Study finds greater risk of extinction among high diversity amphibian groups

By the Simon Fraser University Biology Department

SFU’s Issues and Experts and SFU News have featured a recent study by Dan Greenberg and Arne Mooers.

From the reports: “A new study by Simon Fraser University biologists Dan Greenberg and Arne Mooers offers clues to why more than 30 per cent of amphibians, including frogs, newts, toads and salamanders, are at risk of extinction.

The researchers examined evolutionary patterns of modern extinction risk across more than 300 amphibian groups and found that species from groups with high ongoing diversification are at greater risk of extinction than slowly diversifying lineages. The research is published this month in the journal Evolution Letters.”

Click on the links below for more information and a link to the article:

http://www.sfu.ca/university-communications/issues-experts/2017/study-finds-greater-risk-of-extinction-among-high-diversity-amph.html

http://www.sfu.ca/science/news-events/news/2017/study-finds-greater-risk-of-extinction-among-high-diversity-amphibian-groups.html

How and why are humans like social insects?

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The Faculty of Science Research News page has posted a summary of a recent paper by Bernie Crespi, “How and why are humans like social insects?” published in Behavioural and Brain Sciences.

Read the summary on the Research News page (includes link to paper): http://www.sfu.ca/science/research/research-news/2017-02-09-Crespi.html

Article from http://www.sfu.ca/biology/kudos-news/news/2017-crespi-fos.html

Choosey female guppies select for more colourful males with bigger Y chromosomes

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The Faculty of Science Research News page has posted a summary of a recent paper by Felix Breden and colleagues, “Choosey female guppies select for more colourful males with bigger Y chromosomes” published in Nature Communications.

Read the summary on the Research News page (includes link to paper):
http://www.sfu.ca/science/research/research-news/2017-02-27-Breden.html

Article from: http://www.sfu.ca/biology/kudos-news/news/2017-breden-fos.html

Global representation of threatened amphibians ex situ is bolstered by non-traditional institutions, but gaps remain

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Photo: Jonathan Kolby

A study led by graduate students Alannah Biega and Dan Greenberg with post doctoral researcher Tom Martin, from the Arne Mooers lab, is the feature article in this month’s (April 2017) edition of Animal Conservation. They consider how well Zoos are doing at representing frogs and salamanders of conservation concern in their collections. As the “feature” article, the paper graces the cover, and there are three scholarly commentaries and a response discussing the role of zoos in mitigating global amphibian declines.

You can read it all here:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/acv.2017.20.issue-2/issuetoc

Article from: http://www.sfu.ca/biology/kudos-news/news/2017-mooers-AnimalConservation.html

Article in the news: Conflict between the sexes maintains diversity in brain hormones

Article by the University of Jyväskylä highlighting Dr. Mokkonen’s work:

Men are from mars and women are from venus? Whiles this stereotype is extreme and controversial, gender differences in behaviour nonetheless are common in nature. Much variation in animal, including human, behaviour is regulated by expression of hormones and their receptors in brains.

For some animals, differences in the expression of vasopressin receptor 1a (Avpr1a) and oxytocin receptor (Oxtr) generates diversity in social and sexual behaviour; in humans, at the gene for Avpr1a have been associated with . What is not clear, however, is why should the behaviour of individuals differ? And, if one type of behaviour is beneficial then why don’t all individuals express that ?

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Newborn bank vole (Myodes glareolus)

A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) asks the question: what mechanisms might maintain genetic differences in Avpr1a and Oxtr? The authors determined how genetic differences at these two genes associated with affected the reproductive success (how many pups were born) of a small rodent, the bank vole Myodes glareolus.

The main result of the study was that the ‘beneficial’ genetic variants (alleles) at the vasopressin and oxytocin receptor genes depend on gender: in other word, alleles that are beneficial to the of females are detrimental to success of males, and vice versa – this apparent conflict of interest between sexes is termed ‘sexually antagonistic selection’. Interestingly, the pattern of sexual conflict depended upon the social environment (the density of individuals). Changes in density of individuals, in space and time, often occur in nature, and this might be another important mechanism maintaining genetic and behavioural variation.

In the case of vasopressin and oxytocin receptors, there is a constant ‘battle’ to find a genetic optima, with diversity is maintained as no single optimal genetic variant (allele) for both sexes exits, and this is further complicated by environment change! While male and female bank voles do not come from different planets, they illustrate a potential ‘genetic battle’ that can happen as the sexes share the same genome but can nonetheless favour different behaviors.

Many behaviours are regulated by vasopressin and in other mammals and in humans. The new research raises an interesting question: is the evolution of our brains also regulated by a conflict between sexes?

Explore further: The sexual tug-of-war — a genomic view

More information: Eija Lonn et al. Balancing selection maintains polymorphisms at neurogenetic loci in field experiments, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2017). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1621228114

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-03-conflict-sexes-diversity-brain-hormones.html#jCp

Seminar: Donald Maier, Should Biodiversity and Nature Have to Earn Their Keep?

The Mooers Lab will be hosting Dr. Donald Maier, a nature values philosopher who will be giving the Biological Sciences departmental seminar:

“Should Biodiversity and Nature Have to Earn Their Keep? What It Means to Bring Environmental Goods into the Marketplace”
Wed. Nov. 16, 3:30-4:45 pm
South Sciences Building (MBB department),  SSB7172

Donald Maier is the author of “What’s So Good about Biodiversity?” (Springer, 2012), the first book to comprehensively challenge prevailing views about biodiversity and its value.

In the Press: Evolutionary perspectives on Viking raids

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Did Vikings risk raids for wealth, status, and love?  [Image: Public domain]
Crawford Lab members Ben Raffield and Dr. Mark Collard are the authors of a new paper that gives an evolutionary anthropological perspective on the infamous Viking raids of the Late Iron Age.

The press has picked up on the story, and it is has been mentioned on several websites of note:
Telegraph: “Viking Raiders were only trying to win their future wives’ hearts”.
The Daily Mail:  Bloodthirsty pillagers? No, the Vikings who invaded Britain 1,000 years ago were on a mission of love because rich polygamists back home were marrying all the women
LiveScienceThe Real Reason for Viking Raids: Shortage of Eligible Women?
Archaeology.org: Vikings May Have Risked Raids for “Wealth and Status”

The full article “Male-biased operational sex ratios and the Viking phenomenon: an evolutionary anthropological perspective on Late Iron Age Scandinavian raiding”  appears in the journal Evolution & Human Behaviour.