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05 Jan 2021
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Do substrate roughness and gap distance impact gap-bridging strategies in arboreal chameleons?

Gap-bridging strategies in arboreal chameleons

Recommended by based on reviews by Simon Baeckens and 2 anonymous reviewers

Until now, very little is known about the tail use and functional performance in tail prehensile animals. Luger et al. (2020) are the first to provide explorative observations on trait related modulation of tail use, despite the lack of a sufficiently standardized data set to allow statistical testing. They described whether gap distance, perch diameter, and perch roughness influence tail use and overall locomotor behavior of the species Chamaeleo calyptratus.
Peterson (1984) described already the pattern how and when the tail is moved when bridging the distance from one perch to another. The study by Luger et al. (2020) further explores how this bridging distance, as well as other perch parameters modulate this behavior and the importance of tail use in it. Zippel et al. (1999) study the underlying musculoskeletal anatomy of the tail in chameleons, showing that chameleons have a strikingly different tail anatomy than other prehensile squamates. The difference is (partially) to be seen in the capacity of tail autotomy, that has been lost in chameleons.
Luger et al. (2020) describe the role the tail has in bridging a gap, and show that challenging and acrobatic movements to bridge large gaps, or when grasping on not so rough surfaces, relies heavily on a strong tail. Full body suspension with the tail can explain why tail autotomy has been lost, thus explaining the diverging tail musculature. They speculate on the role of this behavior for sexual selection for males. Sexual selection for males with a higher gripping performance could explain why male chameleons perform better for their size. In addition, boldness could have played a role. The authors state that exploring personality and its links to morphology, performance, and behaviors like grap-bridging would be a worthwhile avenue for future research on sexual selection in reptiles.


Luger, A.M., Vermeylen, V., Herrel, A. and Adriaens, D. (2020) Do substrate roughness and gap distance impact gap-bridging strategies in arboreal chameleons? bioRxiv, 2020.08.21.260596, ver. 3 peer-reviewed and recommended by PCI Zoology. doi:
Peterson, J. A. (1984). The locomotion of Chamaeleo (Reptilia: Sauria) with particular reference to the forelimb. Journal of Zoology, 202(1), 1-42. doi:
Zippel, K. C., Glor, R. E., and Bertram, J. E. (1999). On caudal prehensility and phylogenetic constraint in lizards: the influence of ancestral anatomy on function in Corucia and Furcifer. Journal of Morphology, 239(2), 143-155. doi:;2-O

Do substrate roughness and gap distance impact gap-bridging strategies in arboreal chameleons?Allison M. Luger, Vincent Vermeylen, Anthony Herrel, Dominique Adriaens<p>Chameleons are well-equipped for an arboreal lifestyle, having ‘zygodactylous’ hands and feet as well as a fully prehensile tail. However, to what degree tail use is preferred over autopod prehension has been largely neglected. Using an indoor ...Behavior, Biology, Herpetology, Reptiles, VertebratesEllen Decaestecker2020-08-25 10:06:42 View
09 Jul 2021
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First detection of herpesvirus and mycoplasma in free-ranging Hermann tortoises (Testudo hermanni), and in potential pet vectors

Welfare threatened species

Recommended by based on reviews by Francis Vercammen and Maria Luisa Marenzoni

Wildlife is increasingly threatened by drops in number of individuals and populations, and eventually by extinction. Besides loss of habitat, persecution, pet trade,… a decrease in individual health status is an important factor to consider. In this article, Ballouard et al (2021)  perform a thorough analysis on the prevalence of two pathogens (herpes virus and mycoplasma) in (mainly) Western Hermann’s tortoises in south-east France. This endangered species was suspected to suffer from infections obtained through released/escaped pet tortoises. By incorporating samples of captive as well as wild tortoises, they convincingly confirm this and identify some possible ‘pet’ vectors. 

In February this year, a review paper on health assessments in wildlife was published (Kophamel et al 2021). Amongst others, it shows reptilia/chelonia are relatively well-represented among publications. It also contains a useful conceptual framework, in order to improve the quality of the assessments to better facilitate conservation planning. The recommended manuscript (Ballouard et al 2021) adheres to many aspects of this framework (e.g. minimum sample size, risk status, …) while others might need more (future) attention. For example, climate/environmental changes are likely to increase stress levels, which could lead to more disease symptoms. So, follow-up studies should consider conducting endocrinological investigations to estimate/monitor stress levels. Kophamel et al (2021) also stress the importance of strategic international collaboration, which may allow more testing of Eastern Hermann’s Tortoise, as these were shown to be infected by mycoplasma.

The genetic health of individuals/populations shouldn’t be forgotten in health/stress assessments. As noted by Ballouard et al (2021), threatened species often have low genetic diversity which makes them more vulnerable to diseases. So, it would be interesting to link the infection data with (individual) genetic characteristics. In future research, the samples collected for this paper could fit that purpose.

Finally, it is expected that this paper will contribute to the conservation management strategy of the Hermann’s tortoises. As such,  it will be interesting to see how the results of the current paper will be implemented in the ‘field’. As the infections are likely caused by releases/escaped pets and as treating the wild animals is difficult, preventing them from getting infected through pets seems a priority.  Awareness building among pet holders and monitoring/treating pets should be highly effective.


Ballouard J-M, Bonnet X, Jourdan J, Martinez-Silvestre A, Gagno S, Fertard B, Caron S (2021) First detection of herpesvirus and mycoplasma in free-ranging Hermann’s tortoises (Testudo hermanni), and in potential pet vectors. bioRxiv, 2021.01.22.427726, ver. 4 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Zoology.

Kophamel S, Illing B, Ariel E, Difalco M, Skerratt LF, Hamann M, Ward LC, Méndez D, Munns SL (2021), Importance of health assessments for conservation in noncaptive wildlife. Conservation Biology.

First detection of herpesvirus and mycoplasma in free-ranging Hermann tortoises (Testudo hermanni), and in potential pet vectorsJean-marie Ballouard, Xavier Bonnet, Julie Jourdan, Albert Martinez-Silvestre, Stephane Gagno, Brieuc Fertard, Sebastien Caron<p style="text-align: justify;">Two types of pathogens cause highly contagious upper respiratory tract diseases (URTD) in Chelonians: testudinid herpesviruses (TeHV) and a mycoplasma (<em>Mycoplasma agassizii</em>). In captivity, these infections ...Parasitology, ReptilesPeter Galbusera2021-01-25 17:25:34 View
25 Aug 2022
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Improving species conservation plans under IUCN's One Plan Approach using quantitative genetic methods

Quantitative genetics for a more qualitative conservation

Recommended by based on reviews by Timothée Bonnet and 1 anonymous reviewer

Genetic (bio)diversity is one of three recognised levels of biodiversity, besides species and ecosystem diversity. Its importance for species survival and adaptation is increasingly highlighted and its monitoring recommended (e.g. O’Brien et al 2022). Especially the management of ex-situ populations has a long history of taking into account genetic aspects (through pedigree analysis but increasingly also by applying molecular tools). As in-situ and ex-situ efforts are nowadays often aligned (in a One-Plan-Approach), genetic management is becoming more the standard (supported by quickly developing genomic techniques). However, rarely quantitative genetic aspects are raised in this issue, while its relevance cannot be underestimated. Hence, the current manuscript by Sauve et al (2022) is a welcome contribution, in order to improve conservation efforts. The authors give a clear overview on how quantitative genetic analysis can aid the measurement, monitoring, prediction and management of adaptive genetic variation. The main tools are pedigrees (mainly of ex-situ populations) and the Animal Model. The main goal is to prevent adaption to captivity and altered genetics in general (in reintroduction projects). The confounding factors to take into account (like inbreeding, population structure, differences between facilities, sample size and parental/social effects) are well described by the authors. As such, I fully recommend this manuscript for publication, hoping increased interest in quantitative analysis will benefit the quality of species conservation management.


O'Brien D, Laikre L, Hoban S, Bruford MW et al. (2022) Bringing together approaches to reporting on within species genetic diversity. Journal of Applied Ecology, 00, 1–7. https://doi/10.1111/1365-2664.14225

Sauve D., Spero J., Steiner J., Wheeler H., Lynch C., Chabot A.A. (2022) Improving species conservation plans under IUCN’s One Plan Approach using quantitative genetic methods. EcoEvoRxiv, ver. 9 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Zoology.

Improving species conservation plans under IUCN's One Plan Approach using quantitative genetic methodsDrew Sauve, Jane Hudecki, Jessica Steiner, Hazel Wheeler, Colleen Lynch, Amy A. Chabot<p>Human activities are resulting in altered environmental conditions that are impacting the demography and evolution of species globally. If we wish to prevent anthropogenic extinction and extirpation, we need to improve our ability to restore wi...Conservation biology, Ecology, Evolution, Genetics/GenomicsPeter Galbusera2022-02-21 10:45:22 View
28 Apr 2021
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Inference of the worldwide invasion routes of the pinewood nematode Bursaphelenchus xylophilus using approximate Bayesian computation analysis

Extracting the maximum historical information on pine wood nematode worldwide invasion from genetic data

Recommended by ORCID_LOGO based on reviews by Aude Gilabert and 1 anonymous reviewer

Redistribution of domesticated and non domesticated species by humans profoundly affected earth biogeography and in return human activities. This process accelerated exponentially since human expansion out of Africa, leading to the modern global, highly connected and homogenized, agriculture and trade system (Mack et al. 2000, Jaksic and Castro 2021), that threatens biological diversity and genetic resources. To accompany quarantine and control effort, the reconstruction of invasion routes provides valuable information that help identifying critical nodes and edges in the global networks (Estoup and Guillemaud 2010, Cristescu 2015). Historical records and genetic markers are the two major sources of information of this corpus of knowledge on Anthropocene historical phylogeography. With the advances of molecular genetics tools, the genealogy of these introductions events could be revisited and empowered. Due to their idiosyncrasy and intimate association with the contingency of human trades and activities, understanding the invasion and domestication routes require particular statistical tools (Fraimout et al. 2017).

Because it encompasses all these theoretical, ecological and economical implications, I am pleased to recommend the readers of PCI Zoology this article by Mallez et al. (2021) on pine wood nematode invasion route inference from genetic markers using Approximate Bayesian Computation (ABC) methods.

Economically and ecologically, this pest, is responsible for killing millions of pines worldwide each year. The results show these damages and the global genetic patterns are due to few events of successful introductions. The authors consider that this low probability of introductions success reinforces the idea that quarantine measures are efficient. This is illustrated in Europe where the pine-worm has been quarantined successfully in the Iberian Peninsula since 1999. Another relevant conclusion is that hybridization between invasive populations have not been observed and implied in the invasion process. Finally the present study reinforced the role of Asiatic bridgehead populations in invasion process including in Europe.

Methodologically, for the first time, ABC was applied to this species. A total of 310 individual sequences were added to the Mallez et al. (2015) microsatellite dataset. Fraimoult et al. (2017) showed the interest to apply random forest to improve scenario selection in ABC framework. This method, implemented in the DiYABC software (Collin et al. 2020) for invasion route scenario selection allows to handle more complex scenario alternatives and was used in this study. In this article by Mallez et al. (2021), you will also find a clear illustration of the step-by-step approach to select scenario using ABC techniques (Lombaert et al. 2014). The rationale is to reduce number of scenario to be tested by assuming that most recent invasions cannot be the source of the most ancient invasions and to use posterior results on most ancient routes as prior hypothesis to distinguish following invasions. The other simplification is to perform classical population genetic analysis to characterize genetic units and representative populations prior to invasion routes scenarios selection by ABC.

Yet, even when using the most advanced Bayesian inference methods, it is recognized by the authors that the method can be pushed to its statistical power limits. The method is appropriate when population show strong inter-population genetic structure. But the high number of differentiated populations in native area can be problematic since it is generally associated to incomplete sampling scheme. The hypothesis of ghost populations source allowed to bypass this difficulty, but the authors consider simulation studies are needed to assess the joint effect of genetic diversity and number of genetic markers on the inference results in such situation. Also the need to use a stepwise approach to reduce the number of scenario to test has to be considered with caution. Scenarios that are not selected but have non negligible posterior, cannot be ruled out in the constitution of next step scenarios hypotheses.

Due to its interest to understand this major facet of Anthropocene, reconstruction of invasion routes should be more considered as a guide to damper biological homogenization process.


Collin, F.-D., Durif, G., Raynal, L., Lombaert, E., Gautier, M., Vitalis, R., Marin, J.-M. and Estoup, A. (2020) Extending Approximate Bayesian Computation with Supervised Machine Learning to infer demographic history from genetic polymorphisms using DIYABC Random Forest. Authorea. doi:

Cristescu, M.E. (2015) Genetic reconstructions of invasion history. Molecular Ecology, 24, 2212–2225. doi:

Estoup, A. and Guillemaud, T., (2010) Reconstructing routes of invasion using genetic data: Why, how and so what? Molecular Ecology, 9, 4113-4130. doi:

Fraimout, A., Debat, V., Fellous, S., Hufbauer, R.A., Foucaud, J., Pudlo, P., Marin, J.M., Price, D.K., Cattel, J., Chen, X., Deprá, M., Duyck, P.F., Guedot, C., Kenis, M., Kimura, M.T., Loeb, G., Loiseau, A., Martinez-Sañudo, I., Pascual, M., Richmond, M.P., Shearer, P., Singh, N., Tamura, K., Xuéreb, A., Zhang, J., Estoup, A. and Nielsen, R. (2017) Deciphering the routes of invasion of Drosophila suzukii by Means of ABC Random Forest. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 34, 980-996. doi:

Jaksic, F.M. and Castro, S.A. (2021). Biological Invasions in the Anthropocene, in: Jaksic, F.M., Castro, S.A. (Eds.), Biological Invasions in the South American Anthropocene: Global Causes and Local Impacts. Springer International Publishing, Cham, pp. 19-47. doi:

Lombaert, E., Guillemaud, T., Lundgren, J., Koch, R., Facon, B., Grez, A., Loomans, A., Malausa, T., Nedved, O., Rhule, E., Staverlokk, A., Steenberg, T. and Estoup, A. (2014) Complementarity of statistical treatments to reconstruct worldwide routes of invasion: The case of the Asian ladybird Harmonia axyridis. Molecular Ecology, 23, 5979-5997. doi:

Mack, R.N., Simberloff, D., Lonsdale, M.W., Evans, H., Clout, M., Bazzaz, F.A. (2000) Biotic Invasions : Causes , Epidemiology , Global Consequences , and Control. Ecological Applications, 10, 689-710. doi:[0689:BICEGC]2.0.CO;2

Mallez, S., Castagnone, C., Lombaert, E., Castagnone-Sereno, P. and Guillemaud, T. (2021) Inference of the worldwide invasion routes of the pinewood nematode Bursaphelenchus xylophilus using approximate Bayesian computation analysis. bioRxiv, 452326, ver. 6 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer community in Zoology. doi:

Inference of the worldwide invasion routes of the pinewood nematode Bursaphelenchus xylophilus using approximate Bayesian computation analysisSophie Mallez, Chantal Castagnone, Eric Lombaert, Philippe Castagnone-Sereno, Thomas Guillemaud<p>Population genetics have been greatly beneficial to improve knowledge about biological invasions. Model-based genetic inference methods, such as approximate Bayesian computation (ABC), have brought this improvement to a higher level and are now...Biogeography, Biological invasions, Ecology, Evolution, Genetics/Genomics, Herbivores, Invertebrates, Molecular biology, NematologyStéphane Dupas2020-09-15 10:59:41 View
21 Jun 2023
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Life-history traits, pace of life and dispersal among and within five species of Trichogramma wasps: a comparative analysis

The relationship between dispersal and pace-of-life at different scales

Recommended by based on reviews by Mélanie Thierry and 1 anonymous reviewer

The sorting of organisms along a fast-slow continuum through correlations between life history traits is a long-standing framework (Stearns 1983) and corresponds to the pace-of-life axis. This axis represents the variation in a continuum of life-history strategies, from fast-reproducing short-lived species to slow-reproducing long-lived species. The pace-of-life axis has been the focus of much research largely in mammals, birds, reptiles and plants but less so in invertebrates (Salguero-Gómez et al. 2016; Araya-Ajoy et al. 2018; Healy et al. 2019; Bakewell et al. 2020). Outcomes from this research have highlighted variation across taxa on this axis and mixed support for, and against, patterns expected of the pace-of-life continuum. Given this, a greater understanding of the variation of the pace-of-life across-, and within, taxa are needed. Indeed, Guicharnard et al. (2023) highlight several points regarding our broader understanding of pace-of-life. In general, invertebrates are poorly represented, the variation of pace-of-life across taxonomic scales is less well understood and the relationship between pace-of-life and dispersal, a key life history, requires more attention. Here, Guicharnard et al. (2023) provide a first attempt at addressing the relationship between dispersal and pace-of-life at different scales.

The authors, under controlled conditions, investigated how life-history traits and effective dispersal covary for 28 lines from five species of endoparasitoid wasps from the genus Trichogramma. At the species level negative correlations were found between development time and fecundity, matching pace-of-life axis predictions. Although this correlation was not found to be significant among lines, within species, a similar pattern of a negative correlation was observed. This outcome matches previous findings that consistent pace-of-life axes become more difficult to find at lower taxonomic levels. Unlike the other life-history traits measured, effective dispersal showed no evidence of differences between species or between lines. The authors also found no correlation between effective dispersal and other-life history traits which suggests no dispersal/life-history syndromes in the species investigated. One aspect that was not assessed was the impact of density dependence on pace-of-life and effective dispersal, largely as this was a first step in assessing relationship of dispersal with pace-of-life at different scales. However, the authors do acknowledge the importance of future studies incorporating density dependence and that such studies could potentially lead to more generalizable understanding of pace-of-life and dispersal within Trichogramma.

A pleasant addition was the link to potential implications for biocontrol. This addition showed an awareness by the authors of how insights into pace-of-life can have an applied component. The results of the study highlighted that selecting for specific lines of a species, to maximise a trait of interest at the cost of another, may not be as effective as selecting different species when implementing biocontrol. This is especially important as often single, established species used in biocontrol are favoured without consideration of the potential of other species which can lead to more efficient biocontrol.    


Araya-Ajoy, Y.G., Bolstad, G.H., Brommer, J., Careau, V., Dingemanse, N.J. & Wright, J. (2018). Demographic measures of an individual's "pace of life": fecundity rate, lifespan, generation time, or a composite variable? Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 72, 75.
Bakewell, A.T., Davis, K.E., Freckleton, R.P., Isaac, N.J.B. & Mayhew, P.J. (2020). Comparing Life Histories across Taxonomic Groups in Multiple Dimensions: How Mammal-Like Are Insects? The American Naturalist, 195, 70-81.
Guicharnaud, C., Groussier, G., Beranger, E., Lamy, L., Vercken, E. & Dahirel, M. (2023). Life-history traits, pace of life and dispersal among and within five species of Trichogramma wasps: a comparative analysis. bioRxiv, 2023.01.24.525360, ver. 3 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Zoology.
Healy, K., Ezard, T.H.G., Jones, O.R., Salguero-Gómez, R. & Buckley, Y.M. (2019). Animal life history is shaped by the pace of life and the distribution of age-specific mortality and reproduction. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 3, 1217-1224.
Salguero-Gómez, R., Jones, O.R., Jongejans, E., Blomberg, S.P., Hodgson, D.J., Mbeau-Ache, C., et al. (2016). Fast-slow continuum and reproductive strategies structure plant life-history variation worldwide. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113, 230-235.
Stearns, S.C. (1983). The Influence of Size and Phylogeny on Patterns of Covariation among Life-History Traits in the Mammals. Oikos, 41, 173-187.

Life-history traits, pace of life and dispersal among and within five species of *Trichogramma* wasps: a comparative analysisChloé Guicharnaud, Géraldine Groussier, Erwan Beranger, Laurent Lamy, Elodie Vercken, Maxime Dahirel<p>Major traits defining the life history of organisms are often not independent from each other, with most of their variation aligning along key axes such as the pace-of-life axis. We can define a pace-of-life axis structuring reproduction and de...Biology, Ecology, Insecta, Invertebrates, Life historiesJacques Deere2023-01-25 18:15:20 View
26 Apr 2023
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Microbiome mediated tolerance to biotic stressors: a case study of the interaction between a toxic cyanobacterium and an oomycete-like infection in Daphnia magna

Multi-stress responses depend on the microbiome in the planktonic crustacean Daphnia

Recommended by and ORCID_LOGO based on reviews by Natacha Kremer and 2 anonymous reviewers

The critical role that gut microbiota play in many aspects of an animal’s life, including pathogen resistance, detoxification, digestion, and nutritional physiology, is becoming more and more apparent (Engel and Moran 2013; Lindsay et al., 2020). Gut microbiota recruitment and maintenance can be largely affected by the surrounding environment (Chandler et al., 2011; Callens et al., 2020). The environment may thus dictate gut microbiota composition and diversity, which in turn can affect organismal responses to stress. Only few studies have, however, taken the gut microbiota into account to estimate life histories in response to multiple stressors in aquatic systems (Macke et al., 2016). 

Houwenhuyse et al., investigate how the microbiome affects life histories in response to ecologically relevant single and multiple biotic stressors (an oomycete-like parasite, and a toxic cyanobacterium) in Daphnia magna (Houwenhuyse et al., 2023). Daphnia is an excellent model, because this aquatic system lends itself extremely well for gut microbiota transplantation and manipulation. This is due to the possibility to sterilize eggs (making them free of bacteria), horizontal transmission of bacteria from the environment, and the relative ease of culturing genetically similar Daphnia clones in large numbers. 

The authors use an elegant experimental design to show that the Daphnia gut microbial community differs when derived from a laboratory versus natural inoculum, the latter being more diverse. The authors subsequently show that key life history traits (survival, fecundity, and body size) depend on the stressors (and combination thereof), the microbiota (structure and diversity), and Daphnia genotype. A key finding is that Daphnia exposed to both biotic stressors show an antagonistic interaction effect on survival (being higher), but only in individuals containing laboratory gut microbiota. The exact mechanism remains to be determined, but the authors propose several interesting hypotheses as to why Daphnia with more diverse gut microbiota do less well. This could be due, for example, to increased inter-microbe competition or an increased chance of contracting opportunistic, parasitic bacteria. For Daphnia with less diverse laboratory gut microbiota, a monopolizing species may be particularly beneficial for stress tolerance. Alongside these interesting findings, the paper also provides extensive information about the gut microbiota composition (available in the supplementary files), which is a very useful resource for other researchers. 

Overall, this study reveals that multiple, interacting factors affect the performance of Daphnia under stressful conditions. Of importance is that laboratory studies may be based on simpler microbiota systems, meaning that stress responses measured in the laboratory may not accurately reflect what is happening in nature. 


Callens M, De Meester L, Muylaert K, Mukherjee S, Decaestecker E. The bacterioplankton community composition and a host genotype dependent occurrence of taxa shape the Daphnia magna gut bacterial community. FEMS Microbiology Ecology. 2020;96(8):fiaa128.

Chandler JA, Lang JM, Bhatnagar S, Eisen JA, Kopp A. Bacterial communities of diverse Drosophila species: ecological context of a host-microbe model system. PLOS Genetics. 2011;7(9):e1002272.

Engel P, Moran NA. The gut microbiota of insects - diversity in structure and function. FEMS Microbiology Reviews. 2013;37(5):699-735.

Houwenhuyse S, Bulteel L, Vanoverberghe I, Krzynowek A, Goel N et al. Microbiome mediated tolerance to biotic stressors: a case study of the interaction between a toxic cyanobacterium and an oomycete-like infection in Daphnia magna. 2023. OSF, ver. 2 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Zoology.

Lindsay EC, Metcalfe NB, Llewellyn MS. The potential role of the gut microbiota in shaping host energetics and metabolic rate. Journal of Animal Ecology. 2020;89(11):2415-2426.

Macke E, Tasiemski A, Massol F, Callens M, Decaestecker E. Life history and eco-evolutionary dynamics in light of the gut microbiota. Oikos. 2017;126(4):508-531.

Microbiome mediated tolerance to biotic stressors: a case study of the interaction between a toxic cyanobacterium and an oomycete-like infection in *Daphnia magna*Shira Houwenhuyse*, Lore Bulteel*, Isabel Vanoverberghe, Anna Krzynowek, Naina Goel, Manon Coone, Silke Van den Wyngaert, Arne Sinnesael, Robby Stoks & Ellen Decaestecker<p style="text-align: justify;">Organisms are increasingly facing multiple, potentially interacting stressors in natural populations. The ability of populations coping with combined stressors depends on their tolerance to individual stressors and ...Aquatic, Biology, Crustacea, Ecology, Life histories, SymbiosisBertanne Visser2021-05-17 16:18:18 View
20 Dec 2022
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Non-target effects of ten essential oils on the egg parasitoid Trichogramma evanescens

Side effects of essential oils on pest natural enemies

Recommended by based on reviews by Olivier Roux and 2 anonymous reviewers

Integrated pest management relies on the combined use of different practices in time and/or space. The main objectives are to better control pests, not to induce too much selective pressure on resistance mechanisms present in pest populations and to minimize non-targeted effects on the ecosystem [1]. The efficiency of such a strategy requires at least additional or synergistic effects of chosen tools against targeted pest population in a specific environment. Any antagonistic effect on targeted or non-targeted organisms might reduce control effort to nil even worst.

Van Oudenhove et al [2] raised the question of the interaction between botanical pesticides (BPs) and egg parasitoids. Each of these two strategies used for pest management present advantages and are described as eco-friendly. First, the use of parasitoids is a great example of biological control and is massively used in a broad range of crop production in different ecological settings. Second, BPs, especially essential oils (EOs) used for a wide range of activities on pests (repellent, antifeedant, antiovipositant, ovicidal, larvicidal and simply pesticidal) present low-toxicity to non-target vertebrates and do not last too long in the environment. Combining these two strategies might be considered as a great opportunity to better pest control with minimized impact on environment. However, EOs used to target a wide range of pest might directly or indirectly affect parasitoids.

Van Oudenhove et al [2] focused their study on non-target effects of 10 essentials oils with pesticide potential on larval development and egg-seeking behaviour of five strains of the biocontrol agent Trichogramma evanescens. Within two laboratory experiments mimicing EOs fumigation (i.e. contactless EOs exposure), the authors evaluated (1) the toxicity of EOs on parasitoid development and (2) the repellent effect of these EOs on adult wasps. They confirmed that contactless exposure of EOs can (1) induce mortality during pre-imaginal development (more acute at the pupal stage) and (2) induce behavioural avoidance of EOs odour plume. These experiments ran onto five strains of T. evanescens also highlighted the variation of the effects of EOs among parasitoid strains.

The complex and dynamic interaction between pest, plant, parasitoid (a natural enemy) and their environment is disturbed by EOs. EOs plumes are also dynamic and variable upon the environmental conditions. The results of van Oudenhove et al. experimentally illustrate such a complexity by describing opposite effects (repellent and attractive) of the same EO on the behaviour of two T. evanescens strains. These contrasting results led us to question more broadly the non-target effects of pest management programs based on EOs fumigation on natural enemies.

Finally, the limits of this experimental study as discussed in the paper draw research avenues taking into account biotic variables such as plant chemical cues, odour plume dynamics, individual behavioural experiences and abiotic variables such as temperature, light and gravity [3] in laboratory, semi-field and field experiments. Facing such a complexity, modelling studies at fine scale in time and space have the operational objective to help farmers to choose the best IPM strategy regarding their environment (as illustrated for aphid population management in the recent review by Stell et al. [4]). But before such research effort to be undertaken, Van Oudenhove et al study [2] sounds like an alert for a cautious use of EOs in pest control programs that integrate biological control with parasitoids.



[1] Fauvergue, X. Biocontrôle Elements Pour Une Protection Agroecologique des Cultures; Éditions Quae: Versailles, France, 2020.

[2] van Oudenhove L, Cazier A, Fillaud M, Lavoir AV, Fatnassi H, Pérez G, Calcagno V. Non-target effects of ten essential oils on the egg parasitoid Trichogramma evanescens. bioRxiv 2022.01.14.476310, ver. 4 peer-reviewed and recommended by PCI Zoology.

[3] Victor Burte, Guy Perez, Faten Ayed, Géraldine Groussier, Ludovic Mailleret, Louise van Oudenhove and Vincent Calcagno (2022) Up and to the light: intra- and interspecific variability of photo- and geo-tactic oviposition preferences in genus Trichogramma, Peer Community Journal, 2: e3.

[4] Stell E, Meiss H, Lasserre-Joulin F, Therond O. Towards Predictions of Interaction Dynamics between Cereal Aphids and Their Natural Enemies: A Review. Insects 2022, 13, 479.

Non-target effects of ten essential oils on the egg parasitoid Trichogramma evanescensLouise van Oudenhove, Aurélie Cazier, Marine Fillaud, Anne-Violette Lavoir, Hicham Fatnassi, Guy Pérez, Vincent Calcagno<p style="text-align: justify;">Essential oils (EOs) are increasingly used as biopesticides due to their insecticidal potential. This study addresses their non-target effects on a biological control agent: the egg parasitoid <em>Trichogramma evane...Behavior, Biochemistry, Biocontrol, Biodiversity, Computer modelling, Conservation biology, Demography/population dynamics, Development, Ecology, Insecta, Insectivores, Invertebrates, Life histories, Methodology, Pest management, Theoretical biolo...Cedric Pennetier2022-01-31 16:05:32 View
21 Mar 2023
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Population genetics of Glossina fuscipes fuscipes from southern Chad

Population genetics of tsetse, the vector of African Trypanosomiasis, helps informing strategies for control programs

Recommended by ORCID_LOGO based on reviews by 2 anonymous reviewers

Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT), or sleeping sickness, is caused by trypanosome parasites. In sub-Saharan Africa, two forms are present, Trypanosoma brucei gambiense and T. b. rhodesiense, the former responsible for 95% of reported cases. The parasites are transmitted through a vector, Genus Glossina, also known as tsetse, which means fly in Tswana, a language from southern Africa. Through a blood meal, tsetse picks up the parasite from infected humans or animals (in animals, the parasite causes Animal African Trypanosomiasis or nagana disease). Through medical interventions and vector control programs, the burden of the disease has drastically reduced over the past two decades, so the WHO neglected tropical diseases road map targets the interruption of transmission (zero cases) for 2030 (WHO 2022).

Meaningful vector control programs utilize traps for the removal of animals and for surveillance, along with different methods of spraying insecticides. However, in existing HAT risk areas, it will be essential to understand the ecology of the vector species to implement control programs in a way that areas cleared from the vector will not be reinvaded from other populations. Thus, it will be crucial to understand basic population genetics parameters related to population structure and subdivision, migration frequency and distances, population sizes, and the potential for sex-biased dispersal. The authors utilize genotyping using nine highly polymorphic microsatellite markers of samples from Chad collected in differently affected regions and at different time points (Ravel et al., 2023). Two major HAT zones exist that are targeted by vector control programs, namely Madoul and Maro, while two other areas, Timbéri and Dokoutou, are free of trypanosomes. Samples were taken before vector control programs started.

The sex ratio was female-biased, most strongly in Mandoul and Maro, the zones with the lowest population density. This could be explained by resource limitation, which could be the hosts for a blood meal or the sites for larviposition. Limited resources mean that females must fly further, increasing the chance that more females are caught in traps. 

The effective population densities of Mandoul and Maro were low. However, there was a convergence of population density and trapping density, which might be explained by the higher preservation of flies in the high-density areas of Timbéri and Dokoutou after the first round of sampling, which can only be tested using a second sampling. 

The dispersal distances are the highest recorded so far, especially in Mandoul and Maro, with 20-30 km per generation. However, in Timbéri and Dokoutou, which are 50 km apart, very little exchange occurs (approx. 1-2 individuals every six months). A major contributor to this is the massive destruction of habitat that started in the early 1990s and left patchily distributed and fragmented habitats. The Mandoul zone might be safe from reinvasion after eradication, as for a successful re-establishment, either a pair of a female and male or a pregnant female are required. As the trypanosome prevalence amongst humans was 0.02 and of tsetse 0.06 (Ibrahim et al., 2021) before interventions began, medical interventions and vector control might have further reduced these levels, making a reinvasion and subsequent re-establishment of HAT very unlikely. Maro is close to the border of the Central African Republic, and the area has not been well investigated concerning refugee populations of tsetse, which could contribute to a reinvasion of the Maro zone. The higher level of genetic heterogeneity of the Maro population indicates that invasions from neighboring populations are already ongoing. This immigration could also be the reason for not detecting the bottleneck signature in the Maro population. 

The two HAT areas need different levels of attention while implementing vector eradication programs. While Madoul is relatively safe against reinvasion, Maro needs another type of attention, as frequent and persistent immigration might counteract eradication efforts. Thus, it is recommended that continuous tsetse suppression needs to be implemented in Maro.  

This study shows nicely that an in-depth knowledge of the processes within and between populations is needed to understand how these populations behave. This can be used to extrapolate, make predictions, and inform the organisations implementing vector control programs to include valuable adjustments, as in the case of Maro. Such integrative approaches can help prevent the failure of programs, potentially saving costs and preventing infections of humans and animals who might die if not treated.


Ibrahim MAM, Weber JS, Ngomtcho SCH, Signaboubo D, Berger P, Hassane HM, Kelm S (2021) Diversity of trypanosomes in humans and cattle in the HAT foci Mandoul and Maro, Southern Chad- Southern Chad-A matter of concern for zoonotic potential? PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 15, e000 323.

Ravel S, Mahamat MH, Ségard A, Argiles-Herrero R, Bouyer J, Rayaisse JB, Solano P, Mollo BG, Pèka M, Darnas J, Belem AMG, Yoni W, Noûs C, de Meeûs T (2023) Population genetics of Glossina fuscipes fuscipes from southern Chad. Zenodo, ver. 9 peer-reviewed and recommended by PCI Zoology.

WHO (2022) Trypanosomiasis, human African (sleeping sickness)., retrieved 17. March 2023

Population genetics of Glossina fuscipes fuscipes from southern ChadSophie Ravel, Mahamat Hissène Mahamat, Adeline Ségard, Rafael Argiles-Herrero, Jérémy Bouyer, Jean-Baptiste Rayaisse, Philippe Solano, Brahim Guihini Mollo, Mallaye Pèka, Justin Darnas, Adrien Marie Gaston Belem, Wilfrid Yoni, Camille Noûs, Thierr...<p>In Subsaharan Africa, tsetse flies (genus Glossina) are vectors of trypanosomes causing Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT) and Animal African Trypanosomosis (AAT). Some foci of HAT persist in Southern Chad, where a program of tsetse control wa...Biology, Ecology, Evolution, Genetics/Genomics, Insecta, Medical entomology, Parasitology, Pest management, Veterinary entomologyMichael Lattorff Audrey Bras2022-04-22 11:25:24 View
25 Mar 2022
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Pre- and post-oviposition behavioural strategies to protect eggs against extreme winter cold in an insect with maternal care

New insights into maternal egg care in insects: egg transport as an adaptive behavior to extreme temperatures in the European earwig

Recommended by based on reviews by Ana Rivero, Nicolas Sauvion and Wolf U. Blanckenhorn

Because of the inability of eggs to move, the fitness of oviparous organisms is particularly dependent on the oviposition site. The choice of oviposition site by mothers is therefore the result of trade-offs between exposure to risk factors or favorable conditions such as the presence/absence of predators, the threat of extreme temperatures, the risk of desiccation, the presence and quality of nutritional resources... In addition to these trade-offs between different biotic and abiotic factors that determine oviposition site selection, the ability of mothers to move their eggs after oviposition is a game-changer in insect strategies to optimize egg development and survival [1]. Oviposition site selection combined with egg transport has been explored in insects in relation to the risk of exposure to egg parasitoids [2] or needs for oxygenation [3] but surprisingly has not been investigated in regards to temperatures. Considering egg transport in the ability of insects to adapt their behavior to environmental conditions and in particular to potential extreme temperatures is yet inherent in providing a complete picture of the diversity of behaviors that shape adaptation to temperature and potential tolerance to climate change. In this sense, the study presented by Tourneur et al. [4], explores whether insects capable of egg-care might use egg transport as an adaptive behavior to protect them from suboptimal or extreme temperatures. The study was conducted in the European earwig, Forficula auricularia Linnaeus, 1758, which is known to practice egg-care in a variety of ways, that presumably includes egg-transportation, for several weeks or months during winter until hatching. The authors characterized different life-history traits related to egg-laying, egg-transport, and egg-development in two device systems with three experimental temperature regimes in two populations of European earwigs from Canada. The inclusion of two populations, which turned out to belong to two clades, allowed the identification of a diversity of behaviors although this did not allow to attribute the differences between the two populations to specific population differences, genetic differences, or to their geographical origins. Interestingly, the study showed that oviposition site selection in the European earwig is driven by temperature and that in winter temperatures, female earwigs may move their eggs to warmer temperatures that are adequate for hatching. These results are original in the sense that they highlight new adaptive strategies in female insects used during the post-oviposition stage to protect their eggs from temperature changes.

In the current context of climate change and potential changes in selective pressures, the study contributes to the understanding of the wide range of strategies deployed by insects to adapt to the temperature. This appears essential to predict and anticipate the consequences of global instability, it also describes from an academic point of view a new and fascinating adaptive strategy in an overlooked biological system. 


[1] Machado G, Trumbo ST (2018) Parental care. In: Insect Behavior, pp. 203–218. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

[2] Carrasco D, Kaitala A (2009) Egg-laying tactic in Phyllomorpha laciniata in the presence of parasitoids. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, 131, 300–307.

[3] Smith RL (1997) Evolution of paternal care in the giant water bugs (Heteroptera: Belostomatidae). In: The Evolution of Social Behaviour in Insects and Arachnids (eds Crespi BJ, Choe JC), pp. 116–149. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

[4] Tourneur J-C, Cole C, Vickruck J, Dupont S, Meunier J (2022) Pre- and post-oviposition behavioural strategies to protect eggs against extreme winter cold in an insect with maternal care. bioRxiv, 2021.11.23.469705, ver. 3 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Zoology.

Pre- and post-oviposition behavioural strategies to protect eggs against extreme winter cold in an insect with maternal careJean-Claude Tourneur, Claire Cole, Jess Vickruck, Simon Dupont, Joel Meunier<p style="text-align: justify;">Depositing eggs in an area with adequate temperature is often crucial for mothers and their offspring, as the eggs are immobile and therefore cannot avoid exposure to sub-optimal temperatures. However, the importanc...Behavior, Ecology, Evolution, Insecta, Invertebrates, Life historiesAnna Cohuet2021-11-24 16:43:06 View
01 Jul 2020
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Sub-lethal insecticide exposure affects host biting efficiency of Kdr-resistant Anopheles gambiae

kdr homozygous resistant An. gambiae displayed enhanced feeding success when exposed to permethrin Insect-Treated Nets

Recommended by based on reviews by Thomas Guillemaud, Niels Verhulst, Etienne Bilgo and 1 anonymous reviewer

Malaria is a vector-borne parasitic disease found in 91 countries with an estimated of 228 million cases occurred worldwide during 2018. The 93% (213 million) of those cases were reported in the African Region (WHO 2019). Six species of Plasmodium parasites can produce the disease but only P. falciparum and P. vivax are the predominant species globally. More than 40 species of Anopheles mosquitoes are important malaria vectors (Asley et al. 2018). Intrinsic (genetic background, parasite susceptibility) and extrinsic (feeding host preference, host diversity and availability, mosquito abundance) factors affect the capacity of mosquitoes to vector the disease (Macdonald 1952). Malaria is prevented by chemoprophylaxis, vaccination, bite-avoidance and vector-control measures. The mainstays of vector control are long-lasting insecticide (pyrethroid) treated nets and indoor residual spraying with insecticides (Asley et al. 2018). The widespread use of pyrethroid insecticides forced the emergence of insecticide resistance in malaria vectors reducing the insecticidal effect. Mosquitoes can modify their behaviour avoiding insecticide contact and so potentially reducing vector control tools efficacy. In this sense, Diop et al. (2020) investigated whether pre-exposure to an Insecticide-Treated Net (ITN) modulates the mosquito ability to take a blood meal in Anopheles gambiae. By means of video recording experiments the authors analyzed how the feeding/bitting behaviour was affected by kdr mutation genotypes (homozygous susceptible – SS-, heterozygotes -RS- and homozygous resistant -RR-) when exposed to two different insecticides (permethrin and deltamethrin). According to the results, the blood-feeding success did not differ between the three genotypes in the absence of insecticide exposure. However, authors observed differences in the feeding duration and blood meal size. In example, RR mosquitoes spent less time taking their blood meal than RS and SS. On the other hand, RS mosquitoes took higher blood volumes than RR females. These differences can affect the mosquito fitness by decreasing/increasing the likelihood to be killed by the host defensive behavior or increase the oogenesis so enhancing fecundity. Regarding the effect of exposition to insecticides authors detected a strong relationship between kdr genotype and Knock Down (KD) phenotype when mosquitoes were exposed to Permethrin. Previously, the authors have evidenced that RR mosquitoes prefer a host protected by a permethrin-treated net rather than an untreated net and that heterozygotes RS mosquitoes have a remarkable ability to find a hole into a bet net (Diop et al. 2015, Porciani et al. 2017). With data here obtained, they demonstrated that kdr homozygous resistant An. gambiae displayed enhanced feeding success when exposed to permethrin ITN. The changes observed in the feeding/biting mosquito behaviour can affect their fitness shaping the evolution of the insecticide resistance in mosquitoes’ natural populations. Moreover, this may also alter parasite transmission dynamics by modifying vector/host interactions and so vector capacity.


World Health Organization (2019). World malaria report 2019. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2019. ISBN 978-92-4-156572-1
Ashley EA, Pyae Phyo A, Woodrow CJ (2018). Malaria. Lancet. 391(10130):1608‐1621. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)30324-6
Macdonald G (1952). The analysis of equilibrium in malaria. Trop Dis Bull 49: 813-828.
Diop MM, Chandre F, Rossignol M, Porciani A, Château M, Moiroux N and Pennetier, C. (2020). Sub-lethal insecticide exposure affects host biting efficiency of Kdr-resistant Anopheles gambiae. bioRxiv 653980, ver. 4 peer-reviewed and recommended by PCI Zoology. doi: 10.1101/653980
Diop MM, Moiroux N, Chandre F, Martin-Herrou H, Milesi P, Boussari O, et al. (2015) Behavioral cost and overdominance in Anopheles gambiae. PLoS ONE. 10(4):e0121755. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0121755
Porciani A, Diop M, Moiroux N, Kadoke-Lambi T, Cohuet A, Chandre F, et al. (2017) Influence of pyrethroïd-treated bed net on host seeking behavior of Anopheles gambiae s.s. carrying the kdr allele. PLOS ONE. 12(7):e0164518. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0164518

Sub-lethal insecticide exposure affects host biting efficiency of Kdr-resistant Anopheles gambiaeMalal Mamadou Diop, Fabrice Chandre, Marie Rossignol, Angelique Porciani, Mathieu Chateau, Nicolas Moiroux, Cedric Pennetier<p>The massive use of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) has drastically changed the environment for malaria vector mosquitoes, challenging their host-seeking behaviour and biting success. Here, we investigated the effect of a brief exposure to an IT...Behavior, Ecology, Evolution, Medical entomology, Pesticide resistanceAdrian DiazAnonymous2019-05-29 19:40:25 View