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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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Spatial distribution of marine predators

Spatial distribution of marine predators

Identifying the main factors affecting the spatial distribution of marine predators is essential in order to evaluate their distribution patterns, predict the potential impact of human activities on their populations and design accurate management actions. In this context, using deviance partitioning analyses, authors aimed to determine the degree to which environmental features, prey availability and human activities interact and influence spatial distribution of two marine mesopredator elasmobranchs, the small-spotted catshark and the Mediterranean starry ray, living in a highly human-exploited environment. Results revealed that environmental variables were the most important factors explaining the spatial distribution of Mediterranean starry ray, whereas small-spotted catshark distribution was also influenced by prey availability and human factors. From a management point of view, these findings suggest that Mediterranean starry ray could be a good candidate as an indicator species of demersal environmental quality. The spatial distribution of elasmobranchs in highly human-impacted marine areas can reflect the interactive and combined effects of multiple factors. To avoid misunderstandings, attention should be paid to statistical procedures allowing the separation of pure and joint contribution of the factors driving the observed spatial patterns. informacion[at] Navarro et al (2015) Differences in the relative roles of environment, prey availability and human activity in the spatial distribution of two marine mesopredators living in highly exploited ecosystems. J Biogeogr DOI: 10.1111/jbi.12648