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Interspecific brood parasitism is common in many animal systems. Brood parasites enter the nests of other species and divert host resources for producing their own offspring, which can lead to strong antagonistic parasite–host coevolution. Here, we look at commonalities among social insect species that are victims of brood parasites, and use phylogenetic data and information on geographical range size to predict which species are most probably to fall victims to brood parasites in the future. In our analyses, we focus on three eusocial hymenopteran groups and their brood parasites: (i) bumblebees, (ii) Myrmica ants, and (iii) vespine and polistine wasps. In these groups, some, but not all, species are parasitized by obligate workerless inquilines that only produce reproductive-caste descendants.We find phylogenetic signals for geographical range size and the presence of parasites in bumblebees, but not in ants and wasps. Phylogenetic logistic regressions indicate that the probability of being attacked by one or more brood parasite species increases with the size of the geographical range in bumblebees, but the effect is statistically only marginally significant in ants. However, non-phylogenetic logistic regressions suggest that bumblebee species with the largest geographical range sizes may have a lower likelihood of harbouring social parasites than do hosts with medium-sized ranges. Our results provide new insights into the ecology and evolution of host–social parasite systems, and indicate that host phylogeny and geographical range size can be used to predict threats posed by social parasites, as well to design efficient conservation measures for both hosts and their parasites. This article is part of the theme issue ‘The coevolutionary biology of brood parasitism: from mechanism to pattern’.

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Habitat discontinuity, anthropogenic disturbance, and overharvesting have led to population fragmentation and decline worldwide. Preservation of remaining natural genetic diversity is crucial to avoid continued genetic erosion. Brown trout (Salmo trutta L.) is an ideal model species for studying anthropogenic influences on genetic integrity, as it has experienced significant genetic alterations throughout its natural distribution range due to habitat fragmentation, overexploitation, translocations, and stocking. The Pasvik River is a subarctic riverine system shared between Norway, Russia, and Finland, subdivided by seven hydroelectric power dams that destroyed about 70% of natural spawning and nursing areas. Stocking is applied in certain river parts to support the natural brown trout population. Adjacent river segments with different management strategies (stocked vs. not stocked) facilitated the simultaneous assessment of genetic impacts of dams and stocking based on analyses of 16 short tandem repeat loci. Dams were expected to increase genetic differentiation between and reduce genetic diversity within river sections. Contrastingly, stocking was predicted to promote genetic homogenization and diversity, but also potentially lead to loss of private alleles and to genetic erosion. Our results showed comparatively low heterozygosity and clear genetic differentiation between adjacent sections in nonstocked river parts, indicating that dams prevent migration and contribute to genetic isolation and loss of genetic diversity. Furthermore, genetic differentiation was low and heterozygosity relatively high across stocked sections. However, in stocked river sections, we found signatures of recent bottlenecks and reductions in private alleles, indicating that only a subset of individuals contributes to reproduction, potentially leading to divergence away from the natural genetic state. Taken together, these results indicate that stocking counteracts the negative fragmentation effects of dams, but also that stocking practices should be planned carefully in order to ensure long‐term preservation of natural genetic diversity and integrity in brown trout and other species in regulated river systems.

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The insect order Hymenoptera originated during the Permian nearly 300 Mya. Ancestrally herbivorous hymenopteran lineages today make up the paraphyletic suborder ‘Symphyta’, which encompasses c. 8200 species with very diverse host-plant associations. We use phylogeny-based statistical analyses to explore the drivers of diversity dynamics within the ‘Symphyta’, with a particular focus on the hypothesis that diversification of herbivorous insects has been driven by the explosive radiation of angiosperms during and after the Cretaceous. Our ancestral-state estimates reveal that the first symphytans fed on gymnosperms, and that shifts onto angiosperms and pteridophytes – and back – have occurred at different time intervals in different groups. Trait-dependent analyses indicate that average net diversification rates do not differ between symphytan lineages feeding on angiosperms, gymnosperms or pteridophytes, but trait-independent models show that the highest diversification rates are found in a few angiosperm-feeding lineages that may have been favoured by the radiations of their host taxa during the Cenozoic. Intriguingly, lineages-through-time plots show signs of an early Cretaceous mass extinction, with a recovery starting first in angiosperm-associated clades. Hence, the oft-invoked assumption of herbivore diversification driven by the rise of flowering plants may overlook a Cretaceous global turnover in insect herbivore communities during the rapid displacement of gymnosperm- and pteridophyte-dominated floras by angiosperms.

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Biogeography has traditionally focused on the spatial distribution and abundance of species. Both are driven by the way species interact with one another, but only recently community ecologists realized the need to document their spatial and temporal variation. Here, we call for an integrated approach, adopting the view that community structure is best represented as a network of ecological interactions, and show how it translates to biogeography questions. We propose that the ecological niche should encompass the effect of the environment on species distribution (the Grinnellian dimension of the niche) and on the ecological interactions among them (the Eltonian dimension). Starting from this concept, we develop a quantitative theory to explain turnover of interactions in space and time – i.e. a novel approach to interaction distribution modeling. We apply this framework to host–parasite interactions across Europe and find that two aspects of the environment (temperature and precipitation) exert a strong imprint on species co-occurrence, but not on species interactions. Even where species co-occur, interaction proves to be stochastic rather than deterministic, adding to variation in realized network structure. We also find that a large majority of host-parasite pairs are never found together, thus precluding any inferences regarding their probability to interact. This first attempt to explain variation of network structure at large spatial scales opens new perspectives at the interface of species distribution modeling and community ecology.

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We describe Arge bella Wei & Du sp. nov., a large and beautiful species of Argidae from south China, and report its mitochondrial genome based on high-throughput sequencing data. We present the gene order, nucleotide composition of proteincoding genes (PCGs), and the secondary structures of RNA genes. The nearly complete mitochondrial genome of A. bella has a length of 15,576 bp and a typical set of 37 genes (22 tRNAs, 13 PCGs, and 2 rRNAs). Three tRNAs are rearranged in the A. bella mitochondrial genome as compared to the ancestral type in insects: trnM and trnQ are shuffled, while trnW is translocated from the trnW -trnC-trnY cluster to a location downstream of trnI. All PCGs are initiated by ATN codons, and terminated with TAA, TA or T as stop codons. All tRNAs have a typical cloverleaf secondary structure, except for trnS1. H821 of rrnS and H976 of rrnL are redundant. A phylogenetic analysis based on mitochondrial genome sequences of A. bella, 21 other symphytan species, two apocritan representatives, and four outgroup taxa supports the placement of Argidae as sister to the Pergidae within the symphytan superfamily Tenthredinoidea.