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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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Invasive plants and urban development: a bad combination for coastal vegetation

Invasive plants and urban development: a bad combination for coastal vegetation

Land-use intensification and biological invasions are two of the most important global change pressures driving biodiversity loss. However, their combined impacts on biological communities have been seldom explored, which may result in misleading ecological assessments or mitigation actions. Based on an extensive field survey of 445 paired invaded and control plots of coastal vegetation in SW Spain, the joint effects of land-use intensification (agricultural and urban intensification) and invasion on the taxonomic and functional richness, mean plant height and leaf area of native plants were explored. The survey covered five invasive species with contrasting functional similarity and competitive ability in relation to the native community. The response of native communities for the overall and invader-specific datasets was modelled, and it was determined whether invader-native functional differences could influence the combined impacts of land-use intensification and invasion. Overall, urban intensification reduced taxonomic richness more strongly at invaded plots (synergistic interactive effects). In contrast, functional richness loss caused by urban intensification was less pronounced at invaded plots (antagonistic interactive effects). Overall models showed also that urban intensification led to reduced mean leaf area, while agriculture was linked to higher mean plant height. When exploring invader-specific models, the combined effects of agricultural and urban intensification with invasion were found to be heterogeneous. At invaded plots, invader-native functional differences accounted for part of this variability. These findings demonstrate the importance of considering the interactive effects of global change pressures for a better assessment and management of ecosystems. informacion[at] Gutiérrez-Cánovas et al (2020) Combined effects of land-use intensification and plant invasion on native communities. Oecologia DOI 10.1007/s00442-020-04603-1