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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]ebd.csic.es: Álvarez et al (2020) Breeding consequences for a songbird nesting in Argentine ant' invaded land. Biol Invasions https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-020-02297-3


https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10530-020-02297-3
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Angiosperm seeds lacking external flesh can be adapted for endozoochory

Angiosperm seeds lacking external flesh can be adapted for endozoochory

It is often assumed that only plants with a fleshy fruit disperse inside vertebrate guts, i.e. by "endozoochory". However, only 8% of European angiosperms have a fleshy fruit, and endozoochory of other plants by herbivorous or granivorous birds and mammals is widespread in nature. Many terrestrial and aquatic plants disperse via endozoochory by migratory waterbirds, providing long-dispersal dispersal. But how do they survive gut passage? Is the mechanical resistance to digestion different to that recorded in fleshy-fruited plants? Using SEM and 11 plants we compared seed morphology before and after gut passage through mallards. Diverse seed and dry fruit architecture provided multiple mechanisms to resist digestion and so enable seed survival. There are no fundamental differences in the way that these seeds, or those from fleshy-fruited plants, survive gut passage. Both plant types are pre-adapted for endozoochory and for seed dispersal mutualisms. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Costea et al (2019) The Effect of Gut Passage by Waterbirds on the Seed Coat and Pericarp of Diaspores Lacking "External Flesh": Evidence for Widespread Adaptation to Endozoochory in Angiosperms. PLoS ONE 14(12): e0226551


https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0226551