ResearchPad - eutheria https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Effects of scent lure on camera trap detections vary across mammalian predator and prey species]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7840 Camera traps are a unique survey tool used to monitor a wide variety of mammal species. Camera trap (CT) data can be used to estimate animal distribution, density, and behaviour. Attractants, such as scent lures, are often used in an effort to increase CT detections; however, the degree which the effects of attractants vary across species is not well understood. We investigated the effects of scent lure on mammal detections by comparing detection rates between 404 lured and 440 unlured CT stations sampled in Alberta, Canada over 120 day survey periods between February and August in 2015 and 2016. We used zero-inflated negative binomial generalized linear mixed models to test the effect of lure on detection rates for a) all mammals, b) six functional groups (all predator species, all prey, large carnivores, small carnivores, small mammals, ungulates), and c) four varied species of management interest (fisher, Pekania pennanti; gray wolf, Canis lupus; moose, Alces alces; and Richardson’s ground squirrel; Urocitellus richardsonii). Mammals were detected at 800 of the 844 CTs, with nearly equal numbers of total detections at CTs with (7110) and without (7530) lure, and variable effects of lure on groups and individual species. Scent lure significantly increased detections of predators as a group, including large and small carnivore sub-groups and fisher specifically, but not of gray wolf. There was no effect of scent lure on detections of prey species, including the small mammal and ungulate sub-groups and moose and Richardson’s ground squirrel specifically. We recommend that researchers explicitly consider the variable effects of scent lure on CT detections across species when designing, interpreting, or comparing multi-species surveys. Additional research is needed to further quantify variation in species responses to scent lures and other attractants, and to elucidate the effect of attractants on community-level inferences from camera trap surveys.

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<![CDATA[Completeness of Digital Accessible Knowledge (DAK) about terrestrial mammals in the Iberian Peninsula]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8c197fd5eed0c484b4d7aa

The advent of online data aggregator infrastructures has facilitated the accumulation of Digital Accessible Knowledge (DAK) about biodiversity. Despite the vast amount of freely available data records, their usefulness for research depends on completeness of each body of data regarding their spatial, temporal and taxonomic coverage. In this paper, we assess the completeness of DAK about terrestrial mammals distributed across the Iberian Peninsula. We compiled a dataset with all records about mammals occurring in the Iberian Peninsula available in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and in the national atlases from Portugal and Spain. After cleaning the dataset of errors as well as records lacking collection dates or not determined to species level, we assigned all occurrences to a 10-km grid. We assessed inventory completeness by calculating the ratio between observed and expected richness (based on the Chao2 richness index) in each grid cell and classified cells as well-sampled or under-sampled. We evaluated survey coverage of well-sampled cells along four environmental gradients and temporal coverage. Out of 796,283 retrieved records, quality issues led us to remove 616,141 records unfit for this use. The main reason for discarding records was missing collection dates. Only 25.95% cells contained enough records to robustly estimate completeness. The DAK about terrestrial mammals from the Iberian Peninsula was low, and spatially and temporally biased. Out of 5,874 cells holding data, only 620 (9.95%) were classified as well-sampled. Moreover, well-sampled cells were geographically aggregated and reached inventory completeness over the same temporal range. Despite the increasing availability of DAK, its usefulness is still compromised by quality issues and gaps in data. Future work should therefore focus on increasing data quality, in addition to mobilizing unpublished data.

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<![CDATA[Ticks as potential vectors of Mycobacterium leprae: Use of tick cell lines to culture the bacilli and generate transgenic strains]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c23f313d5eed0c48404a3a9

Leprosy is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae and frequently resulting in irreversible deformities and disabilities. Ticks play an important role in infectious disease transmission due to their low host specificity, worldwide distribution, and the biological ability to support transovarial transmission of a wide spectrum of pathogens, including viruses, bacteria and protozoa. To investigate a possible role for ticks as vectors of leprosy, we assessed transovarial transmission of M. leprae in artificially-fed adult female Amblyomma sculptum ticks, and infection and growth of M. leprae in tick cell lines. Our results revealed M. leprae RNA and antigens persisting in the midgut and present in the ovaries of adult female A. sculptum at least 2 days after oral infection, and present in their progeny (eggs and larvae), which demonstrates the occurrence of transovarial transmission of this pathogen. Infected tick larvae were able to inoculate viable bacilli during blood-feeding on a rabbit. Moreover, following inoculation with M. leprae, the Ixodes scapularis embryo-derived tick cell line IDE8 supported a detectable increase in the number of bacilli for at least 20 days, presenting a doubling time of approximately 12 days. As far as we know, this is the first in vitro cellular system able to promote growth of M. leprae. Finally, we successfully transformed a clinical M. leprae isolate by inserting the reporter plasmid pCHERRY3; transformed bacteria infected and grew in IDE8 cells over a 2-month period. Taken together, our data not only support the hypothesis that ticks may have the potential to act as a reservoir and/or vector of leprosy, but also suggest the feasibility of technological development of tick cell lines as a tool for large-scale production of M. leprae bacteria, as well as describing for the first time a method for their transformation.

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<![CDATA[Research trends and geographical distribution of mammalian carnivores in Portugal (SW Europe)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c0993c9d5eed0c4842ad92c

Information regarding species’ status at a regional scale is instrumental for effective conservation planning. Some regions of southwestern Europe, such as Portugal, albeit included in the Mediterranean biodiversity hotspot, lack a detailed assessment of the distribution patterns of several taxonomic groups, such as carnivores. Moreover, information is scattered, often unreliable and biased towards some species or regions. This study aimed at reviewing the existing knowledge on mammalian terrestrial carnivores in Portugal, to analyse research trends, update the species checklist and assess their historical and current distribution patterns. We conducted a comprehensive review of 755 scientific studies to analyse several publication metrics and compiled 20,189 presence records of all mammalian terrestrial carnivores occurring in Portugal since historical times to evaluate their distribution patterns. Carnivore research in Portugal began in the 18th century, with a recent boost in the mid-1990s, and has been biased towards certain research topics and regionally threatened species. There are 15 extant species in Portugal, with nine occurring across the country, six showing a more limited range, as well as one additional species currently locally extinct (Ursus arctos). Over the last decades, the distribution ranges of seven species apparently remained stable, two expanded, two contracted, and three showed unclear trends. The presence of a new invasive carnivore, the raccoon (Procyon lotor), is also documented here. This study illustrates the relevance of a comprehensive analysis of non-systematic data to assess the historic and current status of mammalian terrestrial carnivores at a national level, and to identify knowledge gaps and research priorities.

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<![CDATA[Responses of snow leopards, wolves and wild ungulates to livestock grazing in the Zorkul Strictly Protected Area, Tajikistan]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c0ae479d5eed0c484589c89

Long recognized as a threat to wildlife, livestock grazing in protected areas has the potential to undermine conservation goals, via competition, habitat degradation, human-carnivore conflict and disruption of predator-prey relationships. In the Strictly Protected Area Zorkul in Tajikistan (Zorkul Reserve), grazing is commonplace despite official prohibition, with potentially detrimental effects on local fauna, in particular, snow leopard Panthera uncia, wolf Canis lupus, brown bear Ursus arctos, argali sheep Ovis ammon, Asiatic ibex Capra sibirica, and long-tailed marmot Marmota caudata. To understand the impacts of grazing and associated human pastoralism on the large mammal community in Zorkul Reserve we used data from camera traps to build models of ungulate and carnivore site use intensity, and we investigated carnivore summer diets using microscopic scat analysis. While sample sizes limited our inference for several species, we found that site use of the most common ungulate, argali, decreased with proximity to herder’s camps, indicating possible displacement into sub-optimal habitats. However, no such pattern was present in carnivore site use. For wolf and snow leopard, the most frequently encountered prey items were argali and marmot, while bear depended almost exclusively on marmot. While current pastoralist practices in the reserve may not be incompatible with wildlife presence, our findings suggest that pastoralism may negatively impact ungulates by displacing them from otherwise suitable habitats, with unknown fitness consequences for ungulates or the predators that depend upon them. Managing Zorkul Reserve and other actively grazed protected areas to meet potentially competing demands of local pastoralist communities and conservation will require careful consideration of such interactions to minimize the risk of cascading negative impacts on wildlife.

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<![CDATA[Pleistocene Hominins as a Resource for Carnivores: A c. 500,000-Year-Old Human Femur Bearing Tooth-Marks in North Africa (Thomas Quarry I, Morocco)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da6bab0ee8fa60b92d56

In many Middle Pleistocene sites, the co-occurrence of hominins with carnivores, who both contributed to faunal accumulations, suggests competition for resources as well as for living spaces. Despite this, there is very little evidence of direct interaction between them to-date. Recently, a human femoral diaphysis has been recognized in South-West of Casablanca (Morocco), in the locality called Thomas Quarry I. This site is famous for its Middle Pleistocene fossil hominins considered representatives of Homo rhodesiensis. The bone was discovered in Unit 4 of the Grotte à Hominidés (GH), dated to c. 500 ky and was associated with Acheulean artefacts and a rich mammalian fauna. Anatomically, it fits well within the group of known early Middle Pleistocene Homo, but its chief point of interest is that the diaphyseal ends display numerous tooth marks showing that it had been consumed shortly after death by a large carnivore, probably a hyena. This bone represents the first evidence of consumption of human remains by carnivores in the cave. Whether predated or scavenged, this chewed femur indicates that humans were a resource for carnivores, underlining their close relationships during the Middle Pleistocene in Atlantic Morocco.

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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[Experimental Infection of Rhodnius prolixus (Hemiptera, Triatominae) with Mycobacterium leprae Indicates Potential for Leprosy Transmission]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da5cab0ee8fa60b9021e

Leprosy is a chronic dermato-neurological disease caused by infection with Mycobacterium leprae. In 2013 almost 200,000 new cases of leprosy were detected around the world. Since the first symptoms take from years to decades to appear, the total number of asymptomatic patients is impossible to predict. Although leprosy is one of the oldest records of human disease, the mechanisms involved with its transmission and epidemiology are still not completely understood. In the present work, we experimentally investigated the hypothesis that the mosquitoes Aedes aegypti and Culex quinquefasciatus and the hemiptera Rhodnius prolixus act as leprosy vectors. By means of real-time PCR quantification of M. leprae 16SrRNA, we found that M. leprae remained viable inside the digestive tract of Rhodnius prolixus for 20 days after oral infection. In contrast, in the gut of both mosquito species tested, we were not able to detect M. leprae RNA after a similar period of time. Inside the kissing bug Rhodnius prolixus digestive tract, M. leprae was initially restricted to the anterior midgut, but gradually moved towards the hindgut, in a time course reminiscent of the life cycle of Trypanosoma cruzi, a well-known pathogen transmitted by this insect. The maintenance of M. leprae infectivity inside the digestive tract of this kissing bug is further supported by successful mice footpad inoculation with feces collected 20 days after infection. We conclude that Rhodnius prolixus defecate infective M. leprae, justifying the evaluation of the presence of M. leprae among sylvatic and domestic kissing bugs in countries endemic for leprosy.

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<![CDATA[Craniodental and humeral morphology of a new species of Masrasector (Teratodontinae, Hyaenodonta, Placentalia) from the late Eocene of Egypt and locomotor diversity in hyaenodonts]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db53ab0ee8fa60bdca02

Hyaenodonta is a diverse clade of carnivorous mammals that were part of terrestrial faunas in the Paleogene of Eurasia and North America, but the oldest record for the group is Afro-Arabian, making the record there vital for understanding the evolution of this wide-spread group. Previous studies show an ancient split between two major clades of hyaenodonts that converged in hypercarnivory: Hyainailourinae and Hyaenodontinae. These clades are each supported by cranial characters. Phylogenetic analyses of hyaenodonts also support the monophyly of Teratodontinae, an Afro-Arabian clade of mesocarnivorous to hypercarnivorous hyaenodonts. Unfortunately, the cranial anatomy of teratodontines is poorly known, and aligning the clade with other lineages has been difficult. Here, a new species of the phylogenetically controversial teratodontine Masrasector is described from Locality 41 (latest Priabonian, late Eocene) from the Fayum Depression, Egypt. The hypodigm includes the most complete remains of a Paleogene teratodontine, including largely complete crania, multiple dentaries, and isolated humeri. Standard and “tip-dating” Bayesian analyses of a character-taxon matrix that samples cranial, postcranial, and dental characters support a monophyletic Masrasector within Teratodontinae, which is consistently placed as a close sister group of Hyainailouridae. The cranial morphology of Masrasector provides new support for an expanded Hyainailouroidea (Teratodontinae + Hyainailouridae), particularly characters of the nuchal crest, palate, and basicranium. A discriminant function analysis was performed using measurements of the distal humerus from a diverse sample of extant carnivorans to infer the locomotor habits of Masrasector. Masrasector was assigned to the “terrestrial” locomotor category, a result consistent with the well-defined medial trochlear ridges, and moderately developed supinator crests of the specimens. Masrasector appears to have been a fast-moving terrestrial form with a diverse diet. These specimens considerably improve our understanding of Teratodontinae, an ancient member of the Afro-Arabian mammalian fauna, and our understanding of hyaenodont diversity before the dispersal of Carnivora to the continent near the end of the Paleogene.

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<![CDATA[Assessing Caribbean Shallow and Mesophotic Reef Fish Communities Using Baited-Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) and Diver-Operated Video (DOV) Survey Techniques]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daf2ab0ee8fa60bc1a5f

Fish surveys form the backbone of reef monitoring and management initiatives throughout the tropics, and understanding patterns in biases between techniques is crucial if outputs are to address key objectives optimally. Often biases are not consistent across natural environmental gradients such as depth, leading to uncertainty in interpretation of results. Recently there has been much interest in mesophotic reefs (reefs from 30–150 m depth) as refuge habitats from fishing pressure, leading to many comparisons of reef fish communities over depth gradients. Here we compare fish communities using stereo-video footage recorded via baited remote underwater video (BRUV) and diver-operated video (DOV) systems on shallow and mesophotic reefs in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, Caribbean. We show inconsistent responses across families, species and trophic groups between methods across the depth gradient. Fish species and family richness were higher using BRUV at both depth ranges, suggesting that BRUV is more appropriate for recording all components of the fish community. Fish length distributions were not different between methods on shallow reefs, yet BRUV recorded more small fish on mesophotic reefs. However, DOV consistently recorded greater relative fish community biomass of herbivores, suggesting that studies focusing on herbivores should consider using DOV. Our results highlight the importance of considering what component of reef fish community researchers and managers are most interested in surveying when deciding which survey technique to use across natural gradients such as depth.

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<![CDATA[Measures of Relative Dentary Strength in Rancho La Brea Smilodon fatalis over Time]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da46ab0ee8fa60b8bdb8

The late Pleistocene megafaunal extinction of approximately 12,000 years ago, included the demise of Smilodon fatalis, a hypercarnivore from the Rancho La Brea deposits, which has been studied across time by looking at different deposits or pits to determine morphological size and shape changes and trends during this time. To better understand functional aspects of these changes, this study focused on a measure of jaw strength over time, which can give an indication of morphological changes within the jaw that cannot be seen using surface morphometrics. By radiographing dentaries, cortical bone can be seen, which provides an estimate of resistance to bending forces while biting, and can be measured and used as an indicator of jaw strength. Measurements were taken at repeatable locations on the dentary of the depth of the cortical bone, and of a standardized measure of cortical bone, which allows for the comparison between different individuals. Specimens included those of five different pits ranging from about 37 Kybp to 13 Kybp (just before the extinction of S. fatalis). No significant difference was found in the depth of jaws at any of the measurement points from any of the pits. However, significant differences were found in both the actual thickness of cortical bone, and the standardized thickness of cortical bone at the lower P4 between pit 13 (which had the lowest amount of bone) and pit 61/67 (which had the highest). These conclusions support other studies that have shown that individuals in pit 13 were under physiological and perhaps dietary stress, which may be reflected in the deposition of cortical bone, while the opposite trend is seen in the individuals in pit 61/67. Our results further support findings suggesting Smilodon did not appear to be morphologically most vulnerable right before its extinction.

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<![CDATA[Human Perceptions Mirror Realities of Carnivore Attack Risk for Livestock: Implications for Mitigating Human-Carnivore Conflict]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da4dab0ee8fa60b8d388

Human-carnivore conflict is challenging to quantify because it is shaped by both the realities and people’s perceptions of carnivore threats. Whether perceptions align with realities can have implications for conflict mitigation: misalignments can lead to heightened and indiscriminant persecution of carnivores whereas alignments can offer deeper insights into human-carnivore interactions. We applied a landscape-scale spatial analysis of livestock killed by tigers and leopards in India to model and map observed attack risk, and surveyed owners of livestock killed by tigers and leopards for their rankings of threats across habitats to map perceived attack risk. Observed tiger risk to livestock was greatest near dense forests and at moderate distances from human activity while leopard risk was greatest near open vegetation. People accurately perceived spatial differences between tiger and leopard hunting patterns, expected greater threat in areas with high values of observed risk for both carnivores. Owners’ perception of threats largely did not depend on environmental conditions surrounding their village (spatial location, dominant land-use or observed carnivore risk). Surveys revealed that owners who previously lost livestock to carnivores used more livestock protection methods than those who had no prior losses, and that owners who had recently lost livestock for the first time expressed greater interest in changing their protection methods than those who experienced prior losses. Our findings suggest that in systems where realities and perceptions of carnivore risk align, conservation programs and policies can optimize conservation outcomes by (1) improving the effectiveness of livestock protection methods and (2) working with owners who have recently lost livestock and are most willing to invest effort in adapting protection strategies to mitigate human-carnivore conflict.

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<![CDATA[Brains of Native and Alien Mesocarnivores in Biomonitoring of Toxic Metals in Europe]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9e2ab0ee8fa60b6a0b6

Mercury (Hg), lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd) are involved in mammalian brain damage. However, little is known about Pb and Cd brain levels in wildlife that reflect the geochemical background. The aims of the study include the estimation of Hg, Pb and Cd concentrations, and the determination of relationships between these elements in the brains of 94 mesocarnivores. Road-killed or hunted animals were obtained from north-western Poland near the Polish-German border. The investigation covered the native Eurasian otter Lutra lutra, badger Meles meles, pine marten Martes martes, beech marten M. foina, European polecat Mustela putorius, red fox Vulpes vulpes, and alien species: feral and ranch American mink Neovison vison, raccoon Procyon lotor and raccoon dog Nyctereutes procyonoides. Depending on the diet and environmental pollution, the carnivore brains accumulated toxic metals in varying amounts. The highest median Hg levels (in mg/kg dry weight, dw) were found in the piscivorous Eurasian otter and feral mink (2.44 and 3.96), Pb in the omnivorous raccoon (0.47), while Cd in minks (~0.06). We indicated that Pb-based ammunition is a significant source of the element in scavengers from hunting area, and we also found a significant correlation between Pb and Cd levels in the fox brain. Finally, this study is the first to suggest background levels for brain Pb and Cd in mesocarnivores (<0.50 and <0.04 mg/kg dw, respectively).

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<![CDATA[The Influence of Sex and Season on Conspecific Spatial Overlap in a Large, Actively-Foraging Colubrid Snake]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dadcab0ee8fa60bba39e

Understanding the factors influencing the degree of spatial overlap among conspecifics is important for understanding multiple ecological processes. Compared to terrestrial carnivores, relatively little is known about the factors influencing conspecific spatial overlap in snakes, although across snake taxa there appears to be substantial variation in conspecific spatial overlap. In this study, we described conspecific spatial overlap of eastern indigo snakes (Drymarchon couperi) in peninsular Florida and examined how conspecific spatial overlap varied by sex and season (breeding season vs. non-breeding season). We calculated multiple indices of spatial overlap using 6- and 3-month utilization distributions (UD) of dyads of simultaneously adjacent telemetered snakes. We also measured conspecific UD density values at each telemetry fix and modeled the distribution of those values as a function of overlap type, sex, and season using generalized Pareto distributions. Home range overlap between males and females was significantly greater than overlap between individuals of the same sex and male home ranges often completely contained female home ranges. Male home ranges overlapped little during both seasons, whereas females had higher levels of overlap during the non-breeding season. The spatial patterns observed in our study are consistent with those seen in many mammalian carnivores, in which low male-male overlap and high inter-sexual overlap provides males with greater access to females. We encourage additional research on the influence of prey availability on conspecific spatial overlap in snakes as well as the behavioral mechanisms responsible for maintaining the low levels of overlap we observed.

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<![CDATA[Landscape Use and Co-Occurrence Patterns of Neotropical Spotted Cats]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da45ab0ee8fa60b8b5ad

Small felids influence ecosystem dynamics through prey and plant population changes. Although most of these species are threatened, they are accorded one of the lowest research efforts of all felids, and we lack basic information about them. Many felids occur in sympatry, where intraguild competition is frequent. Therefore, assessing the role of interspecific interactions along with the relative importance of landscape characteristics is necessary to understand how these species co-occur in space. Here, we selected three morphologically similar and closely related species of small Neotropical cats to evaluate the roles of interspecific interactions, geomorphometry, environmental, and anthropogenic landscape characteristics on their habitat use. We collected data with camera trapping and scat sampling in a large protected Atlantic forest remnant (35,000 ha). Throughout occupancy modeling we investigated whether these species occur together more or less frequently than would be expected by chance, while dealing with imperfect detection and incorporating possible habitat preferences into the models. We used occupancy as a measure of their habitat use. Although intraguild competition can be an important determinant of carnivore assemblages, in our system, we did not find evidence that one species affects the habitat use of the other. Evidence suggested that proximity to the nature reserve (a more protected area) was a more important driver of Neotropical spotted cats’ occurrence than interspecific interactions or geomorphometry and environmental landscape characteristics—even though our entire study area is under some type of protection. This suggests that small felids can be sensitive to the area protection status, emphasizing the importance of maintaining and creating reserves and other areas with elevated protection for the proper management and conservation of the group.

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<![CDATA[Megalictis, the Bone-Crushing Giant Mustelid (Carnivora, Mustelidae, Oligobuninae) from the Early Miocene of North America]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da79ab0ee8fa60b97a73

We describe cranial and mandibular remains of three undescribed individuals of the giant mustelid Megalictis ferox Matthew, 1907 from the latest Arikareean (Ar4), Early Miocene mammal fauna of Nebraska, and Wyoming (USA) housed at the American Museum of Natural History (New York, USA). Our phylogenetic hypothesis indicates that Ar4 specimens assigned to M. ferox constitute a monophyletic group. We assign three additional species previously referred to Paroligobunis to Megalictis: M. simplicidens, M. frazieri, and “M.” petersoni. The node containing these four species of Megalictis and Oligobunis forms the Oligobuninae. We test the hypothesis that Oligobuninae (Megalictis and Oligobunis) is a stem mustelid taxon. Our results indicate that the Oligobuninae form the sister clade to the crown extant mustelids. Based on the cranium, M. ferox is a jaguar-size mustelid and the largest terrestrial mustelid known to have existed. This new material also sheds light on a new ecomorphological interpretation of M. ferox as a bone-crushing durophage (similar to hyenas), rather than a cat-like hypercarnivore, as had been previously described. The relative large size of M. ferox, together with a stout rostrum and mandible made it one of the more powerful predators of the Early Miocene of the Great Plains of North America.

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<![CDATA[Radiocesium Transfer in Forest Insect Communities after the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db4fab0ee8fa60bdbb5d

To understand radiocesium transfer in the forest insect food web, we investigated the activity concentrations of radiocesium in forest insects in the Fukushima and Ibaraki Prefectures approximately 1.5–2.5 years after the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant. We analyzed 34 species of insects sampled from 4 orders and 4 feeding functional groups (herbivore, carnivore, omnivore, and detritivore) from three sites in each prefecture. 137Cs activity concentrations were lowest in herbivorous species and were especially high in detritivorous and omnivorous species that feed on forest litter and fungi. Radiocesium activity concentrations in any given species reflected the degree of contamination of that species’ primary food sources since radiocesium activity concentrations were found to be the lowest in leaves and grass and the highest in litter, bark, and fungi. This study confirmed that litter and other highly contaminated forest components such as fungi, decaying wood, bryophytes, and lichens serve as sources of 137Cs transfer into the forest insect community.

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<![CDATA[Lions as Bone Accumulators? Paleontological and Ecological Implications of a Modern Bone Assemblage from Olduvai Gorge]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db38ab0ee8fa60bd3d3e

Analytic models have been developed to reconstruct early hominin behaviour, especially their subsistence patterns, revealed mainly through taphonomic analyses of archaeofaunal assemblages. Taphonomic research is used to discern which agents (carnivores, humans or both) generate the bone assemblages recovered at archaeological sites. Taphonomic frameworks developed during the last decades show that the only large-sized carnivores in African biomes able to create bone assemblages are leopards and hyenas. A carnivore-made bone assemblage located in the short-grassland ecological unit of the Serengeti (within Olduvai Gorge) was studied. Taphonomic analyses of this assemblage including skeletal part representation, bone density, breakage patterns and anatomical distribution of tooth marks, along with an ecological approach to the prey selection made by large carnivores of the Serengeti, were carried out. The results show that this bone assemblage may be the first lion-accumulated assemblage documented, although other carnivores (namely spotted hyenas) may have also intervened through postdepositional ravaging. This first faunal assemblage potentially created by lions constitutes a new framework for neotaphonomic studies. Since lions may accumulate carcasses under exceptional circumstances, such as those documented at the site reported here, this finding may have important consequences for interpretations of early archaeological and paleontological sites, which provide key information about human evolution.

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<![CDATA[Prey availability and temporal partitioning modulate felid coexistence in Neotropical forests]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c915f8cd5eed0c48420aadc

Carnivores have long been used as model organisms to examine mechanisms that allow coexistence among ecologically similar species. Interactions between carnivores, including competition and predation, comprise important processes regulating local community structure and diversity. We use data from an intensive camera-trapping monitoring program across eight Neotropical forest sites to describe the patterns of spatiotemporal organization of a guild of five sympatric cat species: jaguar (Panthera onca), puma (Puma concolor), ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi) and margay (Leopardus wiedii). For the three largest cat species, we developed multi-stage occupancy models accounting for habitat characteristics (landscape complexity and prey availability) and models accounting for species interactions (occupancy estimates of potential competitor cat species). Patterns of habitat-use were best explained by prey availability, rather than habitat structure or species interactions, with no evidence of negative associations of jaguar on puma and ocelot occupancy or puma on ocelot occupancy. We further explore temporal activity patterns and overlap of all five felid species. We observed a moderate temporal overlap between jaguar, puma and ocelot, with differences in their activity peaks, whereas higher temporal partitioning was observed between jaguarundi and both ocelot and margay. Lastly, we conducted temporal overlap analysis and calculated species activity levels across study sites to explore if shifts in daily activity within species can be explained by varying levels of local competition pressure. Activity patterns of ocelots, jaguarundis and margays were similarly bimodal across sites, but pumas exhibited irregular activity patterns, most likely as a response to jaguar activity. Activity levels were similar among sites and observed differences were unrelated to competition or intraguild killing risk. Our study reveals apparent spatial and temporal partitioning for most of the species pairs analyzed, with prey abundance being more important than species interactions in governing the local occurrence and spatial distribution of Neotropical forest felids.

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<![CDATA[Species From Feces: Order-Wide Identification of Chiroptera From Guano and Other Non-Invasive Genetic Samples]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da9fab0ee8fa60ba51a6

Bat guano is a relatively untapped reservoir of information, having great utility as a DNA source because it is often available at roosts even when bats are not and is an easy type of sample to collect from a difficult-to-study mammalian order. Recent advances from microbial community studies in primer design, sequencing, and analysis enable fast, accurate, and cost-effective species identification. Here, we borrow from this discipline to develop an order-wide DNA mini-barcode assay (Species from Feces) based on a segment of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome c oxidase I (COI). The assay works effectively with fecal DNA and is conveniently transferable to low-cost, high-throughput Illumina MiSeq technology that also allows simultaneous pairing with other markers. Our PCR primers target a region of COI that is highly discriminatory among Chiroptera (92% species-level identification of barcoded species), and are sufficiently degenerate to allow hybridization across diverse bat taxa. We successfully validated our system with 54 bat species across both suborders. Despite abundant arthropod prey DNA in guano, our primers were highly specific to bats; no arthropod DNA was detected in thousands of feces run on Sanger and Illumina platforms. The assay is extendable to fecal pellets of unknown age as well as individual and pooled guano, to allow for individual (using singular fecal pellets) and community (using combined pellets collected from across long-term roost sites) analyses. We developed a searchable database (http://nau.edu/CEFNS/Forestry/Research/Bats/Search-Tool/) that allows users to determine the discriminatory capability of our markers for bat species of interest. Our assay has applications worldwide for examining disease impacts on vulnerable species, determining species assemblages within roosts, and assessing the presence of bat species that are vulnerable or facing extinction. The development and analytical pathways are rapid, reliable, and inexpensive, and can be applied to ecology and conservation studies of other taxa.

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