Kilpatrick, H. J., Goodie, T. J. and Kovach, A. I. (2013), Comparison of live-trapping and noninvasive genetic sampling to assess patch occupancy by new england cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis) rabbits. Wildlife Society Bulletin. doi: 10.1002/wsb.330
The New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis) is a species of high conservation priority in the northeastern United States and a candidate for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act. Eastern cottontails are abundantly distributed and similar in appearance to New England cottontails. Our objective was to compare cost, effort, and effectiveness of live-trapping and noninvasive genetic monitoring for assessing patch occupancy by New England cottontail. We collected 113 tissue samples and 240 fecal pellets samples for diagnostic genetic testing to detect species presence and assess the proportion of samples consisted of New England and eastern cottontail on 5 study sites in Connecticut in 2008 and 2009. Both methods detected presence of New England cottontail at 4 of 5 sites. Overall proportion of DNA samples consisted of New England cottontail was similar between sampling methods (χ2 = 0.189, P = 0.664). However, species composition on individual sites was inconsistent between methods and no clear pattern of bias was discernible. Mean cost per DNA sample to collect and analyze was US$433 for tissue samples and US$33 for fecal pellets. Samples collected per person-day of effort were 40 for fecal samples and 0.7 for tissue samples. Genetic monitoring via noninvasive fecal sampling was a low-cost, time-efficient method for assessing species occupancy, but development of an optimal sampling strategy is needed to evaluate composition and distributions of species on sympatrically occupied sites.
Tymkiw, E. L., Bowman, J. L. and Shriver, W. G. (2013), The effect of white-tailed deer density on breeding songbirds in Delaware. Wildlife Society Bulletin. doi: 10.1002/wsb.328
Most population goals for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are based solely on deer data, with little consideration for other parts of the ecosystem. A wider ecological approach is needed for more justifiable target deer densities. We investigated the use of birds as coarse-scale indicators to determine an ecological carrying capacity for deer management by studying the relationship between the forest bird community and deer density in Delaware, USA. Using Breeding Bird Survey data from 2005 to 2009, targeted point-count data from 2008 to 2009 and Division of Fish and Wildlife deer-density data from the same time periods, we compared avian species richness and relative abundance with deer density. We divided deer densities into low (≤10 deer/km2), moderate (11–19 deer/km2), and high (≥20 deer/km2) categories. We placed birds into 6 deer-sensitive guilds: interior forest obligates, ground nesters, shrub nesters, ground gleaners, low-canopy foragers, and Neotropical migrants, as well as 1 “guild” that consisted of species found to be sensitive to deer density in past literature. The abundance or richness of most guilds and species did not differ by deer density. However, there were 1.08 more shrub nesters and 0.55 more species of shrub nesting birds in low-deer-density areas than in high-deer-density areas. Areas of moderate and low deer densities had ≥0.35 more species of low-canopy foragers than did areas of high deer densities. Low-deer-density areas had ≥0.59 more individual Neotropical migrants compared with moderate- or high-deer-density areas. Similarly, areas of low deer densities had ≥0.49 more migrant species than did areas of higher densities. Low-deer-density areas had ≥0.17 more ovenbirds compared with high- and moderate-deer-density areas. Great crested flycatchers (Myiarchus crinitus) had 3 times greater odds of being found in low-deer-density areas than in high-deer-density areas. Chipping sparrows (Spizella passerina), Acadian flycatchers (Empidonax virescens), and red-eyed vireos (Vireo olivaceus) all had 2 times greater odds of being found in low-deer-density areas than high-deer-density areas. Our results suggest that areas in Delaware with densities of <20 deer/km2 have the greatest avian richness and abundance. These findings are the first step toward determining an ecological carrying capacity for white-tailed deer.
Daniel J. Hocking, Kimberly J. Babbitt, Mariko Yamasaki, Comparison of silvicultural and natural disturbance effects on terrestrial salamanders in northern hardwood forests, Biological Conservation, Volume 167, November 2013, Pages 194-202, ISSN 0006-3207, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2013.08.006.
In forested ecosystems timber harvesting has the potential to emulate natural disturbances, thereby maintaining the natural communities adapted to particular disturbances. We compared the effects of even-aged (clearcut and patch cut) and uneven-aged (group cut, single-tree selection) timber management techniques with natural ice-storm damage and unmanipulated reference forest sites on red-backed salamanders. We used cover boards and litter searches to survey for salamanders in northern hardwood forests in New Hampshire, USA. We estimated abundance while accounting for detection probability using the Dail–Madsen open population model. We found significant reduction in salamander abundance in recent group cuts, patch cuts, and clearcuts compared to reference forest sites, and significant but less effect of single-tree selection and ice-storm damage. Our results contribute to the evidence of detrimental effects of even-aged harvests on salamander abundance, but in contrast to most previous research, we also found lower abundance in sites following uneven-aged harvest practices when we accounted for detection probability. To more accurately reflect the total effect of harvests on salamanders, we also employed a parametric, nonlinear hierarchical model to estimate edge effects while accounting for imperfect detection. We found that group cut, patch cut, and clearcut logging reduced salamander abundance 34 m into the surrounding forest. These edge effects can greatly expand the total area affected by logging, especially in the northeastern US where cuts tend to be relatively small. This novel method for estimating edge effects will allow managers to directly calculate the total effects on populations for various size and shape harvesting plans.
Yoan Fourcade, Jan O. Engler, Aurélien G. Besnard, Dennis Rödder, Jean Secondi, Confronting expert-based and modelled distributions for species with uncertain conservation status: A case study from the corncrake (Crex crex), Biological Conservation, Volume 167, November 2013, Pages 161-171, ISSN 0006-3207, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2013.08.009.
The Red List classification of IUCN has become one of the most important evaluations of threats that affect biodiversity at the species level. However, many estimations of species range, one essential factor in the Red List classification, are derived from expert-based assessments that sometimes lack empirical evidence. Our study focused on the corncrake (Crex crex), a grassland Palaearctic bird whose conservation status has been revised recently following some new assessments of range and population size. However, the amount of data that form the basis of this reclassification appears weak compared to the large area involved. We used a method of species distribution modelling (MAXENT) to predict the corncrake range and confronted it to the expert-based map. We resolved the huge geographic bias in the distribution of presence points by using a relevant method of sampling bias correction. We found a rather similar distribution with the IUCN estimated range, although less widespread. We also highlighted a relationship between habitat suitability computed by the model and population estimates per country when the effect of agriculture intensity is taken into account. This result supports the current expert-based estimates of corncrake distribution and emphasizes that a relevant modelling strategy should be able to predict the distribution of a species even from a biased dataset. IUCN estimates of species’ ranges would certainly benefit from a model-based approach in addition to expert and field controls.
JESUS, José et al. Genetic identity of Pipistrellus maderensis from the Madeira archipelago: a first assessment, and implications for conservation. Hystrix, the Italian Journal of Mammalogy, [S.l.], v. 24, n. 2, p. 4, sep. 2013. ISSN 1825-5272. Available at: <http://www.italian-journal-of-mammalogy.it/article/view/8736>. Date accessed: 10 Sep. 2013. doi:10.4404/hystrix-24.2-8736.
According to the IUCN global Red List, Pipistrellus maderensis is among the most endangered bat species in Europe. Its populations are scattered across some islands of the Atlantic Ocean, particularly Madeira and the Canary archipelagoes. This geographical pattern is likely to result in significant genetic differences between populations which would have important implications to set conservation priorities. To test this hypothesis, we analyze cytochrome b sequences and compared populations from Madeira and the Canary islands. Five sequences from Madeiran individuals were analysed and compared to 30 sequences extracted from GenBank from Pipistrellus maderensis from the Canary islands and Pipistrellus kuhli.
Our results indicate a significant divergence between the two groups, smaller than between true species, but higher that intra-group divergence. However, further research on the Madeiran population is needed, including the use of sequences of other mitochondrial markers and nuclear marker and microsatellites.
Álvaro Navarro-Castilla, Isabel Barja, Pedro P. Olea, Ana Piñeiro, Patricia Mateo-Tomás, Gema Silván, Juan Carlos Illera, Are degraded habitats from agricultural crops associated with elevated faecal glucocorticoids in a wild population of common vole (Microtus arvalis)?, Mammalian Biology – Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde, Available online 10 September 2013, ISSN 1616-5047, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mambio.2013.08.004.
The severe impact of agriculture on species’ abundance and diversity is widely recognized. However, its effects on the physiology of wild animal populations are poorly known. We analyzed faecal glucocorticoids levels in wild common voles (Microtus arvalis) living in a farmland landscape to test whether living in degraded habitats, such as crops, is correlated with increased glucocorticoids. Other factors such as sex, reproductive status, and population density were also considered. We captured voles with Sherman traps in crops and in their field margins which were comprised of semi-natural vegetation. We collected fresh faecal samples from captured individuals and quantified their levels of faecal corticosterone metabolites (FCM) in the laboratory. The quantification of FCM concentrations was performed by competitive enzyme immunoassay. Individuals captured within the crops had higher levels of FCM than those in field margins; females and breeding individuals exhibited higher FCM levels. In addition, FCM concentrations positively correlated with abundance of voles. Our results suggest that degraded habitats in agricultural landscapes are associated with increased glucocorticoid levels on common voles likely caused by a higher disturbance from agricultural practices and a lesser vegetation cover in crops compared with field margins.
Pascual-Garrido, A., Umaru, B., Allon, O. and Sommer, V. (2013), Apes finding ants: Predator–prey dynamics in a chimpanzee habitat in Nigeria. Am. J. Primatol.. doi: 10.1002/ajp.22187
Some chimpanzee populations prey upon army ants, usually with stick tools. However, how their prey’s subterranean nesting and nomadic lifestyle influence the apes‘ harvesting success is still poorly understood. This is particularly true for chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes ellioti) at Gashaka/Nigeria, which consume army ants (Dorylus rubellus) with much higher frequency than at other sites. We assessed various harvesting and search options theoretically available to the apes. For this, we reconstructed annual consumption patterns from feces and compared the physical characteristics of exploited ant nests with those that were not targeted. Repeated exploitation of a discovered nest is viable only in the short term, as disturbed colonies soon moved to a new site. Moreover, monitoring previously occupied nest cavities is uneconomical, as ants hardly ever re-used them. Thus, the apes have to detect new nests regularly, although colony density is relatively low (1 colony/1.3 ha). Surprisingly, visual search cues seem to be of limited importance because the probability of a nest being exploited was independent of its conspicuousness (presence of excavated soil piles, concealing leaf-litter or vegetation). However, chimpanzees preferentially targeted nests in forests or at the base of food trees, that is, where the apes spend relatively more time and/or where ant colony density is highest. Taken together, our findings suggest that, instead of employing a search strategy based on visual cues or spatial memory, chimpanzee predation on army ants contains a considerable opportunistic element.
Van Opzeeland I, Van Parijs S, Kindermann L, Burkhardt E, Boebel O (2013) Calling in the Cold: Pervasive Acoustic Presence of Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Antarctic Coastal Waters. PLoS ONE 8(9): e73007. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073007
Humpback whales migrate between relatively unproductive tropical or temperate breeding grounds and productive high latitude feeding areas. However, not all individuals of a population undertake the annual migration to the breeding grounds; instead some are thought to remain on the feeding grounds year-round, presumably to avoid the energetic demands of migration. In the Southern Hemisphere, ice and inclement weather conditions restrict investigations of humpback whale presence on feeding grounds as well as the extent of their southern range. Two years of near-continuous recordings from the PerenniAL Acoustic Observatory in the Antarctic Ocean (PALAOA, Ekström Iceshelf, 70°31’S, 8°13’W) are used to explore the acoustic presence of humpback whales in an Antarctic coastal area. Humpback whale calls were present during nine and eleven months of 2008 and 2009, respectively. In 2008, calls were present in January through April, June through August, November and December, whereas in 2009, calls were present throughout the year, except in September. Calls occurred in un-patterned sequences, representing non-song sound production. Typically, calls occurred in bouts, ranging from 2 to 42 consecutive days with February, March and April having the highest daily occurrence of calls in 2008. In 2009, February, March, April and May had the highest daily occurrence of calls. Whales were estimated to be within a 100 km radius off PALAOA. Calls were also present during austral winter when ice cover within this radius was >90%. These results demonstrate that coastal areas near the Antarctic continent are likely of greater importance to humpback whales than previously assumed, presumably providing food resources year-round and open water in winter where animals can breathe.
Thaís Queiroz Morcatty, Hani Rocha El Bizri, Hellem Cristina Silva Carneiro, Rodrigo Ludolf Biasizzo, Cândida Radicchi de Oliveira Alméri, Ericson Sousa da Silva, Flávio Henrique Guimarães Rodrigues, José Eugênio Côrtes Figueira
Habitat loss and mammalian extinction patterns: are the reserves in the Quadrilátero Ferrífero, southeastern Brazil, effective in conserving mammals?
Ecological Research September 2013
Habitat loss is considered to be the principal cause of the local extinction of mammals worldwide. We assessed the extinction pattern of medium- and large-sized mammals caused by the effects of habitat loss in reserves in the Quadrilátero Ferrífero, southeastern Brazil, and discussed the effectiveness of these natural remnants for conserving mammals. A literature review and field collections were conducted from 2006 to 2011 to estimate the composition and richness of mammals in nine remnants of different sizes, including reserves and non-protected areas. A species–area relation and a nested subset analysis were performed, and a degree of sensitivity to habitat loss was obtained for each species according to its frequency of occurrence. Forty-five species of mammals were recorded. There was a strong species–area relation involving the legal size of reserves. High species richness was associated with large reserves, and the z value was within the range of very isolated continental remnants. The mammalian community exhibited a nested occurrence pattern, suggesting that most species were part of a more continuous ecosystem and that non-random extinction caused by habitat loss occurred in southeastern Brazil. The negative relation found between species frequencies and body weights suggested that selective species loss is associated with decreases in the size of the reserves. The estimated viable size required to conserve all of the sensitive species is greater than the size of the largest reserve inventoried. We recommend the aggregation of neighboring natural remnants and the creation of new reserves to reduce extinction risks.
Zootaxa 3710 (2): 165–178 (12 Sept. 2013)
A new species of Kaloula (Amphibia: Anura: Microhylidae) from southern Guangxi, China
YUNMING MO, WEI ZHANG, SHICHU ZHOU, TIANBO CHEN, HUAXING TANG, YUANJUN MENG & WEICAI CHEN
A new species of narrow-mouthed frog of Kaloula is described in the Nonggang National Nature Reserve, Sino-Vietnamese border region of southern China. Kaloula nonggangensis sp. nov. is distinguished from its congeners by a combination
of the following characters: medium size (SVL 41.4–52.7 mm in 18 adult males, 52.2 mm in 1 female); smooth or slightly
rough olive dorsum with irregular dark-green marks and brown spots; tips of the fingers widely dilated and truncated;
males with nearly fully webbed toes; males with two side protuberant osseous tubercles on the upper surface of the tips of fingers and chest beige with small lemon-colored spots. K. nonggangensissp. nov. is found in habitats ranging from cultivated fields adjacent to the forest to primary evergreen forest in karst habitats. Based upon a 16S ribosomal RNA mitochondrial gene fragment, K. nonggangensissp. nov. is embedded within the K. verrucosa group (including K. borealis, K. rugifera and K. verrucosa), and displays a low genetic distance to these species. Considering the distinct morphology and karyotype we nevertheless suggest a status as separate species for these allopatrically distributed lineages.
Tütken T, Kaiser TM, Vennemann T, Merceron G (2013) Opportunistic Feeding Strategy for the Earliest Old World Hypsodont Equids: Evidence from Stable Isotope and Dental Wear Proxies. PLoS ONE 8(9): e74463. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074463
The equid Hippotherium primigenium, with moderately hypsodont cheek teeth, rapidly dispersed through Eurasia in the early late Miocene. This dispersal of hipparions into the Old World represents a major faunal event during the Neogene. The reasons for this fast dispersal of H. primigenium within Europe are still unclear. Based on its hypsodonty, a high specialization in grazing is assumed although the feeding ecology of the earliest European hipparionines within a pure C3 plant ecosystem remains to be investigated.
A multi-proxy approach, combining carbon and oxygen isotopes from enamel as well as dental meso- and microwear analyses of cheek teeth, was used to characterize the diet of the earliest European H. primigenium populations from four early Late Miocene localities in Germany (Eppelsheim, Höwenegg), Switzerland (Charmoille), and France (Soblay). Enamel δ13C values indicate a pure C3 plant diet with small (<1.4‰) seasonal variations for all four H. primigenium populations. Dental wear and carbon isotope compositions are compatible with dietary differences. Except for the Höwenegg hipparionines, dental microwear data indicate a browse-dominated diet. By contrast, the tooth mesowear patterns of all populations range from low to high abrasion suggesting a wide spectrum of food resources.
Combined dental wear and stable isotope analysis enables refined palaeodietary reconstructions in C3 ecosystems. Different H. primigenium populations in Europe had a large spectrum of feeding habits with a high browsing component. The combination of specialized phenotypes such as hypsodont cheek teeth with a wide spectrum of diet illustrates a new example of the Liem’s paradox. This dietary flexibility associated with the capability to exploit abrasive food such as grasses probably contributed to the rapid dispersal of hipparionines from North America into Eurasia and the fast replacement of the brachydont equid Anchitherium by the hypsodont H. primigenium in Europe.
van Schaik CP, Damerius L, Isler K (2013) Wild Orangutan Males Plan and Communicate Their Travel Direction One Day in Advance. PLoS ONE 8(9): e74896. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074896
The ability to plan for the future beyond immediate needs would be adaptive to many animal species, but is widely thought to be uniquely human. Although studies in captivity have shown that great apes are capable of planning for future needs, it is unknown whether and how they use this ability in the wild. Flanged male Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii) emit long calls, which females use to maintain earshot associations with them. We tested whether long calls serve to communicate a male’s ever-changing predominant travel direction to facilitate maintaining these associations. We found that the direction in which a flanged male emits his long calls predicts his subsequent travel direction for many hours, and that a new call indicates a change in his main travel direction. Long calls given at or near the night nest indicate travel direction better than random until late afternoon on the next day. These results show that male orangutans make their travel plans well in advance and announce them to conspecifics. We suggest that such a planning ability is likely to be adaptive for great apes, as well as in other taxa.
Freitas, C. E.C., Siqueira-Souza, F. K., Florentino, A. C. and Hurd, L. E. (2013), The importance of spatial scales to analysis of fish diversity in Amazonian floodplain lakes and implications for conservation. Ecology of Freshwater Fish. doi: 10.1111/eff.12099
The Amazon River Basin has the highest fish species diversity of any region in the world, but is under threat from anthropogenic perturbations including overharvesting, alien species and drought. We asked whether species diversity in this region is more a function of within-lake species richness (i.e., α diversity) or differences among lakes (β diversity). Although many studies have reported on species richness and diversity in single habitats, the importance of measuring diversity at different spatial scales is not yet well established. We collected fish in 10 floodplain lakes along the Solimões River (Brazil), divided evenly between two lake types: those on islands in the river channel (island lakes) and those on the margins of the river (coastal lakes) during 2006. We partitioned fish diversity into three spatial scales: α = within each lake; β1 = among lakes of the same type (coastal or island) and β2 = between the two types of lakes, and compared their relative contributions to regional (γ) diversity. β1 + β2 contributed as much or more to γ diversity than did α. Although many of the 116 fish species were shared between lake types (S = 72), 32 species were found exclusively in coastal lakes and 12 species were found exclusively in island lakes. Coastal lakes, which were deeper and cooler than island lakes, consistently had higher fish species richness than island lakes. We suggest that it will be necessary to set areas large enough to contain multiple lakes of both types to preserve regional fish diversity.
Bračko, A. and King, C. E. (2013), Advantages of aviaries and the Aviary Database Project: a new approach to an old housing option for birds. International Zoo Yearbook. doi: 10.1111/izy.12035
There is a trend in zoos to provide more naturalistic enclosures for animals in which they can carry out natural behaviours and, for most birds, an aviary presents the best opportunities to achieve this. Reasons for holding birds in aviaries, including education and visitor experience, breeding, behaviour, predation, veterinary issues, avoidance of invasive species and hybridization, welfare and enrichment, and reductions in costs, are discussed. The development of the Aviary Database Project is explained. This information-sharing resource is in development and will be a tool for exchanging knowledge and experiences in designing and constructing aviaries, and selecting the best aviary for the species in question and for the geographic location. Zoos may be able to avoid expensive mistakes and optimize their possibilities by sharing information on aspects such as costs, visitor viewing, suitable materials and design features. By lowering the barriers in the way of building appropriate aviaries, it is hoped that this type of housing will become the option of choice in future master plans. While adopting an aviary strategy for housing all ‘flying’ birds may result in a reduction in the number of species at a zoo, and could affect both institutional and regional collection plans, we believe it is a necessary step in order to provide the optimal conditions for the care and well-being of the birds that are already in zoological institutions.
MORI, Emiliano et al. Italian red squirrels and introduced parakeets: victims or perpetrators?. Hystrix, the Italian Journal of Mammalogy, [S.l.], v. 24, n. 2, p. 2, sep. 2013. ISSN 1825-5272. Available at: <http://www.italian-journal-of-mammalogy.it/article/view/8689>. Date accessed: 13 Sep. 2013. doi:10.4404/hystrix-24.2-8689.
This paper deals with the first records of interactions between Italian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris italicus) and introduced parakeets. We observed two nest predations exerted by red squirrels upon rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri) chicks in Latium, while an adult Barraband’s parakeet (Polytelis swainsonii) was responsible for the death of an adult squirrel in Southern Tuscany. To assess the extent of the impact of these alien birds on the conservation of the endemic squirrel populations, further research is needed. These observations highlight the complex interactions that may arise between alien and native species, supporting that active monitoring and management of introduced populations should be a priority.
Julie Wieczkowski The Value of Measuring Food Availability on the Ground for a Semiterrestrial Frugivore, the Tana River Mangabey (Cercocebus galeritus) of Kenya
International Journal of Primatology September 2013
Collecting phenological data, seasonal availability of plant resources that primates feed on, allows us to understand feeding ecology better. A number of primates are terrestrial or semiterrestrial frugivores, yet phenology is generally measured only in the canopy. I hypothesized that combining measurements of food availability on the ground with canopy measurements would more strongly correlate with diet than canopy measurements alone for a semiterrestrial frugivore, the Tana River mangabey (Cercocebus galeritus). From July 2005 until June 2006, I conducted monthly follows on a mangabey group. Phenology was measured in 105 individuals of their top seven food tree species. I measured canopy phenology on a 0–5 scale and counted fruits in three 1 m3 areas of the canopy, and measured ground phenology by counting fruits and seeds in four 1 m2 quadrats under the canopy. I calculated each tree’s canopy volume and canopy shadow, and each species’ mean fruit weight, mean seed weight, and density. Monthly biomasses were calculated as kilograms per hectare. Spearman correlations were performed between diet contribution and canopy biomass, ground biomass, and total biomass. The hypothesis was not supported for seven species individually or combined. The hypothesis was supported for 3 of 12 diet items, although canopy biomass was also significant for 2 of those items. Two diet items correlated only with ground biomass. Studies of the Tana River mangabey may benefit from measuring ground phenology only for those items eaten exclusively on the ground. Primatologists studying terrestrial or semiterrestrial frugivores should consider feeding height when deciding on phenology methods.