to predict climatic conditions over the past. But since species representation is continuously changing, transfer learning approaches are needed to make models applicable and climate estimates to be comparable across geological times. Here we discuss predictive modeling settings for such paleoclimate reconstruction from the fossil record. We compare and experimentally analyze three baseline approaches for predictive paleoclimate reconstruction: (1) averaging over habitats of species, (2) using presence-absence of species as features, and (3) using functional characteristics of species communities as features. Our experiments on the present day African data and a case study on the fossil data from the Turkana Basin over the last 7 million of years suggest that presence-absence approaches are the most accurate over short time horizons, while species community approaches, also known as ecometrics, are the most informative over longer time horizons when, due to ongoing evolution, taxonomic relations between the present day and fossil species become more and more uncertain.
  • Van Steenberge, Maarten; Raeymaekers, Joost Andre Maria; Hablützel, Pascal Istvan; Vanhove, Maarten Pieterjan Maria; Koblmüller, Stephan; Snoeks, Jos (2018)
    BackgroundSpecies delineation is particularly challenging in taxa with substantial intra-specific variation. In systematic studies of fishes, meristics and linear measurements that describe shape are often used to delineate species. Yet, little is known about the taxonomic value of these two types of morphological characteristics. Here, we used Tropheus (Teleostei, Cichlidae) from the southern subbasin of Lake Tanganyika to test which of these types of characters best matched genetic lineages that could represent species in this group of stenotypic rock-dwelling cichlids. We further investigated intra-population variation in morphology. By linking this to a proxy of a population's age, we could assess the evolutionary stability of different kinds of morphological markers.ResultsMorphological data was collected from 570 specimens originating from 86 localities. An AFLP approach revealed the presence of five lineages in the southern subbasin: T. moorii, T. brichardi, T. sp. maculatus', T. sp. Mpimbwe' and T. sp. red', which we consider to represent distinct species. Although both types of morphological data supported this classification, a comparison of P-ST-values that describe inter-population morphological differentiation, revealed a better correspondence between the taxon delineation based on AFLP data and the patterns revealed by an analysis of meristics than between the AFLP-based taxon delineation and the patterns revealed by an analysis of shape. However, classifying southern populations of Tropheus was inherently difficult as they contained a large amount of clinal variation, both in genetic and in morphological data, and both within and among species. A scenario is put forward to explain the current-day distribution of the species and colour varieties and the observed clinal variation across the subbasin's shoreline. Additionally, we observed that variation in shape was larger in populations from shallow shores whereas populations from steep shores were more variable in meristics. This difference is explained in terms of the different timescales at which small and large scale lake level fluctuations affected populations of littoral cichlids at steep and shallow shores.ConclusionsOur results showed meristics to be more evolutionary stable, and of higher taxonomic value for species delimitation in Tropheus, than linear measurements that describe shape. These results should be taken into account when interpreting morphological differences between populations of highly stenotypic species, such as littoral cichlids from the Great East African Lakes.
  • Tugume, Arthur K.; Amayo, Robert; Weinheimer, Isabel; Mukasa, Settumba B.; Rubaihayo, Patrick R.; Valkonen, Jari P. T. (2013)
  • Bibi, Faysal; Pante, Michael; Souron, Antoine; Stewart, Kathlyn; Varela, Sara; Werdelin, Lars; Boisserie, Jean-Renaud; Fortelius, Mikael; Hlusko, Leslea; Njau, Jackson; de la Torre, Ignacio (2018)
    Eight years of excavation work by the Olduvai Geochronology and Archaeology Project (OGAP) has produced a rich vertebrate fauna from several sites within Bed II, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Study of these as well as recently re-organized collections from Mary Leakey's 1972 HWK EE excavations here provides a synthetic view of the faunal community of Olduvai during Middle Bed II at similar to 1.7-1.4 Ma, an interval that captures the local transition from Oldowan to Acheulean technology. We expand the faunal list for this interval, name a new bovid species, clarify the evolution of several mammalian lineages, and record new local first and last appearances. Compositions of the fish and large mammal assemblages support previous indications for the dominance of open and seasonal grassland habitats at the margins of an alkaline lake. Fish diversity is low and dominated by cichlids, which indicates strongly saline conditions. The taphonomy of the fish assemblages supports reconstructions of fluctuating lake levels with mass die-offs in evaporating pools. The mammals are dominated by grazing bovids and equids. Habitats remained consistently dry and open throughout the entire Bed II sequence, with no major turnover or paleoecological changes taking place. Rather, wooded and wet habitats had already given way to drier and more open habitats by the top of Bed I, at 1.85-1.80 Ma. This ecological change is close to the age of the Oldowan-Acheulean transition in Kenya and Ethiopia, but precedes the local transition in Middle Bed II. The Middle Bed II large mammal community is much richer in species and includes a much larger number of large-bodied species (>300 kg) than the modern Serengeti. This reflects the severity of Pleistocene extinctions on African large mammals, with the loss of large species fitting a pattern typical of defaunation or 'downsizing' by human disturbance. However, trophic network (food web) analyses show that the Middle Bed II community was robust, and comparisons with the Serengeti community indicate that the fundamental structure of food webs remained intact despite Pleistocene extinctions. The presence of a generalized meateating hominin in the Middle Bed II community would have increased competition among carnivores and vulnerability among herbivores, but the high generality and interconnectedness of the Middle Bed II food web suggests this community was buffered against extinctions caused by trophic interactions. (C) 2017 Published by Elsevier Ltd.