Oscillation of an anuran hybrid zone: morphological evidence spanning 50 years.
ABSTRACT: The hybrid zone between the primarily forest-dwelling American toad, Anaxyrus americanus, and the prairie-adapted Canadian toad, A. hemiophrys, in southeastern Manitoba is known to have shifted its position during the past 50 years. Hybrid zones are areas of interbreeding between species and their movement across a landscape should reflect their underlying dynamics and environmental change. However, empirical demonstrations of hybrid zone movements over long periods of time are rare. This hybrid zone is dominated by individuals of intermediate morphology and genetic composition. We sought to determine if it had continued to move and if that movement was associated with shifts in habitat, as predicted.We used variation in the toads' most diagnostic morphological feature, the separation between their interorbital cranial crests, to determine the geographic position of the hybrid zone center at four times between 1960 and 2009 using maximum likelihood methods. The hybrid zone center moved west by 38 km over 19 years and then east again by 10 km over the succeeding 29 years. The position of the hybrid zone did not track either the direction or the magnitude of movement of the forest-prairie habitat transition over the same time period.This is the first reported evidence of oscillation in the position of a hybrid zone. The back and forth movement indicates that neither species maintains a selective advantage over the other in the long term. However, the movement of the hybrid zone was not bounded by the breadth of the habitat transition. Its oscillation suggests that the hybrid zone is better described as being elastically tethered to the habitat transition.
Project description:Parents determine habitat selection for precocial young by leading their young to foraging areas until the chicks attain full independence. There are potential benefits and costs to reproductive success associated with changing habitats while caring for young. This study investigated the relationship between different types of habitats and their quality on chick survival and brood movements of a declining upland shorebird, the mountain plover Charadrius montanus.From 2004 to 2006, a total of 153 mountain plover broods were monitored on the primary breeding habitats in eastern Colorado, USA; two shortgrass prairie habitats that were either occupied or unoccupied by black-tailed prairie dogs Cynomys ludovicianus and agricultural lands. Habitat quality hypotheses were tested using newly developed statistical applications to estimate survival of chicks and brood movement patterns.Chick survival and brood movements were influenced by habitat. Chick survival over the 30-day brood-rearing period was substantially higher on nesting habitat of shortgrass occupied by prairie dogs compared with agricultural land and shortgrass unoccupied by prairie dogs. The rate of brood movement away from shortgrass with prairie dogs was lower than shortgrass without prairie dogs, but higher than agricultural lands for each year of the study.This study suggests that complex processes influence how different habitats affect brood-rearing activity of mountain plovers. Even though broods moved off nesting habitat of shortgrass occupied by prairie dogs, this habitat had the highest survival rate and is highly important to mountain plover reproductive success.Synthesis and applications. In order to develop effective conservation strategies, the provision of adequate breeding habitat should include information on patterns of habitat selection for all stages of the breeding cycle, including the nesting and dependent young periods. From a conservation perspective, understanding the habitat use of young birds is critical when population dynamics show great sensitivity to survival of young. Previous studies on mountain plovers have suggested that nest success is similar among shortgrass prairie habitats and agricultural lands. Thus, conservation measures that increase nest success may be ineffective for mountain plovers unless they are accompanied by measures promoting chick survival.
Project description:The relative contributions of climate versus interspecific interactions in shaping species distributions have important implications for closely related species at contact zones. When hybridization occurs within a contact zone, these factors regulate hybrid zone location and movement. While a hybrid zone's position may depend on both climate and interactions between the hybridizing species, little is known about how these factors interact to affect hybrid zone dynamics. Here, we utilize SDM (species distribution modeling) both to characterize the factors affecting the current location of a moving North American avian hybrid zone and to predict potential direct and indirect effects of climate change on future distributions. We focus on two passerine species that hybridize where their ranges meet, the Black-capped (Poecile atricapillus) and Carolina (P. carolinensis) chickadee. Our contemporary climate models predict the occurrence of climatically suitable habitat extending beyond the hybrid zone for P. atricapillus only, suggesting that interspecific interactions primarily regulate this range boundary in P. atricapillus, while climatic factors regulate P. carolinensis. Year 2050 climate models predict a drastic northward shift in suitable habitat for P. carolinensis. Because of the greater importance of interspecific interactions for regulating the southern range limit of P. atricapillus, these climate-mediated shifts in the distribution of P. carolinensis may indirectly lead to a range retraction in P. atricapillus. Together, our results highlight the ways climate change can both directly and indirectly affect species distributions and hybrid zone location. In addition, our study lends support to the longstanding hypothesis that abiotic factors regulate species' poleward range limits, while biotic factors shape equatorial range limits.
Project description:Classical theory states that hybrid zones will be stable in troughs of low population density where dispersal is hampered. Yet, evidence for moving hybrid zones is mounting. One possible reason that moving zones have been underappreciated is that they may drive themselves into oblivion and with just the superseding species remaining, morphological and genetic signals of past species replacement may be difficult to appreciate. Using genetic data (32 diagnostic single nucleotide polymorphisms) from a clinal hybrid zone of the common toad (Bufo bufo) and the spined toad (Bufo spinosus) in France for comparison, alleles of the latter species were documented in common toads in the south of Great Britain, at frequencies in excess of 10%. Because long distance dispersal across the Channel is unlikely, the conclusion reached was that the continental toad hybrid zone which previously extended into Britain, moved southwards and extirpated B. spinosus. Species distribution models for the mid-Holocene and the present support that climate has locally changed in favour of B. bufo. The system bears resemblance with the demise of Homo neanderthalensis and the rise of Homo sapiens and provides an example that some paleoanthropologists demanded in support of a hominin "leaky replacement" scenario. The toad example is informative just because surviving pure B. spinosus and an extant slowly moving interspecific hybrid zone are available for comparison.
Project description:Speciation typically involves a stage in which species can still exchange genetic material. Interspecific gene flow is facilitated by the hybrid zones that such species establish upon secondary contact. If one member of a hybridizing species pair displaces the other, their hybrid zone would move across the landscape. Although theory predicts that moving hybrid zones quickly stagnate, hybrid zones tracked over one or a few decades do not always follow such a limitation. This suggests that hybrid zones have the potential to traverse considerable distances over extended periods of time. When hybrid zones move, introgression is predicted to result in biased gene flow of selectively neutral alleles, from the receding species into the advancing species. We test for such a genomic footprint of hybrid zone movement in a pair of crested newt species (genus Triturus) for which we have a priori support for westward hybrid zone movement. We perform a multilocus phylogeographical survey and conduct Bayesian clustering analysis, estimation of ancestry and heterozygosity, and geographical cline analysis. In a 600 km wide area east of the present day hybrid zone a genomic footprint constitutes empirical evidence consistent with westward hybrid zone movement. The crested newt case suggests that hybrid zone movement can occur over an extensive span of time and space. Inferring hybrid zone movement provides fundamental insight into historical biogeography and the speciation process, and we anticipate that hybrid zones will prove to be far more mobile than currently appreciated.
Project description:When related species meet upon postglacial range expansion, hybrid zones are frequently formed. Theory predicts that such zones may move over the landscape until equilibrium conditions are reached. One hybrid zone observed to be moving in historical times (1950-1979) is that of the pond-breeding salamanders Triturus cristatus and Triturus marmoratus in western France. We identified the ecological correlates of the species hybrid zone as elevation, forestation, and hedgerows favoring the more terrestrial T. marmoratus and pond density favoring the more aquatic T. cristatus. The past movement of the zone of ca. 30 km over three decades has probably been driven by the drastic postwar reduction of the "bocage" hedgerow landscape, favoring T. cristatus over T. marmoratus. No further hybrid zone movement was observed from 1979 to the present. To explain the changing dynamics of the hybrid zone, we propose that it stalled, either because an equilibrium was found at an altitude of ca. 140 m a.s.l. or due to pond loss and decreased population densities. While we cannot rule out the former explanation, we found support for the latter. Under agricultural intensification, ponds in the study area are lost at an unprecedented rate of 5.5% per year, so that remaining Triturus populations are increasingly isolated, hampering dispersal and further hybrid zone movement.
Project description:The growing interest in the lability of sex determination in non-model vertebrates such as amphibians and fishes has revealed high rates of sex chromosome turnovers among closely related species of the same clade. Can such lineages hybridize and admix with different sex-determining systems, or could the changes have precipitated their speciation? We addressed these questions in incipient species of toads (Bufonidae), where we identified a heterogametic transition and characterized their hybrid zone with genome-wide markers (RADseq). Adult and sibship data confirmed that the common toad B. bufo is female heterogametic (ZW), while its sister species the spined toad B. spinosus is male heterogametic (XY). Analysis of a fine scale transect across their parapatric ranges in southeastern France unveiled a narrow tension zone (?10 km), with asymmetric mitochondrial and nuclear admixture over hundreds of kilometers southward and northward, respectively. The geographic extent of introgression is consistent with an expansion of B. spinosus across B. bufo's former ranges in Mediterranean France, as also suggested by species distribution models. However, widespread cyto-nuclear discordances (B. spinosus backrosses carrying B. bufo mtDNA) run against predictions from the dominance effects of Haldane's rule, perhaps because Y and W heterogametologs are not degenerated. Common and spined toads can thus successfully cross-breed despite fundamental differences in their sex determination mechanisms, but remain partially separated by reproductive barriers. Whether and how the interactions of their XY and ZW genes contribute to these barriers shall provide novel insights on the debated role of labile sex chromosomes in speciation.
Project description:The spread of invasive species is considered a major threat to biodiversity, second only to habitat loss. Red Imported Fire Ants (Solenopsis invicta) are a globally invasive species with negative impacts reported on native invertebrate and vertebrate species. Federally endangered Houston Toads (Bufo [=Anaxyrus] houstonensis), endemic to Texas, are among the vertebrates reportedly negatively impacted by Red Imported Fire Ants (RIFA). Threats posed by RIFA to Houston Toads needed to be explicitly characterized. Large-scale chemical treatments to suppress RIFA and facilitate brood survival in Attwater's prairie-chickens (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri) at the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge (APCNWR) afforded us an opportunity to experimentally examine the influence of RIFA abundance on juvenile Houston Toad growth and survival. We also sought to examine whether juvenile Houston Toads could grow and survive in a vegetation type similar to a historic species locality. We conducted a terrestrial mesocosm experiment to test whether the application of bait-driven suppressant decreased counts of RIFA relative to untreated sites. We examined whether counts of native ant and non-ant native invertebrates were higher in response to potential decreases in RIFA. We compared growth and survival rates in juvenile Houston Toads among treated and untreated sites, expecting juvenile growth and survival to be higher in response to potentially decreased RIFA counts and increased native invertebrate counts. We saw lower counts of RIFA in treated prairies, but we also observed a decrease in native ant counts possibly due to chemical treatment. Therefore, the application of bait-driven suppressant may not affect RIFA alone. We saw no difference in counts of non-ant invertebrates among treated and untreated sites. Juvenile Houston Toads did not differ in growth and survival among treated and untreated sites. We recognize that the lack of a relationship between juvenile growth and survival with a treatment effect, and therefore RIFA abundance, may be limited to APCNWR. We encourage additional experimental studies to elucidate RIFA impacts at other sites. We extrapolated apparent survival estimates from our study to one year. These appear comparable to juvenile survivorship required in simulations for Houston Toad population persistence and on this basis, we recommend that APCNWR be re-evaluated as a reintroduction site for Houston Toads. We also recommend further studies to potentially broaden the regulatory definition of Houston Toad habitat beyond the current restrictive view of canopied forest alone. Such studies would need to examine the utility of native grasslands as dispersal corridors/upland habitat for juvenile Houston Toads. Our findings emphasize the utility of experimental studies in directly examining the influence of perceived threats to imperiled species and the role of such clarifications in adapting recovery efforts.
Project description:Climate-mediated changes in hybridization will dramatically alter the genetic diversity, adaptive capacity, and evolutionary trajectory of interbreeding species. Our ability to predict the consequences of such changes will be key to future conservation and management decisions. Here we tested through simulations how recent warming (over the course of a 32-y period) is affecting the geographic extent of a climate-mediated developmental threshold implicated in maintaining a butterfly hybrid zone (Papilio glaucus and Papilio canadensis; Lepidoptera: Papilionidae). These simulations predict a 68-km shift of this hybrid zone. To empirically test this prediction, we assessed genetic and phenotypic changes using contemporary and museum collections and document a 40-km northward shift of this hybrid zone. Interactions between the two species appear relatively unchanged during hybrid zone movement. We found no change in the frequency of hybridization, and regions of the genome that experience little to no introgression moved largely in concert with the shifting hybrid zone. Model predictions based on climate scenarios predict this hybrid zone will continue to move northward, but with substantial spatial heterogeneity in the velocity (55-144 km/1 °C), shape, and contiguity of movement. Our findings suggest that the presence of nonclimatic barriers (e.g., genetic incompatibilities) and/or nonlinear responses to climatic gradients may preserve species boundaries as the species shift. Further, we show that variation in the geography of hybrid zone movement could result in evolutionary responses that differ for geographically distinct populations spanning hybrid zones, and thus have implications for the conservation and management of genetic diversity.
Project description:Hybrid zones provide insight into the nature of species boundaries and the evolution of barriers to gene exchange. Characterizing multiple regions within hybrid zones is essential for understanding both their history and current dynamics. Here, we describe a previously uncharacterized region of a well-studied hybrid zone between two species of field crickets, Gryllus pennsylvanicus and G. firmus. We use a combination of mitochondrial DNA sequencing, morphological data, and modeling of environmental variables to identify the ecological factors structuring the hybrid zone and define patterns of hybridization and introgression. We find an association between species distribution and natural habitat; Gryllus pennsylvanicus occupies natural habitat along forest edges and natural clearings, whereas G. firmus occupies more disturbed areas in agricultural and suburban environments. Hybridization and introgression occur across patch boundaries; there is evidence of substantial admixture both in morphological characters and mtDNA, over a broad geographic area. Nonetheless, the distribution of morphological types is bimodal. Given that F1 hybrids are viable and fertile in the lab, this suggests that strong pre-zygotic barriers are operating in this portion of the hybrid zone.
Project description:We identified the pelagic habitat hotspots of the neon flying squid (Ommastrephes bartramii) in the central North Pacific from May to July and characterized the spatial patterns of squid aggregations in relation to oceanographic features such as mesoscale oceanic eddies and the Transition Zone Chlorophyll-a Front (TZCF). The data used for the habitat model construction and analyses were squid fishery information, remotely-sensed and numerical model-derived environmental data from May to July 1999-2010. Squid habitat hotspots were deduced from the monthly Maximum Entropy (MaxEnt) models and were identified as regions of persistent high suitable habitat across the 12-year period. The distribution of predicted squid habitat hotspots in central North Pacific revealed interesting spatial and temporal patterns likely linked with the presence and dynamics of oceanographic features in squid's putative foraging grounds from late spring to summer. From May to June, the inferred patches of squid habitat hotspots developed within the Kuroshio-Oyashio transition zone (KOTZ; 37-40°N) and further expanded north towards the subarctic frontal zone (SAFZ; 40-44°N) in July. The squid habitat hotspots within the KOTZ and areas west of the dateline (160°W-180°) were likely influenced and associated with the highly dynamic and transient oceanic eddies and could possibly account for lower squid suitable habitat persistence obtained from these regions. However, predicted squid habitat hotspots located in regions east of the dateline (180°-160°W) from June to July, showed predominantly higher squid habitat persistence presumably due to their proximity to the mean position of the seasonally-shifting TZCF and consequent utilization of the highly productive waters of the SAFZ.