Use of bioacoustics in species identification: Piranhas from genus Pygocentrus (Teleostei: Serrasalmidae) as a case study.
ABSTRACT: The genus Pygocentrus contains three valid piranha species (P. cariba, P. nattereri and P. piraya) that are allopatric in tropical and subtropical freshwater environments of South America. This study uses acoustic features to differentiate the three species. Sounds were recorded in P. cariba, two populations of P. nattereri (red- and yellow-bellied) and P. piraya; providing sound description for the first time in P. cariba and P. piraya. Calls of P. cariba were distinct from all the other studied populations. Red- and yellow-bellied P. nattereri calls were different from each other but yellow-bellied P. nattereri calls were similar to those of P. piraya. These observations can be explained by considering that the studied specimens of yellow-bellied P. nattereri have been wrongly identified and are actually a sub-population of P. piraya. Morphological examinations and recent fish field recordings in the Araguari River strongly support our hypothesis. This study shows for the first time that sounds can be used to discover identification errors in the teleost taxa.
Project description:Red-bellied piranhas (Pygocentrus nattereri) are widely caught with different intensities throughout the region of Solimões-Amazonas River by local fishermen. Thus, the management of this resource is performed in the absence of any information on its genetic stock. P. nattereri is a voracious predator and widely distributed in the Neotropical region, and it is found in other regions of American continent. However, information about genetic variability and structure of wild populations of red-bellied piranha is unavailable. Here, we describe the levels of genetic diversity and genetic structure of red-bellied piranha populations collected at different locations of Solimões-Amazonas River system. We collected 234 red-bellied piranhas and analyzed throughout eight microsatellite markers. We identified high genetic diversity within populations, although the populations of lakes ANA, ARA, and MAR have shown some decrease in their genetic variability, indicating overfishing at these communities. Was identified the existence of two biological populations when the analysis was taken altogether at the lakes of Solimões-Amazonas River system, with significant genetic differentiation between them. The red-bellied piranha populations presented limited gene flow between two groups of populations, which were explained by geographical distance between these lakes. However, high level of gene flow was observed between the lakes within of the biological populations. We have identified high divergence between the Catalão subpopulation and all other subpopulations. We suggest the creation of sustainable reserve for lakes near the city of Manaus to better manage and protect this species, whose populations suffer from both extractive and sport fishing.
Project description:Fish sounds are known to be species-specific, possessing unique temporal and spectral features. We have recorded and compared sounds in eight piranha species to evaluate the potential role of acoustic communication as a driving force in clade diversification. All piranha species showed the same kind of sound-producing mechanism: sonic muscles originate on vertebrae and attach to a tendon surrounding the bladder ventrally. Contractions of the sound-producing muscles force swimbladder vibration and dictate the fundamental frequency. It results the calling features of the eight piranha species logically share many common characteristics. In all the species, the calls are harmonic sounds composed of multiple continuous cycles. However, the sounds of Serrasalmus elongatus (higher number of cycles and high fundamental frequency) and S. manueli (long cycle periods and low fundamental frequency) are clearly distinguishable from the other species. The sonic mechanism being largely conserved throughout piranha evolution, acoustic communication can hardly be considered as the main driving force in the diversification process. However, sounds of some species are clearly distinguishable despite the short space for variations supporting the need for specific communication. Behavioural studies are needed to clearly understand the eventual role of the calls during spawning events.
Project description:The piranha enjoys notoriety due to its infamous predatory behavior but much is still not understood about its evolutionary origins and the underlying molecular mechanisms for its unusual feeding biology. We sequenced and assembled the red-bellied piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri) genome to aid future phenotypic and genetic investigations. The assembled draft genome is similar to other related fishes in repeat composition and gene count. Our evaluation of genes under positive selection suggests candidates for adaptations of piranhas' feeding behavior in neural functions, behavior, and regulation of energy metabolism. In the fasted brain, we find genes differentially expressed that are involved in lipid metabolism and appetite regulation as well as genes that may control the aggression/boldness behavior of hungry piranhas. Our first analysis of the piranha genome offers new insight and resources for the study of piranha biology and for feeding motivation and starvation in other organisms.
Project description:Here, we document in-vivo bite forces recorded from wild piranhas. Integrating this empirical data with allometry, bite simulations, and FEA, we have reconstructed the bite capabilities and potential feeding ecology of the extinct giant Miocene piranha, Megapiranha paranensis. An anterior bite force of 320 N from the black piranha, Serrasalmus rhombeus, is the strongest bite force recorded for any bony fish to date. Results indicate M. paranensis' bite force conservatively ranged from 1240-4749 N and reveal its novel dentition was capable of resisting high bite stresses and crushing vertebrate bone. Comparisons of body size-scaled bite forces to other apex predators reveal S. rhombeus and M. paranensis have among the most powerful bites estimated in carnivorous vertebrates. Our results functionally demonstrate the extraordinary bite of serrasalmid piranhas and provide a mechanistic rationale for their predatory dominance among past and present Amazonian ichthyofaunas.
Project description:Carnivorous piranhas are distributed in four serrasalmid genera including Pygocentrus, which inhabit major river basins of South America. While P. cariba and P. piraya are endemics of the Orinoco and São Francisco basins, respectively, P. nattereri is widely distributed across the Amazonas, Essequibo, lower Paraná, Paraguay, and coastal rivers of northeastern Brazil, with recent records of introductions in Asia. Few studies have focused on the genetic diversity and systematics of Pygocentrus and the putative presence of additional species within P. nattereri has never been the subject of a detailed molecular study. Here we aimed to delimit species of Pygocentrus, test the phylogeographic structure of P. nattereri, and access the origin of introduced specimens of P. nattereri in Asia. Phylogenetic analyses based on a mitochondrial dataset involving maximum-likelihood tree reconstruction, genetic distances, Bayesian analysis, three delimitation approaches, and haplotype analysis corroborate the morphological hypothesis of the occurrence of three species of Pygocentrus. However, we provide here strong evidence that P. nattereri contains at least five phylogeographically-structured lineages in the Amazonas, Guaporé (type locality), Itapecuru, Paraná/Paraguay, and Tocantins/Araguaia river basins. We finally found that the introduced specimens in Asia consistently descend from the lineage of P. nattereri from the main Rio Amazonas. These results contribute to future research aimed to detect morphological variation that may occur in those genetic lineages of Pygocentrus.
Project description:Referential alarm calls occur across taxa to warn of specific predator types. However, referential calls may also denote other types of dangers. Yellow warblers (Setophaga petechia) produce "seet" calls specifically to warn conspecifics of obligate brood parasitic brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater), which lay their eggs in the warblers' and other species' nests. Sympatric hosts of cowbirds that do not have referential alarm calls may eavesdrop on the yellow warbler's seet call as a warning system for brood parasites. Using playback presentations, we found that red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) eavesdrop on seet calls of yellow warblers, and respond as much to seet calls as to cowbird chatters and predator calls. Red-winged blackbirds appear to eavesdrop on seets as warning system to boost frontline defenses on their territories, although they do not seem to perceive the warblers' seets as a cue for parasitism per se, but rather for general danger to the nest.
Project description:Most human communication is carried by modulations of the voice. However, a wide range of cultures has developed alternative forms of communication that make use of a whistled sound source. For example, whistling is used as a highly salient signal for capturing attention, and can have iconic cultural meanings such as the catcall, enact a formal code as in boatswain's calls or stand as a proxy for speech in whistled languages. We used real-time magnetic resonance imaging to examine the muscular control of whistling to describe a strong association between the shape of the tongue and the whistled frequency. This bioacoustic profile parallels the use of the tongue in vowel production. This is consistent with the role of whistled languages as proxies for spoken languages, in which one of the acoustical features of speech sounds is substituted with a frequency-modulated whistle. Furthermore, previous evidence that non-human apes may be capable of learning to whistle from humans suggests that these animals may have similar sensorimotor abilities to those that are used to support speech in humans.
Project description:Enterocytozoon bieneusi is a common opportunistic pathogen causing diarrhea and enteric disease in a variety of animal hosts. Although it has been reported in many animals, there is no published information available on the occurrence of E. bieneusi in red-bellied tree squirrels. To understand the occurrence, genetic diversity, and zoonotic potential of E. bieneusi in red-bellied tree squirrels, 144 fecal specimens from Sichuan province, China, were examined by PCR amplification and sequencing of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of the ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene of E. bieneusi. The overall infection rate of E. bieneusi 16.7% (24/144) was observed in red-bellied tree squirrels. Altogether five genotypes of E. bieneusi were identified: three known genotypes D (n = 18), EbpC (n = 3), SC02 (n = 1) and two novel genotypes CE01, CE02 (one each). Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) analysis employing three microsatellite (MS1, MS3, MS7) and one minisatellite (MS4) revealed 16, 14, 7 and 14 positive specimens were successfully sequenced, and identified eight, three, three and two genotypes at four loci, respectively. In phylogenetic analysis, the three known genotypes D, EbpC, and SC02 were clustered into group 1 with zoonotic potential, and the two novel genotypes CE01 and CE02 were clustered into group 6. The present study firstly reported the occurrence of E. bieneusi in red-bellied tree squirrels in China, and the E. bieneusi genotypes D and EbpC were found in humans previously. These results indicate that red-bellied tree squirrels may play a potential role in the transmission of E. bieneusi to humans.
Project description:Swarming is a characteristic behavior of bats that occurs in different social contexts. We studied the swarming behavior of Myotis nattereri at a maternity colony and at an autumn swarming site in South-West Germany by using synchronized sound and video recordings. Swarming was always associated with social vocalizations consisting of four frequently occurring call types. Call type A was a short call with a broadband steep-shallow-steep downward frequency modulation. Call type B consisted of two elements beginning with a broadband upward hooked element followed by a steep frequency modulated element. Call type C showed a characteristic rapid downward-upward-downward frequency modulation. Call type D was a long sinusoidal trill-like call with high variability in signal structure. All call types were recorded at the maternity colony, as well as at the autumn swarming site, but the incidence of each call type differed distinctly between the study sites. At the maternity roost, type A calls were most commonly produced. We found evidence for an individual signature in this call type and suggest that this social call has the function of a contact call in Natterer's bats. At the autumn swarming site, type D calls were the most common social calls; in contrast, this call type was recorded only twice at the maternity roost. The occurrence of trills mainly at the autumn swarming site and their high variability suggests that trills function as male advertisement calls in M. nattereri.
Project description:Cryptosporidium spp. are opportunistic pathogens that cause diarrhea in a variety of animal hosts. Although they have been reported in many animals, no information has been published on the occurrence of Cryptosporidium spp. in red-bellied tree squirrels (Callosciurus erythraeus). A total of 287 fecal specimens were collected from Sichuan province in China; the prevalence of Cryptosporidium spp., measured by nested-PCR amplification of the partial small-subunit (SSU) rRNA gene, was 1.4% (4/287). Three different Cryptosporidium species or genotypes were identified: Cryptosporidium parvum (n = 1), Cryptosporidium wrairi (n = 1), and Cryptosporidium rat genotype II (n = 2). The present study is the first report of Cryptosporidium infection in red-bellied tree squirrels in China. Although there is a relatively low occurrence of Cryptosporidium, the presence of C. parvum and C. wrairi, which were previously reported in humans, indicates that red-bellied tree squirrels may be a source of zoonotic cryptosporidiosis in China.