ResearchPad - animal-sociality https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Single-cell amplicon sequencing reveals community structures and transmission trends of protist-associated bacteria in a termite host]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14746 The hindgut protists of wood-feeding termites are usually colonized by prokaryotic symbionts. Many of the hurdles that have prevented a better understanding of these symbionts arise from variation among protist and termite host species and the inability to maintain prominent community members in culture. These issues have made it difficult to study the fidelity, acquisition, and differences in colonization of protists by bacterial symbionts. In this study, we use high throughput amplicon sequencing of the V4 region of 16S rRNA genes to determine the composition of bacterial communities associated with single protist cells of six protist species, from the genera Pyrsonympha, Dinenympha, and Trichonympha that are present in the hindgut of the termite Reticulitermes flavipes. By analyzing amplicon sequence variants (ASVs), the diversity and distribution of protist-associated bacteria was compared within and across these six different protist species. ASV analysis showed that, in general, each protist genus associated with a distinct community of bacterial symbionts which were conserved across different termite colonies. However, some ASVs corresponding to ectosymbionts (Spirochaetes) were shared between different Dinenympha species and to a lesser extent with Pyrsonympha and Trichonympha hosts. This suggested that certain bacterial symbionts may be cosmopolitan to some degree and perhaps acquired by horizontal transmission. Using a fluorescence-based cell assay, we could observe the horizontal acquisition of surface-bound bacteria. This acquisition was shown to be time-dependent, involve active processes, and was non-random with respect to binding locations on some protists.

]]>
<![CDATA[Design of composite measure schemes for comparative severity assessment in animal-based neuroscience research: A case study focussed on rat epilepsy models]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14687 Comparative severity assessment of animal models and experimental interventions is of utmost relevance for harm-benefit analysis during ethical evaluation, an animal welfare-based model prioritization as well as the validation of refinement measures. Unfortunately, there is a lack of evidence-based approaches to grade an animal’s burden in a sensitive, robust, precise, and objective manner. Particular challenges need to be considered in the context of animal-based neuroscientific research because models of neurological disorders can be characterized by relevant changes in the affective state of an animal. Here, we report about an approach for parameter selection and development of a composite measure scheme designed for precise analysis of the distress of animals in a specific model category. Data sets from the analysis of several behavioral and biochemical parameters in three different epilepsy models were subjected to a principal component analysis to select the most informative parameters. The top-ranking parameters included burrowing, open field locomotion, social interaction, and saccharin preference. These were combined to create a composite measure scheme (CMS). CMS data were subjected to cluster analysis enabling the allocation of severity levels to individual animals. The results provided information for a direct comparison between models indicating a comparable severity of the electrical and chemical post-status epilepticus models, and a lower severity of the kindling model. The new CMS can be directly applied for comparison of other rat models with seizure activity or for assessment of novel refinement approaches in the respective research field. The respective online tool for direct application of the CMS or for creating a new CMS based on other parameters from different models is available at https://github.com/mytalbot/cms. However, the robustness and generalizability needs to be further assessed in future studies. More importantly, our concept of parameter selection can serve as a practice example providing the basis for comparable approaches applicable to the development and validation of CMS for all kinds of disease models or interventions.

]]>
<![CDATA[Social approach and place aversion in relation to conspecific pain in dairy calves]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14573 Despite scientific interest in animal empathy, and growing public concern for farm animal welfare, the empathic abilities of farm animals remain under researched. In this study, we investigated empathic responses of young Holstein dairy calves to conspecifics recovering from hot-iron disbudding, a painful procedure common on dairy farms. A combination of social approach and place conditioning was used. First, ‘observer’ calves witnessed two ‘demonstrator’ calves recover from either a painful procedure (hot-iron disbudding and sedation) or a sham procedure (sedation alone) in distinct pens. Observer calves spent more time in proximity and paid more attention to calves recovering from the painful procedure compared to sham calves (proximity: 59.6 ± 4.3%; attention: 54.3 ± 1.5%). Observers were then tested for conditioned place aversion (in the absence of demonstrators) at 48h, 72h and 96h after the second demonstration; observers tended to avoid the pen associated with conspecific pain during the second of the three tests, spending 34.8 ± 9.6% of their time in this pen. No strong evidence of pain empathy was found, but our tentative results encourage further research on empathy in animals.

]]>
<![CDATA[Effects of sea-level rise on physiological ecology of populations of a ground-dwelling ant]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N7f89605c-5421-4b76-a019-ba0e7ddd5b34

Introduction

Sea-level rise is a consequence of climate change that can impact the ecological and physiological changes of coastal, ground-dwelling species. Sea-level rise has a potential to inundate birds, rodents, spiders, and insects that live on the ground in coastal areas. Yet, there is still much to be learned concerning the specifics of these impacts. The red imported fire ant Solenopsis invicta (Buren) excavates soil for its home and is capable of surviving flooding. Because of their ground-dwelling life history and rapid reproduction, fire ants make an ideal model for discovery and prediction of changes that may be due to sea-level rise. There are up to 500,000 individuals in a colony, and these invasive ants naturally have a painful sting. However, observations suggest that colonies of fire ants that dwell in tidally-influenced areas are more aggressive with more frequent stings and more venom injected per sting (behavioral and physiological changes) than those located inland. This may be an adaption to sea-level rise. Therefore, the objective of this study is to elucidate differences in inland and coastal defensiveness via micro-dissection and comparison of head width, head length, stinger length, and venom sac volume. But first because fire ants’ ability to raft on brackish tidal water is unknown, it had to be determined if fire ants could indeed raft in brackish water and examine the behavior differences between those flooded with freshwater vs. saltwater.

Methods

To test the coastal-aggression hypothesis, inland colonies and coastal colonies, which experience relatively greater amounts of flooding, specifically regular tidal and windblown water and oscillations (i.e. El Nińo Southern Oscillation) from the Gulf of Mexico, were collected. To mimic sea-level rise, the colonies were flooded in salinities that correspond to both their collection site and conditions found in a variety of locales and situations (such as storm surge from a tropical storm). Individual ants were immediately taken from each colony for dissection before flooding, 1-hour into flooding, and 24-hours into flooding.

Results and discussion

Fire ants use their venom to defend themselves and to communicate alarm or aggression. Dissections and measurement of heads, venom sacs, and stingers revealed both coastal and inland colonies experience an increase in venom sac volume after 24 hours; in fact coastal colonies increased their venom volume by 75% after 24 h of flooding Whether this venom sac enlargement is due to diffusion of water or venom sac production is unknown. These ground-dwelling ants exhibit physiological and behavioral adaptations to ongoing sea-level rise possibly indicating that they are responding to increased flooding. Fire ants will raft on high-salinity water; and sea-level rise may cause stings by flooded ants to be more severe because of increased venom volume.

]]>
<![CDATA[Social isolation produces no effect on ultrasonic vocalization production in adult female CBA/CaJ mice]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8823d4d5eed0c4846390e2

Mice produce ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) in a wide variety of social contexts, including courtship, investigation, and territorial defense. Despite the belief that mouse USVs are innate, social experience may be necessary for mice to learn the appropriate situation to emit USVs. Mouse USVs have been divided into categories based on their spectrotemporal parameters, but it is currently unclear if social experience changes these parameters (e.g., frequency and duration) or the proportion of calls from each category produced. Social isolation has been found to influence USV production in male mice. To investigate the influence of social isolation on vocal behavior in female mice, recordings were made of USVs emitted to unfamiliar male and female mice by subjects with one of three types of social experience. Twenty-four adult female CBA/CaJ mice either lived alone, lived with other females only, or lived with other females and had limited access to a male. Mice were recorded while in isolation, ensuring all recorded USVs were from the female of interest. Vocalizations were separated into nine categories and peak frequency, duration, and bandwidth were measured for every call. Socially isolated mice did not produce significantly more USVs or USV types than socially experienced mice. Social isolation did not have a significant effect on the features of USVs, suggesting production of USVs may not be learned in female mice.

]]>
<![CDATA[Faithfulness-boost effect: Loyal teammate selection correlates with skill acquisition improvement in online games]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8823a7d5eed0c484638d67

The problem of skill acquisition is ubiquitous and fundamental to life. Most tasks in modern society involve the cooperation with other subjects. Notwithstanding its fundamental importance, teammate selection is commonly overlooked when studying learning. We exploit the virtually infinite repository of human behavior available in Internet to study a relevant topic in anthropological science: how grouping strategies may affect learning. We analyze the impact of team play strategies in skill acquisition using a turn-based game where players can participate individually or in teams. We unveil a subtle but strong effect in skill acquisition based on the way teams are formed and maintained during time. “Faithfulness-boost effect” provides a skill boost during the first games that would only be acquired after thousands of games. The tendency to play games in teams is associated with a long-run skill improvement while playing loyally with the same teammate significantly accelerates short-run skill acquisition.

]]>
<![CDATA[Determinants of the little auk (Alle alle) breeding colony location and size in W and NW coast of Spitsbergen]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c89770ad5eed0c4847d2301

Many seabirds breed in large aggregations, making it difficult to estimate their population size and habitat preferences. This knowledge is particularly important considering their function in food webs and ecosystem services. In this study, we investigated the factors affecting distribution and abundance of the little auk Alle alle, a seabird considered a keystone species of the Arctic ecosystem. We performed the study on the W and the NW coast of Spitsbergen. Using Generalized Additive Models (GAMs) and Conditional Inference Tree (CIT) we examined factors related to presence/absence and size (estimated number of breeding pairs) of the little auk colonies. We also tested the nesting preferences for geographical features such as aspect, slope angle, altitude, solar radiation, rock type, and distance to foraging grounds. Our findings indicate that the occurrence of little auk breeding colonies is non-random and highly attributed to environmental factors. The probability of colony occurrence was significantly associated with altitude (negative relationship; preference to sites situated lower), solar radiation (positive relationship; the higher radiation, the more likely colony occurrence) and slope (positive relationship; the steeper a slope, the more likely colony occurrence), whilst aspect appeared non-significant (though the probability of colony occurrence peaked at southern slopes). Colony size was significantly associated with rock type (larger colonies in amphibolite and quartzite). The distance to foraging grounds did not appear to affect the probability of colony occurrence and size, implying that birds may choose optimal breeding sites at the cost of longer foraging flights. We estimated the Spitsbergen little auk breeding population at 728 529 (5–95% CI: 479 312–986 352). Spitsbergen comprises ca 1.9% (95% CI: 1.2%–2.7%) of the world breeding population and represents the third most important breeding area for the species, following the W and the E coast of Greenland.

]]>
<![CDATA[Long live the queen, the king and the commoner? Transcript expression differences between old and young in the termite Cryptotermes secundus]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6dc99ad5eed0c484529eb1

Social insects provide promising new avenues for aging research. Within a colony, individuals that share the same genetic background can differ in lifespan by up to two orders of magnitude. Reproducing queens (and in termites also kings) can live for more than 20 years, extraordinary lifespans for insects. We studied aging in a termite species, Cryptotermes secundus, which lives in less socially complex societies with a few hundred colony members. Reproductives develop from workers which are totipotent immatures. Comparing transcriptomes of young and old individuals, we found evidence for aging in reproductives that was especially associated with DNA and protein damage and the activity of transposable elements. By contrast, workers seemed to be better protected against aging. Thus our results differed from those obtained for social insects that live in more complex societies. Yet, they are in agreement with lifespan estimates for the study species. Our data are also in line with expectations from evolutionary theory. For individuals that are able to reproduce, it predicts that aging should only start after reaching maturity. As C. secundus workers are immatures with full reproductive options we expect them to invest into anti-aging processes. Our study illustrates that the degree of aging can differ between social insects and that it may be associated with caste-specific opportunities for reproduction.

]]>
<![CDATA[Kami-shoyo-san improves ASD-like behaviors caused by decreasing allopregnanolone biosynthesis in an SKF mouse model of autism]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5ca2dcd5eed0c48441ebe8

Dysfunctions in the GABAergic system are associated with the pathogenesis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, the mechanisms by which GABAergic system dysfunctions induce the pathophysiology of ASD remain unclear. We previously demonstrated that a selective type I 5α-reductase inhibitor SKF105111 (SKF) induced ASD-like behaviors, such as impaired sociability-related performance and repetitive grooming behaviors, in male mice. Moreover, the effects of SKF were caused by a decrease in the endogenous levels of allopregnanolone (ALLO), a positive allosteric modulator of the GABAA receptor. In this study, we used SKF-treated male mice as a putative animal model of ASD and examined the effects of Kami-shoyo-san (KSS) as an experimental therapeutic strategy for ASD. KSS is a traditional Kampo formula consisting of 10 different crude drugs and has been used for the treatment of neuropsychiatric symptoms. KSS dose-dependently attenuated sociability deficits and suppressed an increase in grooming behaviors in SKF-treated mice without affecting ALLO content in the prefrontal cortex. The systemic administration of the dopamine D1 receptor antagonist SCH23390 reversed the ameliorative effects of KSS. On the other hand, the dopamine D2 receptor antagonist sulpiride and GABAA receptor antagonist bicuculline only attenuated the ameliorative effect of KSS on repetitive self-grooming behaviors. The present results indicate that KSS improves SKF-induced ASD-like behaviors by facilitating dopamine receptor-mediated mechanisms and partly by neurosteroid-independent GABAA receptor-mediated neurotransmission. Therefore, KSS is a potential candidate for the treatment of ASD.

]]>
<![CDATA[Self-organization and time-stability of social hierarchies]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c59fed3d5eed0c48413563c

The formation and stability of social hierarchies is a question of general relevance. Here, we propose a simple generalized theoretical model for establishing social hierarchy via pair-wise interactions between individuals and investigate its stability. In each interaction or fight, the probability of “winning” depends solely on the relative societal status of the participants, and the winner has a gain of status whereas there is an equal loss to the loser. The interactions are characterized by two parameters. The first parameter represents how much can be lost, and the second parameter represents the degree to which even a small difference of status can guarantee a win for the higher-status individual. Depending on the parameters, the resulting status distributions reach either a continuous unimodal form or lead to a totalitarian end state with one high-status individual and all other individuals having status approaching zero. However, we find that in the latter case long-lived intermediary distributions often exist, which can give the illusion of a stable society. As we show, our model allows us to make predictions consistent with animal interaction data and their evolution over a number of years. Moreover, by implementing a simple, but realistic rule that restricts interactions to sufficiently similar-status individuals, the stable or long-lived distributions acquire high-status structure corresponding to a distinct high-status class. Using household income as a proxy for societal status in human societies, we find agreement over their entire range from the low-to-middle-status parts to the characteristic high-status “tail”. We discuss how the model provides a conceptual framework for understanding the origin of social hierarchy and the factors which lead to the preservation or deterioration of the societal structure.

]]>
<![CDATA[Population genetic structure of the Mediterranean horseshoe bat Rhinolophus euryale in the central Balkans]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5b52f5d5eed0c4842bd32f

Migratory behaviour, sociality and roost selection have a great impact on the population structure of one species. Many bat species live in groups, and movements between summer and hibernation sites are common in temperate bats. The Mediterranean horseshoe bat Rhinolophus euryale is a cave-dwelling species that exhibits roost philopatry and undertakes seasonal movements which are usually shorter than 50 km. Its distribution in Serbia is restricted to karstic areas in western and eastern parts of the country, with a lack of known roosts between them. In this study, microsatellite markers were used to evaluate genetic variation in this species in the Central Balkans. Specifically, spatial genetic structuring between geographic regions and relatedness within different colony types were assessed. All analysed loci were polymorphic, and there was no significant inbreeding coefficient recorded. A moderate degree of genetic differentiation among the sampled colonies was found, and significant isolation by distance was recorded. Our results revealed that populations show a tendency to segregate into three clusters. Unexpectedly, populations from Montenegro and Eastern Serbia tended to group into one cluster, while populations from Western Serbia and Slovenia represented second and third cluster, respectively. The majority of variance was partitioned within colonies, and only a small but significant portion among clusters. Average relatedness within colony members was close to zero, did not differ significantly between the different colony types, and kinship is unlikely to be a major grouping mechanism in this species.

]]>
<![CDATA[Behavior and exocrine glands in the myrmecophilous beetle Dinarda dentata (Gravenhorst, 1806) (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae: Aleocharinae)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c4243a0d5eed0c4845e08c0

The nests of advanced eusocial ant species can be considered ecological islands with a diversity of ecological niches inhabited by not only the ants and their brood, but also a multitude of other organisms adapted to particular niches. In the current paper, we describe the myrmecophilous behavior and the exocrine glands that enable the staphylinid beetle Dinarda dentata to live closely with its host ants Formica sanguinea. We confirm previous anecdotal descriptions of the beetle’s ability to snatch regurgitated food from ants that arrive with a full crop in the peripheral nest chambers, and describe how the beetle is able to appease its host ants and dull initial aggression in the ants.

]]>
<![CDATA[Fine-tuned intruder discrimination favors ant parasitoidism]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c605a26d5eed0c4847cca81

A diversity of arthropods (myrmecophiles) thrives within ant nests, many of them unmolested though some, such as the specialized Eucharitidae parasitoids, may cause direct damage to their hosts. Ants are known to discriminate between nestmates and non-nestmates, but whether they recognize the strength of a threat and their capacity to adjust their behavior accordingly have not been fully explored. We aimed to determine whether Ectatomma tuberculatum ants exhibited specific behavioral responses to potential or actual intruders posing different threats to the host colony and to contribute to an understanding of complex ant-eucharitid interactions. Behavioral responses differed significantly according to intruder type. Ants evicted intruders that represented a threat to the colony’s health (dead ants) or were not suitable as prey items (filter paper, eucharitid parasitoid wasps, non myrmecophilous adult weevils), but killed potential prey (weevil larvae, termites). The timing of detection was in accordance with the nature and size of the intruder: corpses (a potential source of contamination) were detected faster than any other intruder and transported to the refuse piles within 15 min. The structure and complexity of behavioral sequences differed among those intruders that were discarded. Workers not only recognized and discriminated between several distinct intruders but also adjusted their behavior to the type of intruder encountered. Our results confirm the previously documented recognition capabilities of E. tuberculatum workers and reveal a very fine-tuned intruder discrimination response. Colony-level prophylactic and hygienic behavioral responses through effective removal of inedible intruders appears to be the most general and flexible form of defense in ants against a diverse array of intruders. However, this generalized response to both potentially lethal and harmless intruders might have driven the evolution of ant-eucharitid interactions, opening a window for parasitoid attack and allowing adult parasitoid wasps to quickly leave the natal nest unharmed.

]]>
<![CDATA[Movement and conformity interact to establish local behavioural traditions in animal populations]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c254510d5eed0c48442bde0

The social transmission of information is critical to the emergence of animal culture. Two processes are predicted to play key roles in how socially-transmitted information spreads in animal populations: the movement of individuals across the landscape and conformist social learning. We develop a model that, for the first time, explicitly integrates these processes to investigate their impacts on the spread of behavioural preferences. Our results reveal a strong interplay between movement and conformity in determining whether locally-variable traditions establish across a landscape or whether a single preference dominates the whole population. The model is able to replicate a real-world cultural diffusion experiment in great tits Parus major, but also allows for a range of predictions for the emergence of animal culture under various initial conditions, habitat structure and strength of conformist bias to be made. Integrating social behaviour with ecological variation will be important for understanding the stability and diversity of culture in animals.

]]>
<![CDATA[Seabird and pinniped shape soil bacterial communities of their settlements in Cape Shirreff, Antarctica]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3fa5b3d5eed0c484ca7847

Seabirds and pinnipeds play an important role in biogeochemical cycling by transferring nutrients from aquatic to terrestrial environments. Indeed, soils rich in animal depositions have generally high organic carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus contents. Several studies have assessed bacterial diversity in Antarctic soils influenced by marine animals; however most have been conducted in areas with significant human impact. Thus, we chose Cape Shirreff, Livingston Island, an Antarctic Specially Protected Area designated mainly to protect the diversity of marine vertebrate fauna, and selected sampling sites with different types of animals coexisting in a relatively small space, and where human presence and impact are negligible. Using 16S rRNA gene analyses through massive sequencing, we assessed the influence of animal concentrations, via their modification of edaphic characteristics, on soil bacterial diversity and composition. The nutrient composition of soils impacted by Antarctic fur seals and kelp gulls was more similar to that of control soils (i.e. soils without visible presence of plants or animals), which may be due to the more active behaviour of these marine animals compared to other species. Conversely, the soils from concentrations of southern elephant seals and penguins showed greater differences in soil nutrients compared to the control. In agreement with this, the bacterial communities of the soils associated with these animals were most different from those of the control soils, with the soils of penguin colonies also possessing the lowest bacterial diversity. However, all the soils influenced by the presence of marine animals were dominated by bacteria belonging to Gammaproteobacteria, particularly those of the genus Rhodanobacter. Therefore, we conclude that the modification of soil nutrient composition by marine vertebrates promotes specific groups of bacteria, which could play an important role in the recycling of nutrients in terrestrial Antarctic ecosystems.

]]>
<![CDATA[Social responses of travelling finless porpoises to boat traffic risk in Misumi West Port, Ariake Sound, Japan]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3667b2d5eed0c4841a60e7

Anthropogenic effects have created various risks for wild animals. Boat traffic is one of the most fatal risks for marine mammals. Individual behavioral responses of cetaceans, including diving behavior such as changing swimming direction and lengthing inter-breath interval, to passing boats is relatively well known; however, the social function of cetacean responses to boat traffic in a natural setting remains poorly understood. We focused on describing the behavioral responses of single and aggregated finless porpoises to boats passing at Misumi West Port, Ariake Sound, Japan, by using a drone characterized with a high-precision bird’s-eye angle. During the study period, we collected 25 episodes of finless porpoise responses to boats passing by. A mean (± SEM) of 5.1 ± 1.0 individuals were observed for each episode. The primary response to passing boats was avoidance by dive, which implies boat traffic is a substantial disturbance to finless porpoises that travel along the seawater surface daily. The diving duration decreased significantly with an increase in the number of aggregated individuals. The diving and floating reaction times were 10.9 ± 2.3 s and 18.7 ± 5.0 s, respectively. There was no significant difference between the reaction times indicating that each individual was motivated to keep the group cohesion consistent when floating even after the risk had dissolved, which is comparable to the behavior of porpoises that dive when riskier conditions are present, such as when a boat approaches an aggregation. Our findings provide new insights on the sociality of finless porpoises even though there were limitations, like an inability to identify a specific individual. The drone enabled us to observe the social behavior of finless porpoises and other cetaceans at an unprecedented resolution, which may lead to a better understanding of the evolutionary diversity of intelligence and sociality and the bridge to human evolution.

]]>
<![CDATA[Regulation of harvester ant foraging as a closed-loop excitable system]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c102880d5eed0c484247563

Ant colonies regulate activity in response to changing conditions without using centralized control. Desert harvester ant colonies forage for seeds, and regulate foraging to manage a tradeoff between spending and obtaining water. Foragers lose water while outside in the dry air, but ants obtain water by metabolizing the fats in the seeds they eat. Previous work shows that the rate at which an outgoing forager leaves the nest depends on its recent rate of brief antennal contacts with incoming foragers carrying food. We examine how this process can yield foraging rates that are robust to uncertainty and responsive to temperature and humidity across minute-to-hour timescales. To explore possible mechanisms, we develop a low-dimensional analytical model with a small number of parameters that captures observed foraging behavior. The model uses excitability dynamics to represent response to interactions inside the nest and a random delay distribution to represent foraging time outside the nest. We show how feedback from outgoing foragers returning to the nest stabilizes the incoming and outgoing foraging rates to a common value determined by the volatility of available foragers. The model exhibits a critical volatility above which there is sustained foraging at a constant rate and below which foraging stops. To explain how foraging rates adjust to temperature and humidity, we propose that foragers modify their volatility after they leave the nest and become exposed to the environment. Our study highlights the importance of feedback in the regulation of foraging activity and shows how modulation of volatility can explain how foraging activity responds to conditions and varies across colonies. Our model elucidates the role of feedback across many timescales in collective behavior, and may be generalized to other systems driven by excitable dynamics, such as neuronal networks.

]]>
<![CDATA[Inferring symmetric and asymmetric interactions between animals and groups from positional data]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c1ab817d5eed0c484026a4c

Interactions between domestic and wild species has become a global problem of growing interest. Global Position Systems (GPS) allow collection of vast records of time series of animal spatial movement, but there is need for developing analytical methods to efficiently use this information to unravel species interactions. This study assesses different methods to infer interactions and their symmetry between individual animals, social groups or species. We used two data sets, (i) a simulated one of the movement of two grazing species under different interaction scenarios by-species and by-individual, and (ii) a real time series of GPS data on the movements of sheep and deer grazing a large moorland plot. Different time series transformations were applied to capture the behaviour of the data (convex hull area, kth nearest neighbour distance, distance to centre of mass, Voronoi tessellation area, distance to past position) to assess their efficiency in inferring the interactions using different techniques (cross correlation, Granger causality, network properties). The results indicate that the methods are more efficient assessing by-group interaction than by-individual interaction, and different transformations produce different outputs of the nature of the interaction. Both species maintained a consistent by-species grouping structure. The results do not provide clear evidence of inter-species interaction based on the traditional framework of niche partitioning in the guild of large herbivores. In view of the transformation-dependent results, it seems that in our experimental framework both species co-exist showing complex interactions. We provide guidelines for the use of the different transformations with respect to study aims and data quality. The study attempts to provide behavioural ecologists with tools to infer animal interactions and their symmetry based on positional data recorded by visual observation, conventional telemetry or GPS technology.

]]>
<![CDATA[Chimpanzees’ understanding of social leverage]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c1ab863d5eed0c484027d7d

Social primates can influence others through the control of resources. For instance, dominant male chimpanzees might allow subordinates access to mate with females in exchange for social support. However, little is known about how chimpanzees strategically use a position of leverage to maximize their own benefits. We address this question by presenting dyads of captive chimpanzee (N = 6) with a task resulting in an unequal reward distribution. To gain the higher reward each individual should wait for their partner to act. In addition, one participant had leverage: access to an alternative secure reward. By varying the presence and value of the leverage we tested whether individuals used it strategically (e.g. by waiting longer for partners to act when they had leverage in the form of alternatives). Additionally, non-social controls served to show if chimpanzees understood the social dilemma. We measured the likelihood to choose the leverage and their latencies to act. The final decision made by the chimpanzees did not differ as a function of condition (test versus non-social control) or the value of the leverage, but they did wait longer to act when the leverage was smaller—particularly in test (versus non-social control) trials suggesting that they understood the conflict of interest involved. The chimpanzees thus recognized the existence of social leverage, but did not use it strategically to maximize their rewards.

]]>
<![CDATA[Parasitism, sexual dimorphism and effect of host size on Apocephalus attophilus offspring, a parasitoid of the leaf-cutting ant Atta bisphaerica]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c0ed787d5eed0c484f1432c

Atta bisphaerica (Forel) is a leaf-cutting ant that specializes on grass and causes productivity losses in sugar cane fields and pastures. Three phorid species, Apocephalus attophilus (Borgmeier), Myrmosicarius grandicornis (Borgmeier) and Eibesfeldtphora bragancai (Brown), have been found parasitizing A. bisphaerica workers. These parasitoids can reduce plant material transported into the nests and ant traffic on the trails. Therefore, phorid flies have been considered potential biological control agents for leaf-cutting ants. Here, we evaluated which parasitoid species attack the leaf-cutting ant A. bisphaerica in pasture areas of a Brazilian Savannah-Atlantic Forest ecotone, parasitism rate, effect of host size, sexual dimorphism and sex ratio of the emerged parasitoids. Four nests of A. bisphaerica were selected in pasture areas from August 2016 to August 2017, with 400 workers collected from each colony monthly. A total of 23,714 A. bisphaerica workers were collected during the study, of which 236 (0.99%) were parasitized by phorid parasitoids. Apocephalus attophilus, E. bragancai and M. grandicornis parasitized 217, 17 and 2 ants, respectively. The higher parasitism rate was found in the hottest/rainy season of the year. Non-parasitized ants survived longer than those parasitized by A. attophilus. The larval and pupal periods of this parasitoid were 2.2 ± 0.8 and 16 ± 1.4 days, respectively, and the number of pupae per parasitized ant ranged from 1 to 7. The number of A. attophilus pupae per host increased with the host head size. Likewise, the size of the adult parasitoids also increased according to the host ant. Apocephalus attophilus females were larger than males and the sex ratio (male: female) did not differ from 1: 1. Our results showed that A. attophilus would be a potential biocontrol agent of leaf-cutting ants because it produces multiple larvae per host, allowing a great production of parasitoids with short developmental time and kills the host ant faster than other phorids.

]]>