[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ecosystem engineers play a large role in physically structuring the ecosystem in which they are embedded. The focus of much of the research surrounding these species is to document the impacts of a single engineer on community composition and ecosystem processes. However, most ecosystems harbor multiple engineering species that interact in complex ways and rarely have the dynamics of such species been fully investigated. We look at how two ecosystem engineers, the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and the invasive plant Japanese stilt grass (Microstegium vimineum), interact to completely alter the structure and composition of the subcanopy within northern deciduous forests. This interaction has wide-ranging repercussions on forest food webs which we explore through a case study of breeding woodland birds in the state of New Jersey, USA. We show that the guilds of birds that rely on the subcanopy have experienced greater declines from 1980 to 2005 than birds that specialize on the intact upper canopy of impacted forests. This dynamic is not restricted to immediate temporal effects and may act to derail the long-term successional pathway of northern deciduous forests. It is no longer prudent to set aside tracts of forest and expect them to retain their native biodiversity without active management.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Competition among ticks, and among ectoparasites generally, has rarely been demonstrated. Ixodes scapularis and Dermacentor albipictus are both hard ticks commonly found feeding on deer harvested at Letterkenny Army Depot, in south central Pennsylvania, USA. The two species have contrasting life histories resulting in D. albipictus spending notably more time on the shared host. We hypothesized that this would give D. albipictus an advantage in locating and occupying optimal attachment sites (highly vascularized areas like the head and ears). Ticks were collected from 224 hunter-killed deer in December 2005 and November 2006 to determine if there is evidence of competition for attachment sites when these two species concurrently infest deer. A timed sample (3 min per region) of representative ticks was collected from the head (ears, face and neck regions) and body (axillae regions). Ixodes scapularis was more abundant and prevalent overall than D. albipictus. Dermacentor albipictus was found almost exclusively on the head, whereas I. scapularis was more evenly distributed, but somewhat more abundant on the body than on the head. The proportion of I. scapularis on the head was reduced at high D. albipictus abundances, but I. scapularis abundance did not alter the distribution of D. albipictus. This study supports the hypothesis of competition for preferred attachment sites between these two species of ticks, and suggests that D. albipictus may be competitively dominant over I. scapularis on the head region of concurrently infested white-tailed deer.
Experimental and Applied Acarology 05/2012; 58(3):301-14. · 1.85 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Thirty allozyme loci and 35 mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) restriction sites were examined in 24 white-tailed deer and 46 mule deer from a hybrid zone in West Texas. A common mtDNA genotype is shared by all of the mule deer with 67% of the white-tailed deer. At the albumin locus, 13% of the white-tailed deer and 24% of the mule deer are heterozygous, sharing alleles that are otherwise species-specific in allopatric populations; 7% of the mule deer are homozygous for the allele that is characteristic of allopatric white-tailed deer. Gene flow appears to have been bidirectional, with greater genetic introgression into mule deer. The mtDNA data suggest that matings between white-tailed and mule deer have occurred in the past. Despite evidence of genetic introgression, analysis of multilocus genotypes indicates that none of the deer examined is an F1 hybrid. Production of such hybrids appears to be generally uncommon in North American deer; management plans that assume otherwise should be reconsidered.
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