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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] Álvarez et al (2020) Breeding consequences for a songbird nesting in Argentine ant' invaded land. Biol Invasions
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Understanding resident and migratory bird populations responses to climate warming

Understanding resident and migratory bird populations responses to climate warming

Many organisms adjust their reproductive phenology in response to climate change, but phenological sensitivity to temperature may vary between species. For example, resident and migratory birds have vastly different annual cycles, which can cause differential temperature sensitivity at the breeding grounds, and may affect competitive dynamics. Currently, however, adjustment to climate change in resident and migratory birds have been studied separately or at relatively small geographical scales with varying time series durations and methodologies. Here, the differential effects of temperature on resident and migratory birds was assessed using the mean egg laying initiation dates from 10 European nest box schemes between 1991 and 2015 that had data on at least one resident tit species and at least one migratory flycatcher species. Both tits and flycatchers advanced laying in response to spring warming, but resident tit populations advanced more strongly in relation to temperature increases than migratory flycatchers. These different temperature responses have already led to a divergence in laying dates between tits and flycatchers of on average 0.94 days per decade over the current study period. Interestingly, this divergence was stronger at lower latitudes where the interval between tit and flycatcher phenology is smaller and winter conditions can be considered more favorable for resident birds. This could indicate that phenological adjustment to climate change by flycatchers is increasingly hampered by competition with resident species. Indeed, tit laying date had an additional effect on flycatcher laying date after controlling for temperature, and this effect was strongest in areas with the shortest interval between both species groups. Combined, results suggest that the differential effect of climate change on species groups with overlapping breeding ecology affects the phenological interval between them, potentially affecting interspecific interactions. informacion[at] Samplonius et al (2018) Phenological sensitivity to climate change is higher in resident than in migrant bird populations among European cavity breeders. Global Change Biol Doi 10.1111/gcb.14160