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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]ebd.csic.es: 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


https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03949370.2020.1715487
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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]ebd.csic.es: Herrera (2019) Flower traits, habitat, and phylogeny as predictors of pollinator service: a plant community perspective. Ecol Monographs DOI 10.1002/ecm.1402


https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ecm.1402