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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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Wetland salinity induces carry-over effects in the physical conditions of a long-distance migrant

Wetland salinity induces carry-over effects in the physical conditions of a long-distance migrant

Salinization is having a major impact on wetlands and its biota worldwide. Specifically, many migratory animals that rely on wetlands are increasingly exposed to elevated salinity on their nonbreeding grounds. Experimental evidence suggests that physiological challenges associated with increasing salinity may disrupt self-maintenance processes in these species. Nonetheless, the potential role of salinity as a driver of ecological carry-over effects remains unstudied. This study investigated the extent to which the use of saline wetlands during winter – inferred from feather stable isotope values – induces residual effects that carry over and influence physiological traits relevant to fitness in black-tailed godwits Limosa limosa limosa on their northward migration. Overwintering males and females were segregated by wetland salinity in West Africa, with females mostly occupying freshwater wetlands. The use of these wetlands along a gradient of salinities was associated with differences in immune responsiveness to phytohaemagglutinin and sized-corrected body mass in godwits staging in southern Europe during northward migration – 3,000?km from the nonbreeding grounds – but in males only. Indeed, males that used more saline wetlands in winter arrived at staging sites in poorer body condition than males that used freshwater wetlands. These findings provide a window onto the processes by which wetland salinity can induce carry-over effects and can help predict how migratory species should respond to future climate-induced increases in salinity. informacion[at]ebd.csic. Masero et al (2017) Wetland salinity induces sex-dependent carry-over effects on the individual performance of a long-distance migrant. Sci Rep 7: 6867 DOI 10.1038/s41598-017-07258-w