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Behavior, Animal - Top 30 Publications

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.

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.

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.

Assessing the Potential Contributions of Reduced Immigrant Viability and Fecundity to Reproductive Isolation.

Reduced fitness of immigrants from alternative environments is thought to be an important reproductive isolating barrier. Most studies evaluating the importance of the relative fitness of immigrants to speciation have focused on reduced survival of immigrants (i.e., immigrant inviability). However, variation in fecundity appears to have a greater impact on variation in fitness than does variation in viability, suggesting that reduced fecundity of immigrants could act as an important yet largely overlooked reproductive isolating barrier. Using a model and a survey of studies of local adaptation, we evaluate the relative strength of reduced immigrant viability and fecundity as potential causes of reproductive isolation. We found that reduced fecundity as compared to reduced viability as a reproductive isolating barrier should increase in importance as the relative costs of reproduction increase. Consistent with the elevated demands of reproduction reported in the literature, we found that reproductive isolation from reduced immigrant fecundity was of similar magnitude or greater than that from reduced immigrant viability, particularly in the early stages of speciation. These results suggest that the important role of differential fecundity in local adaptation extends to speciation.

Ultrasensitivity and fluctuations in the Barkai-Leibler model of chemotaxis receptors in Escherichia coli.

A stochastic version of the Barkai-Leibler model of chemotaxis receptors in Escherichia coli is studied here with the goal of elucidating the effects of intrinsic network noise in their conformational dynamics. The model was originally proposed to explain the robust and near-perfect adaptation of E. coli observed across a wide range of spatially uniform attractant/repellent (ligand) concentrations. In the model, a receptor is either active or inactive and can stochastically switch between the two states. The enzyme CheR methylates inactive receptors while CheB demethylates active receptors and the probability for a receptor to be active depends on its level of methylation and ligand occupation. In a simple version of the model with two methylation sites per receptor (M = 2), we show rigorously, under a quasi-steady state approximation, that the mean active fraction of receptors is an ultrasensitive function of [CheR]/[CheB] in the limit of saturating receptor concentration. Hence the model shows zero-order ultrasensitivity (ZOU), similar to the classical two-state model of covalent modification studied by Goldbeter and Koshland (GK). We also find that in the limits of extremely small and extremely large ligand concentrations, the system reduces to two different two-state GK modules. A quantitative measure of the spontaneous fluctuations in activity is provided by the variance [Formula: see text] in the active fraction, which is estimated mathematically under linear noise approximation (LNA). It is found that [Formula: see text] peaks near the ZOU transition. The variance is a non-monotonic, but weak function of ligand concentration and a decreasing function of receptor concentration. Gillespie simulations are also performed in models with M = 2, 3 and 4. For M = 2, simulations show excellent agreement with analytical results obtained under LNA. Numerical results for M = 3 and M = 4 are qualitatively similar to our mathematical results in M = 2; while all the models show ZOU in mean activity, the variance is found to be smaller for larger M. The magnitude of receptor noise deduced from available experimental data is consistent with our predictions. A simple analysis of the downstream signaling pathway shows that this noise is large enough to affect the motility of the organism, and may have a beneficial effect on it. The response of mean receptor activity to small time-dependent changes in the external ligand concentration is computed within linear response theory, and found to have a bilobe form, in agreement with earlier experimental observations.

A model of Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL) in neonate mice with histopathological and neurodevelopmental outcomes mimicking human PVL in neonates.

Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), a brain injury affecting premature infants is commonly associated with cerebral palsy. PVL results from hypoxia-ischemia (HI) with or without infection and is characterized by white matter necrotic lesions, hypomyelination, microglial activation, astrogliosis, and neuronal death. It is important to study a PVL mouse model that mimics human PVL in symptomatology, anatomic and molecular basis. In our neonate mice model, bilateral carotid arteries were temporary ligated at P5 followed by hypoxic exposure (FiO2 of 8% for 20 min.). At P5 in mice, the white matter is more vulnerable to HI injury than the grey matter. In our PVL model, mice suffer from significant hind limb paresis, incoordination and feeding difficulties. Histologically they present with ventriculomegally, white matter loss, microglial activation and neuronal apoptosis. HI injury increases proinflammtory cytokines, activates NF-kB, activates microglia and causes nitrative stress. All these inflammatory mediators lead to oligodendroglial injury and white matter loss. Neurobehavioral analysis in the PVL mice model at P60 showed that the HI group had a significant decrease in hind limb strength, worsening rotarod testing and worsening performance in the open field test. This new PVL model has great advantages far beyond just mimicking human PVL in clinical features and histopathology. Long term survival, the development of cerebral palsy and the ability of using this model in transgenic animals will increase our understanding of the mechanistic pathways underlying PVL and defining specific targets for the development of suitable therapeutics.

True Numerical Cognition in the Wild.

Cognitive and neural research over the past few decades has produced sophisticated models of the representations and algorithms underlying numerical reasoning in humans and other animals. These models make precise predictions for how humans and other animals should behave when faced with quantitative decisions, yet primarily have been tested only in laboratory tasks. We used data from wild baboons' troop movements recently reported by Strandburg-Peshkin, Farine, Couzin, and Crofoot (2015) to compare a variety of models of quantitative decision making. We found that the decisions made by these naturally behaving wild animals rely specifically on numerical representations that have key homologies with the psychophysics of human number representations. These findings provide important new data on the types of problems human numerical cognition was designed to solve and constitute the first robust evidence of true numerical reasoning in wild animals.

Noise affects resource assessment in an invertebrate.

Anthropogenic noise is a global pollutant, affecting animals across taxa. However, how noise pollution affects resource acquisition is unknown. Hermit crabs (Pagurus bernhardus) engage in detailed assessment and decision-making when selecting a critical resource, their shell; this is crucial as individuals in poor shells suffer lower reproductive success and higher mortality. We experimentally exposed hermit crabs to anthropogenic noise during shell selection. When exposed to noise, crabs approached the shell faster, spent less time investigating it, and entered it faster. Our results demonstrate that changes in the acoustic environment affect the behaviour of hermit crabs by modifying the selection process of a vital resource. This is all the more remarkable given that the known cues used in shell selection involve chemical, visual and tactile sensory channels. Thus, our study provides rare evidence for a cross-modal impact of noise pollution.

Increased food availability raises eviction rate in a cooperative breeding mammal.

In group-living mammals, the eviction of subordinate females from breeding groups by dominants may serve to reduce feeding competition or to reduce breeding competition. Here, we combined both correlational and experimental approaches to investigate whether increases in food intake by dominant females reduces their tendency to evict subordinate females in wild meerkats (Suricata suricatta). We used 20 years of long-term data to examine the association between foraging success and eviction rate, and provisioned dominant females during the second half of their pregnancy, when they most commonly evict subordinates. We show that rather than reducing the tendency for dominants to evict subordinates, foraging success of dominant females is positively associated with the probability that pregnant dominant females will evict subordinate females and that experimental feeding increased their rates of eviction. Our results suggest that it is unlikely that the eviction of subordinate females serves to reduce feeding competition and that its principal function may be to reduce reproductive competition. The increase in eviction rates following experimental feeding also suggests that rather than feeding competition, energetic constraints may normally constrain eviction rates.

Deimatism: a neglected component of antipredator defence.

Deimatic or 'startle' displays cause a receiver to recoil reflexively in response to a sudden change in sensory input. Deimatism is sometimes implicitly treated as a form of aposematism (unprofitability associated with a signal). However, the fundamental difference is, in order to provide protection, deimatism does not require a predator to have any learned or innate aversion. Instead, deimatism can confer a survival advantage by exploiting existing neural mechanisms in a way that releases a reflexive response in the predator. We discuss the differences among deimatism, aposematism, and forms of mimicry, and their ecological and evolutionary implications. We highlight outstanding questions critical to progress in understanding deimatism.

Wild inside: Urban wild boar select natural, not anthropogenic food resources.

Most wildlife species are urban avoiders, but some became urban utilizers and dwellers successfully living in cities. Often, they are assumed to be attracted into urban areas by easily accessible and highly energetic anthropogenic food sources. We macroscopically analysed stomachs of 247 wild boar (Sus scrofa, hereafter WB) from urban areas of Berlin and from the surrounding rural areas. From the stomach contents we determined as predictors of food quality modulus of fineness (MOF,), percentage of acid insoluble ash (AIA) and macronutrients such as amount of energy and percentage of protein, fat, fibre and starch. We run linear mixed models to test: (1) differences in the proportion of landscape variables, (2) differences of nutrients consumed in urban vs. rural WB and (3) the impact of landscape variables on gathered nutrients. We found only few cases of anthropogenic food in the qualitative macroscopic analysis. We categorized the WB into five stomach content categories but found no significant difference in the frequency of those categories between urban and rural WB. The amount of energy was higher in stomachs of urban WB than in rural WB. The analysis of landscape variables revealed that the energy of urban WB increased with increasing percentage of sealing, while an increased human density resulted in poor food quality for urban and rural WB. Although the percentage of protein decreased in areas with a high percentage of coniferous forests, the food quality increased. High percentage of grassland decreased the percentage of consumed fat and starch and increased the percentage of fibre, while a high percentage of agricultural areas increased the percentage of consumed starch. Anthropogenic food such as garbage might serve as fallback food when access to natural resources is limited. We infer that urban WB forage abundant, natural resources in urban areas. Urban WB might use anthropogenic resources (e.g. garbage) if those are easier to exploit and more abundant than natural resources. This study shows that access to natural resources still is mandatory and drives the amount of protein, starch, fat or fibre in wild boar stomachs in urban as well as rural environments.

Within-season variability of fighting behaviour in an Australian alpine grasshopper.

Throughout the breeding season, changing environmental and biological conditions can lead to variation in the reproductive landscape of many species. In alpine environments temperature is a key driver of behaviour for small ectotherms such as insects, but variable biotic factors such as mate quality and availability can also influence behaviour. Kosicuscola tristis is a small semelparous grasshopper of the Australian alpine region. In a rare behaviour among grasshoppers, K. tristis males engage in vigorous fights over access to females, involving mandible displays, kicking, biting and grappling. In this study we describe the variation in fighting behaviour of K. tristis throughout the breeding season and test several hypotheses related to temperature, body size, mating behaviour, and female quality. We show that K. tristis males are more aggressive toward each other at the end of the breeding season than at the beginning. This increased aggression is associated with decreased daily average temperatures (from ~20°C to ~9°C), decreased mating activity, increased female fecundity, and an unexpected trend toward an increase in female-to-male aggression. These results suggest that K. tristis is likely under increased selective pressure to time key life cycle events with favourable biological and climatic conditions. The stochastic nature of alpine environments combined with a relatively short life span and breeding season, as well as limited mating opportunities toward the end of the season may have contributed to the evolution of this extraordinary mating system.

Linking phenological events in migratory passerines with a changing climate: 50 years in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania.

Advanced timing of both seasonal migration and reproduction in birds has been strongly associated with a warming climate for many bird species. Phenological responses to climate linking these stages may ultimately impact fitness. We analyzed five decades of banding data from 17 migratory bird species to investigate 1) how spring arrival related to timing of breeding, 2) if the interval between arrival and breeding has changed with increasing spring temperatures, and 3) whether arrival timing or breeding timing best predicted local productivity. Four of 17 species, all mid- to long-distance migrants, hatched young earlier in years when migrants arrived earlier to the breeding grounds (~1:1 day advancement). The interval between arrival on breeding grounds and appearance of juveniles shortened with warmer spring temperatures for 12 species (1-6 days for every 1°C increase) and over time for seven species (1-8 days per decade), suggesting that some migratory passerines adapt to climate change by laying more quickly after arrival or reducing the time from laying to fledging. We found more support for the former, that the rate of reproductive advancement was higher than that for arrival in warm years. Timing of spring arrival and breeding were both poor predictors of avian productivity for most migrants analyzed. Nevertheless, we found evidence that fitness benefits may occur from shifts to earlier spring arrival for the multi-brooded Song Sparrow. Our results uniquely demonstrate that co-occurring avian species are phenologically plastic in their response to climate change on their breeding grounds. If migrants continue to show a weaker response to temperatures during migration than breeding, and the window between arrival and optimal breeding shortens further, biological constraints to plasticity may limit the ability of species to adapt successfully to future warming.

Fresh fruit consumption in relation to incident diabetes and diabetic vascular complications: A 7-y prospective study of 0.5 million Chinese adults.

Despite the well-recognised health benefits of fresh fruit consumption, substantial uncertainties remain about its potential effects on incident diabetes and, among those with diabetes, on risks of death and major vascular complications.

Geographical variation in sexual behavior and body traits in a sex role reversed wolf spider.

Mating partners need to recognize, assess each other, and exchange information through behavioral events that occur before, during, and after mating. Sexual signals, as well as life history traits, are influenced by selective pressures and environmental factors that can vary across distant geographical areas. Allocosa senex is a sand-dwelling wolf spider which constructs burrows along the sandy coasts of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. Females are the mobile sex that searches for males and initiates courtship. They prefer males which construct longer burrows, and males prefer virgin females in good body condition. The objective of this study was to compare sexual behavior patterns, as well as body characteristics and burrow dimensions, between two geographically distant locations of A. senex, one in Uruguay (Uruguayan location) and the other from central Argentina (Argentinean location). We found differences in the number of male abdominal vibrations, male and female touches during mating, and number of erections of male leg spines, which all were higher in matings of Argentinean pairs. On the other hand, male body mass and female body condition were higher in Uruguayan individuals. The wide distribution of A. senex could be determining variations in the biotic and abiotic features that affect the species, generating differences in the strength of selective forces acting on individuals from the two studied locations.

Longitudinal study of diet quality and change in asthma symptoms in adults, according to smoking status.

It has been hypothesised that increased asthma prevalence in westernised countries is associated with changes in lifestyle factors, including a poorer diet. However, little is known regarding the association between diet quality and asthma. In the diet-asthma association, the role of BMI as a potential mediator needs clarification; moreover, potential effect modification by non-diet sources of oxidants, such as smoking, merits investigation. We investigated the association between diet quality and change in asthma symptoms, as well as assessed effect modification by smoking, while accounting for BMI as a potential mediator. Using data from the French prospective Epidemiological study on the Genetics and Environment of Asthma study, we assessed diet quality using the Alternate Healthy Eating Index 2010 (AHEI-2010) at baseline and change in asthma symptoms (stable (reference), worsening, improved; mean follow-up time: 7 years). Mediation analysis was used to disentangle total and direct effects and the indirect effect mediated by BMI. The analyses included 969 adults (mean age 43 years; 49 % men; 42 % ever asthma). We observed a significant interaction between smoking and AHEI-2010 on change in asthma symptoms (P for interaction=0·04). Among never smokers (n 499), we observed a positive total effect (multivariable OR 1·39; 95 % CI 1·07, 1·80) and a positive direct effect (OR 1·41; 95 % CI 1·09, 1·80) of the AHEI-2010 (per ten-point increment) on improved symptoms. No indirect effect mediated through BMI was observed (OR 0·99; 95 % CI 0·91, 1·07). Among former and current smokers, all effects were statistically non-significant. Better diet quality was associated with improved asthma symptoms over time in never smokers, independently of BMI.

Attraction factors for Paederus fuscipes ' dispersal, a vector of Paederus dermatitis towards human residential premises.

Paederus fuscipes, a vector of Paederus dermatitis in most tropical and subtropical countries of the world have a high prevalence in human dwellings due to their positively phototaxic behaviour which has caused a tremendous impact on human health. In this paper, P. fuscipes dispersal flights were studied for two seasons of the rice cultivation phases in residential premises built close to rice field areas (≈32-60 m and 164 m) in mainland Penang, Malaysia. We examined the effects of different light illuminance, building floor level and their association with rice stages as a focal cause of P. fuscipes dispersion from the rice fields towards human dwellings. The present study showed a significant interaction between different light illuminances and rice cultivation phases in attracting P. fuscipes to disperse and invade human dwellings. The highest number of P. fuscipes was captured near the bright light. P. fuscipes flights increased in line with each floor level, and the highest captures took place at higher building floor levels (levels 2 and 3) compared to lower building floor levels (ground floor and level 1) of a three storey apartment in both rice seasons. This finding not only conveys a better understanding on P. fuscipes dispersal pattern, but also draws public attention on the occurrence of dermatitis linearis caused by the Paederus beetles.

Intrinsic worker mortality depends on behavioral caste and the queens' presence in a social insect.

According to the classic life history theory, selection for longevity depends on age-dependant extrinsic mortality and fecundity. In social insects, the common life history trade-off between fecundity and longevity appears to be reversed, as the most fecund individual, the queen, often exceeds workers in lifespan several fold. But does fecundity directly affect intrinsic mortality also in social insect workers? And what is the effect of task on worker mortality? Here, we studied how social environment and behavioral caste affect intrinsic mortality of ant workers. We compared worker survival between queenless and queenright Temnothorax longispinosus nests and demonstrate that workers survive longer under the queens' absence. Temnothorax ant workers fight over reproduction when the queen is absent and dominant workers lay eggs. Worker fertility might therefore increase lifespan, possibly due to a positive physiological link between fecundity and longevity, or better care for fertile workers. In social insects, division of labor among workers is age-dependant with young workers caring for the brood and old ones going out to forage. We therefore expected nurses to survive longer than foragers, which is what we found. Surprisingly, inactive inside workers showed a lower survival than nurses but comparable to that of foragers. The reduced longevity of inactive workers could be due to them being older than the nurses, or due to a positive effect of activity on lifespan. Overall, our study points to behavioral caste-dependent intrinsic mortality rates and a positive association between fertility and longevity not only in queens but also in ant workers.

Development, standardization and validation of molecular techniques for malaria vector species identification, trophic preferences, and detection of Plasmodium falciparum.

Knowledge on prevalence of malaria vector species of a certain area provides important information for implementation of appropriate control strategies. The present study describes a rapid method for screening of major Anopheline vector species and at the same time detection of Plasmodium falciparum sporozoite infection and blood meal preferences/trophic preferences.