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19 September 2016

Consensus and experience trump leadership, suppressing individual personality during social foraging [Science Advances]

Keywords : consensus, coordination, self-organization, predation risk, refuge use, conformity, leadership, personality, boldness

Whether individual behavior in social settings correlates with behavior when individuals are alone is a fundamental question in collective behavior. However, evidence for whether behavior correlates across asocial and social settings is mixed, and no study has linked observed trends with underlying mechanisms. Consistent differences between individuals in boldness, which describes willingness to accept reward over risk, are likely to be under strong selection pressure. By testing three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) in a risky foraging task alone and repeatedly in shoals, we demonstrate that the expression of boldness in groups is context-specific.(...)

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17 September 2016

Predicting nutrient excretion of aquatic animals with metabolic ecology and ecological stoichiometry: A global synthesis [Ecology]

Keywords : animals, biogeochemistry, ecosystems, freshwater, global, global studies, lakes/ponds, limnology/hydrology, marine, physiological ecology, reservoirs, rivers/streams

The metabolic theory of ecology (MTE) and ecological stoichiometry (ES) are both prominent frameworks for understanding energy and nutrient budgets of organisms. We tested their separate and joint power to predict nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) excretion rates of ectothermic aquatic invertebrate and vertebrate animals (10,534 observations worldwide). MTE variables (body size, temperature) performed better than ES variables (trophic guild, vertebrate classification, body N:P) in predicting excretion rates, but the best models included variables from both frameworks.(...)

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15 September 2016

Taking stock of nature: Essential biodiversity variables explained [Biological Conservation]

Keywords : biodiversity, indicator, priority measurement, biodiversity observation network, living planet index, UK spring index

In 2013, the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON) developed the framework of Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs), inspired by the Essential Climate Variables (ECVs). The EBV framework was developed to distill the complexity of biodiversity into a manageable list of priorities and to bring a more coordinated approach to observing biodiversity on a global scale. However, efforts to address the scientific challenges associated with this task have been hindered by diverse interpretations of the definition of an EBV. Here, the authors define an EBV as a critical biological variable that characterizes an aspect of biodiversity, functioning as the interface between raw data and indicators. (...)

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15 September 2016

Discovery of species-wide tool use in the Hawaiian crow [Nature]

Subject terms : behavioural ecology, evolutionary ecology, tropical ecology, cultural evolution, animal behaviour

Only a handful of bird species are known to use foraging tools in the wild1. Amongst them, the New Caledonian crow (Corvus moneduloides) stands out with its sophisticated tool-making skills2, 3. Despite considerable speculation, the evolutionary origins of this species’ remarkable tool behaviour remain largely unknown, not least because no naturally tool-using congeners have yet been identified that would enable informative comparisons4. Here we show that another tropical corvid, the ‘Alalā (C. hawaiiensis; Hawaiian crow), is a highly dexterous tool user.(...)

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14 September 2016

Social carry-over effects underpin trans-seasonally linked structure in a wild bird population [Ecology Letters]

Keywords : carry-over effects, habitat selection, social networks, social relationships, spatial structure, territory choice

Spatial structure underpins numerous population processes by determining the environment individuals’ experience and which other individuals they encounter. Yet, how the social landscape influences individuals’ spatial decisions remains largely unexplored. Wild great tits (Parus major) form freely moving winter flocks, but choose a single location to establish a breeding territory over the spring. We demonstrate that individuals’ winter social associations carry-over into their subsequent spatial decisions, as individuals breed nearer to those they were most associated with during winter.(...)

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