Wood density constitutes an integrative trait of water relations and growth. We compared the recently developed blue intensity (BI) method, which has only rarely been applied to tropical conifers, for determining wood density with anatomical analyses in studying the three rarely investigated palaeotropical pine species Pinus kesiya, P. dalatensis and P. krempfii, which co-occur in South-Central Vietnam, but differ in their distribution areas. For species comparisons, we also calculated the hydraulic conductivity of the xylem with the Hagen-Poiseuille equation and the water potential causing 50% loss of hydraulic conductivity () based on the anatomical analyses. We hypothesized (i) that the BI values are correlated with the cell wall fractions, the calculated hydraulic conductivity and the values; and (ii) that the wider occurrence of P. kesiya, which also can grow at drier sites, is reflected by higher wood density, lower hydraulic conductivity, lower (more negative) values and a smaller variation in the wood anatomical features across the years compared to the other two species. In agreement to our hypotheses, the results of the BI and the anatomical method were closely correlated, especially for sapwood, and P. kesiya exhibited features that are related to the growth at drier sites and to a higher tolerance towards drought: higher wood density and cell wall:lumen area ratios of its smaller xylem conduits, lower calculated hydraulic conductivity and more negative values. The BI method is well suitable for determining the wood density in tropical conifers. As a fast and inexpensive method, it may be used for initial screening woody species for their water transport capacity and drought resistance.
Scent marks are an important means of transmitting information between rodents, and they can be produced from several body sources. Previous studies have shown that scents from multiple sources can convey the same information; female meadow voles, for example, have three scent sources that communicate sex. However, possessing three separate sources that convey the same information is likely costly due to the metabolic energy required to produce these signals and the increased chance that eavesdropping individuals may intercept information present in these signals. In this study, we investigated if these scent sources could communicate other information, in addition to scent donor sex, by determining if male meadow voles could distinguish scent marks taken from different sources of a single female scent donor. This was accomplished with a habituation-test method, that allowed us to compare how male meadow voles differently investigate scent from a familiar and novel source of a female scent donor. Male meadow voles could distinguish between faeces and urine scent marks of a female, but could only distinguish mouth from urine and faeces scent marks when first familiarized with mouth scent marks. Our findings suggest that mouth, urine, and faeces scent marks of female meadow voles produce both redundant and distinct information. The overlap in information between scent marks produced from separate sources may be needed to provide social context, which allows receiving individuals to accurately weigh the tradeoffs associated with responding to an olfactory cue. While this overlap in information remains costly, this cost may be minimized by the different fade-out times of scent marks from distinct body sources, which may limit the amount of time information in a scent mark is available to a time period where this information is socially relevant.
Most viperids are ambush predators that primarily use venom to subdue prey, employing a strike-release-trail hunting strategy whereby snakes follow the unique scent of envenomated prey to locate carcasses they have bitten and released. In addition to killing prey, rattlesnakes (like most carnivores) will also opportunistically scavenge carrion. This scavenging strategy likely includes the occasional consumption of carcasses killed by other snakes (i.e., kleptoparasitism). In areas with high densities of other pitvipers, utilizing the unique scent of animals envenomated by other snakes might be a viable alternative foraging strategy. We evaluated this possibility experimentally using a series of captive behavioural trials on prairie rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis) to determine whether conspecific or heterospecific (C. scutulatus, C. ornatus) envenomation cues might increase the likelihood of kleptoparasitism. Rattlesnakes did not prefer envenomated prey over nonenvenomated prey, nor did they prefer venom cues of one species over another. Although they did frequently scavenge carcasses, in the absence of striking, snakes generally located carcasses using random searching movements instead of scent trails. Additionally, the amount of time rattlesnakes spent investigating carcass trails did not differ significantly among treatments, suggesting that striking, and the resultant formation of a chemical search image of prey, is more crucial to trailing behaviour than venom cues. Moreover, a high degree of behavioural variation among individuals was observed, suggesting that scavenging and kleptoparasitism in rattlesnakes is more complex than previously realized, and making generalizations about these behaviours is challenging.
There are 96 endemic species of Eumolpinae (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) described from New Caledonia, but some estimates propose that the actual number could be at least twice this figure. Not surprisingly, when a particular species assemblage has been revised, the number of species in that group increases significantly. Here, we revise the New Caledonian endemic genus Taophila
, the best studied in this fauna and currently known to include eleven species, one in the subgenus Jolivetiana
, and ten in the nominal subgenus. The analysis of morphological differences in a large sample of Taophila and the validation of the resulting species hypotheses in an integrative fashion based on a phylogenetic analysis of partial mtDNA sequences (cox1 and rrnS) resulted in the addition of eleven more taxa. Taxonomic splits mainly reinterpreted the previous observation of mtDNA paraphyly affecting T. subsericea
, shown to represent a complex of species mostly distinguishable by diagnostic differences among females. The new species described are: T. bituberculatan. sp., T. carinatan. sp., T. dapportoin. sp., T. davinciin. sp., T. dracon. sp., T. goan. sp., T. hackaen. sp., T. samuelsonin. sp., T. sideralisn. sp., T. taalunyn. sp. and T. wanatin. sp. These additions and the synonymy T. subsericea Heller = Stethotes mandjeliaen. syn., bring to 21 the total number of species in Taophila. Moreover, we also found the first evidence of mtDNA introgression between species of New Caledonian Eumolpinae, resulting from putative recent hybridization of T. subsericea and T. dapportoi where these species coexist. We describe a model incorporating the mtDNA genealogy of T. subsericea about the conditions that may have favored the secondary geographic encounter required for the hybridization of these species.
Multiple paternity is widespread in nature and despite costs, it has many associated benefits like increased genetic diversity and fertilization success. It has been described in many viviparous systems, suggesting the existence of some fitness advantages counteracting the inherent costs of viviparity, such as fecundity reduction and high parental investment. Reproductively polymorphic species, like the urodele Salamandra algira, which shows two types of viviparity: larviparity (i.e., delivering aquatic larvae), and pueriparity (i.e., delivering terrestrial metamorphosed juveniles), are suitable systems to study the relationship between reproductive modes and polygamous mating. Here, multiple paternity is confirmed in a pueriparous lineage of S. algira, as previously verified for the pueriparous lineages of the reproductively polymorphic species S. salamandra, suggesting polyandry is a successful mating strategy in pueriparous systems with reduced brood sizes. We discuss the potential benefits of polyandry in the context of viviparity evolution in urodeles.
The discovery of magnetosome and magnetotaxis in its most simple form in the magnetotactic bacteria (MTB) had created the tremendous impetus. MTB, spanning multiple phyla, are distributed worldwide, and they form the organelles called magnetosomes for biomineralization. Eight phylotypes of MTB belong to Alphaproteobacteria and Nitrospirae. MTB show preference for specific redox and oxygen concentration. Magnetosome chains function as the internal compass needle and align the bacterial cells passively along the local geomagnetic field (GMF). The nature of magnetosomes produced by MTB and their phylogeny suggest that bullet-shaped magnetites appeared about 3.2 billion years ago with the first magnetosomes. All MTB contains ten genes in conserved mamAB operon for magnetosome chain synthesis of which nine genes are conserved in greigite-producing MTB. Many candidate genes identify the aero-, redox-, and perhaps phototaxis. Among the prokaryotes, the MTB possess the highest number of O2-binding proteins. Magnetofossils serve as an indicator of oxygen and redox levels of the ancient environments. Most descendants of ancestral MTB lost the magnetosome genes in the course of evolution. Environmental conditions initially favored the evolution of MTB and expansion of magnetosome-formation genes. Subsequent changes in atmospheric oxygen concentration have led to changes in the ecology of MTB, loss of magnetosome genes, and evolution of nonMTB.
The slow-worm lizards (Anguis) comprise five species occurring throughout most of the Western Palearctic. Although these species are relatively uniform morphologically – with the exception of A. cephallonica, which exhibits a quite unique morphology – they are genetically deeply divergent. Here, we provide detailed distribution maps for each species and discuss their biogeography and conservation based on updated genetic data and a robust distribution database. We pay particular attention to the so called ‘grey zone’, which typically represents secondary contact zones and in some cases confirmed or presumed hybrid zones. Four of the five species live in parapatry, while only two species, A. cephallonica and A. graeca from the southern Balkans occur in partial sympatry. Further research should focus on the eco-evolutionary interactions between species in contact, including their hybridization rates, to reveal deeper details of the slow-worm evolutionary and natural history.
The monotypic genus Sturmiodexia
is a poorly known Neotropical taxon. Herein a new generic synonymy is proposed for this genus: Platyrrhinodexiasyn. nov. Two new combinations are assigned for Sturmiodexia: S. moyobambensis () comb nov. and S. punctulata () comb nov. Redescriptions were done for S. punctulata, S. rubescens
and S. muscaria (). With these new propositions, Sturmiodexia is left with four species. In addition, the male and female terminalia, and the first instar larva, are described and illustrated for the first time for S. punctulata. Finally, a diagnose for Sturmiodexia and a key to all species is given.
Encounters between birds of prey and porcupines are rarely documented, and so far only in North America. At least 39% of such encounters lead to death of the attacker. We present first evidence for similar encounters between The Eurasian Eagle Owl and the Indian Crested Porcupine, suggesting that young porcupines may occasionally serve as potential prey for the owl.