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Honeybee colonies have increased exponentially in the Mediterranean Basin

Evidence for pollinator declines largely originates from mid-latitude regions in North America and Europe. Geographical heterogeneity in pollinator trends combined with geographical biases in pollinator studies can produce distorted extrapolations and limit understanding of pollinator responses to environmental changes. In contrast with the declines experienced in some well-investigated European and North American regions, honeybees seem to have increased recently in some areas of the Mediterranean Basin. The Mediterranean Basin is home to approximately 3300 wild bee species, or approximately 87% of those occurring in the whole western Palaearctic region. Because honeybees can have negative impacts on wild bees, it was hypothesized that a biome-wide alteration in bee pollinator assemblages may be underway in the Mediterranean Basin involving a reduction in the relative number of wild bees. This hypothesis was tested using published quantitative data on bee pollinators of wild and cultivated plants from studies conducted between 1963 and 2017 in 13 countries from the European, African and Asian shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The density of honeybee colonies increased exponentially and wild bees were gradually replaced by honeybees in flowers of wild and cultivated plants. The proportion of wild bees at flowers was four times greater than that of honeybees at the beginning of the period, the proportions of both groups becoming roughly similar 50 years later. The Mediterranean Basin is a world biodiversity hotspot for wild bees and wild bee-pollinated plants, and the ubiquitous rise of honeybees to dominance as pollinators could in the long run undermine the diversity of plants and wild bees in the region. informacion[at] Herrera (2020) Gradual replacement of wild bees by honeybees in flowers of the Mediterranean Basin over the last 50 years. Proc Royal Society B 287(1921). Doi 10.1098/rspb.2019.2657
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Individual quality as sensitivity to cysteine availability in a melanin-based honest signalling system

Individual quality as sensitivity to cysteine availability in a melanin-based honest signalling system

The evolution of honest animal communication is mostly understood through the handicap principle, which is intrinsically dependent on the concept of individual quality: low-quality individuals are prevented from producing high-quality signals because if they did so, they would pay greater production costs than high-quality individuals. This study tested an alternative explanation for the black bib size of male house sparrows Passer domesticus, an honest signal of quality whose expression is negatively related to levels of the pigment pheomelanin in its contituent feathers. Authors previously showed that experimental depletions of cysteine, which participates in pheomelanogenesis, improve the phenotype (bibs larger than controls) of high-quality males (birds with largest bibs initially) only. Here an experiment was conducted under opposite conditions, increasing the availability of dietary cysteine, and obtained opposite results: deteriorated phenotypes (bibs smaller than controls) were only expressed by high-quality birds. Some birds were also treated with the pro-oxidant diquat dibromide, and it was found that the cellular resistance to free radicals of high-quality birds benefited more from the antioxidant activity of cysteine against diquat than that of low-quality birds. These findings support the existence of a mechanism uncoupling cysteine and pheomelanin in low-quality birds that confers them a low sensitivity to variations in cysteine availability. This constitutes an explanation for the evolution of signal honesty that overcomes the limitations of the handicap principle, because it provides a specific definition of individual quality and because costs are no longer required to prevent low-quality individuals from producing large signals. informacion[at] Galván & Alonso-Alvarez Individual quality as sensitivity to cysteine availability in a melanin-based honest signalling system. J Exp Biol doi: 10.1242/jeb.160333