ResearchPad - ecological-niches https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Wing morphology predicts individual niche specialization in <i>Pteronotus mesoamericanus</i> (Mammalia: Chiroptera)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7639 Morphological variation between individuals can increase niche segregation and decrease intraspecific competition when heterogeneous individuals explore their environment in different ways. Among bat species, wing shape correlates with flight maneuverability and habitat use, with species that possess broader wings typically foraging in more cluttered habitats. However, few studies have investigated the role of morphological variation in bats for niche partitioning at the individual level. To determine the relationship between wing shape and diet, we studied a population of the insectivorous bat species Pteronotus mesoamericanus in the dry forest of Costa Rica. Individual diet was resolved using DNA metabarcoding, and bat wing shape was assessed using geometric morphometric analysis. Inter-individual variation in wing shape showed a significant relationship with both dietary dissimilarity based on Bray-Curtis estimates, and nestedness derived from an ecological network. Individual bats with broader and more rounded wings were found to feed on a greater diversity of arthropods (less nested) in comparison to individuals with triangular and pointed wings (more nested). We conclude that individual variation in bat wing morphology can impact foraging efficiency leading to the observed overall patterns of diet specialization and differentiation within the population.

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<![CDATA[Potential risk of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans in Mexico]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6c759ad5eed0c4843cff09

The recent decline in populations of European salamanders caused by the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) has generated worldwide concern, as it is a major threat to amphibians. Evaluation of the areas most suitable for the establishment of Bsal combined with analysis of the distribution of salamander species could be used to generate and implement biosecurity measures and protect biodiversity at sites with high salamander diversity. In this study, we identified the areas most suitable for the establishment of Bsal in Mexico. Mexico has the second-highest salamander species diversity in the world; thus, we identified areas moderately to highly suitable for the establishment of Bsal with high salamander diversity as potential hotspots for surveillance. Central and Southern Mexico were identified as high-risk zones, with 13 hotspots where 30% of Mexican salamander species occur, including range-restricted species and endangered species. We propose that these hotspots should be thoroughly monitored for the presence of Bsal to prevent the spread of the pathogen if it is introduced to the country.

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<![CDATA[Ecological niche modeling the potential geographic distribution of four Culicoides species of veterinary significance in Florida, USA]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c7067aad5eed0c4847c7470

Epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) is a viral arthropod-borne disease affecting wild and domestic ruminants, caused by infection with epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV). EHDV is transmitted to vertebrate animal hosts by biting midges in the genus Culicoides Latreille (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae). Culicoides sonorensis Wirth and Jones is the only confirmed vector of EHDV in the United States but is considered rare in Florida and not sufficiently abundant to support EHDV transmission. This study used ecological niche modeling to map the potential geographical distributions and associated ecological variable space of four Culicoides species suspected of transmitting EHDV in Florida, including Culicoides insignis Lutz, Culicoides stellifer (Coquillett), Culicoides debilipalpis Hoffman and Culicoides venustus Lutz. Models were developed with the Genetic Algorithm for Rule Set Production in DesktopGARP v1.1.3 using species occurrence data from field sampling along with environmental variables from WorldClim and Trypanosomiasis and Land use in Africa. For three Culicoides species (C. insignis, C. stellifer and C. debilipalpis) 96–98% of the presence points were predicted across the Florida landscape (63.8% - 72.5%). For C. venustus, models predicted 98.00% of presence points across 27.4% of Florida. Geographic variations were detected between species. Culicoides insignis was predicted to be restricted to peninsular Florida, and in contrast, C. venustus was predicted to be primarily in north Florida and the panhandle region. Culicoides stellifer and C. debilipalpis were predicted nearly statewide. Environmental conditions also differed by species, with some species’ ranges predicted by more narrow ranges of variables than others. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) was a major predictor of C. venustus and C. insignis presence. For C. stellifer, Land Surface Temperature, Middle Infrared were the most limiting predictors of presence. The limiting variables for C. debilipalpis were NDVI Bi-Annual Amplitude and NDVI Annual Amplitude at 22.5% and 28.1%, respectively. The model outputs, including maps and environmental variable range predictions generated from these experiments provide an important first pass at predicting species of veterinary importance in Florida. Because EHDV cannot exist in the environment without the vector, model outputs can be used to estimate the potential risk of disease for animal hosts across Florida. Results also provide distribution and habitat information useful for integrated pest management practices.

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<![CDATA[Generalizing clusters of similar species as a signature of coexistence under competition]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c50c454d5eed0c4845e8551

Patterns of trait distribution among competing species can potentially reveal the processes that allow them to coexist. It has been recently proposed that competition may drive the spontaneous emergence of niches comprising clusters of similar species, in contrast with the dominant paradigm of greater-than-chance species differences. However, current clustering theory relies largely on heuristic rather than mechanistic models. Furthermore, studies of models incorporating demographic stochasticity and immigration, two key players in community assembly, did not observe clusters. Here we demonstrate clustering under partitioning of resources, partitioning of environmental gradients, and a competition-colonization tradeoff. We show that clusters are robust to demographic stochasticity, and can persist under immigration. While immigration may sustain clusters that are otherwise transient, too much dilutes the pattern. In order to detect and quantify clusters in nature, we introduce and validate metrics which have no free parameters nor require arbitrary trait binning, and weigh species by their abundances rather than relying on a presence-absence count. By generalizing beyond the circumstances where clusters have been observed, our study contributes to establishing them as an update to classical trait patterning theory.

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<![CDATA[Initiation of feeding by four sympatric Neotropical primates (Ateles belzebuth, Lagothrix lagotricha poeppigii, Plecturocebus (Callicebus) discolor, and Pithecia aequatorialis) in Amazonian Ecuador: Relationships to photic and ecological factors]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c52187ed5eed0c484798996

We examined photic and ecological factors related to initiation of feeding by four sympatric primates in the rain forest of Amazonian Ecuador. With rare exceptions, morning activities of all taxa began only after the onset of nautical twilight, which occurred 47–48 min before sunrise. The larger spider and woolly monkeys, Ateles belzebuth and Lagothrix lagotricha poeppigii, left their sleeping trees before sunrise about half the time, while the smaller sakis and titi monkeys, Pithecia aequatorialis and Plecturocebus (formerly Callicebus) discolor, did not emerge until sunrise or later. None of the four taxa routinely began feeding before sunrise. Pithecia began feeding a median 2.17 h after sunrise, at least 0.8 h later than the median feeding times of the other three taxa. The early movement of Ateles and Lagothrix, and late initiation of feeding by Pithecia are consistent with temporal niche partitioning. Among most New World primate species, all males and many females, have dichromatic color vision, with only two cone photopigments, while some females are trichromats with three cone photopigments. Current evidence indicates that the dichromats have a foraging advantage in dim light, which could facilitate utilization of twilight periods and contribute to temporal niche partitioning. However, in our study, dichromatic males did not differentially exploit the dim light of twilight, and times of first feeding bouts of female Ateles and Lagothrix were similar to those of males. First feeding bouts followed a seasonal pattern, occurring latest in May-August, when ripe fruit abundance and ambient temperature were both relatively low. The most frugivorous taxon, Ateles, exhibited the greatest seasonality, initiating feeding 1.4 h later in May-August than in January-April. This pattern may imply a strategy of conserving energy when ripe fruit is scarcer, but starting earlier to compete successfully when fruit is more abundant. Lower temperatures were associated with later feeding of Ateles (by 26 min / °C) and perhaps Pithecia, but not Lagothrix or Plecturocebus. The potential for modification of temporal activity patterns and temporal niche partitioning by relatively small changes in temperature should be considered when predicting the effects of climate change.

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<![CDATA[Bioclimatic modeling in the Last Glacial Maximum, Mid-Holocene and facing future climatic changes in the strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo L.)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3fa5a4d5eed0c484ca6c98

Increasing forest wildfires in Portugal remain a growing concern since forests in the Mediterranean region are vulnerable to recent global warming and reduction of precipitation. Therefore, a long-term negative effect is expected on the vegetation, with increasing drought and areas burnt by fires. The strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo L.) is particularly used in Portugal to produce a spirit by processing its fruits and is the main income for forestry owners. Other applications are possible due to the fruit and leaves’ anti-oxidant properties and bioactive compounds production, with a potential for clinical and food uses. It is a sclerophyllous plant, dry-adapted and fire resistant, enduring the Mediterranean climate, and recently considered as a possibility for afforestation, to intensify forest discontinuity where pines and eucalypts monoculture dominate the region. To improve our knowledge about the species’ spatial distribution we used 318 plots (the centroid of a 1 km2 square grid) measuring the species presence and nine environmental attributes. The seven bioclimatic variables most impacting on the species distribution and two topographic features, slope and altitude, were used. The past, current and future climate data were obtained through WorldClim. Finally, the vulnerability of the strawberry tree to the effects of global climate change was examined in the face of two emission scenarios (RCP 4.5 and 8.5), to predict distribution changes in the years 2050 and 2070, using a species distribution models (MaxEnt). The reduction of suitable habitat for this species is significant in the southern regions, considering the future scenarios of global warming. Central and northern mountainous regions are putative predicted refuges for this species. Forest policy and management should reflect the impact of climate change on the usable areas for forestry, particularly considering species adapted to the Mediterranean regions and wildfires, such as the strawberry tree. The distribution of the species in the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and Mid-Holocene (MH) agrees with previous genetic and paleontological studies in the region, which support putative refuges for the species. Two in the southern and coastal-central regions, since the LGM, and one in the east-central mountainous region, considered as cryptic refugia.

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<![CDATA[Current and Future Distribution of the Lone Star Tick, Amblyomma americanum (L.) (Acari: Ixodidae) in North America]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c36679cd5eed0c4841a5d65

Acarological surveys in areas outside the currently believed leading edge of the distribution of lone star ticks (Amblyomma americanum), coupled with recent reports of their identification in previously uninvaded areas in the public health literature, suggest that this species is more broadly distributed in North America than currently understood. Therefore, we evaluated the potential geographic extent under present and future conditions using ecological niche modeling approach based on museum records available for this species at the Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit (WRBU). The median prediction of a best fitting model indicated that lone star ticks are currently likely to be present in broader regions across the Eastern Seaboard as well as in the Upper Midwest, where this species could be expanding its range. Further northward and westward expansion of these ticks can be expected as a result of ongoing climate change, under both low- and high-emissions scenarios.

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<![CDATA[What are the sympatric mechanisms for three species of terrestrial hermit crab (Coenobita rugosus, C. brevimanus, and C. cavipes) in coastal forests?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c1ab82cd5eed0c484026fe2

Terrestrial hermit crabs play a significant role in coastal ecology. For example, as seed dispersers and debris scavengers in coastal forests, they accelerate the decomposition of organic substances. In the Indo-Pacific Ocean, Coenobita rugosus, C. brevimanus, and C. cavipes are the three most common species of terrestrial hermit crab. Because the mechanisms that contribute to the sympatry of these three species of crab have not been identified, this study investigated the three most likely explanations: niche differences, competition, and predation. The results showed that the three species displayed niche differences in terms of seasonal activity, habitat, utilization of shells, and food preference, suggesting that competition for resources is avoided. The habitat of terrestrial hermit crabs in Taiwan is closely associated with that of humans. Our study helps improve our understanding of the ecology of terrestrial hermit crabs and their conservation.

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<![CDATA[Reinterpretation of an endangered taxon based on integrative taxonomy: The case of Cynara baetica (Compositae)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c0841c7d5eed0c484fcab77

The Strait of Gibraltar, the gateway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, has a convulsive geological history, with recurring closing and opening events since the late Miocene. As a consequence, this region has played a major role in the evolutionary history of many species. Cynara baetica (Compositae) is a diploid perennial herb distributed in both sides of this strait. It is currently subdivided into two subspecies: C. baetica subsp. baetica for the Spanish populations, and C. baetica subsp. maroccana for the Moroccan ones. Following three different approximations of species delimitation, including phylogenetic and population genetic analyses (based on three AFLP primer combinations and two intergenic spacers of cpDNA), ecological niche modeling (ENM) and morphological studies, this taxon is investigated and reinterpreted. The results obtained showed a clear genetic, morphological and ecological differentiation between the two taxa and the important role played by the Strait of Gibraltar as a geographical barrier. Based on this evidence, the current taxonomic treatment is modified (both taxa should recover their specific rank) and specific conservation guidelines are proposed for the newly delimited taxa.

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<![CDATA[Why Are Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes ellioti) Free of SIVcpz Infection?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da01ab0ee8fa60b74207

Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) naturally infects two subspecies of chimpanzee: Pan troglodytes troglodytes from Central Africa (SIVcpzPtt) and P. t. schweinfurtii from East Africa (SIVcpzPts), but is absent in P. t. verus from West Africa and appears to be absent in P. t. ellioti inhabiting Nigeria and western Cameroon. One explanation for this pattern is that P. t. troglodytes and P. t schweinfurthii may have acquired SIVcpz after their divergence from P. t. verus and P. t. ellioti. However, all of the subspecies, except P. t. verus, still occasionally exchange migrants making the absence of SIVcpz in P. t. ellioti puzzling. Sampling of P. t. ellioti has been minimal to date, particularly along the banks of the Sanaga River, where its range abuts that of P. t. troglodytes. This study had three objectives. First, we extended the sampling of SIVcpz across the range of chimpanzees north of the Sanaga River to address whether under-sampling might account for the absence of evidence for SIVcpz infection in P. t. ellioti. Second, we investigated how environmental variation is associated with the spread and prevalence of SIVcpz in the two chimpanzee subspecies inhabiting Cameroon since environmental variation has been shown to contribute to their divergence from one another. Finally, we compared the prevalence and distribution of SIVcpz with that of Simian Foamy Virus (SFV) to examine the role of ecology and behavior in shaping the distribution of diseases in wild host populations. The dataset includes previously published results on SIVcpz infection and SFVcpz as well as newly collected data, and represents over 1000 chimpanzee fecal samples from 41 locations across Cameroon. Results revealed that none of the 181 P. t. ellioti fecal samples collected across the range of P. t. ellioti tested positive for SIVcpz. In addition, species distribution models suggest that environmental variation contributes to differences in the distribution and prevalence of SIVcpz and SFVcpz. The ecological niches of these two viruses are largely non-overlapping, although stronger statistical support for this conclusion will require more sampling. Overall this study demonstrates that SIVcpz infection is absent or very rare in P. t. ellioti, despite multiple opportunities for transmission. The reasons for its absence remain unclear, but might be explained by one or more factors, including environmental variation, viral competition, and/or local adaptation—all of which should be explored in greater detail through continued surveillance of this region.

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<![CDATA[Foraging niche segregation in Malaysian babblers (Family: Timaliidae)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db52ab0ee8fa60bdc7d1

Tropical rainforests are considered as hotspots for bird diversity, yet little is known about the system that upholds the coexistence of species. Differences in body size that are associated with foraging strategies and spatial distribution are believed to promote the coexistence of closely related species by reducing competition. However, the fact that many babbler species do not differ significantly in their morphology has challenged this view. We studied the foraging ecology of nine sympatric babbler species (i.e., Pellorneum capistratum, P. bicolor, P. malaccense, Malacopteron cinereum, M. magnum, Stachyris nigriceps, S. nigricollis, S. maculata, and Cyanoderma erythropterum) in the Krau Wildlife Reserve in Peninsular Malaysia. We investigated; i) how these babblers forage in the wild and use vegetation to obtain food, and ii) how these trophically similar species differ in spatial distribution and foraging tactics. Results indicated that most babblers foraged predominantly on aerial leaf litter and used gleaning manoeuvre in intermediate-density foliage but exhibited wide ranges of vertical strata usage, thus reducing interspecific competition. The principal component analysis indicated that two components, i.e., foraging height and substrate are important as mechanisms to allow the coexistence of sympatric babblers. The present findings revealed that these bird species have unique foraging niches that are distinct from each other, and this may apply to other insectivorous birds inhabiting tropical forests. This suggests that niche separation does occur among coexisting birds, thus following Gause’ law of competitive exclusion, which states two species occupying the same niche will not stably coexist.

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<![CDATA[Seasonal Patterns of Mixed Species Groups in Large East African Mammals]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dadaab0ee8fa60bb9859

Mixed mammal species groups are common in East African savannah ecosystems. Yet, it is largely unknown if co-occurrences of large mammals result from random processes or social preferences and if interspecific associations are consistent across ecosystems and seasons. Because species may exchange important information and services, understanding patterns and drivers of heterospecific interactions is crucial for advancing animal and community ecology. We recorded 5403 single and multi-species clusters in the Serengeti-Ngorongoro and Tarangire-Manyara ecosystems during dry and wet seasons and used social network analyses to detect patterns of species associations. We found statistically significant associations between multiple species and association patterns differed spatially and seasonally. Consistently, wildebeest and zebras preferred being associated with other species, whereas carnivores, African elephants, Maasai giraffes and Kirk's dik-diks avoided being in mixed groups. During the dry season, we found that the betweenness (a measure of importance in the flow of information or disease) of species did not differ from a random expectation based on species abundance. In contrast, in the wet season, we found that these patterns were not simply explained by variations in abundances, suggesting that heterospecific associations were actively formed. These seasonal differences in observed patterns suggest that interspecific associations may be driven by resource overlap when resources are limited and by resource partitioning or anti-predator advantages when resources are abundant. We discuss potential mechanisms that could drive seasonal variation in the cost-benefit tradeoffs that underpin the formation of mixed-species groups.

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<![CDATA[PLoS Biology Issue Image | Vol. 16(3) March 2018]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5ae424c4463d7e02f65f0b93

Late Maastrichtian pterosaurs from North Africa and mass extinction of Pterosauria at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary

Pterosaurs were winged cousins of the dinosaurs and lived from around 200 million years ago to 66 million years ago, when the last pterosaurs disappeared during the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs. The pterosaurs are thought to have declined in diversity before their final extinction, suggesting that gradual processes played a major role in their demise. However, this study by Longrich et al. describes hundreds of new pterosaur fossils from the end of the Cretaceous in Morocco, including as many as seven species. These represent three different families and show substantial variation in size and skeletal proportions, suggesting that they occupied a wide range of ecological niches. The image shows an artist's impression of diverse pterosaurs flying over the Moroccan coast 66 million years ago.

Image Credit: John Conway

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<![CDATA[Modeling the Pre-Industrial Roots of Modern Super-Exponential Population Growth]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db28ab0ee8fa60bd0a8a

To Malthus, rapid human population growth—so evident in 18th Century Europe—was obviously unsustainable. In his Essay on the Principle of Population, Malthus cogently argued that environmental and socioeconomic constraints on population rise were inevitable. Yet, he penned his essay on the eve of the global census size reaching one billion, as nearly two centuries of super-exponential increase were taking off. Introducing a novel extension of J. E. Cohen's hallmark coupled difference equation model of human population dynamics and carrying capacity, this article examines just how elastic population growth limits may be in response to demographic change. The revised model involves a simple formalization of how consumption costs influence carrying capacity elasticity over time. Recognizing that complex social resource-extraction networks support ongoing consumption-based investment in family formation and intergenerational resource transfers, it is important to consider how consumption has impacted the human environment and demography—especially as global population has become very large. Sensitivity analysis of the consumption-cost model's fit to historical population estimates, modern census data, and 21st Century demographic projections supports a critical conclusion. The recent population explosion was systemically determined by long-term, distinctly pre-industrial cultural evolution. It is suggested that modern globalizing transitions in technology, susceptibility to infectious disease, information flows and accumulation, and economic complexity were endogenous products of much earlier biocultural evolution of family formation's embeddedness in larger, hierarchically self-organizing cultural systems, which could potentially support high population elasticity of carrying capacity. Modern super-exponential population growth cannot be considered separately from long-term change in the multi-scalar political economy that connects family formation and intergenerational resource transfers to wider institutions and social networks.

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<![CDATA[Photon Hunting in the Twilight Zone: Visual Features of Mesopelagic Bioluminescent Sharks]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db4aab0ee8fa60bda07e

The mesopelagic zone is a visual scene continuum in which organisms have developed various strategies to optimize photon capture. Here, we used light microscopy, stereology-assisted retinal topographic mapping, spectrophotometry and microspectrophotometry to investigate the visual ecology of deep-sea bioluminescent sharks [four etmopterid species (Etmopterus lucifer, E. splendidus, E. spinax and Trigonognathus kabeyai) and one dalatiid species (Squaliolus aliae)]. We highlighted a novel structure, a translucent area present in the upper eye orbit of Etmopteridae, which might be part of a reference system for counterillumination adjustment or acts as a spectral filter for camouflage breaking, as well as several ocular specialisations such as aphakic gaps and semicircular tapeta previously unknown in elasmobranchs. All species showed pure rod hexagonal mosaics with a high topographic diversity. Retinal specialisations, formed by shallow cell density gradients, may aid in prey detection and reflect lifestyle differences; pelagic species display areae centrales while benthopelagic and benthic species display wide and narrow horizontal streaks, respectively. One species (E. lucifer) displays two areae within its horizontal streak that likely allows detection of conspecifics' elongated bioluminescent flank markings. Ganglion cell topography reveals less variation with all species showing a temporal area for acute frontal binocular vision. This area is dorsally extended in T. kabeyai, allowing this species to adjust the strike of its peculiar jaws in the ventro-frontal visual field. Etmopterus lucifer showed an additional nasal area matching a high rod density area. Peak spectral sensitivities of the rod visual pigments (λmax) fall within the range 484–491 nm, allowing these sharks to detect a high proportion of photons present in their habitat. Comparisons with previously published data reveal ocular differences between bioluminescent and non-bioluminescent deep-sea sharks. In particular, bioluminescent sharks possess higher rod densities, which might provide them with improved temporal resolution particularly useful for bioluminescent communication during social interactions.

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<![CDATA[Niche Partitioning among Mesocarnivores in a Brazilian Wetland]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db2cab0ee8fa60bd17ea

We investigated the home range size, habitat selection, as well as the spatial and activity overlap, of four mid-sized carnivore species in the Central Pantanal, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. From December 2005 to September 2008, seven crab-eating foxes Cerdocyon thous, seven brown-nosed coatis Nasua nasua, and six ocelots Leopardus pardalis were radio-collared and monitored. Camera trap data on these species were also collected for the crab-eating raccoon Procyon cancrivorus. We hypothesized that there would be large niche differentiation in preferred habitat-type or active period between generalist species with similar diet, and higher similarity in habitat-type or activity time between the generalist species (crab-eating foxes and coatis) and the more specialized ocelot. Individual home ranges were estimated using the utilization distribution index (UD– 95% fixed Kernel). With data obtained from radio-collared individuals, we evaluated habitat selection using compositional analysis. Median home range size of ocelots was 8 km2. The proportion of habitats within the home ranges of ocelots did not differ from the overall habitat proportion in the study area, but ocelots preferentially used forest within their home range. The median home range size of crab-eating foxes was 1.4 km2. Foxes showed second-order habitat selection and selected savanna over shrub-savanna vegetation. The median home range size for coati was 1.5 km2. Coati home ranges were located randomly in the study area. However, within their home range, coatis occurred more frequently in savanna than in other vegetation types. Among the four species, the overlap in activity period was the highest (87%) between ocelots and raccoons, with the least overlap occurring between the ocelot and coati (25%). We suggest that temporal segregation of carnivores was more important than spatial segregation, notably between the generalist coati, crab-eating fox and crab-eating raccoon.

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<![CDATA[Daily Rhythm of Mutualistic Pollinator Activity and Scent Emission in Ficus septica: Ecological Differentiation between Co-Occurring Pollinators and Potential Consequences for Chemical Communication and Facilitation of Host Speciation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da37ab0ee8fa60b86b5d

The mutualistic interaction between Ficus and their pollinating agaonid wasps constitutes an extreme example of plant-insect co-diversification. Most Ficus species are locally associated with a single specific agaonid wasp species. Specificity is ensured by each fig species emitting a distinctive attractive scent. However, cases of widespread coexistence of two agaonid wasp species on the same Ficus species are documented. Here we document the coexistence of two agaonid wasp species in Ficus septica: one yellow-colored and one black-colored. Our results suggest that their coexistence is facilitated by divergent ecological traits. The black species is longer-lived (a few more hours) and is hence active until later in the afternoon. Some traits of the yellow species must compensate for this advantage for their coexistence to be stable. In addition, we show that the composition of the scent emitted by receptive figs changes between sunrise and noon. The two species may therefore be exposed to somewhat different ranges of receptive fig scent composition and may consequently diverge in the way they perceive and/or respond to scents. Whether such situations may lead to host plant speciation is an open question.

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<![CDATA[Diatom Cell Size, Coloniality and Motility: Trade-Offs between Temperature, Salinity and Nutrient Supply with Climate Change]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da0fab0ee8fa60b790d9

Reduction in body size has been proposed as a universal response of organisms, both to warming and to decreased salinity. However, it is still controversial if size reduction is caused by temperature or salinity on their own, or if other factors interfere as well. We used natural benthic diatom communities to explore how “body size” (cells and colonies) and motility change along temperature (2–26°C) and salinity (0.5–7.8) gradients in the brackish Baltic Sea. Fourth-corner analysis confirmed that small cell and colony sizes were associated with high temperature in summer. Average community cell volume decreased linearly with 2.2% per °C. However, cells were larger with artificial warming when nutrient concentrations were high in the cold season. Average community cell volume increased by 5.2% per °C of artificial warming from 0 to 8.5°C and simultaneously there was a selection for motility, which probably helped to optimize growth rates by trade-offs between nutrient supply and irradiation. Along the Baltic Sea salinity gradient cell size decreased with decreasing salinity, apparently mediated by nutrient stoichiometry. Altogether, our results suggest that climate change in this century may polarize seasonality by creating two new niches, with elevated temperature at high nutrient concentrations in the cold season (increasing cell size) and elevated temperature at low nutrient concentrations in the warm season (decreasing cell size). Higher temperature in summer and lower salinity by increased land-runoff are expected to decrease the average cell size of primary producers, which is likely to affect the transfer of energy to higher trophic levels.

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<![CDATA[Evaluation of an Integrated Framework for Biodiversity with a New Metric for Functional Dispersion]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da3dab0ee8fa60b88821

Growing interest in understanding ecological patterns from phylogenetic and functional perspectives has driven the development of metrics that capture variation in evolutionary histories or ecological functions of species. Recently, an integrated framework based on Hill numbers was developed that measures three dimensions of biodiversity based on abundance, phylogeny and function of species. This framework is highly flexible, allowing comparison of those diversity dimensions, including different aspects of a single dimension and their integration into a single measure. The behavior of those metrics with regard to variation in data structure has not been explored in detail, yet is critical for ensuring an appropriate match between the concept and its measurement. We evaluated how each metric responds to particular data structures and developed a new metric for functional biodiversity. The phylogenetic metric is sensitive to variation in the topology of phylogenetic trees, including variation in the relative lengths of basal, internal and terminal branches. In contrast, the functional metric exhibited multiple shortcomings: (1) species that are functionally redundant contribute nothing to functional diversity and (2) a single highly distinct species causes functional diversity to approach the minimum possible value. We introduced an alternative, improved metric based on functional dispersion that solves both of these problems. In addition, the new metric exhibited more desirable behavior when based on multiple traits.

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<![CDATA[Shining Light on Benthic Macroalgae: Mechanisms of Complementarity in Layered Macroalgal Assemblages]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da2aab0ee8fa60b8242b

Phototrophs underpin most ecosystem processes, but to do this they need sufficient light. This critical resource, however, is compromised along many marine shores by increased loads of sediments and nutrients from degraded inland habitats. Increased attenuation of total irradiance within coastal water columns due to turbidity is known to reduce species' depth limits and affect the taxonomic structure and architecture of algal-dominated assemblages, but virtually no attention has been paid to the potential for changes in spectral quality of light energy to impact production dynamics. Pioneering studies over 70 years ago showed how different pigmentation of red, green and brown algae affected absorption spectra, action spectra, and photosynthetic efficiency across the PAR (photosynthetically active radiation) spectrum. Little of this, however, has found its way into ecological syntheses of the impacts of optically active contaminants on coastal macroalgal communities. Here we test the ability of macroalgal assemblages composed of multiple functional groups (including representatives from the chlorophyta, rhodophyta and phaeophyta) to use the total light resource, including different light wavelengths and examine the effects of suspended sediments on the penetration and spectral quality of light in coastal waters. We show that assemblages composed of multiple functional groups are better able to use light throughout the PAR spectrum. Macroalgal assemblages with four sub-canopy species were between 50–75% more productive than assemblages with only one or two sub-canopy species. Furthermore, attenuation of the PAR spectrum showed both a loss of quanta and a shift in spectral distribution with depth across coastal waters of different clarity, with consequences to productivity dynamics of diverse layered assemblages. The processes of light complementarity may help provide a mechanistic understanding of how altered turbidity affects macroalgal assemblages in coastal waters, which are increasingly threatened by diminishing light quantity and altered spectral distributions through sedimentation and eutrophication.

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