Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (Proc Biol Sci )

Publisher: Royal Society (Great Britain)


Proceedings B welcomes papers of high quality in any area of biological science. As a fast track journal, Proceedings B specialises in the rapid delivery of the latest research to the scientific community, normally within three months of acceptance. It is published on the 7th and 22nd of each month. Many more good manuscripts are submitted to us, than we have space to print, and we give preference to those that present significant advances of broad interest. Submission of preliminary reports, of papers that merely confirm previous findings, and of papers that are likely to interest only small groups of specialists, is not encouraged. All papers are sent to Editorial Board members for an initial assessment of their suitability, and may be returned to authors without in-depth peer-review if this assessment makes it seem unlikely that they will be accepted.

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    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences website
  • Other titles
    Biology letters., Proceedings., Proceedings - Royal Society. Biological sciences, Biological sciences, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London., Proceedings of the Royal Society
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    Document, Periodical, Internet resource
  • Document type
    Internet Resource, Computer File, Journal / Magazine / Newspaper

Publications in this journal

  • Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 10/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Even genetically distant prokaryotes can exchange genes between them, and these horizontal gene transfer events play a central role in adaptation and evolution. While this was long thought to be restricted to prokaryotes, certain eukaryotes have acquired genes of bacterial origin. However, gene acquisitions in eukaryotes are thought to be much less important in magnitude than in prokaryotes. Here, we describe the complex evolutionary history of a bacterial catabolic gene that has been transferred repeatedly from different bacterial phyla to stramenopiles and fungi. Indeed, phylogenomic analysis pointed to multiple acquisitions of the gene in these filamentous eukaryotes-as many as 15 different events for 65 microeukaryotes. Furthermore, once transferred, this gene acquired introns and was found expressed in mRNA databases for most recipients. Our results show that effective inter-domain transfers and subsequent adaptation of a prokaryotic gene in eukaryotic cells can happen at an unprecedented magnitude.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 08/2014; 281(1789).
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    ABSTRACT: The diversity of reproductive strategies in nature is shaped by a plethora of factors including energy availability. For example, both low temperatures and limited food availability could increase larval exposure to predation by slowing development, selecting against pelagic and/or feeding larvae. The frequency of hermaphroditism could increase under low food availability as population density (and hence mate availability) decreases. We examine the relationship between reproductive/life-history traits and energy availability for 189 marine gastropod families. Only larval type was related to energy availability with the odds of having planktotrophic larvae versus direct development decreasing by 1% with every one-unit increase in the square root of carbon flux. Simultaneous hermaphroditism also potentially increases with carbon flux, but this effect disappears when accounting for evolutionary relationships among taxa. Our findings are in contrast to some theory and empirical work demonstrating that hermaphroditism should increase and planktotrophic development should decrease with decreasing productivity. Instead, they suggest that some reproductive strategies are too energetically expensive at low food availabilities, or arise only when energy is available, and others serve to capitalize on opportunities for aggregation or increased energy availability.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 08/2014; 281(1789).
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    ABSTRACT: The number and size of tiger populations continue to decline owing to habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and poaching of tigers and their prey. As a result, tiger populations have become small and highly structured. Current populations have been isolated since the early 1970s or for approximately seven generations. The objective of this study is to explore how inbreeding may be affecting the persistence of remaining tiger populations and how dispersal, either natural or artificial, may reduce the potentially detrimental effect of inbreeding depression. We developed a tiger simulation model and used published levels of genetic load in mammals to simulate inbreeding depression. Following a 50 year period of population isolation, we introduced one to four dispersing male tigers per generation to explore how gene flow from nearby populations may reduce the negative impact of inbreeding depression. For the smallest populations, even four dispersing male tigers per generation did not increase population viability, and the likelihood of extinction is more than 90% within 30 years. Unless habitat connectivity is restored or animals are artificially introduced in the next 70 years, medium size wild populations are also likely to go extinct, with only four to five of the largest wild tiger populations likely to remain extant in this same period without intervention. To reduce the risk of local extinction, habitat connectivity must be pursued concurrently with efforts to increase population size (e.g. enhance habitat quality, increase habitat availability). It is critical that infrastructure development, dam construction and other similar projects are planned appropriately so that they do not erode the extent or quality of habitat for these populations so that they can truly serve as future source populations.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 08/2014; 281(1789).
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    ABSTRACT: In cooperative breeding systems, dominant breeders sometimes tolerate unrelated individuals even if they inflict costs on the dominants. According to the 'pay-to-stay' hypothesis, (i) subordinates can outweigh these costs by providing help and (ii) dominants should be able to enforce help by punishing subordinates that provide insufficient help. This requires that dominants can monitor helping and can recognize group members individually. In a field experiment, we tested whether cooperatively breeding cichlid Neolamprologus pulcher subordinates increase their help after a forced 'idle' period, how other group members respond to a previously idle helper, and how helper behaviour and group responses depend on group size. Previously, idle helpers increased their submissiveness and received more aggression than control helpers, suggesting that punishment occurred to enforce help. Subordinates in small groups increased their help more than those in large groups, despite receiving less aggression. When subordinates were temporarily removed, dominants in small groups were more likely to evict returning subordinates. Our results suggest that only in small groups do helpers face a latent threat of punishment by breeders as predicted by the pay-to-stay hypothesis. In large groups, cognitive constraints may prevent breeders from tracking the behaviour of a large number of helpers.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 08/2014; 281(1789).
  • Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 08/2014; 281(1789).
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    ABSTRACT: Numerous factors affect the fine-scale social structure of animal groups, but it is unclear how important such factors are in determining how individuals encounter resources. Familiarity affects shoal choice and structure in many social fishes. Here, we show that familiarity between shoal members of sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) affects both fine-scale social organization and the discovery of resources. Social network analysis revealed that sticklebacks remained closer to familiar than to unfamiliar individuals within the same shoal. Network-based diffusion analysis revealed that there was a strong untransmitted social effect on patch discovery, with individuals tending to discover a task sooner if a familiar individual from their group had previously done so than if an unfamiliar fish had done so. However, in contrast to the effect of familiarity, the frequency with which individuals had previously associated with one another had no effect upon the likelihood of prey patch discovery. This may have been due to the influence of fish on one another's movements; the effect of familiarity on discovery of an empty 'control' patch was as strong as for discovery of an actual prey patch. Our results demonstrate that factors affecting fine-scale social interactions can also influence how individuals encounter and exploit resources.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 08/2014; 281(1789).
  • Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 08/2014; 281(1789).
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    ABSTRACT: Temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD) is widespread in reptiles, yet its adaptive significance and mechanisms for its maintenance remain obscure and controversial. Comparative analyses identify an ancient origin of TSD in turtles, crocodiles and tuatara, suggesting that this trait should be advantageous in order to persist. Based on this assumption, researchers primarily, and with minimal success, have employed a model to examine sex-specific variation in hatchling phenotypes and fitness generated by different incubation conditions. The unwavering focus on different incubation conditions may be misplaced at least in the many turtle species in which hatchlings overwinter in the natal nest. If overwintering temperatures differentially affect fitness of male and female hatchlings, TSD might be maintained adaptively by enabling embryos to develop as the sex best suited to those overwintering conditions. We test this novel hypothesis using the painted turtle (Chrysemys picta), a species with TSD in which eggs hatch in late summer and hatchlings remain within nests until the following spring. We used a split-clutch design to expose field-incubated hatchlings to warm and cool overwintering (autumn-winter-spring) regimes in the laboratory and measured metabolic rates, energy use, body size and mortality of male and female hatchlings. While overall mortality rates were low, males exposed to warmer overwintering regimes had significantly higher metabolic rates and used more residual yolk than females, whereas the reverse occurred in the cool temperature regime. Hatchlings from mixed-sex nests exhibited similar sex-specific trends and, crucially, they were less energy efficient and grew less than same-sex hatchlings that originated from single-sex clutches. Such sex- and incubation-specific physiological adaptation to winter temperatures may enhance fitness and even extend the northern range of many species that overwinter terrestrially.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 08/2014; 281(1789).

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