R. S. Wilson

University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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Publications (14)38.89 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Thermal performance curves (TPCs) provide a powerful framework for studying the evolution of continuous reaction norms and for testing hypotheses of thermal adaptation. Although featured heavily in comparative studies, the framework has been comparatively underutilized for quantitative genetic tests of thermal adaptation. We assayed the distribution of genetic (co)variance for TPC (locomotor activity) within and among three natural populations of Drosophila serrata and performed replicated tests of two hypotheses of thermal adaptation--that 'hotter is better' and that a generalist-specialist trade-off underpins the evolution of thermal sensitivity. We detected significant genetic variance within, and divergence among, populations. The 'hotter is better' hypothesis was not supported as the genetic correlations between optimal temperature (T(opt)) and maximum performance (z(max)) were consistently negative. A pattern of variation consistent with a generalist-specialist trade-off was detected within populations and divergence among populations indicated that performance curves were narrower and had higher optimal temperatures in the warmer, but less variable tropical population.
    Journal of Evolutionary Biology 02/2011; 24(5):965-75. DOI:10.1111/j.1420-9101.2011.02227.x · 3.48 Impact Factor
  • B J Barth, R S Wilson
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    ABSTRACT: The low pH of naturally acidic aquatic environments is the result of soft-water with low buffering capacity and high concentrations of natural organic acids. Our current understanding of the influence of pH on aquatic organisms is largely limited to laboratory studies conducted under controlled conditions with little incorporation of these organic acids. Recent studies suggest natural organic acids may influence the physiology of aquatic species independent of low pH. We examined the effects of pH and varying concentrations of natural wallum water, which is high in organic acids on the hatching success, growth and locomotor performance of larval striped marsh frogs (Limnodynastes peronii). Based on previous studies, we predicted that the detrimental effects of low pH would be further exacerbated by higher concentrations of naturally occurring organic acids (high concentrations of wallum water). In artificial soft-water, embryos experienced both reduced growth and reduced survival when exposed to low pH. However, greater concentrations of natural organic acids did not exacerbate these effects of low pH on growth and development. Instead, we found some evidence that the natural organic acids within wallum water improved growth and swimming performance across all pH treatments. Using path analyses to investigate the effects of pH and natural organic acid concentration on burst swimming performance, we found performance was directly affected by both body length and organic acid concentration. Our data further highlight our limited understanding of the importance of natural organic acids for aquatic organisms and the need to incorporate greater ecological relevance into these studies.
    Journal of Experimental Biology 04/2010; 213(Pt 8):1293-300. DOI:10.1242/jeb.028472 · 3.00 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Weapons are specialized structures that are commonly used by animals to signal fighting ability and resource holding potential during agonistic encounters. Current theory predicts weapon size should reliably indicate weapon strength and unreliable signals should only occur at very low frequencies in nature. However, a recent study found weapon size was an unreliable signal of strength during agonistic interactions among males of the slender crayfish (Cherax dispar). In this study, we investigated the relationship between morphology, performance and social dominance in females of C. dispar. Based on current theory, we predicted chela size would reliably indicate chela strength and would relate indirectly to dominance via its influence on strength. We found females that possessed large chelae were more likely to possess stronger chelae, and those individuals with stronger chelae were more likely to win competitive bouts. The best predictive model of the relationships among morphology, performance and dominance indicated chela size indirectly affected social dominance via its influence on strength, thus demonstrating displays of weaponry are reliable signals of fighting ability. Reliable signals of strength among females of C. dispar supports current theory predicting stable signalling systems should largely consist of honest displays of strength. However, this contrasts with previous work demonstrating that male C. dispar routinely uses unreliable signals of weapon strength during agonistic encounters.
    Functional Ecology 01/2008; 22(2):311 - 316. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2435.2008.01379.x · 4.86 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The thermal sensitivity of locomotor performance has often been described in terms of speed, but the trajectory of locomotion may play an equally important role in capturing prey or escaping predators. Hypotheses based on physical constraints or behavioural plasticity predict relationships between the speed and the tortuosity of running, which should affect the thermal sensitivity of locomotion. We measured the speed and tortuosity of running by leaf-cutter ants over a range of temperatures from 10 °C to 40 °C. Tortuosity was estimated by the fractal dimension of each path. As we expected, ants ran faster at higher temperatures, but they also followed straighter (less tortuous) paths. A negative relationship between speed and tortuosity was observed both within and among thermal environments. Both biomechanical and behavioural mechanisms might have caused the observed relationship. Turning at high speeds should be more difficult because of the force needed to overcome inertia, and turning at low speeds could help ants evade a predator. Staged encounters with predators should help to define the ecological significance of the trade-off between speed and tortuosity.
    Functional Ecology 10/2007; 22(1):78 - 83. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2435.2007.01348.x · 4.86 Impact Factor
  • Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - Part A Molecular & Integrative Physiology 08/2007; 148:S18. DOI:10.1016/j.cbpa.2007.06.043 · 2.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Predator-induced morphological plasticity is a model system for investigating phenotypic plasticity in an ecological context. We investigated the genetic basis of the predator-induced plasticity in Rana lessonae by determining the pattern of genetic covariation of three morphological traits that were found to be induced in a predatory environment. Body size decreased and tail dimensions increased when reared in the presence of preying dragonfly larvae. Genetic variance in body size increased by almost an order of magnitude in the predator environment, and the first genetic principal component was found to be highly significantly different between the two environments. The across environment genetic correlation for body size was significantly below 1 indicating that different genes contributed to this trait in the two environments. Body size may therefore be able to respond to selection independently in the two environments to some extent.
    Journal of Evolutionary Biology 12/2006; 19(6):1813-8. DOI:10.1111/j.1420-9101.2006.01185.x · 3.48 Impact Factor
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    R. S. Wilson, P G Kraft, R. Van Damme
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    ABSTRACT: 1. We investigated the morphological responses of larval Rana lessonae to the presence of two predators with substantially different prey-detection and capture techniques; larval dragonflies (Aeshna cyanea) and the Pumpkinseed Sunfish (Lepomis gibossus). 2. We also examined the functional implications of any predator-induced morphological variation on their swimming ability by assessing performance during the initial stages of a startle response. 3. We found the morphological responses of larval R. lessonae were dependent on the specific predator present. Tadpoles raised in the presence of dragonfly larvae preying upon conspecific tadpoles developed total tail heights 5.4% deeper and tail muscles 4.7% shallower than tadpoles raised in a non-predator environment, while tadpoles raised with sunfish possessed tails 2% shallower and tail muscles 2.5% higher than non-predator-exposed tadpoles. 4. Predator-induced morphological variation also significantly influenced swimming performance. Tadpoles raised with sunfish possessed swimming speeds 9.5 and 14.6% higher than non- and dragonfly predator groups, respectively. 5. Thus, the expression of these alternative predator-morphs leads to a functional trade-off in performance between the different environments.
    Functional Ecology 04/2005; 19(2). DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2435.2005.00958.x · 4.86 Impact Factor
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    C. E. Franklin, R. S. Wilson, W Davison
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    ABSTRACT: We investigated the burst swimming performance of five species of Antarctic fish at -1.0degreesC. The species studied belonged to the suborder, Notothenioidei, and from the families, Nototheniidae and Bathydraconidae. Swimming performance of the fish was assessed over the initial 300 ms of a startle response using surgically attached miniature accelerometers. Escape responses in all fish consisted of a C-type fast start; consisting of an initial pronounced bending of the body into a C-shape, followed by one or more complete tail-beats and an un-powered glide. We found significant differences in the swimming performance of the five species of fish examined, with average maximum swimming velocities (U-max) ranging from 0.91 to 1.39 m s(-1) and maximum accelerations (A(max)) ranging from 10.6 to 15.6 m s(-2). The cryopelagic species, Pagothenia borchgrevinki, produced the fastest escape response, reaching a U-max and A(max) of 1.39 m s(-1) and 15.6 m s(-2), respectively. We also compared the body shapes of each fish species with their measures of maximum burst performance. The dragonfish, Gymnodraco acuticeps, from the family Bathdraconidae, did not conform to the pattern observed for the other four fish species belonging to the family Nototheniidae. However, we found a negative relationship between buoyancy of the fish species and burst swimming performance. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Journal of Thermal Biology 01/2003; · 1.54 Impact Factor
  • R S Wilson, C E Franklin
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    ABSTRACT: Despite several studies on adult amphibians, only larvae of the striped marsh frog (Limnodynastes peronii) have been reported to possess the ability to compensate for the effects of cool temperature on locomotor performance by thermal acclimation. In this study, we investigated whether this thermal acclimatory ability is shared by adult L. peronii. We exposed adult L. peronii to either 18 or 30 degrees C for 8 weeks and tested their swimming and jumping performance at six temperatures between 8 and 35 degrees C. Acute changes in temperature affected both maximum swimming and jumping performance, however there was no difference between the two treatment groups in locomotor performance between 8 and 30 degrees C. Maximum swimming velocity of both groups increased from 0.62+/-0.02 at 8 degrees C to 1.02+/-0.03 m s(-1) at 30 degrees C, while maximum jump distance increased from approximately 20 to >60 cm over the same temperature range. Although adult L. peronii acclimated to 18 degrees C failed to produce a locomotor response at 35 degrees C, this most likely reflected a change in thermal tolerance limits with acclimation rather than modifications in the locomotor system. As all adult amphibians studied to date are incapable of thermally acclimating locomotor performance, including adults of L. peronii, this acclimatory capacity appears to be absent from the adult stage of development.
    Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - Part A Molecular & Integrative Physiology 09/2000; 127(1):21-8. · 2.37 Impact Factor
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    R S Wilson, C E Franklin, R S James
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    ABSTRACT: We constructed a force platform to investigate the scaling relationships of the detailed dynamics of jumping performance in striped marsh frogs (Limnodynastes peronii). Data were used to test between two alternative models that describe the scaling of anuran jumping performance; Hill's model, which predicts mass- independence of jump distance, and Marsh's model, which predicts that jump distance increases as M(0.2), where M is body mass. From the force platform, scaling relationships were calculated for maximum jumping force (F(max)), acceleration, take-off velocity (U(max)), mass-specific jumping power (P(max)), total jumping distance (D(J)) and total contact time for 75 L. peronii weighing between 2.9 and 38. 4 g. F(max) was positively correlated with body mass and was described by the equation F(max)=0.16M(0.61), while P(max) decreased significantly with body mass and was described by the equation P(max)=347M(-)(0.46). Both D(J) and U(max) were mass-independent over the post-metamorph size range, and thus more closely resembled Hill's model for the scaling of locomotion. We also examined the scaling relationships of jumping performance in metamorph L. peronii by recording the maximum jump distance of 39 animals weighing between 0.19 and 0.58 g. In contrast to the post-metamorphic L. peronii, D(J) and U(max) were highly dependent on body mass in metamorphs and were described by the equations D(J)=38M(0.53) and U(max)=1.82M(0.23), respectively. Neither model for the scaling of anuran jumping performance resembled data from metamorph L. peronii. Although the hindlimbs of post-metamorphic L. peronii scaled geometrically (body mass exponent approximately 0.33), the hindlimbs of metamorphs showed greater proportional increases with body mass (mass exponents of 0.41-0.42).
    Journal of Experimental Biology 07/2000; 203(Pt 12):1937-46. · 3.00 Impact Factor
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    R S Wilson, R S James, I A Johnston
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    ABSTRACT: Among amphibians, the ability to compensate for the effects of temperature on the locomotor system by thermal acclimation has only been reported in larvae of a single species of anuran. All other analyses have examined predominantly terrestrial adult life stages of amphibians and found no evidence of thermal acclimatory capacity. We examined the ability of both tadpoles and adults of the fully aquatic amphibian Xenopus laevis to acclimate their locomotor system to different temperatures. Tadpoles were acclimated to either 12 degrees C or 30 degrees C for 4 weeks and their burst swimming performance was assessed at four temperatures between 5 degrees C and 30 degrees C. Adult X. laevis were acclimated to either 10 degrees C or 25 degrees C for 6 weeks and their burst swimming performance and isolated muscle performance was determined at six temperatures between 5 degrees C and 30 degrees C. Maximum swimming performance of cold-acclimated X. laevis tadpoles was greater at cool temperatures and lower at the highest temperature in comparison with the warm-acclimated animals. At the test temperature of 12 degrees C, maximum swimming velocity of tadpoles acclimated to 12 degrees C was 38% higher than the 30 degrees C-acclimation group, while at 30 degrees C, maximum swimming velocity of the 30 degrees C-acclimation group was 41% faster than the 12 degrees C-acclimation group. Maximum swimming performance of adult X. laevis acclimated to 10 degrees C was also higher at the lower temperatures than the 25 degrees C acclimated animals, but there was no difference between the treatment groups at higher temperatures. When tested at 10 degrees C, maximum swimming velocity of the 10 degrees C-acclimation group was 67% faster than the 25 degrees C group. Isolated gastrocnemius muscle fibres from adult X. laevis acclimated to 10 degrees C produced higher relative tetanic tensions and decreased relaxation times at 10 degrees C in comparison with animals acclimated to 25 degrees C. This is only the second species of amphibian, and the first adult life stage, reported to have the capacity to thermally acclimate locomotor performance.
    Journal of Comparative Physiology B 04/2000; 170(2):117-24. DOI:10.1007/s003600050266 · 2.53 Impact Factor
  • R S Wilson, C E Franklin
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    ABSTRACT: Previous analyses of thermal acclimation of locomotor performance in amphibians have only examined the adult life history stage and indicate that the locomotor system is unable to undergo acclimatory changes to temperature. In this study, we examined the ability of tadpoles of the striped marsh frog (Limnodynastes peronii) to acclimate their locomotor system by exposing them to either 10 degrees C or 24 degrees C for 6 weeks and testing their burst swimming performance at 10, 24, and 34 degrees C. At the test temperature of 10 degrees C, maximum velocity (Umax) of the 10 degrees C-acclimated tadpoles was 47% greater and maximum acceleration (Amax) 53% greater than the 24 degrees C-acclimated animals. At 24 degrees C, Umax was 16% greater in the 10 degrees C-acclimation group, while there was no significant difference in Amax or the time taken to reach Umax (T-Umax). At 34 degrees C, there was no difference between the acclimation groups in either Umax or Amax, however T-Umax was 36% faster in the 24 degrees C-acclimation group. This is the first study to report an amphibian (larva or adult) possessing the capacity to compensate for cool temperatures by thermal acclimation of locomotor performance. To determine whether acclimation period affected the magnitude of the acclimatory response, we also acclimated tadpoles of L. peronii to 10 degrees C for 8 months and compared their swimming performance with tadpoles acclimated to 10 degrees C for 6 weeks. At the test temperatures of 24 degrees C and 34 degrees C, Umax and Amax were significantly slower in the tadpoles acclimated to 10 degrees C for 8 months. At 10 degrees C, T-Umax was 40% faster in the 8-month group, while there were no differences in either Umax or Amax. Although locomotor performance was enhanced at 10 degrees C by a longer acclimation period, this was at the expense of performance at higher temperatures.
    Journal of Comparative Physiology B 10/1999; 169(6):445-51. DOI:10.1007/s003600050241 · 2.53 Impact Factor
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