In reptiles, reproductive maturity is often determined by size rather than age. Consequently, growth early in life may influence population dynamics through effects on generation time and survival to reproduction. Because reproductive phenology and pre- and post-natal growth are temperature-dependent, environmental conditions may induce multi-species cohort effects on body size in sympatric reptiles. I present evidence of this using ten years of neonatal size data for three sympatric viviparous snakes, Dekay’s Brownsnakes (Storeria dekayi), Red-bellied Snakes (S. occipitomaculata) and Common Gartersnakes (Thamnophis sirtalis). End-of-season neonatal size varied in parallel across species such that snout-vent length was 36-61% greater and mass was 65-223% greater in years when gestating females could achieve higher April-May (vs. June-July or August-September) operative temperatures. Thus, temperature had a larger impact during follicular enlargement and ovulation than during gestation or post-natal growth. Multi-species cohort effects like these may affect population dynamics and increase with climate change.
Mutualisms are ubiquitous in nature, provide important ecosystem services, and involve many species of interest for conservation. Theoretical progress on the population dynamics of mutualistic interactions, however, comparatively lagged behind that of trophic and competitive interactions, leading to the impression that ecologists still lack a generalized framework to investigate the population dynamics of mutualisms. Yet, over the last 90 years, abundant theoretical work has accumulated, ranging from abstract to detailed. Here, we review and synthesize historical models of two-species mutualisms. We find that population dynamics of mutualisms are qualitatively robust across derivations, including levels of detail, types of benefit, and inspiring systems. Specifically, mutualisms tend to exhibit stable coexistence at high density and destabilizing thresholds at low density. These dynamics emerge when benefits of mutualism saturate, whether due to intrinsic or extrinsic density-dependence in intraspecific processes, interspecific processes, or both. We distinguish between thresholds resulting from Allee effects, low partner density, and high partner density, and their mathematical and conceptual causes. Our synthesis suggests that there exists a robust population dynamic theory of mutualism that can make general predictions.
The arboreal marsupial Monito del Monte (genus Dromiciops, with two recognized species) is a paradigmatic mammal. It is the sole living representative of the order Microbiotheria, the ancestor lineage of Australian marsupials. Also, this marsupial is the unique frugivorous mammal in the temperate rainforest, being the main seed disperser of several endemic plants of this ecosystem, thus acting as keystone species. Dromiciops is also one of the few hibernating mammals in South America, spending half of the year in a physiological dormancy where metabolism is reduced to 10% of normal levels. This capacity to reduce energy expenditure in winter contrasts with the enormous energy turnover rate they experience in spring and summer. The unique life-history strategies of this living Microbiotheria, characterized by an alternation of life in the slow and fast lanes, putatively represent ancestral traits that permitted these cold-adapted mammals to survive in this environment. Here we describe the ecological role of this emblematic marsupial, summarizing the ecophysiology of hibernation and sociality, actualized phylogeographic relationships, reproductive cycle, trophic relationships, mutualisms, conservation and threats. This marsupial shows high densities, despite presenting slow reproductive rates, a paradox that is explained by the unique characteristics of its three-dimensional habitat. We finally suggest immediate actions to protect these locally abundant but globally threatened species.
The cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) gene was amplified and analyzed for 70 Mediterranean Chondrosia reniformis, collected from eight localities in Tunisia. Polymorphism results revealed high values of haplotype diversity (Hd) and very low nucleotide diversity (π). Thus, these results suggest that our sponge populations of C. reniformis may have undergone a bottleneck followed by rapid demographic expansion. This suggestion is strongly confirmed by the results of neutrality tests and “mismatch distribution”. The important number of haplotypes between localities and the high genetic differentiation (Fst ranged from 0.590 to 0.788) of the current C. reniformis populations could be maintained by the limited gene flow Nm (0.10 - 0.18). Both haplotype Network and the biogeographic analysis showed a structured distribution according to the geographic origin. C. reniformis populations are subdivided into two major clades: Western and Eastern Mediterranean. This pattern seems to be associated with the well-known discontinuous biogeographic area: the Siculo-Tunisian Strait, which separates two water bodies circulating with different hydrological, physical, and chemical characteristics. The short dispersal of pelagic larvae of C. reniformis and the marine bio-geographic barrier created high differentiation among populations. Additionally, it is noteworthy to mention that the “Mahres / Kerkennah” group diverged from Eastern groups in a single sub-clade. This result was expected, the region Mahres / Kerkennah, presented a particular marine environment.
Abstract. I made late breeding season (after 1 July) observations of a central California population of Wilson’s Warbler, Cardellina pusilla, over nine breeding seasons. I sighted males in definitive prebasic molt from 4 July in 2007 through 1 September in 1999. Possibly all territorial males molted on their breeding territories, and molt lasted a maximum of 46 days. Following prebasic molt, territorial males engaged in subdued “post molt singing,” which lasted 14 days in one male, but usually no more than seven days, and was last heard on 6 September in 1999. I sighted no female in definitive prebasic molt, nor in bright basic plumage, during the study. Of 12 color-banded females sighted after 22 July, I confirmed 11 had been in late breeding season uniparental brood care. Possibly all resident females not engaged in late uniparental brood care vacated their breeding territories earlier, and before resident males. They presumably underwent prebasic molt at later times and locations not known. Remaining late nesting females must have molted much later than resident males, and likely later than early departing resident females, and at unknown locations. I last sighted uniparental brood tending females still in dull alternate plumage on 26 and 29 August respectively, whereas some males had completed prebasic molt by 13 August. Three unique study findings are the occurrence of male post molt singing, a male/female difference in location of prebasic molt, and a likely dichotomy of prebasic molt timing between females leaving their breeding grounds early, and those remaining in uniparental brood care.
1. The foraging and nesting performance of bees can provide important information on bee health and is of interest for risk and impact assessment of environmental stressors. While radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology is an efficient tool increasingly used for the collection of behavioral data in social bee species such as honey bees, behavioral studies on solitary bees still largely depend on direct observations, which is very time-consuming. 2. Here, we present a novel automated methodological approach of individually and simultaneously tracking and analyzing foraging and nesting behavior of numerous cavity-nesting solitary bees. The approach consists of monitoring nesting units by video recording and automated analysis of videos by a machine learning based software. This Bee Tracker software consists of four trained deep learning networks to detect bees that enter or leave their nest and to recognize individual IDs on the bees’ thorax as well as the IDs of their nests according to their positions in the nesting unit. 3. The software is able to identify each nest of each individual nesting bee, which permits to measure individual-based measures of reproductive success. Moreover, the software quantifies the number of cavities a female enters until it finds its nest as a proxy of nest recognition, and it provides information on the number and duration of foraging trips. By training the software on 8 videos recording 24 nesting females per video, the software achieved a precision of 96% correct measurements of these parameters. 4. The software could be adapted to various experimental setups by training it to an according set of videos. The presented method allows to efficiently collect large amounts of data on cavity-nesting solitary bee species and represents a promising new tool for the monitoring and assessment of behavior and reproductive success under laboratory, semi-field and field conditions.
The gut microbiomes of the host are large and complex communities, which helps to maintain homeostasis, improves digestive efficiency, and promotes the development of the immune system. The small mammals distributed in Sichuan Province are the most popular species for biodiversity research in Southwest China. However, the effects of different diets on the structure and function of the gut microbial community of these small mammals are poorly understood. In this study, whole-metagenome shotgun sequencing has been used to analyze the composition and functional structures of the gut microbiota of seven small mammals in Laojunshan National Nature Reserve, Sichuan Province, China. Taxonomic classification revealed that the most abundant phyla in the gut of seven small mammals were Bacteroides, Proteobacteria and Firmicutes. Moreover, Hafnia, Raoultella and Aeromonas were most abundant genus in the gut microbiomes of these seven species. At the functional level, we annotated a series of KEGG functional pathways, six Cazy categories and 46,163 AROs in the gut microbiomes of the seven species. Comparative analysis found that the difference in the gut microbiomes between the Soricidea and Muridae concentrated on the increase in the F/B (Firmicutes/Bacteroides) ratio in the Soricidea group, probably driven by the high fat and calorie digestive requirements due to their insectivorous diet. The comparative functional profiling revealed that functions related to metabolism and carbohydrates were significantly more abundant in Muridae group, which may be attributed to their high carbohydrate digestion requirements caused by their herbivorous diet. These data suggested that different diets in the host may play an important role in shaping the gut microbiota, and lay the foundation for teasing apart the influences of heritable and environmental factors on the evolution of gut microbial communities.
Animals with dependent and vulnerable young need to decide where to raise their offspring to minimize ill effects of weather, competition, parasitism, and predation. These decisions have critical fitness consequences through impacting the survival of both adults and juveniles. Birds routinely place their nest in specific sites, allowing species to be broadly classified based on nest location (e.g., ground- or tree-nesting). However, from 2018–2020 we observed 24 American robin (Turdus migratorius) nests placed not on their species-typical arboreal substrates or human-made structures but on the ground at a predator-rich commercial arbor in Illinois, U.S.A. This behavior does not appear to be in response to competition and did not affect nest daily survival rate but was restricted to the early half of the breeding season. We hypothesize that ground-nesting may be an adaptive response to avoid exposure and colder temperatures at sites above the ground early in the breeding season or a non-adaptive consequence of latent robin nest-placement flexibility.
Prey evolve anti-predator strategies against multiple enemies in nature. We examined how a prey species adopts different predation avoidance tactics against pursuit or sit-and-wait predators. As prey, we used two strains of Tribolium beetles artificially selected for short or long duration of death feigning. The results showed that, as prey, the short strains displayed the same behavior, escaping, against the two types of predators. On the other hand, death feigning is known to be effective for evading a jumping spider in the case of the long strains, while the present study showed that the long strain beetles used freezing behavior against a sit-and-wait type predator A. venator in this study. The short strain beetles were more easily orientated by predators and suffered a higher rate of predation than the long strains. The time to predation was also shorter in the short strains compared to the long strains. When the predator was starved, even the long strains were preyed upon when the predator was orientated toward the prey, suggesting the starvation period, i.e., prey density, is an important factor for antipredator behavior. Traditionally, death feigning has been thought to be the last resort in a series of anti-predator avoidance behaviors. However, our results showed that freezing and death feigning were not parts of a series of behavior, but independent behaviors against different predators, at least for these beetles. The results also suggest that the differences in feeding rates between the strains could be explained by differences in activity among the strains.
Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT) is a third-generation sequencing technology that is gaining popularity in ecological research for its portable and low-cost sequencing possibilities. Although the technology is primarily developed for long-read sequencing, it can also be applied to sequence amplicons. The downside of ONT is the low quality of the raw reads. Hence, generating a high-quality consensus sequence is still a challenge. We present Amplicon_sorter, a tool for reference-free sorting of ONT sequenced amplicons based on their similarity in sequence and length and for building solid consensus sequences.
High elevation grasslands provide critical services in agriculture and ecosystem stabilization. However, these ecosystems face elevated risks of disturbance due to predicted soil and climate changes. We experimentally exposed model grassland communities, comprised of three species grown on either local or reference soil, to varied climatic environments along an elevational gradient in the European Alps, measuring the effects on species and community traits. Although species-specific biomass varied across soil and climate, species’ proportional contributions to community-level biomass production remained consistent. Where species experienced low survivorship, species-specific biomass production was maintained through increased production of surviving individuals. Species responded directionally to climatic variation, segregating differentially by plant traits (including height, reproduction, biomass, survival, leaf dry weight, and leaf area) across all sites. Local soil variation drove stochastic trait responses across all species. This soil variability obscured climate-driven responses: we recorded no directional trait responses driven by climate. Our species-based approach contributes to our understanding of grassland community stabilization and suggests that these communities show some stability under climatic variation.
Once widespread throughout the tropical forests of the Indian Subcontinent, the sloth bears have suffered a rapid range collapse and local extirpations in the recent decades. A significant portion of their current distribution range is situated outside of the protected areas (PAs). These unprotected sloth bear populations are under tremendous human pressures, but little is known about the patterns and determinants of their occurrence in most of these regions. The situation is more prevalent in Nepal where virtually no systematic information is available for sloth bears living outside of the PAs. We undertook a sign survey-based single-season occupancy study intending to overcome this information gap for the sloth bear populations residing in the Trijuga forest of southeast Nepal. Sloth bear sign detection/non-detection data and field-based covariates data were collected at the 74 randomly chosen 4-km2 grid cells using a varying number of 400m long transects in each grid cell. From our results, the model-averaged estimate of site use probability (ψ ± SE) was estimated to be 0.432 ± 0.039, which is a 13% increase from the naïve estimate (0.297) not accounting for imperfect detections of sloth bear signs. The presence of termite mounds and the distance to the nearest water source were the most important variables affecting the habitat use probability of sloth bears. The average site-level detectability (p ± SE) of sloth bear signs was estimated to be 0.195 ± 0.003 and was significantly determined by the index of human disturbances. We recommend considering the importance of fine-scale ecological and anthropogenic factors in predicting the sloth bear-habitat relationships across their range in the Churia habitat of Nepal.
The timing of different life history events are often correlated, and selection might only rarely be exerted independently on the timing of a single event. In plants, phenotypic selection has often been shown to favour earlier flowering. However, little is known about to what extent this selection acts directly vs. indirectly via vegetative phenology, and if selection on the two traits is correlational. We estimated direct, indirect and correlational phenotypic selection on vegetative and reproductive phenology over three years for the perennial herb Lathyrus vernus. Direct selection favoured earlier flowering and shorter timespans between leaf-out and flowering in all years. However, early flowering was associated with early leaf-out, and the direction of selection on leaf-out day varied among years. As a result, selection on leaf-out weakened selection for early flowering in one of the study years. We found no evidence of correlational selection. Our results highlight the importance of including temporally correlated traits when exploring selection on the phenology of seasonal events.
The natural regeneration of native broadleaved species underneath forest monoculture plantations is important to recover ecosystem functions and to mitigate adverse environmental effects. To understand how seed rain and soil seed banks facilitate natural regeneration, we surveyed their density and composition in a monoculture Chinese fir plantation, a mixed Chinese fir–broadleaf plantation, and an adjacent natural broadleaved forest for two years in southern China. Twenty-eight species (16 families) were in seed rain, and 45 species (27 families) were in soil seed banks. Seed rain density did not differ significantly across stands; however, the number of taxa in seed rain was highest in the mixed plantation and lowest in the natural forest. Seed bank density was significantly higher in the mixed plantation than in the other stands. The Sørensen similarity indices of species composition between seed sources and aboveground vegetation were relatively low (<0.50). In addition, the seeds of native tree species common to the seed banks of the three forests indicated the adjacent natural forest was a seed source for the natural regeneration of native species in forest plantations. To augment regeneration and accelerate the rate of conversion, we recommend direct seeding or planting of desired species.
Although insect herbivores are known to evolve resistance to insecticides through multiple genetic mechanisms, resistance in individual species has been assumed to follow the same mechanism. While both mutations in the target site insensitivity and increased amplification are known to contribute to insecticide resistance, little is known about the degree to which geographic populations of the same species differ at the target site in a response to insecticides. We tested structural (e.g. mutation profiles) and regulatory (e.g. the gene expression of Ldace1 and Ldace2, AChE activity) differences between two populations (Vermont, USA and Belchow, Poland) of the Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata in their resistance to two commonly used groups of insecticides, organophosphates, and carbamates. We established that Vermont beetles were more resistant to azinphos-methyl and carbaryl insecticides compared to Belchow beetles, despite a similar frequency of resistance-associated alleles (i.e. S291G) in the Ldace2 gene. However, the Vermont population had two additional amino acid replacements (G192S, F402Y) in the Ldace1 gene, which were absent in the Belchow population. Moreover, the Vermont population showed higher expression of Ldace1 and was less sensitive to AChE inhibition by azinphos methyl oxon than the Belchow population. Therefore, the two populations have evolved different genetic mechanisms to adapt to organophosphate and carbamate insecticides.
The impact of rising global temperatures on survival and reproduction is putting many species at risk of extinction. In particular, it has recently been shown that thermal effects on reproduction, especially limits to male fertility, can underpin species distributions in insects. However, the physiological factors influencing fertility at high temperatures are poorly understood. Key factors that affect somatic thermal tolerance such as hardening, the ability to phenotypically increase thermal tolerance after a mild heat shock, and the differential impact of temperature on different life stages, are largely unexplored for thermal fertility tolerance. Here, we examine the impact of high temperatures on male fertility in the cosmopolitan fruit fly Drosophila virilis. We first determined whether temperature stress at either the pupal or adult life-history stage impacts fertility. We then tested the capacity for heat-hardening to mitigate heat-induced sterility. We found that thermal stress reduces fertility in different ways in pupae and adults. Pupal heat stress delays sexual maturity, whereas males heated as adults can reproduce initially following heat stress, but lose the ability to produce offspring. We also found evidence that while heat-hardening in D. virilis can improve high temperature survival, there is no significant protective impact of this same hardening treatment on fertility. These results suggest that males may be unable to prevent the costs of high temperature stress on fertility through heat-hardening which limits a species' ability to quickly and effectively reduce fertility loss in the face of short-term high temperature events.
Climate change has the potential to alter plant reproductive success directly and indirectly through disruptions in animal pollination. Climate models project altered seasonal precipitation patterns and thus the effects of climate change on available resources and pollination services will depend on the season. Plants have evolved reproductive strategies to minimize pollen and resource limitations, and therefore we expect that the disruption of climate change might cause plants to be more pollen limited in seasons that become wetter than they were historically. In this study, we conducted a pollen supplementation experiment within the Global Change Experiment Facility (GCEF) in Central Germany. The GCEF experimentally manipulates future climate based on a realistic scenario of climate change for the region (drier summers and wetter springs and falls) in a native grassland ecosystem. We quantified seed production of two perennial species Dianthus carthusianorum and Scabiosa ochroleuca in response to pollination treatments (control, supplement), climate treatments (ambient and future) and season (summer and fall). Dianthus carthusianorum produced more seeds in future climate conditions independent of the season, but only when given supplemental pollen. Both species showed an increased reproduction in summer compared to the fall. We did not find any evidence for our expectation of higher pollen limitation in the future climate and fall season (i.e. no three-way interaction pollination x season x climate), which might be explained by the high drought tolerance and generalized pollination of our focal plant species. We conclude that plant reproductive success might be limited by the services of animal pollinators in future climates, and have many suggestions for future studies that are necessary to understand the context-dependence and underlying mechanisms of plant reproductive responses to climate.
The characteristics of macroinvertebrate community structure can effectively reflect the health status of lake ecosystem and the quality of the lake ecological environment. It is of great significance to identify the limiting factors of macroinvertebrate community structure for the maintenance of lake ecosystem health. In this study, the community composition of macroinvertebrate assemblages and their relationships with environmental variables in 13 small lakes within Linhuan Lake was investigated. Self-organizing map, K-means clustering analysis, principal component analysis, pearson correlation analysis, and redundancy analysis were used to analyze the correlation and variability between macroinvertebrates community index and environmental factors. The results showed that the environmental variables (pH, total phosphorus, nitrate, water temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, chemical oxygen demand, and ammonium) had a significant effect on the classification of macroinvertebrate community. Molluscs were significantly negatively correlated with pH and chlorophyll a, while annelids and aquatic insects were significantly positively correlated with chlorophyll a and dissolved oxygen. Species richness and Shannon’s diversity of macroinvertebrates were significantly negatively correlated with total phosphorus while biomass of macroinvertebrates was significantly negatively correlated with pH. High alkalinity characteristics and eutrophication of the lake have a serious impact on the macroinvertebrate community. Human interference and unreasonable industrial and surface runoff from agricultural farms destroy the ecological environment and affect the community structure of macroinvertebrate. Thus, the improvement of the macroinvertebrate’s community structure should be carried out by improving the Lianhuan Lake watershed ecological environment and controlling watershed environmental pollution.