ResearchPad - foraging https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Development and evaluation of habitat suitability models for nesting white-headed woodpecker (<i>Dryobates albolarvatus</i>) in burned forest]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14713 Salvage logging in burned forests can negatively affect habitat for white-headed woodpeckers (Dryobates albolarvatus), a species of conservation concern, but also meets socioeconomic demands for timber and human safety. Habitat suitability index (HSI) models can inform forest management activities to help meet habitat conservation objectives. Informing post-fire forest management, however, involves model application at new locations as wildfires occur, requiring evaluation of predictive performance across locations. We developed HSI models for white-headed woodpeckers using nest sites from two burned-forest locations in Oregon, the Toolbox (2002) and Canyon Creek (2015) fires. We measured predictive performance by developing one model at each of the two locations and quantifying discrimination of nest from reference sites at two other wildfire locations where the model had not been developed (either Toolbox or Canyon Creek, and the Barry Point Fire [2011]). We developed and evaluated Maxent models based on remotely sensed environmental metrics to support habitat mapping, and weighted logistic regression (WLR) models that combined remotely sensed and field-collected metrics to inform management prescriptions. Both Maxent and WLR models developed either at Canyon Creek or Toolbox performed adequately to inform management when applied at the alternate Toolbox or Canyon Creek location, respectively (area under the receiver-operating-characteristic curve [AUC] range = 0.61–0.72) but poorly when applied at Barry Point (AUC = 0.53–0.57). The final HSI models fitted to Toolbox and Canyon Creek data quantified suitable nesting habitat as severely burned or open sites adjacent to lower severity and closed canopy sites, where foraging presumably occurs. We suggest these models are applicable at locations similar to development locations but not at locations resembling Barry Point, which were characterized by more (pre-fire) canopy openings, larger diameter trees, less ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), and more juniper (Juniperus occidentalis). Considering our results, we recommend caution when applying HSI models developed at individual wildfire locations to inform post-fire management at new locations without first evaluating predictive performance.

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<![CDATA[Agent-based and continuous models of hopper bands for the Australian plague locust: How resource consumption mediates pulse formation and geometry]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14654 Locusts aggregate in swarms that threaten agriculture worldwide. Initially these aggregations form as aligned groups, known as hopper bands, whose individuals alternate between marching and paused (associated with feeding) states. The Australian plague locust (for which there are excellent field studies) forms wide crescent-shaped bands with a high density at the front where locusts slow in uneaten vegetation. The density of locusts rapidly decreases behind the front where the majority of food has been consumed. Most models of collective behavior focus on social interactions as the key organizing principle. We demonstrate that the formation of locust bands may be driven by resource consumption. Our first model treats each locust as an individual agent with probabilistic rules governing motion and feeding. Our second model describes locust density with deterministic differential equations. We use biological observations of individual behavior and collective band shape to identify numerical values for the model parameters and conduct a sensitivity analysis of outcomes to parameter changes. Our models are capable of reproducing the characteristics observed in the field. Moreover, they provide insight into how resource availability influences collective locust behavior that may eventually aid in disrupting the formation of locust bands, mitigating agricultural losses.

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<![CDATA[Jellyfish distribution in space and time predicts leatherback sea turtle hot spots in the Northwest Atlantic]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14580 Leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) migrate to temperate Canadian Atlantic waters to feed on gelatinous zooplankton (‘jellyfish’) every summer. However, the spatio-temporal connection between predator foraging and prey-field dynamics has not been studied at the large scales over which these migratory animals occur. We use 8903 tows of groundfish survey jellyfish bycatch data between 2006–2017 to reveal spatial jellyfish hot spots, and matched these data to satellite-telemetry leatherback data over time and space. We found highly significant overlap of jellyfish and leatherback distribution on the Scotian Shelf (r = 0.89), moderately strong correlations of jellyfish and leatherback spatial hot spots in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (r = 0.59), and strong correlations in the Bay of Fundy (r = 0.74), which supports much lower jellyfish density. Over time, jellyfish bycatch data revealed a slight northward range shift in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, consistent with gradual warming of these waters. Two-stage generalized linear modelling corroborated that sea surface temperature, year, and region were significant predictors of jellyfish biomass, suggesting a climate signal on jellyfish distribution, which may shift leatherback critical feeding habitat over time. These findings are useful in predicting dynamic habitat use for endangered leatherback turtles, and can help to anticipate large-scale changes in their distribution in response to climate-related changes in prey availability.

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<![CDATA[The fast and the frugal: Divergent locomotory strategies drive limb lengthening in theropod dinosaurs]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14509 Limb length, cursoriality and speed have long been areas of significant interest in theropod paleobiology, since locomotory capacity, especially running ability, is critical in the pursuit of prey and to avoid becoming prey. The impact of allometry on running ability, and the limiting effect of large body size, are aspects that are traditionally overlooked. Since several different non-avian theropod lineages have each independently evolved body sizes greater than any known terrestrial carnivorous mammal, ~1000kg or more, the effect that such large mass has on movement ability and energetics is an area with significant implications for Mesozoic paleoecology. Here, using expansive datasets that incorporate several different metrics to estimate body size, limb length and running speed, we calculate the effects of allometry on running ability. We test traditional metrics used to evaluate cursoriality in non-avian theropods such as distal limb length, relative hindlimb length, and compare the energetic cost savings of relative hindlimb elongation between members of the Tyrannosauridae and more basal megacarnivores such as Allosauroidea or Ceratosauridae. We find that once the limiting effects of body size increase is incorporated there is no significant correlation to top speed between any of the commonly used metrics, including the newly suggested distal limb index (Tibia + Metatarsus/ Femur length). The data also shows a significant split between large and small bodied theropods in terms of maximizing running potential suggesting two distinct strategies for promoting limb elongation based on the organisms’ size. For small and medium sized theropods increased leg length seems to correlate with a desire to increase top speed while amongst larger taxa it corresponds more closely to energetic efficiency and reducing foraging costs. We also find, using 3D volumetric mass estimates, that the Tyrannosauridae show significant cost of transport savings compared to more basal clades, indicating reduced energy expenditures during foraging and likely reduced need for hunting forays. This suggests that amongst theropods, hindlimb evolution was not dictated by one particular strategy. Amongst smaller bodied taxa the competing pressures of being both a predator and a prey item dominant while larger ones, freed from predation pressure, seek to maximize foraging ability. We also discuss the implications both for interactions amongst specific clades and Mesozoic paleobiology and paleoecological reconstructions as a whole.

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<![CDATA[Do railway lines affect the distribution of woodland birds during autumn?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N5f69b466-8155-4760-b7fb-9a995be0d1c7

Research results on the impact of railway noise on birds show a variety of bird responses. These behaviours are often different from those exhibited by birds occupying habitats along tarred roads. Knowledge of this subject is still incomplete. We attempted to define the influence of a heavily transited railway line on bird communities at stopover sites near the tracks during the autumn migration period. Birds were counted using the point method at 45 observation points located at three distances (30 m, 280 m, 530 m) from the tracks. At each point we determined the habitat parameters and the intensity of noise. A total of 614 individuals from 29 species were recorded on the study plot. The results of our observations indicate that the railway line does not adversely affect woodland birds during the autumn migration. The results showed that the abundance of birds and the species richness were actually the highest near the railway line. Species foraging on invertebrates preferred the neighbourhood of the tracks. The number of the most common species did not differ widely in relation to distance from the tracks. These data may be helpful in planning and managing the environment in the context of bird conservation, protection from railway noise and collisions with trains.

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<![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.

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<![CDATA[Common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) behavior in an active narrow seaport]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c75ac7ad5eed0c484d08871

The Galveston Ship Channel (GSC) is a narrow, congested waterway that supports large-scale shipping, commercial fishing, dolphin tourism, and recreation. Human activity and common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) converge in the GSC with potentially negative consequences on the dolphins. Elevated land-based tracking and behavioral observation of dolphins and vessels were conducted along the GSC in June-August 2013 using a digital theodolite. Positional information was used to calculate dolphin movement patterns and proximity to vessels. Log-likelihood ratio and Chi-square contingency tests were used to assess behavioral states, and generalized additive models were used to analyze movement patterns (i.e., swimming speed, reorientation rate, and linearity) relative to endogenous and exogenous factors and vessel presence. Dolphins regularly use the GSC to forage (57% of observed behavioral states) and socialize (27%), and it is not a travel corridor for accessing other favorable sites (traveling = 5%). Dolphin behavior varied significantly based on time of day, group size, calf presence, and general boat presence. When boats were present, the proportion of time dolphins spent socializing and foraging was significantly less than expected by chance. Swimming speeds increased significantly in the presence of small recreational boats, dolphin-watching tour boats, shrimp trawlers, and when tour boats and shrimp trawlers were both present. Reorientation rate increased significantly in the presence of tour boats and trawlers. Dolphin behavioral responses to vessel presence may result in decreased energy consumption due to disrupted foraging activity. Without proper management, the observed behavioral changes may be detrimental to individuals within this population in the short term, with potential long-term consequences to health and survivorship.

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<![CDATA[Orangutans (Pongo abelii) make flexible decisions relative to reward quality and tool functionality in a multi-dimensional tool-use task]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6dca02d5eed0c48452a6b6

Making economic decisions in a natural foraging situation that involves the use of tools may require an animal to consider more levels of relational complexity than merely deciding between an immediate and a delayed food option. We used the same method previously used with Goffin´s cockatoos to investigate the orangutans’ flexibility for making the most profitable decisions when confronted with five different settings that included one or two different apparatuses, two different tools and two food items (one more preferred than the other). We found that orangutans made profitable decisions relative to reward quality, when the task required the subjects to select a tool over an immediately accessible food reward. Furthermore, most subjects were sensitive to work-effort when the immediate and the delayed option (directly accessible by using a tool) led to the same outcome. Most subjects continued to make profitable decisions that required taking into account the tool functionality. In a final multidimensional task design in which subjects had to simultaneously focus on two apparatuses, two reward qualities and two different tools, the orangutans chose the functional tool to access the high quality reward.

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<![CDATA[Radar detectors carried by Cape gannets reveal surprisingly few fishing vessel encounters]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c648d52d5eed0c484c82586

Fisheries compete with seabirds for vanishing marine resources, but also produce fishery waste consumed by seabirds. Marine birds may therefore avoid or seek fishing vessels, and have evolved complex, plastic behavioural responses to vessel presence. Understanding these responses is essential to the conservation of a globally declining seabird community. We studied Cape gannets (Morus capensis), which compete with fisheries for reduced sardine (Sardinops sagax) resources in the Benguela upwelling region off South Africa. Using bird-borne GPS trackers coupled with newly-developed ship-radar detectors we show that foraging gannets seldom attended fishing vessels. Rather, they switched from eating scarce sardines or energetically-poor fishery waste to targeting locally abundant saury (Scomberesox saurus). This pelagic fish is brought into the seascape by warm water influx, and is not commercially exploited by fisheries. Cape gannets thereby show dietary plasticity, allowing them to maintain adult body condition and chick growth rates. This diet switch is a strong indicator that Cape gannets forage in an ecologically perturbed marine environment.

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<![CDATA[Leave or stay? Video-logger revealed foraging efficiency of humpback whales under temporal change in prey density]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c63392dd5eed0c484ae6172

Central place foraging theory (CPF) has been used to predict the optimal patch residence time for air-breathing marine predators in response to patch quality. Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) forage on densely aggregated prey, which may induce drastic change in prey density in a single feeding event. Thus, the decision whether to leave or stay after each feeding event in a single dive in response to this drastic change, should have a significant effect on prey exploitation efficiency. However, whether humpback whales show adaptive behavior in response to the diminishing prey density in a single dive has been technically difficult to test. Here, we studied the foraging behavior of humpback whales in response to change in prey density in a single dive and calculated the efficiency of each foraging dive using a model based on CPF approach. Using animal-borne accelerometers and video loggers attached to whales, foraging behavior and change in relative prey density in front of the whales were successfully quantified. Results showed diminishing rate of energy intake in consecutive feeding events, and humpback whales efficiently fed by bringing the rate of energy intake close to maximum in a single dive cycle. This video-based method also enabled us to detect the presence of other animals around the tagged whales, showing an interesting trend in behavioral changes where feeding duration was shorter when other animals were present. Our results have introduced a new potential to quantitatively investigate the effect of other animals on free-ranging top predators in the context of optimal foraging theory.

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<![CDATA[Copy-the-majority of instances or individuals? Two approaches to the majority and their consequences for conformist decision-making]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c57e654d5eed0c484ef2bca

Cultural evolution is the product of the psychological mechanisms that underlie individual decision making. One commonly studied learning mechanism is a disproportionate preference for majority opinions, known as conformist transmission. While most theoretical and experimental work approaches the majority in terms of the number of individuals that perform a behaviour or hold a belief, some recent experimental studies approach the majority in terms of the number of instances a behaviour is performed. Here, we use a mathematical model to show that disagreement between these two notions of the majority can arise when behavioural variants are performed at different rates, with different salience or in different contexts (variant overrepresentation) and when a subset of the population act as demonstrators to the whole population (model biases). We also show that because conformist transmission changes the distribution of behaviours in a population, how observers approach the majority can cause populations to diverge, and that this can happen even when the two approaches to the majority agree with regards to which behaviour is in the majority. We discuss these results in light of existing findings, ranging from political extremism on twitter to studies of animal foraging behaviour. We conclude that the factors we considered (variant overrepresentation and model biases) are plausibly widespread. As such, it is important to understand how individuals approach the majority in order to understand the effects of majority influence in cultural evolution.

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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[Stomach contents of long-finned pilot whales, Globicephala melas mass-stranded in Tasmania]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c466578d5eed0c48451953b

New data are reported from analyses of stomach contents from 114 long-finned pilot whales mass-stranded at four locations around Tasmania, Australia from 1992–2006. Identifiable prey remains were recovered from 84 (74%) individuals, with 30 (26%) individuals (17 females and 13 males) having empty stomachs. Prey remains comprised 966 identifiable lower beaks and 1244 upper beaks, belonging to 17 families (26 species) of cephalopods. Ommastrephidae spp. were the most important cephalopod prey accounting for 16.9% by number and 45.6% by reconstructed mass. Lycoteuthis lorigera was the next most important, followed by Ancistrocheirus lesueurii. Multivariate statistics identified significant differences in diet among the four stranding locations. Long-finned pilot whales foraging off Southern Australia appear to be targeting a diverse assemblage of prey (≥10 species dominated by cephalopods). This is compared to other similar studies from New Zealand and some locations in the Northern Hemisphere, where the diet has been reported to be primarily restricted to ≤3 species dominated by cephalopods. This study emphasises the importance of cephalopods as primary prey for Southern long-finned pilot whales and other marine vertebrates, and has increased our understanding of long-finned pilot whale diet in Southern Ocean waters.

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<![CDATA[The effect of local land use on aerial insectivorous bats (Chiroptera) within the two dominating crop types in the Northern-Caribbean lowlands of Costa Rica]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c478ca7d5eed0c484bd3b14

Land transformation into agricultural areas and the intensification of management practices represent two of the most devastating threats to biodiversity worldwide. Within this study, we investigated the effect of intensively managed agroecosystems on bat activity and species composition within two focal areas differing in landscape structure. We sampled bats via acoustic monitoring and insects with flight interception traps in banana and pineapple monoculture plantations and two nearby protected forested areas within the area of Sarapiquí, Costa Rica. Our results revealed that general occurrence and feeding activity of bats was higher above plantations compared to forested areas. We also recorded higher species richness at recording sites in plantations. This trend was especially strong within a fragmented landscape, with only four species recorded in forests, but 12 above pineapple plantations. Several bat species, however, occurred only once or twice above plantations, and forest specialist species such as Centronycteris centralis, Myotis riparius and Pteronotus mesoamericanus were only recorded at forest sites. Our results indicated, that mostly mobile open space and edge foraging bat species can use plantations as potential foraging habitat and might even take advantage of temporal insect outbreaks. However, forests are vital refugia for several species, including slower flying forest specialists, and thus a prerequisite to safeguard bat diversity within agricultural dominated landscapes.

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<![CDATA[Attitude confidence and source credibility in information foraging with social tags]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c478c84d5eed0c484bd2cd0

There is growing concern that online information searchers are overconfident and therefore largely search for information which reinforces their prior attitudes, blinded by confirmation bias. This study tests if this effect can be reduced in content aggregation platforms, when social tag clouds show popular topics among experts. We manipulated (1) confidence in prior attitudes, and (2) the credibility of the expert community that tagged the content. We found that both factors influence navigation in different ways. First, attitude confidence moderated the influence of prior attitudes when choosing how much attitude-consistent content in blog posts to read. When attitude confidence was high, prior attitudes were positively associated with selection of blog posts, when low, not positively associated. After navigation, when confidence was high, the content of attitude-consistent blog posts was more favourably evaluated, whereas when confidence was low, attitude inconsistent blog posts were more favourably evaluated. Second, source credibility moderated the influence of prior attitudes on tag selection. When source credibility was low, prior attitudes did guide tag selection, when high, they did not. With low source credibility, people selected more attitude-consistent content. The findings advance social tagging theories by showing that not only semantic associations, but also attitudes play a role when people select and process tags and related content. The findings also show that credibility and confidence have a different impact on different stages of information selection and evaluation. Whereas credibility is more important when switching among pages, attitude confidence is more important when reading and evaluating the content of one page.

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<![CDATA[Hormonal signaling cascades required for phototaxis switch in wandering Leptinotarsa decemlineata larvae]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3d00e0d5eed0c484036455

Many animals exploit several niches sequentially during their life cycles, a fitness referred to as ontogenetic niche shift (ONS). To successfully accomplish ONS, transition between development stages is often coupled with changes in one or more primitive, instinctive behaviors. Yet, the underlining molecular mechanisms remain elusive. We show here that Leptinotarsa decemlineata larvae finish their ONS at the wandering stage by leaving the plant and pupating in soil. At middle wandering phase, larvae also switch their phototactic behavior, from photophilic at foraging period to photophobic. We find that enhancement of juvenile hormone (JH) signal delays the phototactic switch, and vise verse. Moreover, RNA interference (RNAi)-aided knockdown of LdPTTH (prothoracicotropic hormone gene) or LdTorso (PTTH receptor gene) impairs avoidance response to light, a phenotype nonrescuable by 20-hydroxyecdysone. Consequently, the RNAi beetles pupate at the soil surface or in shallow layer of soil, with most of them failing to construct pupation chambers. Furthermore, a combination of depletion of LdPTTH/LdTorso and disturbance of JH signal causes no additive effects on light avoidance response and pupation site selection. Finally, we establish that TrpA1 (transient receptor potential (TRP) cation channel) is necessary for light avoidance behavior, acting downstream of PTTH. We conclude that JH/PTTH cascade concomitantly regulates metamorphosis and the phototaxis switch, to drive ONS of the wandering beetles from plant into soil to start the immobile pupal stage.

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<![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.

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<![CDATA[Flocking propensity by satellites, but not core members of mixed-species flocks, increases when individuals experience energetic deficits in a poor-quality foraging habitat]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3fa5c1d5eed0c484ca8266

Mixed-species bird flocks are complex social systems comprising core and satellite members. Flocking species are sensitive to habitat disturbance, but we are only beginning to understand how species-specific responses to habitat disturbance affect interspecific associations in these flocks. Here we demonstrate the effects of human-induced habitat disturbance on flocking species’ behavior, demography, and individual condition within a remnant network of temperate deciduous forest patches in Indiana, USA. Specifically, we characterized the following properties of two core species, Carolina chickadees (Poecile carolinensis) and tufted titmice (Baeolophus bicolor), across a secondary-forest disturbance gradient: foraging time budgets, home range size, fat scores, fledgling counts, survival rates, and abundance. We also report fat scores for two satellite species that flock with the core study species: white-breasted nuthatches (Sitta carolinensis) and downy woodpeckers (Dryobates pubescens). Finally, we assess mixed-species flock sizes and composition, in addition to avian predator call rates, across the disturbance gradient. Foraging time budgets and home range size were highest and fat scores were lowest for core species in the most-disturbed site. Fat scores of two satellite species followed the same pattern. Additionally, the number of tufted titmice fledglings and winter survival rate of Carolina chickadees were lowest at the most-disturbed site. These results suggest that core species in the most-disturbed site experienced energetic deficits. Moreover, cumulative calling rate of raptors was lowest at the most-disturbed site, and none of the individual raptor species call rates were higher at the most-disturbed site—suggesting that perception of predation risk does not contribute to these patterns. Surprisingly, the satellites continued associating with mixed species flocks through the breeding season at the most-disturbed site. Total flock size and interspecific association patterns were otherwise consistent across the gradient. The fact that satellites continued to flock with core species during the breeding season suggests foraging niche expansion resulting from mixed-species flocking is important in disturbed sites even beyond the winter season. Our study reveals mechanisms underlying flock composition of birds surviving in remnant forest and links the mechanisms to degradation of foraging habitat. These findings offer important insight into the relative impact potential of forest disturbance on mixed-species flocks in the North Temperate Zone.

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<![CDATA[Complementary methods assessing short and long-term prey of a marine top predator ‒ Application to the grey seal-fishery conflict in the Baltic Sea]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3667aad5eed0c4841a5f8d

The growing grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) population in the Baltic Sea has created conflicts with local fisheries, comparable to similar emerging problems worldwide. Adequate information on the foraging habits is a requirement for responsible management of the seal population. We investigated the applicability of available dietary assessment methods by comparing morphological analysis and DNA metabarcoding of gut contents (short-term diet; n = 129/125 seals, respectively), and tissue chemical markers i.e. fatty acid (FA) profiles of blubber and stable isotopes (SIs) of liver and muscle (mid- or long-term diet; n = 108 seals for the FA and SI markers). The methods provided complementary information. Short-term methods indicated prey species and revealed dietary differences between age groups and areas but for limited time period. In the central Baltic, herring was the main prey, while in the Gulf of Finland percid and cyprinid species together comprised the largest part of the diet. Perch was also an important prey in the western Baltic Proper. The DNA analysis provided firm identification of many prey species, which were neglected or identified only at species group level by morphological analysis. Liver SIs distinguished spatial foraging patterns and identified potentially migrated individuals, whereas blubber FAs distinguished individuals frequently utilizing certain types of prey. Tissue chemical markers of adult males suggested specialized feeding to certain areas and prey, which suggest that these individuals are especially prone to cause economic losses for fisheries. We recommend combined analyses of gut contents and tissue chemical markers as dietary monitoring methodology of aquatic top predators to support an optimal ecosystem-based management.

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<![CDATA[Spatial variation in a top marine predator’s diet at two regionally distinct sites]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3667d2d5eed0c4841a6577

In ecological studies it is often assumed that predator foraging strategies and resource use are geographically and seasonally homogeneous, resulting in relatively static trophic relationships. However, certain centrally placed foragers (e.g. seals) often have terrestrial sites for breeding, resting, and moulting that are geographically distinct, and associated with different habitat types. Therefore, accurate estimations of predator diet at relevant spatial and temporal scales are key to understanding energetic requirements, predator-prey interactions and ecosystem structure. We investigate geographic variation in the diet of grey seals (Halichoerus grypus), a relatively abundant and widely distributed central place forager, to provide insights into geographic variation in resource use. Prey composition was identified using scat samples collected over concurrent timescales and a multivariate approach was used to analyse diet from two contrasting habitats. Regional differences in prey assemblages occurred within all years (2011–2013) and all seasons (ANOSIM, all p<0.05), apart from in winter. Telemetry data were used to identify core foraging areas and habitats most likely associated with scat samples collected at the two haul-out sites. Regional differences in the diet appear to reflect regional differences in the physical habitat features, with seals foraging in deeper waters over sandy substrates showing a higher prevalence of pelagic and bentho-pelagic prey species such as blue whiting and sandeels. Conversely, seals foraging in comparatively shallow waters had a greater contribution of demersal and groundfish species such as cephalopods and flatfish in their diet. We suggest that shallower waters enable seals to spend more time foraging along the benthos while remaining within aerobic dive limits, resulting in more benthic species in the diet. In contrast, the diet of seals hauled-out in areas adjacent to deeper waters indicates that either seals engage in a more pelagic foraging strategy, or that seals can spend less time at the benthos, resulting in comparatively more pelagic prey recovered in the diet. The substantial differences in prey assemblages over a small spatial scale (<300 km) demonstrates the importance of using regionally-specific diet information in ecosystem-based models to better account for different trophic interactions.

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