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  • Undergraduate Poster Abstracts
  • Ecology/Evolution

    FRI-G3 BRAINS AND CLADES: THE IMPLICATIONS OF SYNAPSE GENES IN THE ANIMAL TREE OF LIFE

    • Adolfo Lara ;
    • Estefania Rodriguez ;
    • Rob DeSalle ;

    FRI-G3

    BRAINS AND CLADES: THE IMPLICATIONS OF SYNAPSE GENES IN THE ANIMAL TREE OF LIFE

    Adolfo Lara1, Estefania Rodriguez1, Rob DeSalle2.

    1The Richard Gilder Graduate School, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY, 2Sackler Institute of Comparative Genomics, The Richard Gilder Graduate School, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY.

    The origin and evolution of the nervous system has gathered a lot of interest in the last couple of years. The nervous system, responsible for the connection of organisms to the outside world is still surrounded by questions regarding its origin and subsequent evolution. Recent studies, possible due to the current ease of DNA and RNA sequencing technologies, suggest multiple origins of the nervous system in the animal tree of life. If nervous systems indeed originated multiple times in evolutionary history, the next step is to determine the evolutionary history of genes involved in the nervous system. Accordingly, this project will identify the functional importance of genes involved in neuron-neuron communication, or synapses, in the evolution of animal groups. Specifically, this project will test the hypothesis that genes involved in synapses have functional importance in the evolution of present animal clades. Neural genes gathered from genomic data for 47 organisms representing major animal groups were screened to assess clade support. The presence, or lack thereof, and the distribution of the clades based on synapse genes in the animal tree of life will be discussed.

    THU-G16 THE PHYLOGENY OF THE BURROWING WATER BEETLES (COLEOPTERA: NOTERIDAE) INFERRED FROM MOLECULAR SEQUENCE DATA

    • Stephen Baca ;
    • Andrew E.Z. Short ;

    THU-G16

    THE PHYLOGENY OF THE BURROWING WATER BEETLES (COLEOPTERA: NOTERIDAE) INFERRED FROM MOLECULAR SEQUENCE DATA

    Stephen Baca, Andrew E.Z. Short.

    The University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS.

    Noteridae (Coleoptera: Adephaga), also known as the burrowing water beetles, comprises a widely distributed family of about 270 described species. Our current understanding of noterid evolution and diversity remains nebulous, and a robust molecular-based phylogenetic analysis of the family has never been performed. Here we present a phylogeny of noteridae inferred from molecular sequence data of 5 gene fragments from a sampling of over 70 noterid exemplars, including representatives for 16 of the 17 known noterid genera. Our analyses provide the most robust estimate of the evolutionary relationships of noteridae to date, strongly contradicting morphology based reconstructions. Resulting phylogenetic trees and recovered relationships are presented and noterid classification is discussed.

    THU-G2 COMPENSATORY BEHAVIORS IN LOCOMOTOR PERFORMANCE INDUCED BY AUTOTOMY IN DADDY LONG-LEGS

    • Ignacio Escalante ;
    • Damian Elias ;

    THU-G2

    COMPENSATORY BEHAVIORS IN LOCOMOTOR PERFORMANCE INDUCED BY AUTOTOMY IN DADDY LONG-LEGS

    Ignacio Escalante, Damian Elias

    University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA.

    Animals face predictable challenges throughout their lifetimes. For instance, predation attempts are ubiquitous, and may drive the evolution of adaptations to avoid predators. Some animals have evolved adaptations in which they voluntarily release appendages (autotomy) during predation attempts. While autotomy is favored because it increases survival, animals can face long-term consequences if they lack appendages. Given this, strategies to compensate for damage have likely evolved repeatedly, although compensation strategies have not received much attention in the scientific literature. We studied compensation strategies in daddy long-legs (order Opiliones) because autotomy is frequent in this group and regeneration does not occur in their lifetimes. Specifically, we examined Prionostemma sp1 (Sclerosomatidae) in a Costa Rican rainforest to test the hypothesis that compensation occurs through time due to changes in either biomechanical (kinematic) properties and/or the suites of behaviors employed while escaping. By experimentally controlling the time of autotomy and the number of legs in animals, we recorded changes in locomotor performance of individuals on a horizontal track through time, using high-speed video. Preliminary analyses show an immediate decrease in locomotor performance after autotomy, followed by gradual changes in the kinematics (trajectory, axes of rotation, and stride length) of locomotion and locomotor behaviors employed. Eventually, certain individuals seem to approach pre-autotomy levels on locomotion performance. Overall, this project addressed mechanisms of adaptive plasticity and mechanical robustness used by animals to cope with damage. Additionally, these findings have implications for biomechanics and robotics.