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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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Different effects of accelerated development and enhanced growth on oxidative stress and telomere shortening in amphibian larvae

Different effects of accelerated development and enhanced growth on oxidative stress and telomere shortening in amphibian larvae

Organisms react to environmental changes through plastic responses that often involve physiological alterations with the potential to modify life-history traits and fitness. Environmentally induced shifts in growth and development in species with complex life cycles determine the timing of transitions between subsequent life stages, as well as body condition at transformation, which greatly determine survival at later stages. This study shows that spadefoot toad larvae surviving pond drying and predators experienced marked alterations in growth and development, and in their fat reserves, oxidative stress, and relative telomere length. Tadpoles accelerated development but reduced growth and consumed more fat reserves when facing pond drying. However, oxidative stress was buffered by increased antioxidant enzyme activity, and telomeres remained unchanged. Predators caused opposite effects: they reduced larval density, hence relaxing competition and allowing faster development and enhanced growth of survivors. Tadpoles surviving predators metamorphosed bigger and had larger fat bodies, increasing their short-term survival odds, but showed signs of oxidative stress and had shorter telomeres. Developmental acceleration and enhanced growth thus seemed to have different physiological consequences: reduced fat bodies and body size compromise short-term survival, but are reversible in the long run, whereas telomere shortening is non-reversible and could reduce long-term survival. informacion[at] Burraco et al (2017) Different effects of accelerated development and enhanced growth on oxidative stress and telomere shortening in amphibian larvae. Sci Rep doi:10.1038/s41598-017-07201-z