Martín M. Puddington, Mauricio R. Papini, Rubén N. Muzio, Vulnerability of long-term memory to temporal delays in amphibians, Behavioural Processes, Available online 22 May 2013, ISSN 0376-6357, 10.1016/j.beproc.2013.05.010.
Two experiments with toads were designed to test the memory-decay hypothesis that extinction (i.e., nonreinforced) performance is a function of time since the last reinforcement. In Experiment 1, toads (Rhinella arenarum, formerly Bufo arenarum) received 15 daily acquisition trials each reinforced with access to water during 300 s in a runway and were then randomly assigned to one of 6 retention intervals (RIs): 1, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64 days. Extinction started after the RI and lasted 8 additional daily trials. Overall extinction performance was a logarithmic function of the RI. Although 4 extinction trials produced similar performance than 4 days of RI (consistent with memory decay), 8 extinction trials produced lower performance than 8 days of RI (consistent with a decremental effect of nonreinforcement). In Experiment 2, two groups of toads received 15 daily acquisition trials each reinforced with access to water for either 30 or 600 s, thus producing two reward magnitudes. After an 8-day RI, extinction performance was weaker after training with the small, than with the large reward magnitude. These results suggest that, at least in early extinction, the instrumental performance of toads is strongly influenced by the time since the last reinforcement.
Snively, Eric, Cotton, John R., Ridgely, Ryan, and Witmer, Lawrence M. 2013. Multibody dynamics model of head and neck function in Allosaurus (Dinosauria, Theropoda), Palaeontologia Electronica Vol. 16, Issue 2; 11A 29p;
We present a multibody dynamics model of the feeding apparatus of the large Jurassic theropod dinosaur Allosaurus that enables testing of hypotheses about the animal’s feeding behavior and about how anatomical parameters influence function. We created CT- and anatomical-inference-based models of bone, soft tissue, and air spaces which we use to provide inertial properties for musculoskeletal dynamics. Estimates of bone density have a surprisingly large effect on head inertial properties, and trachea diameter strongly affects moments of inertia of neck segments for dorsoventral movements. The ventrally-placed insertion of m. longissimus capitis superficialis in Allosaurus imparted over twice the ventroflexive accelerations of a proxy control insertion lateral to the occipital condyle, the latter being its position in nearly all other theropods. A feeding style that involved defleshing a carcass by avian-raptor-like retraction of the head in Allosaurus is more probable than is lateroflexive shake-feeding, such as that seen in crocodilians and inferred for tyrannosaurids.
Sabrina Maria Bucken, Wolf-Dietrich Gürtler, Vergesellschaftung als Verhaltensbereicherung im Zoo – Soziale Interaktion und Raumnutzung bei Orang-Utans, Hulmans und Kurzkrallenottern in der Zoom Erlebniswelt Gelsenkirchen, Der Zoologische Garten, Available online 22 May 2013, ISSN 0044-5169, 10.1016/j.zoolgart.2013.04.004.
Keeping different species together is getting more and more common in zoos, because it can entail several behavioural enrichment factors for the animals as long as the enclosure meets the requirements of all species and a suitable composition of animals is living in the mix. The aim of this study is to evaluate a community of Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii), northern plains grey langurs (Semnopithecus entellus) and Asian small-clawed otters (Aonyx cinerea) in the Zoological Garden of Gelsenkirchen.
The behavioural monitoring of the animals reveals that the orangutans spend less time with feeding behaviour and locomotion than free ranging orangutans, whereas the percentage of resting periods is much higher. This difference is probably caused by the easy availability of food. The northern plains grey langurs show ethograms whose proportions are very similar to those of free ranging grey langurs in literature. In both species the juvenile individuals have higher activity levels than the adult animals.
The analysis of the spatial use of the enclosure by the orangutans reveals that they use about half of the area and prefer places at the ground for resting. On an average the orangutans spend around 50% of the monitored situations on the ground which is a high level for an arboreal living species. The time spent on the ground is distinctly lower in orangutans reared by their parents than in hand reared individuals which are probably affected by humans. Another influencing point is the sex. Adult male orangutans spend more time on the ground. This is a fact which is also known from free ranging animals. Related to their environment free ranging northern plains grey langurs show a high adaptability and the individuals in the zoo use about 70% of the enclosure and use frequently all structuring elements like trees, roots and ropes. Like the orangutans the grey langurs have preferred areas in the enclosure where they spend their resting periods with grooming, lactating and the feeding periods. Generally, the Asian small-clawed otters spend less time in the enclosure than the monkeys and use less than one third of the area.
Most of the time free ranging orangutans live solitarily and thus it was predictable that there is only a fraction of intraspecific interactions between orangutans whereas the percentage of interactions between langurs is higher. The northern plains grey langurs live in harem troops and social interactions are more than 40% of the zoo langur’s ethogram on an average. Asian small-clawed otters are also highly social animals and intraspecific contacts take place very often.
The analysis of the monitored interspecific interactions between all species reveals that the juvenile animals of both primate species have distinct more interspecific contacts than the adult animals. In most cases the interactions are positive or playful contacts. Especially between a 12-year-old female orang-utan and one of the juvenile langurs friendly interactions with body contact were monitored often. Between the adult animals agonistic contacts or submission are most common. The Asian small-clawed otters are very interested in the orangutans and often approach towards them to have a sniff or pull their hair.
The community of all three species is quite harmonious and serves as behavioural enrichment for all individuals. For the visitors the mixed enclosure is a benefit as well.
Thomas Brockmann, Michael Hoffmann, Eva Ziemssen, Erfahrungsbericht über die Haltung und deutsche Erstzucht der Borneo-Flussschildkröte (Orlitia borneensis Gray, 1873) im Zoo Dresden, Der Zoologische Garten, Available online 22 May 2013, ISSN 0044-5169, 10.1016/j.zoolgart.2013.04.002.
Dresden Zoo bred successfully the Malaysian giant turtle (Orlitia borneensis) in summer 2012. This was the first successful breeding of this species in Germany.
Little is known about biology and behaviour of this large river turtle and keeping and especially breeding of this endangered species in captivity is a rarity. In order to create optimal breeding conditions Dresden Zoo rebuilt an enclosure for the turtles in 2010. An area with soil and sand was built for the expected egg deposition. After arranged matings one female dug a nest on this area and buried her eggs. Nine eggs were secured and transferred into an incubator in a box filled with a 1:1 mixture of vermiculite and water. The average temperature was 29 °C. After problems with the temperature regulation the damaged incubator had to be replaced. Because of an estimated incubation period of 3–4 months, one egg was opened on day 127 of incubation. A live hatchling with a big yolk sac was fetched. Because of the non-reabsorbed yolk sac the hatchling was further incubated. On day 154 of incubation all eggs were manually opened and the hatchlings were fetched. All of these hatchlings showed a non-reabsorbed yolk sac and were incubated onwards in a box with wet paper towel until the yolk sac was completely reabsorbed. After that the hatchlings were housed solitarily in a box with water of approximately 4 cm height and a small land area. Two days after housing food was offered for the first time. All hatchlings accepted the offered food consisting of herbal as well as of animal products and later turtle pellets and self-made turtle jelly.
Though little is known about breeding this species, the breeding success of Dresden Zoo demonstrates a possible approach to this topic. But there are still things to optimize. For example the manual hatching is something that should be avoided in future. Fertilization and hatching rate of 100% are promising and up to date eight out of nine hatchlings are still alive.
Muir, A. P., Thomas, R., Biek, R. and Mable, B. K. (2013), Using genetic variation to infer associations with climate in the common frog, Rana temporaria. Molecular Ecology. doi: 10.1111/mec.12334
Recent and historical species‘ associations with climate can be inferred using molecular markers. This knowledge of population and species-level responses to climatic variables can then be used to predict the potential consequences of ongoing climate change. The aim of this study was to predict responses of Rana temporaria to environmental change in Scotland by inferring historical and contemporary patterns of gene flow in relation to current variation in local thermal conditions. We first inferred colonization patterns within Europe following the last glacial maximum by combining new and previously published mitochondrial DNA sequences. We found that sequences from our Scottish samples were identical to (92%), or clustered with, the common haplotype previously identified from Western Europe. This clade showed very low mitochondrial variation, which did not allow inference of historical colonization routes but did allow interpretation of patterns of current fine-scale population structure without consideration of confounding historical variation. Second, we assessed fine-scale microsatellite-based patterns of genetic variation in relation to current altitudinal temperature gradients. No population structure was found within altitudinal gradients (average FST = 0.02), despite a mean annual temperature difference of 4.5 °C between low- and high-altitude sites. Levels of genetic diversity were considerable and did not vary between sites. The panmictic population structure observed, even along temperature gradients, is a potentially positive sign for R. temporaria persistence in Scotland in the face of a changing climate. This study demonstrates that within taxonomic groups, thought to be at high risk from environmental change, levels of vulnerability can vary, even within species.
Andrew W. Jones, Eric P. Palkovacs, David M. Post
Recent parallel divergence in body shape and diet source of alewife life history forms
Evolutionary Ecology, May 2013
Recent work suggests that juvenile alewives (Alosa pseudoharengus) share similar phenotypes among independently derived landlocked (freshwater resident) populations. Based on this observation, it is possible that the alewife life history forms represent a case of parallel adaptive divergence. To further evaluate this hypothesis, we describe patterns of body shape divergence between anadromous and landlocked alewife life history forms using geometric morphometrics. Our results suggest that body shape differs significantly between juveniles of the alewife forms: anadromous fish were more robust, with larger heads and deeper caudal peduncles, while landlocked fish from three independently isolated populations were more fusiform with thinner caudal peduncles and smaller heads. These differences matched population level dietary patterns, which suggest that anadromous fish consumed more littoral resources than landlocked fish. Finding consistent differences across populations of the same form supports the notion that landlocked alewives have diverged from their anadromous ancestors in a parallel manner, in response to pressures associated with being isolated in freshwater lakes. Comparing alewife phenotypes to expectations from the literature suggests that neither migration distance of the population, nor the relative availability of habitats in each lake, are likely drivers of the pattern we report. Instead, the pattern is consistent with the hypothesis that divergence between alewife forms results from the distinct effects of each form on its zooplankton prey.
Courbin, N., Fortin, D., Dussault, C., Fargeot, V., Courtois, R. (2013), Multi-trophic resource selection function enlightens the behavioural game between wolves and their prey. Journal of Animal Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.12093
Habitat selection strategies translate into movement tactics, which reckon with the predator–prey spatial game. Strategic habitat selection analysis can therefore illuminate behavioural games. Cover types at potential encounter sites (i.e. intersections between movement paths of predator and prey) can be compared with cover types available (i) within the area of home-range-overlap (HRO) between predator and prey; and (ii) along the path (MP) of each species. Unlike the HRO scale, cover-type availability at MP scale differs between interacting species due to species-specific movement decisions. Scale differences in selection could therefore inform on divergences in fitness rewarding actions between predators and prey.We used this framework to evaluate the spatial game between GPS-collared wolves (Canis lupus) versus caribou (Rangifer tarandus), and wolf versus moose (Alces alces).Changes in cover-type availability between HRO and MP revealed differences in how each species fine-tuned its movements to habitat features. In contrast to caribou, wolves increased their encounter rate with regenerating cuts along their paths (MP) relative to the HRO level. As a consequence, wolves were less likely to cross caribou paths in areas with higher percentage of regenerating cuts than expected based on the availability along their paths, whereas caribou had a higher risk of intersecting wolf paths by crossing these areas, relative to random expectation along their paths. Unlike for caribou, availability of mixed and deciduous areas decreased from HRO to MP level for wolves and moose. Overall, wolves displayed stronger similarities in movement decisions with moose than with caribou, thereby revealing the focus of wolves on moose.Our study reveals how differences in fine-scale movement tactics between species create asymmetric relative encounter probabilities between predators and prey, given their paths. Increase in relative risk of encounter for prey and decrease for predators associated with specific cover types emerging from HRO to MP scale analysis can disclose potential weaknesses in current movement tactics involved the predator–prey game, such as caribou use of cutovers in summer–autumn. In turn, these weaknesses can inform on subsequent changes in habitat selection tactics that might arise due to evolutionary forces.The authors demonstrate that a combination of habitat selection analysis at several trophic levels and at multiple spatial scales can provide an efficient quantitative framework for studying predator-prey spatial games in dynamical systems where both groups move constantly. Focussing on a caribou-moose-wolf food web, the study illustrates how differences in fine-scale movement tactics between predators and prey create asymmetry in their relative encounter probabilities.
Hudson, L. N., Isaac, N. J. B., Reuman, D. C. (2013), The relationship between body mass and field metabolic rate among individual birds and mammals. Journal of Animal Ecology. doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.12086
The power-law dependence of metabolic rate on body mass has major implications at every level of ecological organization. However, the overwhelming majority of studies examining this relationship have used basal or resting metabolic rates, and/or have used data consisting of species-averaged masses and metabolic rates. Field metabolic rates are more ecologically relevant and are probably more directly subject to natural selection than basal rates. Individual rates might be more important than species-average rates in determining the outcome of ecological interactions, and hence selection.We here provide the first comprehensive database of published field metabolic rates and body masses of individual birds and mammals, containing measurements of 1498 animals of 133 species in 28 orders. We used linear mixed-effects models to answer questions about the body mass scaling of metabolic rate and its taxonomic universality/heterogeneity that have become classic areas of controversy. Our statistical approach allows mean scaling exponents and taxonomic heterogeneity in scaling to be analysed in a unified way while simultaneously accounting for nonindependence in the data due to shared evolutionary history of related species.The mean power-law scaling exponents of metabolic rate vs. body mass relationships were 0·71 [95% confidence intervals (CI) 0·625–0·795] for birds and 0·64 (95% CI 0·564–0·716) for mammals. However, these central tendencies obscured meaningful taxonomic heterogeneity in scaling exponents. The primary taxonomic level at which heterogeneity occurred was the order level. Substantial heterogeneity also occurred at the species level, a fact that cannot be revealed by species-averaged data sets used in prior work. Variability in scaling exponents at both order and species levels was comparable to or exceeded the differences 3/4−2/3 = 1/12 and 0·71−0·64. are interpreted in the light of a variety of existing theories. In particular, results are consistent with the heat dissipation theory of Speakman & Król (2010) and provided some support for the metabolic levels boundary hypothesis of Glazier (2010).Our analysis provides the first comprehensive empirical analysis of the scaling relationship between field metabolic rate and body mass in individual birds and mammals. Our data set is a valuable contribution to those interested in theories of the allometry of metabolic rates.The authors provide the first comprehensive empirical analysis of the scaling relationship between field metabolic rate and body mass in individual birds and mammals. The analysis reveals the importance of heterogeneity in the scaling exponent, with consequences for biomass and nutrient flow through communities, and the structure and functioning of whole ecosystems.
Unusual striped dolphin mass mortality episode related to cetacean morbillivirus in the Spanish Mediterranean Sea
Rubio-Guerri C, Melero M, Esperón F, Bellière E, Arbelo M, Crespo J, Sierra E, García-Párraga D, Sánchez-Vizcaíno J
BMC Veterinary Research 2013, 9:106 (23 May 2013)
In the last 20 years, Cetacean Morbillivirus (CeMV) has been responsible for many die-offs in marine mammals worldwide, as clearly exemplified by the two dolphin morbillivirus (DMV) epizootics of 1990–1992 and 2006–2008, which affected Mediterranean striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba). Between March and April 2011, the number of strandings on the Valencian Community coast (E Spain) increased.
Necropsy and sample collection were performed in all stranded animals, with good state of conservation. Subsequently, histopathology, immunohistochemistry, conventional reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Universal Probe Library (UPL) RT-PCR assays were performed to identify Morbillivirus. Gross and microscopic findings compatible with CeMV were found in the majority of analyzed animals. Immunopositivity in the brain and UPL RT-PCR positivity in seven of the nine analyzed animals in at least two tissues confirmed CeMV systemic infection. Phylogenetic analysis, based on sequencing part of the phosphoprotein gene, showed that this isolate is a closely related dolphin morbillivirus (DMV) to that responsible for the 2006–2008 epizootics.
The combination of gross and histopathologic findings compatible with DMV with immunopositivity and molecular detection of DMV suggests that this DMV strain could cause this die-off event.
Host response to cuckoo song is predicted by the future risk of brood parasitism
Kleindorfer S, Evans C, Colombelli-Négrel D, Robertson J, Griggio M, Hoi H
Frontiers in Zoology 2013, 10:30 (22 May 2013)
IntroductionRisk assessment occurs over different temporal and spatial scales and is selected for when individuals show an adaptive response to a threat. Here, we test if birds respond to the threat of brood parasitism using the acoustical cues of brood parasites in the absence of visual stimuli. We broadcast the playback of song of three brood parasites (Chalcites cuckoo species) and a sympatric non-parasite (striated thornbill, Acanthiza lineata) in the territories of superb fairy-wrens (Malurus cyaneus) during the peak breeding period and opportunistic breeding period. The three cuckoo species differ in brood parasite prevalence and the probability of detection by the host, which we used to rank the risk of parasitism (high risk, moderate risk, low risk).
Host birds showed the strongest response to the threat of cuckoo parasitism in accordance with the risk of parasitism. Resident wrens had many alarm calls and close and rapid approach to the playback speaker that was broadcasting song of the high risk brood parasite (Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoo, C. basalis) across the year (peak and opportunistic breeding period), some response to the moderate risk brood parasite (shining bronze-cuckoo, C. lucidus) during the peak breeding period, and the weakest response to the low risk brood parasite (little bronze-cuckoo, C. minutillus). Playback of the familiar control stimulus in wren territories evoked the least response.
Host response to the threat of cuckoo parasitism was assessed using vocal cues of the cuckoo and was predicted by the risk of future parasitism.
Eva Pitta, Christina Kassara, Sinos Giokas, Spyros Sfenthourakis
Compositional dissimilarity patterns of reptiles and amphibians in insular systems around the world
Ecological Research, May 2013
Several studies have shown that taxa with poor dispersal ability have a higher level of compositional dissimilarity than good dispersers. However, compositional dissimilarity patterns between islands with respect to dispersal ability of taxa have never been investigated before. In this study, we investigated compositional dissimilarity patterns of three taxonomic groups, namely amphibians, lizards, and snakes, differing in their dispersal abilities, in various insular systems around the world. We compiled presence–absence matrices, based on which we calculated several metacommunity indices to check for differences among taxonomic groups and island types (oceanic and continental shelf) using classical statistical tests and generalized linear mixed-effects models. According to our results, compositional dissimilarity was positively affected by the isolation of the insular system, in accordance to theory. In particular, oceanic systems were characterized by a high level of compositional dissimilarity between islands and subsequently by a low level of nestedness. SIEs may be generating these patterns causing distortions from expected levels of nestedness. Similar to our predictions, compositional dissimilarity patterns were also dependent on taxon-specific dispersal ability, with good dispersers showing lower levels of between-island compositional dissimilarity than poor dispersers in continental shelf systems. However, this pattern was not observed in oceanic systems. In conclusion, compositional dissimilarity in insular systems is dependent on both taxon and island type.
Ruiyong Wu, Zhenzhen Song, Fadao Tai, Lu Wang, Lingzhe Kong, Jianli Wang, Post-weaning living with parents during juvenile period alters locomotor activity, social and parental behaviors in mandarin voles, Behavioural Processes, Available online 22 May 2013, ISSN 0376-6357, 10.1016/j.beproc.2013.05.008.
Neonatal parental care plays an important role in the development of offspring behavior, but little is known about the effect of post-weaning contact between offspring and parents on locomotory, social and parental behavior. Here, we explore this concept using socially monogamous mandarin voles (Microtus mandarinus). Voles were assigned to live with parents and siblings from the same litter until 45 d (natural dispersal time in the field) or to live with siblings from the same litter after weaning at 21 d (normally weaned time, the control). At 70 d of age, behaviors were recorded in open field and social interaction tests, and parental care towards their own offspring was measured. Results show that voles that live with parents post-weaning engage in less locomotory activity and rearing behavior in the open field test, less sniffing of novel individuals and display more parental care, compared to voles that did not continue to live with their parents. These findings demonstrate that parent-offspring interaction post-weaning alters locomotory activity, social behavior and parental behavior of offspring at adulthood.
Pablo García-Díaz, Valentín Arévalo, Rafael Vicente, Miguel Lizana
The impact of the American mink (Neovison vison) on native vertebrates in mountainous streams in Central Spain
European Journal of Wildlife Research, May 2013
The American mink (Neovison vison) is responsible for the widespread decline of its prey species in the regions where it is an invasive species. The current expansion of the mink in the Iberian Peninsula has aroused concern among conservationists about its negative impact on the rich native fauna. However, evidence for this is still scarce, although there are several studies establishing a direct causal relationship between declining native species and the presence of the American mink. Thus, it is important to further investigate the responses of native species to the American mink in several habitats and locations to enhance our knowledge about the patterns of the effect of the mink in Spain, as well as to inform conservation actions. A field study of the impact of the American mink on a mountainous vertebrate community in central Spain is presented. We studied six species: two fish, one amphibian, one bird, and two mammals. The general results showed a species-specific sensitivity to mink presence, with the Mediterranean water shrew (Neomys anomalus) and the southern water vole (Arvicola sapidus) being the most affected because their ranges were significantly decreased after the introduction of the mink. Regarding the other species, neither their abundance nor range was apparently affected by the American mink. The predatory behavior of the mink and interactions with other carnivores could account for these results. These data aid in shedding light about the current impact of the mink on invaded areas of the Iberian Peninsula and highlight the variability of its effects, as well as the urgent need to establish a general program of control of the mink to avoid negative effects upon native prey communities. Furthermore, given the different responses of native species, we propose that measures to protect native species should be based on species-specific goals and attributes.
Piotr G. Jablonski, Hyun Jun Cho, Soo Rim Song, Chang Ku Kang, Sang-im Lee Warning signals confer advantage to prey in competition with predators: bumblebees steal nests from insectivorous birds
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, May 2013
Aposematic (warning) signals of prey help predators to recognize the defended distasteful or poisonous prey that should be avoided. The evolution of aposematism in the context of predation has been in the center of modern ecology for a long time. But, the possible roles of aposematic signals in other ecological contexts have been largely ignored. Here we address the role of aposematic signals in competition between prey and predators. Bumblebees use visual and auditory aposematic signals to warn predators about their defenses. For 2 years, we observed competition for nestboxes between chemically defended insects, Bombus ardens (and possibly also Bombus ignitus), and cavity nesting birds (Parus minor and Poecile varius). Bumblebees settled in 16 and 9 % of nestboxes (in 2010 and 2011 breeding seasons, respectively) that contained bird nests at the advanced stage of nest building or at the stage of egg laying. Presence of bumblebees prevented the birds from continuing the breeding activities in the nestboxes, while insects took over the birds’ nests (a form of kleptoparasitism). Playback experiments showed that the warning buzz by bumblebees contributed to the success in ousting the birds from their nests. This demonstrates that aposematic signals may be beneficial also in the context of resource competition.