(1/95) Intrinsic and climatic factors in North-American animal population dynamics.

BACKGROUND: Extensive work has been done to identify and explain multi-year cycles in animal populations. Several attempts have been made to relate these to climatic cycles. We use advanced time series analysis methods to attribute cyclicities in several North-American mammal species to abiotic vs. biotic factors. RESULTS: We study eleven century-long time series of fur-counts and three climatic records--the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), the El-Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and Northern Hemisphere (NH) temperatures--that extend over the same time interval. Several complementary methods of spectral analysis are applied to these 14 times series, singly or jointly. These spectral analyses were applied to the leading principal components (PCs) of the data sets. The use of both PC analysis and spectral analysis helps distinguish external from intrinsic factors that influence the dynamics of the mammal populations. CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that all three climatic indices influence the animal-population dynamics: they explain a substantial part of the variance in the fur-counts and share characteristic periods with the fur-count data set. In addition to the climate-related periods, the fur-count time series also contain a significant 3-year period that is, in all likelihood, caused by biological interactions.  (+info)

(2/95) A spatial statistical model for landscape genetics.

Landscape genetics is a new discipline that aims to provide information on how landscape and environmental features influence population genetic structure. The first key step of landscape genetics is the spatial detection and location of genetic discontinuities between populations. However, efficient methods for achieving this task are lacking. In this article, we first clarify what is conceptually involved in the spatial modeling of genetic data. Then we describe a Bayesian model implemented in a Markov chain Monte Carlo scheme that allows inference of the location of such genetic discontinuities from individual geo-referenced multilocus genotypes, without a priori knowledge on populational units and limits. In this method, the global set of sampled individuals is modeled as a spatial mixture of panmictic populations, and the spatial organization of populations is modeled through the colored Voronoi tessellation. In addition to spatially locating genetic discontinuities, the method quantifies the amount of spatial dependence in the data set, estimates the number of populations in the studied area, assigns individuals to their population of origin, and detects individual migrants between populations, while taking into account uncertainty on the location of sampled individuals. The performance of the method is evaluated through the analysis of simulated data sets. Results show good performances for standard data sets (e.g., 100 individuals genotyped at 10 loci with 10 alleles per locus), with high but also low levels of population differentiation (e.g., FST<0.05). The method is then applied to a set of 88 individuals of wolverines (Gulo gulo) sampled in the northwestern United States and genotyped at 10 microsatellites.  (+info)

(3/95) Epithelioid leiomyosarcoma in the visceral peritoneum of an American badger (Taxidea taxus).

A 12-year-old female American badger was presented to the Taipei city zoo veterinary ward with anorexia and weakness. Treatments were ineffective, and the badger died of chronic interstitial nephritis and uremia. At necropsy, numerous firm white nodules, measuring 0.5-2.0 cm, were present on the surface of the liver, stomach, spleen, small intestine, pancreas, and diaphragm. Most nodules were encapsulated and well demarcated from the organs to which they were attached. A poorly demarcated mass, measuring 0.5 cm in diameter, had invaded the hepatic parenchyma and appeared to be the origin of all the nodules derived by transcavitary implantation. Histologically, the nodules contained primarily oval or spindle-shaped cells, typical of smooth muscle cells, forming alternating bundles attached to the surface of the various organs. In some nodules, aggregates of individual polyhedral to round cells with round to oval centrally located nuclei and abundant eosinophilic cytoplasm, typical of smooth muscle origin, were noted. Zones of subcapsular necrosis and multifocal necrosis were also observed in some nodules. Tumor cells stained positively for alpha-smooth muscle actin and vimentin and negatively for desmin, cytokeratin, estrogen, and progesterone receptors. This tumor is similar to but distinguishable from the "disseminated peritoneal leiomyomatosis (DPL)" found in women.  (+info)

(4/95) Structure of the mitochondrial control region of the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra; Carnivora, Mustelidae): patterns of genetic heterogeneity and implications for conservation of the species in Italy.

In this study we determined the complete sequence of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region of the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra). We then compared these new sequences with orthologues of nine carnivores belonging to six families (Mustelidae, Mephitidae, Canidae, Hyaenidae, Ursidae, and Felidae). The comparative analyses identified all the conserved regions previously found in mammals. The Eurasian otter and seven other species have a single location with tandem repeats in the right domain, while the spotted hyena (Hyaenidae) and the tiger (Felidae) have repeated sequences in both the right and left domains. To assess the degree of genetic heterogeneity of the Eurasian otter in Italy we sequenced two fragments of the gene and analyzed length polymorphisms of repeated sequences and heteroplasmy in 32 specimens. The study includes 23 museum specimens collected in northern, central, and southern Italy; most of these specimens are from extinct populations, while the southern Italian samples belong to the sole extant Italian population of the Eurasian otter. The study also includes all the captive-reared animals living in the colony "Centro Lontra, Caramanico Terme" (Pescara, central Italy). The colony is maintained for reintroduction of the species. We found a low level of genetic polymorphism; a single haplotype is dominant, but our data indicate the presence in central and southern Italy of two slightly divergent haplotypes. One haplotype belongs to an extinct population, the other is present in the single extant Italian population. Analyses of length polymorphisms and heteroplasmy indicate that the autochthonous Italian samples are characterized by a distinct array of repeated sequences from captive-reared animals.  (+info)

(5/95) Use of an electronic nose to diagnose Mycobacterium bovis infection in badgers and cattle.

It is estimated that more than 50 million cattle are infected with Mycobacterium bovis worldwide, resulting in severe economic losses. Current diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) in cattle relies on tuberculin skin testing, and when combined with the slaughter of test-positive animals, it has significantly reduced the incidence of bovine TB. The failure to eradicate bovine TB in Great Britain has been attributed in part to a reservoir of the infection in badgers (Meles meles). Accurate and reliable diagnosis of infection is the cornerstone of TB control. Bacteriological diagnosis has these characteristics, but only with samples collected postmortem. Unlike significant wild animal reservoirs of M. bovis that are considered pests in other countries, such as the brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) in New Zealand, the badger and its sett are protected under United Kingdom legislation (The Protection of Badgers Act 1992). Therefore, an accurate in vitro test for badgers is needed urgently to determine the extent of the reservoir of infection cheaply and without destroying badgers. For cattle, a rapid on-farm test to complement the existing tests (the skin test and gamma interferon assay) would be highly desirable. To this end, we have investigated the potential of an electronic nose (EN) to diagnose infection of cattle or badgers with M. bovis, using a serum sample. Samples were obtained from both experimentally infected badgers and cattle, as well as naturally infected badgers. Without exception, the EN was able to discriminate infected animals from controls as early as 3 weeks after infection with M. bovis, the earliest time point examined postchallenge. The EN approach described here is a straightforward alternative to conventional methods of TB diagnosis, and it offers considerable potential as a sensitive, rapid, and cost-effective means of diagnosing M. bovis infection in cattle and badgers.  (+info)

(6/95) Independent nonframeshift deletions in the MC1R gene are not associated with melanistic coat coloration in three mustelid lineages.

Sequence variation within the 5' flanking (about 240 bp) and exon regions (426 bp) of the melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) gene was examined to determine the potential role of this protein in the melanistic coat coloration of 17 mustelid species in four genera: Gulo (wolverines), Martes (martens), Mustela (weasels), and Meles (badgers). Members of the genera Mustela and Meles, together with Martes flavigula and Martes pennanti, were shown to have intact gene sequences. However, several "in frame" deletions of the MC1R gene region implicated in melanism of other species were detected within members of the genera Martes and Gulo. For instance, Gulo gulo possessed a 15 bp deletion in the second transmembrane domain coding region, while Martes americana, Martes melampus, Martes zibellina, and Martes martes shared a 45 bp deletion overlapping this area. In addition, Martes foina was found to possess a 10 bp insertion followed closely by a 28 bp deletion immediately downstream of the deletion found in other martens. Notably, none of these indels was associated with a melanistic phenotype. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that each of these nonrandomly distributed deletions arose independently during the evolution of this family. Specific indel-neighboring motifs appear to largely account for the biased and repeated occurrence of deletion events in the Martes/Gulo clade.  (+info)

(7/95) Fecal DNA analysis for identifying species and sex of sympatric carnivores: a noninvasive method for conservation on the Tsushima Islands, Japan.

Fecal analysis is a useful tool for the investigation of food habits and species identity in mammals. However, it is generally difficult to identify the species based on the morphological features and contents of feces deposited by mammals of similar body size. Therefore we developed noninvasive DNA analysis methods using fecal samples for identification of the species and sex of four small sympatric carnivores living on the Tsushima Islands of Japan: the leopard cat (Felis bengalensis), Japanese marten (Martes melampus), Siberian weasel (Mustela sibirica), and feral cat (Felis catus). Based on DNA sequence data from previous phylogenetic studies, we designed species-specific primers for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of the partial mitochondrial cytochrome b gene (112-347 bp) to identify the species and primers for the partial SRY gene (135 bp) to determine the sex. Due to the adjustment of PCR conditions, those specific DNA fragments were successfully amplified and then applied for species and sex identification. Nucleotide sequences obtained from the PCR products corresponded with cytochrome b sequences of the carnivore species expected. The protocol developed could be a valuable tool in the management and conservation of the four carnivore species occurring on the Tsushima Islands.  (+info)

(8/95) Simple model for tuberculosis in cattle and badgers.

As an aid to the study of bovine tuberculosis (TB), a simple model has been developed of an epidemic involving two species, cattle and badgers. Each species may infect the other. The proportion of animals affected is assumed relatively small so that the usual nonlinear aspects of epidemic theory are avoided. The model is used to study the long-run and transient effect on cattle of culling badgers and the effect of a period without routine testing for TB, such as occurred during the 2001 epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease in Great Britain. Finally, by examining the changes in cattle TB over the last 15 years, and with some other working assumptions, it is estimated that the net reproduction number of the epidemic is approximately 1.1. The implications for controlling the disease are discussed.  (+info)