Biological Reviews

Publisher: Cambridge Philosophical Society, Blackwell Publishing

Journal description

Current impact factor: 10.26

Impact Factor Rankings

2015 Impact Factor Available summer 2015
2011 Impact Factor 9.067

Additional details

5-year impact 10.95
Cited half-life 8.70
Immediacy index 1.81
Eigenfactor 0.01
Article influence 4.15
Other titles Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society (Online), Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, Biological reviews, Biol. rev
ISSN 1469-185X
OCLC 41882975
Material type Periodical, Internet resource
Document type Internet Resource, Journal / Magazine / Newspaper

Publisher details

Blackwell Publishing

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    • See Wiley-Blackwell entry for articles after February 2007
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    • Articles in some journals can be made Open Access on payment of additional charge
    • 'Blackwell Publishing' is an imprint of 'Wiley'
  • Classification
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Publications in this journal

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The 37/67-kDa laminin receptor (LAMR/RPSA) was originally identified as a 67-kDa binding protein for laminin, an extracellular matrix glycoprotein that provides cellular adhesion to the basement membrane. LAMR has evolutionary origins, however, as a 37-kDa RPS2 family ribosomal component. Expressed in all domains of life, RPS2 proteins have been shown to have remarkably diverse physiological roles that vary across species. Contributing to laminin binding, ribosome biogenesis, cytoskeletal organization, and nuclear functions, this protein governs critical cellular processes including growth, survival, migration, protein synthesis, development, and differentiation. Unsurprisingly given its purview, LAMR has been associated with metastatic cancer, neurodegenerative disease and developmental abnormalities. Functioning in a receptor capacity, this protein also confers susceptibility to bacterial and viral infection. LAMR is clearly a molecule of consequence in human disease, directly mediating pathological events that make it a prime target for therapeutic interventions. Despite decades of research, there are still a large number of open questions regarding the cellular biology of LAMR, the nature of its ability to bind laminin, the function of its intrinsically disordered C-terminal region and its conversion from 37 to 67 kDa. This review attempts to convey an in-depth description of the complexity surrounding this multifaceted protein across functional, structural and pathological aspects.
    Biological Reviews 01/2015;
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    ABSTRACT: The signalling function of melanin-based colouration is debated. Sexual selection theory states that ornaments should be costly to produce, maintain, wear or display to signal quality honestly to potential mates or competitors. An increasing number of studies supports the hypothesis that the degree of melanism covaries with aspects of body condition (e.g. body mass or immunity), which has contributed to change the initial perception that melanin-based colour ornaments entail no costs. Indeed, the expression of many (but not all) melanin-based colour traits is weakly sensitive to the environment but strongly heritable suggesting that these colour traits are relatively cheap to produce and maintain, thus raising the question of how such colour traits could signal quality honestly. Here I review the production, maintenance and wearing/displaying costs that can generate a correlation between melanin-based colouration and body condition, and consider other evolutionary mechanisms that can also lead to covariation between colour and body condition. Because genes controlling melanic traits can affect numerous phenotypic traits, pleiotropy could also explain a linkage between body condition and colouration. Pleiotropy may result in differently coloured individuals signalling different aspects of quality that are maintained by frequency-dependent selection or local adaptation. Colouration may therefore not signal absolute quality to potential mates or competitors (e.g. dark males may not achieve a higher fitness than pale males); otherwise genetic variation would be rapidly depleted by directional selection. As a consequence, selection on heritable melanin-based colouration may not always be directional, but mate choice may be conditional to environmental conditions (i.e. context-dependent sexual selection). Despite the interest of evolutionary biologists in the adaptive value of melanin-based colouration, its actual role in sexual selection is still poorly understood.
    Biological Reviews 01/2015;
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    ABSTRACT: I describe an integrative social-evolutionary model for the adaptive significance of the human oxytocinergic system. The model is based on a role for this hormone in the generation and maintenance of social familiarity and affiliation across five homologous, functionally similar, and sequentially co-opted contexts: mothers with offspring, female and male mates, kin groups, individuals with reciprocity partners, and individuals within cooperating and competing social groups defined by culture. In each situation, oxytocin motivates, mediates and rewards the cognitive and behavioural processes that underlie the formation and dynamics of a more or less stable social group, and promotes a relationship between two or more individuals. Such relationships may be positive (eliciting neurological reward, reducing anxiety and thus indicating fitness-enhancing effects), or negative (increasing anxiety and distress, and thus motivating attempts to alleviate a problematic, fitness-reducing social situation). I also present evidence that testosterone exhibits opposite effects from oxytocin on diverse aspects of cognition and behaviour, most generally by favouring self-oriented, asocial and antisocial behaviours. I apply this model for effects of oxytocin and testosterone to understanding human psychological disorders centrally involving social behaviour. Reduced oxytocin and higher testosterone levels have been associated with under-developed social cognition, especially in autism. By contrast, some combination of oxytocin increased above normal levels, and lower testosterone, has been reported in a notable number of studies of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression, and, in some cases, higher oxytocin involves maladaptively ‘hyper-developed’ social cognition in these conditions. This pattern of findings suggests that human social cognition and behaviour are structured, in part, by joint and opposing effects of oxytocin and testosterone, and that extremes of such joint effects partially mediate risks and phenotypes of autism and psychotic-affective conditions. These considerations have direct implications for the development of therapies for alleviating disorders of social cognition, and for understanding how such disorders are associated with the evolution of human cognitive-affective architecture.
    Biological Reviews 01/2015;
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    ABSTRACT: Systematic reviews and meta-analyses often examine data from diverse taxa to identify general patterns of effect sizes. Meta-analyses that focus on identifying generalisations in a single taxon are also valuable because species in a taxon are more likely to share similar unique constraints. We conducted a comprehensive phylogenetic meta-analysis of flight initiation distance in lizards. Flight initiation distance (FID) is a common metric used to quantify risk-taking and has previously been shown to reflect adaptive decision-making. The past decade has seen an explosion of studies focused on quantifying FID in lizards, and, because lizards occur in a wide range of habitats, are ecologically diverse, and are typically smaller and differ physiologically from the better studied mammals and birds, they are worthy of detailed examination. We found that variables that reflect the costs or benefits of flight (being engaged in social interactions, having food available) as well as certain predator effects (predator size and approach speed) had large effects on FID in the directions predicted by optimal escape theory. Variables that were associated with morphology (with the exception of crypsis) and physiology had relatively small effects, whereas habitat selection factors typically had moderate to large effect sizes. Lizards, like other taxa, are very sensitive to the costs of flight.
    Biological Reviews 01/2015;
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    ABSTRACT: Rough-and-tumble play (RT) is a widespread phenomenon in mammals. Since it involves competition, whereby one animal attempts to gain advantage over another, RT runs the risk of escalation to serious fighting. Competition is typically curtailed by some degree of cooperation and different signals help negotiate potential mishaps during RT. This review provides a framework for such signals, showing that they range along two dimensions: one from signals borrowed from other functional contexts to those that are unique to play, and the other from purely emotional expressions to highly cognitive (intentional) constructions. Some animal taxa have exaggerated the emotional and cognitive interplay aspects of play signals, yielding admixtures of communication that have led to complex forms of RT. This complexity has been further exaggerated in some lineages by the development of specific novel gestures that can be used to negotiate playful mood and entice reluctant partners. Play-derived gestures may provide new mechanisms by which more sophisticated communication forms can evolve. Therefore, RT and playful communication provide a window into the study of social cognition, emotional regulation and the evolution of communication systems.
    Biological Reviews 01/2015;
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    ABSTRACT: The ever-increasing number of studies that address the origin and evolution of Euarthropoda – whose extant representatives include chelicerates, myriapods, crustaceans and hexapods – are gradually reaching a consensus with regard to the overall phylogenetic relationships of some of the earliest representatives of this phylum. The stem-lineage of Euarthropoda includes numerous forms that reflect the major morphological transition from a lobopodian-type to a completely arthrodized body organization. Several methods of classification that aim to reflect such a complex evolutionary history have been proposed as a consequence of this taxonomic diversity. Unfortunately, this has also led to a saturation of nomenclatural schemes, often in conflict with each other, some of which are incompatible with cladistic-based methodologies. Here, I review the convoluted terminology associated with the classification of stem-group Euarthropoda, and propose a synapomorphy-based distinction that allows ‘lower stem-Euarthropoda’ (e.g. lobopodians, radiodontans) to be separated from ‘upper stem-Euarthropoda’ (e.g. fuxianhuiids, Cambrian bivalved forms) in terms of the structural organization of the head region and other aspects of overall body architecture. The step-wise acquisition of morphological features associated with the origins of the crown-group indicate that the node defining upper stem-Euarthropoda is phylogenetically stable, and supported by numerous synapomorphic characters; these include the presence of a deutocerebral first appendage pair, multisegmented head region with one or more pairs of post-ocular differentiated limbs, complete body arthrodization, posterior-facing mouth associated with the hypostome/labrum complex, and post-oral biramous arthropodized appendages. The name ‘Deuteropoda’ nov. is proposed for the scion (monophyletic group including the crown-group and an extension of the stem-group) that comprises upper stem-Euarthropoda and Euarthropoda. A brief account of common terminological inaccuracies in recent palaeontological studies evinces the utility of Deuteropoda nov. as a reference point for discussing aspects of early euarthropod phylogeny.
    Biological Reviews 12/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this article is to provide an ultimate tectonic explanation for several well-studied zoogeographic boundaries along the west coast of North America, specifically, along the boundary of the North American and Pacific plates (the San Andreas Fault system). By reviewing 177 references from the plate tectonics and zoogeography literature, I demonstrate that four Great Pacific Fracture Zones (GPFZs) in the Pacific plate correspond with distributional limits and spatially concordant phylogeographic breaks for a wide variety of marine and terrestrial animals, including invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. These boundaries are: (1) Cape Mendocino and the North Coast Divide, (2) Point Conception and the Transverse Ranges, (3) Punta Eugenia and the Vizcaíno Desert, and (4) Cabo Corrientes and the Sierra Transvolcanica. However, discussion of the GPFZs is mostly absent from the zoogeography and phylogeography literature likely due to a disconnect between biologists and geologists. I argue that the four zoogeographic boundaries reviewed here ultimately originated via the same geological process (triple junction evolution). Finally, I suggest how a comparative phylogeographic approach can be used to test the hypothesis presented here.
    Biological Reviews 12/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The origins of interactions between angiosperms and fruit-eating seed dispersers have attracted much attention following a seminal paper on this topic by Tiffney (1984). This review synthesizes evidence pertaining to key events during the evolution of angiosperm–frugivore interactions and suggests some implications of this evidence for interpretations of angiosperm–frugivore coevolution. The most important conclusions are: (i) the diversification of angiosperm seed size and fleshy fruits commenced around 80 million years ago (Mya). The diversity of seed sizes, fruit sizes and fruit types peaked in the Eocene around 55 to 50 Mya. During this first phase of the interaction, angiosperms and animals evolving frugivory expanded into niche space not previously utilized by these groups, as frugivores and previously not existing fruit traits appeared. From the Eocene until the present, angiosperm–frugivore interactions have occurred within a broad frame of existing niche space, as defined by fruit traits and frugivory, motivating a separation of the angiosperm–frugivore interactions into two phases, before and after the peak in the early Eocene. (ii) The extinct multituberculates were probably the most important frugivores during the early radiation phase of angiosperm seeds and fleshy fruits. Primates and rodents are likely to have been important in the latter part of this first phase. (iii) Flying frugivores, birds and bats, evolved during the second phase, mainly during the Oligocene and Miocene, thus exploiting an existing diversity of fleshy fruits. (iv) A drastic climate shift around the Eocene–Oligocene boundary (around 34 Mya) resulted in more semi-open woodland vegetation, creating patchily occurring food resources for frugivores. This promoted evolution of a ‘flying frugivore niche’ exploited by birds and bats. In particular, passerines became a dominant frugivore group worldwide. (v) Fleshy fruits evolved at numerous occasions in many angiosperm families, and many of the originations of fleshy fruits occurred well after the peak in the early Eocene. (vi) During periods associated with environmental change altering coevolutionary networks and opening of niche space, reciprocal coevolution may result in strong directional selection formative for both fruit and frugivore evolution. Further evidence is needed to test this hypothesis. Based on the abundance of plant lineages with various forms of fleshy fruits, and the diversity of frugivores, it is suggested that periods of rapid coevolution in angiosperms and frugivores occurred numerous times during the 80 million years of angiosperm–frugivore evolution.
    Biological Reviews 12/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Advances in biologging techniques over the past 20 years have allowed for the remote and continuous measurement of body temperatures in free-living mammals. While there is an abundance of literature on heterothermy in small mammals, fewer studies have investigated the daily variability of body core temperature in larger mammals. Here we review measures of heterothermy and the factors that influence heterothermy in large mammals in their natural habitats, focussing on large mammalian herbivores. The mean 24 h body core temperatures for 17 species of large mammalian herbivores (>10 kg) decreased by ∼1.3°C for each 10-fold increase in body mass, a relationship that remained significant following phylogenetic correction. The degree of heterothermy, as measured by the 24 h amplitude of body core temperature rhythm, was independent of body mass and appeared to be driven primarily by energy and water limitations. When faced with the competing demands of osmoregulation, energy acquisition and water or energy use for thermoregulation, large mammalian herbivores appear to relax the precision of thermoregulation thereby conserving body water and energy. Such relaxation may entail a cost in that an animal moves closer to its thermal limits for performance. Maintaining homeostasis requires trade-offs between regulated systems, and homeothermy apparently is not accorded the highest priority; large mammals are able to maintain optimal homeothermy only if they are well nourished, hydrated, and not compromised energetically. We propose that the amplitude of the 24 h rhythm of body core temperature provides a useful index of any compromise experienced by a free-living large mammal and may predict the performance and fitness of an animal.
    Biological Reviews 12/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Thermogenesis is one of the most important homeostatic mechanisms that evolved during vertebrate evolution. Despite its importance for the survival of the organism, the mechanistic details behind various thermogenic processes remain incompletely understood. Although heat production from muscle has long been recognized as a thermogenic mechanism, whether muscle can produce heat independently of contraction remains controversial. Studies in birds and mammals suggest that skeletal muscle can be an important site of non-shivering thermogenesis (NST) and can be recruited during cold adaptation, although unequivocal evidence is lacking. Much research on thermogenesis during the last two decades has been focused on brown adipose tissue (BAT). These studies clearly implicate BAT as an important site of NST in mammals, in particular in newborns and rodents. However, BAT is either absent, as in birds and pigs, or is only a minor component, as in adult large mammals including humans, bringing into question the BAT-centric view of thermogenesis. This review focuses on the evolution and emergence of various thermogenic mechanisms in vertebrates from fish to man. A careful analysis of the existing data reveals that muscle was the earliest facultative thermogenic organ to emerge in vertebrates, long before the appearance of BAT in eutherian mammals. Additionally, these studies suggest that muscle-based thermogenesis is the dominant mechanism of heat production in many species including birds, marsupials, and certain mammals where BAT-mediated thermogenesis is absent or limited. We discuss the relevance of our recent findings showing that uncoupling of sarco(endo)plasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA) by sarcolipin (SLN), resulting in futile cycling and increased heat production, could be the basis for NST in skeletal muscle. The overall goal of this review is to highlight the role of skeletal muscle as a thermogenic organ and provide a balanced view of thermogenesis in vertebrates.
    Biological Reviews 11/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The diversity and habitat requirements of invertebrates associated with dead wood have been the subjects of hundreds of studies in recent years but we still know very little about the ecological or economic importance of these organisms. The purpose of this review is to examine whether, how and to what extent invertebrates affect wood decomposition in terrestrial ecosystems. Three broad conclusions can be reached from the available literature. First, wood decomposition is largely driven by microbial activity but invertebrates also play a significant role in both temperate and tropical environments. Primary mechanisms include enzymatic digestion (involving both endogenous enzymes and those produced by endo- and ectosymbionts), substrate alteration (tunnelling and fragmentation), biotic interactions and nitrogen fertilization (i.e. promoting nitrogen fixation by endosymbiotic and free-living bacteria). Second, the effects of individual invertebrate taxa or functional groups can be accelerative or inhibitory but the cumulative effect of the entire community is generally to accelerate wood decomposition, at least during the early stages of the process (most studies are limited to the first 2–3 years). Although methodological differences and design limitations preclude meta-analysis, studies aimed at quantifying the contributions of invertebrates to wood decomposition commonly attribute 10–20% of wood loss to these organisms. Finally, some taxa appear to be particularly influential with respect to promoting wood decomposition. These include large wood-boring beetles (Coleoptera) and termites (Termitoidae), especially fungus-farming macrotermitines. The presence or absence of these species may be more consequential than species richness and the influence of invertebrates is likely to vary biogeographically.
    Biological Reviews 11/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The hair follicle (HF) represents a prototypic ectodermal–mesodermal interaction system in which central questions of modern biology can be studied. A unique feature of these stem-cell-rich mini-organs is that they undergo life-long, cyclic transformations between stages of active regeneration (anagen), apoptotic involution (catagen), and relative proliferative quiescence (telogen). Due to the low proliferation rate and small size of the HF during telogen, this stage was conventionally thought of as a stage of dormancy. However, multiple lines of newly emerging evidence show that HFs during telogen are anything but dormant. Here, we emphasize that telogen is a highly energy-efficient default state of the mammalian coat, whose function centres around maintenance of the hair fibre and prompt responses to its loss. While actively retaining hair fibres with minimal energy expenditure, telogen HFs can launch a new regeneration cycle in response to a variety of stimuli originating in their autonomous micro-environment (including its stem cell niche) as well as in their external tissue macro-environment. Regenerative responses of telogen HFs change as a function of time and can be divided into two sub-stages: early ‘refractory’ and late ‘competent’ telogen. These changing activities are reflected in hundreds of dynamically regulated genes in telogen skin, possibly aimed at establishing a fast response-signalling environment to trauma and other disturbances of skin homeostasis. Furthermore, telogen is an interpreter of circadian output in the timing of anagen initiation and the key stage during which the subsequent organ regeneration (anagen) is actively prepared by suppressing molecular brakes on hair growth while activating pro-regenerative signals. Thus, telogen may serve as an excellent model system for dissecting signalling and cellular interactions that precede the active ‘regenerative mode’ of tissue remodeling. This revised understanding of telogen biology also points to intriguing new therapeutic avenues in the management of common human hair growth disorders.
    Biological Reviews 11/2014;