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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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Home is where I grew up

Home is where I grew up

In this study, a cross-fostering experiment was conducted between an oakwood and an adjacent conifer plantation to investigate the role of early experience and genetic background in habitat selection in a pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) population. Most birds returned to breed in the forest patch where they were raised, indicating that settlement decisions are determined by individuals' experience in their natal site, rather than by their genetic background. Nevertheless, a third moved away from the rearing habitat and, as previously observed in unmanipulated individuals, dispersal between habitats was size-dependent. Pied flycatchers breeding in the oak and the pine forests are differentiated by body size (the latter being smaller in size), and analyses of genetic variation at microsatellite loci now provide evidence of subtle genetic differentiation between the two populations. Phenotype-dependent dispersal may contribute to population structure even at small spatial scales. Nevertheless, the strong tendency to return to the natal patch regardless of their body size might lead to maladaptive settlement decisions and thus constrain the potential of phenotype-dependent dispersal to promote microgeographic adaptation. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Camacho et al (2016) Natal habitat imprinting counteracts the diversifying effects of phenotype-dependent dispersal in a spatially structured population. BMC Evolutionary Biology 16:158. DOI: 10.1186/s12862-016-0724-y


http://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12862-016-0724-y