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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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First Radiological Study of a Complete Dental Ontogeny Sequence of an Extinct Equid: Implications for Equidae Life History and Taphonomy

First Radiological Study of a Complete Dental Ontogeny Sequence of an Extinct Equid: Implications for Equidae Life History and Taphonomy

The sequence of cheek teeth mineralization, eruption, and replacement of an extinct horse species is here documented with radiological techniques for the first time thanks to the exceptional preservation of Hipparion sp. mandibles from Cerro de los Batallones (Madrid Basin, Spain). The sequence of dental ontogeny in mammals provides valuable insights about life history traits, such as the pace of growth, and about the mode of formation of fossiliferous assemblages. This study have determined that the order of permanent cheek teeth mineralization and eruption of hipparionine horses is m1, m2, (p2, p3), p4, m3. Cheek teeth mineralization timing of hipparionine horses coincides with the one observed in modern equids. In turn, there are differences in the eruption timing of the p4 and m3 between horses belonging to the Anchitheriinae and Hipparionini compared to equids of the Equus genus that might be related to the shorter durability of the deciduous tooth dp4 in anchitheriine and hipparionine horses and, more broadly, to an increased durability of equid teeth through their evolutionary history. Based on the dental eruption sequence, hipparionine horses are slow-growing, long-living mammals. The Hipparion sp. assemblage from Batallones-10 conforms to an attritional model, as individuals more vulnerable to natural mortality predominate. informacion[at] Domingo et al (2018) First radiological study of a complete dental ontogeny sequence of an extinct equid: implications for Equidae life history and taphonomy. Sci Rep 8: 8507