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Abstract

Stealing of food items from another animal, or kleptoparasitism, has been well studied in bird species. Bald eagles are known kleptoparasites of other birds and occasionally other species, however kleptoparasitic interactions with mammals are relatively uncommon. We describe instances of bald eagles taking, or attempting to take, fish and mammal prey from three species of cetaceans (bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena vomerina) and killer whales (Orcinus orca)) and one species of pinniped (harbour seal (Phoca vitulina richardii)) on the east and west coast of the United States of America. We discuss possible drivers of this emerging behaviour, including bald eagle population increases, reductions in other prey abundance, and changes in prey choice (for harbour porpoises). Further research is needed to determine if this behaviour is opportunistic in nature, or a more common foraging strategy.

In: Behaviour

Abstract

Turtles as many other reptiles are capable of orientating their bodies toward the sun. This conduct requires the presence of an internal biological chronometer in the organism that regulates this behavior. Thus, a description of the internal clock in these reptiles is of interest. The assessment of locomotor activity can be considered a reliable indicator of biological clock function. This study aimed to investigate the effect of different artificial photoperiod and ambient temperature schedules on total locomotor activity of female Chelonoidis chilensis and its rhythmicity. Six C. chilensis specimens were exposed to different artificial photoperiods and temperature regimes each fixed for seven days. It was observed that the activity period during the different experimental schedules was close to the 24 hours indicating a daily rhythmicity. Moreover, all tortoises showed a similar total locomotor activity pattern displaying the most of motion during light phase. Under the condition of constant light tortoises exhibited a self-sustaining rhythm not entrained to light and temperature zeitgebers, thus, suggesting its possible endogenous periodicity. Though this study deepens the knowledge on the rhythmic system of C. chilensis, further investigations are needed to achieve a more detailed understanding of tortoise biological clock.

In: Amphibia-Reptilia

Abstract

Population monitoring is essential to determine different aspects of the ecology and conservation of the species. In anurans, recording the acoustic activity of choruses allows surveying populations. Therefore, knowing the timing of male calls is fundamental to achieve this goal. Here we monitored calling activity of the Mediterranean tree frog (Hyla meridionalis) at eight localities in southern Iberian Peninsula and western North Africa in the frame of a citizen science program. Subsequently, after summarizing call activity with Non-metric Multidimensional Scaling, we aimed to identify the geographic and environmental variables that associate with the calling activity of frogs. The results of the 258-hour census showed that male tree frogs called mainly from December to July, although the duration and intensity of choruses varied, depending on the elevation and seasonality of the water bodies. Males sang earlier and had more durable call activities at lower elevation sites, which are sites with higher and more stable ambient temperatures. Also, calling activity was lower in sites where water fluctuates more over the annual cycle. Our results provide a first overview of the calling activity of the Mediterranean tree frog over a relatively large set of populations encompassing a wide variety of environmental conditions in its westernmost range of distribution. However, further studies relying on more intensive sampling, likely using automatic recorders, would be desirable to achieve a full understanding of the calling activity of tree frogs in the region.

In: Amphibia-Reptilia

Abstract

The knowledge of a species’ spatial ecology is essential for its conservation as it helps to implement targeted protection measures to suitable habitats. In 2011 and 2013, two French populations of ocellated lizards Timon lepidus were monitored through very high frequency (VHF) radio telemetry in two distinct Mediterranean habitats: a 77 ha scrubland (n = 8) and a 1590 ha semi-arid steppe (n = 11) corresponding to a heterogeneous and homogeneous habitat respectively. The variability in spatial estimates for the seasonal habitat use of the ocellated lizard was compared within the two sites using the Autocorrelated Kernel Density Estimation (AKDE). Recursive movement patterns and spatial repartition of shelters were further assessed to study the habitat influence on the species’ space use. No significant differences between sexes or sites were identified in the computed AKDE ranges. This inter-site approach demonstrated higher shelter revisits in core-areas than in the rest of estimated home ranges for both sites. A higher shelter density was observed in the core areas of the lizards than in the rest of their home-ranges for the Mediterranean scrubland but not for the semi-arid steppe. Such findings might attest to the species’ adaptive capabilities within two distinct Mediterranean ecosystems.

In: Amphibia-Reptilia

Abstract

Birds and mammals produce most adenosine triphosphate (ATP) through mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, but when oxygen is not present in sufficient levels, ATP can be produced through anaerobic glycolysis. Pyruvate kinase (PK) catalyzes the final step of glycolysis by converting phosphoenolpyruvate and adenosine diphosphate (ADP) into pyruvate and ATP. Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) is important for anaerobic glycolysis by catalyzing the conversion of pyruvate into lactate. In this study, we measured LDH and PK activities in plasma from birds and mammals in order to determine the relationship between LDH and PK with respect to body mass and age. Our results show that birds had a higher LDH and PK activity compared with mammals. There is a positive relationship between body mass and plasma LDH activity in birds only. However, this relationship disappears when the data are phylogenetically corrected. We did not observe a significant relationship between plasma LDH and age in birds or mammals. Plasma PK activity was negatively correlated with body mass in birds but not in mammals and positively associated with age in both birds and mammals. The relationship between LDH and PK with respect to body mass and age may be complex due to differences in metabolism in birds and mammals. Increases in LDH and PK activity with body mass in birds may be linked to anaerobic demands of flight, especially in larger birds. A decrease in LDH activity with age/MLSP (maximum lifespan) in mammals may reflect a differing metabolic shift as compared with birds. Increases in PK with age in both mammals and birds may help them cope with greater energetic needs as cells age.

In: Animal Biology

Abstract

Harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) commonly form larger congregations at haul out locations during times of rest and pupping season, but are generally thought to be solitary at sea. Occasionally larger clusters of individuals may be observed swimming near haul out sites, forced bottlenecking channels or mouths of rivers with concentrated prey and restricted space. Recently, isolated occurrences of mass gatherings of harbour seals have been observed in the Salish Sea that were distanced from haul out sites (over 1 km away) or forced bottlenecking regions. In April-June (but primarily May) 2019–2021 juvenile and adult harbour seals in Burrows Pass (Anacortes, WA, USA) were observed in large groups (N=31) ranging in size from 6–50 individuals (x=16.8) within 1-2 body lengths of each other and periodically diving down seemingly hunting and chasing prey. These groupings primarily occurred during flood and slack high tides. Based on the surface level activity observed, habitat type, the frequency of individuals using the area for foraging year round and the tidal preferences during the occurrences, it is likely these are foraging events. Similar large groups have been documented (N=10) in the South Puget Sound and Central Puget Sound, first observed in 2016 and officially documented in February of 2017. These groupings (from 20–30 to 150+) occurred year round and at varied tidal states. While some sightings were obviously foraging behaviour, others appeared to be resting, traveling or socializing. Open water behaviour of harbour seals is not well documented, and a literature review found no other published accounts of large in-water groupings. Investigation of ecological relationships (like prey spawning, prey abundance, or other environmental correlates) and observation of underwater harbour seal behaviour will aid in determining the reason for this seemingly novel behaviour.

In: Behaviour

Abstract

The effect of four cultivated species of cotton on the oviposition behaviour and/or preference of pink bollworm, Pectinophora gossypiella was studied under laboratory conditions. Blends of volatile organic compounds from squares of all four species of cotton (Gossypium arboreum, G. herbaceum, G. hirsutum, G. barbadense) were identified using gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy (GC-MS). Differences were observed across the species with respect to the relative proportion of identified compounds, viz., pinene, carene, caryophyllene, humulene and γ terpinene. In order to evaluate the ovipositional preference of pink bollworm, a series of no-choice and choice experiments were conducted using square extract, artificial blend-treated muslin cloth and cotton twig as substrate for oviposition. All four species of cotton had differences in the volatile blend composition that were reflected in the mean number of eggs laid under no-choice and choice experiments. A substantially higher number of eggs was laid on cotton twig under both no-choice and choice experiments than on square extract and artificial blend treatments. In both no-choice and choice experiments G. herbaceum was found to be the least preferred for egg laying compared to the other three species.

In: Animal Biology

Abstract

The East European vole Microtus mystacinus is the most widespread vole species in Anatolia. It is also frequently seen in watery habitats in a large area of Eurasia. In this paper, an attempt was made to ascertain the level of genetic differentiation between Anatolian (Asian part of Turkey) and Turkish Thracian (European part of Turkey) populations together with additional data from other parts of Asia and Europe by analysing two mitochondrial (cytochrome-b and cytochrome oxidase subunit I) and one nuclear (interphotoreceptor retinoid binding protein) gene regions. Acquired Bayesian Inference trees mostly separated the Asian and European populations of M. mystacinus and the fixation index values implied a significant differentiation between these populations for mitochondrial DNA. On the other hand, the median-joining networks did not show diverging populations, significantly, and the mean genetic distance values among populations were found to be low for both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA. Evolutionary divergence times of Asian and European populations were also calculated and dated back to approximately 0.316–0.111 million years ago, coinciding with the ice ages of the Pleistocene epoch. According to the obtained results, M. mystacinus populations have not diverged enough to form different species; however, there is a separation between Asian and European populations which might result in speciation.

In: Animal Biology

Abstract

Many animal groups can develop weapons that originate from specialized modifications in different body regions. Decapods are a classic example of organisms that develop these weapons. In this group, we can find specific appendages modified to claws that are used during agonistic conflicts, as is the case between dominant and submissive male morphotypes in freshwater prawns. Our study aimed to analyze the shape, size, and morphological integration of claw components (propodus and dactyl) in male morphotypes of two freshwater prawn congeners (Macrobrachium amazonicum and M. brasiliense). Claws of the prawns were photographed and marked with landmarks and semilandmarks for the acquisition of shape variables. The shape of the propodus and dactyl was statistically different between almost all morphotypes of the two species. The size of structures differed statistically between all morphotypes. The claws of almost all morphotypes showed a high degree of morphological integration; however, statistical differences were observed only between the morphotypes of M. brasiliense. The variation in the shape and degree of morphological integration of the claws between the morphotypes of M. amazonicum was less evident when compared to the morphotypes of M. brasiliense, which may be related to distinct patterns in the development of chelipeds of each species, that is, homochely and heterochely, respectively. Thus, the exaggerated development of a cheliped (heterochely) can cause greater variation in the shape of this structure, also influencing the degree of morphological integration between its components, as evidenced in this study.

In: Animal Biology

Abstract

The opportunity and the information available to secure food resources drives foraging behaviour. We tested how inconsistent hole-food pairings and coverings could alter foraging performance, even when food availability is held constant. In our first experiment, we exposed pigeons (Columba livia) to a board in which each of the 60 covered holes contained one food item and to another board in which only one third of the 180 covered holes randomly contained one food item. In a second experiment, only the 60-hole board was used and the holes were not covered. The pigeons increased their body weight, gave fewer pecks per hole, revisited holes less often, and inspected fewer adjacent holes with 180 rather than 60 covered holes while eating similar amounts. However, their pecks were disproportionately higher near the edges of the board with 60 covered holes. This behaviour was not evident in the second experiment, when the food items were visible and individuals could know where food was available. Thus, the information about food location may drive foraging behaviour more directly than the information about food availability.

In: Behaviour