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Article Reference A decadal view of biodiversity informatics: challenges and priorities
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Article Reference A dietary perspective of cat-human interactions in two medieval harbors in Iran and Oman revealed through stable isotope analysis
Cats are hypercarnivorous, opportunistic animals that have adjusted to anthropogenic environments since the Neolithic period. Through humans, either by direct feeding and/or scavenging on food scraps, the diet of cats has been enriched with animals that they cannot kill themselves (e.g., large mammals, fish). Here, we conducted carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratio analysis to reconstruct the diet of medieval cats and investigate cat-human interactions in two medieval harbor sites (Qalhât, Oman and Siraf, Iran). The analysis included 28 cat individuals and 100 associated marine and terrestrial faunal samples pertaining to > 30 taxa. The isotopic results indicate a high marine protein-based diet for the cats from Qalhât and a mixed marine-terrestrial (C4) diet for the cats from Siraf. Cats at these sites most likely scavenged on both human food scraps and refuse related to fishing activities, with differences in the two sites most likely associated with the availability of marine resources and/or the living conditions of the cats. By shedding light on the dietary habits of cats from two medieval harbors in the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, this study illustrates the potential of stable isotope analysis in reconstructing human-cat interactions in the past.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2023
Article Reference A distinct island population of threatened freshwater fish: to split or lump?
Freshwater fishes in the Balkans display high percentages of endemic species, many being limited to restricted distributions. Their management, for example, through identification of priority areas for conservation or through re-introduction, is hampered by a poor understanding of their taxonomic diversity and interrelationships. We evaluate the identity of a sand goby belonging to Knipowitschia, limited to a single wetland on the Greek island of Zakynthos. Its representatives morphologically differ sufficiently from their congeners to qualify as a separate species. However, in view of the similarity in mitochondrial ribosomal DNA sequences, the evolutionary plasticity of said morphological characters, and in the absence of a taxonomic revision of the Ionian Ecoregion’s Knipowitschia gobies, describing it as a new species seems unjustified and premature. Rather, we advocate that its unique habitus and its vulnerability as the island’s only resident freshwater fish necessitate conservation efforts as a kind of ‘‘phenotypically significant unit’’. We also propose sand gobies as flagships for wetlands in the region. This case study suggests a possible approach for fish conservation prioritization in the region, taking a precautionary angle in order to avoid taxonomic inflation, which is an imminent risk given the importance of nominal species and endemics in conservation policy.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2016
Article Reference A diverse bird assemblage from the Ypresian of Belgium furthers knowledge of Early Eocene avifaunas of the North Sea Basin
We describe an assemblage of 54 avian bones from early Eocene marine sediments of the Ampe quarry near Egem in Belgium. The fossils belong to at least 20 species in more than 11 higher-level taxa. Well-identifiable specimens are assigned to the Odontopterygiformes, Galliformes, Messelornithidae, Apodiformes, Halcyornithidae, Leptosomiformes (cf.Plesiocathartes), and Coraciiformes (cf. Septencoracias). Further specimens are tentatively referred to the phaethontiform Prophaethontidae and to the Accipitridae, Masillaraptoridae, and Alcediniformes. The threedimensionally preserved fossils from Egem provide new data on the osteology of taxa that are otherwise mainly known from compression fossils with crushed bones. The material also includes specimens that further knowledge of the composition of early Eocene avifaunas of the North Sea Basin. The comparatively well-represented small galliform species is clearly distinguished from the early Eocene Gallinuloididae and most closely resembles Argillipes aurorum, a largely ignored galliform species from the London Clay. The tentatively identified fossils of Accipitridae and Alcediniformes would represent the earliest fossil records of these clades. The bird assemblage from Egem includes relatively few seabirds (Odontopterygiformes, cf. Prophaethontidae) and is dominated by remains of terrestrial species (Galliformes, Messelornithidae). Arboreal birds (Halcyornithidae, Leptosomiformes, cf. Alcediniformes, Coraciiformes) are less abundant and aerial insectivores (Apodiformes) very scarce, which either indicates a taphonomic bias in the composition of the avifauna or particular paleoenvironmental characteristics of the nearshore habitats in that area of the southern North Sea Basin.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2019
Inproceedings Reference A diverse Miocene toothed whale (Odontoceti) fauna from Calvert Cliffs, Atlantic Coastal Plain, U.S.A.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2019
Article Reference A European network on evolutionary ecology of reproductive modes in non-marine Ostracoda: background and objectives. In: HORNE, D.J. & MARTENS, K. (eds.), The evolutionary ecology of reproductive modes in non-marine Ostracoda
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Inproceedings Reference A first, local DNA barcode reference database of the forensically important flies (Diptera) of the island of La Reunion
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2017
Article Reference A forest fire and soil erosion event during the Late Devonian mass extinction
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Article Reference A fossil albatross from the early Oligocene of the North Sea Basin
We describe a stem group representative of Diomedeidae from the early Oligocene (Rupelian) of Belgium. The fossil remains, wing, and pectoral girdle bones of two individuals are described as Tydea septentrionalis, gen. et sp. nov., and constitute the earliest well-established record of the taxon and the first Paleogene record from the North Sea Basin. The new species was about the size of the extant Black-browed Albatross (Thalassarche melanophris) and establishes that albatrosses had already reached a large size 30 mya. The wing bones of T. septentrionalis are distinguished by several plesiomorphic features from those of species in crown group Diomedeidae, which may indicate differences in aerodynamic performance between the fossil species and extant albatrosses. We detail that a previously described early Miocene species, “Plotornis” arvernensis, should be expunged from the fossil record of albatrosses. However, the new fossils provide further evidence that the extant, mainly Southern Hemispheric, distribution of albatrosses is relictual compared with the past distribution of the total group (stem group + crown group). With unambiguous records from the early Oligocene, early Miocene, and Pliocene, albatrosses are now known to have had a long evolutionary history in the European part of the North Atlantic, but the reasons for their extinction remain poorly understood
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications
Article Reference A fossil heron from the early Oligocene of Belgium : the earliest temporary well-constrained record of the Ardeidae
We describe the earliest temporally well-constrained fossil that can be assigned to the Ardeidae (herons), from the lowermost Oligocene (32.0–33.0 million years ago) of Belgium. The specimen, a partial tarsometatarsus, belongs to a small species and is described as Proardea? deschutteri n. sp. It exhibits the characteristic tarsometatarsus morphology found in extant heron species, but a confident assignment to one of the ardeid subclades is not possible and even the assignment of the new fossil species to the crown group (the clade including the extant species) cannot be established. The fossil indicates a divergence of herons from their sister taxon by at least the earliest Oligocene, and current paleontological data suggest that herons arrived in Europe shortly after a major faunal turnover at the Eocene/Oligocene boundary. We consider that dispersal is the likely reason for the sudden appearance of herons in the earliest Oligocene of Europe but it is uncertain from where exactly this took place, with Asia and Africa being among the candidate areas.
Located in Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2018