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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Open Access Policy Deposits

This series is automatically populated with publications deposited by UC Santa Cruz Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology researchers in accordance with the University of California’s open access policies. For more information see Open Access Policy Deposits and the UC Publication Management System.

Cover page of Ecological restoration using intertidal foundation species: Considerations and potential for rockweed restoration

Ecological restoration using intertidal foundation species: Considerations and potential for rockweed restoration

(2023)

Foundation species, such as trees, corals, grasses, oysters, and rockweeds, must be common and abundant to effectively modify the physical environment and increase biodiversity by buffering environmental stress. Yet many of these important species have been declining due to disease, climate change, and other factors. A prime example is the precipitous population decline of marine rockweeds, which is attributed to increased urbanization and its accompanying impacts. Rockweeds provide three-dimensional habitat in harsh rocky intertidal environments and regulate ecosystem functioning, essential roles that no substitute species are capable of filling. Recovery of impacted rockweed populations is typically slow and unpredictable due to their limited dispersal capacity. These issues have motivated efforts to conserve remaining populations of rockweeds and reestablish or enhance depleted ones. Successfully doing so requires a robust understanding of factors that affect survival of the species and the processes that influence ecosystem structure, along with rigorous scientific testing of restoration methods and the factors that affect restoration success. In this comprehensive review, we summarize the current knowledge of rockweed ecology, highlight studies that could inform restoration practices, and recommend ways to improve our ability to implement scalable restoration of rockweeds and accompanying ecosystem-wide benefits.

Cover page of Diverge and Conquer: Phylogenomics of southern Wallacean forest skinks (Genus: Sphenomorphus) and their colonization of the Lesser Sunda Archipelago.

Diverge and Conquer: Phylogenomics of southern Wallacean forest skinks (Genus: Sphenomorphus) and their colonization of the Lesser Sunda Archipelago.

(2022)

The archipelagos of Wallacea extend between the Sunda and Sahul Shelves, serving as a semipermeable two-way filter influencing faunal exchange between Asia and Australo-Papua. Forest skinks (Genus Sphenomorphus) are widespread throughout southern Wallacea and exhibit complex clinal, ontogenetic, sexual, and seasonal morphological variation, rendering species delimitation difficult. We screened a mitochondrial marker for 245 Sphenomorphus specimens from this area to inform the selection of 104 samples from which we used targeted sequence capture to generate a dataset of 1154 nuclear genes (∼1.8 Mb) plus complete mitochondrial genomes. Phylogenomic analyses recovered many deeply divergent lineages, three pairs of which are now sympatric, that began to diversify in the late Miocene shortly after the oldest islands are thought to have become emergent. We infer a complex and nonstepping-stone pattern of island colonization, with the group having originated in the Sunda Arc islands before using Sumba as a springboard for colonization of the Banda Arcs. Estimates of population structure and gene flow across the region suggest total isolation except between two Pleistocene Aggregate Island Complexes that become episodically land-bridged during glacial maxima. These historical processes have resulted in at least 11 Sphenomorphus species in the region, nine of which require formal description. This fine-scale geographic partitioning of undescribed species highlights the importance of utilizing comprehensive genomic studies for defining biodiversity hotspots to be considered for conservation protection.

Cover page of Upwelling-level acidification and pH/pCO<sub>2</sub> variability moderate effects of ocean acidification on brain gene expression in the temperate surfperch, Embiotoca jacksoni.

Upwelling-level acidification and pH/pCO2 variability moderate effects of ocean acidification on brain gene expression in the temperate surfperch, Embiotoca jacksoni.

(2022)

Acidification-induced changes in neurological function have been documented in several tropical marine fishes. Here, we investigate whether similar patterns of neurological impacts are observed in a temperate Pacific fish that naturally experiences regular and often large shifts in environmental pH/pCO2 . In two laboratory experiments, we tested the effect of acidification, as well as pH/pCO2 variability, on gene expression in the brain tissue of a common temperate kelp forest/estuarine fish, Embiotoca jacksoni. Experiment 1 employed static pH treatments (target pH = 7.85/7.30), while Experiment 2 incorporated two variable treatments that oscillated around corresponding static treatments with the same mean (target pH = 7.85/7.70) in an eight-day cycle (amplitude ± 0.15). We found that patterns of global gene expression differed across pH level treatments. Additionally, we identified differential expression of specific genes and enrichment of specific gene sets (GSEA) in comparisons of static pH treatments and in comparisons of static and variable pH treatments of the same mean pH. Importantly, we found that pH/pCO2 variability decreased the number of differentially expressed genes detected between high and low pH treatments, and that interindividual variability in gene expression was greater in variable treatments than static treatments. These results provide important confirmation of neurological impacts of acidification in a temperate fish species and, critically, that natural environmental variability may mediate the impacts of ocean acidification.

Marine Pelagic Ecosystem Responses to Climate Variability and Change

(2022)

abstract The marine coastal region makes up just 10% of the total area of the global ocean but contributes nearly 20% of its total primary production and over 80% of fisheries landings. Unicellular phytoplankton dominate primary production. Climate variability has had impacts on various marine ecosystems, but most sites are just approaching the age at which ecological responses to longer term, unidirectional climate trends might be distinguished. All five marine pelagic sites in the US Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) network are experiencing warming trends in surface air temperature. The marine physical system is responding at all sites with increasing mixed layer temperatures and decreasing depth and with declining sea ice cover at the two polar sites. Their ecological responses are more varied. Some sites show multiple population or ecosystem changes, whereas, at others, changes have not been detected, either because more time is needed or because they are not being measured.

Cover page of Grey wolf genomic history reveals a dual ancestry of dogs.

Grey wolf genomic history reveals a dual ancestry of dogs.

(2022)

The grey wolf (Canis lupus) was the first species to give rise to a domestic population, and they remained widespread throughout the last Ice Age when many other large mammal species went extinct. Little is known, however, about the history and possible extinction of past wolf populations or when and where the wolf progenitors of the present-day dog lineage (Canis familiaris) lived1-8. Here we analysed 72 ancient wolf genomes spanning the last 100,000 years from Europe, Siberia and North America. We found that wolf populations were highly connected throughout the Late Pleistocene, with levels of differentiation an order of magnitude lower than they are today. This population connectivity allowed us to detect natural selection across the time series, including rapid fixation of mutations in the gene IFT88 40,000-30,000 years ago. We show that dogs are overall more closely related to ancient wolves from eastern Eurasia than to those from western Eurasia, suggesting a domestication process in the east. However, we also found that dogs in the Near East and Africa derive up to half of their ancestry from a distinct population related to modern southwest Eurasian wolves, reflecting either an independent domestication process or admixture from local wolves. None of the analysed ancient wolf genomes is a direct match for either of these dog ancestries, meaning that the exact progenitor populations remain to be located.

Cover page of Whiskers as hydrodynamic prey sensors in foraging seals.

Whiskers as hydrodynamic prey sensors in foraging seals.

(2022)

The darkness of the deep ocean limits the vision of diving predators, except when prey emit bioluminescence. It is hypothesized that deep-diving seals rely on highly developed whiskers to locate their prey. However, if and how seals use their whiskers while foraging in natural conditions remains unknown. We used animal-borne tags to show that free-ranging elephant seals use their whiskers for hydrodynamic prey sensing. Small, cheek-mounted video loggers documented seals actively protracting their whiskers in front of their mouths with rhythmic whisker movement, like terrestrial mammals exploring their environment. Seals focused their sensing effort at deep foraging depths, performing prolonged whisker protraction to detect, pursue, and capture prey. Feeding-event recorders with light sensors demonstrated that bioluminescence contributed to only about 20% of overall foraging success, confirming that whiskers play the primary role in sensing prey. Accordingly, visual prey detection complemented and enhanced prey capture. The whiskers' role highlights an evolutionary alternative to echolocation for adapting to the extreme dark of the deep ocean environment, revealing how sensory abilities shape foraging niche segregation in deep-diving mammals. Mammals typically have mobile facial whiskers, and our study reveals the significant function of whiskers in the natural foraging behavior of a marine predator. We demonstrate the importance of field-based sensory studies incorporating multimodality to better understand how multiple sensory systems are complementary in shaping the foraging success of predators.

Cover page of Phylogenomic analysis does not support a classic but controversial hypothesis of progenitor-derivative origins for the serpentine endemic Clarkia franciscana.

Phylogenomic analysis does not support a classic but controversial hypothesis of progenitor-derivative origins for the serpentine endemic Clarkia franciscana.

(2022)

Budding speciation involves isolation of marginal populations at the periphery of a species range and is thought to be a prominent mode of speciation in organisms with low dispersal and/or strong local adaptation among populations. Budding speciation is typically evidenced by abutting, asymmetric ranges of ecologically divergent sister species and low genetic diversity in putative budded species. Yet these indirect patterns may be unreliable, instead caused by postspeciation processes such as range or demographic shifts. Nested phylogenetic relationships provide the most conclusive evidence of budding speciation. A putative case of budding speciation in the serpentine endemic Clarkia franciscana and two closely related widespread congeners was studied by Harlan Lewis, Peter Raven, Leslie Gottlieb, and others over a 20-year period, yet the origin of C. franciscana remains controversial. Here, we reinvestigate this system with phylogenomic analyses to determine whether C. franciscana is a recently derived budded species, phylogenetically nested within one of the other two putative progenitor species. In contrast to the hypothesized pattern of relatedness among the three Clarkia species, we find no evidence for recent budding speciation. Instead, the data suggest the three species diverged simultaneously. We urge caution in using contemporary range patterns to infer geographic modes of speciation.