Evolutionary Applications (EVOL APPL )

Publisher: Blackwell Publishing


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Publications in this journal

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Conservation genetics has provided important information into the dynamics of endangered populations. The rapid development of genomic methods has posed an important question, namely where do genetics and genomics sit in relation to their application in the conservation of species? Although genetics can answer a number of relevant questions related to conservation, the argument for the application of genomics is not yet fully exploited. Here, we explore the transition and rationale for the move from genetic to genomic research in conservation biology and the utility of such research. We explore the idea of a ‘conservation prior’ and how this can be determined by genomic data and used in the management of populations. We depict three different conservation scenarios and describe how genomic data can drive management action in each situation. We conclude that the most effective applications of genomics will be to inform stakeholders with the aim of avoiding ‘emergency room conservation’.
    Evolutionary Applications 08/2014;
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In Australia, the rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) has been used since 1996 to reduce numbers of introduced European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) which have a devastating impact on the native Australian environment. RHDV causes regular, short disease outbreaks, but little is known about how the virus persists and survives between epidemics. We examined the initial spread of RHDV to show that even upon its initial spread, the virus circulated continuously on a regional scale rather than persisting at a local population level and that Australian rabbit populations are highly interconnected by virus-carrying flying vectors. Sequencing data obtained from a single rabbit population showed that the viruses that caused an epidemic each year seldom bore close genetic resemblance to those present in previous years. Together, these data suggest that RHDV survives in the Australian environment through its ability to spread amongst rabbit subpopulations. This is consistent with modelling results that indicated that in a large interconnected rabbit meta-population, RHDV should maintain high virulence, cause short, strong disease outbreaks but show low persistence in any given subpopulation. This new epidemiological framework is important for understanding virus–host co-evolution and future disease management options of pest species to secure Australia's remaining natural biodiversity.
    Evolutionary Applications 08/2014;
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Antibiotic resistance is increasing in pathogenic microbial populations and is thus a major threat to public health. The fate of a resistance mutation in pathogen populations is determined in part by its fitness. Mutations that suffer little or no fitness cost are more likely to persist in the absence of antibiotic treatment. In this review, we performed a meta-analysis to investigate the fitness costs associated with single mutational events that confer resistance. Generally, these mutations were costly, although several drug classes and species of bacteria on average did not show a cost. Further investigations into the rate and fitness values of compensatory mutations that alleviate the costs of resistance will help us to better understand both the emergence and management of antibiotic resistance in clinical settings.
    Evolutionary Applications 08/2014;
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The relationship between genetic variation and phenotypic traits is fundamental to the study and management of natural populations. Such relationships often are investigated by assessing correlations between phenotypic traits and heterozygosity or genetic differentiation. Using an extensive data set compiled from free-ranging mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), we combined genetic and ecological data to (i) examine correlations between genetic differentiation and migration timing, (ii) screen for mitochondrial haplotypes associated with migration timing, and (iii) test whether nuclear heterozygosity was associated with condition. Migration was related to genetic differentiation (more closely related individuals migrated closer in time) and mitochondrial haplogroup. Body fat was related to heterozygosity at two nuclear loci (with antagonistic patterns), one of which is situated near a known fat metabolism gene in mammals. Despite being focused on a widespread panmictic species, these findings revealed a link between genetic variation and important phenotypes at a fine scale. We hypothesize that these correlations are either the result of mixing refugial lineages or differential mitochondrial haplotypes influencing energetics. The maintenance of phenotypic diversity will be critical to enable the potential tracking of changing climatic conditions, and these correlates highlight the need to consider evolutionary mechanisms in management, even in widely distributed panmictic species.
    Evolutionary Applications 07/2014;
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Antibiotic resistance can impair bacterial growth or competitive ability in the absence of antibiotics, frequently referred to as a ‘cost’ of resistance. Theory and experiments emphasize the importance of such effects for the distribution of resistance in pathogenic populations. However, recent work shows that costs of resistance are highly variable depending on environmental factors such as nutrient supply and population structure, as well as genetic factors including the mechanism of resistance and genetic background. Here, we suggest that such variation can be better understood by distinguishing between the effects of resistance mechanisms on individual traits such as growth rate or yield (‘trait effects’) and effects on genotype frequencies over time (‘selective effects’). We first give a brief overview of the biological basis of costs of resistance and how trait effects may translate to selective effects in different environmental conditions. We then review empirical evidence of genetic and environmental variation of both types of effects and how such variation may be understood by combining molecular microbiological information with concepts from evolution and ecology. Ultimately, disentangling different types of costs may permit the identification of interventions that maximize the cost of resistance and therefore accelerate its decline.
    Evolutionary Applications 07/2014;
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Large numbers of hatchery salmon spawn in wild populations each year. Hatchery fish with multiple generations of hatchery ancestry often have heritably lower reproductive success than wild fish and may reduce the fitness of an entire population. Whether this reduced fitness also occurs for hatchery fish created with local- and predominantly wild-origin parents remains controversial. Here, we review recent studies on the reproductive success of such ‘early-generation’ hatchery fish that spawn in the wild. Combining 51 estimates from six studies on four salmon species, we found that (i) early-generation hatchery fish averaged only half the reproductive success of their wild-origin counterparts when spawning in the wild, (ii) the reduction in reproductive success was more severe for males than for females, and (iii) all species showed reduced fitness due to hatchery rearing. We review commonalities among studies that point to possible mechanisms (e.g., environmental versus genetic effects). Furthermore, we illustrate that sample sizes typical of these studies result in low statistical power to detect fitness differences unless the differences are substantial. This review demonstrates that reduced fitness of early-generation hatchery fish may be a general phenomenon. Future research should focus on determining the causes of those fitness reductions and whether they lead to long-term reductions in the fitness of wild populations.
    Evolutionary Applications 07/2014;
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The use of antibiotics in agriculture is routinely described as a major contributor to the clinical problem of resistant disease in human medicine. While a link is plausible, there are no data conclusively showing the magnitude of the threat emerging from agriculture. Here, we define the potential mechanisms by which agricultural antibiotic use could lead to human disease and use case studies to critically assess the potential risk from each. The three mechanisms considered are as follows 1: direct infection with resistant bacteria from an animal source, 2: breaches in the species barrier followed by sustained transmission in humans of resistant strains arising in livestock, and 3: transfer of resistance genes from agriculture into human pathogens. Of these, mechanism 1 is the most readily estimated, while significant is small in comparison with the overall burden of resistant disease. Several cases of mechanism 2 are known, and we discuss the likely livestock origins of resistant clones of Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus faecium, but while it is easy to show relatedness the direction of transmission is hard to assess in robust fashion. More difficult yet to study is the contribution of mechanism 3, which may be the most important of all.
    Evolutionary Applications 07/2014;
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Best practices in wildlife disease management require robust evolutionary ecological research (EER). This means not only basing management decisions on evolutionarily sound reasoning, but also conducting management in a way that actively contributes to the on-going development of that research. Because good management requires good science, and good science is ‘good’ science (i.e., effective science is often science conducted ethically), good management therefore also requires practices that accord with sound ethical reasoning. To that end, we propose a two-part framework to assist decision makers to identify ethical pitfalls of wildlife disease management. The first part consists of six values – freedom, fairness, well-being, replacement, reduction, and refinement; these values, developed for the ethical evaluation of EER practices, are also well suited for evaluating the ethics of wildlife disease management. The second part consists of a decision tree to help identify the ethically salient dimensions of wildlife disease management and to guide managers toward ethically responsible practices in complex situations. While ethical reasoning cannot be used to deduce from first principles what practices should be undertaken in every given set of circumstances, it can establish parameters that bound what sorts of practices will be acceptable or unacceptable in certain types of scenarios.
    Evolutionary Applications 06/2014;
  • Source
    Evolutionary Applications 06/2014; 7(6).

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