South American mammal zoogeography: evidence from convergent evolution in desert rodents.
Current theories regarding colonization of South America by mammals are divided between those supported by fossil evidence, which suggest the original mammal fauna of the isolated continent was augmented by early immigrants (primates, caviomorph rodents, and later, procyonids) with a final large influx of northern mammals occurring with the formation of the Panama land bridge, and an opposing view which states that the purported "recent invaders" are too taxonomically and ecologically differentiated to have colonized since the land bridge arose. The second theory suggests that most extant mammals entered before the Plio-Pleistocene land connection. An analysis of degree of physiological adaptation, natural history, distribution patterns, and a multivariate assessment of convergent evolution of Monte Desert rodents indicate that South American cricetine rodents are not highly specialized for desert life. Their degree of adaptation could be accounted for, in large part, by adaptations for arid or semiarid Andean habitats. No Monte Desert rodent has developed the specialized desert traits that have evolved in most desert rodent faunas of the world, although extinct marsupials similar to living bipedal desert rodents were present in the Monte as recently as late Pliocene. Evidence suggests that Monte caviomorphs have been associated with the desert for a longer period than cricetines, and that the latter represent a fairly recent invasion of the Monte Desert. The data thus support the first hypothesis of South American mammal colonization. (+info)
Prevalence of cutaneous evaporation in Merriam's kangaroo rat and its adaptive variation at the subspecific level.
Previous estimates suggested that ventilatory evaporation constitutes the major source of water loss in kangaroo rats (Dipodomys spp.). We quantified rates of water loss in Merriam's kangaroo rat (Dipodomys merriami) and demonstrate the degree to which acclimation to a particular thermal and hydric environment plays a role in the intraspecific variation in water loss evident in this species. We draw the following conclusions: (1) that water loss varies intraspecifically in Merriam's kangaroo rat, in association with habitats of contrasting aridity and temperature; (2) that animals from more xeric locations have lower water loss rates than those from more mesic sites; (3) that most water loss is cutaneous, with ventilatory evaporative water loss contributing, at most, only 44% to total evaporative water loss; and (4) that intraspecific differences in rates of water loss are not acclimatory, but fixed. After acclimating under the same conditions, xeric-site animals still show a 33% lower rate of evaporative water loss than mesic-site animals. (+info)
Pinpointing food sources: olfactory and anemotactic orientation in desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis.
Desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis, search for a repeatedly visited food source by employing a combined olfactory and anemotactic orientation strategy (in addition to their visually based path-integration scheme). This behaviour was investigated by video-tracking consecutive foraging trips of individually marked ants under a variety of experimental conditions, including manipulations of the olfactory and wind-detecting systems of the ants. If the wind blows from a constant direction, ants familiar with the feeding site follow outbound paths that lead them into an area 0.5-2.5 m downwind of the feeding station. Here, the ants apparently pick up odour plumes emanating from the food source and follow these by steering an upwind course until they reach the feeder. If the food is removed, foragers usually concentrate their search movements within the area downwind of the feeding site. Only when the wind happens to subside or when tail-wind conditions prevail do the ants steer direct courses towards the food. Elimination of olfactory input by clipping the antennal flagella, or of wind perception by immobilising the bases of the antennae, altered the foraging behaviour of the ants in ways that supported these interpretations. Ants with clipped flagella were never observed to collect food items. (+info)
Effect of wind and solar radiation on metabolic heat production in a small desert rodent, Spermophilus tereticaudus.
To understand better how complex interactions between environmental variables affect the energy balance of small diurnal animals, we studied the effects of the absence and presence of 950 W m(-)(2) simulated solar radiation combined with wind speeds ranging from 0. 25 to 1.00 m s(-)(1) on the metabolic rate and body temperature of the round-tailed ground squirrel Spermophilus tereticaudus. As wind speed increased from 0.25 to 1.00 m s(-)(1), metabolic heat production increased by 0.94 W in the absence of solar radiation and by 0.98 W in the presence of 950 W m(-)(2) simulated solar radiation. Exposure to simulated solar radiation reduced metabolic heat production by 0.68 W at a wind speed of 0.25 m s(-)(1), by 0.64 W at 0.50 m s(-)(1) and by 0.64 W at 1.00 m s(-)(1). Body temperature was significantly affected by environmental conditions, ranging from 32. 5 degrees C at a wind speed of 1.0 m s(-)(1) and no irradiance to 35. 6 degrees C at a wind speed of 0.50 m s(-)(1) with 950 W m(-)(2 )short-wave irradiance. In addition, several unusual findings resulted from this study. The coat of S. tereticaudus is very sparse, and the observed heat transfer of 5.68+/-0.37 W m(-)(2 ) degrees C(-)(1) (mean +/- s.e.m., N=11) is much higher than expected from either allometric equations or comparative studies with other rodents of similar mass. Solar heat gain was remarkably low, equalling only 10 % of intercepted radiation and suggesting a remarkably high regional thermal resistance at the tissue level. Animals remained normally active and alert at body temperatures as low as 32.5 degrees C. These findings suggest a unique combination of adaptations that allow S. tereticaudus to exploit a harsh desert environment. (+info)
The effect of desert conditions on the reactivity of Libyan schoolchildren to a range of new tuberculins.
This study was carried out to investigate the effect of desert conditions on the pattern of delayed hypersensitivity to mycobacteria in school children aged 6-10 and 11-18 years. A new range of tuberculins prepared from ultrasonic lysates of living mycobacteria belonging to 12 different species was employed. Three centres were chosen for study, a sea port and two desert towns differing greatly from each other. The results obtained were compared with those of a previous study using the same reagents in Kenya. As expected both the range of mycobacterial species to which the children reacted, the rate of acquisition of specific hypersensitivity with age and the total percentage of children reacting to individual reagents differed from centre to centre. The harsh desert conditions of Ajdabia produced the least, and the proximity of the people's dwellings to those of their farm animals in Kufra produced the most positive reactors to essentially environmental species. The greatest number of reactions to our Tuberculin were found in Benghazi where the cosmopolitan urban conditions probably lead to a high contact with open cases of tuberculosis. As assessed by skin test reactivity, immunization with BCG in Libya was much less effective than in Kenya. The interpretation of the differences between the results from the different test centres and between those for Libya and Kenya are discussed. (+info)
Thermotolerant desert lizards characteristically differ in terms of heat-shock system regulation.
We compare the properties and activation of heat-shock transcription factor (HSF1) and the synthesis of a major family of heat-shock proteins (HSP70) in lizard species inhabiting ecological niches with strikingly different thermal parameters. Under normal non-heat-shock conditions, all desert-dwelling lizard species studied so far differ from a northern, non-desert species (Lacerta vivipara) in the electrophoretic mobility and content of proteins constitutively bound to the regulatory heat-shock elements in the heat-shock gene promoter. Under these conditions, levels of activated HSF1 and of both HSP70 mRNA and protein are higher in the desert species than in the non-desert species. Upon heat shock, HSF1 aggregates in all species studied, although in desert species HSF1 subsequently disaggregates more rapidly. Cells of the northern species have a lower thermal threshold for HSP expression than those of the desert species, which correlates with the relatively low constitutive level of HSPs and high basal content of HSF1 in their cells. (+info)
Origins and ecological consequences of pollen specialization among desert bees.
An understanding of the evolutionary origins of insect foraging specialization is often hindered by a poor biogeographical and palaeoecological record. The historical biogeography (20,000 years before present to the present) of the desert-limited plant, creosote bush (Larrea tridentata), is remarkably complete. This history coupled with the distribution pattern of its bee fauna suggests pollen specialization for creosote bush pollen has evolved repeatedly among bees in the Lower Sonoran and Mojave deserts. In these highly xeric, floristically depauperate environments, species of specialist bees surpass generalist bees in diversity, biomass and abundance. The ability of specialist bees to facultatively remain in diapause through resource-poor years and to emerge synchronously with host plant bloom in resource-rich years probably explains their ecological dominance and persistence in these areas. Repeated origins of pollen specialization to one host plant where bloom occurs least predictably is a counter-example to prevailing theories that postulate such traits originate where the plant grows best and blooms most reliably Host-plant synchronization, a paucity of alternative floral hosts, or flowering attributes of creosote bush alone or in concert may account for the diversity of bee specialists that depend on this plant instead of nutritional factors or chemical coevolution between floral rewards and the pollinators they have evolved to attract. (+info)
The arterial supply to the digits of the forelimb in the Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus).
The arterial supply of the digits of the forelimb of the Bactrian camel is described. The arteries supplying the digits were the palmar metacarpal and common palmar digital arteries III. The palmar metacarpal artery III was the continuation of the deep medial proximal metacarpal branch which was derived from the medial branch of the radial artery. It gave rise to a nutrient branch, medial branch, lateral branch and distal perforating palmar branch at the proximal end of the distal sixth of the cannon bone (fused third and fourth metacarpal bones). The common palmar digital artery III was the continuation of the median artery, which divided into medial and lateral branches. The medial branch of common palmar digital artery III which occasionally arose from the axial palmar proper digital artery III, after giving rise to the axial proximal proximal phalangeal branch, divided into the axial and abaxial palmar proper digital arteries III. The axial palmar proper digital artery III gave off the dorsoaxial distal proximal phalangeal, dorsoaxial proximal middle phalangeal, dorsoaxial distal middle phalangeal, palmoaxial middle phalangeal, palmoaxial distal phalangeal, dorsoaxial distal phalangeal branches, coronal artery and some digital tori branches. The abaxial palmar proper digital artery III gave rise to the abaxial proximal proximal phalangeal, dorsoabaxial distal proximal phalangeal, dorsoabaxial middle phalangeal, palmoabaxial middle phalangeal, palmoabaxial distal phalangeal, dorsoabaxial distal phalangeal branches, coronal artery and some digital tori branches. The lateral branch of the common palmar digital artery III in its origin, course, branching pattern and supply in the fourth digit was similar to the medial branch of common palmar digital artery III in the third digit. (+info)