ResearchPad - predator-prey-dynamics 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[Oscillatory dynamics in a discrete predator-prey model with distributed delays]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c2d2eb0d5eed0c484d9b1b2

This work aims to discuss a predator-prey system with distributed delay. Various conditions are presented to ensure the existence and global asymptotic stability of positive periodic solution of the involved model. The method is based on coincidence degree theory and the idea of Lyapunov function. At last, simulation results are presented to show the correctness of theoretical findings.

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<![CDATA[Evidence for encounter-conditional, area-restricted search in a preliminary study of Colombian blowgun hunters]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c1ab877d5eed0c484028276

Active search for prey is energetically costly, so understanding how foragers optimize search has been central to foraging theory. Some theoretical work has suggested that foragers of randomly distributed prey should search using Lévy flights, while work on area-restricted and intermittent search strategies has demonstrated that foragers can use the information provided by prey encounters to more effectively adapt search direction and velocity. Previous empirical comparisons of these search modes have tended to rely on distribution-level analyses, due to the difficulty of collecting event-level data on encounters linked to the GPS tracks of foragers. Here we use a preliminary event-level data-set (18.7 hours of encounter-annotated focal follows over 6 trips) to show that two Colombian blowgun hunters use adaptive encounter-conditional heuristics, not non-conditional Lévy flights, when searching for prey. Using a theoretically derived Bayesian model, we estimate changes in turning-angle and search velocity as a function of encounters with prey at lagged time-steps, and find that: 1) hunters increase average turning-angle in response to encounters, producing a more tortuous search of patches of higher prey density, but adopt more efficient uni-directional, inter-patch movement after failing to encounter prey over a sufficient period of time; and, 2) hunters reduce search velocity in response to encounters, causing them to spend more of their search time in patches with demonstrably higher prey density. These results illustrate the importance of using event-level data to contrast encounter-conditional, area-restricted search and Lévy flights in explaining the search behavior of humans and other organisms.

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<![CDATA[Alien Invasions and the Game of Hide and Seek in Patagonia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da2fab0ee8fa60b83c49

The introduction, establishment and spread of alien species is a major threat to biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services for human wellbeing. In order to reduce further loss of biodiversity and maintain productive and sustainable ecosystems, understanding the ecological mechanisms underlying species invasions and avoiding potentially harmful effects on native communities is urgently needed, but largely lacking. We here demonstrate, by means of hydroacoustics and advanced spatial modelling, how native fish species as a result of previous exposure to native predators may successfully respond to invasive novel predators through a complicated game of hide and seek, minimizing spatio-temporal overlap with predators, and potentially facilitating coexistence between native prey species (Galaxiids) and introduced novel predators (Salmonids) in a deep Andean lake, Patagonia.

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<![CDATA[Limited Predator-Induced Dispersal in Whiteflies]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da1bab0ee8fa60b7cbde

Whereas prey are known to avoid habitats with their predators, it is less well established whether they are triggered to emigrate to new habitats when exposed to predators in their current habitat. We studied plant-to-plant dispersal of adult whiteflies in response to the presence of predatory mites on the plant on which the whiteflies were released. These predators attack whitefly eggs and crawlers, but not the adults, which can fly to other plants and can learn to avoid plants with predators. Being tiny and wingless, the predatory mites are slow dispersers compared to adult whiteflies. This offers the whiteflies the opportunity to escape from plants with predatory mites to plants without predators, thus avoiding predation of their offspring. To test for this escape response, a greenhouse experiment was carried out, where whiteflies were released on the first of a row of 5 cucumber plants, 0.6 m or 2 m apart, and predators either on the same plant, on the next plant, or nowhere (control). Adult whiteflies dispersed significantly faster from plants with predatory mites onto neighbouring plants when the plants were 0.6 m apart, but not when plants were 2 m apart. However, the final numbers of whiteflies that had successfully dispersed at the end of the experiments did not differ significantly for either of the two interplant distances. Overall, the proportion of whiteflies that did disperse was low, suggesting that adult whiteflies were apparently reluctant to disperse, even from plants with predators. Our results suggest that this reluctance increases with the distance between the plants, so most likely depends on the uncertainty to find a new plant. Thus, whiteflies do not always venture to fly even when they can easily bridge the distance to another plant.

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<![CDATA[The Ubiquity of Intraguild Predation among Predatory Arthropods]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9d9ab0ee8fa60b67075

Intraguild predation (IGP) occurs when one predator species attacks another predator species with which it competes for a shared prey species. Despite the apparent omnipresence of intraguild interactions in natural and managed ecosystems, very few studies have quantified rates of IGP in various taxa under field conditions. We used molecular analyses of gut contents to assess the nature and incidence of IGP among four species of coccinellid predators in soybean fields. Over half of the 368 predator individuals collected in soybean contained the DNA of other coccinellid species indicating that IGP was very common at our field site. Furthermore, 13.2% of the sampled individuals contained two and even three other coccinellid species in their gut. The interaction was reciprocal, as each of the four coccinellid species has the capacity to feed on the others. To our knowledge, this study represents the most convincing field evidence of a high prevalence of IGP among predatory arthropods. The finding has important implications for conservation biology and biological control.

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<![CDATA[Consistent Selection towards Low Activity Phenotypes When Catchability Depends on Encounters among Human Predators and Fish]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db12ab0ee8fa60bcc768

Together with life-history and underlying physiology, the behavioural variability among fish is one of the three main trait axes that determines the vulnerability to fishing. However, there are only a few studies that have systematically investigated the strength and direction of selection acting on behavioural traits. Using in situ fish behaviour revealed by telemetry techniques as input, we developed an individual-based model (IBM) that simulated the Lagrangian trajectory of prey (fish) moving within a confined home range (HR). Fishers exhibiting various prototypical fishing styles targeted these fish in the model. We initially hypothesised that more active and more explorative individuals would be systematically removed under all fished conditions, in turn creating negative selection differentials on low activity phenotypes and maybe on small HR. Our results partly supported these general predictions. Standardised selection differentials were, on average, more negative on HR than on activity. However, in many simulation runs, positive selection pressures on HR were also identified, which resulted from the stochastic properties of the fishes’ movement and its interaction with the human predator. In contrast, there was a consistent negative selection on activity under all types of fishing styles. Therefore, in situations where catchability depends on spatial encounters between human predators and fish, we would predict a consistent selection towards low activity phenotypes and have less faith in the direction of the selection on HR size. Our study is the first theoretical investigation on the direction of fishery-induced selection of behaviour using passive fishing gears. The few empirical studies where catchability of fish was measured in relation to passive fishing techniques, such as gill-nets, traps or recreational fishing, support our predictions that fish in highly exploited situations are, on average, characterised by low swimming activity, stemming, in part, from negative selection on swimming activity.

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<![CDATA[Modelling Size Structured Food Webs Using a Modified Niche Model with Two Predator Traits]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da37ab0ee8fa60b869e2

The structure of food webs is frequently described using phenomenological stochastic models. A prominent example, the niche model, was found to produce artificial food webs resembling real food webs according to a range of summary statistics. However, the size structure of food webs generated by the niche model and real food webs has not yet been rigorously compared. To fill this void, I use a body mass based version of the niche model and compare prey-predator body mass allometry and predator-prey body mass ratios predicted by the model to empirical data. The results show that the model predicts weaker size structure than observed in many real food webs. I introduce a modified version of the niche model which allows to control the strength of size-dependence of predator-prey links. In this model, optimal prey body mass depends allometrically on predator body mass and on a second trait, such as foraging mode. These empirically motivated extensions of the model allow to represent size structure of real food webs realistically and can be used to generate artificial food webs varying in several aspects of size structure in a controlled way. Hence, by explicitly including the role of species traits, this model provides new opportunities for simulating the consequences of size structure for food web dynamics and stability.

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<![CDATA[Intraguild Predation and Native Lady Beetle Decline]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dae6ab0ee8fa60bbd810

Coccinellid communities across North America have experienced significant changes in recent decades, with declines in several native species reported. One potential mechanism for these declines is interference competition via intraguild predation; specifically, increased predation of native coccinellid eggs and larvae following the introduction of exotic coccinellids. Our previous studies have shown that agricultural fields in Michigan support a higher diversity and abundance of exotic coccinellids than similar fields in Iowa, and that the landscape surrounding agricultural fields across the north central U.S. influences the abundance and activity of coccinellid species. The goal of this study was to quantify the amount of egg predation experienced by a native coccinellid within Michigan and Iowa soybean fields and explore the influence of local and large-scale landscape structure. Using the native lady beetle Coleomegilla maculata as a model, we found that sentinel egg masses were subject to intense predation within both Michigan and Iowa soybean fields, with 60.7% of egg masses attacked and 43.0% of available eggs consumed within 48 h. In Michigan, the exotic coccinellids Coccinella septempunctata and Harmonia axyridis were the most abundant predators found in soybean fields whereas in Iowa, native species including C. maculata, Hippodamia parenthesis and the soft-winged flower beetle Collops nigriceps dominated the predator community. Predator abundance was greater in soybean fields within diverse landscapes, yet variation in predator numbers did not influence the intensity of egg predation observed. In contrast, the strongest predictor of native coccinellid egg predation was the composition of edge habitats bordering specific fields. Field sites surrounded by semi-natural habitats including forests, restored prairies, old fields, and pasturelands experienced greater egg predation than fields surrounded by other croplands. This study shows that intraguild predation by both native and exotic predators may contribute to native coccinellid decline, and that landscape structure interacts with local predator communities to shape the specific outcomes of predator-predator interactions.

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<![CDATA[The combined effects of biotic and abiotic stress on species richness and connectance]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db4fab0ee8fa60bdbc3b

Food web structure and species richness are both subject to biotic (e.g. predation pressure and resource limitation) and abiotic stress (e.g. environmental change). We investigated the combined effects of both types of stress on richness and connectance, and on their relationship, in a predator-prey system. To this end, we developed a mathematical two trophic level food-web model to investigate the effects of biotic and abiotic stress on food web connectance and species richness. We found negative effects of top-down and bottom-up control on prey and predator richness, respectively. Effects of top-down and bottom-up control were stronger when initial connectance was high and low, respectively. Bottom-up control could either aggravate or buffer negative effects of top-down control. Abiotic stress affecting predator richness had positive indirect effects on prey richness, but only when initial connectance was low. However, no indirect effects on predator richness were observed following direct effects on prey richness. Top-down and bottom-up control selected for weakly connected prey and highly connected predators, thereby decreasing and increasing connectance, respectively. Our simulations suggest a broad range of negative and positive richness-connectance relationships, thereby revisiting the often found negative relationship between richness and connectance in food webs. Our results suggest that (1) initial food-web connectance strongly influences the effects of biotic stress on richness and the occurrence of indirect effects on richness; and (2) the shape of the richness-connectance relationship depends on the type of biotic stress.

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<![CDATA[The Effects of Spatially Heterogeneous Prey Distributions on Detection Patterns in Foraging Seabirds]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9fdab0ee8fa60b72e75

Many attempts to relate animal foraging patterns to landscape heterogeneity are focused on the analysis of foragers movements. Resource detection patterns in space and time are not commonly studied, yet they are tightly coupled to landscape properties and add relevant information on foraging behavior. By exploring simple foraging models in unpredictable environments we show that the distribution of intervals between detected prey (detection statistics) is mostly determined by the spatial structure of the prey field and essentially distinct from predator displacement statistics. Detections are expected to be Poissonian in uniform random environments for markedly different foraging movements (e.g. Lévy and ballistic). This prediction is supported by data on the time intervals between diving events on short-range foraging seabirds such as the thick-billed murre (Uria lomvia). However, Poissonian detection statistics is not observed in long-range seabirds such as the wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) due to the fractal nature of the prey field, covering a wide range of spatial scales. For this scenario, models of fractal prey fields induce non-Poissonian patterns of detection in good agreement with two albatross data sets. We find that the specific shape of the distribution of time intervals between prey detection is mainly driven by meso and submeso-scale landscape structures and depends little on the forager strategy or behavioral responses.

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<![CDATA[Potential Landscape and Probabilistic Flux of a Predator Prey Network]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db14ab0ee8fa60bcccb8

Predator-prey system, as an essential element of ecological dynamics, has been recently studied experimentally with synthetic biology. We developed a global probabilistic landscape and flux framework to explore a synthetic predator-prey network constructed with two Escherichia coli populations. We developed a self consistent mean field method to solve multidimensional problem and uncovered the potential landscape with Mexican hat ring valley shape for predator-prey oscillations. The landscape attracts the system down to the closed oscillation ring. The probability flux drives the coherent oscillations on the ring. Both the landscape and flux are essential for the stable and coherent oscillations. The landscape topography characterized by the barrier height from the top of Mexican hat to the closed ring valley provides a quantitative measure of global stability of system. The entropy production rate for the energy dissipation is less for smaller environmental fluctuations or perturbations. The global sensitivity analysis based on the landscape topography gives specific predictions for the effects of parameters on the stability and function of the system. This may provide some clues for the global stability, robustness, function and synthetic network design.

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<![CDATA[Night Shift: Expansion of Temporal Niche Use Following Reductions in Predator Density]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daf4ab0ee8fa60bc24a4

Predation shapes many fundamental aspects of ecology. Uncertainty remains, however, about whether predators can influence patterns of temporal niche construction at ecologically relevant timescales. Partitioning of time is an important mechanism by which prey avoid interactions with predators. However, the traits that control a prey organism's capacity to operate during a particular portion of the diel cycle are diverse and complex. Thus, diel prey niches are often assumed to be relatively unlikely to respond to changes in predation risk at short timescales. Here we present evidence to the contrary. We report results that suggest that the anthropogenic depletion of daytime active predators (species that are either diurnal or cathemeral) in a coral reef ecosystem is associated with rapid temporal niche expansions in a multi-species assemblage of nocturnal prey fishes. Diurnal comparisons of nocturnal prey fish abundance in predator rich and predator depleted reefs at two atolls revealed that nocturnal fish were approximately six (biomass) and eight (density) times more common during the day on predator depleted reefs. Amongst these, the prey species that likely were the most specialized for nocturnal living, and thus the most vulnerable to predation (i.e. those with greatest eye size to body length ratio), showed the strongest diurnal increases at sites where daytime active predators were rare. While we were unable to determine whether these observed increases in diurnal abundance by nocturnal prey were the result of a numerical or behavioral response, either effect could be ecologically significant. These results raise the possibility that predation may play an important role in regulating the partitioning of time by prey and that anthropogenic depletions of predators may be capable of causing rapid changes to key properties of temporal community architecture.

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<![CDATA[Disturbance Promotes Non-Indigenous Bacterial Invasion in Soil Microcosms: Analysis of the Roles of Resource Availability and Community Structure]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db24ab0ee8fa60bcfd4d

Background

Invasion-biology is largely based on non-experimental observation of larger organisms. Here, we apply an experimental approach to the subject. By using microbial-based microcosm-experiments, invasion-biology can be placed on firmer experimental, and hence, less anecdotal ground. A better understanding of the mechanisms that govern invasion-success of bacteria in soil communities will provide knowledge on the factors that hinder successful establishment of bacteria artificially inoculated into soil, e.g. for remediation purposes. Further, it will yield valuable information on general principles of invasion biology in other domains of life.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Here, we studied invasion and establishment success of GFP-tagged Pseudomonas fluorescens DSM 50090 in laboratory microcosms during a 42-day period. We used soil heating to create a disturbance gradient, and hypothesized that increased disturbance would facilitate invasion; our experiments confirmed this hypothesis. We suggest that the key factors associated with the heating disturbance that explain the enhanced invasion success are increased carbon substrate availability and reduced diversity, and thus, competition- and predation-release. In a second experiment we therefore separated the effects of increased carbon availability and decreased diversity. Here, we demonstrated that the effect of the indigenous soil community on bacterial invasion was stronger than that of resource availability. In particular, introduced bacteria established better in a long term perspective at lower diversity and predation pressure.

Conclusion

We propose increased use of microbial systems, for experimental study of invasion scenarios. They offer a simple and cost-efficient way to study and understand biological invasion. Consequently such systems can help us to better predict the mechanisms controlling changes in stability of communities and ecosystems. This is becoming increasingly relevant since anthropogenic disturbance causes increasing global change, which promotes invasion. Moreover, a thorough understanding of factors controlling invasion and establishment of artificially amended micro-organisms will mean a major step forward for soil-remediation microbiology.

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<![CDATA[Wasp-Waist Interactions in the North Sea Ecosystem]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db41ab0ee8fa60bd6eba

Background

In a “wasp-waist” ecosystem, an intermediate trophic level is expected to control the abundance of predators through a bottom-up interaction and the abundance of prey through a top-down interaction. Previous studies suggest that the North Sea is mainly governed by bottom-up interactions driven by climate perturbations. However, few studies have investigated the importance of the intermediate trophic level occupied by small pelagic fishes.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We investigated the numeric interactions among 10 species of seabirds, two species of pelagic fish and four groups of zooplankton in the North Sea using decadal-scale databases. Linear models were used to relate the time series of zooplankton and seabirds to the time series of pelagic fish. Seabirds were positively related to herring (Clupea harengus), suggesting a bottom-up interaction. Two groups of zooplankton; Calanus helgolandicus and krill were negatively related to sprat (Sprattus sprattus) and herring respectively, suggesting top-down interactions. In addition, we found positive relationships among the zooplankton groups. Para/pseudocalanus was positively related to C. helgolandicus and C. finmarchicus was positively related to krill.

Conclusion/Significance

Our results indicate that herring was important in regulating the abundance of seabirds through a bottom-up interaction and that herring and sprat were important in regulating zooplankton through top-down interactions. We suggest that the positive relationships among zooplankton groups were due to selective foraging and switching in the two clupeid fishes. Our results suggest that “wasp-waist” interactions might be more important in the North Sea than previously anticipated. Fluctuations in the populations of pelagic fish due to harvesting and depletion of their predators might accordingly have profound consequences for ecosystem dynamics through trophic cascades.

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<![CDATA[Merging Resource Availability with Isotope Mixing Models: The Role of Neutral Interaction Assumptions]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9d8ab0ee8fa60b6673d

Background

Bayesian mixing models have allowed for the inclusion of uncertainty and prior information in the analysis of trophic interactions using stable isotopes. Formulating prior distributions is relatively straightforward when incorporating dietary data. However, the use of data that are related, but not directly proportional, to diet (such as prey availability data) is often problematic because such information is not necessarily predictive of diet, and the information required to build a reliable prior distribution for all prey species is often unavailable. Omitting prey availability data impacts the estimation of a predator's diet and introduces the strong assumption of consumer ultrageneralism (where all prey are consumed in equal proportions), particularly when multiple prey have similar isotope values.

Methodology

We develop a procedure to incorporate prey availability data into Bayesian mixing models conditional on the similarity of isotope values between two prey. If a pair of prey have similar isotope values (resulting in highly uncertain mixing model results), our model increases the weight of availability data in estimating the contribution of prey to a predator's diet. We test the utility of this method in an intertidal community against independently measured feeding rates.

Conclusions

Our results indicate that our weighting procedure increases the accuracy by which consumer diets can be inferred in situations where multiple prey have similar isotope values. This suggests that the exchange of formalism for predictive power is merited, particularly when the relationship between prey availability and a predator's diet cannot be assumed for all species in a system.

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<![CDATA[Plastic and Heritable Variation in Shell Thickness of the Intertidal Gastropod Nucella lapillus Associated with Risks of Crab Predation and Wave Action, and Sexual Maturation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da9cab0ee8fa60ba4253

The intertidal snail Nucella lapillus generally has thicker shells at sites sheltered from wave action, where crabs are abundant and pose a high risk of predation, than at exposed sites where crabs are rare. We studied two populations showing the opposite trend. We reciprocally transplanted snails between field sites and measured shell length, width and lip thickness of those recaptured 12 months later. Snails transplanted to the sheltered site grew larger than sheltered-site residents, which in turn grew larger than transplants to the exposed site. Relative shell-lip thickness was greater in residents at the exposed site than at the sheltered site. Transplants from shelter to exposure developed relatively thicker shells than their controls and relatively thinner shells from exposure to shelter. Progeny of the two populations were reared for 12 months in a common garden experiment presenting effluent from crabs feeding on broken conspecifics as the treatment and fresh sea-water as the control. The crab-effluent treatment decreased foraging activity, concomitantly reducing cumulative somatic growth and reproductive output. Juveniles receiving crab-effluent grew slower in shell length while developing relatively thicker shell lips than controls, the level of response being similar between lineages. F2 progeny of the exposed-site lineage showed similar trends to the F1s; sheltered-site F2s were too few for statistical analysis. At sexual maturity, shell-lip thickness was greater in snails receiving crab-effluent than in controls, indicating plasticity, but was also greater in the exposed-site than in the sheltered-site lineage, indicating heritable variation, probably in degree of sexual thickening of the shell lip. Results corroborate hypotheses that ‘defensive’ shell thickening is a passive consequence of starvation and that heritable and plastic control of defensive shell morphology act synergistically. Shell thickening of juveniles was similar between lineages, contrary to hypotheses predicting differential strengths of plasticity in populations from low- or high-risk habitats.

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<![CDATA[Animal-Borne Acoustic Transceivers Reveal Patterns of at-Sea Associations in an Upper-Trophic Level Predator]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da42ab0ee8fa60b8a69d

Satellite telemetry data have substantially increased our understanding of habitat use and foraging behaviour of upper-trophic marine predators, but fall short of providing an understanding of their social behaviour. We sought to determine whether novel acoustic and archival GPS data could be used to examine at-sea associations among grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) during the fall foraging period. Fifteen grey seals from Sable Island, Canada were deployed with Vemco Mobile Transceivers and Satellite-GPS transmitters in October 2009, 13 of which were recaptured and units retrieved 79±2.3 days later during the following breeding season, December 2009–January 2010. An association between two individuals was defined as a cluster of acoustic detections where the time between detections was <30 min. Bathymetry, travel rate, and behavioural state (slow and fast movement) were determined for each GPS archival point (3.7±0.1 locations recorded per hour). Behavioural state was estimated using a hidden Markov model. All seals had been involved in associations with other instrumented seals while at sea, with a total of 1,872 acoustic detections recorded in 201 associations. The median number of detections per association was 3 (range: 1–151) and the median duration of an association was 0.17 h (range: <0.1–11.3 h). Linear mixed-effects models showed that associations occurred when seals were exhibiting slow movement (0.24±0.01 ms−1) on shallow (53.4±3.7 m) offshore banks where dominant prey is known to occur. These results suggest the occurrence of short-term associations among multiple individuals at foraging grounds and provide new insights into the foraging ecology of this upper-trophic marine predator.

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<![CDATA[A Simultaneous Test of Synchrony Causal Factors in Muskrat and Mink Fur Returns at Different Scales across Canada]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db4dab0ee8fa60bdaf33

Background

Synchrony among populations has been attributed to three major hypotheses: dispersal, the Moran effect, and trophic-level interactions. Unfortunately, simultaneous testing of these hypotheses demands complete and detailed data, which are scarce for ecological systems.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Hudson's Bay Company data on mink and muskrat fur returns in Canada represent an excellent opportunity to test these hypotheses because of the detailed spatial and temporal data from this predator-prey system. Using structural equation modelling, support for each hypothesis was evaluated at two spatial scales: across Canada and dividing the country into three regions longitudinally. Our results showed that at both scales mink synchrony is a major factor determining muskrat synchrony, supporting the hypothesis of trophic-level interactions, but the influence of winter precipitation synchrony is also important in eastern Canada. Moreover, mink synchrony is influenced principally by winter precipitation synchrony at the level of all Canada (Moran effect), but by distance at regional level, which might suggest some influence of dispersal at this level.

Discussion/Significance

Our result is one of the few reports of synchrony mediated by trophic-level interactions, highlighting the importance of evaluation of scale effects in population synchrony studies.

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<![CDATA[Egg Production in a Coastal Seabird, the Glaucous-Winged Gull (Larus glaucescens), Declines during the Last Century]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dabdab0ee8fa60baf8d8

Seabirds integrate information about oceanic ecosystems across time and space, and are considered sensitive indicators of marine conditions. To assess whether hypothesized long-term foodweb changes such as forage fish declines may be reflected in a consumer's life history traits over time, I used meta-regression to evaluate multi-decadal changes in aspects of egg production in the glaucous-winged gull (Larus glaucescens), a common coastal bird. Study data were derived from literature searches of published papers and unpublished historical accounts, museum egg collections, and modern field studies, with inclusion criteria based on data quality and geographic area of the original study. Combined historical and modern data showed that gull egg size declined at an average of 0.04 cc y−1 from 1902 (108 y), equivalent to a decline of 5% of mean egg volume, while clutch size decreased over 48 y from a mean of 2.82 eggs per clutch in 1962 to 2.25 in 2009. There was a negative relationship between lay date and mean clutch size in a given year, with smaller clutches occurring in years where egg laying commenced later. Lay date itself advanced over time, with commencement of laying presently (2008–2010) 7 d later than in previous studies (1959–1986). This study demonstrates that glaucous-winged gull investment in egg production has declined significantly over the past ∼50–100 y, with such changes potentially contributing to recent population declines. Though gulls are generalist feeders that should readily be able to buffer themselves against food web changes, they are likely nutritionally constrained during the early breeding period, when egg production requirements are ideally met by consumption of high-quality prey such as forage fish. This study's results suggest a possible decline in the availability of such prey, and the incremental long-term impoverishment of a coastal marine ecosystem bordering one of North America's rapidly growing urban areas.

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