Assessing biodiversity from genes to communities in Swiss river fish
Investigating the interactions between migration ecology, local adaptation and diversification
Wie wirkt sich der Geschiebetrieb auf die Fische, ihre Nahrung und ihren Lebensraum aus? Und wie lässt sich das Geschieberegime in Fliessgewässern wiederherstellen?
Small hydropower plants may affect river ecosystems in various ways due to changes in flow regimes and blocking of movement of aquatic organisms
Fliessgewässer gehören zu den artenreichsten Ökosystemen weltweit. Gleichzeitig sind sie stark unter Druck, z.B. durch Verbauung oder Nutzung der Wasserkraft.
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Emergence of a novel prey life history promotes contemporary sympatric diversification in a top predator
Intraspecific phenotypic variation can strongly impact community and ecosystem dynamics. Effects of intraspecific variation in keystone species have been shown to propagate down through the food web by altering the adaptive landscape for other species and creating a cascade of ecological and evolutionary change. However, similar bottom-up eco-evolutionary effects are poorly described. Here we show that life history diversification in a keystone prey species, the alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus), propagates up through the food web to promote phenotypic diversification in its native top predator, the chain pickerel (Esox niger), on contemporary timescales. The landlocking of alewife by human dam construction has repeatedly created a stable open water prey resource, novel to coastal lakes, that has promoted the parallel emergence of a habitat polymorphism in chain pickerel. Understanding how strong interactions propagate through food webs to influence diversification across multiple trophic levels is critical to understand eco-evolutionary interactions in complex natural ecosystems.
Brodersen, J.; Howeth, J. G.; Post, D. M. (2015) Emergence of a novel prey life history promotes contemporary sympatric diversification in a top predator, Nature Communications, 6, 8115 (9 pp.), doi:10.1038/ncomms9115, Institutional Repository
Shape up or ship out: migratory behaviour predicts morphology across spatial scale in a freshwater fish
1. Migration is a widespread phenomenon, with powerful ecological and evolutionary consequences. Morphological adaptations to reduce the energetic costs associated with migratory transport are commonly documented for migratory species. However, few studies have investigated whether variation in body morphology can be explained by variation in migratory strategy within a species. 2. We address this question in roach Rutilus rutilus, a partially migratory freshwater fish that migrates from lakes into streams during winter. We both compare body shape between populations that differ in migratory opportunity (open vs. closed lakes), and between individuals from a single population that vary in migratory propensity (migrants and residents from a partially migratory population). Following hydrodynamic theory, we posit that migrants should have a more shallow body depth, to reduce the costs associated with migrating into streams with higher flow conditions than the lakes the residents occupy all year round. 3. We find evidence both across and within populations to support our prediction, with individuals from open lakes and migrants from the partially migratory population having a more slender, shallow-bodied morphology than fish from closed lakes and all-year residents. 4. Our data suggest that a shallow body morphology is beneficial to migratory individuals and our study is one of the first to link migratory strategy and intraspecific variation in body shape.
Chapman, B. B.; Hulthén, K.; Brönmark, C.; Nilsson, P. A.; Skov, C.; Hansson, L.-A.; Brodersen, J. (2015) Shape up or ship out: migratory behaviour predicts morphology across spatial scale in a freshwater fish, Journal of Animal Ecology, 84(5), 1187-1193, doi:10.1111/1365-2656.12374, Institutional Repository
Why evolutionary biologists should get seriously involved in ecological monitoring and applied biodiversity assessment programs
While ecological monitoring and biodiversity assessment programs are widely implemented and relatively well developed to survey and monitor the structure and dynamics of populations and communities in many ecosystems, quantitative assessment and monitoring of genetic and phenotypic diversity that is important to understand evolutionary dynamics is only rarely integrated. As a consequence, monitoring programs often fail to detect changes in these key components of biodiversity until after major loss of diversity has occurred. The extensive efforts in ecological monitoring have generated large data sets of unique value to macro-scale and long-term ecological research, but the insights gained from such data sets could be multiplied by the inclusion of evolutionary biological approaches. We argue that the lack of process-based evolutionary thinking in ecological monitoring means a significant loss of opportunity for research and conservation. Assessment of genetic and phenotypic variation within and between species needs to be fully integrated to safeguard biodiversity and the ecological and evolutionary dynamics in natural ecosystems. We illustrate our case with examples from fishes and conclude with examples of ongoing monitoring programs and provide suggestions on how to improve future quantitative diversity surveys.
Brodersen, J.; Seehausen, O. (2014) Why evolutionary biologists should get seriously involved in ecological monitoring and applied biodiversity assessment programs, Evolutionary Applications, 7(9), 968-983, doi:10.1111/eva.12215, Institutional Repository
Variable individual consistency in timing and destination of winter migrating fish
Migration is an important event in the life history of many animals, but there is considerable variation within populations in the timing and final destination. Such differential migration at the population level can be strongly determined by individuals showing different consistencies in migratory traits. By tagging individual cyprinid fish with uniquely coded electronic tags, and recording their winter migrations from lakes to streams for 6 consecutive years, we obtained highly detailed long-term information on the differential migration patterns of individuals. We found that individual migrants showed consistent site fidelities for over-wintering streams over multiple migratory seasons and that they were also consistent in their seasonal timing of migration. Our data also suggest that consistency itself can be considered as an individual trait, with migrants that exhibit consistent site fidelity also showing consistency in migratory timing. The finding of a mixture of both consistent and inconsistent individuals within a population furthers our understanding of intrapopulation variability in migration strategies, and we hypothesize that environmental variation can maintain such different strategies.
Brodersen, J.; Nilsson, P. A.; Chapman, B. B.; Skov, C.; Hansson, L.-A.; Brönmark, C. (2012) Variable individual consistency in timing and destination of winter migrating fish, Biology Letters, 8(1), 21-23, doi:10.1098/rsbl.2011.0634, Institutional Repository
Interplay between temperature, fish partial migration and trophic dynamics
Whereas many studies have addressed the mechanisms driving partial migration, few have focused on the consequences of partial migration on trophic dynamics, and integrated studies combining the two approaches are virtually nonexistent. Here we show that temperature affects seasonal partial migration of cyprinid fish from lakes to predation refuges in streams during winter and that this migration in combination with temperature affects the characteristics and phenology of lower trophic levels in the lake ecosystem. Specifically, our six-year study showed that the proportion of fish migrating was positively related to lake temperature during the pre-migration growth period, i.e. during summer. Migration from the lake occurred later when autumn water temperatures were high, and timing of return migration to the lake occurred earlier at higher spring water temperatures. Moreover, the winter mean size of zooplankton in the lake increased with the proportion of fish being away from the lake, likely as a consequence of decreased predation pressure. Peak biomass of phytoplankton in spring occurred earlier at higher spring water temperatures and with less fish being away from the lake. Accordingly, peak zooplankton biomass occurred earlier at higher spring water temperature, but relatively later if less fish were away from the lake. Hence, the time between phyto- and zooplankton peaks depended only on the amount of fish being away from the lake, and not on temperature. The intensity of fish migration thereby had a major effect on plankton spring dynamics. These results significantly contribute to our understanding of the interplay between partial migration and trophic dynamics, and suggest that ongoing climate change may significantly affect such dynamics.