Skip to main content
Advanced Search

Filters: Tags: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (X)

47 results (158ms)   

View Results as: JSON ATOM CSV
thumbnail
Alexander Skutch hypothesized that increased parental activity can increase the risk of nest predation. We tested this hypothesis using ten open-nesting bird species in Arizona, USA. Parental activity was greater during the nestling than incubation stage because parents visited the nest frequently to feed their young during the nestling stage. However, nest predation did not generally increase with parental activity between nesting stages across the ten study species. Previous investigators have found similar results. We tested whether nest site effects might yield higher predation during incubation because the most obvious sites are depredated most rapidly. We conducted experiments using nest sites from the previous...
thumbnail
As duration of snow cover decreases owing to climate change, species undergoing seasonal colour moults can become colour mismatched with their background. The immediate adaptive solution to this mismatch is phenotypic plasticity, either in phenology of seasonal colour moults or in behaviours that reduce mismatch or its consequences. We observed nearly 200 snowshoe hares across a wide range of snow conditions and two study sites in Montana, USA, and found minimal plasticity in response to mismatch between coat colour and background. We found that moult phenology varied between study sites, likely due to differences in photoperiod and climate, but was largely fixed within study sites with only minimal plasticity to...
thumbnail
Ecologists regularly use animal contact networks to describe interactions underlying pathogen transmission, gene flow, and information transfer. However, empirical descriptions of contact often overlook some features of individual movement, and decisions about what kind of network to use in a particular setting are commonly ad hoc. Here, we relate individual movement trajectories to contact networks through a tripartite network model of individual, space, and time nodes. Most networks used in animal contact studies (e.g. individual association networks, home range overlap networks, and spatial networks) are simplifications of this tripartite model. The tripartite structure can incorporate a broad suite of alternative...
thumbnail
Several vertebrates choose their mate according to genetic heterozygosity and relatedness, and use odour cues to assess their conspecifics' genetic make-up. In birds, although several species (including the blacklegged kittiwake) exhibit non-random mating according to genetic traits, the cues used to assess genetic characteristics remain unknown. The importance of olfaction in birds' social behaviour is gaining attention among researchers, and it has been suggested that, as in other vertebrates, bird body scent may convey information about genetic traits. Here, we combined gas chromatography data and genetic analyses at microsatellite loci to test whether semiochemical messages in preen secretion of kittiwakes carried...
thumbnail
Mountain ranges, deserts, ice fields and oceans generally act as barriers to the movement of land-dependent animals, often profoundly shaping migration routes. We used satellite telemetry to track the southward flights of bar-tailed godwits (Limosa lapponica baueri), shorebirds whose breeding and non-breeding areas are separated by the vast central Pacific Ocean. Seven females with surgically implanted transmitters flew non-stop 8117-11680km (10153??1043 s.d.) directly across the Pacific Ocean; two males with external transmitters flew non-stop along the same corridor for 7008-7390km. Flight duration ranged from 6.0 to 9.4 days (7.8??1.3 s.d.) for birds with implants and 5.0 to 6.6 days for birds with externally...
Archived soil samples (1937-1999) and historic air quality data from the Los Angeles Basin were used for reconstructing the record of change between atmospheric NO(x) loads, soil delta(15)N values and the diversity of arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM), which are ubiquitous plant-fungus mutualists that control plant community productivity. A tripling of atmospheric NO(x) loads between 1937 and the 1970s was paralleled by soil nitrogen enrichment (delta(15)N = 3.18). From 1975 onwards, atmospheric NO(x) declined, but soils became nitrogen saturated (delta(15) N = -4 and NO(3)-nitrogen = 171mgkg(-1)). The shifts in the AM community followed 28 years of atmospheric nitrogen enrichment and coincided with the onset of soil...
thumbnail
Behavioural ecologists have interpreted avian leks as products of sexual selection, in which males display socially to increase their opportunities to mate. However, without invoking reproductive queuing or kin selection, this paradigm does not necessarily explain why many males that fail to mate participate in leks. An alternative solution, that males also aggregate to reduce predation, has previously lacked compelling support. We show that mixed-species leks, comprising two congeneric grouse, form when single males or small groups of one species, the greater prairie chicken Tympanuchus cupido, join leks of another, the sharp-tailed grouse T. phasianellus. We documented the process by observing lek dynamics and...
thumbnail
Paired mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) were given No. 4 lead shot, and bone lead concentrations were compared in drakes and in laying and nonlaying hens. Lead accumulation was significantly greater in bones with a high medullary content (femur and sternum) compared with bones with a lower medullary content (ulna-radius or wingbones). In dosed groups, hens always contained higher bone lead residues than drakes. After dosage with one shot (approximately 200 mg lead), lead in femurs of laying hens averaged 488.4 ppm compared with 113.6 ppm in nonlaying hens. Femurs of drakes averaged 9.4 ppm lead. Dosage with the second lead shot did not result in further accumulation of bone lead in hens, but increased bone lead...
Investigating food-limitation in generalist predators is difficult, because they can switch to alternative prey, when one of their staple prey becomes scarce. Apart from data on the dynamics of the predator population, a robust study requires: (i) a documentation of the predator's entire prey base; and (ii) an experimental or natural situation, where profitable dietary shifts are impossible, because several preferred prey species decline simultaneously. Here, we provide a detailed description of how food-supply has limited a generalist avian top predator, the northern goshawk Accipiter gentilis. In our study area, populations of several principal goshawk prey species crashed simultaneously during 1975-2000, whereas...
thumbnail
An unappreciated facet of biodiversity is that rich communities and high abundance may foster parasitism. For parasites that sequentially use different host species throughout complex life cycles, parasite diversity and abundance in 'downstream' hosts should logically increase with the diversity and abundance of 'upstream' hosts (which carry the preceding stages of parasites). Surprisingly, this logical assumption has little empirical support, especially regarding metazoan parasites. Few studies have attempted direct tests of this idea and most have lacked the appropriate scale of investigation. In two different studies, we used time-lapse videography to quantify birds at fine spatial scales, and then related bird...
thumbnail
Evolutionary and ecological consequences of hybridization between native and invasive species are notoriously complicated because patterns of selection acting on non-native alleles can vary throughout the genome and across environments. Rapid advances in genomics now make it feasible to assess locus-specific and genome-wide patterns of natural selection acting on invasive introgression within and among natural populations occupying diverse environments. We quantified genome-wide patterns of admixture across multiple independent hybrid zones of native westslope cutthroat trout and invasive rainbow trout, the world's most widely introduced fish, by genotyping 339 individuals from 21 populations using 9380 species-diagnostic...
thumbnail
Low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) viruses are well documented to circulate within wild waterfowl populations (Olsen et. al. 2006). It has been assumed that these infections are benign with no subsequent effects on life-history parameters. The study by Latorre-Margalef et al. (2009; hereafter L.-M. et al.) represents an important step, as they attempt to test this assumption in wild birds. L.-M. et al. captured migrating mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) at a staging area and tested them for the presence of avian influenza A virus (IAV). They related IAV infection status to body mass and duration of time spent on the staging area. Overall, the study is well designed with impressive sample sizes and the analyses are...
thumbnail
Most approaches for assessing species vulnerability to climate change have focused on direct impacts via abiotic changes rather than indirect impacts mediated by changes in species interactions. Changes in rainfall regimes may influence species interactions from the bottom-up by increasing primary productivity in arid environments, but subsequently lead to less predictable top-down effects. Our study demonstrates how the effects of an EL Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-driven rainfall pulse ricochets along a chain of interactions between marine and terrestrial food webs, leading to enhanced predation of a vulnerable marine predator on its island breeding grounds. On Santa Barbara Island, barn owls (Tyto alba) are...
thumbnail
Recent attempts to predict the response of large food webs to perturbations have revealed that in larger systems increasingly precise information on the elements of the system is required. Thus, the effort needed for good predictions grows quickly with the system's complexity. Here, we show that not all elements need to be measured equally well, suggesting that a more efficient allocation of effort is possible. We develop an iterative technique for determining an efficient measurement strategy. In model food webs, we find that it is most important to precisely measure the mortality and predation rates of long-lived, generalist, top predators. Prioritizing the study of such species will make it easier to understand...
thumbnail
The emergence of several high profile infectious diseases in recent years has focused attention on our need to understand the ecological factors contributing to the spread of infectious diseases. West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne zoonotic disease that was first detected in the United States in 1999. The factors accounting for variation in the prevalence of WNV are poorly understood, but recent ideas suggesting links between high biodiversity and reduced vector-borne disease risk may help account for distribution patterns of this disease. Since wild birds are the primary reservoir hosts for WNV, we tested associations between passerine (Passeriform) bird diversity, non-passerine (all other orders) bird diversity...
thumbnail
Despite marked improvements in the interpretation of systematic relationships within Eutheria, particular nodes, including Paenungulata (Hyracoidea, Sirenia and Proboscidea), remain ambiguous. The combination of a rapid radiation, a deep divergence and an extensive morphological diversification has resulted in a limited phylogenetic signal confounding resolution within this clade both at the morphological and nucleotide levels. Cross-species chromosome painting was used to delineate regions of homology between Loxodonta africana (2n = 56), Procavia capensis (2n=54), Trichechus manatus latirostris (2n = 48) and an outgroup taxon, the aardvark (Orycteropus afer, 2n = 20). Changes specific to each lineage were identified...
thumbnail
In order to predict the fate of biodiversity in a rapidly changing world, we must first understand how species adapt to new environmental conditions. The long-term evolutionary dynamics of species' physiological tolerances to differing climatic regimes remain obscure. Here, we unite palaeontological and neontological data to analyse whether species' environmental tolerances remain stable across 3 Myr of profound climatic changes using 10 phylogenetically, ecologically and developmentally diverse mollusc species from the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains, USA. We additionally investigate whether these species' upper and lower thermal tolerances are constrained across this interval. We find that these species' environmental...
thumbnail
Tissue loss diseases or white syndromes (WS) are some of the most important coral diseases because they result in significant colony mortality and morbidity, threatening dominant Acroporidae in the Caribbean and Pacific. The causes of WS remain elusive in part because few have examined affected corals at the cellular level. We studied the cellular changes associated with WS over time in a dominant Hawaiian coral, Montipora capitata, and showed that: (i) WS has rapidly progressing (acute) phases mainly associated with ciliates or slowly progressing (chronic) phases mainly associated with helminths or chimeric parasites; (ii) these phases interchanged and waxed and waned; (iii) WS could be a systemic disease associated...
thumbnail
As a response to increasing spring temperature in temperate regions in recent years, populations of many plant and animal species, including migratory birds, have advanced the seasonal start of their reproduction or growth. However, the effects of climate changes on subsequent events of the annual cycle remain poorly understood. We investigated long-term changes in the timing of autumn migration in birds, a key event in the annual cycle limiting the reproductive period. Using data spanning a 42-year period, we analysed long-term changes in the passage of 65 species of migratory birds through Western Europe. The autumn passage of migrants wintering south of the Sahara has advanced in recent years, presumably as a...
thumbnail
The loss of aquatic subsidies such as spawning salmonids is known to threaten a number of terrestrial predators, but the effects on alternative prey species are poorly understood. At the heart of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, an invasion of lake trout has driven a dramatic decline of native cutthroat trout that migrate up the shallow tributaries of Yellowstone Lake to spawn each spring. We explore whether this decline has amplified the effect of a generalist consumer, the grizzly bear, on populations of migratory elk that summer inside Yellowstone National Park (YNP). Recent studies of bear diets and elk populations indicate that the decline in cutthroat trout has contributed to increased predation by grizzly...


map background search result map search result map Active formation of mixed-species grouse leks: a role for predation in lek evolution? Grizzly bear predation links the loss of native trout to the demography of migratory elk in Yellowstone Active formation of mixed-species grouse leks: a role for predation in lek evolution? Grizzly bear predation links the loss of native trout to the demography of migratory elk in Yellowstone