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      Toads phenotypically adjust their chemical defences to anthropogenic habitat change

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          Abstract

          Despite the well-documented effects of human-induced environmental changes on the morphology, physiology, behaviour and life history of wild animals, next to nothing is known about how anthropogenic habitats influence anti-predatory chemical defence, a crucial fitness component of many species. We investigated the amount and composition of defensive toxins in adult common toads ( Bufo bufo) captured in natural, agricultural and urban habitats, and in their offspring raised in a common-garden experiment. We found that, compared to toads captured from natural habitats, adults from both types of anthropogenic habitats had larger toxin glands (parotoids) and their toxin secretion contained higher concentrations of bufagenins, the more potent class of bufadienolide toxins. Furthermore, urban toads had lower concentrations of bufotoxins, the compounds with lower toxicity. None of these differences were present in the captive-raised juveniles; instead, toadlets originating from agricultural habitats had smaller parotoids and lower bufotoxin concentrations. These results suggest that toads’ chemical defences respond to the challenges of anthropogenic environments via phenotypic plasticity. These responses may constitute non-adaptive consequences of pollution by endocrine-disrupting chemicals as well as adaptive adjustments to the altered predator assemblages of urban and agricultural habitats.

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          Conducting Meta-Analyses inRwith themetaforPackage

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            Effect size, confidence interval and statistical significance: a practical guide for biologists.

            Null hypothesis significance testing (NHST) is the dominant statistical approach in biology, although it has many, frequently unappreciated, problems. Most importantly, NHST does not provide us with two crucial pieces of information: (1) the magnitude of an effect of interest, and (2) the precision of the estimate of the magnitude of that effect. All biologists should be ultimately interested in biological importance, which may be assessed using the magnitude of an effect, but not its statistical significance. Therefore, we advocate presentation of measures of the magnitude of effects (i.e. effect size statistics) and their confidence intervals (CIs) in all biological journals. Combined use of an effect size and its CIs enables one to assess the relationships within data more effectively than the use of p values, regardless of statistical significance. In addition, routine presentation of effect sizes will encourage researchers to view their results in the context of previous research and facilitate the incorporation of results into future meta-analysis, which has been increasingly used as the standard method of quantitative review in biology. In this article, we extensively discuss two dimensionless (and thus standardised) classes of effect size statistics: d statistics (standardised mean difference) and r statistics (correlation coefficient), because these can be calculated from almost all study designs and also because their calculations are essential for meta-analysis. However, our focus on these standardised effect size statistics does not mean unstandardised effect size statistics (e.g. mean difference and regression coefficient) are less important. We provide potential solutions for four main technical problems researchers may encounter when calculating effect size and CIs: (1) when covariates exist, (2) when bias in estimating effect size is possible, (3) when data have non-normal error structure and/or variances, and (4) when data are non-independent. Although interpretations of effect sizes are often difficult, we provide some pointers to help researchers. This paper serves both as a beginner's instruction manual and a stimulus for changing statistical practice for the better in the biological sciences.
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              Methodological issues and advances in biological meta-analysis

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                bokony.veronika@agrar.mta.hu
                Journal
                Sci Rep
                Sci Rep
                Scientific Reports
                Nature Publishing Group UK (London )
                2045-2322
                28 February 2019
                28 February 2019
                2019
                : 9
                Affiliations
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2149 4407, GRID grid.5018.c, Lendület Evolutionary Ecology Research Group, , Plant Protection Institute, Centre for Agricultural Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, ; Herman Ottó út 15, 1022 Budapest, Hungary
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2226 5083, GRID grid.483037.b, Institute for Biology, , University of Veterinary Medicine, ; Rottenbiller u. 50, 1077 Budapest, Hungary
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2149 4407, GRID grid.5018.c, Department of Pathophysiology, , Plant Protection Institute, Centre for Agricultural Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, ; Herman Ottó út 15, 1022 Budapest, Hungary
                Article
                39587
                10.1038/s41598-019-39587-3
                6395641
                30816222
                © The Author(s) 2019

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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