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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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Dynamic signalling in the greater flamingo

Dynamic signalling in the greater flamingo

Colourful plumage is typical of males in species with conventional sex roles, in which females care for offspring and males compete for females, as well as in many monogamous species in which both sexes care for offspring. Reversed sexual dichromatism—more colourful females than males—is predominant in species with sex role reversal. In the latter species, males care for offspring and females compete for mates, the mating system is mainly polyandrous and there is reversed size dimorphism—females are larger than males. Here, a case of reversed dichromatism, in the greater flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus is documented, in which there is no sex role reversal and no reversed size dimorphism. Although theoretical models postulate that cases of reversed dichromatism should be rare among monogamous ornamented birds, these findings show that the use of cosmetics might be a mechanism for the occurrence of more ornamented females than males. Indeed, the concentrations of carotenoids in the uropygial secretions used as make-up were higher in females than in males. Apparently, there was a trade-off between coloration and antioxidant defence, as the concentrations of carotenoids in the uropygial secretions were lower during chick provisioning than in other periods, contrary to those in plasma. In this system, the application of make-up would act as a dynamic signal, which would allow a rapid reallocation of resources used for signalling among functions depending on needs. Cases like this may have evolved to signal the ability to provide parental care when females are more physiologically stressed than males. informacion[at] Amat et al (2018) Dynamic signalling using cosmetics may explain the reversed sexual dichromatism in the monogamous greater flamingo. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 72:135 Doi 10.1002/ece3.4335.