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

Publisher: Royal Society (Great Britain)

Journal description

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.

Current impact factor: 5.29

Impact Factor Rankings

2015 Impact Factor Available summer 2015
2013/2014 Impact Factor 5.292
2012 Impact Factor 5.683
2011 Impact Factor 5.415
2010 Impact Factor 5.064
2008 Impact Factor 4.248

Impact factor over time

Impact factor
Year

Additional details

5-year impact 5.83
Cited half-life 8.40
Immediacy index 1.22
Eigenfactor 0.09
Article influence 2.38
Website 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
ISSN 1471-2954
OCLC 44150803
Material type Document, Periodical, Internet resource
Document type Internet Resource, Computer File, Journal / Magazine / Newspaper

Publications in this journal

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The geometry of feather barbs (barb length and barb angle) determines feather vane asymmetry and vane rigidity, which are both critical to a feather's aerodynamic performance. Here, we describe the relationship between barb geometry and aerodynamic function across the evolutionary history of asymmetrical flight feathers, from Mesozoic taxa outside of modern avian diversity (Microraptor, Archaeopteryx, Sapeornis, Confuciusornis and the enantiornithine Eopengornis) to an extensive sample of modern birds. Contrary to previous assumptions, we find that barb angle is not related to vane-width asymmetry; instead barb angle varies with vane function, whereas barb length variation determines vane asymmetry. We demonstrate that barb geometry significantly differs among functionally distinct portions of flight feather vanes, and that cutting-edge leading vanes occupy a distinct region of morphospace characterized by small barb angles. This cutting-edge vane morphology is ubiquitous across a phylogenetically and functionally diverse sample of modern birds and Mesozoic stem birds, revealing a fundamental aerodynamic adaptation that has persisted from the Late Jurassic. However, in Mesozoic taxa stemward of Ornithurae and Enantiornithes, trailing vane barb geometry is distinctly different from that of modern birds. In both modern birds and enantiornithines, trailing vanes have larger barb angles than in comparatively stemward taxa like Archaeopteryx, which exhibit small trailing vane barb angles. This discovery reveals a previously unrecognized evolutionary transition in flight feather morphology, which has important implications for the flight capacity of early feathered theropods such as Archaeopteryx and Microraptor. Our findings suggest that the fully modern avian flight feather, and possibly a modern capacity for powered flight, evolved crownward of Confuciusornis, long after the origin of asymmetrical flight feathers, and much later than previously recognized. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 03/2015; 282(1803).
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    ABSTRACT: One explanation for animal personality is that different behavioural types derive from different life-history strategies. Highly productive individuals, with high growth rates and high fecundity, are assumed to live life at a fast pace showing high levels of boldness and risk taking, compared with less productive individuals. Here, we investigate among-individual differences in mean boldness (the inverse of the latency to recover from a startling stimulus) and in the consistency of boldness, in male hermit crabs in relation to two aspects of life-history investment. We assessed aerobic scope by measuring the concentration of the respiratory pigment haemocyanin, and we assessed fecundity by measuring spermatophore size. First, we found that individuals investing in large spermatophores also had high concentrations of haemocyanin. Using doubly hierarchical-generalized linear models to analyse longitudinal data on startle responses, we show that hermit crabs vary both in their mean response durations and in the consistency of their behaviour. Individual consistency was unrelated to haemocyanin concentration or spermatophore size, but mean startle response duration increased with spermatophore size. Thus, counter to expectations, it was the most risk-averse individuals, rather than the boldest and most risk prone, that were the most productive. We suggest that similar patterns should be present in other species, if the most productive individuals avoid risky behaviour. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 03/2015; 282(1803).
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    ABSTRACT: Filoviruses Ebolavirus (EBOV) and Marburgvirus (MARV) cause haemorrhagic fevers with high mortality rates, posing significant threats to public health. To understand transmission into human populations, filovirus dynamics within reservoir host populations must be understood. Studies have directly linked filoviruses to bats, but the mechanisms allowing viral persistence within bat populations are poorly understood. Theory suggests seasonal birthing may decrease the probability of pathogen persistence within populations, but data suggest MARV may persist within colonies of seasonally breeding Egyptian fruit bats, Rousettus aegyptiacus. I synthesize available filovirus and bat data in a stochastic compartmental model to explore fundamental questions relating to filovirus ecology: can filoviruses persist within isolated bat colonies; do critical community sizes exist; and how do host-pathogen relationships affect spillover transmission potential? Synchronous annual breeding and shorter incubation periods did not allow filovirus persistence, whereas bi-annual breeding and longer incubation periods, such as reported for Egyptian fruit bats and EBOV in experimental studies, allowed persistence in colony sizes often found in nature. Serological data support the findings, with bats from species with two annual birth pulses more likely to be seropositive (odds ratio (OR) 4.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.5-8.7) than those with one, suggesting that biannual birthing is necessary for filovirus persistence. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 03/2015; 282(1803).
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    ABSTRACT: We simulate two types of environments to investigate how closely rats approximate optimal foraging. Rats initiated a trial where they chose between two spouts for sucrose, which was delivered at distinct probabilities. The discrete trial procedure used allowed us to observe the relationship between choice proportions, response latencies and obtained rewards. Our results show that rats approximate the optimal strategy across a range of environments that differ in the average probability of reward as well as the dynamics of the depletion-renewal cycle. We found that the constituent components of a single choice differentially reflect environmental contingencies. Post-choice behaviour, measured as the duration of time rats spent licking at the spouts on unrewarded trials, was the most sensitive index of environmental variables, adjusting most rapidly to changes in the environment. These findings have implications for the role of confidence in choice outcomes for guiding future choices. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 03/2015; 282(1803).
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    ABSTRACT: Classic ecological theory predicts that the evolution of sexual dimorphism constrains diversification by limiting morphospace available for speciation. Alternatively, sexual selection may lead to the evolution of reproductive isolation and increased diversification. We test contrasting predictions of these hypotheses by examining the relationship between sexual dimorphism and diversification in amphibians. Our analysis shows that the evolution of sexual size dimorphism (SSD) is associated with increased diversification and speciation, contrary to the ecological theory. Further, this result is unlikely to be explained by traditional sexual selection models because variation in amphibian SSD is unlikely to be driven entirely by sexual selection. We suggest that relaxing a central assumption of classic ecological models-that the sexes share a common adaptive landscape-leads to the alternative hypothesis that independent evolution of the sexes may promote diversification. Once the constraints of sexual conflict are relaxed, the sexes can explore morphospace that would otherwise be inaccessible. Consistent with this novel hypothesis, the evolution of SSD in amphibians is associated with reduced current extinction threat status, and an historical reduction in extinction rate. Our work reconciles conflicting predictions from ecological and evolutionary theory and illustrates that the ability of the sexes to evolve independently is associated with a spectacular vertebrate radiation. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 03/2015; 282(1803).
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    ABSTRACT: Large benthic foraminifera are significant contributors to sediment formation on coral reefs, yet they are vulnerable to ocean acidification. Here, we assessed the biochemical and morphological impacts of acidification on the calcification of Amphistegina lessonii and Marginopora vertebralis exposed to different pH conditions. We measured growth rates (surface area and buoyant weight) and Ca-ATPase and Mg-ATPase activities and calculated shell density using micro-computer tomography images. In A. lessonii, we detected a significant decrease in buoyant weight, a reduction in the density of inner skeletal chambers, and an increase of Ca-ATPase and Mg-ATPase activities at pH 7.6 when compared with ambient conditions of pH 8.1. By contrast, M. vertebralis showed an inhibition in Mg-ATPase activity under lowered pH, with growth rate and skeletal density remaining constant. While M. vertebralis is considered to be more sensitive than A. lessonii owing to its high-Mg-calcite skeleton, it appears to be less affected by changes in pH, based on the parameters assessed in this study. We suggest difference in biochemical pathways of calcification as the main factor influencing response to changes in pH levels, and that A. lessonii and M. vertebralis have the ability to regulate biochemical functions to cope with short-term increases in acidity. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 03/2015; 282(1803).
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    ABSTRACT: The stochastic nature of biochemical processes is a source of variability that influences developmental stability. Developmental instability (DI) is often estimated through fluctuating asymmetry (FA), a parameter that deals with within-individual variation in bilateral structures. A relevant goal is to shed light on how environment, physiology and genotype relate to DI, thus providing a more comprehensive view of organismal development. Using Drosophila melanogaster isogenic lines, we investigated the effect of parental age, parental diet and offspring heterozygosity on DI. In this work, we have uncovered a clear relationship between parental age and offspring asymmetry. We show that asymmetry of the progeny increases concomitantly with parental age. Moreover, we demonstrate that enriching the diet of parents mitigates the effect of age on offspring symmetry. We show as well that increasing the heterozygosity of the progeny eliminates the effect of parental age on offspring symmetry. Taken together, our results suggest that diet, genotype and age of the parents interact to determine offspring DI in wild populations. These findings provide us with an avenue to understand the mechanisms underlying DI. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 03/2015; 282(1803).
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    ABSTRACT: One of the hallmarks of eusociality is that workers forego their own reproduction to assist their mother in raising siblings. This seemingly altruistic behaviour may benefit workers if gains in indirect fitness from rearing siblings outweigh the loss of direct fitness. If worker presence is advantageous to mothers, however, eusociality may evolve without net benefits to workers. Indirect fitness benefits are often cited as evidence for the importance of inclusive fitness in eusociality, but have rarely been measured in natural populations. We compared inclusive fitness of alternative social strategies in the tropical sweat bee, Megalopta genalis, for which eusociality is optional. Our results show that workers have significantly lower inclusive fitness than females that found their own nests. In mathematical simulations based on M. genalis field data, eusociality cannot evolve with reduced intra-nest relatedness. The simulated distribution of alternative social strategies matched observed distributions of M. genalis social strategies when helping behaviour was simulated as the result of maternal manipulation, but not as worker altruism. Thus, eusociality in M. genalis is best explained through kin selection, but the underlying mechanism is likely maternal manipulation. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 03/2015; 282(1803).
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    ABSTRACT: Understanding the functional links between social structure and population processes is a central aim of evolutionary ecology. Multiple types of interactions can be represented by networks drawn for the same population, such as kinship, dominance or affiliative networks, but the relative importance of alternative networks in modulating population processes may not be clear. We illustrate this problem, and a solution, by developing a framework for testing the importance of different types of association in facilitating the transmission of information. We apply this framework to experimental data from wild songbirds that form mixed-species flocks, recording the arrival (patch discovery) of individuals to novel foraging sites. We tested whether intraspecific and interspecific social networks predicted the spread of information about novel food sites, and found that both contributed to transmission. The likelihood of acquiring information per unit of connection to knowledgeable individuals increased 22-fold for conspecifics, and 12-fold for heterospecifics. We also found that species varied in how much information they produced, suggesting that some species play a keystone role in winter foraging flocks. More generally, these analyses demonstrate that this method provides a powerful approach, using social networks to quantify the relative transmission rates across different social relationships.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 03/2015; 282(1803).
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    ABSTRACT: Left-right asymmetries are common properties of nervous systems. Although lateralized sensory processing has been well studied, information is lacking about how asymmetries are represented at the level of neural coding. Using in vivo functional imaging, we identified a population-level left-right asymmetry in the honey bee's primary olfactory centre, the antennal lobe (AL). When both antennae were stimulated via a frontal odour source, the inter-odour distances between neural response patterns were higher in the right than in the left AL. Behavioural data correlated with the brain imaging results: bees with only their right antenna were better in discriminating a target odour in a cross-adaptation paradigm. We hypothesize that the differences in neural odour representations in the two brain sides serve to increase coding capacity by parallel processing. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 03/2015; 282(1803).
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    ABSTRACT: Strong asymmetries in parental care, with one sex providing more care than the other, are widespread across the animal kingdom. At present, two factors are thought to ultimately cause sex differences in care: certainty of parentage and sexual selection. By contrast, we here show that the coevolution of care and the ability to care can result in strong asymmetries in both the ability to care and the level of care, even in the absence of these factors. While the coevolution of care and the ability to care does not predict which sex evolves to care more than the other, once other factors give rise to even the slightest differences in the cost and benefits of care between the sexes (e.g. differences in certainty in parentage), a clear directionality emerges; the sex with the lower cost or higher benefit of care evolves both to be more able to care and to provide much higher levels of care than the other sex. Our findings suggest that the coevolution of levels of care and the ability to care may be a key factor underlying the evolution of sex differences in care. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 03/2015; 282(1803).
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    ABSTRACT: How does recent climate warming and climate variability alter fitness, phenotypic selection and evolution in natural populations? We combine biophysical, demographic and evolutionary models with recent climate data to address this question for the subalpine and alpine butterfly, Colias meadii, in the southern Rocky Mountains. We focus on predicting patterns of selection and evolution for a key thermoregulatory trait, melanin (solar absorptivity) on the posterior ventral hindwings, which affects patterns of body temperature, flight activity, adult and egg survival, and reproductive success in Colias. Both mean annual summer temperatures and thermal variability within summers have increased during the past 60 years at subalpine and alpine sites. At the subalpine site, predicted directional selection on wing absorptivity has shifted from generally positive (favouring increased wing melanin) to generally negative during the past 60 years, but there is substantial variation among years in the predicted magnitude and direction of selection and the optimal absorptivity. The predicted magnitude of directional selection at the alpine site declined during the past 60 years and varies substantially among years, but selection has generally been positive at this site. Predicted evolutionary responses to mean climate warming at the subalpine site since 1980 is small, because of the variability in selection and asymmetry of the fitness function. At both sites, the predicted effects of adaptive evolution on mean population fitness are much smaller than the fluctuations in mean fitness due to climate variability among years. Our analyses suggest that variation in climate within and among years may strongly limit evolutionary responses of ectotherms to mean climate warming in these habitats. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 03/2015; 282(1802).
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    ABSTRACT: It is commonly assumed that because males produce many, tiny sperm, they are cheap to produce. Recent work, however, suggests that sperm production is not cost-free. If sperm are costly to produce, sperm number and/or viability should be influenced by diet, and this has been documented in numerous species. Yet few studies have examined the exact nutrients responsible for mediating these effects. Here, we quantify the effects of protein (P) and carbohydrate (C) intake on sperm number and viability in the cockroach Nauphoeta cinerea, as well as the consequences for male fertility. We found the intake of P and C influenced sperm number, being maximized at a high intake of diets with a P : C ratio of 1 : 2, but not sperm viability. The nutritional landscapes for male fertility and sperm number were closely aligned, suggesting that sperm number is the major determinant of male fertility in N. cinerea. Under dietary choice, males regulate nutrient intake at a P : C ratio of 1 : 4.95, which is midway between the ratios needed to maximize sperm production and pre-copulatory attractiveness in this species. This raises the possibility that males regulate nutrient intake to balance the trade-off between pre- and post-copulatory traits in this species. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 03/2015; 282(1802).
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    ABSTRACT: Assessing the relative importance of different processes that determine the spatial distribution of species and the dynamics in highly diverse plant communities remains a challenging question in ecology. Previous modelling approaches often focused on single aggregated forest diversity patterns that convey limited information on the underlying dynamic processes. Here, we use recent advances in inference for stochastic simulation models to evaluate the ability of a spatially explicit and spatially continuous neutral model to quantitatively predict six spatial and non-spatial patterns observed at the 50 ha tropical forest plot on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. The patterns capture different aspects of forest dynamics and biodiversity structure, such as annual mortality rate, species richness, species abundance distribution, beta-diversity and the species-area relationship (SAR). The model correctly predicted each pattern independently and up to five patterns simultaneously. However, the model was unable to match the SAR and beta-diversity simultaneously. Our study moves previous theory towards a dynamic spatial theory of biodiversity and demonstrates the value of spatial data to identify ecological processes. This opens up new avenues to evaluate the consequences of additional process for community assembly and dynamics.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 03/2015; 282(1802).
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    ABSTRACT: Speciation may occur when the genomes of two populations accumulate genetic incompatibilities and/or chromosomal rearrangements that prevent inter-breeding in nature. Chromosome stability is critical for survival and faithful transmission of the genome, and hybridization can compromise this. However, the role of chromosomal stability on hybrid incompatibilities has rarely been tested in recently diverged populations. Here, we test for chromosomal instability in hybrids between nascent species, the 'dwarf' and 'normal' lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis). We examined chromosomes in pure embryos, and healthy and malformed backcross embryos. While pure individuals displayed chromosome numbers corresponding to the expected diploid number (2n = 80), healthy backcrosses showed evidence of mitotic instability through an increased variance of chromosome numbers within an individual. In malformed backcrosses, extensive aneuploidy corresponding to multiples of the haploid number (1n = 40, 2n = 80, 3n = 120) was found, suggesting meiotic breakdown in their F1 parent. However, no detectable chromosome rearrangements between parental forms were identified. Genomic instability through aneuploidy thus appears to contribute to reproductive isolation between dwarf and normal lake whitefish, despite their very recent divergence (approx. 15-20 000 generations). Our data suggest that genetic incompatibilities may accumulate early during speciation and limit hybridization between nascent species. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 03/2015; 282(1802).