New paper on niche conformance during adolescence!
NC³ members Norbert Sachser and Sylvia Kaiser, together with Michael B. Hennessy published a review on adaptive shaping of social behavioural phenotypes during adolescence. In this publication they review the 'shaping' process of mammalian social behaviur and its dependence on cues available during adolescence. They discuss underlying mechanisms of this process, and present evidence for for observed changes being adaptive. They also consider conditions favoring the occurrence of social behaviour plasticity during adolescence.
New paper on niche conformance in hermaphroditic flatworms!
NC³ associate member Steve Ramm has published a study on sex allocation under selfing in a simultaneous hermaphrodite in the current issue of Biology Letters. In the study, Steven and his undergraduate student Lennart Winkler tested the hypothesis that reproduction via self-fertilization favours a reduced allocation into the male sex function in simultaneous hermaphrodites owing to the fact that male-male competition over fertilization found under outcrossing is absent and all competition occurs between sperm from the same individual. To test this, they used flatworms of the species Macrostomum hystrix and exposed them to three different social environments that differed in the opportunity for outcrossing and sperm competition level: flatworms were either held individually, in pairs or in groups of eight. Standardized measurements of the testes and ovaries showed that flatworms under enforced selfing conditions have a less-male biased sex allocation than conspecifics under outcrossing conditions. These results provide evidence that hermaphrodites conform to their social niche through plastic responses in sex allocation.
First NC³ Scientific Retreat
From 01-03 October 2018, NC³ members gathered in the Sauerland to discuss current and future avenues for research within NC³. The retreat was the first instance to bring all NC³ members together. To familiarize all members with the research going on within NC³, the PhD students and Postdocs presented the aims and current status of their projects. In addition we gathered in research cloud meetings to further foster collaboration and synergies between research areas. We also enjoyed some leisure time on a boat ride across the Sorpesee followed by a walk alongside the lake.
Workshop "Introduction to Statistics Using R" held
From 20-26 September 2018, Dr. Mareike Koppik from the Institute of Evolution and Biodiversity at the University of Münster held a workshop on statistical data analysis using R for interested NC³ PhD students and Postdocs in Münster. The first part of the workshop recaptured important aspects of experimental design and statistical principles. The second part introduced R as a statistical tool with a focus on how to plot data and implement linear and generalized linear models in R. The workshop comprised both lectures and hands-on exercises.
|Morning session||Experimental Design||Introduction to R||Introduction to Statistics II||Generalized Linear Models and Gamma Distribution||Poisson Distribution|
|Afternoon session||Introduction to Statistics I||Graphs in R||Linear Models||Binomial Distribution and quasi-GLM||Quasi-GLM and Negative Binomial Distribution|
New paper on Antarctic fur seal genomics!
NC³ members Emily Humble, Ann-Christin Polikeit and Joe Hoffman have published a study on Antarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus gazella) genomics and populations genetics in G3. Their article was chosen as the featured article in the August issue and the cover story of the September issue. Together with researchers from the CeBiTec at Bielefeld University and the British Antarctic Survey as well as researchers from the UK, US, Sweden, Australia, and Germany they used PacBio sequencing to improve the genome assembly of an existing Antarctic fur seal genome and restriction site associated DNA (RAD) sequencing to generate a high-density set of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to provide a large dataset of genetic markers. A. gazella was severely hunted during the 18th and 19th century sealers and the researchers used the genomic data to investigate the recovery of the species by analysing linkage disequilibrium decay, population structure and inbreeding. Their results suggest that the historical bottleneck may not have been as severe as assumed and that contrary to general belief, relict populations probably survived at several sites across the sub-Antarctic. Additionally, they found evidence for high variance in inbreeding in a large, free-ranging population of A. gazella, supporting the notion that inbreeding may be more common in wild populations than previously thought.
Link to publication: Humble, E., Dasmahapatra, K.K., Martinez-Barrio, A., Gregório, I., Forcada, J., Polikeit, A., Goldsworthy, S.D., Goebel, M.E., Kalinowksi, J., Wolf, J.B.W, and Hoffman, J.I. (2018). RAD Sequencing and a Hybrid Antarctic Fur Seal Genome Assembly Reveal Rapidly Decaying Linkage Disequilibrium, Global Population Structure and Evidence for Inbreeding. G3 8:2709-2722.
New paper on niche conformance and construction in aphids!
Different aphid species conform to different niches by feeding on distinct plant parts. At the same time, infestation by aphids can change the chemical composition and nutritional value of phloem sap affecting aphid performance. But how does infestation by different aphid species affect the phloem sap composition of different plant individuals and distinct plant parts and how does this affect aphid performance? NC³ PI Caroline Müller and colleagues studied these interactions using the common tansy Tanacetum vulgare and its specialized aphid species Macrosiphoniella tanacetaria and Uroleucon tanaceti as a study system. They found that the different aphid species perform differently well on distinct plant parts (differences in niche conformance) and that aphid infestation leads to distinct changes in metabolite classes within the phloem sap in different plant parts. These results show that plant responses are highly specific for plant part, metabolite classes in the phloem sap, and aphid species. Therefore, these results may provide an indication of niche construction by aphids through optimizing the food quality of the plant parts they preferentially feed on.
Caroline and her team published their study in New Phytologist: Jakobs, R., Schweiger, R. and Müller C. (2018), Aphid infestation leads to plant-specific changes in phloem sap chemistry, which may indicate niche construction. New Phytol. doi:10.1111/nph.15335.
New book out!
Norbert Sachser has published his popular science book, Der Mensch im Tier (The Human Animal). It paints a vivid picture of our current understanding of animal personality and emotions, combining insights from physiology, neurobiology and behavior. Importantly, the book also offers a window into the hypothesis-driven, model-based approach of modern science.
Looking beyond well beyond the ivory tower of research, Norbert Sachser also discusses how recent developments will shape our relationship with and treatment of animals.
Welcome to NC³! We are delighted to have met so many of our new members on Wednesday. We trust you all enjoyed the lively chats over tea and dinner and are looking forward to four years of shared curiosity, inspiring discussions and exciting insights. Thank all of you for your contributions so far to get NC³ going!
Special thanks go to our colleagues Fritz Trillmich, Franjo Weissing and Julia Fischer who started off our meeting with their entertaining insights into closely related fields of research. We hope they continue to accompany us on this journey.