ResearchPad - predation https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[A biological control model to manage the vector and the infection of <i>Xylella fastidiosa</i> on olive trees]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_11237 Xylella fastidiosa pauca ST53 is the bacterium responsible for the Olive Quick Decline Syndrome that has killed millions of olive trees in Southern Italy. A recent work demonstrates that a rational integration of vector and transmission control measures, into a strategy based on chemical and physical control means, can manage Xylella fastidiosa invasion and impact below an acceptable economic threshold. In the present study, we propose a biological alternative to the chemical control action, which involves the predetermined use of an available natural enemy of Philaenus spumarius, i.e., Zelus renardii, for adult vector population and infection biocontrol. The paper combines two different approaches: a laboratory experiment to test the predation dynamics of Zelus renardii on Philaenus spumarius and its attitude as candidate for an inundation strategy; a simulated experiment of inundation, to preliminary test the efficacy of such strategy, before eventually proceeding to an in-field experimentation. With this double-fold approach we show that an inundation strategy with Zelus renardii has the potential to furnish an efficient and “green” solution to Xylella fastidiosa invasion, with a reduction of the pathogen incidence below 10%. The biocontrol model presented here could be promising for containing the impact and spread of Xylella fastidiosa, after an in-field validation of the inundation technique. Saving the fruit orchard, the production and the industry in susceptible areas could thus become an attainable goal, within comfortable parameters for sustainability, environmental safety, and effective plant health protection in organic orchard management.

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<![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[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[Population density and temperature correlate with long-term trends in somatic growth rates and maturation schedules of herring and sprat]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c89775ed5eed0c4847d2b47

We examine long-term trends in the average growth rates and maturation schedules of herring and sprat populations using survey data collected from the North Sea and west of Scotland since the 1960s and 1980s respectively. Otolith age data and maturity data are used to calculate time series of mean lengths at age, von Bertalanffy growth parameters, and probabilistic maturation reaction norms. As the growth and maturation of fish is known to be influenced by temperature and stock abundances, we account for these variables using Generalised Additive Models. Each of the herring populations displayed either steady declines in mean length across multiple age groups, or declines in length followed years later by some recovery. Depending on region, lengths at age of sprat increased or decreased over time. Varying temporal trends in maturation propensity at age and length were observed across herring populations. Many of the trends in growth rate and maturation were correlated to population abundance and/or temperature. In general, abundance is shown to be negatively correlated to growth rates in herring and sprat, and positively correlated with maturation propensity in herring. Temperature is also shown to be correlated to growth and maturation, and although the effect is consistent within species, the temperature effects differ between herring and sprat. This study provides detailed information about long-term trends in growth and maturation, which is lacking for some of these pelagic stocks, especially in the west of Scotland.

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<![CDATA[Short-term fish predation destroys resilience of zooplankton communities and prevents recovery of phytoplankton control by zooplankton grazing]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c706772d5eed0c4847c7038

Planktivorous fish predation directly affects zooplankton biomass, community and size structure, and may indirectly induce a trophic cascade to phytoplankton. However, it is not clear how quickly the zooplankton community structure and the cascading effects on phytoplankton recover to the unaffected state (i.e. resilience) once short-term predation by fish stops. The resilience has implications for the ecological quality and restoration measures in aquatic ecosystems. To assess the short-term zooplankton resilience against fish predation, we conducted a mesocosm experiment consisting of 10 enclosures, 6 with fish and 4 without fish. Plankton communities from a natural lake were used to establish phytoplankton and zooplankton in the mesocosms. High biomasses (about 20 g wet mass m-3) of juvenile planktivorous fish (perch, Perca fluviatilis) were allowed to feed on zooplankton in fish enclosures for four days. Thereafter, we removed fish and observed the recovery of the zooplankton community and its cascading effect on trophic interactions in comparison with no fish enclosures for four weeks. Short-term fish predation impaired resilience in zooplankton community by modifying community composition, as large zooplankton, such as calanoids, decreased just after fish predation and did not re-appear afterwards, whereas small cladocerans and rotifers proliferated. Total zooplankton biomass increased quickly within two weeks after fish removal, and at the end even exceeded the biomass measured before fish addition. Despite high biomass, the dominance of small zooplankton released phytoplankton from grazer control in fish enclosures. Accordingly, the zooplankton community did not recover from the effect of fish predation, indicating low short-term resilience. In contrast, in no fish enclosures without predation disturbance, a high zooplankton:phytoplankton biomass ratio accompanied by low phytoplankton yield (Chlorophyll-a:Total phosphorus ratio) reflected phytoplankton control by zooplankton over the experimental period. Comprehensive views on short and long-term resilience of zooplankton communities are essential for restoration and management strategies of aquatic ecosystems to better predict responses to global warming, such as higher densities of planktivorous fish.

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<![CDATA[Sensitivity of the Norwegian and Barents Sea Atlantis end-to-end ecosystem model to parameter perturbations of key species]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c673075d5eed0c484f37b80

Using end-to-end models for ecosystem-based management requires knowledge of the structure, uncertainty and sensitivity of the model. The Norwegian and Barents Seas (NoBa) Atlantis model was implemented for use in ‘what if’ scenarios, combining fisheries management strategies with the influences of climate change and climate variability. Before being used for this purpose, we wanted to evaluate and identify sensitive parameters and whether the species position in the foodweb influenced their sensitivity to parameter perturbation. Perturbing recruitment, mortality, prey consumption and growth by +/- 25% for nine biomass-dominating key species in the Barents Sea, while keeping the physical climate constant, proved the growth rate to be the most sensitive parameter in the model. Their trophic position in the ecosystem (lower trophic level, mid trophic level, top predators) influenced their responses to the perturbations. Top-predators, being generalists, responded mostly to perturbations on their individual life-history parameters. Mid-level species were the most vulnerable to perturbations, not only to their own individual life-history parameters, but also to perturbations on other trophic levels (higher or lower). Perturbations on the lower trophic levels had by far the strongest impact on the system, resulting in biomass changes for nearly all components in the system. Combined perturbations often resulted in non-additive model responses, including both dampened effects and increased impact of combined perturbations. Identifying sensitive parameters and species in end-to-end models will not only provide insights about the structure and functioning of the ecosystem in the model, but also highlight areas where more information and research would be useful—both for model parameterization, but also for constraining or quantifying model uncertainty.

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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[Describing vegetation characteristics used by two rare forest-dwelling species: Will established reserves provide for coastal marten in Oregon?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5ca2bed5eed0c48441e9e9

Forest management guidelines for rare or declining species in the Pacific Northwest, USA, include both late successional reserves and specific vegetation management criteria. However, whether current management practices for well-studied species such as northern spotted owls (Strix occidentallis caurina) can aid in conserving a lesser known subspecies—Humboldt martens (Martes caurina humboldtensis)–is unclear. To address the lack of information for martens in coastal Oregon, USA, we quantified vegetation characteristics at locations used by Humboldt martens and spotted owls in two regions (central and southern coast) and at two spatial scales (the site level summarizing extensive vegetation surveys and regionally using remotely sensed vegetation and estimated habitat models). We estimated amount of predicted habitat for both species in established reserves. If predicted overlap in established reserves was low, then we reported vegetation characteristics to inform potential locations for reserves or management opportunities. In the Central Coast, very little overlap existed in vegetation characteristics between Humboldt martens and spotted owls at either the site or regional level. Humboldt martens occurred in young forests composed of small diameter trees with few snags or downed logs. Humboldt martens were also found in areas with very dense vegetation when overstory canopy and shrub cover percentages were combined. In the South Coast, Humboldt martens occurred in forests with smaller diameter trees than spotted owl sites on average. Coastal Humboldt martens may use stands of predicted high quality spotted owl habitat in the Pacific Northwest. Nonetheless, our observations suggest that coastal Humboldt martens exist in areas that include a much higher diversity of conifer size classes as long as extensive dense shrub cover, predominantly in the form of high salal and evergreen huckleberry, are available. We suggest that managers consider how structural characteristics (e.g., downed logs, shrub cover, patch size), are associated with long-term species persistence rather than relying on reserves based on broad cover types. Describing vegetation may partially describe suitability, but available prey or predation risk ultimately influence likelihood of individual Humboldt marten use. Guidelines for diversifying vegetation management, and retaining or restoring appropriate habitat conditions at both the stand level and regionally, may increase management flexibility and identify forest conditions that support both spotted owls and Humboldt martens.

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<![CDATA[Modelling potential habitat for snow leopards (Panthera uncia) in Ladakh, India]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c59febcd5eed0c484135369

The snow leopard Panthera uncia is an elusive species inhabiting some of the most remote and inaccessible tracts of Central and South Asia. It is difficult to determine its distribution and density pattern, which are crucial for developing conservation strategies. Several techniques for species detection combining camera traps with remote sensing and geographic information systems have been developed to model the habitat of such cryptic and low-density species in challenging terrains. Utilising presence-only data from camera traps and direct observations, alongside six environmental variables (elevation, aspect, ruggedness, distance to water, land cover, and prey habitat suitability), we assessed snow leopard habitat suitability across Ladakh in northern India. This is the first study to model snow leopard distribution both in India and utilising direct observation data. Results suggested that elevation and ruggedness are the two most influential environmental variables for snow leopard habitat suitability, with highly suitable habitat having an elevation range of 2,800 m to 4,600 m and ruggedness of 450 m to 1,800 m. Our habitat suitability map estimated approximately 12% of Ladakh's geographical area (c. 90,000 km2) as highly suitable and 18% as medium suitability. We found that 62.5% of recorded livestock depredation along with over half of all livestock corrals (54%) and homestays (58%) occurred within highly suitable snow leopard habitat. Our habitat suitability model can be used to assist in allocation of conservation resources by targeting construction of livestock corrals to areas of high habitat suitability and promoting ecotourism programs in villages in highly suitable snow leopard habitat.

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<![CDATA[Model uncertainty and simulated multispecies fisheries management advice in the Baltic Sea]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c58d61ed5eed0c48403168f

Different ecosystem models often provide contrasting predictions (model uncertainty), which is perceived to be a major challenge impeding their use to support ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM). The focus of this manuscript is to examine the extent of model disagreements which could impact management advice for EBFM in the central Baltic Sea. We compare how much three models (EwE, Gadget and a multispecies stock production model) differ in 1) their estimates of fishing mortality rates (Fs) satisfying alternative hypothetical management scenario objectives and 2) the outcomes of those scenarios in terms of performance indicators (spawning stock biomasses, catches, profits). Uncertainty in future environmental conditions affecting fish was taken into account by considering two seal population growth scenarios and two nutrient load scenarios. Differences in the development of the stocks, yields and profits exist among the models but the general patterns are also sufficiently similar to appear promising in the context of strategic fishery advice. Thus, we suggest that disagreements among the ecosystem models will not impede their use for providing strategic advice on how to reach management objectives that go beyond the traditional maximum yield targets and for informing on the potential consequences of pursuing such objectives. This is especially true for scenarios aiming at exploiting forage fish sprat and herring, for which the agreement was the largest among our models. However, the quantitative response to altering fishing pressure differed among models. This was due to the diverse environmental covariates and the different number of trophic relationships and their functional forms considered in the models. This suggests that ecosystem models can be used to provide quantitative advice only after more targeted research is conducted to gain a deeper understanding into the relationship between trophic links and fish population dynamics in the Baltic Sea.

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<![CDATA[Sensitivity of multispecies maximum sustainable yields to trends in the top (marine mammals) and bottom (primary production) compartments of the southern North Sea food-web]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c58d64ed5eed0c484031b3c

In marine ecosystems, maximum sustainable yield considerations are affected by any substantial changes that occur in the top and bottom compartments of the food-web. This study explores how the southern North Sea’s fisheries may need to adjust their fishing efforts to maintain optimum yields of sole, plaice, cod and brown shrimps under increased marine mammal populations and a reduced primary productivity. We constructed plausible scenarios of ongoing food-web changes using the results of Bayesian age-structured population models to estimate carrying capacities of harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) and grey seals (Halichoerus grypus). Losses in primary productivity were predicted by lower trophic level ecosystem models. These scenarios were implemented in a food-web model of the southern North Sea. For each scenario, we sought mixed-fleet fishing efforts that would deliver maximum yields of sole, plaice, cod and brown shrimp combined. We also did so for a baseline run with unaltered mammal and primary production, and compared the differences in optimal fishing strategies, predicted yields, and states of the stocks between the scenarios. We found stocks and yields to be far more sensitive to changes in primary productivity than to increased marine mammal predation. The latter predominantly impacted cod, and even benefitted brown shrimps compared to the baseline run. Under 30% reduced primary productivity, fishing efforts had to be reduced by 50% to still provide maximum yields, whereas the marine mammal scenario induced no need to adjust the fishing regime. This draws attention to the potential gains of incorporating bottom-up processes into long-term management considerations, while marine mammal predation may be less of a concern, in particular for flatfish fisheries in the North Sea, and may even benefit shrimp trawlers because of reduced predation on shrimp from fish predators.

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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[Captive-reared European hamsters follow an offensive strategy during risk-assessment]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c466557d5eed0c484518b18

Understanding whether captive-reared animals destined to reintroduction are still able to discriminate predators has important implications for conservation biology. The endangered European hamster benefits from conservation programs throughout Europe, in which several thousand individuals are released into the wild every year. Despite this, the anti-predator strategy of hamsters and their ability to maintain predator discrimination in captivity remain to be investigated. Here, we explore the predator discrimination behaviour of captive-reared European hamsters and their response to different predation cues. When first exposed to the urine of cats and goats in a Y-maze test, hamsters spent more time close to the cat scent rather than to the goat scent. In a second experiment, during which hamsters were exposed to a non-mobile European ferret (inside a cage), hamsters significantly increased the time spent close to the ferret’s cage and displayed aggressive behaviour towards the ferret. Furthermore, they did not take refuge inside an anti-predation tube (APT), a device designed to upgrade wildlife underpasses and reconnect wild hamster populations. Finally, when exposed to a mobile ferret (but without physical contact), hamsters displayed mobbing and aggressive behaviours towards the ferret, before taking refuge inside the APT. Taken together, our results show that captive-reared hamsters are still able to detect and react to predation cues, but that they initially adopt an offensive strategy (grunting, spitting, mobbing) during the risk-assessment phase. After risk assessment, however, hamsters used the APT as a refuge. Our study provides important insights into the anti-predator behaviour of hamsters. Testing the efficacy of the APT, a device that will allow upgrading wildlife underpasses for the hamster and other rodents, is also of great importance and is instrumental in conservation efforts for these species.

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<![CDATA[Does prey encounter and nutrient content affect prey selection in wolf spiders inhabiting Bt cotton fields?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c40f764d5eed0c48438603d

Wolf spiders are abundant and voracious predators at the soil-plant interface in cotton crops. Among other prey, they attack late-instar larvae of the cotton bollworm Helicoverpa spp., an economically important pest. Consequently, wolf spiders in transgenic Bt cotton could provide significant biological control of Bt-resistant Helicoverpa larvae that descend to the soil to pupate. The predator-prey interactions between wolf spiders and Helicoverpa could, however, be constrained by the presence of alternative prey and intraguild predators. This study used laboratory enclosures to analyse the effect of alternative prey on predatory selection of the wolf spider Tasmanicosa leuckartii Thorell. The prey included another wolf spider Hogna crispipes Koch (potential intraguild predator), the ground cricket Teleogryllus commodus Walker (minor pest), and Helicoverpa armigera larvae (major pest). We tested if encounter rates, prey vulnerability, and prey nutritional content influenced the likelihood that a prey was attacked. In three-way food webs, Tasmanicosa encountered and attacked Teleogryllus and Helicoverpa in similar frequencies. However, in the presence of a competing intraguild predator and potential prey (Hogna) in a four-way food web, Tasmanicosa did not always attack Teleogryllus at first encounter, but still attacked Helicoverpa at each encounter. Helicoverpa (protein-poor) and Hogna (protein-rich) were consumed by Tasmanicosa in similar proportions, suggesting that Tasmanicosa might benefit from nutrient balance as an outcome of diverse prey in this food web. As Teleogryllus (protein rich) escapes quicker than Helicoverpa and Hogna, Hogna may be an easier protein-rich option than Teleogryllus. Field surveys showed that while Teleogryllus was the most common prey, wolf spiders feed on diverse insect taxa, as well as other spiders. That Tasmanicosa readily attacked Helicoverpa larvae in the presence of alternative prey is an encouraging result that supports the potential of Tasmanicosa predation to assist in the control of Bt-resistant Helicoverpa larvae and thereby inhibit the proliferation and spread of resistance.

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<![CDATA[Migratory patterns and settlement areas revealed by remote sensing in an endangered intra-African migrant, the Black Harrier (Circus maurus)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c605a14d5eed0c4847cc90f

Annual movements have been widely described for birds migrating across the Americas and between Eurasia and Africa, yet relatively little information exists for intra-African migrants. Identifying the areas used throughout a species annual cycle by understanding migratory patterns and settlement areas during breeding and non-breeding seasons is essential for conservation initiatives. Here, we describe for the first time, the migratory patterns and settlement areas of an endangered raptor endemic to Southern Africa, the Black Harrier (Circus maurus). From 2008 to 2015, thirteen breeding adult Black Harriers were trapped in south-western South Africa and fitted either with a GPS-GSM or with a PTT tracker device. Adults were monitored for 365 ± 198 days (range: 56–819 days) revealing great individual variability in annual movements. Most Black Harriers performed an unusual West-East migration from their breeding areas, but routes of all migrating individuals covered the entire southern land area of South Africa and Lesotho. The distance travelled averaged 814 ± 324 km, but unlike many other species, migrants travelled faster during post-breeding (i.e. austral summer) (207.8 ± 113.2 km.day-1) than during pre-breeding (i.e. austral winter/spring) migrations (143.8 ± 32.2 km.day-1). Although most marked individuals displayed movements similar to those that bred following pre-breeding migrations, only two of thirteen were confirmed as breeders the year after being tagged. This suggests that individuals may sometimes take a sabbatical year in reproduction, although this requires confirmation. Most tagged birds died on migration or during the non-breeding season. Adults frequently returned to the same non-breeding settlement areas, and often used up to 3 different locations an average of about 200 km apart. On the other hand, there was wide variation in distance between subsequent reproductive events. We discuss the implications of our study for the conservation of Black Harriers and more broadly for intra-African bird migrants.

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<![CDATA[Stomach contents of the archaeocete Basilosaurus isis: Apex predator in oceans of the late Eocene]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3fa556d5eed0c484ca331a

Apex predators live at the top of an ecological pyramid, preying on animals in the pyramid below and normally immune from predation themselves. Apex predators are often, but not always, the largest animals of their kind. The living killer whale Orcinus orca is an apex predator in modern world oceans. Here we focus on an earlier apex predator, the late Eocene archaeocete Basilosaurus isis from Wadi Al Hitan in Egypt, and show from stomach contents that it fed on smaller whales (juvenile Dorudon atrox) and large fishes (Pycnodus mokattamensis). Our observations, the first direct evidence of diet in Basilosaurus isis, confirm a predator-prey relationship of the two most frequently found fossil whales in Wadi Al-Hitan, B. isis and D. atrox. This extends our understanding of their paleoecology. Late Eocene Basilosaurus isis, late Miocene Livyatan melvillei, and modern Orcinus orca are three marine apex predators known from relatively short intervals of time. Little is known about whales as apex predators through much of the Cenozoic era, and whales as apex predators deserve more attention than they have received.

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<![CDATA[Migration behavior and performance of the great spotted cuckoo (Clamator glandarius)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c390b93d5eed0c48491d532

The study of brood parasitism has traditionally been focused on the breeding period, but recent evidence suggests that it urgently needs a new spatio-temporal perspective to explore novel avenues on brood parasite-host co-evolutionary interactions. Many brood parasites are migrants, but their ecology outside their short breeding season is poorly known. The great spotted cuckoo (Clamator glandarius) is one of the classical models in the study of brood parasitism, however, there is very little information on its migratory strategy, route and wintering grounds. Furthermore, there is no previous information on the geographical distribution of mortality and its causes in this species; information that is critical to understand the fluctuations in cuckoo populations and detect potential conservation risks. Using satellite tracking technology, we provide novel insight into the migratory behavior and performance of the great spotted cuckoo. We found individuals from southern Spain to be long-distance nocturnal migrants that use the East Atlantic Flyway for both post and pre-breeding migration, and that winter in the western Sahel. We found evidence of individual variation in their migration route, particularly regarding their post-breeding behavior in Spain. Our study also suggests that the south of Morocco is the most dangerous area due to a large number of deaths during the post-breeding migratory period. Furthermore, we found that natural predation seems to be the main cause of death, probably due to raptors, although human activities (i.e. hunting) could also played a role in the southern Mediterranean shore. Our study offers novel findings and challenges traditional ideas on the ecology of this species providing a good example of how the new spatio-temporal perspective can expand our knowledge on brood parasites.

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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[Are predation rates comparable between natural and artificial open-cup tree nests in boreal forest landscapes?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3fa59ed5eed0c484ca68cb

Nest predation studies often use artificial nests to secure sample sizes and nest distribution patterns that allow empirically testing differences in predation rates between ecological units of interest. These studies rely on the assumption that natural and artificial nests experience similar or consistent relative predation rates across ecological gradients. As this assumption may depend on several factors (for example differences in predator community, nest construction, parental care patterns), it is important to test whether artificial nests provide adequate and comparable estimates of predation rates to natural nests. In this study, we compare predation rates of above-ground natural open-cup nests, artificial nests and natural nests with artificial eggs along a forest gradient from edge to interior (interior, transition zone and edge) and within two nest visibility classes (visible and concealed). Our aim was to determine whether nest structure affects comparability between nest types along these ecological gradients in boreal forests. Our results indicated important contributions of nest type, nest visibility and location along the forest edge-interior gradient, but no variable had strong significant effects on predation rates, except exposure time that showed lower predation rates at longer exposure times. Predation rates in visible and concealed nests remained similar for all nest types, but not along the forest edge-interior gradient. Here, artificial nests showed much lower predation rates than natural nests, whereas natural nests with artificial eggs tended to have higher predation rates than natural nests. We conclude that artificial nests in boreal forests represent an adequate measure of relative nest predation risk in open-cup natural nests along some ecological gradients, but results on predation rates along forest edge-interior gradients obtained from artificial nests should be interpreted with care.

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