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Argentine ants harm nestlings of the blue tit

The consequences of ant invasions on ecosystems may only become apparent after long periods. In addition, predicting how sensitive native fauna will respond is only possible if the underlying proximate mechanisms of their impact are identified. The attraction of the native and invasive ant community to artificial bird nests was studied, together with reproduction of a wild native songbird over five consecutive breeding seasons in relation to the presence of an invasive ant species. Biometric, reproductive and individual blood parameters of great tits Parus major breeding in invaded as compared to uninvaded sites by Argentine ants Linepithema humile were analysed. Great tits bred preferably in uninvaded territories by the Argentine ant. Moreover, Argentine ants were more abundant at nests in invaded sites, than any native ant species were at uninvaded sites. Further, Argentine ants recruited at the artificial nests more intensively and responded to a larger variety of nest (intact eggs, cracked eggs, faeces, and cracked eggs plus faeces) contents than native species. Although breeding success and adult condition did not vary in relation to invasion status, offspring quality was negatively affected by the presence of Argentine ants. Nestlings reared in invaded sites were lighter, with lower wing/tarsus length ratio and had a reduced nutritional condition and altered oxidative stress balance as measured from several blood parameters. The interspersed distribution and small distance between invaded versus uninvaded territories suggest that ant presence affects nestling condition through direct interference at the nest. These results highlight the importance of evaluating the proximate effects like physiological parameters of the native fauna, when studying invasive ant-native bird interactions. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Álvarez et al (2020) Breeding consequences for a songbird nesting in Argentine ant' invaded land. Biol Invasions https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-020-02297-3


https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10530-020-02297-3
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“Planned obsolescence” in the plumage of larks

"Planned obsolescence" in the plumage of larks

Larks (Alaudidae) present a heavily worn plumage for the most part of the annual cycle, to the point that identification field guides typically depict lark species in both fresh and worn plumages. The ephemeral nature of lark feathers is even more strange knowing that larks are among the few passerines undergoing a single annual molt. Contrarily, a majority of songbirds moult feathers twice a year. Larks are dull-colored ground-dwelling birds living in open areas, thus occupying a niche where abrasion by air and soil particles is maximal. Authors observed that lark feathers have unmelanized fringes and are prone to breakage. Larks may have turned need into a virtue: they possibly cannot avoid a premature damage of their fragile plumage, and instead of incurring the cost of molting repeatedly, they gain the advantage of a form of crypsis known as disruptive camouflage. When feathers break, they create a serrated random pattern, cancelling out the effect of smooth lines more easily detected by predators. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Negro et al (2019) Adaptive plumage wear for increased crypsis in the plumage of Palearctic larks (Alaudidae). Ecology https://doi.org/10.1002/ecy.2771


https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ecy.2771