Abstract View

Zootaxa 3694 (4): 301–335 (6 Aug. 2013)
On some taxonomically confused species of the genus Amphiesma Duméril, Bibron & Duméril, 1854 related to Amphiesma khasiense (Boulenger, 1890) (Squamata, Natricidae)

Three species of the genus Amphiesma Duméril, Bibron & Duméril, 1854 have long been confused in the literature, with each other and with other species of the genus. Amphiesma khasiense (Boulenger, 1890) has been considered to inhabit a large geographical region, extending from north-eastern India, east to Vietnam and southern Thailand. Amphiesma boulengeri (Gressitt, 1937) has been regarded as a species endemic to south-eastern China. Amphiesma inas (Laidlaw, 1901) has been recorded from West Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia (Sumatra). A multivariate analysis of morphometric and meristic characters shows that these three species can be separated by combinations of characters in the scalation and pattern, the most obvious being the structure of the postocular streak. On the basis of our analysis and after comparison with name-bearing type specimens, Amphiesma khasiense is restricted to north-eastern India, Myanmar, western Yunnan Province of China, northern Laos and northern and western Thailand. Other populations from south-eastern China, Vietnam, other parts of Laos, Cambodia and central Thailand, which have been recorded in the literature as A. khasiense, A. johannis or Amphiesma modestum (Günther, 1875), should be referred to Amphiesma boulengeri. Amphiesma inas (Laidlaw, 1901) is a valid species endemic to mountain ranges of southern Peninsular Thailand and West Malaysia. The mention of Amphiesma inas in Sumatra is erroneous, being based on the second known specimen of Amphiesma kerinciense David & Das, 2003, which is here redescribed. A key to species of the Amphiesma khasiense group and other species sharing a greyish-brown background without conspicuous dark and pale stripes, is provided.

Zootaxa 3694 (4): 381–390 (6 Aug. 2013)
A new species of Psilorhynchus (Teleostei: Psilorhynchidae) from the Chindwin basin of Manipur, India

Psilorhynchus chakpiensis, new species, is described from the Chakpi River, Chindwin basin in Manipur, India. It is distinguished from its congeners by a combination of characters: a dome-shaped rostral cap with horizontally arranged pointed tubercles, 1–2 rows of prominent globular papillae behind the upper lip, three unbranched and nine branched dorsalfin rays, 30–31 lateral-line scales, head width 74–83% HL, and characteristic colour bands on the dorsal and caudal fins. It is distinguished from all congeners in having a caudal-fin pattern consisting of two black bars, one incomplete bar near the base of the upper lobe, and a complete bar across the centre of the fin, traversing from the upper to the lower margin of the fin.

Lynch, C. and Snyder, T. (2013), Sustainable population management of birds: current challenges exemplified. International Zoo Yearbook. doi: 10.1111/izy.12030
The sustainable management of zoological collections is the foundation for the successful implementation of institutional missions, enabling zoological facilities to meet all other programmatic objectives for conservation and public education. Yet the sustainability of many of the populations we manage and of our collections as a whole is in question. Evidence of the avian sustainability crisis is largely anecdotal but this is a growing area of research. Specific challenges to avian collection sustainability include both logistical and biological facets. Passerines are specifically important to our collections and are a taxon of high risk. One Species Survival Plan® (SSP), the Blue-grey tanager Thraupis episcopus SSP, has proposed a management strategy to address many of the sustainability challenges facing passerines.

Coleman, T. H., Schwartz, C. C., Gunther, K. A. and Creel, S. (2013), Grizzly bear and human interaction in Yellowstone National Park: An evaluation of bear management areas. The Journal of Wildlife Management. doi: 10.1002/jwmg.602
Wildlife managers often rely on permanent or temporary area closures to reduce the impact of human presence on sensitive species. In 1982, Yellowstone National Park created a program to protect threatened grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) from human disturbance. The bear management area (BMA) program created areas of the park where human access was restricted. The program was designed to allow unhindered foraging opportunities for bears, decrease the risk of habituation, and provide safety for backcountry users. The objective of our study was to evaluate human-bear interaction in BMAs and determine if they were effective. We used human and grizzly bear global positioning system location data to study 6 of 16 BMAs from 2007 to 2009. We contrasted data when BMAs were unrestricted (open human access) and restricted (limited human access). We used location data collected when BMAs were unrestricted to delineate a human recreation area (HRA) and determined a daily human active and inactive period. We applied the HRA and daily activity times to bear location data and evaluated how bear movement behavior changed when people were present and absent. We found that grizzly bears were twice as likely to be within the HRA when BMAs were restricted. We also found that grizzly bears were more than twice as likely to be within the HRA when BMAs were unrestricted, but people were inactive. Our results suggest that human presence can displace grizzly bears if people are allowed unrestricted access to the 6 BMAs in our study. Our study provides evidence for the utility of management closures designed to protect a threatened species in a well-visited park. Our approach can be reapplied by managers interested in balancing wildlife conservation and human recreation.

Catarina S. Mateus, Madlen Stange, Daniel Berner, Marius Roesti, Bernardo R. Quintella, M. Judite Alves, Pedro R. Almeida, and Walter Salzburger
Strong genome-wide divergence between sympatric European river and brook lampreys
Current Biology, Volume 23, Issue 15, 5 August 2013, Pages R649–R650 | doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.06.026

Lampreys, together with hagfishes, are the only extant representatives of jawless vertebrates and thus of prime interest for the study of vertebrate evolution [1]. Most lamprey genera occur in two forms with divergent life histories: a parasitic, anadromous and a non-parasitic, freshwater resident form [2,3,4,5,6,7,8]. The taxonomic status of such paired species is disputed, however. While indistinguishable at larval stages, but clearly distinct as adults, they cannot be differentiated with available genetic data [6,7], which has fuelled speculations that the two forms may in fact represent products of phenotypic plasticity within a single species. Here, we use restriction site-associated DNA sequencing (RADseq) to examine the genetic population structure of sympatric European river (Lampetra fluviatilis L., 1758) and brook (Lampetra planeri Bloch, 1784) lampreys. We find strong genetic differentiation and identify numerous fixed and diagnostic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) between the two species, 12 of which can be unequivocally assigned to specific genes.

Fidani C. Biological Anomalies around the 2009 L’Aquila Earthquake. Animals. 2013; 3(3):693-721
The April 6, 2009 L’Aquila earthquake was the strongest seismic event to occur in Italy over the last thirty years with a magnitude of M = 6.3. Around the time of the seismic swarm many instruments were operating in Central Italy, even if not dedicated to biological effects associated with the stress field variations, including seismicity. Testimonies were collected using a specific questionnaire immediately after the main shock, including data on earthquake lights, gas leaks, human diseases, and irregular animal behavior. The questionnaire was made up of a sequence of arguments, based upon past historical earthquake observations and compiled over seven months after the main shock. Data on animal behavior, before, during and after the main shocks, were analyzed in space/time distributions with respect to the epicenter area, evidencing the specific responses of different animals. Several instances of strange animal behavior were observed which could causally support the hypotheses that they were induced by the physical presence of gas, electric charges and electromagnetic waves in atmosphere. The aim of this study was to order the biological observations and thereby allow future work to determine whether these observations were influenced by geophysical parameters.

J. Walcott, S. Eckert, J.A. Horrocks, Diving behaviour of hawksbill turtles during the inter-nesting interval: Strategies to conserve energy, Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, Volume 448, October 2013, Pages 171-178, ISSN 0022-0981, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jembe.2013.07.007.
Hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) nesting in Barbados were outfitted with time-depth recorders (TDRs) with temperature sensors to investigate the form and patterns of diving behaviour during the inter-nesting interval (INI; average 14.7days). All females, regardless of size, surfaced infrequently during dives of average 56min duration, and the majority of dives (90%) were spent in the bottom phase at 15–25m depths, which corresponded to the depth of benthic habitat at each location. Diving activity was highest while commuting to and from the nesting beach (about 1–2days each way), with a level of quiescence during the intermediate period (i.e. the majority of the INI). Despite little thermal variation in seawater at this latitude (13.1°N), the length of the INI was influenced by ambient sea water temperature. Diving behaviour was consistent with females conserving energy reserves built up at foraging grounds prior to arrival at the nesting beach and minimising time spent in the water column away from safe refuge at night. The frequency of surfacing and the depths at which females spend most of their time varies between sites even within one species and may be crucial in managing the risks to animals temporarily residing offshore from important nesting beaches.

Pauwels, I. S., Goethals, P. L.M., Coeck, J. and Mouton, A. M. (2013), Movement patterns of adult pike (Esox lucius L.) in a Belgian lowland river. Ecology of Freshwater Fish. doi: 10.1111/eff.12090
Northern pike, Esox lucius, needs different habitats to survive and reproduce and thus depends on the availability and accessibility of these habitats. To efficiently manage pike, information is needed on its spatial and temporal patterns of migration. In this study, we investigated the occurrence of adult pike migration and which environmental variables influenced migration. From December 2010, we followed 15 pike for 1 year by use of radio telemetry in the River Yser, a typical lowland river characterised by anthropogenic impacts such as artificial embankments. Pike migrated most in February and March, which could indicate they frequented spawning habitat in this period. Four environmental variables significantly affected pike migration, ranging from the location where pike were observed (strongest effect), over water temperature and flow to diel water temperature change (weakest effect). The relation between migration and the location where pike were observed could demonstrate that pike preferred specific regions in the river. Increasing water temperature triggered migration for both sexes, and males started migrating at lower temperatures than females, which suggests that males start migrating earlier. This was the only substantial difference observed between male and female pike migration. The results suggest that migration was inhibited by high flow, as no migration was observed at high flow. River managers can use this information to efficiently manage their pike populations, for example, by removing or temporarily opening hydraulic structures like valves, weirs and sluices. This may facilitate access to suitable habitats at moments pike needs these habitats to fulfil its life cycle.

Wilcox SC, Lappin AK. 2013. Burst-swimming performance predicts the outcome of cannibalistic interactions in green poison frog larvae (Dendrobates auratus). J. Exp. Zool. 9999:1–10.
Whole-animal performance (e.g., swimming speed, bite force) functions as a fundamental link between organism and environment and, as such, performance characteristics are important in determining the outcomes of agonistic interactions, both interspecific and intraspecific. Cannibalism is an intraspecific agonistic interaction for which winners may be expected to exhibit superior performance in characteristics relevant to cannibalistic behavior. The larvae of the Green Poison Frog (Dendrobates auratus) exhibit cannibalistic behavior in which “fast-starts” (i.e., high velocity and acceleration from a resting position) are used in attempts to bite and avoid being bitten by conspecifics. We tested the hypothesis that superior fast-start swimming performance is positively associated with winning cannibalistic interactions between similarly sized individuals. Fast-starts by larvae were imaged with a high-speed camera, and pairs of size-matched individuals then underwent interaction trials to determine whether swimming performance is associated with winning a cannibalistic interaction. Linear acceleration of the snout tip, approximating the position of the mouthparts used to attack an opponent, was significantly greater in winners than losers. At the estimated center of mass, generally representing a target for an attacking opponent, linear velocity and acceleration were significantly greater in winners than losers. Understanding the role of performance in intraspecific interactions can help elucidate how they contribute to population dynamics, and thus how such interactions ultimately drive morphological and behavioral evolution.

Low Usutu virus seroprevalence in four zoological gardens in central Europe
Buchebner N, Zenker W, Wenker C, Steinmetz HW, Sós E, Lussy H, Nowotny N
BMC Veterinary Research 2013, 9:153 (6 August 2013)

Usutu virus (USUV), a mosquito-borne flavivirus of the Japanese encephalitis virus antigenic group, caused bird die-offs in Austria, Hungary and Switzerland between 2001 and 2009. While the zoological gardens of Vienna and Zurich recorded USUV-associated mortality in different species of birds during this period, incidences in Budapest were limited to areas outside the zoo, and in the greater Basel area avian mortality due to USUV infection was not observed at all. The objectives of this investigation were to gain insight into USUV infection dynamics in captive birds in zoos with varying degrees of virus exposure and to study differences in susceptibility to USUV of different species of birds.
372 bird sera were collected between October 2006 and August 2007. The samples were tested in parallel by hemagglutination inhibition (HI) and 90% plaque reduction neutralization tests (PRNT-90). 8.75%, 5.3% and 6.59% of birds in the zoos of Vienna, Zurich and Basel, respectively, showed USUV-specific antibodies by PRNT-90. No antibodies to USUV were detected in birds of the Budapest zoo. The order Strigiformes (owls) exhibited the highest USUV-seroprevalence, compared to other orders of birds.
USUV seems not to pose an imminent threat to zoo bird populations in central Europe at the moment. Depending on a variety of especially environmental factors, however, this may change at any time in the (near) future, as experienced with West Nile virus (WNV). It is therefore strongly suggested to continue with combined WNV and USUV surveillance activities in affected areas.

Juliane Bräuer, Katja Schönefeld, Josep Call, When Do Dogs Help Humans?, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Available online 7 August 2013, ISSN 0168-1591, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2013.07.009.Here we investigate whether domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) engage in instrumental helping towards humans without special training. We hypothesized that dogs would help a human if the human’s goal was made as obvious as possible. Therefore we used a set-up in which a human attempted to enter a compartment within a room (the “target room”) in order to get a key. The dog could open the door to the target room by pushing a button. We varied the way in which the experimenter expressed how she wanted to enter the target room (reaching, pushing the door, communicating with the dog) and the relationship between human and dog (owner versus stranger). Dogs helped in two situations: (1) when the human pointed at the button and (2) when the humans communicated naturally to the dogs, i.e. without a predetermined series of actions. In these situations, dogs continued to open the door without receiving any reward. We therefore conclude that dogs are motivated to help and that an experimenter’s natural behaviours facilitated the dogs’ recognition of the human’s goal. Interestingly the identity of the experimenter had no influence on the behaviour of the dogs.

Lake, B. C., Bertram, M. R., Guldager, N., Caikoski, J. R. and Stephenson, R. O. (2013), Wolf kill rates across winter in a low-density moose system in Alaska. The Journal of Wildlife Management. doi: 10.1002/jwmg.603
Wolf (Canis lupus) kill rates are fundamental to understanding predation, but are not well known at low moose (Alces alces) densities. We investigated kill rates of 6 wolf packs (2–10 wolves/pack) during 2 winters on the Yukon Flats, a region of eastern Interior Alaska where moose were the sole ungulate prey of wolves occurring at densities <0.2 moose/km2. Our objectives were to compare kill rates with those from areas of greater moose densities, and to determine potential trends in kill rates across the winter. We located moose killed by wolves in February–March 2009, and November 2009–March 2010 using aerial tracking techniques and global positioning system (GPS) location clusters. Wolves killed more moose in early than late winter (βMONTH = −0.02 moose/pack/day, 95% CI = −0.01 to −0.04), and kill rate estimates (mean, 95% CI) were greatest in November (0.033 moose/wolf/day, 0.011–0.055) and least in February (0.011, 0.002–0.02). Kill rates were similar between February and March 2009 (0.019 moose/wolf/day, 0.01–0.03) and 2010 (0.018, 0.01–0.03). Prey composition was primarily adult females (39%) and young-of-the-year (35%). We attribute an elevated kill rate in early winter to predation on more vulnerable young-of-the-year. Kill rates in our study were similar to those from other studies where moose occurred at greater densities. We suggest that very few, if any, wolf–moose systems in Alaska and the Yukon experience a density-dependent phase in the functional response, and instead wolves respond numerically to changes in moose density or availability in the absence of alternative prey. Through a numerical response, wolf predation rates may approximate the annual growth potential of the moose population, contributing to persistent low densities of moose and wolves on the Yukon Flats.

Vimoksalehi Lukoschek, Maria Beger, Daniela Ceccarelli, Zoe Richards, Morgan Pratchett, Enigmatic declines of Australia’s sea snakes from a biodiversity hotspot, Biological Conservation, Volume 166, October 2013, Pages 191-202, ISSN 0006-3207, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2013.07.004.
Declines in the abundance of marine vertebrates are of considerable concern, especially when they occur in isolated locations relatively protected from most major anthropogenic disturbances. This paper reports on sustained declines in the abundance and diversity of sea snakes at Ashmore Reef, a renowned biodiversity hotspot in Australia’s Timor Sea. Surveys conducted in eight years between 1973 and 2010 recorded the highest abundances (average 42–46 snakes day−1) and species richness (nine species) in 1973 and 1994. In 2002 abundance had declined by more than 50% (21 snakes day−1) and only five species were recorded. Since 2005 abundances have been consistently low (1–7 snakes day−1), with just two species, Aipysurus laevis andEmydocephalus annulatus, recorded in significant numbers. Despite extensive searches since 2005 (especially in 2010) five species of sea snake historically abundant at Ashmore Reef have not been sighted and are presumed to have become locally extinct. These species include three Timor Sea endemics Aipysurus apraefrontalis, Aipysurus foliosquama, Aipysurus fuscus, and one Australasian endemic Aipysurus duboisii. Declines in the abundance and diversity of sea snakes at Ashmore Reef cannot be attributed to differences in survey methods among years. Ashmore Reef was declared a National Nature Reserve (IUCN Category 1a) in 1983 and, although the causes for the declines are not known, this protection has not prevented their occurrence. We discuss possible causes for these enigmatic declines however, in order to implement effective management strategies, studies are needed to determine why sea snakes have disappeared from Ashmore Reef.

Renata Durães, Luis Carrasco, Thomas B. Smith, Jordan Karubian, Effects of forest disturbance and habitat loss on avian communities in a Neotropical biodiversity hotspot, Biological Conservation, Volume 166, October 2013, Pages 203-211, ISSN 0006-3207, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2013.07.007.
Regenerating forests are increasingly ubiquitous in tropical landscapes. They hold great conservation potential and there is demand for assessments of their biodiversity value. Forest disturbance and forest loss often occur together, yet few studies attempt to disentangle their separate effects on biological communities. In the Ecuadorian Chocó, a biodiversity hotspot, we sampled understory birds in patches with increasing levels of disturbance (old-growth, selectively-logged, and secondary forests) within contiguous forest and in fragments. Species richness increased with disturbance but decreased with habitat loss, with a 75% reduction in endemic and threatened species in fragments compared to contiguous forest. This reduction in richness was most pronounced in secondary forest fragments, suggesting that disturbance and habitat loss interact synergistically to maximally reduce avian biodiversity. Species composition was strongly affected by habitat loss and, to a lesser extent, disturbance, with forest fragments and secondary forests presenting distinct communities dominated by generalists with medium-to-low sensitivity to anthropogenic disturbance and reduced proportions of endemics and endangered species. Capture rates also decreased (non-significantly) with habitat loss, and the relative abundance of dietary guilds varied in response to both habitat loss and disturbance. Our study shows that regenerating patches surrounded by contiguous forest can sustain high biodiversity levels and, when past habitat disturbance is mild, present similar communities to old-growth forests. In contrast, forest loss caused reductions in richness (especially in more disturbed patches), profound changes in community composition, and loss of species of conservation concern. These results underscore the importance of considering landscape context when evaluating the conservation value of disturbed forests.

Ralph Buij, Barbara M. Croes, Gerrit Gort, Jan Komdeur, The role of breeding range, diet, mobility and body size in associations of raptor communities and land-use in a West African savanna, Biological Conservation, Volume 166, October 2013, Pages 231-246, ISSN 0006-3207, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2013.06.028.
To provide insight into raptor declines in western Africa, we investigated associations between land-use and raptor distribution patterns in Cameroon. We examined the role of breeding distribution, species’ migratory mobility, diet, body size, and thus area requirements, on 5-km scale patterns of raptor richness and abundance. We recorded 15,661 individuals, comprising 55 species during road surveys, spanning four annual cycles. Results revealed evidence for the importance of National Parks (N.P.’s), natural vegetation, humans, and cotton in shaping raptor assemblages, but responses differed between functional groups and biogeographical zones. Human populations and natural habitat, interacting with zone, were important predictors of Afrotropical raptor richness, and N.P.’s of Palearctic raptor richness. Areas cleared of natural habitat in the Guinea zone had comparatively rich and abundant large, small sedentary and migratory Afrotropical raptor assemblages, but humans limited positive effects. Palearctic raptor abundance peaked at higher levels of human land-use than Afrotropical raptors. Vertebrate-hunting Palearctic raptor richness was positively associated with cropland, while cotton and human land-use in the Inundation zone had a stronger negative impact on insectivorous Palearctic raptors. Richness of large sedentary raptors declined with increasing distance to N.P.’s, contrary to communal scavenger richness, which increased with human populations. Humans, habitat loss and cotton in the Inundation and Sudan zones had similar, negative effects on small sedentary and small migratory Afrotropical raptor assemblages. We conclude that increasing human populations, natural vegetation loss, and expanding cotton will negatively affect the majority of Afrotropical and insectivorous Palearctic raptors, while vertebrate-hunting Palearctic raptors may benefit from cropland expansion.

Hull, A. C., Fish, A. M., Nikitas, C. and Hull, J. M. (2013), Development and testing of a mechanical lure for raptor trapping. Wildlife Society Bulletin. doi: 10.1002/wsb.317
Raptor trapping and banding at migration stations rely upon the use of live lure birds to attract hawks to the trapping area. The use of these lure animals may present raptor researchers with legislative, regulatory, ethical, and logistical challenges. We developed and tested a mechanical alternative to reduce the demands imposed by the use of live lures. The mechanical lure was able to withstand the rigors of field use and was as effective at attracting hawks to the trapping station as live lures during tests in the Marin Headlands, California, USA, 200Although resulting in significantly fewer captures, the use of a mechanical lure may be an appropriate alternative in situations where the regulatory and/or ethical environment prohibit the use of live lures and where the logistical demands of maintaining a captive colony of live lures is impractical.

Wood, P. B. and Williams, J. M. (2013), Terrestrial salamander abundance on reclaimed mountaintop removal mines. Wildlife Society Bulletin. doi: 10.1002/wsb.319
Mountaintop removal mining, a large-scale disturbance affecting vegetation, soil structure, and topography, converts landscapes from mature forests to extensive grassland and shrubland habitats. We sampled salamanders using drift-fence arrays and coverboard transects on and near mountaintop removal mines in southern West Virginia, USA, during 2000–2002. We compared terrestrial salamander relative abundance and species richness of un-mined, intact forest with habitats on reclaimed mountaintop removal mines (reclaimed grassland, reclaimed shrubland, and fragmented forest). Salamanders within forests increased in relative abundance with increasing distance from reclaimed mine edge. Reclaimed grassland and shrubland habitats had lower relative abundance and species richness than forests. Characteristics of reclaimed habitats that likely contributed to lower salamander abundance included poor soils (dry, compacted, little organic matter, high rock content), reduced vertical structure of vegetation and little tree cover, and low litter and woody debris cover. Past research has shown that salamander populations reduced by clearcutting may rebound in 15–24 years. Time since disturbance was 7–28 years in reclaimed habitats on our study areas and salamander populations had not reached levels found in adjacent mature forests.

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