Browsing by Subject "EVOLUTIONARY ECOLOGY"

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  • Rosa, Elena; Woestmann, Luisa; Biere, Arjen; Saastamoinen, Marjo (2018)
    Host plant chemical composition critically shapes the performance of insect herbivores feeding on them. Some insects have become specialized on plant secondary metabolites, and even use them to their own advantage such as defense against predators. However, infection by plant pathogens can seriously alter the interaction between herbivores and their host plants. We tested whether the effects of the plant secondary metabolites, iridoid glycosides (IGs), on the performance and immune response of an insect herbivore are modulated by a plant pathogen. We used the IG-specialized Glanville fritillary butterfly Melitaea cinxia, its host plant Plantago lanceolata, and the naturally occurring plant pathogen, powdery mildew Podosphaera plantaginis, as model system. Pre-diapause larvae were fed on P. lanceolata host plants selected to contain either high or low IGs, in the presence or absence of powdery mildew. Larval performance was measured by growth rate, survival until diapause, and by investment in immunity. We assessed immunity after a bacterial challenge in terms of phenoloxidase (PO) activity and the expression of seven pre-selected insect immune genes (qPCR). We found that the beneficial effects of constitutive leaf IGs, that improved larval growth, were significantly reduced by mildew infection. Moreover, mildew presence downregulated one component of larval immune response (PO activity), suggesting a physiological cost of investment in immunity under suboptimal conditions. Yet, feeding on mildew-infected leaves caused an upregulation of two immune genes, lysozyme and prophenoloxidase. Our findings indicate that a plant pathogen can significantly modulate the effects of secondary metabolites on the growth of an insect herbivore. Furthermore, we show that a plant pathogen can induce contrasting effects on insect immune function. We suspect that the activation of the immune system toward a plant pathogen infection may be maladaptive, but the actual infectivity on the larvae should be tested.
  • Geritz, S.; Gyllenberg, M.; Toivonen, J. (2018)
    We present a model for the coevolution of seed size and germination time within a season when both affect the ability of the seedlings to compete for space. We show that even in the absence of a morphological or physiological constraint between the two traits, a correlation between seed size and germination time is nevertheless likely to evolve. This raises the more general question to what extent a correlation between any two traits should be considered as an a priori constraint or as an evolved means (or instrument) to actually implement a beneficial combination of traits. We derive sufficient conditions for the existence of a positive or a negative correlation. We develop a toy model for seed and seedling survival and seedling growth and use this to illustrate in practice how to determine correlations between seed size and germination time.
  • Zamorano, Juan Gallego; Hokkanen, Tatu; Lehikoinen, Aleksi (2018)
    Aims Understanding fluctuations in plant reproductive investment can constitute a key challenge in ecology, conservation and management. Masting events of trees (i.e. the intermittent and synchronous production of abundant seeding material) is an extreme example of such fluctuations. Our objective was to establish the degree of spatial and temporal synchrony in common four masting tree species in boreal Finland and account for potential causal drivers of these patterns. Methods We investigated the spatial intraspecific and temporal interspecific fluctuations in annual seed production of four tree species in Finland, silver birch Betula pendula Roth, downy birch Betula pubescens Ehrh., Norway spruce Picea abies (L.) H.Karst. and rowanberry Sorbus aucuparia L. We also tested to see whether variations in seed production were linked to annual weather conditions. Seeding abundance data were derived from tens of stands per species across large spatial scales within Finland during 1979 to 2014 (for rowanberries only 1986 to 2014). Important Findings All species showed spatial synchrony in seed production at scales up to 1000 km. Annual estimates of seed production were strongly correlated between species. Spring and summer temperatures explained most variation in crop sizes of tree species with 0-to 2-year time lags, whereas rainfall had relatively little influence. Warm weather during flowering (May temperature) in the flowering year (Year t) and 2 years before (t-2) were correlated with seed production. However, high May temperatures during the previous year (t-1) adversely affected seed production. Summer temperatures in Year t-1 was positively correlated with seed production, likely because this parameter enhances the development of flower primordials, but the effect was negative with a time lag of 2 years. The negative feedback in temperature coefficients is also likely due to patterns of resource allocation, as abundant flowering and seed production in these species is thought to reduce the subsequent initiation of potential new flower buds. Since the most important weather variables also showed spatial correlation up to 1000 km, weather parameters likely explain much of the spatial and temporal synchrony in seed production of these four studied tree species.
  • Pritchard, Victoria L.; Makinen, Hannu; Vähä, Juha-Pekka; Erkinaro, Jaakko; Orell, Panu; Primmer, Craig R. (2018)
    Elucidating the genetic basis of adaptation to the local environment can improve our understanding of how the diversity of life has evolved. In this study, we used a dense SNP array to identify candidate loci potentially underlying fine-scale local adaptation within a large Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) population. By combining outlier, gene-environment association and haplotype homozygosity analyses, we identified multiple regions of the genome with strong evidence for diversifying selection. Several of these candidate regions had previously been identified in other studies, demonstrating that the same loci could be adaptively important in Atlantic salmon at subdrainage, regional and continental scales. Notably, we identified signals consistent with local selection around genes associated with variation in sexual maturation, energy homeostasis and immune defence. These included the large-effect age-at-maturity gene vgll3, the known obesity gene mc4r, and major histocompatibility complex II. Most strikingly, we confirmed a genomic region on Ssa09 that was extremely differentiated among subpopulations and that is also a candidate for local selection over the global range of Atlantic salmon. This region colocalized with a haplotype strongly associated with spawning ecotype in sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka), with circumstantial evidence that the same gene (six6) may be the selective target in both cases. The phenotypic effect of this region in Atlantic salmon remains cryptic, although allelic variation is related to upstream catchment area and covaries with timing of the return spawning migration. Our results further inform management of Atlantic salmon and open multiple avenues for future research.
  • Dickel, Franziska; Freitak, Dalial; Mappes, Johanna (2016)
    Hundreds of insect species are nowadays reared under laboratory conditions. Rearing of insects always implicates the risk of diseases, among which microbial infections are the most frequent and difficult problems. Although there are effective prophylactic treatments, the side effects of applied antibiotics are not well understood. We examined the effect of prophylactic antibiotic treatment on the overwintering success of wood tiger moth (Parasemia plantaginis) larvae, and the postdiapause effect on their life-history traits. Four weeks before hibernation larvae were treated with a widely used antibiotic (fumagillin). We monitored moths' survival and life-history traits during the following 10 mo, and compared them to those of untreated control larvae. Prophylactic antibiotic treatment had no effect on survival but we show effects on some life-history traits by decreasing the developmental time of treated larvae. However, we also revealed relevant negative effects, as antibiotic treated individuals show a decreased number of laid eggs and also furthermore a suppressed immunocompetence. These results implicate, that a prophylactic medication can also lead to negative effects on life-history traits and reproductive success, which should be seriously taken in consideration when applying a prophylactic treatment to laboratory reared insect populations.
  • Johnson, Sini; Candolin, Ulrika (2017)
    Much evidence exists for sexually selected traits reflecting various components of mate quality, but the factors that limit signal expression and ensure honest signaling are less well known. Predation risk has been proposed to be one factor that could constrain the elaboration of visually conspicuous signals and ensure honesty, but little evidence exists because of limitations of earlier used methods. We investigated using a combination of field observations and experimental work if a conspicuous sexual signal of the threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus, the red nuptial coloration of the male, increases predation risk. We compared the proportion of colorful males in the gut of a predator in the wild, the perch Perca fluviatilis, to that in the population, and found proportionally more red-colored stickleback in the gut. This indicates that the predator selectively preys on colorful males under natural conditions. To differentiate between the effects of color and behavior on susceptibility to predation, we experimentally investigated the attack behavior of the predator towards breeding stickleback males differing in coloration. We found the predator to preferentially attack more colorful males, independent of their behavior. These results indicate that predation risk is a cost of the sexual signal that could limit expression and influence the honesty of the signal as an indicator of mate quality