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Behavior, Animal - Top 30 Publications

Unusually high-pitched neonate distress calls of the open-habitat Mongolian gazelle (Procapra gutturosa) and their anatomical and hormonal predictors.

In neonate ruminants, the acoustic structure of vocalizations may depend on sex, vocal anatomy, hormonal profiles and body mass and on environmental factors. In neonate wild-living Mongolian gazelles Procapra gutturosa, hand-captured during biomedical monitoring in the Daurian steppes at the Russian-Mongolian border, we spectrographically analysed distress calls and measured body mass of 22 individuals (6 males, 16 females). For 20 (5 male, 15 female) of these individuals, serum testosterone levels were also analysed. In addition, we measured relevant dimensions of the vocal apparatus (larynx, vocal folds, vocal tract) in one stillborn male Mongolian gazelle specimen. Neonate distress calls of either sex were high in maximum fundamental frequency (800-900 Hz), but the beginning and minimum fundamental frequencies were significantly lower in males than in females. Body mass was larger in males than in females. The levels of serum testosterone were marginally higher in males. No correlations were found between either body mass or serum testosterone values and any acoustic variable for males and females analysed together or separately. We discuss that the high-frequency calls of neonate Mongolian gazelles are more typical for closed-habitat neonate ruminants, whereas other open-habitat neonate ruminants (goitred gazelle Gazella subgutturosa, saiga antelope Saiga tatarica and reindeer Rangifer tarandus) produce low-frequency (<200 Hz) distress calls. Proximate cause for the high fundamental frequency of distress calls of neonate Mongolian gazelles is their very short, atypical vocal folds (4 mm) compared to the 7-mm vocal folds of neonate goitred gazelles, producing distress calls as low as 120 Hz.

Social media and scientific research are complementary-YouTube and shrikes as a case study.

Fascination with animals and their behaviour is one the most prominent patterns persisting in all human cultures. During the last decades, however, technological development and public access to the Internet have increased the speed and the extent of information sharing at an unprecedented rate, in some cases even challenging the traditional methods used in science. In order to understand the extent of this influence, we focused on the behaviour of shrikes. Shrikes are an enigmatic group of songbirds with a unique behaviour of impaling prey. We employed an extensive Internet search on YouTube (YT), a very popular and increasingly important source of information worldwide, for videos recording shrikes. Our analyses revealed that the number of shrike videos on YT is strongly positively correlated with classical knowledge on shrikes from books and scientific articles. Our results also suggest that in some cases YT may provide an alternative source of information on shrike ecology and behaviour. YT videos may thus provide new insights into the study of certain species or subjects and help identify gaps in ecological studies, especially in poorly studied species.

Television During Meals in the First 4 Years of Life.

The development of children's mealtime television (TV) habits has not been well studied. We assessed whether mealtime TV habits established in infancy will persist into early childhood. We analyzed data collected through parent surveys at birth and at 6-month intervals from a randomized controlled trial. We used t-tests, χ(2) tests, and a multivariable logistic regression to determine if family characteristics were associated with mealtime TV. A McNemar test was used to assess whether mealtime TV exposure changed over time. College-educated fathers and families with an annual income >$50 000 were associated with less-frequent TV exposure during children's mealtimes. It was found that 84% of children retained their level of exposure to TV during mealtimes from the first 24 months through 48 months of life. Clinicians should counsel families about mealtime TV use within the first 2 years of life because these habits seem to develop early and persist into at least early childhood.

Olfaction in a viscous environment: the "color" of sexual smells in Temora longicornis.

We investigate chemical aspects of mating in the marine copepod Temora longicornis (Copepoda, Calanoidea). Our emphasis is the female pheromone signaling in form of well-defined trails for males to follow, observed in Doall et al. (Phil Trans R Soc Lond B 353:681-689, 1998). The viscous environment and the properties of the odorants play important roles as the spread of the pheromone trail limits the time during which it is useful for tracing. A key observation from our earlier work is the ability of a searching male to detect the direction of the female and to correct its swimming direction if necessary. We propose a simple mathematical model for the spread of a pheromone from a moving source and carry out numerical simulations of two possible detection mechanisms. We find that a searching agent that is capable to detect a ratio outperforms a searcher that depends on the gradient of a single compound. This suggests that copepod sex pheromones consist of blends of chemical compounds, and that a ratio detection mechanism similar to that in airborne insects is at work.

Contact chemosensation of phytochemicals by insect herbivores.

Contact chemosensation, or tasting, is a complex process governed by nonvolatile phytochemicals that tell host-seeking insects whether they should accept or reject a plant. During this process, insect gustatory receptors (GRs) contribute to deciphering a host plant's metabolic code. GRs recognise many different classes of nonvolatile compounds; some GRs are likely to be narrowly tuned and others, broadly tuned. Although primary and/or secondary plant metabolites influence the insect's feeding choice, their decoding by GRs is challenging, because metabolites in planta occur in complex mixtures that have additive or inhibitory effects; in diverse forms composed of structurally unrelated molecules; and at different concentrations depending on the plant species, its tissue and developmental stage. Future studies of the mechanism of insect herbivore GRs will benefit from functional characterisation taking into account the spatio-temporal dynamics and diversity of the plant's metabolome. Metabolic information, in turn, will help to elucidate the impact of single ligands and complex natural mixtures on the insect's feeding choice.

Sexual selection on receptor organ traits: younger females attract males with longer antennae.

Sexual selection theory predicts that female choice may favour the evolution of elaborate male signals. Darwin also suggested that sexual selection can favour elaborate receiver structures in order to better detect sexual signals, an idea that has been largely ignored. We evaluated this unorthodox perspective by documenting the antennal lengths of male Uraba lugens Walker (Lepidoptera: Nolidae) moths that were attracted to experimentally manipulated emissions of female sex pheromone. Either one or two females were placed in field traps for the duration of their adult lives in order to create differences in the quantity of pheromone emissions from the traps. The mean antennal length of males attracted to field traps baited with a single female was longer than that of males attracted to traps baited with two females, a pattern consistent with Darwin's prediction assuming the latter emits higher pheromone concentrations. Furthermore, younger females attracted males with longer antennae, which may reflect age-specific changes in pheromone emission. These field experiments provide the first direct evidence of an unappreciated role for sexual selection in the evolution of sexual dimorphism in moth antennae and raise the intriguing possibility that females select males with longer antennae through strategic emission of pheromones.

Alimentary education.

The effectiveness of asking behaviors among 9-11 year-old children in increasing home availability and children's intake of fruit and vegetables: results from the Squire's Quest II self-regulation game intervention.

Home environment has an important influence on children's fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption, but children may in turn also impact their home FV environment, e.g. by asking for FV. The Squire's Quest II serious game intervention aimed to increase asking behaviors to improve home FV availability and children's FV intake. This study's aims were to assess: 1) did asking behaviors at baseline predict home FV availability at baseline (T0) (RQ1); 2) were asking behaviors and home FV availability influenced by the intervention (RQ2); 3) did increases in asking behaviors predict increased home FV availability (RQ3); and 4) did increases in asking behaviors and increases in home FV availability mediate increases in FV intake among children (RQ4)?

Mutualistic cleaner fish maintains high escape performance despite privileged relationship with predators.

Predatory reef fishes regularly visit mutualistic cleaner fish (Labroides dimidiatus) to get their ectoparasites removed but show no interest in eating them. The concept of compensated trait loss posits that characters can be lost if a mutualistic relationship reduces the need for a given trait. Thus, selective pressures on escape performance might have relaxed in L. dimidiatus due to its privileged relationship with predators. However, the cost of failing to escape a predatory strike is extreme even if predation events on cleaners are exceptionally rare. Additionally, cleaners must escape from non-predatory clients that regularly punish them for eating mucus instead of parasites. Therefore, strong escape capabilities might instead be maintained in cleaner fish because they must be able to flee when in close proximity to predators or dissatisfied clients. We compared the fast-start escape performance of L. dimidiatus with that of five closely related wrasse species and found that the mutualistic relationship that cleaners entertain with predators has not led to reduced escape performance. Instead, conflicts in cleaning interactions appear to have maintained selective pressures on this trait, suggesting that compensated trait loss might only evolve in cases of high interdependence between mutualistic partners that are not tempted to cheat.

Individual variation in local interaction rules can explain emergent patterns of spatial organization in wild baboons.

Researchers have long noted that individuals occupy consistent spatial positions within animal groups. However, an individual's position depends not only on its own behaviour, but also on the behaviour of others. Theoretical models of collective motion suggest that global patterns of spatial assortment can arise from individual variation in local interaction rules. However, this prediction remains untested. Using high-resolution GPS tracking of members of a wild baboon troop, we identify consistent inter-individual differences in within-group spatial positioning. We then apply an algorithm that identifies what number of conspecific group members best predicts the future location of each individual (we call this the individual's neighbourhood size) while the troop is moving. We find clear variation in the most predictive neighbourhood size, and this variation relates to individuals' propensity to be found near the centre of their group. Using simulations, we show that having different neighbourhood sizes is a simple candidate mechanism capable of linking variation in local individual interaction rules-in this case how many conspecifics an individual interacts with-to global patterns of spatial organization, consistent with the patterns we observe in wild primates and a range of other organisms.

Reduction in activity by noxious chemical stimulation is ameliorated by immersion in analgesic drugs in zebrafish.

Research has recently demonstrated that larval zebrafish show similar molecular responses to nociception to those of adults. Our study explored whether unprotected larval zebrafish exhibited altered behaviour after exposure to noxious chemicals and screened a range of analgesic drugs to determine their efficacy to reduce these responses. This approach aimed to validate larval zebrafish as a reliable replacement for adults as well as providing a high-throughput means of analysing behavioural responses. Zebrafish at 5 days post-fertilization were exposed to known noxious stimuli: acetic acid (0.01%, 0.1% and 0.25%) and citric acid (0.1%, 1% and 5%). The behavioural response of each was recorded and analysed using novel tracking software that measures time spent active in 25 larvae at one time. Subsequently, the efficacy of aspirin, lidocaine, morphine and flunixin as analgesics after exposure to 0.1% acetic acid was tested. Larvae exposed to 0.1% and 0.25% acetic acid spent less time active, whereas those exposed to 0.01% acetic acid and 0.1-5% citric acid showed an increase in swimming activity. Administration of 2.5 mg l(-1) aspirin, 5 mg l(-1) lidocaine and 48 mg l(-1) morphine prevented the behavioural changes induced by acetic acid. These results suggest that larvae respond to a noxious challenge in a similar way to adult zebrafish and other vertebrates and that the effect of nociception on activity can be ameliorated by using analgesics. Therefore, adopting larval zebrafish could represent a direct replacement of a protected adult fish with a non-protected form in pain- and nociception-related research.

Archer fish jumping prey capture: kinematics and hydrodynamics.

Smallscale archer fish, Toxotes microlepis, are best known for spitting jets of water to capture prey, but also hunt by jumping out of the water to heights of up to 2.5 body lengths. In this study, high-speed imaging and particle image velocimetry were used to characterize the kinematics and hydrodynamics of this jumping behavior. Jumping used a set of kinematics distinct from those of in-water feeding strikes and was segmented into three phases: (1) hovering to sight prey at the surface, (2) rapid upward thrust production and (3) gliding to the prey once out of the water. The number of propulsive tail strokes positively correlated with the height of the bait, as did the peak body velocity observed during a jump. During the gliding stage, the fish traveled ballistically; the kinetic energy when the fish left the water balanced with the change in potential energy from water exit to the maximum jump height. The ballistic estimate of the mechanical energy required to jump was comparable with the estimated mechanical energy requirements of spitting a jet with sufficient momentum to down prey and subsequently pursuing the prey in water. Particle image velocimetry showed that, in addition to the caudal fin, the wakes of the anal, pectoral and dorsal fins were of nontrivial strength, especially at the onset of thrust production. During jump initiation, these fins were used to produce as much vertical acceleration as possible given the spatial constraint of starting directly at the water's surface to aim.

Can soda ash dumping grounds provide replacement habitats for digger wasps (Hymenoptera, Apoidea, Spheciformes)?

Published sources document a loss of biodiversity at an extreme rate, mainly because natural and semi-natural ecosystems are becoming fragmented and isolated, thus losing their biological functions. These changes significantly influence biological diversity, which is a complex phenomenon that changes over time. Contemporary ecologists must therefore draw attention to anthropogenic replacement habitats and increase their conservation status. In our studies we show the positive role of soda ash dumping grounds as an alternative habitat for digger wasps, especially the thermophilic species.

Evaluating dispersal potential of an invasive fish by the use of aerobic scope and osmoregulation capacity.

Non-indigenous species (NIS) can impact marine biodiversity and ecosystem structure and function. Once introduced into a new region, secondary dispersal is limited by the physiology of the organism in relation to the ambient environment and by complex interactions between a suite of ecological factors such as presence of predators, competitors, and parasites. Early prediction of dispersal potential and future 'area of impact' is challenging, but also a great asset in taking appropriate management actions. Aerobic scope (AS) in fish has been linked to various fitness-related parameters, and may be valuable in determining dispersal potential of aquatic invasive species in novel environments. Round goby, Neogobius melanostomus, one of the most wide-ranging invasive fish species in Europe and North America, currently thrives in brackish and fresh water, but its ability to survive in high salinity waters is unknown to date. We show that AS in round goby is reduced by 30% and blood plasma osmolality increased (indicating reduced capacity for osmoregulation) at salinities approaching oceanic conditions, following slow ramping (5 PSU per week) and subsequent long-term acclimation to salinities ranging between 0 and 30 PSU (8 days at final treatment salinities before blood plasma osmolality measurements, 12-20 additional days before respirometry). Survival was also reduced at the highest salinities yet a significant proportion (61%) of the fish survived at 30 PSU. Reduced physiological performance at the highest salinities may affect growth and competitive ability under oceanic conditions, but to what extent reduced AS and osmoregulatory capacity will slow the current 30 km year-1 rate of advance of the species through the steep salinity gradient from the brackish Baltic Sea and into the oceanic North Sea remains speculative. An unintended natural experiment is in progress to test whether the rate of advance slows down. At the current rate of advance the species will reach the oceanic North Sea by 2018/2019, therefore time for taking preventative action is short.

A critical-like collective state leads to long-range cell communication in Dictyostelium discoideum aggregation.

The transition from single-cell to multicellular behavior is important in early development but rarely studied. The starvation-induced aggregation of the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum into a multicellular slug is known to result from single-cell chemotaxis towards emitted pulses of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). However, how exactly do transient, short-range chemical gradients lead to coherent collective movement at a macroscopic scale? Here, we developed a multiscale model verified by quantitative microscopy to describe behaviors ranging widely from chemotaxis and excitability of individual cells to aggregation of thousands of cells. To better understand the mechanism of long-range cell-cell communication and hence aggregation, we analyzed cell-cell correlations, showing evidence of self-organization at the onset of aggregation (as opposed to following a leader cell). Surprisingly, cell collectives, despite their finite size, show features of criticality known from phase transitions in physical systems. By comparing wild-type and mutant cells with impaired aggregation, we found the longest cell-cell communication distance in wild-type cells, suggesting that criticality provides an adaptive advantage and optimally sized aggregates for the dispersal of spores.

Diet and condition of mesopredators on coral reefs in relation to shark abundance.

Reef sharks may influence the foraging behaviour of mesopredatory teleosts on coral reefs via both risk effects and competitive exclusion. We used a "natural experiment" to test the hypothesis that the loss of sharks on coral reefs can influence the diet and body condition of mesopredatory fishes by comparing two remote, atoll-like reef systems, the Rowley Shoals and the Scott Reefs, in northwestern Australia. The Rowley Shoals are a marine reserve where sharks are abundant, whereas at the Scott Reefs numbers of sharks have been reduced by centuries of targeted fishing. On reefs where sharks were rare, the gut contents of five species of mesopredatory teleosts largely contained fish while on reefs with abundant sharks, the same mesopredatory species consumed a larger proportion of benthic invertebrates. These measures of diet were correlated with changes in body condition, such that the condition of mesopredatory teleosts was significantly poorer on reefs with higher shark abundance. Condition was defined as body weight, height and width for a given length and also estimated via several indices of condition. Due to the nature of natural experiments, alternative explanations cannot be discounted. However, the results were consistent with the hypothesis that loss of sharks may influence the diet and condition of mesopredators and by association, their fecundity and trophic role. Regardless of the mechanism (risk effects, competitive release, or other), our findings suggest that overfishing of sharks has the potential to trigger trophic cascades on coral reefs and that further declines in shark populations globally should be prevented to protect ecosystem health.

Great spotted cuckoo nestlings have no antipredatory effect on magpie or carrion crow host nests in southern Spain.

Host defences against cuckoo parasitism and cuckoo trickeries to overcome them are a classic example of antagonistic coevolution. Recently it has been reported that this relationship may turn to be mutualistic in the case of the carrion crow (Corvus corone) and its brood parasite, the great spotted cuckoo (Clamator glandarius), given that experimentally and naturally parasitized nests were depredated at a lower rate than non-parasitized nests. This result was interpreted as a consequence of the antipredatory properties of a fetid cloacal secretion produced by cuckoo nestlings, which presumably deters predators from parasitized host nests. This potential defensive mechanism would therefore explain the detected higher fledgling success of parasitized nests during breeding seasons with high predation risk. Here, in a different study population, we explored the expected benefits in terms of reduced nest predation in naturally and experimentally parasitized nests of two different host species, carrion crows and magpies (Pica pica). During the incubation phase non-parasitized nests were depredated more frequently than parasitized nests. However, during the nestling phase, parasitized nests were not depredated at a lower rate than non-parasitized nests, neither in magpie nor in carrion crow nests, and experimental translocation of great spotted cuckoo hatchlings did not reveal causal effects between parasitism state and predation rate of host nests. Therefore, our results do not fit expectations and, thus, do not support the fascinating possibility that great spotted cuckoo nestlings could have an antipredatory effect for host nestlings, at least in our study area. We also discuss different possibilities that may conciliate these with previous results, but also several alternative explanations, including the lack of generalizability of the previously documented mutualistic association.

Non-Responsive Feeding Practices, Unhealthy Eating Behaviors, and Risk of Child Overweight and Obesity in Southeast Asia: A Systematic Review.

Childhood obesity is increasing dramatically in many Southeast Asian countries, and becoming a significant public health concern. This review summarizes the evidence on associations between parental feeding practices, child eating behaviors, and the risk of overweight and obesity in Southeast Asian children 2-12 years old. We systematically searched five electronic academic/research (PubMed, PsycINFO, ProQuest Nursing, Medline, and CINAHL) databases using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement for peer-reviewed studies published in English between January 2000 and December 2016. Fourteen observational studies met the inclusion criteria and were reviewed. Reviewed studies were examined separately for preschool- and school-aged children and revealed that non-responsive parental feeding practices and unhealthy child eating behaviors were associated with a risk of child overweight and obesity in several Southeast Asian countries. Nonetheless, due to the small number of identified studies (n = 14) and because only about half of the Southeast Asian countries (Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, the Philippines, and Malaysia) were represented (5/11) in the examined studies, additional research is needed to further understand the factors associated with childhood obesity among children in Southeast Asia to develop interventions that are tailored to the specific needs of Southeast Asian countries and designed to address practices and behaviors that may promote childhood obesity.

A Little Bug with a Big Bite: Impact of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Infestations on Forest Ecosystems in the Eastern USA and Potential Control Strategies.

Hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae Annand, HWA) remains the single greatest threat to the health and sustainability of hemlock in the eastern USA. The loss of hemlock trees leads to further negative impacts on the diversity and stability of ecosystems in the eastern part of North America. It is, therefore, urgent to develop effective control measures to reduce HWA populations and promote overall hemlock health. Currently available individual and integrated approaches should continue to be evaluated in the laboratory and in the field along with the development of other new and innovative methods.

Urban primate ranging patterns: GPS-collar deployments for Macaca fascicularis and M. sylvanus.

The global increase in urbanization is leading to heavier interface between humans and wildlife. Within these anthropogenic landscapes, little is known about ranging patterns, particularly with regard to urban primates. Here we present the results of the first long-term deployment of multiple GPS collars on two species of macaques to investigate the impacts of urbanization on urban primate ranging patterns in Singapore and Gibraltar. Collars data acquisition were excellent with respect to the amount, quality, and accuracy of data collected; however, remote connectivity and drop-off functionality was poor across all deployments. Analyses highlighted high variability in ranging patterns between individuals within each species that aligned with access to human food resources and patterns of tourism. Individuals from troops with less access to human food had much larger home, core, and day ranges relative to those with regular provisioning or raiding opportunities. Almost no temporal range overlap was observed between any focal individuals at either site and spatial overlap was low for all but two troops at each site. We found no relationship between anthropogenic schedules and changes in ranging patterns. Significant seasonal variation existed for daily path length and day range size for both the Singapore long-tailed and the Gibraltar Barbary macaques, with long-tailed macaques increasing their range during the equatorial monsoon season and Barbary macaques increasing their range during drier, summer months. This study highlights how the behavioral plasticity found within the genus Macaca is reflected in ranging pattern variability within urban environments.

Stronger diversity effects with increased environmental stress: A study of multitrophic interactions between oak, powdery mildew and ladybirds.

Recent research has suggested that increasing neighbourhood tree species diversity may mitigate the impact of pests or pathogens by supporting the activities of their natural enemies and/or reducing the density of available hosts. In this study, we attempted to assess these mechanisms in a multitrophic study system of young oak (Quercus), oak powdery mildew (PM, caused by Erysiphe spp.) and a mycophagous ladybird (Psyllobora vigintiduopunctata). We assessed ladybird mycophagy on oak PM in function of different neighbourhood tree species compositions. We also evaluated whether these species interactions were modulated by environmental conditions as suggested by the Stress Gradient Hypothesis. We adopted a complementary approach of a field experiment where we monitored oak saplings subjected to a reduced rainfall gradient in a young planted forest consisting of different tree species mixtures, as well as a lab experiment where we independently evaluated the effect of different watering treatments on PM infections and ladybird mycophagy. In the field experiment, we found effects of neighbourhood tree species richness on ladybird mycophagy becoming more positive as the target trees received less water. This effect was only found as weather conditions grew drier. In the lab experiment, we found a preference of ladybirds to graze on infected leaves from trees that received less water. We discuss potential mechanisms that might explain this preference, such as emissions of volatile leaf chemicals. Our results are in line with the expectations of the Natural Enemies Hypothesis and support the hypothesis that biodiversity effects become stronger with increased environmental stress.

Sponge symbioses between Xestospongia deweerdtae and Plakortis spp. are not motivated by shared chemical defense against predators.

The recently described epizoic sponge-sponge symbioses between Xestospongia deweerdtae and two species of Plakortis present an unusual series of sponge interactions. Sponges from the genus Plakortis are fierce allelopathic competitors, rich in cytotoxic secondary metabolites, and yet X. deweerdtae flourishes as an epizoic encrustation on Plakortis deweerdtaephila and Plakortis symbiotica. Our objective in this study was to evaluate the hypothesis that X. deweerdtae grows epizoic to these two species of Plakortis due to a shared chemical defense against predators. We collected free-living individuals of X. deweerdtae and symbiotic pairs from a wide geographical range to generate crude organic extracts and a series of polarity fractions from sponge extract. We tested the deterrency of these extracts against three common coral reef predators: the bluehead wrasse, Thalassoma bifasciatum, the Caribbean sharpnose puffer, Canthigaster rostrata, and the white spotwrist hermit crab, Pagurus criniticornis. While the chemical defenses of P. deweerdtaephila and P. symbiotica are more potent than those of X. deweerdtae, all of the sponge species we tested significantly deterred feeding in all three generalist predators. The free-living form of X. deweerdtae is mostly defended across the region, with a few exceptions. The associated form of X. deweerdtae is always defended, and both species of Plakortis are very strongly defended, with puffers refusing to consume extract-treated pellets until the extract was diluted to 1/256× concentration. Using diode-array high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) coupled with high-resolution mass spectrometry (LC-MS/IT-TOF), we found two secondary metabolites from P. deweerdtaephila, probably the cyclic endoperoxides plakinic acid I and plakinic acid K, in low concentrations in the associated-but not the free-living-form of X. deweerdtae, suggesting a possible translocation of defensive chemicals from the basibiont to the epibiont. Comparing the immense deterrency of Plakortis spp. extracts to the extracts of X. deweerdtae gives the impression that there may be some sharing of chemical defenses: one partner in the symbiosis is clearly more defended than the other and a small amount of its defensive chemistry may translocate to the partner. However, X. deweerdtae effectively deters predators with its own defensive chemistry. Multiple lines of evidence provide no support for the shared chemical defense hypothesis. Given the diversity of other potential food resources available to predators on coral reefs, it is improbable that the evolution of these specialized sponge-sponge symbioses has been driven by predation pressure.

Changes in prices, sales, consumer spending, and beverage consumption one year after a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in Berkeley, California, US: A before-and-after study.

Taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) meant to improve health and raise revenue are being adopted, yet evaluation is scarce. This study examines the association of the first penny per ounce SSB excise tax in the United States, in Berkeley, California, with beverage prices, sales, store revenue/consumer spending, and usual beverage intake.

Broad and flexible stable isotope niches in invasive non-native Rattus spp. in anthropogenic and natural habitats of central eastern Madagascar.

Rodents of the genus Rattus are among the most pervasive and successful invasive species, causing major vicissitudes in native ecological communities. A broad and flexible generalist diet has been suggested as key to the invasion success of Rattus spp. Here, we use an indirect approach to better understand foraging niche width, plasticity, and overlap within and between introduced Rattus spp. in anthropogenic habitats and natural humid forests of Madagascar.

Long-term grazing effects on vegetation characteristics and soil properties in a semiarid grassland, northern China.

Understanding the responses of vegetation characteristics and soil properties to grazing disturbance is useful for grassland ecosystem restoration and management in semiarid areas. Here, we examined the effects of long-term grazing on vegetation characteristics, soil properties, and their relationships across four grassland types (meadow, Stipa steppe, scattered tree grassland, and sandy grassland) in the Horqin grassland, northern China. Our results showed that grazing greatly decreased vegetation cover, aboveground plant biomass, and root biomass in all four grassland types. Plant cover and aboveground biomass of perennials were decreased by grazing in all four grasslands, whereas grazing increased the cover and biomass of shrubs in Stipa steppe and of annuals in scattered tree grassland. Grazing decreased soil carbon and nitrogen content in Stipa steppe and scattered tree grassland, whereas soil bulk density showed the opposite trend. Long-term grazing significantly decreased soil pH and electrical conductivity (EC) in annual-dominated sandy grassland. Soil moisture in fenced and grazed grasslands decreased in the following order of meadow, Stipa steppe, scattered tree grassland, and sandy grassland. Correlation analyses showed that aboveground plant biomass was significantly positively associated with the soil carbon and nitrogen content in grazed and fenced grasslands. Species richness was significantly positively correlated with soil bulk density, moisture, EC, and pH in fenced grasslands, but no relationship was detected in grazed grasslands. These results suggest that the soil carbon and nitrogen content significantly maintains ecosystem function in both fenced and grazed grasslands. However, grazing may eliminate the association of species richness with soil properties in semiarid grasslands.

Ecological Release from Aquatic Predation Is Associated with the Emergence of Marine Blenny Fishes onto Land.

An ecological release from competition or predation is a frequent adaptive explanation for the colonization of novel environments, but empirical data are limited. On the island of Rarotonga, several blenny fish species appear to be in the process of colonizing land. Anecdotal observations have implied that aquatic predation is an important factor in prompting such amphibious fish behavior. We provide evidence supporting this hypothesis by demonstrating that amphibious blennies shift their abundance up and down the shoreline to remain above predatory fishes that periodically move into intertidal areas during high tide. A predation experiment using blenny mimics confirmed a high risk of aquatic predation for blennies, significantly higher than predation experienced on land. These data suggest that predation has played an active role in promoting terrestrial activity in amphibious blennies and provide a rare example of how ecological release from predation could drive the colonization of a novel environment.

Perceptual Ranges, Information Gathering, and Foraging Success in Dynamic Landscapes.

How organisms gather and utilize information about their landscapes is central to understanding land-use patterns and population distributions. When such information originates beyond an individual's immediate vicinity, movement decisions require integrating information out to some perceptual range. Such nonlocal information, whether obtained visually, acoustically, or via chemosensation, provides a field of stimuli that guides movement. Classically, however, models have assumed movement based on purely local information (e.g., chemotaxis, step-selection functions). Here we explore how foragers can exploit nonlocal information to improve their success in dynamic landscapes. Using a continuous time/continuous space model in which we vary both random (diffusive) movement and resource-following (advective) movement, we characterize the optimal perceptual ranges for foragers in dynamic landscapes. Nonlocal information can be highly beneficial, increasing the spatiotemporal concentration of foragers on their resources up to twofold compared with movement based on purely local information. However, nonlocal information is most useful when foragers possess both high advective movement (allowing them to react to transient resources) and low diffusive movement (preventing them from drifting away from resource peaks). Nonlocal information is particularly beneficial in landscapes with sharp (rather than gradual) patch edges and in landscapes with highly transient resources.

How Sex-Biased Dispersal Affects Sexual Conflict over Care.

Existing models of parental investment have mainly focused on interactions at the level of the family and have paid much less attention to the impact of population-level processes. Here we extend classical models of parental care to assess the impact of population structure and limited dispersal. We find that sex differences in dispersal substantially affect the amount of care provided by each parent, with the more philopatric sex providing the majority of care to young. This effect is most pronounced in highly viscous populations: in such cases, when classical models would predict stable biparental care, inclusion of a modest sex difference in dispersal leads to uniparental care by the philopatric sex. In addition, mating skew also affects sex differences in parental investment, with the more numerous sex providing most of the care. However, the effect of mating skew holds only when parents care for their own offspring. When individuals breed communally, we recover the previous finding that the more philopatric sex provides most of the care even when it is the rarer sex. We conclude that sex-biased dispersal is likely to be an important yet currently overlooked driver of sex differences in parental care.

Variation in Growth Drives the Duration of Parental Care: A Test of Ydenberg's Model.

The duration of parental care in animals varies widely, from none to lifelong. Such variation is typically thought to represent a trade-off between growth and safety. Seabirds show wide variation in the age at which offspring leave the nest, making them ideal to test the idea that a trade-off between high energy gain at sea and high safety at the nest drives variation in departure age (Ydenberg's model). To directly test the model assumptions, we attached time-depth recorders to murre parents (fathers [which do all parental care at sea] and mothers; [Formula: see text] of each). Except for the initial mortality experienced by chicks departing from the colony, the mortality rate at sea was similar to the mortality rate at the colony. However, energy gained by the chick per day was ∼2.1 times as high at sea compared with at the colony because the father spent more time foraging, since he no longer needed to spend time commuting to and from the colony. Compared with the mother, the father spent ∼2.6 times as much time diving per day and dived in lower-quality foraging patches. We provide a simple model for optimal departure date based on only (1) the difference in growth rate at sea relative to the colony and (2) the assumption that transition mortality from one life-history stage to the other is size dependent. Apparently, large variation in the duration of parental care can arise simply as a result of variation in energy gain without any trade-off with safety.

Fear Mediates Trophic Cascades: Nonconsumptive Effects of Predators Drive Aquatic Ecosystem Function.

Predators control prey populations and influence communities and the functioning of ecosystems through a combination of consumptive and nonconsumptive effects. These effects can be locally confined to one ecosystem but can also be extended to neighboring ecosystems. In this study, we investigated the nonconsumptive effects of terrestrial avian predators on the communities of aquatic invertebrates inhabiting bromeliads and on the functioning of these natural ecosystems. Bromeliads with stuffed birds placed nearby showed a decrease in aquatic damselfly larvae abundance and biomass, and we can infer that these changes were caused by antipredator responses. These larvae, which are top predators in bromeliad ecosystems, changed the composition of the entire aquatic invertebrate community. While total species richness, mesopredator richness, and shredder abundance increased in the presence of birds, scraper biomass decreased, possibly as a consequence of the increase in mesopredator richness. High scraper biomass in the absence of birds may have accelerated detrital decomposition, making more nutrients available for bromeliads, which grew more. These results show that nonconsumptive effects triggered by terrestrial predators can cascade down to lower trophic levels and dramatically affect the functioning of aquatic ecosystems, which can in turn alter nutrient provision to terrestrial ecosystems.