Zika virus was discovered in Uganda in 1947 and is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, which also act as vectors for dengue and chikungunya viruses throughout much of the tropical world. In 2007, an outbreak in the Federated States of Micronesia sparked public health concern. In 2013, the virus began to spread across other parts of Oceania and in 2015, a large outbreak in Latin America began in Brazil. Possible associations with microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome observed in this outbreak have raised concerns about continued global spread of Zika virus, prompting its declaration as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization. We conducted species distribution modelling to map environmental suitability for Zika. We show a large portion of tropical and sub-tropical regions globally have suitable environmental conditions with over 2.17 billion people inhabiting these areas.
True river dolphins are some of the rarest and most endangered of all vertebrates. They comprise relict evolutionary lineages of high taxonomic distinctness and conservation value, but are afforded little protection. We report the discovery of a new species of a river dolphin from the Araguaia River basin of Brazil, the first such discovery in nearly 100 years. The species is diagnosable by a series of molecular and morphological characters and diverged from its Amazonian sister taxon 2.08 million years ago. The estimated time of divergence corresponds to the separation of the Araguaia-Tocantins basin from the Amazon basin. This discovery highlights the immensity of the deficit in our knowledge of Neotropical biodiversity, as well as vulnerability of biodiversity to anthropogenic actions in an increasingly threatened landscape. We anticipate that this study will provide an impetus for the taxonomic and conservation reanalysis of other taxa shared between the Araguaia and Amazon aquatic ecosystems, as well as stimulate historical biogeographical analyses of the two basins.
The exact timing, route, and process of the initial peopling of the Americas remains uncertain despite much research. Archaeological evidence indicates the presence of humans as far as southern Chile by 14.6 thousand years ago (ka), shortly after the Pleistocene ice sheets blocking access from eastern Beringia began to retreat. Genetic estimates of the timing and route of entry have been constrained by the lack of suitable calibration points and low genetic diversity of Native Americans. We sequenced 92 whole mitochondrial genomes from pre-Columbian South American skeletons dating from 8.6 to 0.5 ka, allowing a detailed, temporally calibrated reconstruction of the peopling of the Americas in a Bayesian coalescent analysis. The data suggest that a small population entered the Americas via a coastal route around 16.0 ka, following previous isolation in eastern Beringia for ~2.4 to 9 thousand years after separation from eastern Siberian populations. Following a rapid movement throughout the Americas, limited gene flow in South America resulted in a marked phylogeographic structure of populations, which persisted through time. All of the ancient mitochondrial lineages detected in this study were absent from modern data sets, suggesting a high extinction rate. To investigate this further, we applied a novel principal components multiple logistic regression test to Bayesian serial coalescent simulations. The analysis supported a scenario in which European colonization caused a substantial loss of pre-Columbian lineages.
Brachycephalus (Anura: Brachycephalidae) is a remarkable genus of miniaturized frogs of the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest. Many of its species are highly endemic to cloud forests, being found only on one or a few mountaintops. Such level of microendemism might be caused by their climatic tolerance to a narrow set of environmental conditions found only in montane regions. This restriction severely limits the chance of discovery of new species, given the difficulty of exploring these inaccessible habitats. Following extensive fieldwork in montane areas of the southern portion of the Atlantic Rainforest, in this study we describe seven new species of Brachycephalus from the states of Paraná and Santa Catarina, southern Brazil. These species can be distinguished from one another based on coloration and the level of rugosity of the skin in different parts of their body. These discoveries increase considerably the number of described species of Brachycephalus in southern Brazil.
Dependence of hydropower energy generation on forests in the Amazon Basin at local and regional scales
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Published over 7 years ago
Tropical rainforest regions have large hydropower generation potential that figures prominently in many nations' energy growth strategies. Feasibility studies of hydropower plants typically ignore the effect of future deforestation or assume that deforestation will have a positive effect on river discharge and energy generation resulting from declines in evapotranspiration (ET) associated with forest conversion. Forest loss can also reduce river discharge, however, by inhibiting rainfall. We used land use, hydrological, and climate models to examine the local “direct” effects (through changes in ET within the watershed) and the potential regional “indirect” effects (through changes in rainfall) of deforestation on river discharge and energy generation potential for the Belo Monte energy complex, one of the world’s largest hydropower plants that is currently under construction on the Xingu River in the eastern Amazon. In the absence of indirect effects of deforestation, simulated deforestation of 20% and 40% within the Xingu River basin increased discharge by 4-8% and 10-12%, with similar increases in energy generation. When indirect effects were considered, deforestation of the Amazon region inhibited rainfall within the Xingu Basin, counterbalancing declines in ET and decreasing discharge by 6-36%. Under business-as-usual projections of forest loss for 2050 (40%), simulated power generation declined to only 25% of maximum plant output and 60% of the industry’s own projections. Like other energy sources, hydropower plants present large social and environmental costs. Their reliability as energy sources, however, must take into account their dependence on forests.
We describe two new cynodonts from the early Late Triassic of southern Brazil. One taxon, Bonacynodon schultzi gen. et sp. nov., comes from the lower Carnian Dinodontosaurus AZ, being correlated with the faunal association at the upper half of the lower member of the Chañares Formation (Ischigualasto-Villa Unión Basin, Argentina). Phylogenetically, Bonacynodon is a closer relative to Probainognathus jenseni than to any other probainognathian, bearing conspicuous canines with a denticulate distal margin. The other new taxon is Santacruzgnathus abdalai gen. et sp. nov. from the Carnian Santacruzodon AZ. Although based exclusively on a partial lower jaw, it represents a probainognathian close to Prozostrodon from the Hyperodapedon AZ and to Brasilodon, Brasilitherium and Botucaraitherium from the Riograndia AZ. The two new cynodonts and the phylogenetic hypothesis presented herein indicate the degree to which our knowledge on probainognathian cynodonts is incomplete and also the relevance of the South American fossil record for understanding their evolutionary significance. The taxonomic diversity and abundance of probainognathians from Brazil and Argentina will form the basis of deep and complex studies to address the evolutionary transformations of cynodonts leading to mammals.
Expansion of cropland in tropical countries is one of the principal causes of biodiversity loss, and threatens to undermine progress towards meeting the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. To understand this threat better, we analysed data on crop distribution and expansion in 128 tropical countries, assessed changes in area of the main crops and mapped overlaps between conservation priorities and cultivation potential. Rice was the single crop grown over the largest area, especially in tropical forest biomes. Cropland in tropical countries expanded by c. 48,000 km(2) per year from 1999-2008. The countries which added the greatest area of new cropland were Nigeria, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Sudan and Brazil. Soybeans and maize are the crops which expanded most in absolute area. Other crops with large increases included rice, sorghum, oil palm, beans, sugar cane, cow peas, wheat and cassava. Areas of high cultivation potential-while bearing in mind that political and socio-economic conditions can be as influential as biophysical ones-may be vulnerable to conversion in the future. These include some priority areas for biodiversity conservation in tropical countries (e.g., Frontier Forests and High Biodiversity Wilderness Areas), which have previously been identified as having ‘low vulnerability’, in particular in central Africa and northern Australia. There are also many other smaller areas which are important for biodiversity and which have high cultivation potential (e.g., in the fringes of the Amazon basin, in the Paraguayan Chaco, and in the savanna woodlands of the Sahel and East Africa). We highlight the urgent need for more effective sustainability standards and policies addressing both production and consumption of tropical commodities, including robust land-use planning in agricultural frontiers, establishment of new protected areas or REDD+ projects in places agriculture has not yet reached, and reduction or elimination of incentives for land-demanding bioenergy feedstocks.
Modern metagenomic environmental DNA studies are almost completely reliant on next-generation sequencing, making evaluations of these methods critical. We compare two next-generation sequencing techniques - amplicon and shotgun - on water samples across four of Brazil’s major river floodplain systems (Amazon, Araguaia, Paraná, and Pantanal). Less than 50% of phyla identified via amplicon sequencing were recovered from shotgun sequencing, clearly challenging the dogma that mid-depth shotgun recovers more diversity than amplicon-based approaches. Amplicon sequencing also revealed ~27% more families. Overall the amplicon data were more robust across both biodiversity and community ecology analyses at different taxonomic scales. Our work doubles the sampling size in similar environmental studies, and novelly integrates environmental data (e.g., pH, temperature, nutrients) from each site, revealing divergent correlations depending on which data are used. While myriad variants on NGS techniques and bioinformatic pipelines are available, our results point to core differences that have not been highlighted in any studies to date. Given the low number of taxa identified when coupling shotgun data with clade-based taxonomic algorithms, previous studies that quantified biodiversity using such bioinformatic tools should be viewed cautiously or re-analyzed. Nonetheless, shotgun has complementary advantages that should be weighed when designing projects.
In this contribution we report the first occurrence of the enigmatic African probainognathian genus Aleodon in the Middle-early Late Triassic of several localities from the state of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil. Aleodon is unusual among early probainognathians in having transversely-expanded postcanine teeth, similar to those of gomphodont cynognathians. This genus was previously known from the Manda Beds of Tanzania and the upper Omingonde Formation of Namibia. The Brazilian record of this genus is based upon multiple specimens representing different ontogenetic stages, including three that were previously referred to the sectorial-toothed probainognathian Chiniquodon theotonicus. We propose a new species of Aleodon (A. cromptoni sp. nov.) based on the specimens from Brazil. Additionally, we tentatively refer one specimen from the upper Omingonde Formation of Namibia to this new taxon, strengthening biostratigraphic correlations between these strata. Inclusion of A. cromptoni in a phylogenetic analysis of eucynodonts recovers it as the sister-taxon of A. brachyrhamphus within the family Chiniquodontidae. The discovery of numerous specimens of Aleodon among the supposedly monospecific Chiniquodon samples of Brazil raises concerns about chiniquodontid alpha taxonomy, particularly given the extremely broad geographic distribution of Chiniquodon. The discovery of Brazilian Aleodon and new records of the traversodontid Luangwa supports the hypothesis that at least two subzones can be recognized in the Dinodontosaurus Assemblage Zone.
- The Brazilian journal of infectious diseases : an official publication of the Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases
- Published about 8 years ago
Lyme disease is an underdiagnosed zoonosis in Brazil. There are no cases registered in the state of Tocantins, the newest Brazilian state. The cases of three patients in contact with rural areas in three Tocantins' districts are herein described, and the Brazilian literature is reviewed.