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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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Predictors of pollinator service

Predictors of pollinator service

Pollinator service is essential for successful sexual reproduction and long-term population persistence of animal-pollinated plants, and innumerable studies have shown that insufficient service by pollinators results in impaired sexual reproduction ("pollen limitation"). Studies directly addressing the predictors of variation in pollinator service across species or habitats remain comparatively scarce, which limits our understanding of the primary causes of natural variation in pollen limitation. This paper evaluates the importance of pollination-related features, evolutionary history and environment as predictors of pollinator service in a large sample of plant species from undisturbed montane habitats in southeastern Spain. Quantitative data on pollinator visitation were obtained for 191 insect-pollinated species belonging to 142 genera in 43 families, and the predictive values of simple floral traits (perianth type, class of pollinator visitation unit, and visitation unit dry mass), phylogeny, and habitat type were assessed. A total of 24,866 pollinator censuses accounting for 5,414,856 flower-min of observation were conducted on 510 different dates. Flowering patch and single flower visitation probabilities by all pollinators combined were significantly predicted by the combined effects of perianth type (open vs. restricted), class of visitation unit (single flower vs. flower packet), mass of visitation unit, phylogenetic relationships, and habitat type. Pollinator composition at insect order level varied extensively among plant species, largely reflecting the contrasting visitation responses of Coleoptera (beetles), Diptera (flies), Hymenoptera (bees) and Lepidoptera (butterflies) to variation in floral traits. For example, Lepidoptera responded positively to increasing mass of visitation unit in species with flowers packets, but negatively in species with single flowers and restrictive perianths. Pollinator composition had a strong phylogenetic component, and the distribution of phylogenetic autocorrelation hotspots of visitation rates across the plant phylogeny differed widely among insect orders. Habitat type was a key predictor of pollinator composition, as major insect orders exhibited decoupled variation across habitat types in visitation rates. Comprehensive pollinator sampling of a regional plant community has shown that pollinator visitation and composition can be parsimoniously predicted by a combination of simple floral features, habitat type and evolutionary history. Ambitious community-level studies can help to formulate novel hypotheses and questions, shed fresh light on long-standing controversies in pollination research (e.g., "pollination syndromes"), and identify methodological cautions that should be considered in pollination community studies dealing with small, phylogenetically-biased plant species samples. informacion[at] Herrera (2019) Flower traits, habitat, and phylogeny as predictors of pollinator service: a plant community perspective. Ecol Monographs DOI 10.1002/ecm.1402