Erosion of community diversity and stability by herbivore removal under warming
Proc. R. Soc. B April 22, 2013 280 1757 20122722; doi:10.1098/rspb.2012.2 722 1471-2954 722 1471-2954
Climate change has the potential to influence the persistence of ecological communities by altering their stability properties. One of the major drivers of community stability is species diversity, which is itself expected to be altered by climate change in many systems. The extent to which climatic effects on community stability may be buffered by the influence of species interactions on diversity is, however, poorly understood because of a paucity of studies incorporating interactions between abiotic and biotic factors. Here, I report results of a 10-year field experiment, the past 7 years of which have focused on effects of ongoing warming and herbivore removal on diversity and stability within the plant community, where competitive species interactions are mediated by exploitation through herbivory. Across the entire plant community, stability increased with diversity, but both stability and diversity were reduced by herbivore removal, warming and their interaction. Within the most species-rich functional group in the community, forbs, warming reduced species diversity, and both warming and herbivore removal reduced the strength of the relationship between diversity and stability. Species interactions, such as exploitation, may thus buffer communities against destabilizing influences of climate change, and intact populations of large herbivores, in particular, may prove important in maintaining and promoting plant community diversity and stability in a changing climate.
Zootaxa 3616 (4): 345–356 (21 Feb. 2013)
A new species of the Pristimantis orestes group (Amphibia: Strabomantidae) from the high Andes of Ecuador, Reserva Mazar
JUAN M. GUAYASAMIN & ALEJANDRO F. ARTEAGA
We describe a new Pristimantis from La Libertad and Rumiloma, Reserva Mazar, Andes of Southeastern Ecuador, at elevations between 2895–3415 m. This species is assigned to the P. orestes group, from whose members it differs by its small body size (adult males ≤ 18.1 mm; adult females ≤ 23.7 mm), usually reticulated ventral pattern, and visible tympanum. The vocalization of the new species consists of a series of calls; each call is composed by a pulsed, nonmodulated note in frequency, and with a dominant frequency of 3122–3171 Hz. A molecular phylogeny based on a fragment of the mitochondrial gene 12S shows that the new species is sister to Pristimantis simonbolivari.
Kiik, K., Maran, T., Nagl, A., Ashford, K. and Tammaru, T. (2013), The Causes of the Low Breeding Success of European Mink (Mustela lutreola) in Captivity. Zoo Biol.. doi: 10.1002/zoo.21062
High among-individual variation in mating success often causes problems in conservation breeding programs. This is also the case for critically endangered European mink and may jeopardize the long-term maintenance of the species‘ genetic diversity under the European mink EEP Program. In this study, breeding success of wild and captive born European minks at Tallinn Zoological Garden are compared, and the mating behavior of the males is analyzed. Results show that wild born males successfully mate significantly more often than captive born males (89% and 35%, respectively). On the basis of an extensive record of mating attempts, both male aggressiveness and passivity are identified as primary causes of the observed mating failures. All other potential determinants have only a minor role. Mating success as well as a male’s aggressiveness and passivity are shown to depend more strongly on the male than the female partner. We did not find any evidence that the behavior of an individual is dependent on the identity of its partner. We suggest that aggressiveness and passivity are two expressions of abnormal behavior brought about by growing up in captivity: the same individuals are likely to display both aggressive and passive behavior. The results point to the need to study and modify maintenance conditions and management procedures of mink to reduce the negative impact of the captive environment on the long-term goals of the program.
Zootaxa 3616 (5): 461–477 (22 Feb. 2013)
A review of the rudderfish genus Tubbia (Stromateoidei: Centrolophidae) with the description of a new species from the Southern Hemisphere
PETER R. LAST, ROSS K. DALEY & GUY DUHAMEL
A combination of morphological and molecular techniques was used to confirm the existence of a second species of the monotypic centrolophid genus Tubbia. Adults of the seamount rudderfish, T. stewarti sp. nov., which reaches about 56 cm SL, is mesopelagic at depths of 525–1438 m in the temperate waters of the Southern Hemisphere. It has a confirmed distribution off Australia and New Zealand where it occurs sympatrically with the wider ranging T. tasmanica Whitley. Like most other members of the group, juveniles live in the epipelagic zone where they have been taken at 30–50 m depth. The new species has a more robust head, more slender body, more flattened interorbit, longer jaws, denser head pores, relatively larger eyes and nostrils, narrower caudal peduncle and more vertebral centra than T. tasmanica, and also differs subtly in some morphometric ratios. A rediagnosis of T. tasmanica is also provided.
Tomaš Laho, Zora Váradyová, Katarína Mihaliková, Svetlana Kišidayová, Fermentation Capacity of Fecal Microbial Inocula of Przewalski Horse, Kulan, and Chapman Zebra and Polysaccharide Hydrolytic Activities of Fecal Microbial Constituents (Ciliates and Bacteria) of Kulan and Chapman Zebra, Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, Volume 33, Issue 3, March 2013, Pages 143-149, ISSN 0737-0806, 10.1016/j.jevs.2012.05.064.
We examined fermentation capacity of fecal microbial inocula of Przewalski horse (Equus ferus przewalskii), Asian wild ass – kulan (Equus hemionus hemionus), and Chapman zebra (Equus quagga chapmani) in vitro. Interactions of the substrates (amorphous cellulose, wheat straw, meadow hay, xylan from oat spelt, and ground barley grain) and type of fecal inocula in the gas volume and in vitro dry matter digestibility were detected in all substrates after 72 hours of fermentation in five replicates for each substrate and type of inocula. No effects of fecal inocula sources were detected on total short-chain fatty acids concentrations. No live fecal ciliate population was present in kulan feces. Complex ciliate populations in zebra feces and the number and genera resembled ciliates from the colon of horses. Fresh feces of kulan and zebra were fractionated by galvanotaxis and centrifugation to separate fecal ciliates and bacteria. Specific activities (μmol of reducing equivalents/mL min mg protein) of carboxymethyl cellulase (CM-cellulase), xylanase, α-amylase, and inulinase were measured in crude cell-free extract of fecal ciliates (zebra), fecal bacteria (zebra and kulan), and total fecal preparation (zebra and kulan). All examined specific enzymatic activities were present in zebra fecal samples. We were unable to measure the inulinase activity and CM-cellulase activity in kulan fecal samples. Zebra ciliates are actively involved in the digestion of plant storage (α-amylase, 0.53 ± 0.02; inulinase, 1.77 ± 0.01, specific activities) and structural polysaccharides (CM-cellulase, 0.4 ± 0.15; xylanase, 0.26 ± 0.06). For the first time, we measured inulinase activity in intestinal ciliates.
Life-history and hormonal control of aggression in black redstarts: Blocking testosterone does not decrease territorial aggression, but changes the emphasis of vocal behaviours during simulated territorial intrusions
Apfelbeck B, Mortega KG, Kiefer S, Kipper S, Goymann W
Frontiers in Zoology 2013, 10:8 (21 February 2013)
Many studies in behavioural endocrinology attempt to link territorial aggression with testosterone, but the exact relationship between testosterone and territorial behaviour is still unclear and may depend on the ecology of a species. The degree to which testosterone facilitates territorial behaviour is particularly little understood in species that defend territories during breeding and outside the breeding season, when plasma levels of testosterone are low. Here we suggest that species that defend territories in contexts other than reproduction may have lost the direct regulation of territorial behaviour by androgens even during the breeding season. In such species, only those components of breeding territoriality that function simultaneously as sexually selected signals may be under control of sex steroids.
We investigated black redstarts (Phoenicurus ochruros), a species that shows periods of territoriality within and outside of the breeding season. We treated territorial males with an anti-androgen and an aromatase inhibitor during the breeding season to block both the direct and indirect effects of testosterone. Three and ten days after the treatment, implanted males were challenged with a simulated territorial intrusion. The treatment did not reduce the overall territorial response, but it changed the emphasis of territoriality: experimental males invested more in behaviours addressed directly towards the intruder, whereas placebo-treated males put most effort into their vocal response, a component of territoriality that may be primarily directed towards their mating partner rather than the male opponent.
In combination with previous findings, these data suggest that overall territoriality may be decoupled from testosterone in male black redstarts. However, high levels of testosterone during breeding may facilitate-context dependent changes in song.
KABURU, S. S. K., INOUE, S. and NEWTON-FISHER, N. E. (2013), Death of the Alpha: Within-Community Lethal Violence Among Chimpanzees of the Mahale Mountains National Park. Am. J. Primatol.. doi: 10.1002/ajp.22135
Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are capable of extreme violence. They engage in inter-group, sometimes lethal, aggression that provides the winners with an opportunity to enlarge their territory, increase their food supply and, potentially, attract more mates. Lethal violence between adult males also occurs within groups but this is rare; to date, only four cases (three observed and one inferred) have been recorded despite decades of observation. In consequence, the reasons for within-group lethal violence in chimpanzees remain unclear. Such aggression may be rare due to the importance of coalitions between males during inter-group encounters; cooperation between males is also thought to be key in the defense or advancement of social rank within the group. Previous accounts of within-group lethal violence concern victims who were low-ranking males; here we provide the first account of the killing of an incumbent alpha male by a coalition of adult males from the same community. We found no clear evidence that the alpha male’s position was under threat during the months before the lethal attack: the male dominance hierarchy was highly stable, with low rates of male–male aggression, and there were no significant changes in social interactions (i.e. grooming and aggression) between the alpha male and the other adult males. Two of the four attackers were former alpha males and were the individuals with whom the victim appeared, in the period preceding his death, to be most strongly affiliated: his most frequent grooming partners and those with whom he spent most time in proximity. The lethal attack triggered a period of instability in the male hierarchy and was likely an opportunistic attempt to seize alpha status by the third-ranking male.
SHAFFER, C. A. (2013), Feeding Ecology of Northern Bearded Sakis (Chiropotes sagulatus) in Guyana. Am. J. Primatol.. doi: 10.1002/ajp.22134
Bearded sakis (genus Chiropotes) are among the most highly specialized primate seed predators. However, long-term studies of the genus in continuous forests, with a full community of sympatric primates, are rare. Here I present data on monthly variation in the diet of Chiropotes sagulatus from a long-term study in a continuous forest in Guyana. Bearded sakis had an extremely diverse diet, exploiting more than 175 species of plants. Consistent with their highly specialized dental morphology for seed eating, seeds made up 75% of the annual diet. Sakis exploited a wide variety of mechanically protected fruits and often exploited the same plant species for more than 3 months. They consumed a high percentage of seeds in all months and seed consumption was significantly correlated with fruit abundance. When fruit became scarcer, sakis consumed a higher percentage of non-seed food items, including insects, mature fruit, and flowers. Insects were especially important during the leanest months, making up almost 40% of feeding time. Bearded saki dietary diversity (in terms of plant species) showed little variability across months. These results confirm sakis to be highly specialized seed predators. Sakis preferentially consume seeds when they are available. However, when seeds become scarce, sakis become generalists, supplementing their diet with mature fruit, insects, and flowers. The ability of bearded sakis to consume a diversity of highly abundant plant species, fruit in several stages of maturity, and a variety of different types of resources buffers them from the detrimental effects of resource scarcity.
ENARI, H. and SAKAMAKI-ENARI, H. (2013), Influence of Heavy Snow on the Feeding Behavior of Japanese Macaques (Macaca Fuscata) in Northern Japan. Am. J. Primatol.. doi: 10.1002/ajp.22128
Natural disasters can degrade primate habitat and alter feeding behavior. Here, we examined the influence of unusually heavy snow on diet and feeding-site use by Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) in northern Japan. To compare the winter-feeding behavior under different snow conditions, we recorded the plant species foraged on by macaques in multiple transects of the Shirakami Mountains from 2008 to 2012 (excluding 2011). We used cluster analysis to describe foraged plant assemblages, and applied multiple dimensional scaling and decision tree modeling to evaluate annual variation in feeding-site use by macaques. Our cluster analysis revealed five types of foraged plant assemblages. The proportion of each type present in transects varied considerably across the years, indicating that the diet of macaques in heavy snow conditions was influenced more by resource accessibility than by preference. Multiple dimensional scaling and decision tree modeling demonstrated that heavy snow conditions restricted feeding-site use. Moreover, the distribution of refuges relative to severe external ambient environments was a stronger limiting factor for feeding-site use than was the availability of food resources. While most primate species facing unexpected starvation employ risk-prone foraging tactics (i.e., choosing the option with higher pay-off by accepting risk), Japanese macaques have a tendency to adopt risk-averse foraging behavior (i.e., minimizing energy loss when searching for preferred diet items under long-lasting heavy snow conditions), because winters with temperatures below freezing have higher thermoregulatory costs.
CLARK, F. E. and SMITH, L. J. (2013), Effect of a Cognitive Challenge Device Containing Food and Non-Food Rewards on Chimpanzee Well-Being. Am. J. Primatol.. doi: 10.1002/ajp.22141
Exploration and problem-solving are highly motivated behaviors in non-human primates, but little research has focused on whether cognitively challenging tasks can enhance primates‘ psychological well-being, particularly in the absence of food rewards. We evaluated whether a novel cognitive challenge device (CCD) consisting of a maze of opaque tubes enhanced the well-being of a group of six adult chimpanzees housed at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, UK, over a two-month period. Chimpanzees had the opportunity to interact with two versions of the CCD: the first contained tokens which fell into a transparent chamber when extracted from the CCD and could not be eaten. The second contained unshelled Brazil nuts, which could be extracted and eaten. CCD-use was low over the study, occupying on average 2.5% of observation time. However, compared to baseline levels, chimpanzees exhibited more problem-solving behaviors (directed toward the CCD) and spent significantly more time engaged in social play when the CCD was present. Cage exploration was rare whether the CCD was present or not. Chimpanzees used the CCD (including tool-use) significantly more when it contained tokens. The relationship between the presence of the CCD and self-directed behavior (rough-scratching) was difficult to interpret. Although rough-scratching was significantly higher in the cage when the CCD was present and 18% of these scratching events occurred within one arm’s length from the CCD, rough-scratching decreased when device use increased. This study provides a preliminary investigation of the CCD and two reward types, and suggests how the design could be modified to enhance its effects.
KINNALLY, E. L., FEINBERG, C., KIM, D., FERGUSON, K., COPLAN, J. D. and MANN, J. J. (2013), Transgenerational Effects of Variable Foraging Demand Stress in Female Bonnet Macaques. Am. J. Primatol.. doi: 10.1002/ajp.22130
Stress coping is an important part of mammalian life, influencing somatic and mental health, social integration, and reproductive success. The experience of early psychological stress helps shape lifelong stress coping strategies. Recent studies have shown that the effects of early stress may not be restricted to the affected generation, but may also be transmitted to offspring. Understanding whether early stress influences development in subsequent generations may help us understand somewhat why many stress-related traits and diseases, for which little genetic basis has been discovered, run in families. Experimental early life “variable foraging demand” (VFD) stress has been associated with behavioral hypo-responsiveness to stress in infant and adolescent bonnet macaques. The present study examined the behavioral effects of experimental early VFD stress in adult bonnet macaques, and further investigated whether non-exposed adolescent offspring of VFD macaques were also affected. Thirty female bonnet macaques from four rearing histories were observed for behavioral response during stress: adults which had been VFD reared as infants (n = 11), adults which had been Control reared as infants (n = 9), and foraging demand naïve adolescents whose mothers were VFD (n = 4) or Control reared (n = 6). Subjects were observed for behavioral response during two experimental stressor conditions, including: (1) relocation to a novel environment; and (2) relocation with exposure to a “human intruder” making eye contact. Factor analysis yielded five factors that described categories of behavior across stress conditions. While adult VFD and Control reared females unexpectedly did not differ significantly, non-exposed adolescent offspring of VFD reared mothers displayed significant hypo-responsiveness in all behavioral categories compared with non-exposed adolescent offspring of Control females. We suggest that stress hypo-responsiveness previously observed in adolescent VFD reared animals may abate with age, but is nonetheless observed in the next generation. We conclude that VFD stress affects behavioral development of subsequent generations in non-human primates.
Mauro I. Schiaffini, Magalí Gabrielli, Francisco J. Prevosti, Yamila P. Cardoso, Diego Castillo, Roberto Bo, Emma Casanave, Marta Lizarralde
Taxonomic status of southern South American Conepatus (Carnivora: Mephitidae)
Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2013, 167, 327–344, 167:2, 327–344
Despite recent taxonomic evaluations of Mephitidae and North American hog-nosed skunks, southern South American species of Conepatus have not been thoroughly examined in a systematic context. Conepatus chinga and Conepatus humboldtii were described more than 150 years ago, based on external characters such as hair coloration and size. Although historically recognized as valid species, to date no detailed systematic analysis has been performed for either of these taxa. Herein, we evaluated the taxonomic status of C. chinga and C. humboldtii within the southern part of South America using geometric morphometrics of the skull and mandible, mitochondrial DNA analysis using the cytochrome b and cytochrome oxidase c subunit I genes, and also control region and pelage pattern variation. We failed to find morphological (skull shape and pelage coloration patterns) or molecular differences between these two species; thus, we considered that the specimens assigned to C. chinga and C. humboldtii belong to the same species. Our results indicate that environmental variation seems to be responsible for shape and size variation in Conepatus skulls from southern South America.