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Understanding the processes leading to fossilization

Modern death assemblages provide insights about the early stages of fossilization and useful ecological information about the species inhabiting the ecosystem. The results of taphonomic monitoring of modern vertebrate carcasses and bones from Doñana National Park, a Mediterranean coastal ecosystem in Andalusia, Spain, are presented. Ten different habitats were surveyed. Half of them occur in active depositional environments (marshland, lake margin, river margin, beach and dunes). Most of the skeletal remains belong to land mammals larger than 5 kg in body weight (mainly wild and feral ungulates). Overall, the Doñana bone assemblage shows good preservation with little damage to the bones, partly as a consequence of the low predator pressure on large vertebrates. Assemblages from active depositional habitats differ significantly from other habitats in terms of the higher incidence of breakage and chewing marks on bones in the latter, which result from scavenging, mainly by wild boar and red fox. The lake-margin and river-margin death assemblages have high concentrations of well preserved bones that are undergoing burial and offer the greatest potential to produce fossil assemblages. The spatial distribution of species in the Doñana death assemblage generally reflects the preferred habitats of the species in life. Meadows seem to be a preferred winter habitat for male deer, given the high number of shed antlers recorded there. This study is further proof that taphonomy can provide powerful insights to better understand the ecology of modern species and to infer past and future scenarios for the fossil record. informacion[at] Domingo et al (2020) Taphonomic information from the modern vertebrate death assemblage of Doñana National Park, Spain. PLOS ONE 15(11): e0242082. DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0242082
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Waterbirds as vectors for alien species

Waterbirds as vectors for alien species

The importance of waterbirds as vectors of aliens has been recognized since Darwin's time, yet research by pioneers has been forgotten during the development of modern invasion biology, which tends to overlook this means of dispersal. Waterbirds are ignored in databases of alien species and invasion pathways, making management and prevention of invasions more difficult. This article summarizes studies that provide empirical evidence for the dispersal of alien plants and invertebrates by waterbirds in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Altogether, 36 studies provide empirical evidence for the dispersal of 79 alien plant species and eight alien invertebrates by waterbirds, including some of the worst aquatic invaders and the most widely distributed alien terrestrial plant species. Waterbirds known to be vectors include ducks, geese, swans, shorebirds, gulls, herons and rails. Aliens are usually dispersed after being ingested or becoming attached to plumage, bills or feet, but waterbirds also disperse alien species when making nests, when preying on other vectors such as fish, or even attached to leg rings. While waterbirds may have a trivial role in explaining the arrival of alien species to new continents, they have a vital role in spreading aliens around once they get there. Greater focus on the role of waterbird vectors is essential if management of invasions is to be effective. informacion[at] Green (2016) The importance of waterbirds as an overlooked pathway of invasion for alien species. Diversity Distrib 22: 239-247 DOI: 10.1111/ddi.12392