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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


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Multiple mating as bet-hadging strategy

Multiple mating as bet-hadging strategy

Polyandry (female multiple mating) has profound evolutionary and ecological implications. Despite considerable work devoted to understanding why females mate multiply, no convincing empirical evidence explains the adaptive value of polyandry. In this study it is provided a direct test of the controversial idea that bet-hedging functions as a risk-spreading strategy that yields multi-generational fitness benefits to polyandrous females. Unfortunately, testing this hypothesis is far from trivial, and the empirical comparison of the across-generations fitness payoffs of a polyandrous (bet hedger) versus a monandrous (non-bet hedger) strategy has never been accomplished because of numerous experimental constraints presented by most ‘model' species. In this study, authors take advantage of the extraordinary tractability and versatility of a marine broadcast spawning invertebrate to overcome these challenges. Multi-generational (geometric mean) fitness among individual females assigned simultaneously to a polyandrous and monandrous mating strategy has been simulated. These approaches, which separate and account for the effects of sexual selection and pure bet-hedging scenarios, reveal that bet-hedging, in addition to sexual selection, can enhance evolutionary fitness in multiply mated females. In addition to offering a tractable experimental approach for addressing bet-hedging theory, this study provides key insights into the evolutionary ecology of sexual interactions. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Garcia-Gonzalez et al (2015) Mating portfolios: bet-hedging, sexual selection and female multiple mating. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 282:20141525. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2014.1525