Abstract View

Stephen Wroe, Judith H. Field, Michael Archer, Donald K. Grayson, Gilbert J. Price, Julien Louys, J. Tyler Faith, Gregory E. Webb, Iain Davidson, and Scott D. Mooney
Climate change frames debate over the extinction of megafauna in Sahul (Pleistocene Australia-New Guinea)
PNAS 2013; published ahead of print May 6, 2013, doi:10.1073/pnas.1302698110

Around 88 large vertebrate taxa disappeared from Sahul sometime during the Pleistocene, with the majority of losses (54 taxa) clearly taking place within the last 400,000 years. The largest was the 2.8-ton browsing Diprotodon optatum, whereas the ∼100- to 130-kg marsupial lion, Thylacoleo carnifex, the world’s most specialized mammalian carnivore, and Varanus priscus, the largest lizard known, were formidable predators. Explanations for these extinctions have centered on climatic change or human activities. Here, we review the evidence and arguments for both. Human involvement in the disappearance of some species remains possible but unproven. Mounting evidence points to the loss of most species before the peopling of Sahul (circa 50–45 ka) and a significant role for climate change in the disappearance of the continent’s megafauna.

Zootaxa 3647 (1): 043–062 (08 May 2013)
A new tuberculated Pristimantis (Anura, Terrarana, Strabomantidae) from the Venezuelan Andes, redescription of Pristimantis pleurostriatus, and variation within Pristimantis vanadisae

A new tuberculated Pristimantis is described from the eastern versant of the Venezuelan Andes. The new species is found in cloud forest at around 1600 masl on the eastern side of the Cordillera de Mérida. It is distinguished from other similar tuberculated species by its round, ill-defined canthus rostralis, ill-defined canthal stripe, and absence of pale spots on the groin and posterior surface of thighs. Pristimantis pleurostriatus is a poorly known species found in cloud forest on the western slopes of the Venezuelan Andes. We redescribe the species based on topotypic specimens. Pristimantis vanadisaev is a polychomatic species varying dramatically in pattern; four chromotypes are described. Molecular data are presented which distinguish among tuberculated and other species of Pristimantis in the Cordillera de Merida. Molecular data also support placement of Mucubatrachus and Paramophrynella in Pristimantis.

Zootaxa 3647 (1): 101–136 (08 May 2013)
Descriptions of five new species of Metriaclima (Teleostei: Cichlidae) from Lake Malaŵi, Africa

Lake Malaŵi is known for its endemic haplochromine species flock, most notably the rock-dwelling cichlids known as
mbuna. One of the larger genera of mbuna is Metriaclima, a group consisting of 31 described species (including the five described herein) and approximately 45 recognized unique populations. Metriaclima is diagnosed by its feeding behavior and several morphological characteristics including the angle of the vomer and the presence of bicuspid teeth in the outer row of both the upper and lower jaws. Metriaclima zebra, the type species for the genus, was described based on a single specimen. While the collection location of this holotype is not known, based on the travel records of its collector, it is likely that the specimen originated from Likoma Island. The holotype was therefore compared to specimens from several localities around this island and was found to be morphologically indistinguishable from some of these.
This study includes the morphological analysis of 496 specimens of Metriaclima belonging to 31 collections from Lake Malaŵi. Morphometric differences were analyzed and the relationships among several distinguishable populations of Metriaclima zebra were investigated. Our study further resulted in the description of the following five new species belonging to the M. zebra species complex: M. pambazuko, M. lundoense, M. midomo, M. tarakiki, and M. nigrodorsalis. These species were distinguished and described based on color patterns, morphometric, meristic, and ecological differences. These new species were compared with and distinguished from nearby populations of Metriaclima having similar pigmentation patterns and/or similar ecological niches. An artificial dichotomous key to the described species of Metriaclima is presented.

Zootaxa 3647 (1): 167–180 (08 May 2013)
Two new fish species of the subfamily Anthiinae (Perciformes, Serranidae) from the Marquesas

Two new species of anthiine fishes are described from the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia. Plectranthias flammeus
was found at depths from 20–45 m and is characterized by dorsal rays X, 14 or 15, with spines 1–6 bearing fleshy white
tabs at their tips, longest fleshy tab on spine 4; 14 unbranched pectoral rays; lateral line incomplete with 16–17 tubed scales; preopercle with 8–10 small spines along posterior margin and 2 antrorse spines on ventral margin; broad, fiery redorange streak across lower cheek; head and body with irregularly spaced maroon-ringed yellow blotches on a white background; pair of small dark oblong spots (red with black centers in life) on the bases of the middle rays of the caudal fin. Pseudanthias oumati was found on the outer reef slope of Fatu Hiva at a depth of 50–55 m and is characterized by 3rd dorsal spine elongate and tipped with fleshy yellow filament extending beyond tip of spine; lateral-line scales 43; gill rakers 10 + 28; no papillae on posterior edge of orbit; front of upper lip not thickened (male condition unknown); caudal fin lunate; color of female yellow, all fins yellow with narrow magenta margin (except pectoral fin, which lacks magenta); no stripe from snout to pectoral base; small scales located on basal quarter of soft-dorsal fin from segmented rays 1–12; dorsal profile of head slightly concave.

Zootaxa 3647 (2): 343–357 (09 May 2013)
A new species of extinct scops owl (Aves: Strigiformes: Strigidae: Otus) from São Miguel Island (Azores Archipelago, North Atlantic Ocean)

The extinct São Miguel Scops Owl Otus frutuosoi n. sp. is described from fossil bones found in Gruta de Água de Pau, a
volcanic tube in São Miguel Island (Azores Archipelago, North Atlantic Ocean). It is the first extinct bird described from the Azores and, after the Madeiran Scops Owl (O. mauli Rando, Pieper, Alcover & Olson 2012a), the second extinct species of Strigiformes known in Macaronesia. The forelimb elements of the new taxon are shorter, the hindlimb elements are longer, and the pelvis is shorter and broader than in the Eurasian Scops Owl (O. scops Linnaeus). The new species differs from O. mauli in the smaller size of many of its bones, especially the ulna and tibiotarsus. Its measurements (estimated weight, wing area, and wing loading, and the ratio of humerus + ulna + carpometacarpus length/femur length) indicate weak powers of flight and ground–dwelling habits. The latest occurrence of the new species, as evidenced by a radiocarbon date of 1970±40 BP from bone collagen, indicates a Late Holocene extinction event subsequent to 49 cal BC, and was probably linked to human arrival and subsequent habitat alterations.

Determinants of Public Perceptions of Suburban Deer Density
Rachael E. Urbanek, Clayton K. Nielsen, Mae A. Davenport, Brad D. Woodson
Human Dimensions of Wildlife
Vol. 18, Iss. 2, 2013

As deer management activities increase in developed areas, managers require information regarding which factors contribute to deer acceptance capacity. We surveyed Illinois residents in a suburban county where deer have been proactively managed since 2001 to determine respondent characteristics and perceptions, beliefs, and feelings regarding deer that contribute to public perceptions of deer density. Almost half of the respondents perceived the number of deer as “perfect.” We used polytomous regression with AICc model selection to identify variables that contributed to a respondent’s perception of deer density. The most parsimonious model (AICc ω = .97) indicated a respondent’s perception of changes in deer density, damage to personal property, and the respondent’s general feelings regarding deer drove the perceptions of too many or too few deer (as opposed to the perfect number). This article exemplifies the complexity of deer acceptance capacity and aids managers in understanding public perceptions regarding suburban deer density.

Antonio Canu, Massimo Scandura, Sara Luchetti, Antonio Cossu, Laura Iacolina, Marco Bazzanti, Marco Apollonio
European Journal of Wildlife Research, May 2013
Influence of management regime and population history on genetic diversity and population structure of brown hares (Lepus europaeus) in an Italian province

In many areas, the management of overexploited populations of brown hare (Lepus europaeus) is based on annual restocking. While in some cases exotic hares are introduced, in some others hares are captured locally within protected areas and subsequently released into hunting grounds. We evaluated the genetic effects of this management regime in an Italian province where the brown hare population has recovered in the last few decades, by sequencing the hypervariable domain 1 of the mitochondrial control region and by genotyping eight autosomal microsatellites in hares sampled in both hunting and non-hunting areas. Both nuclear (He = 0.68 and Ho = 0.65) and mitochondrial variability (h = 0.853 and π = 0.012) were in line with other European populations. When comparing our data with mitochondrial sequences retrieved from GenBank, out of the 21 detected haplotypes, 14 were private to our study area. While 4.6 % of the individuals were found to carry haplotypes attributable to past introductions, 41.5 % grouped within a well-supported lineage, previously identified with a presumed native Italian taxon, L. e. meridiei. Despite the detectable geographic partitioning of mitochondrial haplotypes across the province, no genetic structure resulted from microsatellites analysis, indicating that no reproductive barriers exist among hares carrying different mitochondrial lineages. In conclusion, the local management seems to have contributed to the recovery of the species and to a full admixture of nuclear genes in the province. However, neither the extensive translocations nor the possible introductions of exotic heads seem to have completely undermined the local mitochondrial lineages.

Francisco E. Fontúrbel, Teresa Tarifa
Urban Ecosystems, May 2013
Can a habitat specialist survive urbanization? the case of the viscacha (Lagidium viscacia, Chinchillidae)

Urban growth is a strong driver of habitat degradation and loss. In spite of that, a surprising diversity of native species may survive in urban areas. In the La Paz, Bolivia metropolitan area and surroundings, local populations of “viscachas” (Lagidium viscacia) currently survive in small, isolated habitat patches. We assessed 13 study sites in 1999, 2003, and 2007 to document the effects of urban growth on L. viscacia habitats. Degree of disturbance at the study sites increased more between 1999 and 2003 than it did between 2003 and 2007 due to patterns of urban expansion. Using satellite imagery we determined that the urban area increased 566 ha (from 1987 to 2001) mostly due to southward urban area expansion down the valley where the best viscacha habitats were located. Occupied patch area decreased 74 % between 1999 and 2007, accompanied by significant increases in patch edge-to-area ratios. Currently L. viscacia populations in La Paz are experiencing a habitat attrition process. If a current urban expansion plan for La Paz is approved, about 75 % of the remaining habitat may be lost to urban development in a short time, compromising the future viability of this species in the metropolitan area and surroundings. Environmental regulations to control urban growth of the La Paz metropolitan area are urgently required and constitute the only hope for the survival of L. viscacia in the city.

Hodgkison, R., Ayasse, M., Häberlein, C., Schulz, S., Zubaid, A., Mustapha, W. A. W., Kunz, T. H., Kalko, E. K. V. (2013), Fruit bats and bat fruits: the evolution of fruit scent in relation to the foraging behaviour of bats in the New and Old World tropics. Functional Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12101
Frugivory among bats (Chiroptera) has evolved independently in the New and Old World tropics: within the families Phyllostomidae and Pteropodidae, respectively. Bats from both families rely primarily on olfaction for the location of fruits. However, the influence of bats on the evolution of fruit scent is almost completely unknown.Using the genus Ficus as a model, the aims of this study were to explore the chemical composition of fruit scent in relation to two contrasting seed dispersal syndromes in Panama and Malaysia and to assess the influence of fruit scent on the foraging behaviour of neo- and palaeotropical fruit-eating bats (Artibeus jamaicensis and Cynopterus brachyotis, respectively). Two hypotheses were tested: (i) variation in fruit scent, between bat- and bird-dispersed figs, is independent of phylogeny and (ii) Old and New World fruit bats, which have evolved independently in each hemisphere, share the same olfactory preferences with respect to fruit scent.The fruit scents of bat- and bird-dispersed fig species were sampled in the field, using dynamic headspace adsorption techniques. New and Old World fruit bats were then captured and tested on natural fig fruit scents from both hemispheres.Chemical analyses, using gas chromatography (GC) and GC/mass spectrometry (MS), revealed a broad overlap in scent compounds between bat-dispersed fig species from both hemispheres. Their fruit scents were dominated by monoterpenes, which contrary to phylogenetic predictions, were completely absent from bird-dispersed species from both regions.The fruit scents of bat-dispersed figs were highly attractive to neotropical bats (A. jamaicensis) in behavioural experiments, whereas those of bird-dispersed figs were completely rejected. Neotropical bats (A. jamaicensis) exhibited a significant preference for fig fruit scents dominated by monoterpenes, independent of the geographical origin of the scent. Palaeotropical bats (C. brachyotis), by contrast, rejected monoterpene-rich fruit scents from the Neotropics.In a cluster analysis (which included additional, published data from the literature), the fruit scents of bat-dispersed figs were clumped by subgenus, with the exception of palaeotropical figs of the subgenus Sycomorus. C. brachyotis, from Malaysia, was the only fruit bat species that significantly preferred the fruit scents of Sycomorus figs that contained no monoterpenes.

Archaeopteryx, paravian phylogenetic analyses, and the use of probability-based methods for palaeontological datasets
Xing Xu, Diego Pol
Journal of Systematic Palaeontology

Archaeopteryx, which has often been considered the earliest avialan, is an iconic species, central to our understanding of bird origins. However, a recent parsimony-based phylogenetic study shifted its position from within Avialae, the group that contains modern birds, to Deinonychosauria, the sister-taxon to Avialae. Subsequently, probability-based methods were applied to the same dataset, restoring Archaeopteryx to basal Avialae, suggesting these methods should be used more often in palaeontological studies. Here we review two key issues: arguments recently advocated for the usefulness of probability-based methodologies in the phylogenetic reconstruction of basal birds and their close relatives, and support for different phylogenetic hypotheses. Our analysis demonstrates that Archaeopteryx represents a challenging taxon to place in the phylogenetic tree, but recent discoveries of derived theropods including basal avialans provide increased support for the deinonychosaurian affinities of Archaeopteryx. Most importantly, we underscore that methodological choices should be based on the adequacy of the assumptions for particular kinds of data rather than on the recovery of preferred or generally accepted topologies, and that certain probability methods should be interpreted with caution as they can grossly overestimate character support.

Skeletal morphology of Kritosaurus navajovius (Dinosauria: Hadrosauridae) from the Late Cretaceous of the North American south-west, with an evaluation of the phylogenetic systematics and biogeography of Kritosaurini
Albert Prieto-Márquez
Journal of Systematic Palaeontology

The osteology of the hadrosaurid dinosaur Kritosaurus navajovius (late Campanian of southern North America) is documented in detail, and the taxonomy and phylogenetic relationships of the genus are revised. Kritosaurus is rediagnosed based on the extensive length of the dorsolateral margin of the maxilla and a unique combination of characters that includes a jugal with orbital constriction deeper than infratemporal one, infratemporal fenestra greater than orbit and with dorsal margin greatly elevated above dorsal orbital margin in adults, frontal participating in orbital margin, and paired caudal parasagittal processes of nasals resting over frontals. The taxonomy of numerous hadrosaurid specimens previously referred to Kritosaurus is reassessed; the vast majority of these cannot be positively referred to Kritosaurus. One exception is a specimen collected from the Cerro del Pueblo Formation that extends the geographical range of K. navajovius further south in Laramidia, to present-day northern Mexico. Anasazisaurus is regarded a junior synonym of Kritosaurus; their holotypes are indistinguishable from each other when considering the overlapping elements. However, many characters support distinction of Naashoibitosaurus ostromi as a valid taxon. Kritosaurus, consisting of the sister species K. navajovius and K. horneri, is deeply nested within Saurolophinae as a member of Kritosaurini. The latter clade includes also Naashoibitosaurus, Gryposaurus, and the South American Secernosaurus. Kritosaurini is characterized by a rostral nasal dorsal process not reaching the rostral margin of the narial foramen, frontal with triangular rostrolateral projection ending in a narrow apex (convergent in Brachylophosaurini), and a subrectangular dorsal region of infratemporal fenestra, among other characters. Kritosaurin hadrosaurids are hypothesized to have originated in southern Laramidia no later than the early Campanian. Subsequently, members of the clade reached northern Laramidia and South America via dispersal no later than the early and late Campanian, respectively.

Martha M. Gomez-Sapiens, Eduardo Soto-Montoya, Osvel Hinojosa-Huerta, Shorebird abundance and species diversity in natural intertidal and non-tidal anthropogenic wetlands of the Colorado River Delta, Mexico, Ecological Engineering, Available online 9 May 2013, ISSN 0925-8574, 10.1016/j.ecoleng.2013.03.004.
Shorebirds constitute the highest abundance group of birds that use the Upper Gulf of California and Colorado River Delta (CRD) wetlands for nesting, spring stopover and overwintering sites. From August 2005 to December 2008 ground surveys were conducted on three natural intertidal wetlands (Golfo de Santa Clara, Isla Montague and Bahia Adair) and three brackish anthropogenic wetlands (Cienega de Santa Clara, Cerro Prieto and Mesa de Andrade) in the Upper Gulf and CRD. The goal was to determine the overall importance of the CRD in supporting shorebirds, and in particular the role of the anthropogenic wetlands, which face uncertain futures. Species richness varied from 15 to 26 species among sites and 29 species were detected across sites. The most abundant species was Calidris mauri, which was most abundant in Isla Montague and Golfo de Santa Clara in winter and spring, while it was most abundant in the Cienega de Santa Clara and Mesa de Andrade wetland in spring and fall. Cienega de Santa Clara and Golfo de Santa Clara had the highest bird density with 168 and 105 individuals/ha in the peak migration month. Birds tended to use the intertidal wetlands during the winter and spring migration period while the inland wetlands were most used during spring and fall. The Cerro Prieto geothermal power plant wetlands were most used by Phalaropes species during fall migration. Bahia Adair, an extensive intertidal wetland system south of the CRD, had a low density of shorebirds (10 individuals/ha) compared to CRD sites, but it had higher species diversity and the highest proportion of large size shorebirds. This study shows the importance of both intertidal and anthropogenic wetlands in supporting shorebirds along the Pacific Flyway. Management decisions that might impact these wetlands should consider their habitat value for migratory shorebirds as documented here.

First molecular scombrid timetree (Percomorpha: Scombridae) shows recent radiation of tunas following invasion of pelagic habitat
F. Santini, G. Carnevale, L. Sorenson
Italian Journal of Zoology

Scombrid fishes represent one of the major radiations of marine vertebrates in the pelagic realm, and have historically been a commercially important group. Their rich fossil record dates to the Late Paleocene, and it has recently been suggested that the current scombrid diversity is due to a post-Cretaceous radiation that saw the survivors of the KPg extinction replace a number of non-acanthomorph fish lineages that did not survive the Mesozoic Era. In this paper we present the result of the first quantitative macroevolutionary study of scombrid evolution. We assembled a supermatrix consisting of seven nuclear and mitochondrial loci, including 47 of the 52 extant scombrid species. We then used seven fossils to time-calibrate this new molecular phylogeny, the first ever assembled for scombrids that included more than 50% of the diversity of this family, and investigated macroevolutionary patterns within this clade. Our results support a Late Cretaceous origin of the scombrids, and show that many lineages originated in the Eocene and Oligocene. Our findings, however, fail to support the hypothesis of a rapid scombrid radiation in the post-KPg ecosystems. We show how the most significant radiation within scombrids has taken place since the Late Miocene in tunas, possibly triggered by a transition from pelagic-neritic to pelagic-oceanic habitats, and matched by a dramatic increase in body size.

Babes in the wood — a unique window into sea scorpion ontogeny
Lamsdell JC, Selden PA
BMC Evolutionary Biology 2013, 13:98 (10 May 2013)

Few studies on eurypterids have taken into account morphological changes that occur throughout postembryonic development. Here two species of eurypterid are described from the Pragian Beartooth Butte Formation of Cottonwood Canyon in Wyoming, and included in a phylogenetic analysis. Both species comprise individuals from a number of instars, and this allows for changes that occur throughout their ontogeny to be documented, and how ontogenetically variable characters can influence phylogenetic analysis to be tested.
The two species of eurypterid are described as Jaekelopterus howelli (Kjellesvig-Waering and Stormer, 1952) and Strobilopterus proteus sp. nov. Phylogenetic analysis places them within the Pterygotidae and Strobilopteridae respectively, both families within the Eurypterina. Jaekelopterus howelli shows positive allometry of the cheliceral denticles throughout ontogeny, while a number of characteristics including prosomal appendage length, carapace shape, lateral eye position, and relative breadth all vary during the growth of Strobilopterus proteus.
The ontogeny of Strobilopterus proteus shares much in common with that of modern xiphosurans, however certain characteristics including apparent true direct development suggest a closer affinity to arachnids. The ontogenetic development of the genital appendage also supports the hypothesis that the structure is homologous to the endopods of the trunk limbs of other arthropods. Including earlier instars in the phylogenetic analysis is shown to destabilise the retrieved topology. Therefore, coding juveniles as individual taxa in an analysis is shown to be actively detrimental and alternative ways of coding ontogenetic data into phylogenetic analyses should be explored.

Color plumage polymorphism and predator mimicry in brood parasites
Trnka A, Grim T
Frontiers in Zoology 2013, 10:25 (10 May 2013)

Plumage polymorphism may evolve during coevolution between brood parasites and their hosts if rare morph(s), by contravening host search image, evade host recognition systems better than common variant(s). Females of the parasitic common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) are a classic example of discrete color polymorphism: gray females supposedly mimic the sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), while rufous females are believed to mimic the kestrel (Falco tinnunculus). Despite many studies on host responses to adult cuckoos comprehensive tests of the „hawk mimicry“ and „kestrel mimicry“ hypotheses are lacking so far.
We tested these hypotheses by examining host responses to stuffed dummies of the sparrowhawk, kestrel, cuckoo and the innocuous turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur) as a control at the nest. Our experimental data from an aggressive cuckoo host, the great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus), showed low effectiveness of cuckoo-predator mimicry against more aggressive hosts regardless of the type of model and the degree of perfection of the mimic. Specifically, warblers discriminated gray cuckoos from sparrowhawks but did not discriminate rufous cuckoos from kestrels. However, both gray and rufous cuckoos were attacked vigorously and much more than control doves. The ratio of aggression to gray vs. rufous cuckoo was very similar to the ratio between frequencies of gray vs. rufous cuckoo morphs in our study population.
Overall, our data combined with previous results from other localities suggest polymorphism dynamics are not strongly affected by local predator model frequencies. Instead, hosts responses and discrimination abilities are proportional, other things being equal, to the frequency with which hosts encounter various cuckoo morphs near their nests. This suggests that female cuckoo polymorphism is a counter-adaptation to thwart a specific host adaptation, namely an ability to not be fooled by predator mimicry. We hypothesize the dangerousness of a particular model predator (sparrowhawks are more dangerous to adult birds than kestrels) may be another important factor responsible for better discrimination between the gray cuckoo and its model rather than between the rufous cuckoo and its model. We also provide a review of relevant existing literature, detailed discussion of plumage polymorphism in cuckoos, methodological recommendations and new ideas for future work.

Alterations in histopathological features and brain acetylcholinesterase activity in stinging catfish Heteropneustes fossilis exposed to polluted river water
Rakhi SF, Reza AH, Hossen MS, Hossain Z
International Aquatic Research 2013, 5:7 (10 May 2013)

Responses of stinging catfish (Heteropneustes fossilis) to pollution were studied in three freshwater rivers, namely Buriganga, Turag, and Shitalakkhya (Dhaka, Bangladesh), which are potentially affected by anthropogenic pollution originating from industrial and sewage dumping. Partial parameters about water quality (temperature, dissolved oxygen, and pH) and seasonal plankton fluctuation were recorded at wet and dry seasons. Histopathology and acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity were used as biomarkers to assess water toxic effects in 7-and 10-day exposures of H. fossilis to three rivers waters, respectively. The lowest level of dissolved oxygen was recorded as 0.7 +/- 0.1 mg/l, and the lowest count of plankton genera was 21 at lean period. Furthermore, the 7-day exposure of fish to polluted water abruptly altered the normal structure of various organs. Major structural damages were partial and total epidermal loss, dermis and muscle separation, melanin pigment and vacuole in skin muscle; missing of lamellae, clubbing, fungal granuloma, hyperplasia and hemorrhage in gills; hyperplasia, hemorrhage, pyknosis, vacuole, necrosis, nuclear alteration, fatty degeneration, lipid droplets in liver; degenerating glomerular and tubule, hemorrhage, pyknosis and vacuole in kidneys; and scattered spermatozoa and prominent interstitial space in the testis. After subsequent exposure to polluted water, a significant (P < 0.05) inhibition of AChE activity in the fish brain was observed with the following order of potency: 102.00 +/- 5.00 nmol/min/mg protein (Turag) >= 104.00 +/- 5.00 nmol/min/mg protein (Buriganga) > 130.67 +/- 3.51 nmol/min/mg protein (Shitalakkhya). This study confirmed the utility of biomarkers in biomonitoring studies and reflected the potential hazards of pollution to aquatic biota.

Marco Apollonio, Francesca Brivio, Iva Rossi, Bruno Bassano, Stefano Grignolio, Consequences of snowy winters on male mating strategies and reproduction in a mountain ungulate., Behavioural Processes, Available online 11 May 2013, ISSN 0376-6357, 10.1016/j.beproc.2013.05.001.
Alternative mating tactics (AMTs) are intrasexual variants in mating behaviour of several species ranging from arthropods to mammals. Male AMTs coexist between and within populations. In particular, male ungulates rarely adopt just one tactic throughout their lifetime. Tactics commonly change according to internal factors (age, body size, condition) and external conditions (weather, resources, predation, animal density). However, the influence of weather has not yet been investigated in upper vertebrates. Such influence may be relevant in species whose rutting period occurs late in fall or in winter, when environmental conditions and the snow cover in particular may vary considerably. We detected two AMTs in Alpine ibex (Capra ibex) males: older and full-grown males mainly adopted the tending tactic, while younger males usually pursued an alternative one (coursing tactic). Weather was found to influence the use of AMTs by males: in snowy mating seasons, the coursing tactic was no longer used due to difficulties in moving through deep snow. In snowy rutting periods, males appeared to delay or even avoid mating activities and a decrease of births was reported in the second part of the following birth season. Snow cover may have a negative effect on population dynamics by reducing the recruitment and on population genetic variability, as a consequence of poorer mating opportunities. Studies on factors affecting mating behaviour and leading to a reduced availability of mates and a decrease in female productivity are especially relevant in species, like Alpine ibex, whose genetic variability is low.

Migration patterns of the Mediterranean Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii (Aves: Pelecaniformes) within the northern Adriatic Sea
S. Sponza, M. Cosolo, J. Kralj
Italian Journal of Zoology

Movements of Mediterranean Shags (Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii, Payraudeau 1826) between Croatian breeding colonies and non-breeding areas such as the Gulf of Trieste increased consistently from the 1980s to become a migratory movement at the present time. In order to characterise the patterns of this migration and the behaviour of first-year Shags at their first migration, we analysed the recoveries of 812 birds that were colour-ringed at the most important Croatian breeding colonies in the northern Adriatic. Within a period of seven years, 568 ring-readings of 234 individual Shags were processed. Most sightings came from the Gulf of Trieste (43.0%) and the newly-discovered post-breeding area in Venice Lagoon (38.9%). Shags from the most distant colonies exploited mainly the Gulf of Trieste. The 48.3% of Shags sighted several times have been recorded in the same post-breeding area during subsequent years. This percentage increased to 93.4%, if we considered just the birds observed during successive years. Variations in the timing of migration within the post-breeding areas occurred and sustained the importance of the Slovenian coast during the return to breeding colonies. The ratio between first-year Shags and experienced Shags (immature and adults) was higher in Venice Lagoon and in general increased with the “novelty” of the site. A relevant portion of the Croatian breeding population moves to the northern Adriatic Sea after breeding. All the studied colonies concurred with this migration. We highlight a high fidelity to post-breeding sites, which reflects the quite sedentary “nature” of the species, and the role of first-year Shags in the discovery of new sites. We suggest that this migration is probably the later stage in a graded response to deterioration of the Shags’ feeding grounds within the breeding area.

New records of bats (Mammalia: Chiroptera) and karyotypes from Guinean Mount Nimba (West Africa)
C. Denys, B. Kadjo, A. D. Missoup, A. Monadjem, V. Aniskine
Italian Journal of Zoology

New bats were recorded from various habitats on the Guinean side of Mount Nimba during two surveys in 2008 and coupled with a cytotaxonomic survey. A total of 152 specimens comprising 15 species in 12 genera from five families were collected, of which 13 individuals were karyotyped. The most numerous species was Rhinolophus guineensis followed by four fruit bats (Epomops buettikoferi, Lissonycteris angolensis, Roussettus aegyptiacus, Nanonycteris veldkampii). We confirm the presence of Hipposideros lamottei in the mine adits at 1500 m as well as the exceptional diversity of this habitat. First standard karyotypes are provided for Epomops buettikoferi and Nanonycteris intermedia. We also document for the first time karyotypes for West African populations of Mops thersites, Lissonycteris angolensis and Roussettus aegyptiacus, and cytogenetical comparisons with the existing literature are provided. We add five new species to the list of Guinean Nimba and two to the whole Nimba list (including Liberian side), which now stands at 42 species. This confirms the importance of Mount Nimba as a hotspot of diversity and the necessity to protect it.

First report of egg predation by an unpaired Eurasian Coot, Fulica atra, L., 1758 (Aves: Gruiformes) on Black-winged Stilt, Himantopus himantopus, L., 1758 (Aves: Charadriiformes): one case from central Italy
G. Bruni, F. Boggiano, M. Menchetti, E. Mori
Italian Journal of Zoology

The Eurasian Coot, Fulica atra, is a gregarious Palearctic rail that only rarely occurs singly. Even if resident birds can present territorial behaviour all through the year, most aggressions are developed during the breeding season, and the scientific literature has reported inter- and intraspecific attacks by Coot breeding pairs. Unpaired individuals do not usually show any territoriality and are often subjected to attacks by breeding pairs. It is, however, possible to observe unpaired Coots defending a territory before pairing, but the typical aggressive behaviour is developed after the beginning of nest building. Egg predation by Coots is reported as a rare phenomenon, exerted only by members of breeding couples. In this note, we report two predation cases exhibited by an unpaired individual against nests and eggs of Himantopus himantopus. We discard the hypothesis of competition for food between these two species and suggest that this peculiar behaviour could have been induced by endocrine hormonal secretions, regardless of whether the individual was paired or not.

Within population variation in testis size in the mole-shrew (Anourosorex squamipes) (Mammalia: Soricidae)
Italian Journal of Zoology

Sperm competition is recognized as a key event occurring during postcopulatory sexual selection. The evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS) predicts that males in poor condition should invest more heavily in sperm compared with males in good condition. We explored the effects of body condition and season on testes mass in the mole-shrew (Anourosorex squamipes). We used the “scaled mass index” as body condition to analyze the effects of season, body condition and body length on testis size. The results showed that testes mass was greatest in summer. Head body-length also significantly affected testis size in the four seasons. In addition, males in good conditions had relatively heavier testes than those in poor conditions in spring, summer and autumn, but not in winter, suggesting that the finding contradicts the prediction of the evolutionarily stable strategy.

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