Identifying the factors underlying the origin and maintenance of the latitudinal diversity gradient is a central problem in ecology, but no consensus has emerged on which processes might generate this broad pattern. Interestingly, the vast majority of studies exploring the gradient have focused on free-living organisms, ignoring parasitic and infectious disease (PID) species. Here, we address the influence of environmental factors on the biological diversity of human pathogens and their global spatial organization. Using generalized linear multivariate models and Monte Carlo simulations, we conducted a series of comparative analyses to test the hypothesis that human PIDs exhibit the same global patterns of distribution as other taxonomic groups. We found a significant negative relationship between latitude and PID species richness, and a nested spatial organization, i.e., the accumulation of PID species with latitude, over large spatial scales. Additionally, our results show that climatic factors are of primary importance in explaining the link between latitude and the spatial pattern of human pathogens. Based on our findings, we propose that the global latitudinal species diversity gradient might be generated in large part by biotic interactions, providing strong support for the idea that current estimates of species diversity are substantially underestimated. When parasites and pathogens are included, estimates of total species diversity may increase by more than an order of magnitude.
Wolbachia are bacteria that live in the cells of various invertebrate species to which they cause a wide range of effects on physiology and reproduction. We investigated the effect of Wolbachia infection in the parasitic wasp, Asobara tabida Nees (Hymenoptera, Braconidae). In the 13 populations tested, all individuals proved to be infected by Wolbachia. The removal of Wolbachia by antibiotic treatment had a totally unexpected effect-aposymbiotic female wasps were completely incapable of producing mature oocytes and therefore could not reproduce. In contrast, oogenesis was not affected in treated Asobara citri, a closely related species that does not harbor Wolbachia. No difference between natural symbiotic and cured individuals was found for other adult traits including male fertility, locomotor activity, and size, indicating that the effect on oogenesis is highly specific. We argue that indirect effects of the treatments used in our study (antibiotic toxicity or production of toxic agents) are very unlikely to explain the sterility of females, and we present results showing a direct relationship between oocyte production and Wolbachia density in females. We conclude that Wolbachia is necessary for oogenesis in these A. tabida strains, and this association would seem to be the first example of a transition from facultative to obligatory symbiosis in arthropod-Wolbachia associations.
A transparent, simple, and straightforward approach that is free from any arbitrary rank valuation is required to estimate the credit associated with the sequence of authors' names on multiauthored papers.
There is concern that the rate of environmental change is now exceeding the capacity of many populations to adapt. Mitigation of biodiversity loss requires science that integrates both ecological and evolutionary responses of populations and communities to rapid environmental change, and can identify the conditions that allow the recovery of declining populations. This special issue focuses on evolutionary rescue (ER), the idea that evolution might occur sufficiently fast to arrest population decline and allow population recovery before extinction ensues. ER emphasizes a shift to a perspective on evolutionary dynamics that focuses on short time-scales, genetic variants of large effects and absolute rather than relative fitness. The contributions in this issue reflect the state of field; the articles address the latest conceptual developments, and report novel theoretical and experimental results. The examples in this issue demonstrate that this burgeoning area of research can inform problems of direct practical concern, such as the conservation of biodiversity, adaptation to climate change and the emergence of infectious disease. The continued development of research on ER will be necessary if we are to understand the extent to which anthropogenic global change will reduce the Earth's biodiversity.
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