Project description:Inferring the evolutionary dynamics at play during the process of speciation by analyzing the genomic landscape of divergence is a major pursuit in population genomics. However, empirical assessments of genomic landscapes under varying evolutionary scenarios that are known <i>a priori</i> are few, thereby limiting our ability to achieve this goal. Here we combine RAD-sequencing and individual-based simulations to evaluate the genomic landscape of divergence in the silvereye (<i>Zosterops lateralis</i>). Using pairwise comparisons that differ in divergence timeframe and the presence or absence of gene flow, we document how genomic patterns accumulate along the speciation continuum. In contrast to previous predictions, our results provide limited support for the idea that divergence accumulates around loci under divergent selection or that genomic islands widen with time. While a small number of genomic islands were found in populations diverging with and without gene flow, in few cases were SNPs putatively under selection tightly associated with genomic islands. The transition from localized to genome-wide levels of divergence was captured using individual-based simulations that considered only neutral processes. Our results challenge the ubiquity of existing verbal models that explain the accumulation of genomic differences across the speciation continuum and instead support the idea that divergence both within and outside of genomic islands is important during the speciation process.
Project description:Recent studies have revealed differences between urban and rural vocalizations of numerous bird species. These differences include frequency shifts, amplitude shifts, altered song speed, and selective meme use. If particular memes sung by urban populations are adapted to the urban soundscape, "urban-typical" calls, memes, or repertoires should be consistently used in multiple urban populations of the same species, regardless of geographic location. We tested whether songs or contact calls of silvereyes (Zosterops lateralis) might be subject to such convergent cultural evolution by comparing syllable repertoires of geographically dispersed urban and rural population pairs throughout southeastern Australia. Despite frequency and tempo differences between urban and rural calls, call repertoires were similar between habitat types. However, certain song syllables were used more frequently by birds from urban than rural populations. Partial redundancy analysis revealed that both geographic location and habitat characteristics were important predictors of syllable repertoire composition. These findings suggest convergent cultural evolution: urban populations modify both song and call syllables from their local repertoire in response to noise.
Project description:Understanding the influence of environmental factors on population dynamics is fundamental to many areas in biology. Survival is a key factor of population biology, as it is thought to be the predominant driver of growth in long-lived passerines, which can be influenced by both biotic and abiotic environmental conditions. We used mark-recapture methods and generalized linear mixed models to test the influence of density and climatic variation, measured at a regional and local scale (Southern Oscillation Index [SOI] and rainfall, respectively), on seasonal variation in survival rates of an insular population of Silvereyes (Zosterops lateralis chlorocephalus), during a 15-year study period, off the east coast of Australia. We found overall high survival rates for adults and juveniles (81% and 59%, respectively). Local scale climate (i.e. rainfall) and density were the principal environmental factors influencing their survival, both with a negative relationship. A significant interactive effect of density and rainfall influenced survival as they both increased. However, survival remained low when density was at it highest, independent of the amount of rainfall. Nestling survival was negatively influenced by rainfall and density, positively by SOI, and chicks that hatched later in the breeding season had higher survival rates. The regional scale climate variable (i.e. SOI) did not explain survival rates as strongly as rainfall in any age class. Our results contribute to the understanding of insular avian population dynamics and the differential effects of environmental factors across age classes. Climatic predictions expect El Niño events to increase, meaning dryer conditions in eastern Australia, potentially increasing Silvereye survival across age classes. However, the long-term effect of lower rainfall on food availability is unknown; consequently, the outcome of lower rainfall on Silvereye survival rates is uncertain.
Project description:Co-occurrence of closely related taxa on islands could be attributed to sympatric speciation or multiple colonization. Sympatric speciation is considered to be rare in small islands, however multiple colonizations are known to be common in both oceanic and continental islands. In this study we investigated the phylogenetic relatedness and means of origin of the two sympatrically co-occurring Zosterops white-eyes, the endemic Zosterops ceylonensis and its widespread regional congener Z. palpebrosus, in the island of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a continental island in the Indian continental shelf of the Northern Indian Ocean. Our multivariate morphometric analyses confirmed the phenotypic distinctness of the two species. Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian phylogenetic analyses with ~2000bp from two mitochondrial (ND2 and ND3) and one nuclear (TGF) gene indicated that they are phylogenetically distinct, and not sister to each other. The two subspecies of the peninsula India; Z. p. egregius of Sri Lanka and India and Z. p. nilgiriensis of Western Ghats (India) clustered within the Z. palpebrosus clade having a common ancestor. In contrast, the divergence of the endemic Z. ceylonensis appears to be much deeper and is basal to the other Zosterops white-eyes. Therefore we conclude that the two Zosterops species originated in the island through independent colonizations from different ancestral lineages, and not through island speciation or multiple colonization from the same continental ancestral population. Despite high endemism, Sri Lankan biodiversity is long considered to be a subset of southern India. This study on a speciose group with high dispersal ability and rapid diversification rate provide evidence for the contribution of multiple colonizations in shaping Sri Lanka's biodiversity. It also highlights the complex biogeographic patterns of the South Asian region, reflected even in highly vagile groups such as birds.
Project description:Dramatic declines of native Hawaiian avifauna due to the human-mediated emergence of avian malaria and pox prompted an examination of whether island taxa share a common altered immunological signature, potentially driven by reduced genetic diversity and reduced exposure to parasites. We tested this hypothesis by characterizing parasite prevalence, genetic diversity and three measures of immune response in two recently-introduced species (Neochmia temporalis and Zosterops lateralis) and two island endemics (Acrocephalus aequinoctialis and A. rimitarae) and then comparing the results to those observed in closely-related mainland counterparts. The prevalence of blood parasites was significantly lower in 3 of 4 island taxa, due in part to the absence of certain parasite lineages represented in mainland populations. Indices of genetic diversity were unchanged in the island population of N. temporalis; however, allelic richness was significantly lower in the island population of Z. lateralis while both allelic richness and heterozygosity were significantly reduced in the two island-endemic species examined. Although parasite prevalence and genetic diversity generally conformed to expectations for an island system, we did not find evidence for a pattern of uniformly altered immune responses in island taxa, even amongst endemic taxa with the longest residence times. The island population of Z. lateralis exhibited a significantly reduced inflammatory cell-mediated response while levels of natural antibodies remained unchanged for this and the other recently introduced island taxon. In contrast, the island endemic A. rimitarae exhibited a significantly increased inflammatory response as well as higher levels of natural antibodies and complement. These measures were unchanged or lower in A. aequinoctialis. We suggest that small differences in the pathogenic landscape and the stochastic history of mutation and genetic drift are likely to be important in shaping the unique immunological profiles of small isolated populations. Consequently, predicting the impact of introduced disease on the many other endemic faunas of the remote Pacific will remain a challenge.