2018 Vol. 39, No. 6
Habitat evaluation constitutes an important and fundamental step in the management of wildlife populations and conservation policy planning. Geographic information system (GIS) and species presence data provide the means by which such evaluation can be done. Maximum Entropy (MaxEnt) is widely used in habitat suitability modeling due to its power of accuracy and additional descriptive properties. To survey snow leopard populations in Qomolangma (Mt. Everest, QNNR) National Nature Reserve, Tibet, China, we pooled 127 pugmarks, 415 scrape marks, and 127 non-invasive identifications of the animal along line transects and recorded 87 occurrences through camera traps from 2014–2017. We adopted the MaxEnt model to generate a map highlighting the extent of suitable snow leopard habitat in QNNR. Results showed that the accuracy of the MaxEnt model was excellent (mean AUC=0.921). Precipitation in the driest quarter, ruggedness, elevation, maximum temperature of the warmest month, and annual mean temperature were the main environmental factors influencing habitat suitability for snow leopards, with contribution rates of 20.0%, 14.4%, 13.3%, 8.7%, and 8.2% respectively. The suitable habitat area extended for 7001.93 km2, representing 22.72% of the whole reserve. The regions bordering Nepal were the main suitable snow leopard habitats and consisted of three separate habitat patches. Our findings revealed that precipitation, temperature conditions, ruggedness, and elevations of around 4000 m influenced snow leopard preferences at the landscape level in QNNR. We advocate further research and cooperation with Nepal to evaluate habitat connectivity and to explore possible proxies of population isolation among these patches. Furthermore, evaluation of subdivisions within the protection zones of QNNR is necessary to improve conservation strategies and enhance protection.
DNA damage in oocytes can cause infertility and birth defects. DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are highly deleterious and can substantially impair genome integrity. Homologous recombination (HR)-mediated DNA DSB repair plays dominant roles in safeguarding oocyte quantity and quality. However, little is known regarding the key players of the HR repair pathway in oocytes. Here, we identified oocyte-specific gene Ooep as a novel key component of the HR repair pathway in mouse oocytes. OOEP was required for efficient ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) kinase activation and Rad51 recombinase(RAD51)focal accumulation at DNA DSBs. Ooep null oocytes were defective in DNA DSB repair and prone to apoptosis upon exogenous DNA damage insults. Moreover, Ooep null oocytes exhibited delayed meiotic maturation. Therefore, OOEP played roles in preserving oocyte quantity and quality by maintaining genome stability. Ooep expression decreased with the advance of maternal age, suggesting its involvement in maternal aging.
A new freshwater goby, Rhinogobius immaculatus sp. nov. , is described here from the Qiantang River in China. It is distinguished from all congeners by the following combination of characters: second dorsal-fin rays I, 7–9; anal-fin rays I, 6–8; pectoral-fin rays 14–15; longitudinal scales 29–31; transverse scales 7–9; predorsal scales 2–5; vertebrae 27 (rarely 28); preopercular canal absent or with two pores; a red oblique stripe below eye in males; branchiostegal membrane mostly reddish-orange, with 3–6 irregular discrete or connected red blotches on posterior branchiostegal membrane and lower operculum in males; caudal-fin base with a median black spot; and no black blotch on anterior part of first dorsal fin in males.
Understanding the spatial patterns of human-wildlife conflict is essential to inform management decisions to encourage coexistence, but it is constrained by the lack of spatially-explicit data. We collected spatially-implicit data of human-wildlife conflicts from 2009–2015 around Daxueshan Nature Reserve, Yunnan, China, and investigated the patterns and drivers of these conflicts. A questionnaire was also designed to capture local resident attitudes toward insurance-based compensation for the losses caused by targeted wildlife. We found that the Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus) was the most conflict-prone animal around the reserve, followed by the rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) and Southeast Asian sambar (Cervus equinus). Conflicts were unevenly distributed among seasons, villages, and communities, with several grids identified as conflict hotspots. Poisson models revealed that human-bear conflicts were negatively related to distance to the reserve and proportion of forest, but positively correlated to the proportion of cropland. Binomial models showed that communities affected by crop depredation were positively correlated with the proportion of cropland and negatively correlated with distance to the reserve, whereas communities affected by livestock depredation were negatively correlated with the proportion of cropland. The insurance-based scheme has compensated over 90% of losses, to the satisfaction of 90.6% of respondents. Our results suggest that human-bear conflict could be potentially reduced by eliminating food crops near the reserve boundary and livestock grazing at conflict hotspots. In addition, the insurance-based scheme could be replicated at a broader scale with improvement in loss assessment.
Lizards are key amniote models for studying organ regeneration. During tail regeneration in lizards, blastemas contain sparse granulocytes, macrophages, and lymphocytes among the prevalent mesenchymal cells. Using transmission electron microscopy to examine scarring blastemas after third and fourth sequential tail amputations, the number of granulocytes, macrophages, and lymphocytes increased at 3–4 weeks in comparison to the first regeneration. An increase in granulocytes and agranulocytes also occurred within a week after blastema cauterization during the process of scarring. Blood at the third and fourth regeneration also showed a significant increase in white blood cells compared with that under normal conditions and at the first regeneration. The extracellular matrix of the scarring blastema, especially after cauterization, was denser than that in the normal blastema and numerous white blood cells and fibroblasts were surrounded by electron-pale, fine fibrinoid material mixed with variable collagen fibrils. In addition to previous studies, the present observations support the hypothesis that an increase in inflammation and immune reactions determine scarring rather than regeneration. These new findings verify that an immune reaction against mesenchymal and epidermal cells of the regenerative blastema is one of the main causes for the failure of organ regeneration in amniotes.
The Bama Xiang pig (BMX) is a famous early-maturing Chinese indigenous breed with a two-end black coat. To uncover the genetic basis of the BMX phenotype, we conducted comparative genomic analyses between BMX and East Asian wild boars and Laiwu pigs, respectively. Genes under positive selection were enriched in pathways associated with gonadal hormone and melanin synthesis, consistent with the phenotypic changes observed during development in BMX pigs. We also performed differentially expressed gene analysis based on RNA-seq data from pituitary tissues of BMX and Large White pigs. The CTTNBP2NL, FRS2, KANK4, and KATNAL1 genes were under selection and exhibited expressional changes in the pituitary tissue, which may affect BMX pig puberty. Our study demonstrated the positive selection of early maturity in the development of BMX pigs and advances our knowledge on the role of regulatory elements in puberty evolution in pigs.
2018, 39(6): 431-436. doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2018.063
Three-finger toxins (TFTs) are well-recognized non-enzymatic venom proteins found in snakes. However, although TFTs exhibit accelerated evolution, the drivers of this evolution remain poorly understood. The structural complexes between long-chain α-neurotoxins, a subfamily of TFTs, and their nicotinic acetylcholine receptor targets have been determined in previous research, providing an opportunity to address such questions. In the current study, we observed several previously identified positively selected sites (PSSs) and the highly variable C-terminal loop of these toxins at the toxin/receptor interface. Of interest, analysis of the molecular adaptation of the toxin-recognition regions in the corresponding receptors provided no statistical evidence for positive selection. However, these regions accumulated abundant amino acid variations in the receptors from the prey of snakes, suggesting that accelerated substitution of TFTs could be a consequence of adaptation to these variations. To the best of our knowledge, this atypical evolution, initially discovered in scorpions, is reported in snake toxins for the first time and may be applicable for the evolution of toxins from other venomous animals.