Dens are places for cavernicolous animals to hibernate, reproduce, and avoid predators and harsh weather conditions, and thus they have a vital impact on their survival. M. himalayana is the main large cavernicolous rodent on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The analysis of den traits and their ecological functions can reveal mechanisms by which marmots have adapted to their environment, which is important for further understanding the ecological significance of this species. From July to August 2019 (warm season), we used unmanned aerial vehicles to fly at low altitudes and slow speeds to locate 131 marmot burrows (45 on shaded slopes, 51 on sunny slopes, and 35 on flat areas) in the northeastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. We then measured the physical characteristics (den density, entrance size, first tunnel length, volume, orientation and plant characteristics near the den entrance) of these dens on site. The physical parameters of the M. himalayana dens showed that they function to protect the marmots from natural enemies and bad weather, provide good drainage, and maintain a stable microclimate around the entrance. This is a result of the marmot’s adaptation to the harsh environment (cold and humidity) of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
In this study our aim was to assess the diversity and distribution of cavity-nesting solitary bees, wasps and the spider-hunting wasps' prey with regards to the influence of landscape context in a study area with relatively low human disturbance. The study took place between May and August 2018 at eight study sites in the hilly-mountainous central part of Romania, where the majority of the landscape is used for extensive farming or forestry. During the processing of the trap nest material, we recorded several parameters regarding the nests of different hymenopteran groups, the spider prey found inside these nests, and also tested the influence of the landscape structure surrounding the sites on both hymenopteran groups and spider prey. The majority of nests was built by the solitary wasp group of Trypoxylon, followed by Dipogon and Eumeninae. Solitary bees were much rarer, with Hylaeus being most common group. The groups showed partially differing size preferences concerning the diameter of the occupied reed stalks. In the nests of Trypoxylon we predominantly found spider prey from the family of Araneidae, followed by representatives from the families of Linyphiidae and Theridiidae. In contrast to Trypoxylon, the wasp group Dipogon preferred spider prey from the family of Thomisidae. Concerning the hymenopteran groups, significant effects of landscape structure were found on the number of both nests and brood cells of Eumeninae and on the number of brood cells of Hylaeus, Osmia and Trypoxylon. We also found that the diversity of Trypoxylon spider prey was significantly positively affected by an increasing proportion of grassland and negatively by an increasing proportion of woodland. Altogether, our study presents several new aspects concerning the diversity and distribution of solitary bees, wasps and the spider-hunting wasps' prey and also the effects of landscape context on these groups.
The mass die-off of Caribbean corals has transformed many of this region’s reefs to macroalgal-dominated habitats since systematic monitoring began in the 1970s. Although attributed to a combination of local and global human stressors, the lack of long-term data on Caribbean reef coral communities has prevented a clear understanding of the causes and consequences of coral declines. We integrated paleoecological, historical, and modern survey data to track the prevalence of major coral species and life history groups throughout the Caribbean from the pre-human period to present. The regional loss of Acropora corals beginning by the 1960s from local human disturbances resulted in increases in the prevalence of formerly subdominant stress-tolerant and weedy scleractinian corals and the competitive hydrozoan Millepora beginning in the 1970s and 1980s. These transformations have resulted in the homogenization of coral communities within individual countries. However, increases in stress-tolerant and weedy corals have slowed or reversed since the 1980s and 1990s in tandem with intensified coral bleaching. These patterns reveal the long history of increasingly stressful environmental conditions on Caribbean reefs that began with widespread local human disturbances and have recently culminated in the combined effects of local and global change.
The mirid bugs Stenotus rubrovittatus and Trigonotylus caelestialium, which cause pecky rice, have become a threat to rice cultivation in Asia. Damage caused by these pests has rapidly become frequent since around 2000 in Japan. Their expansion pattern is not simple, making it difficult to manage them by prediction. Some insects with wide distributions have locally adapted variations in life-history traits. We performed laboratory rearing experiments to assess the geographical scale of intraspecific variations in life-history traits of S. rubrovittatus and T. caelestialium. These were aimed at increasing the accuracy of occurrence estimates and the number of generations per year. These results were compared with previous research, and differences in development rates were observed between populations of different latitudes, but not of the same latitude. Finally, plotting the timing of adult emergence and the potential number of generations per year on maps with a 5-km grid revealed that they differed greatly locally at the same latitude. These maps can be used for developing more efficient methods of managing mirid bugs in integrated pest management.
Identifying factors that influence sea otter (Enhydra lutris) population density can provide insight into why it varies spatially and temporally and when a recovering population has reached an equilibrium density because of food resources (i.e., carrying capacity K). Although food availability is widely recognized as an important extrinsic factor affecting sea otter density, how do we determine when a population has reached K? The goal of this study was to estimate K for Simpson Bay, Alaska by measuring the abundance of edible bivalves, the primary prey for sea otters for over 40 years. We then compared prey abundance and estimated replacement rate (i.e., the mean age of bivalves predated by sea otters) to estimated annual prey consumption based on the mean population density for the past 18 years. On average, 110 adult sea otters (5.2 km−2) have occupied Simpson Bay annually since 2001 consuming an estimated 176,660 kg of bivalves. The total mass (standing stock) of the major bivalves (predominately butter clams and stained macomas) was 785,730 kg, so adult sea otters consumed about 22% annually. Based on these observations and calculations, the estimated annual number of sea otters occupying Simpson Bay appears to be at or near K based on the replacement rate of food resources. However, other intrinsic (e.g., male territoriality and emigration) and extrinsic (e.g., predation, disease, human-related mortality) factors may influence equilibrium density, which varies spatially and temporally, resulting in a mosaic of subpopulations with different densities, rates of growth and discontinuous distributions. Understanding the balance among these factors may be one of the most challenging ecological questions for sea otter conservation and management as populations recover from their range-wide decimation during the Maritime Fur Trade in the late 18th and 19th centuries
Abstract: 1. In our paper four events of blood sucking on human by Placobdella costata were described. 2. Human blood was sucked by both adults and juvenile specimens of P. costata. 3. The feeding strategies of juveniles under parental care are presented. 4. New data of juvenile specimens body form are presented. 5. Information on the potential role of mammals in species dispersion and habitat preferences of leeches are under consideration.
Mating systems and patterns in reproductive success of fishes play an important role in ecology and evolution. While information on the reproductive ecology of many anadromous salmonids (Oncorhynchus spp.) is well-detailed, there is less information for non-anadromous species including the Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout (O. clarkii bouvieri), a species of recreational angling importance and conservation concern. Here, we used data from a parentage-based tagging study to describe the mating system of Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout from a spawning tributary of the South Fork Snake River, Idaho, and identify predictors of relative reproductive success. We detected evidence of monogamy, polygyny, and polyandry and showed that reproductive success was best explained by arrival time at the spawning ground and total length. Specifically, the largest adults arrived earliest in the season and produced a disproportionate number of offspring. Lastly, we estimated the effective number of breeders (Nb) and effective population size (Ne) and showed that while Nb was lower than Ne, both are sufficiently high to suggest Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout in Burns Creek represent a genetically stable and diverse population.
The relative contributions of adaptation and drift to morphological diversification of the crania of echolocating mammals was investigated using two horseshoe bat species, Rhinolophus simulator and R. cf. simulator as test cases. We used 3D geometric morphometrics to compare the shapes of skulls of the two lineages collected at various localities in southern Africa. Shape variation was predominantly attributed to selective forces; the between population variance (B) was not proportional to the within population variance (W). Modularity was evident in the crania of R. simulator but absent in the crania of R. cf. simulator and the mandibles of both species. The skulls of the two lineages thus appeared to be under different selection pressures, despite the overlap in their distributions. Selection acted mainly on the nasal dome region of R. cf. simulator whereas selection acted more on the cranium and mandibles than on the nasal domes of R. simulator. Probably the relatively higher echolocation frequencies used by R. cf. simulator, the shape of the nasal dome, which acts as a frequency dependent acoustic horn, is more crucial than in R. simulator, allowing maximization of the intensity of the emitted calls and resulting in comparable detection distances. In contrast, selection pressure is probably more pronounced on the mandibles and cranium of R. simulator to compensate for the loss in bite force because of its elongated rostrum. The predominance of selection probably reflects the stringent association between environment and the optimal functioning of phenotypic characters associated with echolocation and feeding in bats.
All organisms are susceptible to the environment and changing environmental conditions can infer structural modifications in predator-prey communities. A change in the environment can influence, for example, the mortality rate of both the prey and the predator, or determine how long the interaction between both partners is. This may have a substantial impact on ecological, but also evolutionary dynamics. Experimental studies, in which microbial populations are maintained by a repeated dilution into fresh conditions after a certain period of time, are able to dissipate underlying mechanisms in a controlled way. By design, dilution rate (modifying mortality) and transfer interval (determining the time of interaction) are crucial factors, but they often receive little attention in experimental design. We study data from a live predator-prey (bacteria and ciliates) system used to gain insight into eco-evolutionary principles and apply a mathematical model to predict how various dilution rates and transfer intervals would affect such an experiment. We find the ecological dynamics to be surprisingly robust for both factors. However, the evolutionary rates are expected to be affected. Our work predicts that the evolution of the anti-predator defence in the bacteria, and the evolution of the predation efficiency in the ciliates, both decrease with higher dilution rate, but increase with longer transfer intervals. Our results provide testable hypotheses for future studies of predator-prey systems and we hope this work will help improving our understanding how ecological and evolutionary processes together shape composition of microbial communities.
Increasingly animal behaviour studies are enhanced through the use of accelerometry. To allow translation of raw accelerometer data to animal behaviours requires the development of classifiers. Here, we present the “rabc” package to assist researchers with the interactive development of such animal-behaviour classifiers based on datasets consisting out of accelerometer data with their corresponding animal behaviours. Using an accelerometer and a corresponding behavioural dataset collected on white stork (Ciconia ciconia), we illustrate the workflow of this package, including raw data visualization, feature calculation, feature selection, feature visualization, extreme gradient boost model training, validation, and, finally, a demonstration of the behaviour classification results.
Stable isotope analysis is a universally recognized and efficient method of indicating trophic relationships that is widely applied in research. However, variations in natural isotopic abundance may lead to inaccuracies due to the effects of complex environmental conditions. This research compared the carbon and nitrogen isotopic niches of fish communities between diverse biotopes around the Yellow River estuary and adjacent sea areas, with the aim of revealing distinctions in stable isotopic niche metrics, trophic positions, and feeding preferences. Stable isotopic niche results indicated that the communities of estuarine habitants were compatible in most study biotopes, and may provide a corridor for energy and material transportation between Laizhou Bay and the open water. Local biocoenosis was embodied in the wider isotopic niche corresponding to frequent environmental changes and abiotic gradients. This implied that they used various food sources to adapt to the fickle environment, including marine-terrestrial boundaries and the estuary. Our analysis of the food source contribution indicated that allochthonous sources were considered major energy sources in estuarine areas directly affected by Yellow River-diluted water, while autochthonous benthic and pelagic producers dominated carbon input into the food web in Laizhou Bay and the open water. A significant variation in the fish δ15N characteristic was found within estuarine adjacent regions, so, together with the results from previous studies, we deemed the local high concentration of dissolved inorganic nitrogen as the original trigger of the abnormal δ15N characteristic in fishes via a transport process along food chains. These results provide a new perspective on the natural distinction of carbon and nitrogen isotopic niches. The detailed data reported here enhance our understanding of variations in fish communities in estuarine ecosystems.
1. Understanding the animal-habitat relationship at local scale is crucial in ecology, particularly to develop strategies for wildlife management and conservation. As this relationship is governed by environmental features and intra and inter-specific interactions, habitat selection of a population may vary locally between its core and edges. 2. This is particularly true for central place foragers, such as grey and harbour seals, whose trends in numbers vary among different regions in the Northeast Atlantic. Here, we aimed at studying how foraging habitat selection may vary locally with the influence of population trends and physical habitat features 3. Using GPS/GSM tags deployed in grey and harbour seal colonies of contrasting sizes, we investigate spatial patterns and foraging habitat selection by comparing trip characteristics and home range similarities, and fitting GAMM to the seal distribution and environmental data respectively. 4. We show that grey seal foraging habitat selection and spatial patterns differed markedly between regions. Grey seals may select environmental characteristics for their foraging habitat accounting for local differences in prey consumed. Spatial patterns were different might depend on local seal density and regional productivity, located from inshore to offshore areas for the limit ranges and core population respectively. Our results on foraging habitat selection reflected the coastal and sedentary behaviour of harbour seals. We found no difference in spatial patterns between colonies, except for the Inner Hebrides where seals foraged further, potentially reflecting density dependence pressure, as the number in this colony is higher. 5. These results suggest that local conditions might have a strong influence on population spatial ecology, highlighting as well the relevance of studying foraging habitat selection based on foraging behaviour at fine geographical scale, particularly if species are managed within regional units.
Competition between the sympatric harbour (Phoca vitulina) and grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) is thought to underlie some recent local declines of the former while the population of the latter remains stable or increases. A better understanding of the interactions between these two species is critical to elucidate current changes. This study aims at identifying and quantifying the niche overlap between harbour and grey seals at their Southern European limit range, in the baie de Somme (Eastern English Channel, France), in a context of exponential increase in the number of resident harbour seals and visiting grey seals. Isotopic niche overlap was quantified between both species using whisker δ13C and δ15N isotopic values, taking intra- and interindividual variability into account. Dietary overlap was quantified from scat contents using hierarchical clustering. A high degree of trophic niche overlap was identified between both species. The narrower isotopic niche of harbour seals was nested within that of grey seals (58.2% [CI95%: 22.7-100%] overlap). Six diet clusters were identified from scat content analysis. Two of them gathered most of harbour seals’ scats (85.5 % [80.3-90.2%]) and around half of grey seals’ ones (46.8% [35.1-58.4%]) that almost exclusively contained benthic flatfish. Consumption of this type of prey was identified here to be the root cause of trophic overlap. This highlighted the potential for competition between the two species at their Southern European limit range, linked to foraging on benthic flatfish, in coastal waters close to their haulout sites, especially during spring/summer. We suggest that (1) interspecific competition for prey could occur/increase in the future if the number of grey and harbour seals still increase and/or if flatfish supply decrease in this area, and (2) harbour seals would be disadvantaged in such a case if they do not adapt, as being specialised on flatfish at the colony scale.
1. The Tea Bag Index (Keuskamp et al. 2013) has been developed to allow worldwide comparable data on litter decomposition and has become an important part of several citizen science projects. This commentary shows that it is unsuitable for assessing total decomposition in most environments as it does not account for the role of macrofauna in the decomposition process. 2. Tea bags were placed following the standardised protocol in old growth forest in Borneo (Sabah, East Malaysia). 3. The results shows that more than half of the bags were attacked by termites and they tended to remove the majority of the tea, rendering the Tea Bag Index incalculable. 4. The Tea Bag Index can measure the microbial component of decay, but will significantly underestimate total decay rates in most environments. This method will not give an accurate estimate of decomposition in most biomes.
1. Bat abundance, diversity and behaviour can be monitored by capturing bats for identification and measurement in the hand, but this has several disadvantages. These include disturbance to the bats, which limits the frequency with which captures can be made at an individual capture site, and potentially alters the behaviours being studied. 2. Passive recording and automated analysis and identification of bat calls offers an alternative, non-invasive approach to monitoring bats. In this study, we examine the effectiveness of acoustic monitoring in comparison with capture-based monitoring of seasonal swarming behaviour among several species of Myotis bats in southern Britain. 3. We show that both approaches have advantages and disadvantages for different tasks, but can be viewed as complementary methods for addressing different types of research questions. 4. We applied these complementary approaches, together with observations from infra-red video monitoring, to describe seasonal, overnight and species-specific variation in swarming behaviour in a multi-species community of Myotis bats. 5. In our study of swarming behaviour, capture and examination of bats in the hand was necessary for measuring sex ratios, reproductive status, and even for confirmation of species identification for some difficult to separate taxa. Capture is also an essential aspect of tagging bats for individual identification and tracking studies. 6. Passive acoustic monitoring is a valuable non-invasive method for continuous monitoring of within-night, seasonal and between-year variation in the abundance of bat calls. These can be used as an index of variation in relative abundance within -- but not between -- bat species.
Study of the carnivore guild is the key to understand quantitative relationship between members of the carnivore community. The aim of the study was to investigate diversity, abundance and population structure of the mongoose in Nech Sar National Park. Ecological data collection on mongoose species has been carried out from September 2017 to August 2018 in Nech Sar National Park (NSNP). Based on the habitat type and topography of NSNP, 10 transects, each of 4-5 km long were sampled to traverse the major habitat types in the park. Line transect distance sampling methodology was used to determine abundance and population status. DISTANCE (Version 6.0, Release 2) Software was used for density and abundance estimation of mongoose populations. The key to distance sampling analyses is to fit a detection function to the observed distances, and hence, the key functions hazard rate + hermite polynomial, unform + cosine polynomial and half normal + hermite polynomial models were chosen over the others on the basis of best fit. Three species of mongoose namely- Egyptian mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon,) Slender mongoose (Herpestessanguineus) and White tailed mongoose (Ichneumiaalbicauda) were identified in the study. The overall density of mongoose in the study area was 2.3048+0.16070 individuals/km2 with population estimate of 943+85.593 individuals. Based on season and habitat type, density and abundance estimates showed variation (P<0.05). However, species composition between seasons and habitats was the same. The highest species diversity (H=1.197) was recorded in bushland habitat. The population was female-baised with 1:1.171 and 1:1.59, male to female ratio during wet and dry seasons, respectively. Adult to young (subadult and juvenile) ratio was1.05:1 and 0.94: 1 during wet and dry seasons, respectively. Further researches on other ecological parameters viz. behavior, feeding habit and activity pattern are important to acquire a complete picture about mongoose ecology in the park.
A rapid biodiversity assessment of insects and associated Laboulbeniales fungi was conducted over the course of five nights in August, 2018 at two central Florida lakes: Lake Eustis and the nearby protected and restored National Natural Landmark, Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area (EMCA), which encompasses a portion of Lake Griffin. These locations were selected because Lake Eustis was surveyed for Laboulbeniales in 1897 by mycologist Dr. Roland Thaxter, but has not since been investigated. Because Lake Eustis has been urbanized, with the lake perimeter almost entirely altered by human development, the site offers a look into Laboulbeniales diversity across a 121 year timeline, before and after human development. By surveying Lake Eustis and EMCA, a modern case study comparison of Laboulbeniales and insect diversity between a developed and unrestored system and a protected and restored system is made. A total of 4,022 insects were collected during the rapid assessment. Overall, insect abundance was greater at EMCA, with 3,001 insects collected, compared to 1,021 insects collected from Eustis. Though family level insect richness was comparable between sites, with 55 families present at EMCA and 56 at Eustis, 529 out of 3,001 (17.6%) of the insects collected at EMCA were hosts to parasitic Laboulbeniales fungi whereas only 2 out of 1,021 (0.19%) collected from Eustis were infected. There were 16 species of Laboulbeniales found at EMCA compared to only one at Eustis. The current number of Laboulbeniales species documented at Eustis was incredibly depauperate compared to the 27 species recorded by Thaxter in 1897, suggesting the possibility of utilizing Laboulbeniales as indicators of ecosystem health. A figure displaying host-parasite records and a species list of Laboulbeniales fungi is compiled and updated occurrence records for species of Ceratomyces and Hydrophilomyces are provided.
Light-regime variability is an important environmental factor which shapes a forest community. So far, none focused on the phylogenetic pattern of plant light receptors, which reflects how genes’ evolution influences the coexistence of species in a community. In this study, we analyzed community phylogenetic structure of the south subtropical forest by sequences of plant blue light receptor cryptochrome (CRY) and compared the results of DNA barcodes. Patterns of community assembly was estimated by net relatedness index (NRI) and nearest taxon index (NTI). We found that CRY showed quite different phylogenetic structure as compared to DNA barcoding results, all habitats displayed consistent phylogenetic structure patterns, suggesting a convergent evolution of light sensing system of plant in local adaptation. Also, both NRI and NTI values increased through the time, indicating that the phylogenetic structure of tree community became more overdispersion as succession proceeds; phylogenetic closely-related species tended to co-occur and environmental filtering played a more important role in the community assembly. Furthermore, phylogenetic patterns were more clustering in upper canopy layers, and NTI values of all canopy layers were above zero, suggesting that phylogenetically related species tended to coexist and adapted to similar light conditions.