Evidence of constant diversification punctuated by a mass extinction in the African cycads
- Authors: Yessoufou, Kowiyou , Bamigboye, Samuel O. , Daru, Barnabas H. , Van der Bank, Michelle
- Date: 2013
- Subjects: Encephalartos , Cycads - Africa , Extinction (Biology)
- Type: Article
- Identifier: uj:5410 , ISSN 2045-8827 , http://hdl.handle.net/10210/10051
- Description: The recent evidence that extant cycads are not living fossils triggered a renewed search for a better understanding of their evolutionary history. In this study, we investigated the evolutionary diversification history of the genus Encephalartos, a monophyletic cycad endemic to Africa. We found an antisigmoidal pattern with a plateau and punctual explosive radiation. This pattern is typical of a constant radiation with mass extinction. The rate shift that we found may therefore be a result of a rapid recolonization of niches that have been emptied owing to mass extinction. Because the explosive radiation occurred during the transition Pliocene–Pleistocene, we argued that the processes might have been climatically mediated.
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Extinction risk and diversification are linked in a plant biodiversity hotspot
- Authors: Davies, T. Jonathan, [et.al.]
- Date: 2011
- Subjects: Extinction (Biology) , Plants - Extinction
- Type: Article
- Identifier: uj:5800 , ISSN 15457885 , http://hdl.handle.net/10210/7808
- Description: It is widely recognized that we are entering an extinction event on a scale approaching the mass extinctions seen in the fossil record. Present-day rates of extinction are estimated to be several orders of magnitude greater than background rates and are projected to increase further if current trends continue. In vertebrates, species traits, such as body size, fecundity, and geographic range, are important predictors of vulnerability. Although plants are the basis for life on Earth, our knowledge of plant extinctions and vulnerabilities is lagging. Here, we disentangle the underlying drivers of extinction risk in plants, focusing on the Cape of South Africa, a global biodiversity hotspot. By comparing Red List data for the British and South African floras, we demonstrate that the taxonomic distribution of extinction risk differs significantly between regions, inconsistent with a simple, trait-based model of extinction. Using a comprehensive phylogenetic tree for the Cape, we reveal a phylogenetic signal in the distribution of plant extinction risks but show that the most threatened species cluster within short branches at the tips of the phylogeny—opposite to trends in mammals. From analyzing the distribution of threatened species across 11 exemplar clades, we suggest that mode of speciation best explains the unusual phylogenetic structure of extinction risks in plants of the Cape. Our results demonstrate that explanations for elevated extinction risk in plants of the Cape flora differ dramatically from those recognized for vertebrates. In the Cape, extinction risk is higher for young and fast-evolving plant lineages and cannot be explained by correlations with simple biological traits. Critically, we find that the most vulnerable plant species are nonetheless marching towards extinction at a more rapid pace but, surprisingly, independently from anthropogenic effects. Our results have important implications for conservation priorities and cast doubts on the utility of current Red List criteria for plants in regions such as the Cape, where speciation has been rapid, if our aim is to maximize the preservation of the tree-of-life.
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Quality assessment of cryopreserved spermatozoa of the blesbok (Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi), blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) and African buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
- Authors: Mynhardt, Neil Philip
- Date: 2012-08-22
- Subjects: Reproductive technology , Cryopreservation of organs, tissues, etc. , Game protection , Endangered species conservation , Blesbok - Germplasm resources - Cryopreservation , Brindled gnu - Germplasm resources - Cryopreservation , African buffalo- Germplasm resources - Cryopreservation , Blesbok - Artificial insemination , Brindled gnu - Artificial insemination , African buffalo - Artificial insemination , Extinction (Biology)
- Type: Thesis
- Identifier: uj:2932 , http://hdl.handle.net/10210/6360
- Description: M.Sc. , Climate change, loss of habitat and over-exploitation of natural resources as well as the introduction of invasive alien species through human activities are resulting in an ever increasing risk of extinction of many plant and animal species. There are two major approaches to conserving threatened and endangered species. Firstly the large scale preservation of natural habitat and ecological processes, thereby protecting the species inhabiting the habitat. The second approach involves the ex-situ breeding of rare and endangered species. It is estimated that in the next 200 years approximately 800 mammalian species will require the assistance of breeding programs to ensure long term genetic viability. Biological Resource Banks (BRB) can potentially contribute to this challenge by providing a source of genes that can be used to counter the effects of external selection pressures, genetic drift and inbreeding depression in small or fragmented populations. These banks commonly contain biological materials such as cryopreserved sperm, embryos and cell cultures mainly as genetic and research resources. . Biological resource banks can potentially use these cryopreserved gametes together with assisted reproductive technologies (ART), such as artificial insemination (AI), in vitro fertilisation (IVF), embryo transfer (ET), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and nuclear transfer (NT) to maintain genetic heterogeneity in ex-situ and wild populations. Ascertaining the appropriate protocols for developing the ARTs necessary for non-domestic species is one of the major challenges faced by reproductive physiologists. Typically, there is very little available information about the processing of semen, the effects of diluents, concentration and type of cryoprotectants and freeze-thaw methods for sperm samples of non-domestic species. Procedures proven to be highly effective in humans and laboratory or domestic species, are frequently adopted and modified for use in related wildlife species. It is thus necessary to gain knowledge of the reproductive physiology of wildlife species in order to define effective protocols for the cryopreservation of biomaterials which assists in the conservation of South Africa‘s diverse wildlife species. Sperm quality assessment is a useful tool for assessing the reproductive health of free-ranging populations as well as for selecting individuals for future assisted reproduction programs.
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