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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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Impacts of groundwater abstraction on temporary ponds in Doñana

Impacts of groundwater abstraction on temporary ponds in Doñana

Water level changes have been monitored over 25 years in several temporary ponds located at different distances to a pumping area of a tourist resort fringing the Donana National Park (SW Spain). The numerical model MIKE SHE was set up to simulate pond water levels and hydroperiod fluctuations. It was calibrated for nine hydrological years and validated for two periods of eight hydrological years each to assess whether the duration of the pond wet phase (hydroperiod) significantly deviated from an expected pattern driven by rainfall and evapotranspiration. The model output indicated a satisfactory performance for all simulations. This approach provided two main conclusions: a) a long-term increasing trend in water losses on the pond water balance which has not been followed by a corresponding decreasing trend in rainfall, and b) these water losses were highest in the pond located at < 1 km to the pumping area and lowest in the pond located at a further distance (5.6 km) and at a lower altitude. These results suggest that, in the long run, a small groundwater abstraction rate has exerted a high hydrological pressure on the closest pond to the pumping area. informacion[at] Dimitriou et al (2017) Hydrodynamic numerical modelling of the water level decline in four temporary ponds of the Doñana National Park (SW Spain). J Arid Environ