Most downloaded biology preprints, all time
in category zoology
564 results found. For more information, click each entry to expand.
3,556 downloads bioRxiv zoology
The number of dogs in the UK is on the rise, as are canine sports involving the use of a harness to allow the dog to pull against an interface in the same way as a husky might pull a sled. Service dogs and those involved in essential work commonly wear a harness throughout their working lives, yet little is understood regarding the biomechanical impact of their use. This systematic review was conducted to review reported evidence of the biomechanical effects of harness and head collar (Halti) use in dogs. Searches were applied covering 1910 to 2018 on the following databases: PubMed, Web of Science and Writtle Discovery. Three publications were identified as suitable which were then critically evaluated using predefined criteria and ARRIVE based guidelines for bias assessment. Only one was considered to provide the most reliable data regarding the influence of harnesses on gait, whilst the remainder were considered to suffer a variety of issues including poor sample size, repeatability and study execution. The most appropriate study found that wearing a chest strap harness reduced shoulder extension in both walk and trot by up to 8 0 of movement, whilst a Y-shaped harness commonly marketed as non-restrictive reduced shoulder extension by up to 10 0 of movement, suggesting that the use of harness type restraints can affect canine gait, whereas no studies were found relating to the biomechanical effects of head-collar usage
2,911 downloads bioRxiv zoology
We challenge the oft-repeated claim that the beetles (Coleoptera) are the most species-rich order of animals. Instead, we assert that another order of insects, the Hymenoptera, are more speciose, due in large part to the massively diverse but relatively poorly known parasitoid wasps. The idea that the beetles have more species than other orders is primarily based on their respective collection histories and the relative availability of taxonomic resources, which both disfavor parasitoid wasps. Though it is unreasonable to directly compare numbers of described species in each order, the ecology of parasitic wasps - specifically, their intimate interactions with their hosts - allows for estimation of relative richness. We present a simple logical model that shows how the specialization of many parasitic wasps on their hosts suggests few scenarios in which there would be more beetle species than parasitic wasp species. We couple this model with an accounting of what we call the "genus-specific parasitoid-host ratio" from four well-studied genera of insect hosts, a metric by which to generate extremely conservative estimates of the average number of parasitic wasp species attacking a given beetle or other insect host species. Synthesis of our model with data from real host systems suggests that the Hymenoptera may have 2.5 - 3.2x more species than the Coleoptera. While there are more described species of beetles than all other animals, the Hymenoptera are almost certainly the larger order.
2,729 downloads bioRxiv zoology
Abstract: The ascidian tunicate Corella inflata is relatively transparent compared to other solitary tunicates and the circulatory system can be visualized by injecting high molecular weight fluorescein labeled dextran into the beating heart or the large vessels at the ends of the heart. In addition, after staining with neutral red the movement of blood cells can be followed to further define and characterize the circulatory system. The heart is a gently curved tube with a constriction in the middle and extends across the width of the animal. As in other tunicates, pumping is peristaltic and periodically reverses direction. During the abvisceral directional phase blood leaves the anterior end of the heart in two asymmetric vessels that connect to the two sides of the branchial basket (or pharynx), in contrast to the direct connection between the heart and the endostyle seen in the commonly studied tunicate Ciona intestinalis. In Corella inflata blood then flows in both transverse directions through a complex system of ducts in the branchial basket into large ventral and dorsal vessels and then to the visceral organs in the posterior of the animal. During the advisceral phase blood leaves the posterior end of the heart in vessels that repeatedly bifurcate to fan into the stomach and gonads. Blood speed, determined by following individual cells, is high and pulsatory near the heart, but decreases and becomes more constant in peripheral regions. Estimated blood flow volume during one directional phase is greater than the total volume of the animal. Circulating blood cells are confined to vessels or ducts in the visible parts of the animal and retention of high molecular weight dextran in the vessels is comparable to that seen in vertebrates. These flow patterns are consistent with a closed circulatory network. Additional key words: heart, pharynx, branchial basket, blood circulation, blood velocity
2,476 downloads bioRxiv zoology
The free-living marine flatworm Macrostomum lignano is a powerful model organism to study mechanisms of regeneration and stem cell regulation due to its convenient combination of biological and experimental properties, including the availability of transgenesis methods, which is unique among flatworm models. However, due to its relatively recent introduction in research, there are still many biological aspects of the animal that are not known. One of such questions is the influence of the culturing temperature on Macrostomum biology. Here we systematically investigated how different culturing temperatures affect the development time, reproduction rate, regeneration, heat shock response, and gene knockdown efficiency by RNA interference in M. lignano. We used marker transgenic lines of the flatworm to accurately measure the regeneration endpoint and to establish the stress response threshold for temperature shock. We found that compared to the culturing temperature of 20°C commonly used for M. lignano, elevated temperatures of 25°C-30°C substantially speed-up the development and regeneration time and increase reproduction rate without detectable negative consequences for the animal, while temperatures above 30°C elicit a heat shock response. We show that altering the temperature conditions can be used to shorten the time required to establish M. lignano cultures, store important lines and optimize the microinjection procedures for transgenesis. Our findings will help to optimize the design of experiments in M. lignano and thus facilitate future research in this model organism.
2,259 downloads bioRxiv zoology
The phylogenetic placement of the morphologically simple placozoans is crucial to understanding the evolution of complex animal traits. Here, we examine the influence of adding new genomes from placozoans to a large dataset designed to study the deepest splits in the animal phylogeny. Using site-heterogeneous substitution models, we show that it is possible to obtain strong support, in both amino acid and reduced-alphabet matrices, for either a sister-group relationship between Cnidaria and Placozoa, or for Cnidaria and Bilateria (=Planulozoa), also seen in most published work to date, depending on the orthologues selected to construct the matrix. We demonstrate that a majority of genes show evidence of compositional heterogeneity, and that the support for Planulozoa can be assigned to this source of systematic error. In interpreting this placozoan-cnidarian clade, we caution against a peremptory reading of placozoans as secondarily reduced forms of little relevance to broader discussions of early animal evolution.
2,193 downloads bioRxiv zoology
Accurate species delimitation and description are necessary to guide effective conservation management of imperiled species. The Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi) is a large species in North America that is federally-protected as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Recently, two associated studies hypothesized that Drymarchon couperi is two species. Here, we use diverse approaches to test the two-species hypothesis for D. couperi. Our analyses reveal that (1) phylogenetic reconstruction in Krysko et al. (2016a) was based entirely on analysis of mitochondrial DNA sequence data, (2) microsatellite data demonstrate significant nuclear gene flow between mitochondrial lineages and a clear isolation-by-distance pattern across the species entire range, and (3) morphological analyses recover a single diagnosable species. Our results reject recent conclusions of Krysko et al. (2016a,b) regarding species delimitation and taxonomy of D. couperi, and we formally place Drymarchon kolpobasileus into synonymy with D. couperi. We suggest inconsistent patterns between mitochondrial and nuclear DNA may be driven by high dispersal of males relative to females. We caution against species delimitation exercises when one or few loci are used without evaluation of contemporary gene flow, particularly species with strong sex-biased dispersal (e.g., squamates) and/or when results have implications for ongoing conservation efforts.
2,124 downloads bioRxiv zoology
Feathers are one of the defining characteristics of birds and serve a critical role in thermal insulation and physical protection against the environment. Feather structure is known to vary among individuals, and it has been suggested that populations exposed to different environmental conditions may exhibit different patterns in feather structure. We examined both down and contour feathers from two populations of male Torrent Ducks (Merganetta armata) from Lima, Peru, including one high-altitude population from the Chancay-Huaral River at approximately 3500 meters (m) elevation and one low-altitude population from the Chillón River at approximately 1500 m. Down feather structure differed significantly between the two populations. Ducks from the high-altitude population had longer, denser down compared with low-altitude individuals. Contour feather structure varied greatly among individuals but showed no significant difference between populations. These results suggest that the innermost, insulative layer of plumage (the down), may have developed in response to lower ambient temperatures at high elevations. The lack of observable differences in the contour feathers may be due to the general constraints of the waterproofing capability of this outer plumage layer.
2,093 downloads bioRxiv zoology
Background: Most species of owls (Strigidae) represent cryptic species and their taxonomic study is in flux. In recent years, two new species of owls of the genus Strix have been described from the Arabian peninsula by different research teams. It has been suggested that one of these species, S. omanensis, is not a valid species but taxonomic comparisons have been hampered by the lack of specimens of S. omanensis, and the poor state of the holotype of S. butleri. Methods: Here we use new DNA sequence data to clarify the taxonomy and nomenclature of the S. butleri complex. We also report the capture of a single S. butleri in Mashhad, Iran. Results: A cytochrome b sequence of S. omanensis was found to be identical to that of the holotype of S. butleri, indicating that the name S. omanensis is best regarded as a junior synonym of S. butleri. The identity of the S. butleri captured in Mashhad, Iran, was confirmed using DNA sequence data. This represents a major (1,400 km) range extension of this species. Conclusions: The population discovered in Oman in 2013 and originally named ‘S. omanensis’ actually represents the rediscovery of S. butleri, which was known from a single specimen and had not been recorded since 1878. The range of S. butleri extends into northeast Iran. Our study augments the body of evidence for the recognition of S. butleri and S. hadorami as separate species and highlights the importance of using multiple evidence to study cryptic owl species.
1,905 downloads bioRxiv zoology
The Portuguese man of war, Physalia physalis , is a siphonophore that uses a gas-filled float as a sail to catch the wind. It is one of the most conspicuous, but poorly understood members of the pleuston, a community of organisms that occupy a habitat at the sea-air interface. The development, morphology, and colony organization of P. physalis is very different from all other siphonophores. Here, we propose a framework for homologizing the axes with other siphonophores, and also suggest that the tentacle bearing zooids should be called tentacular palpons. We also look at live and fixed larval and non-reproductively mature juvenile specimens, and use optical projection tomography to build on existing knowledge about the morphology and development of this species. Previous descriptions of P. physalis larvae, especially descriptions of budding order, were often framed with the mature colony in mind. However, we use the simpler organization of larvae and the juvenile specimens to inform our understanding of the morphology, budding order, and colony organization in the mature specimen. Finally, we review what is known about the ecology and lifecyle of P. physalis .
1,899 downloads bioRxiv zoology
A taxonomic revision of the cichlid fish genus Petrochromis endemic to Lake Tanganyika. All recognized taxa are herein described, one subspecies is given species status and five new species, viz. P. calliris, P. daidali, P. heffalumpus, P. lisachisme and P. paucispinis, are presented. P. calliris is described from 6 specimens from Cape Mpimbwe, and distinguished primarily by having a high number of both gill rakers on the lower limb of the first gill arch and vertebrae. P. daidali is described from 18 specimens from Cape Mpimbwe, Kansombo and Nkwazi point, and distinguished primarily by males having a labyrinth-like pattern on the head. P. heffalumpus is described from 7 specimens from Cape Mpimbwe, and distinguished primarily by its great size. P. lisachisme is described from 12 specimens from Cape Mpimbwe and Lyamembe, and distinguished primarily by having a high number of dorsal spines. P. paucispinis is described from 4 specimens from Halembe, and distinguished primarily by having a low number of dorsal spines. A revised key to Petrochromis is included. A phylogenetic tree hypothesis of the genus, based on molecular (mitochondrial cytochrome b and d-loop) and morphological results show that jaw position and number of vertebrae are important diagnostic characters. Analyses suggest that the "ancestral Petrochromis" might have looked something like P. orthognathus.
1,737 downloads bioRxiv zoology
A new endemic subspecies of gray wolf from the island of Sicily (Italy) is described. While usually considered extinct before 1940, there's some evidence it may have survived up to 1970. This wolf was widespread throughout the island and characterized by a smaller size and a paler coloration than the Apennine wolf (Canis lupus italicus) from Central-Southern Italy. This subspecies is described from a mounted specimen (the holotype) including also a separate skull stored at the Museo di Storia Naturale "La Specola", Universita di Firenze, Italy. The three paratypes are: a) a mounted specimen stored at the "Museo Regionale Interdisciplinare di Terrasini" in Terrasini (PA), Italy, b) a mounted specimen stored at the Museo di Zoologia "Pietro Doderlein", Universita di Palermo, Palermo, Italy, c) a mounted specimen stored at the "Museo Civico Baldassarre Romano" in Termini Imerese (PA), Italy. This new subspecies is described as Canis lupus cristaldii subsp. nov. We suggest "Sicilian wolf" as common name for this new taxon.
1,666 downloads bioRxiv zoology
Crustaceans are a morphologically, physiologically and ecologically highly diverse animal group and correspondingly diverse are their reproductive characteristics. They have evolved structural specialities with respect to penis construction, sperm form, sperm storage, fertilization and brood care. Unique in the animal kingdom are safety lines that safeguard hatching and first molting. Further curiosities are dwarf males in parasitic and sessile taxa and bacteria-induced gigantism and infectious feminization in crustacean hosts. Record-breaking features in animals are relative penis length, clutch size, sperm size, chromosome number, viability of resting eggs, and fossil ages of penis, sperm and brooded embryos. These reproductive peculiarities are reviewed and their implication for basic and applied biology is discussed, including the early evolution and diversification of brood care in arthropods, sperm competition and assurance of paternity, posthumous paternity and sustainable male-based fishery, and ecotype changes by man-made pollution.
1,618 downloads bioRxiv zoology
Examples of phenotypic convergence in plumage coloration have been reported in a wide diversity of avian taxonomic groups, yet the underlying evolutionary mechanisms driving this phenomenon have received little scientific inquiry. Herein, we document a striking new case of plumage convergence in the Helmeted Woodpecker (Dryocopus galeatus) and explore the possibility of visual mimicry among Atlantic Forest woodpeckers. Our multi-locus phylogenetic analyses unequivocally place D. galeatus within Celeus, indicating the former has subsequently converged in appearance upon the distantly related and syntopic Dryocopus lineatus, to which it bears a remarkable resemblance in plumage coloration and pattern. Although details of the Helmeted Woodpecker’s ecology and natural history are only now beginning to emerge, its smaller size and submissive behavior are consistent with predictions derived from evolutionary game theory models and the interspecific social dominance mimicry hypothesis (ISDM). Moreover, estimates of avian visual acuity suggest that size-related mimetic deception is plausible at distances ecologically relevant to Celeus and Dryocopus foraging behavior. In light of our results, we recommend taxonomic transfer of D. galeatus to Celeus and emphasize the need for detailed behavioral studies that examine the social costs and benefits of plumage convergence to explicitly test for ISDM and other forms of mimicry in these Atlantic Forest woodpecker communities. Future field studies examining potential cases of competitive mimicry should also take into account the mimic’s acoustic behavior, particularly in the presence of putative model species and other heterospecific competitors, as any discontinuity between morphological and behavioral mimicry would likely preclude the possibility of deception.
1,586 downloads bioRxiv zoology
Dwarfism is a condition characterized by shorter stature, at times accompanied by differential skeletal growth proportions relative to the species-typical physical conformation. Causes vary and well-documented in humans as well as certain mammalian species in captive or laboratory conditions, but rarely observed in the wild. Here we report on a single case of apparent dwarfism in a free-ranging adult male Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) in Sri Lanka, comparing physical dimensions to those of other males in the same population, males in other populations, and records in previous literature. The subject was found to have a shoulder height of approximately 195cm, is shorter than the average height of typical mature males, with a body length of 218cm. This ratio of body length to height deviates from what is typically observed, which is approximately 1:1. In absolute height the subject was similar to the attributes of a captive elephant documented in 1955 in Sri Lanka, also said to be a dwarf, however the two specimens differed in the relative proportions of height vs. body length. The subject also exhibits a slight elongation of the skull. We discuss how this phenotype compares to cases of dwarfism in other non-human animals.
1,585 downloads bioRxiv zoology
A small, juvenile rorqual live-stranded on Qeshm Island, Iran, in the northern Strait of Hormuz (Persian Gulf) in September 2007. Cause of stranding remains unknown but the whale (QE22.09.2007) showed no severe traumatic injuries nor was emaciated. Based on at least seven morphological features, considered diagnostic in combination, allowed a positive identification as Omura's whale Balaenoptera omurai. Features included diminutive body size (397 cm), a large number of ventral grooves (n=82) extending caudad of the umbilicus, a strongly falcate dorsal fin, asymmetric colouration of the head (especially lower jaws) reminiscent of fin whale, including three unilateral dark stripes, faint/incomplete lateral rostral ridges, record low number of short, broad baleen plates (204 in right jaw). The likelihood for the existence of a local B. omurai population in the eastern Persian Gulf or northern Arabian Sea seems higher than the wandering of a very young animal or mother/calf pair from any of the known distant distribution areas in the eastern Indian Ocean or SW Indian Ocean (Madagascar). This is the first record of B. omurai in the NW Indian Ocean.
1,509 downloads bioRxiv zoology
Centuries of zoological studies amassed billions of specimens in collections worldwide. Genomics of these specimens promises to rejuvenate biodiversity research. The obstacles stem from DNA degradation with specimen age. Overcoming this challenge, we set out to resolve a series of long-standing controversies involving a group of butterflies. We deduced geographical origins of several ancient specimens of uncertain provenance that are at the heart of these debates. Here, genomics tackles one of the greatest problems in zoology: countless old, poorly documented specimens that serve as irreplaceable embodiments of species concepts. The ability to figure out where they were collected will resolve many on-going disputes. More broadly, we show the utility of genomics applied to ancient museum specimens to delineate the boundaries of species and populations, and to hypothesize about genotypic determinants of phenotypic traits.
1,423 downloads bioRxiv zoology
Artificial insemination is routinely used in commercial pig breeding, for which the use of high quality semen samples is imperative. Currently, semen quality is determined manually by morphological assessment. This method leads to high inter-operator variability due to its subjective nature. The development of a semi-automated software-based approach to assess sperm morphology would enable faster identification of morphological defects and permit identification of subtle differences that may affect fertilisation success. Here we have used a novel method to comprehensively analyse pig sperm nuclear morphology in greater detail than was previously possible. Semen samples from 50 fertile and 50 sub-fertile samples that had been previously manually categorised as fertile or sub-fertile were analysed using this new method, with at least 200 fixed and DAPI (4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole) stained sperm heads imaged per sample. Differences in sperm nuclear morphology were observed between fertile and sub-fertile samples; specifically, fertile samples were associated with higher mean nuclear area, a consequence of a greater head width and a lower variability between sperm heads. This novel, unbiased and fast analysis method demonstrates a significant difference in sperm head morphology between fertile and sub-fertile animals, and has the potential to be further developed and used as a tool for sperm morphology assessment in the pig breeding industry.
1,418 downloads bioRxiv zoology
The Euthecosomata Meisenheimer, 1905, holoplanktonic Mollusca with coiled or straight shell were respectively classified in Limacinoidea Gray, 1847 and Cavolinioidea Gray, 1850. In a biometrical analysis (Rampal 1973) a first change had occurd in this last superfamily: the conica shell genera Creseis Rang, 1828, Boasia Dall, 1889, Styliola Gray, 1850 and Hyalocylis Fol, 1875 were gathered into the Creseidae Rampal, 1973. Therefore it was necessary to carry on this study using molecular data. Our recent cladistic and molecular analyses as well as palaeontologic data led to a systematic and phylogenetic revision of the Euthecosomata: the Limacinoidea and of the Creseidae are not monophyletic, the other straight shells Euthecosomata are monophyletic (Corse et al. 2013). The Limacinoidea are invalidated; they are split into three families: Limacinidae Gray, 1847, Heliconoididae n. fam. and Thieleidae n. fam. The Creseidae Rampal, 1973 are validated but at least there are two genera Creseis Rang, 1828 and Boasia Dall, 1889; Styliola and Hyalocylis are considered incertae sedis. In the Cavoliniidae Gray, 1850 there are four subfamily: Cuvierininae Gray, 1850 , Cliinae Jeffreys, 1869 , Diacriinae n. subfam., Cavoliniinae Gray, 1850. The Creseidae Rampal, 1973 and the Cavoliniidae Gray, 1850 belong to the Cavolinioidea Gray, 1850. The species rank of most taxa is confirmed. New genera are proposed or reinstated: Telodiacria n. gen., Hyalaea de Blainville, 1821, Boasia Dall, 1889. The fossil Vaginella Daudin, 1800 is included within the Cuvierininae Gray, 1847. The spiral fossil Altaspiratella Korobkov, 1966 is no longer considered part of the Limacinidae Gray, 1847. Two phylogenetic hypotheses are analysed. According to molecular analyses in COI there is the double emergency of straight shell from two coiled shell lineages; in 28S there is monophyly; this last hypothesis we have kapt is the most parsimonious but requires some reserve and new investigations (Corse et al. 2013).
1,379 downloads bioRxiv zoology
Feathers act as vibrotactile sensors that can detect mechanical stimuli during avian flight and tactile navigation, suggesting that they may also detect stimuli during social displays. In this study, we present the first measurements of the biomechanical properties of the feather crests found on the head of birds, with an emphasis on those from the Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus). We show that in peafowl, these crest feathers are coupled to filoplumes, small feathers known to function as mechanosensors. We also determined that airborne stimuli with the frequencies used during peafowl courtship and social displays couple efficiently to the vibrational response of their feather crests. Specifically, vibrational measurements showed that although different types of feathers have a wide range of fundamental resonant frequencies, peafowl crests are driven near-optimally by the shaking frequencies used by peacocks performing train-rattling courtship displays. Peafowl crests were also driven to vibrate near resonance when we played back mechanical sounds generated by these displays in the acoustic very near-field, where such displays are experienced in vivo. When peacock wing-shaking courtship behavior was simulated in the laboratory, the resulting airflow excited measurable vibrations of crest feathers. These results demonstrate that peafowl crests have mechanical properties that allow them to respond to airborne stimuli at the frequencies typical of this species' social displays. This suggests a new hypothesis that mechanosensory stimuli could complement acoustic and visual perception of social displays in peafowl and other bird species. We suggest behavioral studies to explore these ideas and their functional implications.
1,375 downloads bioRxiv zoology
In the present study, the barbs of peacock feather were subjected to its physio-mechanical characterisation. Various properties of barbs, bundle strength, diameter, moisture regain, thermal stability, X-ray diffraction, colour intensity and FTIR was studied according to standard analytical methods. The surface morphology of the barbs was examined using SEM images. The results indicate that the barb is a hollow vertical structure made up of protein. The average length and diameter of the barb were found to be 45 mm and 82 microns respectively. The FTIR study confirms the presence of characteristic peaks for protein, related to the keratinous material. The barbs seem to be semi-crystalline in nature, as indicated by X-ray study.
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