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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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The effect of body size and habitat on the evolution of alarm vocalizations in rodents

The effect of body size and habitat on the evolution of alarm vocalizations in rodents

When confronted with a predator, many mammalian species emit vocalizations known as alarm calls. Vocal structure variation results from the interactive effects of different selective pressures and constraints affecting their production, transmission, and detection. Body size is an important morphological constraint influencing the lowest frequencies that an organism can produce. The acoustic environment influences signal degradation; low frequencies should be favoured in dense forests compared to more open habitats (i.e. the ‘acoustic adaptation hypothesis'). Such hypotheses have been mainly examined in birds, whereas the proximate and ultimate factors affecting vocalizations in nonprimate mammals have received less attention. In the present study, we investigated the relationships between the frequency of alarm calls, body mass, and habitat in 65 species of rodents. Although we found the expected negative relationship between call frequency and body mass, we found no significant differences in acoustic characteristics between closed and open-habitat species. The results of the present study show that the acoustic frequencies of alarm calls can provide reliable information about the size of a sender in this taxonomic group, although they generally do not support the acoustic adaptation hypothesis. informacion[at] García-Navas & Blumstein (2016). The effect of body size and habitat on the evolution of alarm vocalizations in rodents. Biol J Linn Soc DOI: 10.1111/bij.12789