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30 March 2017

Generalist social bees maximize diversity intake in plant species-rich and resource-abundant environments [Ecosphere]

Keywords : functional complementarity, functional redundancy, Meliponini, nutritional ecology, plant–insect interactions, pollinator decline

Numerous studies revealed a positive relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, suggesting that biodiverse environments may not only enhance ecosystem processes, but also benefit individual ecosystem members by, for example, providing a higher diversity of resources. Whether and how the number of available resources affects resource collection and subsequently consumers (e.g., through impacting functions associated with resources) have, however, been little investigated, although a better understanding of this relationship may help explain why the abundance and richness of many animal species typically decline with decreasing plant (resource) diversity. Using a social bee species as model (Tetragonula carbonaria), we investigated how plant species richness—recorded for study sites located in different habitats—and associated resource abundance affected the diversity and functionality (here defined as nutritional content and antimicrobial activity) of resources (i.e., pollen, nectar, and resin) collected by a generalist herbivorous consumer.(...)

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30 March 2017

Disturbed flow in an aquatic environment may create a sensory refuge for aggregated prey [PeerJ]

Keywords : animal behavior, ecology

Predators use olfactory cues moved within water and air to locate prey. Because prey aggregations may produce more cue and be easier to detect, predation could limit aggregation size. However, disturbance in the flow may diminish the reliability of odour as a prey cue, impeding predator foraging success and efficiency. We explore how different cue concentrations (as a proxy for prey group size) affect risk to prey by fish predators in disturbed (more turbulent or mixed) and non-disturbed (less mixed) flowing water.(...)

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29 March 2017

Brain size in birds is related to traffic accidents [Royal Society Open Science]

Estimates suggest that perhaps a quarter of a billion birds are killed by traffic annually across the world. This is surprising because birds have been shown to learn speed limits. Birds have also been shown to adapt to the direction of traffic and lane use, and this apparently results in reduced risks of fatal traffic accidents. Such behavioural differences suggest that individual birds that are not killed in traffic should have larger brains for their body size. We analysed the link between being killed by traffic and relative brain mass in 3521 birds belonging to 251 species brought to a taxidermist. Birds that were killed in traffic indeed had relatively smaller brains, while there was no similar difference for liver mass, heart mass or lung mass. These findings suggest that birds learn the behaviour of car drivers, and that they use their brains to adjust behaviour in an attempt to avoid mortality caused by rapidly and predictably moving objects.

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29 March 2017

Seasonal body size reductions with warming covary with major body size gradients in arthropod species [Royal Society Open Science]

Keywords : life history, plasticity, seasonality, temperature ,insects, Crustacea

Major biological and biogeographical rules link body size variation with latitude or environmental temperature, and these rules are often studied in isolation. Within multivoltine species, seasonal temperature variation can cause substantial changes in adult body size, as subsequent generations experience different developmental conditions. Yet, unlike other size patterns, these common seasonal temperature–size gradients have never been collectively analysed. We undertake the largest analysis to date of seasonal temperature-size gradients in multivoltine arthropods, including 102 aquatic and terrestrial species from 71 global locations.(...)

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29 March 2017

Population Social Structure Facilitates Indirect Fitness Benefits from Extra-Pair Mating [Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution]

Despite decades of research, empirical support for the “compatible genes” and “good genes” hypotheses as explanations for adaptive female extra-pair mating remains discordant. One largely un-tested theoretical prediction that could explain equivocal findings is that mating for compatible genes benefits should reduce selection for good genes. However, this prediction does not consider demographic parameters, such as social structuring, that can indirectly influence extra-pair paternity (EPP) outcomes. Drawing on evidence from a previous study, we re-evaluate this hypothesis whilst considering social structuring in a population of tui, Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae, a socially monogamous passerine.(...)

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