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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 functional connectivity network of wintering gulls links seven habitat types, acting ricefields as the central node

The functional connectivity network of wintering gulls links seven habitat types, acting ricefields as the central node

The lesser black-backed gull is now the second most abundant wintering waterbird in Andalusian wetlands. Many birds are fitted with GPS loggers on their breeding grounds in northern Europe, and using 42 tagged individuals we studied the connectivity network between different sites and habitats in Andalusia. Thirty seven principal sites (nodes) from seven different habitats (ricefields, landfills, natural lakes, reservoirs, fish ponds, coastal marshes and ports) were identified. By analysing nearly 6,000 gull flights, it was found that Doñana ricefields are the most important node in the network, but that 90% of flights are made between a wetland and a landfill. The 37 nodes are split into 10 functional units (modules) in which gulls tend to fly daily and up to 60 km between a wetland roost site, and a landfill feeding site. This network allows to predict how gulls contribute to seed dispersal, wetland eutrophication, and the spread of pathogens such as antibiotic resistant bacteria. informacion[at] Martín-Vélez et al (2019) Functional connectivity network between terrestrial and aquatic habitats by a generalist waterbird, and implications for biovectoring. Science Total Environm 107: 135886 DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.135886