Abstract

The study focused on the behaviour of sit-and-wait antlion larvae in interspecific interactions. Antlion larvae usually occur in clusters with a high density of individuals; therefore, competition can be intense. We observed two abundant antlion species, E. nostras and M. formicarius, which co-occur in some habitats. In a simple habitat choice experiment where substrates differed according to sand particle size, we found that E. nostras exhibited dominance over M. formicarius. Most E. nostras larvae remained in the more suitable substrate and constructed pits, while all the M. formicarius larvae moved out of the suitable area, and did not build pits. In the second experiment, we observed the characteristics of the pit-fall traps and scored the occurrence of larval relocation in relation to interactions and in the control group, where larvae were kept in containers separately. In interactions, the larvae of E. nostras constructed smaller pits, but pit enlargement was greater in comparison to the control group. M. formicarius larvae constructed similar sized pits in both groups; however, enlargement was greater in the control group. Relocation of larvae occurred only during interactions. In direct interactions, we found 15 behavioural patterns, which are described in detail for the first time. In the presence of a competitor, larvae showed intense territorial behaviour. We recorded several behavioural patterns during larval confrontation, and interestingly, intraguild predation rarely occurred. In most cases, E. nostras larvae outcompete M. formicarius, which was evident from the larger pits and the rate of pit-construction.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

Abstract

Co-occurring species often compete with each other directly and indirectly. Intra-guild predation (IGP) is an extreme manifestation of direct competition, which involves the attack, killing and eating of potential competitors. We studied the competitive interactions between two pit-building antlion species that co-occur in the Israeli desert: Myrmeleon hyalinus residing in the more productive sandy soil, and Cueta lineosa solely inhabiting poorer loess soils. To understand the mechanisms driving C. lineosa away from the more productive habitat, we explored the factors triggering IGP of one antlion species on the other. We tested whether IGP is affected by soil type, depth and temperature. IGP was asymmetrical with M. hyalinus preying on C. lineosa, and it intensified as the size difference favoring the former increased. Interactive rather than additive effects governed IGP, which was lowest in sandy soil combined with low temperature, and highest in shallow loess soil. C. lineosa possesses a smaller head and thorax relative to its abdomen compared to M. hyalinus, providing a possible explanation for the advantage of M. hyalinus in direct competition. We then focused on the weaker competitor, C. lineosa, examining how it copes with competition induced by M. hyalinus. Both the growth and survival rates of C. lineosa declined in the presence of M. hyalinus. The asymmetrical IGP C. lineosa experiences from M. hyalinus combined with its competitive inferiority may explain why it is mostly found in poor habitats, while its intra-guild competitor is abundant in the more productive habitats.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

Abstract

Traps are rarely used by animals, despite the plausible benefits of broadening the number and diversity of prey that sit-and-wait foragers might be able to capture. The most well-known trap building sit-and-wait foragers are among the invertebrates, i.e. antlions, wormlions, glow worms, caddisflies, and spiders. A plausible hypothesis for the paucity of trap building by other animals is that biomechanical limitations render them inefficient or ineffective at catching sufficient prey. Here I examined the literature to make a valued judgement about the validity of this hypothesis. It appears that antlion and wormlion pit traps cannot catch and retain the largest prey they might expect to encounter. Arachnacampa glowworm traps are functionally efficient, facilitated by the animal’s bioluminescence. Nevertheless they only function in very moist or humid conditions. Caddisfly traps rely on flowing water to be able to capture their prey. Spiders are exceptional in developing a wide range of prey trapping strategies, from webs with dry adhesives, to sticky orb webs, to modified orb webs, e.g. elongated “ladder” webs, to webs with additional structures, and web aggregations. Some spiders have even redesigned their webs to minimize the high prey escape rates associated with web two dimensionality. These webs nevertheless are constructed and used at specific costs. While hard data across all of the invertebrate predators is lacking, there seems to be credence in the hypothesis that the biomechanical limitations placed on trap functionality can explain their limited use among animals.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

Abstract

Some terrestrial leeches mate by entwining the anterior ends of their bodies and then copulating. Here, we report first observations of a similar behavioral pattern in Haemadipsa picta terrestrial leeches from Malaysian Borneo. However, because the observed pattern can be easily induced artificially with no clear evidence of copulation, we suggest that it may serve another function, particularly in H. picta. We hypothesize that the wrestling behavior, as we term it, may be a ritualized aggressive display driven by competition for ambush location. Haemadipsid fauna of the region is poorly studied, therefore our observations extend limited knowledge about these leeches and open interesting research avenues for the study of the wrestling behavior.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

Abstract

Carnivorous plants are pure sit-and-wait predators: they remain rooted to a single location and depend on the abundance and movement of their prey to obtain nutrients required for growth and reproduction. Yet carnivorous plants exhibit phenotypically plastic responses to prey availability that parallel those of non-carnivorous plants to changes in light levels or soil-nutrient concentrations. The latter have been considered to be foraging behaviors, but the former have not. Here, I review aspects of foraging theory that can be profitably applied to carnivorous plants considered as sit-and-wait predators. A discussion of different strategies by which carnivorous plants attract, capture, kill, and digest prey, and subsequently acquire nutrients from them suggests that optimal foraging theory can be applied to carnivorous plants as easily as it has been applied to animals. Carnivorous plants can vary their production, placement, and types of traps; switch between capturing nutrients from leaf-derived traps and roots; temporarily activate traps in response to external cues; or cease trap production altogether. Future research on foraging strategies by carnivorous plants will yield new insights into the physiology and ecology of what Darwin called “the most wonderful plants in the world”. At the same time, inclusion of carnivorous plants into models of animal foraging behavior could lead to the development of a more general and taxonomically inclusive foraging theory.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution
Author: Davide Badano

Abstract

The remarkable diversity of antlions in the Afrotropical region is counterbalanced by the scarce knowledge of their biology and ecology. In particular, their larval stages are largely unknown and the morphology of African pit-building species was never investigated in detail. The larvae of three pit-building species attaining a wide distribution across the whole continent, namely Myrmeleon caliginosus, M. obscurus and M. quinquemaculatus are described, illustrated and compared with congeners for the first time. Moreover, M. caliginosus is reported for the first time from Namibia, notably extending the known range of this antlion, with implications on the taxonomy and the identification of African Myrmeleon species. The larvae of these three species highlight the overall conservative morphology across the whole genus, differing in relatively minor characters such as size, proportions, pattern and chaetotaxy.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

Abstract

When choosing among several potential habitats, animals should strive to choose the habitat that provides the highest fitness. When animals choose habitats that do not provide the best possible fitness, there is a mismatch between habitat preference and performance. A common reason is that of limited information or perceptual range. Sit-and-wait predators are particularly deficient in information, due to spending most of their time in ambushing prey and, when they do travel, they cover only short distances. Here, we studied the effect of placing pit-building wormlions at a short distance from their preferred microhabitats, on the likelihood of them choosing it. When placed on the border between deep and shallow sand, fine and coarse sand, or dry and wet sand, wormlions chose the former in each case in vast proportions. However, the ability of wormlions to recognize and/or choose favorable habitats decreased sharply with distance, suggesting that they are limited in their perceptual range. We next examined whether wormlions relocate their pits following a continuous disturbance arriving always from the same side. Although they did so, their movement direction was unrelated to the direction of the disturbance. The preference of wormlions for a favorable, shaded microhabitat depended greatly on the location of a conspecific competitor: the favorable microhabitat was more attractive for wormlions when a competitor was more distant from it than when the competitor was located on the border between the favorable and unfavorable microhabitats. Our findings support previous studies indicating the limited perceptual range of pit-building predators.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

Abstract

The physical structures built by animals are considered extended phenotypes that reflect how organisms make decisions and deal with changes in their biotic and abiotic environment. We summarize the results of several studies on Myrmeleon crudelis, a neuropteran larva that digs pit-traps in the soil to capture small arthropods (mostly ants) in the tropical dry forests of Costa Rica. Specifically, we showed how this species responds to varying biotic and abiotic conditions with changes in the design and/or location of its pit traps. Several experiments and field comparisons indicate that: 1) antlions adjust the pit design according to the abundance and type of prey. When prey is scarce, antlions increased trap diameter, an architectural adjustment that enhances the probability of prey encounter. Antlions that experienced high prey abundance, but the prey easily escaped, then increased pit depth, an adjustment that increases the chance of prey retention; 2) soil compaction strongly reduced pit-trap size and abundance; 3) antlions preferred soils with high proportion of fine-particle size to build pits. In fine-grained soil, pit-traps are larger and more efficient to capture prey than traps in coarse-grained soils; and 4) pit-traps may also be affected through indirect effects of soil structure and vegetation cover. Areas with fine-soil presented less plant cover, and plant cover could be beneficial for antlions because it acts as a shelter against direct sunlight and rainfall, or it may represent a cost because it is a source of leaflitter falling in the pits. The works summarized here how trap-building predators can exhibit considerable flexibility in trap construction in response to various biotic and abiotic factors, emphasizing how the study of extended phenotypes can be a useful approach to better understand the flexibility of foraging behaviors.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

Abstract

Predation is one of the main interactions between organisms and one of the primary selective agents for their survival. Both prey and predators have developed different strategies and characteristics that allow them to be conspicuous or go undetected. In sit and wait predators, their shape and appearance are important factors that allow them to remain undetected by their potential prey. Sit and wait predators such as crab spiders are difficult to identify when they sit on flowers or areas of flowers with colors similar to the color of their bodies. In this study, we aimed to determine if insects can recognize the morphology and color polymorphism of crab spiders by evaluating the response of flower visitors. We quantified the visits and approaches of floral visitors to the flowerheads of Palafoxia lindenii with spider morphology and color polymorphism treatments. Our results show that insects in general, and bees in particular, avoid visiting flowers with a real spider or a spider model and visit vacant flowers more frequently. In the case of the color polymorphism, insects approached flowerheads with spiders with a similar frequency independently of the color of the spiders, but did not visit them. Insects appeared to identify spiders through their morphological characteristics rather than their color characteristics, since flower visitors did not discriminate between the evaluated spider colors (white, lilac, and purple). This study emphasizes the differential response of different insect prey to the presence, color, and morphology of sit and wait predators.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

Abstract

Antlions (Neuroptera) are a group of sit-and-wait predator insects, with some species further specializing in digging conical pit-traps in the ground in order to catch prey. Studies on antlions’ predators are scarce with only few generalist predators known to feed on them. Here we report for the first time on field observations of antlions’ predation by three scorpion genera. We suggest that scorpions may be common predators of antlions, at least in the hyper-desert environment of southern Israel. The effects of predation risk on the behavior of sit-and-wait and particularly on trap-building predators received little attention in the literature. In light of our observations, we posit that predation risk must be taken into serious consideration in future research of antlions in particular, and sit-and-wait predators in general.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

Abstract

Social spiders are thought to predominantly receive information about their environment through vibrational cues. Thus, group living introduces the challenge of distinguishing useful vibrational information from the background noise of nestmates. Here we investigate whether spatial proximity between colony-mates may allow social spiders (Stegodyphus dumicola) to reduce background noise that might obstruct vibrational information from prey. To do so, we constructed experimental colonies and measured whether the number of spiders in proximity to one another whilst resting could predict the number of spiders that participated in prey capture. Additionally, we exposed spider colonies to five different simulated vibrational cues mimicking prey to determine which cue types spiders were most responsive to. We found that the number of spiders huddled together prior to foraging trials was positively correlated with the number of spiders participating in collective foraging. Furthermore, colonies responded more quickly to pulsed vibrational cues over other types of vibrational patterns. Together these data reveal that both social interactions and prey cues shape how social sit-and-wait predators experience and respond to their environment.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution
Author: Aziz Subach

Abstract

The sand viper Cerastes vipera can employ one of two distinct foraging modes, the widely foraging or sit-and-wait mode, depending on the interplay between external and internal factors. Here, I illustrate how tracking methods can be used to evaluate the relative usage of each of the two foraging modes by the sand viper. Foraging theory models generally refer to the time invested in foraging as the main indicator of the energy invested in foraging. I suggest that tracking and counting print marks on trails offer a more precise method of estimating foraging costs in the field. I model the benefits and costs of the viper employing each of the two foraging modes using tracking data, and discuss how it can be used to decipher its foraging mode. I present a measurement approach by which to assess the relative usage of different foraging modes. I contend that the proposed tracking methods and their analysis should prove to be equally applicable to other animals that leave print marks on sand or snow.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

Abstract

Dispersal is inherent to all living organisms. Sit-and-wait predators such as social spiders, with their sedentary lifestyles, present an intriguing and underexplored case to examine the proximate and ultimate reasons for dispersal. Though a reduction in dispersal tendencies must accompany the evolution of sociality in spiders, a fraction of the colony may disperse in groups or individually in many species. Such group or solitary dispersal by female social spiders in specific life stages, can lead to colony fission or colony foundation. Males move between colonies, however, there are no direct estimations of male dispersal distances for any species. The structured populations and high inbreeding within colonies suggest that dispersal events occur over limited spatial scales and may be mediated by extrinsic and intrinsic factors. Future studies exploring complex relationships between environmental variables, phenotypes of individuals, colony state and dispersal are advocated. Another area of interest is probing the dispersal process itself to understand the mechanisms of information transfer between individuals at the onset of dispersal. This involves designing studies to examine how break-away groups reach a consensus on when to disperse and where to go.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

Sclerophyll woodlands and open forests once covered vast areas of eastern Australia, but have been greatly fragmented and reduced in extent since European settlement. The biogeographic and evolutionary history of the biota of eastern Australia’s woodlands also remains poorly known, especially when compared to rainforests to the east, or the arid biome to the west. Here we present an analysis of patterns of mitochondrial genetic diversity in two species of Pygopodid geckos with distributions centred on the Brigalow Belt Bioregion of eastern Queensland. One moderately large and semi-arboreal species, Paradelma orientalis, shows low genetic diversity and no clear geographic structuring across its wide range. In contrast a small and semi-fossorial species, Delma torquata, consists of two moderately divergent clades, one from the ranges and upland of coastal areas of south-east Queensland, and other centred in upland areas further inland. These data point to varying histories of geneflow and refugial persistance in eastern Australia’s vast but now fragmented open woodlands. The Carnarvon Ranges of central Queensland are also highlighted as a zone of persistence for cool and/or wet-adapted taxa, however the evolutionary history and divergence of most outlying populations in these mountains remains unstudied.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

The majority of lizard clades are ancestrally and predominantly diurnal. The only major taxon in which most species are nocturnal is the Gekkota (geckos and pygopodids). As ectothermic thermoregulators, lizard metabolic rates are highly temperature dependent, and diurnal lizards therefore demonstrate higher metabolic rates than nocturnal ones. Furthermore, exposure to solar radiation is thought to reduce ectothermic longevity by increasing both metabolic costs and the rate of accumulating harmful mutations through UV radiation (UVC specifically). In being nocturnal, ectothermic species may reduce their intrinsic mortality rates and thus live longer. To test this hypothesis, we collected literature data on the maximum longevities of 740 lizard species, of which 185 are geckos. We examined whether geckos live longer than other lizards, and whether activity time affects gecko longevity. While geckos live relatively long for lizards of their size, their activity time was found to be unrelated to longevity, contradicting our predictions. We suggest that diurnal species may have evolved higher resistance to UV radiation via thicker, more keratinized skin. Elevated metabolic rates do not automatically equate with faster aging. Mortality through extrinsic causes (e.g., predation) may impose much stronger selective pressures than intrinsic causes.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

Modern biological research often uses global datasets to answer broad-scale questions using various modelling techniques. But detailed information on species–habitat interactions are often only available for a few species. Australian geckos, a species-rich group of small nocturnal predators, are particularly data-deficient. For most species, information is available only as scattered, anecdotal, or descriptive entries in the taxonomic literature or in field guides. We surveyed gecko communities from 10 sites, and 15 locations across central and northern Queensland, Australia, to quantify ecological niche and habitat use of these communities. Our surveys included deserts, woodlands, and rainforests, examining 34 gecko species. We assigned species to habitat niche categories: arboreal (9 species), saxicoline (4), or terrestrial (13), if at least 75% of our observations fell in one microhabitat; otherwise we classified geckos as generalists (8). For arboreal species, we described perch height and perch diameter and assigned them to ecomorph categories, originally developed for Anolis lizards. There was lower species richness in rainforests than in habitats with lower relative humidity; the highest species richness occurred in woodlands. Most arboreal and generalist species fit the trunk-ground ecomorph, except those in the genus Strophurus, whose members preferred shrubs, twigs of small trees, or, in two cases, spinifex grass hummocks, thus occupying a perch space similar to that of grass-bush anoles. Habitat use by Pseudothecadactylus australis, Saltuarius cornutus, and Gehyra dubia fit the trunk-crown ecomorph. We provide quantified basic ecological data and habitat use for a large group of previously poorly documented species.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

1935 gecko species (and 224 subspecies) were known in December 2019 in seven families and 124 genera. These nearly 2000 species were described by ~950 individuals of whom more than 100 described more than 10 gecko species each. Most gecko species were discovered during the past 40 years. The primary type specimens of all currently recognized geckos (including subspecies) are distributed over 161 collections worldwide, with 20 collections having about two thirds of all primary types. The primary type specimens of about 40 gecko taxa have been lost or unknown. The phylogeny of geckos is well studied, with DNA sequences being available for ~76% of all geckos (compared to ~63% in other reptiles) and morphological characters now being collected in databases. Geographically, geckos occur on five continents and many islands but are most species-rich in Australasia (which also houses the greatest diversity of family-level taxa), Southeast Asia, Africa, Madagascar, and the West Indies. Among countries, Australia has the highest number of geckos (241 species), with India, Madagascar, and Malaysia being the only other countries with more than 100 described species each. As expected, when correcting for land area, countries outside the tropics have fewer geckos.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution
In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

The historical accuracy of building taxonomies is improved when they are based on phylogenetic inference (i.e., the resultant classifications are less apt to misrepresent evolutionary history). In fact, taxonomies inferred from statistically significant diagnostic morphological characters in the absence of phylogenetic considerations, can contain non-monophyletic lineages. This is especially true at the species level where small amounts of gene flow may not preclude the evolution of localized adaptions in different geographic areas while underpinning the paraphyletic nature of each population with respect to the other. We illustrate this point by examining genetic and morphological variation among three putatively allopatric populations of the granite-dwelling Bent-toed Gecko Cyrtodactylus aequalis from hilly regions in southeastern Myanmar. In the absence of molecular phylogenetic inference, a compelling argument for three morphologically diagnosable species could be marshaled. However, when basing the morphological analyses of geographic variation on a molecular phylogeny, there is a more compelling argument that only one species should be recognized. We are cognizant of the fact however, that when dealing with rare species or specimens for which no molecular data are possible, judicious morphological analyses are the only option—and the desired option given the current worldwide biodiversity crisis.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

Historical and contemporary processes shaping striking variation in terrestrial biodiversity along elevational gradients have received much attention from evolutionary biologists, often by way of comparisons to latitudinal environmental gradients. Here we synthetically review what is known of the diversity and origin of upland endemic geckos across the Malesian region (south-east Asia and Melanesia). Approximately 20% of the regional gecko fauna is endemic to mountains, but only around 8% have distributions centred on what we consider true montane habitats over 1000 metres above sea level. A majority of upland lineages lack close relatives in surrounding lowlands (although there are many exceptions) and some are highly phylogenetically divergent (e.g., estimated divergence from all other gecko taxa dating to the mid-Miocene or earlier). In several cases upland radiations are allied to other taxa centred on small islands or in disturbed lowland habitats, but absent or exceptionally rare in most lowland rainforest areas. A number of other upland lineages may have originated on smaller islands that are now merged into larger landmasses such as Sumatra and New Guinea. Based on often deep phylogenetic divergences, low community diversity and disjunct distributions across uplands and islands, we suggest that at least some upland lineages are more limited by biotic interactions than they are by climate. As global climates continue to warm in coming decades, such taxa may be particularly affected by upslope shifts of competitors and predators from lower elevations.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

We describe a new species of gecko in the Lepidodactylus novaeguineae Group from Salawati Island, West Papua Province, Indonesia. The new species can be distinguished from all congeners by a unique combination of aspects of body size, shape, colouration, and scalation. The holotype and only known specimen is a mature male with a snout-vent length of less than 33 mm, suggesting it is the smallest species of Lepidodactylus; however, to confirm that, larger sample sizes of the nominate species and other species are required. The Lepidodactylus novaeguineae Group has a wide distribution across the western, northern, and eastern margins of New Guinea, but it seems to be most often associated with islands (including land-bridge islands) or geological terranes derived from former island arcs.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

Fifty-eight percent of the 43 known species of the Bent-toed Geckos (Cyrtodactylus) from Myanmar are found only in karstic habitats in the Shan Plateau and Salween and Ayeyarwady basins. A stochastic character mapping analysis indicated that the occupation of karstic habitats evolved at least four times independently in Burmese lineages with both Sundaic and Indian origins. Karstic habitats not only serve as foci for speciation but are refugia for species extirpated from the surrounding forested habitats due to agricultural development. Despite the high levels of biodiversity and site-specific endemism in karstic habitats in Myanmar, they are some of the least protected ecosystems. The immense financial returns from unsustainable resource extraction (cement manufacturing) makes the challenge of legal karst conservation extremely difficult. Sadly, their continued exploitation for limestone shows no signs of abating. Until karst habitats in Myanmar are thoroughly investigated, a significant portion of this country’s herpetological diversity will remain underestimated and unprotected.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

Abstract

Phylogenetic Diversity (PD) is increasingly recognised as a useful tool for prioritising species and regions for conservation effort. Increased availability of spatial and phylogenetic data for reptiles now facilitates their inclusion in phylogenetically-informed conservation prioritisation efforts. Geckos are a highly divergent and diverse clade that comprises almost 20% of global reptile diversity. Their global distribution is coincident with numerous anthropogenic threats, making them worthy of conservation prioritisation. Here, we combine phylogenetic, spatial distribution and extinction risk data for geckos with global human encroachment data to identify both regions and species representing irreplaceable gecko diversity at risk from human pressure. We show that high levels of irreplaceable gecko diversity are restricted to regions under intense human pressure, such as India, Sri Lanka and the Caribbean. There is a lack of extinction risk data for the western regions of Angola and Namibia, and yet these regions harbour high levels of irreplaceable diversity. At the species level, geckos display more unique PD than other lizards and snakes and are of greater conservation concern under our metric. The PD represented by Data Deficient geckos is at comparable risk to that of Endangered species. Finally, estimates of potential gecko diversity loss increase by up to 300% when species lacking extinction risk data are included. Our analyses show that many evolutionarily unique gecko species are poorly known and are at an increased risk of extinction. Targeted research is needed to elucidate the conservation status of these species and identify conservation priorities.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

Abstract

Subspecies designations for herpetofauna in Western Australia were largely coined in the 20th century where rigorous evolutionary concepts to species were not consistently applied. Rather, subspecies tended to designate geographic populations of similar-looking taxa to nominate forms, usually differing in size, pattern or colour and, at best, a few scalation differences. Here we re-evaluate two pygopodoid taxa from Western Australia using a combination of published and original genetic data coupled with a reassessment of morphology. We review these differences in light of an integrative taxonomic approach that looks to find multiple independent lines of evidence to establish the evolutionary independence of populations. For the pygopod species Pletholax gracilis, we found consistent diagnostic characters (e.g. body size, visibility of ear opening, scalation) and a deep genetic divergence between the two subspecies. We therefore raise each subspecies to full species: P. gracilis and P. edelensis. The two subspecies of the carphodactylid gecko Nephrurus wheeleri were also assessed, and we found strong genetic and morphological evidence (e.g. body size, scalation, pattern) to raise these to full species: N. wheeleri and N. cinctus. By revisiting Storr’s morphological insights and newly acquired genetic evidence, in addition to a thorough re-examination of morphological traits, our study provides a robust foundation to raise Storr’s morphological subspecies into full species based upon multiple lines of evidence. Such an approach applied to other subspecies in the Australian herpetofauna also may result in revised taxonomies.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

The present paper focuses on the ability of the European Leaf-toed gecko, Euleptes europaea, an endemic species of the western Mediterranean, to live in low-nutrient habitats. Its distribution is mainly insular and particularly noteworthy is its ability to live on islets and rocks. This work includes data originating from surveys carried out on 111 islands surrounding the island of Corsica (France) in search of herpetofauna. E. europaea is able to survive on the smallest islets, with low habitat complexity, suggesting a pre-adaptation of this species to island life. Moreover, high population densities associated with a low biomass seem to facilitate survival on island.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

Abstract

A generalization of Moran model of evolution is created using object-oriented method of modelling. A population consists of individuals which have a genotype and a phenotype. The genotype is inherited by descendants and it can mutate. The phenotype is dependent on the genotype. Moreover, the phenotype causes changes in the fitness of the individuals (natural selection which four kinds are defined and analysed). Evolution of the population appears spontaneously. This model is used to analyse how population size influence the rate of evolution. Evolution is manifested by two processes: the increase of the phenotype size (morphological evolution) and number of mutations accumulated on genes (molecular evolution). The rate of evolution increases if population size increases. An adaptive natural selection causes nonlinear changes in the phenotype size and number of mutations accumulated on genes. A competitive natural selection causes linear evolution. A surviving natural selection causes the faster evolution than a reproductive natural selection.

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution
Authors: Linlin Cong and Dong Han

Abstract

Around 6.000 plant species in China have ornamental uses. This study aims to identify new ornamental plant species that are able to survive in urban environments of China and not stand out from the landscaping plants growing in the local parks, gardens, and walkways. The list of ornamental plants includes exclusively open-ground plants. The study on 29 wild plant species commonly found across Southern China involved growing plants from 9.200 seeds and measuring their survival at the first (herbals) and the fifth 5 year of age (shrubs and trees). Of all study plants, 16 showed high germination and survival rates (over 50%) and can be used in park and city landscaping, whereas other specimens demonstrated survival rates lower than 50%. For lianas, the number of species suitable for landscaping is 3. Low germination rates did not determine a rapid decline in survival during the first and fifth years. Herbals turned out to have the highest germination rates (over 50% in 6 out of 7 specimens). Among trees, species that may be planted together along sidewalks to form groves and plantations include Ilex latifolia, Delavaya toxocarpa, and Vernicia fordii. Among vines, Trachelospermum jasminoides or star jasmine can be used as a tree climber. Among shrubs and herbals, Melastoma dodecandrum and Corydalis edulis can be planted in flower beds and rock gardens. This work examines plant species not only from the decorative prospective but also in terms of suitability for growing in urban conditions.