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Army ant invasion of leatherback nests in Gabon

Egg mortality is one of the main factors affecting life history and conservation of oviparous species. A massive and cryptic colonisation of many leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) eggs is presented in the most important rookery for the species in Gabon. A total of 163 nests were exhumed at Kingere beach, revealing that only 16.7% of eggs produced hatchlings. In the 59% of the nests, more than half of the eggs were dead and attacked by invertebrates and 94% had at least one egg affected by invertebrates. The rate of eggs and SAGs (yolkless eggs) affected by invertebrates within a clutch ranged from 0% to 100%, with an average proportion of 39% and 52%, respectively. The most common invertebrates interacting with the eggs were ghost crabs and insects that affected 51% and 82% of the nests, respectively. Crab and insect co-occurred in 33% of the affected nests. Ants, identified as Dorylus spininodis (Emery 1901) were found in 56% of the excavated nests. However, it was not possible to determine if the ants predated alive eggs or scavenged dead eggs. Very often, hundreds of ants were found drowned within dead eggs. Termites and other invertebrates were associated with the clutch environment and identified as opportunistic feeders, being this is the first record of interaction between termites and sea turtle eggs. An unusual ecological interaction within the leatherback clutches between termites and ants was found in 11% of the nests. The abrupt transition between the soil forest and the beach might be favouring a thriving microbial and invertebrate activity in the sand profile that colonises the nests. informacion[at] Ikaran et al (2020) Cryptic massive nest colonisation by ants and termites in the world's largest leatherback turtle rookery Ethol Ecol Evol 2020. Doi 10.1080/03949370.2020.1715487
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Porphyrins produce uniquely ephemeral animal colouration: a possible signal of virginity

Porphyrins produce uniquely ephemeral animal colouration: a possible signal of virginity

Colours that underlie animal pigmentation can either be permanent or renewable in the short term. Here the discovery of a conspicuous salmon-pink colouration in the base of bustard feathers, never been reported because of its extraordinarily brief expression, is described. HPLC analyses indicated that its constituent pigments are coproporphyrin III and protoporphyrin IX, which are prone to photodegradation. Accordingly, an experimental exposure of feathers of three bustard species to sunlight produced a rapid disappearance of the salmon-pink colouration, together with a marked decrease in reflectance around 670?nm coinciding with the absorption of porphyrin photoproducts. The disappearance of the salmon-pink colouration can occur in a period as short as 12?min, likely making it the most ephemeral colour phenotype in any extant bird. The presence of this colour trait in males performing sexual displays may thus indicate to females a high probability that the males were performing their first displays and would engage in their first copulations in the breeding season. In dominant males, sperm quality decreases over successive copulations, thus porphyrin-based colouration may evolve as a signal of virginity that allows females to maximize their fitness in lek mating systems. informacion[at] Galván et al (2016) Porphyrins produce uniquely ephemeral animal colouration: a possible signal of virginity. Sci Rep 6 39210 doi:10.1038/srep39210