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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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When conservation bias leads to restoration failure

When conservation bias leads to restoration failure

Conservation bias towards flagship species sometimes threatens other species of chief concern. Long-term studies of potential harm by favoured species on other sensitive species, though seldom adopted, are required to fairly evaluate the suitability of management and restoration efforts. The potential detrimental outcomes of conservation biased towards birds is illustrated by investigating the long-term (1963–2009) impact of a large waterbird colony on a remnant cork oak Quercus suber population at a World Biosphere Reserve in south-western Spain (the Doñana National Park). To this end, changes in performance (growth, crown vigour and survival) of oaks occupied and unoccupied by the waterbird colony were compared. After 46 years of occupation, the risk of death to centenarian oaks in the area occupied by the colony was over twofold higher than for trees outside the area. Non-centenarian planted and naturally regenerated oaks showed similar trends, leading to restoration failure. This long-term study reveals that waterbirds and centenarian oaks cannot coexist, at the most local scale, but they can at a regional scale including within the Doñana area. Immediate planting efforts in suitable colony-free areas are proposed, while managers evaluate the feasibility of relocating colonial waterbirds to an alternative location. To preserve the Doñana oak genetic pool, such reforestation should be accomplished using local seeds and seedlings. New trees should not be planted in close proximity of colony-occupied trees since it significantly reduces their survival. Doñana stakeholders should both overcome current conservation bias in favour of birds and enter into a process of settlement to best preserve the overall biodiversity of the system.  informacion[at] Fedriani et al (2016) Long-term impact of protected colonial birds on a jeopardized cork oak population: conservation bias leads to restoration failure. J Appl Ecol. doi:10.1111/1365-2664.12672