Morrison, R. and Reiss, D. (2013), Whisper-like behavior in a non-human primate. Zoo Biol.. doi: 10.1002/zoo.21099
In humans, whispering has evolved as a counteractive strategy against eavesdropping. Some evidence for whisper-like behavior exists in a few other species, but has not been reported in non-human primates. We discovered the first evidence of whisper-like behavior in a non-human primate, the cotton-top tamarin (Saguinus oedipus), in the course of investigating their use of human-directed mobbing calls. We exposed a family of captive cotton-top tamarins to a supervisor who previously elicited a strong mobbing response. Simultaneous audio–video recordings documented the animals‘ behavioral and vocal responses in the supervisor’s presence and absence. Rather than exhibiting a mobbing response and producing loud human-directed mobbing calls, the tamarins exhibited other anti-predator behaviors and produced low amplitude vocalizations that initially eluded our detection. A post-hoc analysis of the data was conducted to test a new hypothesis—the tamarins were reducing the amplitude of their vocalizations in the context of exposure to a potential threat. Consistent with whisper-like behavior, the amplitude of the tamarins‘ vocalizations was significantly reduced only in the presence of the supervisor. Due to its subtle properties, this phenomenon may have eluded detection in this species. Increasing evidence of whisper-like behavior in non-human species suggests that such low amplitude signaling may represent a convergence in a communication strategy amongst highly social and cooperative species.
Beisner, B. A. and McCowan, B. (2013), Signaling context modulates social function of silent bared-teeth displays in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). Am. J. Primatol.. doi: 10.1002/ajp.22214
The signaling context has been found to change the meaning of the silent bared-teeth display (SBT) in pigtail macaques (Macaca nemestrina) such that the SBT in apparently peaceful contexts communicates subordination, a long-term pattern of behavior, whereas in conflict contexts it communicates immediate submission (PNAS, 104: 1581–1586). However, the context dependent nature of the SBT has not yet been explored in other species. We investigated SBT usage with respect to grooming, severe aggression, and signaler-receiver sex, rank difference, and body size in seven captive groups of rhesus macaques. Peaceful SBTs were given most often to male receivers by male and female signalers whereas conflict SBTs were given to both male and female receivers primarily by female signalers. Male signalers rarely gave SBTs (peaceful or conflict) to female receivers. Unlike pigtail macaques, peaceful SBTs in rhesus were often accompanied by withdrawal behavior (referred to as peaceful SBT-leave), which influenced grooming, but not aggression, at the dyadic level. Severe aggression was less frequent among dyads using peaceful SBTs (regardless of withdrawal behavior) than those using conflict SBTs. In contrast, grooming was more frequent among dyads using peaceful SBT-stay signals than those using peaceful SBT-leave signals or conflict SBTs. In total, our results indicate that peaceful SBTs are a functionally different signal from conflict SBTs in rhesus macaques.
Jennifer Lamb, Sarah Downs, Seth Eiseb, Peter John Taylor, Increased geographic sampling reveals considerable new genetic diversity in the morphologically conservative African Pygmy Mice (Genus Mus; Subgenus Nannomys), Mammalian Biology – Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde, Available online 13 September 2013, ISSN 1616-5047, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mambio.2013.08.010.
African endemic pygmy mice (Genus Mus; sub-genus Nannomys) have considerable economic and public health significance, and some species exhibit novel sex determination systems, making accurate knowledge of their phylogenetics and distribution limits important. This phylogenetic study was based on the mitochondrial control region and cytochrome b gene, for which a substantial body of published data was available. Study specimens were sourced from eight previously unsampled or poorly sampled countries, and include samples morphologically identified as Mus bufo, M. indutus, M. callewaerti, M. triton and M. neavei. These analyses increase the known genetic diversity of Nannomys from 65 to 102 haplotypes; at least 5 unassigned haplotypes are distinguished by potentially species-level cytochrome b genetic distances. The monophyly of Nannomys is supported. Mus musculoides, M. callewaerti, M. indutus, M. bufo, M. haussa, M. mattheyi, M. baoulei and M. sorella are supported as discrete species. The range of M. indutus is extended to include Botswana. M. setulosus and M. minutoides appear to be species complexes. A south and east African M. minutoides clade was defined and includes 8 new haplotypes out of 15. M. setulosus sensu lato includes M. setulosus sensu stricto and a strongly-supported M. bufo clade. Two samples, morphologically identified as M. triton and M. neavei, fall within the M. minutoides clade.
Leszek Duduś, Andrzej Zalewski, Olga Kozioł, Zbigniew Jakubiec, Nina Król, Habitat selection by two predators in an urban area: The stone marten and red fox in Wrocław (SW Poland), Mammalian Biology – Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde, Available online 12 September 2013, ISSN 1616-5047, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mambio.2013.08.001.
We analyzed the habitat use of stone martens and red foxes based on incidental observations within the urbanized zone of Wrocław, SW Poland. We compared proportional habitat use at observation sites with randomly selected points and evaluated differences in distance to the water sources and to urban boundaries. Habitat use by both species was different from what we had expected from random points. Stone martens used high-density housing more frequently than red foxes and that expected from random points and avoided open and industrial areas, whereas red foxes used housing estates significantly more often than expected and avoided high-density housing. Both species used the other habitats according to their availability. Stone martens often selected habitats located closer to the city centre, whereas red foxes often selected habitats closer to urban borders than expected. The distribution of red foxes and stone martens is influenced by several factors including the availability of shelter and food, as well as the opportunity to move around undetected. Interspecific competition may also play an important role in habitat selection. Stone martens seem to be better adapted to urbanized areas than red foxes.
Pricelia N. Tumenta, Maarten van’t Zelfde, Barbara M. Croes, Ralph Buij, Paul J. Funston, Helias A. Udo de Haes, Hans H. De Iongh, Changes in lion (Panthera leo) home range size in Waza National Park, Cameroon, Mammalian Biology – Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde, Available online 12 September 2013, ISSN 1616-5047, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mambio.2013.08.006.
The spatial ecology of Africa lions (Panthera leo) was studied from 2007 to 2009 in Waza National Park, Cameroon, by equipping individual lions with GPS/VHF radio-collars. Mean home range estimates using 100% minimum convex polygons (MCP) and 95% kernel-density estimation (KDE) were respectively 1015 km2 and 641 km2. The lions spent a considerable amount of time out of the park during the study period (21%), resulting in significantly larger wet season home ranges than in the hot dry season when they were largely within the park. Time spent outside of the park coincided with increased livestock predation, especially by males. The seasonal variation observed in home range appeared to be mainly due to prey dispersal, flooding and migrating livestock. Mean home range size was observed to have increased by 58.6% within the last decade. This observed increase in home range could possibly be attributed to recent declines in wild prey abundance and also, may be indicative of a trend of general degradation of the park due to intense human pressure. The change observed in lions’ ranging behaviour was remarkable, with lions crossing the highway parallel to the park to the Cameroon-Nigerian borders. Measures to restore the integrity of the park are urgently needed, which could include the construction of a partial fence along the western boundary of the park to prevent lions moving across the parallel highway.
De Jesús, M., Heckel, G., Breiwick, J. M. and Reilly, S. B. (2013), Migration timing and distance from shore of southbound eastern Pacific gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) off Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. Marine Mammal Science. doi: 10.1111/mms.12071
Eastern Pacific gray whales were monitored off Ensenada, Mexico, during the southbound migration. The objectives were to determine southbound migration timing and width of the migration corridor during three seasons (2003–2006). Migration timing was determined by fitting a generalized additive model to the shore counts for each season and estimating the 10, 50, and 90 percentiles of the fitted curves. To estimate abundance from shore-based counts, a probability density function for the shore based distances was estimated by a product of a gamma distribution fit to the boat survey distance data for 2006/2007 and a half-normal detection function using combined data of the three seasons. The parameters of the gamma distribution were corrected to account for less boat survey effort carried out 20–40 km than 0–20 km from shore. The onset of the migration off Ensenada was in late December/early January and ended around 13 February. The median date was 23–26 January for the first and third season and a week early for the second season. Boat surveys indicated a wide (20 km) migration corridor but most gray whales traveled within 9.9 km from shore. The estimated total number of whales during watch hours was 2,298 (95% CI = 1,536–4,447).
Zaeschmar, J. R., Visser, I. N., Fertl, D., Dwyer, S. L., Meissner, A. M., Halliday, J., Berghan, J., Donnelly, D. and Stockin, K. A. (2013), Occurrence of false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) and their association with common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) off northeastern New Zealand. Marine Mammal Science. doi: 10.1111/mms.12065
On a global scale, false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) remain one of the lesser-known delphinids. The occurrence, site fidelity, association patterns, and presence/absence of foraging in waters off northeastern New Zealand are examined from records collected between 1995 and 2012. The species was rarely encountered; however, of the 61 distinctive, photo-identified individuals, 88.5% were resighted, with resightings up to 7 yr after initial identification, and movements as far as 650 km documented. Group sizes ranged from 20 to ca. 150. Results indicate that all individuals are linked in a single social network. Most observations were recorded in shallow (
Anna M. Hardin, Scott S. Legge
Geographic Variation in Nonmetric Dental Traits of the Deciduous Molars of Pan and Gorilla
International Journal of Primatology September 2013
Physical anthropologists often use nonmetric dental traits to trace the movement of human populations, but similar analysis of the teeth of nonhuman primates or the deciduous teeth is rare. Because nonmetric dental characteristics are manifestations of genetic differences among groups, they vary among geographically distant members of the same species and subspecies. We use 28 nonmetric dental traits in the deciduous molars to compare genetically and geographically distinct groups of extant African apes (Gorilla and Pan). Previous researchers have studied these traits in the adult or juvenile teeth of great apes and humans, and we score our observations according to established standards for hominins. We observe marked differences in trait frequencies between Gorilla and Pan, Pan troglodytes and P. paniscus, and two P. troglodytes subspecies but we find no significant differences between geographically isolated groups within the subspecies. Trait frequencies differ from those found in previous studies that contained fewer individuals. We find that the deciduous molars show similar variation to adult premolars and molars within Pan and Gorilla. This suggests that the deciduous dentition of these and other apes may contain diagnostic traits that are not currently in use.
David A. Ehlers Smith, Yvette C. Ehlers Smith, Susan M. Cheyne
Home-Range Use and Activity Patterns of the Red Langur (Presbytis rubicunda) in Sabangau Tropical Peat-Swamp Forest, Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo
International Journal of Primatology September 2013
Knowledge of a species’ ranging patterns is vital for understanding its behavioral ecology and vulnerability to extinction. Given the abundance and even distribution of leaves in forested habitats, folivorous primates generally spend less time feeding; more time resting; have shorter day ranges; and require smaller home ranges than frugivorous primates. To test the influence of frugivory on ranging behavior, we established the activity budget and home-range size and use in a highly frugivorous population of the Borneo-endemic colobine, Presbytis rubicunda, within Sabangau tropical peat-swamp forest, Central Kalimantan, and examined relationships between fruit availability and ranging patterns. We collected 6848 GPS locations and 10,702 instantaneous focal behavioral scans on a single group between January and December 2011. The group had the largest home-range size recorded in genus Presbytis (kernel density estimates: mean = 108.3 ± SD 3.8 ha, N = 4 bandwidths). The annual activity budget comprised 48 ± SD 4.0% resting; 29.3 ± SD 3.9% feeding, 14.2 ± SD 2.5% traveling, and 0.4 ± SD 0.4% social behaviors. Mean monthly day-range length was the highest recorded for any folivorous primate (1645 ± SD 220.5 m/d). No significant relationships existed between ranging variables and fruit availability, and ranging behaviors did not vary significantly across seasons, potentially owing to low fluctuations in fruit availability. Our results suggest that colobine monkeys maintain larger than average ranges when high-quality food resources are available. Their extensive range requirements imply that protecting large, contiguous tracts of habitat is crucial in future conservation planning for Presbytis rubicunda.
Tarang K. Mehta, Vydianathan Ravi, Shinichi Yamasaki, Alison P. Lee, Michelle M. Lian, Boon-Hui Tay, Sumanty Tohari, Seiji Yanai, Alice Tay, Sydney Brenner, and Byrappa Venkatesh
Evidence for at least six Hox clusters in the Japanese lamprey (Lethenteron japonicum)
PNAS 2013 ; published ahead of print September 16, 2013, doi:10.1073/pnas.1315760110
Cyclostomes, comprising jawless vertebrates such as lampreys and hagfishes, are the sister group of living jawed vertebrates (gnathostomes) and hence an important group for understanding the origin and diversity of vertebrates. In vertebrates and other metazoans, Hox genes determine cell fate along the anteroposterior axis of embryos and are implicated in driving morphological diversity. Invertebrates contain a single Hox cluster (either intact or fragmented), whereas elephant shark, coelacanth, and tetrapods contain four Hox clusters owing to two rounds of whole-genome duplication (“1R” and “2R”) during early vertebrate evolution. By contrast, most teleost fishes contain up to eight Hox clusters because of an additional “teleost-specific” genome duplication event. By sequencing bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clones and the whole genome, here we provide evidence for at least six Hox clusters in the Japanese lamprey (Lethenteron japonicum). This suggests that the lamprey lineage has experienced an additional genome duplication after 1R and 2R. The relative age of lamprey and human paralogs supports this hypothesis. Compared with gnathostome Hox clusters, lamprey Hox clusters are unusually large. Several conserved noncoding elements (CNEs) were predicted in the Hox clusters of lamprey, elephant shark, and human. Transgenic zebrafish assay indicated the potential of CNEs to function as enhancers. Interestingly, CNEs in individual lamprey Hox clusters are frequently conserved in multiple Hox clusters in elephant shark and human, implying a many-to-many orthology relationship between lamprey and gnathostome Hox clusters. Such a relationship suggests that the first two rounds of genome duplication may have occurred independently in the lamprey and gnathostome lineages.
Zootaxa 3710 (5): 415–435 (17 Sept. 2013)
A new species of Lygodactylus (Squamata: Gekkonidae) endemic to Mount Namuli, an isolated ‘sky island’ of northern Mozambique
DANIEL M. PORTIK, SCOTT L. TRAVERS, AARON M. BAUER & WILLIAM R. BRANCH
A new species of high elevation dwarf gecko (Gekkonidae: Lygodactylus) is described from Mount Namuli, northern Mozambique. This new species is distinguished from other closely related species in the genus Lygodactylus by body size, scalation, and color, and is genetically divergent from congeners. The species is most similar genetically and morphologically to Lygodactylus rex, the King Dwarf Gecko, which is endemic to Mount Mulanje, Malawi. Mount Mulanje and Mount Namuli are two of several understudied inselbergs forming the southern limit of the Afromontane archipelago in Malawi and Mozambique. The sister taxon relationship of the dwarf gecko species on Mount Mulanje and Mount Namuli illustrates the historical biogeographic connections between these inselbergs, a pattern which is emerging with continued work in this region. The discovery of this new species adds to a growing list of species unique to Mount Namuli, and further establishes this montane region as a conservation priority.
Zootaxa 3710 (5): 436–448 (17 Sept. 2013)
Two new species of the coffinfish genus Chaunax (Lophiiformes: Chaunacidae) from the Indian Ocean
HSUAN-CHING HO & PETER R. LAST
Two new coffinfishes, Chaunax nebulosus n. sp. and Chaunax africanus n. sp., are described from the Indian Ocean. Both species belong to the C. fimbriatus-species group which is characterised by having filaments on the dorsal head and a complex color pattern on the dorsal surface. They are morphometrically and meristically conservative but differ in coloration. Chaunax nebulosus can be distinguished from its closest relatives by its dense covering of very small, irregular grayish green spots and having 5 small blackish markings on its dorsal surface. Chaunax africanus can be distinguished from other members in having a colour pattern of long narrow brown bars on the dorsal-fin base and head (forming a radiate pattern around the eye), and a complex white reticulate pattern (often double-lined) over the entire dorsal surface. Comments on species occurring in Indian Ocean and the status of members of C. fimbriatus-species group are also provided.
Michael D. Wasserman, Colin A. Chapman, Katharine Milton, Tony L. Goldberg, Toni E. Ziegler
Physiological and Behavioral Effects of Capture Darting on Red Colobus Monkeys (Procolobus rufomitratus) with a Comparison to Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) Predation
International Journal of Primatology September 2013
Understanding how human activities affect wild primates is critical to the design of effective conservation strategies. Despite this need, few studies have examined the physiological and behavioral effects of field research methods in the wild. Here, we examine how the stress response, i.e., fecal cortisol, and behavior of Ugandan red colobus monkeys (Procolobus rufomitratus) in Kibale National Park are affected by chemical immobilization and collaring, i.e., capture. We compare this anthropogenic stressor to a naturally occurring stressor: a chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) predation attack. Two adult males had peak cortisol levels of 283 and 284 ng/g 2–3 d after capture, which were 190% and 182% above their baseline levels, i.e., the first sample taken immediately after capture, but these peak levels did not remain elevated. Using long-term data, i.e., 11 mo of data, we found no difference in fecal cortisol levels between 10 darted and collared individuals and 14 individuals living in the same social group that were not darted or collared. For the chimpanzee attack, peak fecal cortisol levels (147–211% above baseline) were recorded 1–4 d after the attack, but these levels also did not remain elevated for long. These data show that darting and collaring and a chimpanzee predation attempt caused an acute stress response, but neither leads to sustained elevated cortisol levels. Thus, in situations in which research contributes significantly to the conservation of primates and cannot be conducted noninvasively, capture darting appears to be a useful technique with minimal long-term effects as long as injury and mortality are avoided. However, we encourage researchers to make similar physiological and behavioral comparisons in other field studies using similar techniques to provide a better understanding of the effects of research practices on the stress physiology and social behavior of wild primates.
Costa, M., Fernandes, C., Birks, J. D. S., Kitchener, A. C., Santos-Reis, M. and Bruford, M. W. (2013), The genetic legacy of the 19th-century decline of the British polecat: evidence for extensive introgression from feral ferrets. Molecular Ecology. doi: 10.1111/mec.12456
In the 19th century, the British polecat suffered a demographic contraction, as a consequence of direct persecution, reaching its lowest population in the years that preceded the First World War. The polecat is now recovering and expanding throughout Britain, but introgressive hybridization with feral ferrets has been reported, which could be masking the true range of the polecat and introducing domestic genes into the species. We used a fragment of the mitochondrial DNA control region and 11 microsatellite loci to characterize the frequency and extent of hybridization and introgression between the two species and assess whether the 19th-century decline corresponded to a genetic bottleneck in the polecat. The proportion of admixture detected in the wild was high (31%) and hybrids were more frequently found outside Wales, suggesting that hybridization is more likely to occur along the eastern edge of the polecat’s range expansion. The patterns observed in the mitochondrial and nuclear DNA data show that introgression was mediated by crosses between male polecats and female ferrets, whose offspring backcrossed with polecats. No first-generation (F1) hybrids were identified, and the broad range of observed admixture proportions agrees with a scenario of past extensive hybridization between the two species. Using several different methods to investigate demographic history, we did not find consistent evidence for a genetic bottleneck in the British polecat, a result that could be interpreted as a consequence of hybridization with ferrets. Our results highlight the importance of the Welsh polecat population for the conservation and restoration of the genetic identity of the British polecat.
Vales, D. G., Saporiti, F., Cardona, L., De Oliveira, L. R., Dos Santos, R. A., Secchi, E. R., Aguilar, A. and Crespo, E. A. (2013), Intensive fishing has not forced dietary change in the South American fur seal Arctophoca (=Arctocephalus) australis off Río de la Plata and adjoining areas. Aquatic Conserv: Mar. Freshw. Ecosyst.. doi: 10.1002/aqc.2397
South American fur seals (Arctophoca australis) inhabiting the Río de la Plata plume and adjoining areas are known to forage upon a wide range of prey (i.e. pelagic, demersal and benthic species).Since the 1960s, trawlers have operated in the area, targeting primarily demersal and benthic species. Carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios from 54 adult male fur seals dead stranded along the coast of southern Brazil from 1994 to 2011 were analysed to investigate whether the intensification of fishing in Río de la Plata and adjoining areas since the mid-1990s has reduced the availability of benthic and demersal prey to the growing population of South American fur seals.No significant correlation between δ13C or δ15N values and stranding year was found, thus revealing that fur seals maintained a steady diet over 17 years.Reconstruction of the isotopic landscape of the study area using potential prey of fur seals showed a spatial segregation, with prey from southern Brazil typically enriched in 13C and depleted in 15N compared with those from northern Argentina. Most adult male fur seals relied mainly on small pelagic fishes and squid captured on the continental shelf, whereas medium pelagic and demersal–benthic prey played a minor role in the diet.It is concluded that South American fur seals rely on pelagic resources (i.e. small pelagic fish and squid) more strongly than previously thought and that their diet does not reflect the varying abundance of demersal–benthic resources in the area.As long as small pelagic fish remain under-exploited in the area, competition between fisheries and fur seals is not expected. However, it is difficult to foresee how changes in the structure and dynamics of the ecosystem caused by fisheries may affect South American fur seal conservation in the long term.
Wright, H. L., Collar, N. J., Lake, I. R., Norin, N., Vann, R., Ko, S., Phearun, S. and Dolman, P. M. (2013), Experimental test of a conservation intervention for a highly threatened waterbird. The Journal of Wildlife Management. doi: 10.1002/jwmg.605
Human exploitation and disturbance often threaten nesting wildlife. Nest guarding, a technique that employs local people to prevent such interference, is being applied to an increasing number of species and sites, particularly in South-East Asia. Although research has begun to assess the cost-effectiveness of nest guarding, case–control studies are rare and the circumstances in which the schemes are most useful remain unclear. We experimentally tested the effect of nest guarding for the critically endangered white-shouldered ibis (Pseudibis davisoni), a species exploited opportunistically for food and now largely confined to dry forests in Cambodia. We randomly applied guarded and unguarded (control) treatments to 24 and 25 nests, respectively, at a single site over 2 years. Nest guarding had no detectable effect on nest success, with an overall probability of nest success of 0.63–0.86 at guarded and 0.55–0.82 at unguarded nests. Nest monitoring across 4 study sites over 3 breeding seasons found a combination of natural predation, weather, and anthropogenic activities (robbery and vandalism) responsible for nest failure, although causes of failure remained unknown at 58% of nests. Nest guarding itself increased nest destruction at 1 site, indicating that this intervention needs cautious implementation if only a small proportion of the local community gains benefit. Comparison with other studies suggests that nest guarding effectiveness may be context-specific and differ between species that are exploited opportunistically, such as white-shouldered ibis, and those routinely targeted for trade.
Hervé Bocherens, Gennady Baryshnikov, Wim Van Neer, Were bears or lions involved in salmon accumulation in the Middle Palaeolithic of the Caucasus? An isotopic investigation in Kudaro 3 cave, Quaternary International, Available online 25 July 2013, ISSN 1040-6182, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2013.06.026.
Bone fragments of large anadromous salmon in the Middle Palaeolithic archaeological layers of Kudaro 3 cave (Caucasus) suggested fish consumption by archaic Hominins, such as Neandertals. However, large carnivores such as Asiatic cave bears (Ursus kudarensis) and cave lions (Panthera spelaea) were also found in the cave and could have been responsible for such an accumulation. The diet of these carnivores was evaluated using carbon, nitrogen and sulphur isotopes in faunal bone collagen. The results suggest that anadromous fish were neither part of the diet of either cave bear (vegetarian) or cave lion (predators of herbivores from arid areas) and therefore provide indirect support to the idea that Middle Palaeolithic Hominins, probably Neandertals, were able to consume fish when it was available.