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Laist DW, Taylor C, Reynolds JE III (2013) Winter Habitat Preferences for Florida Manatees and Vulnerability to Cold. PLoS ONE 8(3): e58978. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058978
To survive cold winter periods most, if not all, Florida manatees rely on warm-water refuges in the southern two-thirds of the Florida peninsula. Most refuges are either warm-water discharges from power plant and natural springs, or passive thermal basins that temporarily trap relatively warm water for a week or more. Strong fidelity to one or more refuges has created four relatively discrete Florida manatee subpopulations. Using statewide winter counts of manatees from 1999 to 2011, we provide the first attempt to quantify the proportion of animals using the three principal refuge types (power plants, springs, and passive thermal basins) statewide and for each subpopulation. Statewide across all years, 48.5% of all manatees were counted at power plant outfalls, 17.5% at natural springs, and 34.9 % at passive thermal basins or sites with no known warm-water features. Atlantic Coast and Southwest Florida subpopulations comprised 82.2% of all manatees counted (45.6% and 36.6%, respectively) with each subpopulation relying principally on power plants (66.6% and 47.4%, respectively). The upper St. Johns River and Northwest Florida subpopulations comprised 17.8% of all manatees counted with almost all animals relying entirely on springs (99.2% and 88.6% of those subpopulations, respectively). A record high count of 5,076 manatees in January 2010 revealed minimum sizes for the four subpopulations of: 230 manatees in the upper St. Johns River; 2,548 on the Atlantic Coast; 645 in Northwest Florida; and 1,774 in Southwest Florida. Based on a comparison of carcass recovery locations for 713 manatees killed by cold stress between 1999 and 2011 and the distribution of known refuges, it appears that springs offer manatees the best protection against cold stress. Long-term survival of Florida manatees will require improved efforts to enhance and protect manatee access to and use of warm-water springs as power plant outfalls are shut down.

Phylogeography of amphi-boreal fish: tracing the history of the Pacific herring Clupea pallasii in North-East European seas
Laakkonen HM, Lajus DL, Strelkov P, Väinölä R
BMC Evolutionary Biology 2013

The relationships between North Atlantic and North Pacific faunas through times have been controlled by the variation of hydrographic circumstances in the intervening Arctic Ocean and Bering Strait. We address the history of trans-Arctic connections in a clade of amphi-boreal pelagic fishes using genealogical information from mitochondrial DNA sequence data. The Pacific and Atlantic herrings (Clupea pallasii and C. harengus) have basically vicarious distributions in the two oceans since pre-Pleistocene times. However, remote populations of C. pallasii are also present in the border waters of the North-East Atlantic in Europe. These populations show considerable regional and life history differentiation and have been recognized in subspecies classification. The chronology of the inter-oceanic invasions and genetic basis of the phenotypic structuring however remain unclear.
The Atlantic and Pacific herrings both feature high mtDNA diversities (large long-term population sizes) in their native basins, but an ocean-wide homogeneity of C. harengus is contrasted by deep east-west Pacific subdivision within Pacific C. pallasii. The outpost populations of C. pallasii in NE Europe are identified as members of the western Pacific C. pallasii clade, with some retained inter-oceanic haplotype sharing. They have lost diversity in colonization bottlenecks, but have also since accumulated abundant new variation. The data delineate three phylogeographic groups within the European C. pallasii: herring from the inner White Sea; herring from the Mezen and Chesha Bays; and a strongly bottlenecked peripheral population in Balsfjord of the Norwegian Sea.
The NE European outposts of C. pallasii are judged to be early post-glacial colonists from the NW Pacific. A strong regional substructure has evolved since that time, in contrast to the apparent broad-scale uniformity maintained by herrings in their native basins. The structure only partly matches the previous biological concepts based on seasonal breeding stocks or geographical subspecies designations. The trans-Arctic herring phylogeography is notably similar to those of the amphi-boreal mollusk taxa Macoma and Mytilus, suggesting similar histories of inter-oceanic connections. We also considered the time dependency of molecular rates, critical for interpreting timing of relatively recent biogeographical events, by comparing the estimates from coding and non-coding mitochondrial regions of presumably different mutation dynamics.

Sánchez-Murillo, R., Brooks, E.S., Sampson, L., Boll, J. and Wilhelm, F. (2013), Ecohydrological analysis of Steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) habitat in an effluent dependent stream in the Pacific Northwest, USA. Ecohydrol.. doi: 10.1002/eco.1376
A conundrum exists in the US Pacific Northwest (PNW) whereby increasingly stringent federal environmental regulations governing the discharge of nutrients from wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) to low order streams may negatively impact salmonid species listed under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA). We examined baseflow, water chemistry, benthic algal biomass, macroinvertebrate diversity, and steelhead in the West Fork Little Bear Creek (WFLBC), Idaho, USA, above and below the city of Troy WWTP to explain why this creek is the most productive juvenile steelhead stream in the Potlatch River drainage. Discharge from the WWTP maintained 6 km of perennial flow during summer. Dissolved oxygen (DO) levels indicate that nitrification depressed DO below the Idaho state standard of 6 mg/L within the first 200 m downstream of the discharge. Because of rapid re-aeration, DO concentrations recovered by 1.3 km. Despite high nitrate (0.12 – 4.3 mg/L) and total phosphorus (0.11 – 0.60 mg/L) concentrations 2.5 km downstream, benthic algal biomass remained below the US Environmental Protection Agency’s ‘nuisance algae’ level (i.e., 150 mg/m2) throughout the stream. Family biotic index indicated good water quality conditions above and 2.5 km downstream of the discharge, although fairly poor condictions were found 200 m downstream from the effluent. The WFLBC ecosystem appears to have the capacity to accept and actually benefit from high nutrient loads from a WWTP. This work emphasizes the importance of developing a thorough understanding of the site-specific biochemical functioning of an ecosystem before selecting and applying standard management practices.

Damasceno, E. M., Hingst-Zaher, E. and Astúa, D. (2013), Bite force and encephalization in the Canidae (Mammalia: Carnivora). Journal of Zoology. doi: 10.1111/jzo.12030
The ways in which the taxonomic differences in morphology, behavior or life history relate to each other have been used regularly to test ideas about the selective forces involved in their evolution. Canid species vary significantly in diet, hunting techniques, sociality and cranial morphology. The main goal of this study is to test and explore the possible correlation between bite force and brain volume in canids. For that, we calculated the bite force based on the beam theory, and the brain volume based on three cranial measurements. The species with biggest values of bite force quotient (BFQ) were Speothos venaticus (162.25), Cuon alpinus (129.24) and Lycaon pictus (124.41) due to several adaptations acquired along with hypercarnivory. Species with the highest values of brain volume quotient (BVQ) were S. venaticus, Cu. alpinus and L. pictus with, respectively, 141.35, 139.01 and 131.61, possibly due to the same adaptations that resulted in their bigger BFQ. The highest values of bite force belonged to Canis lupus (830.51 Pa), L. pictus (719.03 Pa) and Ca. rufus (530.52 Pa) and the smallest values belong to Urocyon littoralis (98.14 Pa), Vulpes macrotis (92.53 Pa) and V. zerda (72.6 Pa). Ca. lupus, L. pictus and Chrysocyon brachyurus possess the largest brain volumes with respectively 159.29, 146.94 and 120.84 mm3 and the smallest values belong to Nyctereutes procyonoides (28.2 mm3), V. rueppelli (27.86 mm3) and V. zerda (20.65 mm3). The independent contrasts correlation showed that there is no correlation between BVQ and BFQ (r = 0.14/P = 0.46), as well as no correlation between BFQ and BF (r = 0.22/P = 0.26), which indicates the efficiency of the size correction. Bite force and brain volume estimates are much higher in the group hunting hypercarnivores (Lycaon, Cuon and Speothos) and only these showed correlation between BFQ and BVQ. Our results indicate that cranial adaptations for hypercarnivory also influence braincase size.

C.S. Willisch, N. Marreros, P. Neuhaus, Long-distance photogrammetric trait estimation in free-ranging animals: A new approach, Mammalian Biology – Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde, Available online 21 March 2013, ISSN 1616-5047, 10.1016/j.mambio.2013.02.004.
The acquisition of accurate information on the size of traits in animals is fundamental for the study of animal ecology and evolution and their management. We demonstrate how morphological traits of free-ranging animals can reliably be estimated on very large observation distances of several hundred meters by the use of ordinary digital photographic equipment and simple photogrammetric software. In our study, we estimated the length of horn annuli in free-ranging male Alpine ibex (Capra ibex) by taking already measured horn annuli of conspecifics on the same photographs as scaling units. Comparisons with hand-measured horn annuli lengths and repeatability analyses revealed a high accuracy of the photogrammetric estimates. If length estimations of specific horn annuli are based on multiple photographs measurement errors of <5.5 mm can be expected. In the current study the application of the described photogrammetric procedure increased the sample size of animals with known horn annuli length by an additional 104%. The presented photogrammetric procedure is of broad applicability and represents an easy, robust and cost-efficient method for the measuring of individuals in populations where animals are hard to capture or to approach.

Guimarães J.P., Mari R.B., LeBas A., Watanabe I.-s. (2013). Adaptive Morphology of the Heart of Southern-Fur-Seal (Arctocephalus australis – Zimmermamm, 1783). – Acta Zoologica 00: 000–000
The Southern-fur-seal belongs to the order Carnivora, suborder Pinnipedia, and Otariidae family. This species inhabits aquatic and terrestrial environments, thus presenting important morphophysiological adaptive changes, especially in the cardiac system. For this purpose, Southern-fur-seal (Arctocephalus australis) hearts were used from animals that died from natural causes. Gross morphology observations were supported by light, scanning and transmission electron microscopy. The heart was long and flat; it was lined by pericardium and partly covered by lungs. Structurally, atrium and ventricle muscle fibers exhibit typical features of cardiac fibers revealing myofibrils bundles, mitochondria, plate-shaped junctions, anastomosis between myofibrils bundles, and electron-dense granule natriuretic around the nucleus and mitochondria of atrium muscle cells. The Southern-fur-seal heart was structurally similar to other mammals; however, it presented morphological changes that assist in their adaptation to their environment.

Coelacanths from the Middle Triassic Luoping Biota, Yunnan, South China, with the Earliest Evidence of Ovoviviparity
Wen Wen, Qi-Yue Zhang, Shi-Xue Hu, Michael J. Benton, Chang-Yong Zhou, Xie Tao, Jin-Yuan Huang, and Zhong-Qiang Chen
Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 2013 58 (1), 175-193

The fossil record of coelacanths is patchy, with very few taxa known from the Triassic of Asia. We report here two new genera and species of coelacanths from the Luoping Biota, a recently found site of exceptional fossil preservation from Yunnan, South China. The first new taxon, Luopingcoelacanthus eurylacrimalis, is based on four specimens, which together show most aspects of the anatomy. One specimen shows two small coelacanths inside the ventral portion of the abdominal cavity, and these are interpreted as intrauterine embryos, close to birth size, based on comparisons with previously reported embryos of the fossil coelacanths Rhabdoderma and Undina, and the extant genus Latimeria. Our new find extends the evidence for ovoviviparity in coelacanths back from the Late Jurassic to the Middle Triassic. The second new taxon, Yunnancoelacanthus acrotuberculatus, is based on one specimen, and differs from Luopingcoelacanthus in the dentary, lachrymojugal, number of rays of the first dorsal fin, and especially in the ornament on dermal bones and scales. A cladistic analysis shows that the new taxa are closest relatives to the derived clade Latimerioidei. The relatively high diversity of coelacanths in the Early Triassic, and adaptations of living Latimeria to low-oxygen conditions, suggests that the group may have included ‘disaster taxa’ that benefited from anoxic and dysoxic ocean conditions in the aftermath of the end-Permian mass extinction.

Bicknell, A. W. J., Oro, D., Camphuysen, K., Votier, S. C. (2013), Potential consequences of discard reform for seabird communities. Journal of Applied Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12072
1. Upcoming reform of the European Union (EU) Common Fisheries Policy will be the biggest change in European fisheries management for a generation. A central plank of this reform is a proposed ban on discards, to aid the creation of economically and environmentally sustainable fisheries. This, together with a global trend for declining discards, may have unforeseen knock-on consequences for the large number of scavenging seabirds that consume this plentiful subsidy.
2. Discards have shaped many aspects of seabird foraging, distribution and population dynamics. Here, we review these effects and consider the potential for both negative and positive impacts of discard reforms for seabirds, with particular focus on the EU, and propose recommendations for ongoing research and conservation.
3. EU seabird scavengers are dominated by a relatively small number of large generalist taxa. Many of these occur at globally significant numbers within the EU, but may be able to buffer a decline in discards by switching to feed on alternative foods.
4. A discard ban may have negative consequences by creating a food shortage for scavenging birds. Some species may offset this by feeding more on other birds, with potentially negative population-level impacts, or by moving into novel environments.
5. Benefits of a discard ban may be a reduction in seabird bycatch in fishing gears, as well as a reduction in populations of large generalist species that currently dominate some seabird communities.
6. Synthesis and applications. Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and global discard declines are essential components towards creating sustainable fisheries, but may have both detrimental and beneficial effects on seabird communities. The nature of these impacts is still poorly understood, highlighting the need for detailed long-term seabird monitoring, as well as building resilience into populations through policy measures that incorporate remedial action on major seabird conservation priorities. Research should focus on understanding how seabird foraging, in terms of functional responses and searching behaviour, is influenced by both changing discards and natural fish prey availability, and how they impact upon fitness. It is also essential to link individual-level responses with population-, community- and ecosystem-level change. Understanding these links is fundamental to ongoing seabird management and conservation, and an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management.

Amy Frey, Peter H. Dutton, George H. Balazs, Insights on the demography of cryptic nesting by green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in the main Hawaiian Islands from genetic relatedness analysis, Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, Volume 442, April 2013, Pages 80-87, ISSN 0022-0981, 10.1016/j.jembe.2013.01.030.
Within the Hawaiian archipelago, green turtle nesting has occurred almost exclusively in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands, mainly at French Frigate Shoals (FFS), however an increase in occasional nesting has recently been observed on the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI). Due to logistical constraints, monitoring the nesting activity on the MHI has been limited to nest documentation. Without systematic tagging of the nesting females it is not clear how many are nesting here. We used mitochondrial (mt) DNA sequencing combined with nuclear (n) DNA analysis based on 14 microsatellite markers to infer the number of individual nesters. Genotypes were determined for 181 dead embryos and hatchlings salvaged from 71 nests laid on Maui, Molokai, Kauai, Lanai, and Oahu, along with those of 81 nesting females that were sampled on FFS. MtDNA results showed that 58% of the MHI clutches were laid by females with a relatively rare haplotype only reported in 16% of the FFS nesting population. Nuclear DNA results showed that nesting in the MHI might be attributed to a relatively small number of females that appear to be related to each other. We were able to reconstruct genotypes for nesting females from hatchling profiles and we estimate that 15 different females were responsible for clutches laid on the MHI. Taken together, the mtDNA and nDNA results suggest that the nesting population at the MHI may be the result of a few founders that originated from the FFS breeding population, possibly facilitated by captive rearing and release of FFS juveniles locally from Oahu. We suggest that this regional range expansion may buffer against the loss of current nesting sites at FFS due to sea level rise. Our results demonstrate the potential for genetic tools to be incorporated into population assessment, particularly in areas where access to reproductive females is difficult and population size is unknown.

Magige, F. J. (2013), Rodent species diversity in relation to altitudinal gradient in Northern Serengeti, Tanzania. African Journal of Ecology. doi: 10.1111/aje.12075
Rodents are among the successful small mammals in the world. In species richness, rodents outnumber other mammalian orders owing partly to their capability to exploit many different habitats. Their diversities have been influenced by many factors including the altitude. This study assessed rodent diversity across the two altitudinal zones, that is, lowland western zone and highland eastern zone, in the Serengeti ecosystem, Tanzania. Capture-Mark-Recapture studies were undertaken in November 2009 and April 2010 using live traps in the ecosystem to compare variations in species diversity of rodents in the two zones of the ecosystem. Eight (8) rodent species were recorded in each zone area. However, species richness was higher in crop land and woodland areas than in grasslands in each zone. The two zones comprised of different species diversities for which Rényi Diversity profiles indicated the higher diversity in the eastern zone than the western zone although the difference was not significant (P > 0.05). Differences between the eastern and western zones could be attributed to the altitudinal gradient whereby the east was at a higher elevation than the west. Maintenance and management of wildlife corridors will assist migration of rodents between the two zones and enhance continuous gene flow.

Concurrent changes in group size and roost use by reproductive female little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus)
Cory R. Olson, Robert M.R. Barclay
Canadian Journal of Zoology, 2013, 91:149-155, 10.1139/cjz-2012-0267

Group formation is beneficial for many small endotherms, in part to create favourable conditions for developing offspring. However, for individuals occupying spatially limited structures, such as tree cavities, group formation may influence—and be influenced by—the range of structures available for use. This may be especially true of bats, which often form maternity groups that regularly change in size. We examined colonies of tree-roosting little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus (LeConte, 1831)) in northern Alberta to address two questions: (1) is group size associated with patterns of roost use, in particular the use of large-diameter trees, and (2) does group size change during reproduction and correspond to changes in roost use? We located roosts over 2 years using radiotelemetry and conducted exit counts at a subset of these roosts. Larger diameter trees had larger and more variable group sizes. Roost-tree diameter peaked near the start of parturition, the time when bats formed the largest groups. We suggest that large groups are especially beneficial at this time due to the thermoregulatory benefits to small, unfurred pups. Our results indicate that roost use and group size are interrelated and that large-diameter trees may be especially beneficial by supporting a wider range of group sizes.

Zircon U-Pb Geochronology Links the End-Triassic Extinction with the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province
Terrence J. Blackburn, Paul E. Olsen, Samuel A. Bowring, Noah M. McLean, Dennis V. Kent, John Puffer, Greg McHone, E. Troy Rasbury, and Mohammed Et-Touhami
Science 1234204Published online 21 March 2013 [DOI:10.1126/science.1234204]

The end-Triassic extinction is characterized by major losses in both terrestrial and marine diversity, setting the stage for dinosaurs to dominate Earth for the next 136 million years. Despite the approximate coincidence between this extinction and flood basalt volcanism, existing geochronologic dates have insufficient resolution to confirm eruptive rates required to induce major climate perturbations. Here, we present new zircon U-Pb geochronologic constraints on the age and duration of flood basalt volcanism within the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province. This chronology demonstrates synchroneity between the earliest volcanism and extinction, tests and corroborates the existing astrochronologic time scale, and shows that the release of magma and associated atmospheric flux occurred in four pulses over ~600,000 years, indicating expansive volcanism even as the biologic recovery was under way.

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