Understanding habitat requirements and identifying landscape linkages are essential for the survival of isolated populations of endangered species. Currently, some of the giant panda populations are isolated, which threatens their long-term survival, particularly in the Xiaoxiangling mountains. In the present study, we quantified niche requirements and then identified potential linkages of giant panda subpopulations in the most isolated region, using ecological niche factor analysis and a least-cost path model. Giant pandas preferred habitat with conifer forest and gentle slopes (>20 to ≤30°). Based on spatial distribution of suitable habitat, linkages were identified for the Yele subpopulation to 4 other subpopulations (Liziping, Matou, Xinmin and Wanba). Their lengths ranged from 15 to 54 km. The accumulated cost ranged from 693 to 3166 and conifer forest covered over 31%. However, a variety of features (e.g. major roads, human settlements and large unforested areas) might act as barriers along the linkages for giant panda dispersal. Our analysis quantified giant panda subpopulation connectivity to ensure long-term survival.
The multimammate rat, Mastomys natalensis Smith 1834, is a dominant species in agro-ecosystems in Sub-Saharan Africa, but adapts quickly to changes in non-agricultural landscape, particularly woodlands and forests. In this study we report on reproduction and population dynamics of M. natalensis in deforested high elevation localities in the Usambara Mountains, north-east Tanzania. We conducted Capture-Mark-Recapture studies in 2002-2004, and established that reproduction of M. natalensis takes place in the extended wet season between February and June, and the population density peaks in June-August. Reproduction cease in July to January and population density drops from July onwards. Reproduction and population density fluctuations are linked to the duration and amount of rainfall. In years when rainfall was below average and the wet season was short, the population density was significantly lower (below 10 animals/ha and 60 animals/ha in 2003 and 2004 respectively, compared to >100 animals/ha in 2002 when rainfall was above the seasonal average) (F(df 2,13)= 9.092, p < 0.01 for in between years variations and F(df 12,15)= 5.389, p < 0.01 for effect of cumulative annual rainfall on population density). These densities were much lower than in the lowland savannah habitats in central and southwest Tanzania. A comparison between the farmland/fallow mosaic fields and agro-forestry areas showed higher population densities in the former, which have similarities to the preferred habitats in the lowland savannahs. The increasing abundance of M. natalensis in the Usambara could have some consequences: M. natalensis is major pest and is involved in the plague cycle in the western Usambara Mountains. Mastomys natalensis is also a strong competitor and the impact on endemic rodent species, e.g. Lophuromys flavopunctatus and Praomys delectorum is unknown.
Studies of populations of the multimammate rat Mastomys natalensis in Morogoro, Tanzania, show that soil texture appears to influence the population abundance and distribution of these rats in agricultural fields. The lowest rodent population abundance was found on sandy clay soils (F((2, 5)) = 8.42; P= 0.025). The population abundances of M. natalensis on sandy clay loam and sandy loam soils did not differ significantly (P≤ 0.05), possibly because these soils have a very similar texture. The results of this study suggest that M. natalensis prefers loam-textured soils with a high percentage of sand, which are probably better than clay soils for burrowing and nesting, particularly in the rainy season. The lower preference for clay soils is probably related to the poor aeration in these soils and the waterlogging that occurs during the wet season.
Congenital erythropoietic porphyria (CEP) is a rare autosomal recessive condition that has been reported in humans and in some animals, in which uroporphyrin 1 is deposited in the bones, teeth and urine, resulting in pink coloration and fluorescence of the tissues and urine under long-wave ultraviolet (UV) light. We observed red teeth in nine of 450 canefield rats (Rattus sordidus) captured in a small, isolated patch of sugarcane in Tully, north Queensland, Australia. The skeletons of these animals were excised and were found to be bright red under normal day light. Under UV light, the skeleton had a bright red fluorescence. It is plausible that the canefield rat population in this isolated patch of sugarcane is small and inbreeding might have occurred, resulting in incidences of the autosomal recessive genes that cause CEP. The canefield rat can be used as an animal model for research into porphyria.
Survival and movement are important demographic variables influencing the dynamics of large herbivores with implications for management and evolution of life-history strategies. Management practices such as spatial confinement and harvest regulation attempt to control survival and movement for the sustainability of harvested deer populations, but a paucity of long-term data exists on these management practices. We examined annual survival and site fidelity of free-ranging white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) over 10 years (1983-1992) to compare demographic parameters after spatial confinement (1993-2005). We used capture records (n = 174; 104 females, 70 males), marked deer recaptures (n = 42), and dead recoveries (n = 68) to estimate sex-specific, age-specific and time-specific parameters. We found that annual female survival was 50% from 1983-1987 during a period of intense harvest, but increased to 93.7% after intense harvesting was eliminated. Prior to spatial confinement, annual survival of marked male deer averaged 36.7%-42.5%. After spatial confinement, annual survival increased on average for males (58%-99%) and females (77%-98%). Females showed high levels of site fidelity (>99%) prior to spatial confinement, whereas males showed much less site fidelity (≤4.5% for the 2 top-ranking models). During spatial confinement, the semi-impermeable fence effectively increased site fidelity of males (≥56%). These results stem from long-term study (23 years) of a large herbivore experiencing changes to life-history, resulting from changes in management that were applied to the population and aimed at altering population demographics, for sustainability of a harvestable population of deer.
A high-resolution integrated study has been performed in a super-expanded marine record (sedimentation rate spanning from 11 cm / 100 yr to 20 cm / 100 yr) from the continental shelf area of the SE Tyrrhenian Sea. Planktonic foraminiferal distribution illustrates six major environmental changes during the last 2000 years: i) Roman period - Dark Age transition (from herbivorous-opportunistic to carnivorous species); ii) Dark Age - Medieval Classic Anomaly transition (from carnivorous to herbivorous-opportunistic species; iii) Medieval Classic Anomaly - Little Ice Age transition (a further and definitive change from carnivorous to herbivorous-opportunistic species); iv) the period during the Maunder event between ca. 1740 AD and ca. 1760 AD (turnover from the carnivorous planktonic foraminifer Globigerinodes ruber to the herbivorous-opportunistic planktonic foraminifer Turborotalita quinqueloba; v) Industrial period (dominance of herbivorous-opportunistic planktonic foraminifera) and vi) Modern warm period at ca. 1940 AD (the last turnover in favour of herbivorous-opportunistic planktonic foraminifers, associated with an increase in benthic foraminifera). Our studies lead us to link this latter feature to an anthropogenic impact associated with the damming of Sele River (Salerno Gulf) at 1934 AD, which induced a change in the sediment input with a strong decrease in coarse-grained fraction and a probable alteration in nutrient supply. The δ(18) OG. ruber record of the last 2000 years shows the alternation of warm / wet and cold / dry events related to the Roman Period, the Dark Age, the Medieval Classic Anomaly, the Little Ice Age, Industrial period and the Modern warm period. The five evident δ(18) OG.ruber oscillations (between ca. 1240AD and ca. 1940 AD) coincide with the five minima in the solar activity (Wolf, Spörer, Maunder, Dalton and Damon events). This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
In the present study, we used nucleotide and protein sequences of avian influenza virus H5N1, which were obtained in Asia and Africa, analyzed HA proteins using ClustalX1.83 and MEGA4.0, and built a genetic evolutionary tree of HA nucleotides. The analysis revealed that the receptor specificity amino acid of A/HK/213/2003, A/Turkey/65596/2006 and etc mutated into QNG, which could bind with á-2, 3 galactose and á-2, 6 galactose. A mutation might thus take place and lead to an outbreak of human infections of avian influenza virus. The mutations of HA protein amino acids from 2004 to 2009 coincided with human infections provided by the World Health Organization, indicating a "low-high-highest-high-low" pattern. We also found out that virus strains in Asia are from different origins: strains from Southeast Asia and East Asia are of the same origin, whereas those from West Asia, South Asia and Africa descend from one ancestor. The composition of the phylogenetic tree and mutations of key site amino acids in HA proteins reflected the fact that the majority of strains are regional and long term, and virus diffusions exist between China, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iraq. We would advise that pertinent vaccines be developed and due attention be paid to the spread of viruses between neighboring countries and the dangers of virus mutation and evolution.
Wild tigers are being annihilated. Tiger range countries and their partners met at the 1st Asian Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation in January 2010 to mandate the creation of the Global Tiger Recovery Program to double the number of tigers by 2022. Only 3200-3600 wild adult tigers remain, approximately half of the population estimated a decade ago. Tigers now live in only 13 countries, all of which are experiencing severe environmental challenges and degradation from the effects of human population growth, brisk economic expansion, rapid urbanization, massive infrastructure development and climate change. The overarching challenge of tiger conservation, and the conservation of biodiversity generally, is that there is insufficient demand for the survival of wild tigers living in natural landscapes. This allows the criminal activities of poaching wild tigers and their prey and trafficking in tiger derivatives to flourish and tiger landscapes to be diminished. The Global Tiger Recovery Program will support scaling up of practices already proven effective in one or more tiger range countries that need wider policy support, usually resources, and new transnational actions that enhance the effectiveness of individual country actions. The program is built on robust National Tiger Recovery Priorities that are grouped into themes: (i) strengthening policies that protect tigers; (ii) protecting tiger conservation landscapes; (iii) scientific management and monitoring; (iv) engaging communities; (v) cooperative management of international tiger landscapes; (vi) eliminating transnational illegal wildlife trade; (vii) persuading people to stop consuming tiger; (viii) enhancing professional capacity of policy-makers and practitioners; and (ix) developing sustainable, long-term financing mechanisms for tiger and biodiversity conservation.
One of the hot debates in the conservation community is whether to focus on individual species (for example, through species recovery plans, or lists of threatened species) or on systems approaches (such as the ecosystem approach advocated by the Convention on Biological Diversity). This paper will discuss some of the various options, before reaching a conclusion that both approaches are valid and mutually reinforcing, and that the dichotomy is a false one. Perhaps more importantly, no conservation investment is likely to be effective if economic, social, and political factors are driving in the opposite direction. Instead, we need multiple approaches that build a stronger political constituency, new ways of providing knowledge for decisions, better ways of mobilizing information and dynamic approaches that enable us to adapt to changing conditions, and new ways to generate funding for conservation.
The current challenges (increasing levels of integration in the biological sciences) facing the teaching of zoology and the structure of the zoology curriculum are explored herein. General context is provided and a more focused scrutiny of the situation in North America is presented. The changing emphases in more broadly-based biological sciences programs in North America are outlined, and their influence on the role of zoology as part of fundamental biological training is considered. The longer term impact of such changes in emphasis on the teaching of zoology is discussed, and the central role that zoology can play in dealing with both science content and science education is advanced. Based upon a focal workshop on the future of the zoology curriculum in Canada, a perspective on the challenges facing curriculum evolution is provided. Extensive curriculum redesign is called for to ensure that zoology provides a broad-scale integrative approach to the understanding of biodiversity in evolutionary, ecological and functional contexts. Barriers to, and drivers of change are identified and the need for collaborative approaches to curricular evolution is emphasized.
Red spherule coelomocytes are immune cells in the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus that have been characterized as motile O(2) transport cells. Video microscopy of living red spherule coelomocytes reveals a constitutive, dynamic array of cellular morphologies and movements. Cells continuously send out and retract membrane blebs all over the cell surface as part of their normal cellular physiology. Disruption of microtubules by perfusion with either nocodazole or taxol had no effect on bleb formation or motility. Perfusion with cytochalasin B abated bleb formation and revealed cells that exhibited multiple small spheres attached by short membrane extensions. Attenuation of blebbing and intracellular organelle motility were restored by washing out with cytochalasin B. Treatment with phalloidin also abated bleb formation and revealed a smooth, spherical cellular morphology. The effects of phalloidin were completely reversible after washout. Red spherule coelomocytes treated with blebbistatin rounded up with an irreversible retraction of blebs into surface blebs that were greatly reduced in size, number and motility. Normal cell surface bleb formation and intracellular organelle motility were not restored after washout of the drug. These results indicate that the acto-myosin contractile mechanism contributes to the dynamics of constitutive cell surface membrane blebbing in invertebrate immune cells.
The analysis of samples recovered from the abdominal area of an articulated tapir (Tapirus polkensis) from the Late Miocene (4.5-7 million BP) Gray Fossil Site (GFS) revealed a rich palyno-fauna comprised of about 94% egg/oocyst-like structures and 6% pollen and other palynomorphs. In addition, a group of 6 hickory nuts (Carya) was recovered from the same area suggesting that the samples represent the abdominal contents. The analysis of a sample from immediately outside the tapir produced a sample with 98% pollen and less than 0.5% egg/oocyst-like structures. The size, shape, and general morphology of egg/oocyst-like structures were analyzed with light and scanning electron microscopy and were compared to a variety of intestinal parasites found in extant ungulates, and the Perissodactyla in particular. We also compared fossil structures to the numbers and kind of intestinal parasites recovered from fecal samples from the Baird's tapir (T. bairdii) in Costa Rica and from samples collected from the lowland tapir (T. terrestris) from Ecuador to assess their similarity to our fossil sample. Based on these data, we discuss what role parasites may have played in the biology of T. polkensis during the Late Miocene-Early Pliocene.
Increases in extreme environmental events are predicted to be major results of ongoing global climate change and may impact the persistence of species. We examined the effects of heat and cold waves during embryonic development of painted turtles (Chrysemys picta) in natural nests on the occurrence of abnormal shell morphologies in hatchlings. We found that nests exposed to extreme hot temperatures for >60 h produced more hatchlings with abnormalities than nests exposed to extreme hot temperatures for shorter periods, regardless of whether or not nesting females displayed abnormal morphologies. We observed no effect of extreme cold nest temperatures on the occurrence of hatchlings with abnormalities. Moreover, the frequency of nesting females with abnormal shell morphologies was approximately 2-fold lower than that of their offspring, suggesting that such abnormalities are negatively correlated with survival and fitness. Female turtles could potentially buffer their offspring from extreme heat by altering aspects of nesting behavior, such as choosing shadier nesting sites. We addressed this hypothesis by examining the effects of shade cover on extreme nest temperatures and the occurrence of hatchling abnormalities. While shade cover was negatively correlated with the occurrence of extreme hot nest temperatures, it was not significantly correlated with abnormalities. Therefore, female choice of shade cover does not appear to be a viable target for selection to reduce hatchling abnormalities. Our results suggest that increases in the frequency and intensity of heat waves associated with climate change might perturb developmental programs and thereby reduce the fitness of entire cohorts of turtles.
Lowland tapir distribution is described in northwestern Bolivia and southeastern Peru within the Greater Madidi-Tambopata Landscape, a priority Tapir Conservation Unit, using 1255 distribution points derived from camera trapping efforts, field research and interviews with park guards from 5 national protected areas and hunters from 19 local communities. A total of 392 independent camera trapping events from 14 camera trap surveys at 11 sites demonstrated the nocturnal and crepuscular activity patterns (86%) of the lowland tapir and provide 3 indices of relative abundance for spatial and temporal comparison. Capture rates for lowland tapirs were not significantly different between camera trapping stations placed on river beaches versus those placed in the forest. Lowland tapir capture rates were significantly higher in the national protected areas of the region versus indigenous territories and unprotected portions of the landscape. Capture rates through time suggested that lowland tapir populations are recovering within the Tuichi Valley, an area currently dedicated towards ecotourism activities, following the creation (1995) and subsequent implementation (1997) of the Madidi National Park in Bolivia. Based on our distributional data and published conservative estimates of population density, we calculated that this transboundary landscape holds an overall lowland tapir population of between 14 540 and 36 351 individuals, of which at least 24.3% are under protection from national and municipal parks. As such, the Greater Madidi-Tambopata Landscape should be considered a lowland tapir population stronghold and priority conservation efforts are discussed in order to maintain this population.
The relationships between vertebrate pests and crop damage are often complex and difficult to study. In palm oil plantations rodents remain the major pests, causing substantial monetary losses. The present study examined the numerical and functional responses of rodents to changes in the availability of oil palm fruit and the damage associated with that response. For the study, 200 traps were set in pairs on a 10 × 10 trapping grid for 3 consecutive nights in each of 6 study plots at 8-week intervals in a 2569 ha oil palm plantation at Labu, Negeri Sembilan state in Peninsular Malaysia over 14 months. A total of 1292 individual rats were captured over 25 200 trap-nights. Animals were identified, aged, sexed, weighed and measured. An index of the relative abundance of rats was calculated based on trapping success. Damage to infructescences was assessed at each trap point. Regardless of the age of palms, there were positive and significant relationships between the relative abundance of rats and numbers of infructescences. The levels of damage to infructescences were significantly correlated with the relative abundance of rats. A steep increase in damage was observed with an increase in mature infructescences, indicating a feeding preference of rats for mature infructescences. For both males and females of all rat species, there were weak and non-significant correlations between body condition and infructescence numbers. These results indicated that there was a numerical and a functional response by rats to the availability of palm fruit and a resulting increase in depredation of oil palm fruits. The ways in which this information might aid in future pest control are discussed.
A field and a household survey, the latter of which included inspections and interviews with the residents of a total of 1370 properties, were conducted in 2004 in 30 villages of the city of Luang Prabang, Lao PDR, in order to assess the degree of rodent infestation and to identify potential factors influencing infestations. Roof rats, Rattus rattus, and the Polynesian rat, Rattus exulans, were the only rodents found in the city, and trapping results showed a clear dominance of roof rats (80-90% of all individuals). Measurements of rodent activity using tracking patches correlated positively with the trapping data, and revealed a significantly higher degree of rat infestation during the rainy season (September) than during the dry season (November). If households in the vicinity of the sampling locations were considered, villagers' accounts of indoor rodent infestations recorded during the household survey correlated positively with measurements of rodent activity. At least every second household reported indoor infestations. Using explorative statistical analyses (classification trees, factor analysis) we checked the predictive or explanatory value of up to 28 variables assessed during household inspections for villagers' observations on rodent infestation as the dependent variable. Trophic factors such as exposed food (indoors) and garbage (outdoors), and structural features such as open ceilings (indoors) and rat harborage in gardens (outdoors) ranked highest as explanatory variables. Assessment of a small sample of roof rat droppings collected inside houses revealed the presence of the potential disease agents Salmonella javiana, Cryptosporidium parvum, Giardia duodenalis and the parasitic nematode Calodium hepaticum (syn. Capillaria hepatica). These results underline the need for an appropriate rodent management strategy for the city, whereby simple sanitation and rodent-proofing measures could be cheap means of reducing rat infestation rates.
Over the past decade, extensive poisoning campaigns have been conducted in southern Saskatchewan to control Richardson's ground squirrel Spermophilus richardsonii (Sabine, 1822) populations. Such campaigns might impact on predator abundance by decreasing prey levels, and also through secondary poisoning. Using spotlighting, we investigated the relative abundance of American badgers Taxidea taxus (Schreber, 1777) and red fox Vulpes vulpes (Linnaeus, 1758) in 2 study areas with road access and crops, but with different levels of poisoning. In the study area with relatively low poisoning (19.6% of the area traversed by roads), there were 2.2 times more American badgers per km of road and 6.4 times more red foxes per km than in the study area with high poisoning (89.7% of the area). It is recommended that an Integrated Pest Management program be developed to conserve natural predators across landscapes.
Our Earth is facing the challenge of accelerating climate change, which imposes a great threat to biodiversity. Many published studies suggest that climate warming may cause a dramatic decline in biodiversity, especially in colder and drier regions. In this study, we investigated the effects of temperature, precipitation and a normalized difference vegetation index on biodiversity indices of rodent communities in the current or previous year for both detrended and nondetrended data in semi-arid grassland of Inner Mongolia during 1982-2006. Our results demonstrate that temperature showed predominantly positive effects on the biodiversity of small rodents; precipitation showed both positive and negative effects; a normalized difference vegetation index showed positive effects; and cross-correlation function values between rodent abundance and temperature were negatively correlated with rodent abundance. Our results suggest that recent climate warming increased the biodiversity of small rodents by providing more benefits to population growth of rare or less abundant species than that of more abundant species in Inner Mongolia grassland, which does not support the popular view that global warming would decrease biodiversity in colder and drier regions. We hypothesized that higher temperatures might benefit rare or less abundant species (with smaller populations and more folivorous diets) by reducing the probability of local extinction and/or by increasing herbaceous food resources.
Advancement in academe is largely on the basis of research output; that is, refereed journal papers. This paper first explores pressures on academics, especially emerging researchers, when English is not a first language. We assess why, when faculty members rush to improve their station that they may elect to circumvent ethical protocols to accelerate their promotion and status. The resulting unethical behavior includes plagiarism and forms of duplication such as co-submission. Consideration is then given to the wider implications of both plagiarism and the theft of intellectual property, and the role these have played in the development of individuals, the university and society.
Although the use of distinct colors to indicate unprofitability to predators (i.e. aposematism) is commonly thought of as an adaptation, our knowledge of its macroevolutionary effects is limited. Because aposematism is expected to decrease attacks by predators, we hypothesized that aposematic lineages should be larger on average than their non-aposematic sister groups because of the decreased probability of extinction and/or increased probability of speciation (i.e. increased diversification). The results of our sister-group analysis are consistent with the hypothesis that the evolution of aposematism is accompanied by increased diversification of lineages, with the aposematic focal group having more species in 11 of 14 pairs of sister groups. Despite the apparent advantages of reduced predation risk on diversification rates, the evolution of aposematism is relatively rare and reversions to a cryptic state are not uncommon. In addition to the difficulties in evolving a trait that initially decreases the survivorship of prey among naive predators, we discuss other factors that may limit the apparent prevalence and success of aposematism. It is hoped that the results of our analysis will encourage further analyses of the phylogenetic relationships among aposematic groups and their relatives, and of the evolutionary time scales over which the benefits of aposematism are the greatest to lineages with this condition.
In Drosophila melanogaster, the male ejaculatory bulb is the site of synthesis of a male-specific pheromone, cis-vaccenyl acetate, which functions as both an attractant and an anti-aphrodisiac. This long monounsaturated acetate is structurally similar to a number of shorter gland-synthesized moth pheromones. The cell monolayer that forms the Drosophila male ejaculatory bulb wall is responsible for the production and secretion of cis-vaccenyl acetate into the seminal fluid. When dissected bulbs were incubated with sodium [14-C]-acetate (or deuterated acetate), a labeled acetate ester was synthesized. The labeled acetate ester co-migrated with cis-vaccenyl acetate in thin layer chromatography. Incubation of the abdomens of males from which the ejaculatory bulbs had been removed, or the abdomens of females, with radiolabeled acetate did not yield any acetate ester, but did yield other lipid products, including hydrocarbons. When the isolated labeled acetate ester was hydrolyzed, no radioactive vaccenol was formed. This strongly suggests that the acetyl group is incorporated via a transacetylation reaction, but that the vaccenyl moiety is not synthetized in the blub. The transacetylation enzyme activity was localized in the microsomal subfraction of the bulb homogenate, and its affinity for vaccenol was not very different from that reported for monounsaturated alcohol substrates in moths.
Light and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) were used to study the epidermal lateral line system of the Siberian sturgeon (Acipenser baerii Brandt, 1869). This system consists of mechanoreceptive neuromasts, ampullae and the electroreceptive organ. The neuromasts are located in 5 pairs of cephalic and 1 pair of trunk canals and superficially in the middle and posterior pit lines that lie dorsomedially along the top of the skull immediately adjacent to the otic ampullae field. Both canal neuromasts and pit organ superficial neuromasts have opposite polarized hair cells that are parallel along the axis of the canal and pit line, respectively. However, they differ in both size and shape and in the density and length of the hair bundles. The ampullae are confined on the head, adjacent to the neuromast lines. The morphological structure of the ampullae in the Siberian sturgeon is similar to the ampullae in elasmobranchs and other primitive fish. Nevertheless, it has a relatively large mucus-filled ampulla, and a shorter and narrower canal leading to a small opening to the outer epidermal surface. We also present new information concerning the peripheral innervation of lateral line receptors in sturgeons. The receptors of the lateral line system are innervated by 2 pairs of cranial nerves: anterior and posterior lateral line nerves. The peripheral processes of the anterior lateral line nerve form superficial ophthalmic, buccal, otic and anteroventral rami. The peripheral processes of the posterior lateral line nerve form middle, supratemporal and lateral rami.
Studies from both tropical and temperate systems show that scatter-hoarding rodents selectively disperse larger seeds farther from their source than smaller seeds, potentially increasing seedling establishment in larger-seeded plants. Size-biased dispersal is evident in many oaks (Quercus) and is true both across and within species. Here, we predict that intraspecifc variation in seed size also influences acorn dispersal by the Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata Linnaeus), but in an opposite manner. Blue Jays are gape-limited and selectively disperse smaller acorn species (e.g. pin oaks [Quercus palustris Münchh]), but often carry several acorns in their crop during a single dispersal event. We predict that jays foraging on smaller acorns will load more seeds per trip and disperse seeds to greater distances than when single acorns are carried in the bill. To test this, we presented free-ranging Blue Jays with pin oak acorns of different sizes over a 2-year period. In each of 16 experimental trials, we monitored the birds at a feeding station with remote cameras and determined the number of acorns removed and the distance acorns were dispersed when cached. Jays were significantly more likely to engage in multiple seed loading with smaller seeds in both years of the study. During the second year, these smaller acorns were dispersed farther than larger acorns, and during the first year, larger acorns were dispersed farther, revealing an inconsistent response to seed size during our study. We suggest that in some circumstances, multiple seed loading by Blue Jays may favor dispersal in some plant species.
The plainfin midshipman fish (Porichthys notatus Girard, 1854) is a vocal species of batrachoidid fish that generates acoustic signals for intraspecific communication during social and reproductive activity and has become a good model for investigating the neural and endocrine mechanisms of vocal-acoustic communication. Reproductively active female plainfin midshipman fish use their auditory sense to detect and locate "singing" males, which produce a multiharmonic advertisement call to attract females for spawning. The seasonal onset of male advertisement calling in the midshipman fish coincides with an increase in the range of frequency sensitivity of the female's inner ear saccule, the main organ of hearing, thus leading to enhanced encoding of the dominant frequency components of male advertisement calls. Non-reproductive females treated with either testosterone or 17β-estradiol exhibit a dramatic increase in the inner ear's frequency sensitivity that mimics the reproductive female's auditory phenotype and leads to an increased detection of the male's advertisement call. This novel form of auditory plasticity provides an adaptable mechanism that enhances coupling between sender and receiver in vocal communication. This review focuses on recent evidence for seasonal reproductive-state and steroid-dependent plasticity of auditory frequency sensitivity in the peripheral auditory system of the midshipman fish. The potential steroid-dependent mechanism(s) that lead to this novel form of auditory and behavioral plasticity are also discussed.
Parasitic isopods (family Bopyridae) and burrowing barnacles (family Trypetesidae) infesting hermit crabs were investigated from shallow subtidal collections made along the southeastern coast of Spain in 2009. A total of 713 specimens of Clibanarius erythropus (Latreille, 1818) and 82 Calcinus tubularis (L., 1767) were examined. Gastropod shells and worm tubes inhabited by hermit crabs were collected by hand while snorkeling and were cracked to determine host species, size, sex and presence of eggs. Two species of bopyrid isopods were found on C. erythropus: the branchial parasite Bopyrissa fraiseii (Carayon, 1943) and the abdominal parasite Parathelges cardonae Codreanu and Codreanu in Codreanu, 1968. Among all C. erythropus examined, Bopyrissa fraiseii was found on 0.6% of hermit crabs and P. cardonae was found on 0.3%. A redescription of P. cardonae is provided and the species is documented with light and scanning electron microscopy for the first time. No Calcinus tubularis harbored parasitic isopods, but one specimen was parasitized by an unidentified rhizocephalan barnacle of the genus Septosaccus (1.2%). The burrowing barnacle Trypetesa lampas (Hancock, 1849) was found associated with both hermit crab species and evidence of predation on host eggs by this barnacle is shown for the first time. Trypetesa lampas was found in 4.2% of the shells collected. The present study expands our knowledge of the parasite fauna of hermit crabs from the Mediterranean Sea and indicates that additional research is needed to determine the impact of trypetesid egg predators on hermit crab populations.
After a long period of low interest in the Triassic actinopterygian fishes, the end of the last century saw a renaissance, following the discovery of new Norian (Late Triassic) sites in the Southern Alps around Bergamo and Udine (Zorzino Limestone and Forni Dolostone faunas, hereinafter called Triassic Late Fish Fauna -TLFF) and the description of new material from the Late Anisian- Ladinian (Middle Triassic) of Monte San Giorgio on the Italian-Swiss boundary (the Triassic Middle Fish Fauna -TMFF).
Blood cell morphology and count are not uniform across species. Recently, between-species comparisons revealed that the size of red blood cells is associated with body size in some lizard taxa, and this finding was interpreted in the context of the metabolic theory. In the present study, we examined the numbers and the size of blood cells in 2 species of monitor lizards, the mangrove-dwelling monitor (Varanus indicus) and the savannah monitor (V. exanthematicus), and we compared these traits in individuals of different body size. The results revealed that during the course of ontogeny, the size of red blood cells increases with body mass. Because the mass-specific metabolic rate decreases with body size and the cell volume-to-surface ratio decreases with the cell size, changes in the erythrocyte size might be the result of oxygen transport adjustment.
Lamarck, a son of the age of natural philosophy and revolutionary ideas, turned to zoology, the field in which he made his major impact, in his old age. By then, the world had already shifted towards a different intellectual atmosphere and, due to this anachronism, he was snubbed and even ridiculed by the mainstream neo-Darwinists. Yet his basic ideas about the active role of organisms in and the progressive unraveling of evolution stubbornly survived along the academic fringes and, more importantly, among the humanistic writers. Recent developments in genetic inheritance, embryology, immunology and behavioral studies vindicate, at least in part, the 200-year-old vision of Lamarck.
Wild bananas are abundant in tropical areas and many ecologists have observed that the succession process is quicker following increased disturbance. This study was conducted to analyze animal-seed interactions and their effects on the seed fate of a wild banana species (Musa acuminata) in tropical southern Yunnan (China) through experiments considering spatial (site and habitat) and temporal (seasons) variation. The largest proportion of fruits (81%) was removed by frugivorous seed dispersers, especially by bats at nighttime. Only 13% of the fruits were removed by climbing seed predators (different species of rats). In the exclosure treatment, rodents accounted for a significantly higher total artificially exposed seed removal number than ants, but with spatial and temporal differences. The highest seed predation rate by rodents (70%) was found in forest with wild banana stands, corresponding with the highest rodent diversity (species numbers and abundance) among the habitat types. In contrast, the seed removal number by ants (57%) was highest in the open land habitats, but there was no close correlation with ant diversity. Seed removal numbers by ants were significantly higher in the dry compared to the rainy season, but rodent activity showed no differences between seasons. The overall results suggest that the largest proportion of seeds produced by wild banana are primarily dispersed by bats. Primary seed dispersal by bats at nighttime is essential for wild banana seeds to escape seed predation.
Two surveys of opinions about wildlife conservation were carried out in Hunan Province, China, before and after the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic. Hunan is the northern neighbor of Guangdong Province, where the first SARS case was reported. The custom of consuming wild meat was not common in Hunan 30 years ago. However, in recent years, consumption of wildlife such as snakes has spread to northern China. We handed out 1300 questionnaires between 22 February and 10 May 2002, before the SARS epidemic. Survey sites included the provincial capital, major cities, towns, and villages in Hunan. Another 1300 questionnaires were distributed between 10 March and 10 May 2004, after the SARS epidemic. The 2004 survey covered the same sites as the 2002 survey. Questionnaire recovery rates for the 2002 and 2004 surveys were 81.2% and 84.6%, respectively. The valid return rate was 73.0%. Frog, snake, hare, and pheasant were the wild meats most frequently eaten by local people. At the time of the first survey, more than 80% of interviewees claimed to have eaten frogs. That number had reduced to 60% by the time of the second survey. Monkey, Chinese pangolin, and bear paw were the wild meats least frequently eaten. Although palm civet was suspected to be the carrier of SARS, it was interesting to note that, after the SARS epidemic, the proportion of people surveyed who ate palm civets had declined only slightly. The results of the surveys indicate a low level of conservation consciousness; however, after the SARS and bird flu epidemics, there were obvious changes in the conservation consciousness of people in Hunan Province. We recommend some measures that could be taken to change the habits of people who consume wildlife.
In this manuscript, as a starting point, the ancient and current distribution of the genus Tapirus are summarized, from its origins, apparently in Europe, to current ranges. Subsequently, original and current tapir habitats are described, as well as changes in ancient habitats. As the manuscript goes on, we examine the ways in which tapir species interact with their habitats and the main aspects of habitat use, spatial ecology and adaptability. Having reviewed the historic and current distribution of tapirs, as well as their use and selection of habitats, we introduce the concept of adaptability, considering that some of the tapir physiological characteristics and behavioral strategies can reduce the negative impact of habitat alteration and climate change. Finally, we provide recommendations for future research priorities. The conservation community is still missing important pieces of information for the effective conservation of tapirs and their remaining habitats in Central and South America and Southeast Asia. Reconstructing how tapir species reached their current distribution ranges, interpreting how they interact with their habitats and gathering information regarding the strategies they use to cope with habitat changes will increase our understanding about these animals and contribute to the development of conservation strategies.
The Spinifex hopping mouse (Notomys alexis Thomas, 1922) is an arid adapted Australo-Papuan old endemic rodent that undergoes boom and bust population cycles. In this communication, we review our findings on the timing of reproduction and the potential reproductive rate of this species. To investigate the first question, the reproductive condition of adult females, and occurrence of immatures, in a population on a cattle station in central Australia was determined and, for the second, data from a laboratory colony compared to those previously published on closely related species in other environments. The findings show that, at least in the population at the times that monitoring was performed, reproductive activity was only taking place in spring and early summer, whereas the laboratory study indicates that females have a similar gestation length and litter size to those of most close relatives occurring in other environments. Males have extremely small testes and store relatively few sperm. The findings suggest that Notomys alexis might show some seasonality of reproduction at least in this region of central Australia and that this species does not have a higher reproductive rate than that of related species in other, more predictable, environments.
Adaptations of animals to the xeric environment have been studied in various taxonomic groups and across several deserts. Despite the impressive data that have been accumulated, the focus in most of these studies is mainly on the significance of one variable at a time. Here, we attempt to integrate between responses of several physiological systems, challenged by increasing diet and water salinity and extreme temperatures, acquired in different studies of thermo and osmo-regulatory adaptations, of small rodents, to the xeric environment. Studies have shown differential thermoregulatory responses to increased dietary salinity, which were attributed to habitat and habits of the relevant species. In the thermoregulatory studies, a potential adaptive significance of low metabolic rate was demonstrated. From an evolutionary point of view, the most important adaptation is in the timing of reproduction, as it enables the transfer of genetic properties to the next generation in an unpredictable ecosystem, where reproduction might not occur every year. Results in this aspect show that increased dietary salinity, through an increase in vasopressin plasma levels, plays an important role as a regulator of the reproductive system. We assume that the amount of food existing in the habitat and the amount of reserves in the animal in the form of white adipose tissue are important for reproduction. Photoperiod affects all studied physiological responses, emphasizing the importance of pre-acclimation to seasonal characteristics. We summarize the existing data and suggest neuro-endocrine pathways, which have a central role in these adaptations by affecting thermoregulation, osmoregulation and reproduction to create the optimal response to xeric conditions. These hypotheses can be used as the basis for future studies.
The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca David, 1869) is an iconic species for global conservation, yet field research has only recently advanced to the point where adaptive management is possible. Here, we review recent developments in giant panda conservation science and propose a strategic plan for moving panda conservation forward. Because of scientific, funding, political, and logistical hurdles, few endangered species management programs have embraced adaptive management, wherein management decisions are shaped iteratively by targeted scientific research. Specific threats, such as habitat destruction, anthropogenic disturbance and fragmented nonviable populations, need to be addressed simultaneously by researchers, managers and policy-makers working in concert to understand and overcome these obstacles to species recovery. With the backing of the Chinese Government and the conservation community, the giant panda can become a high-profile test species for this much touted, but rarely implemented, approach to conservation management.
Climate change is already threatening the long-term viability of many important protected areas, and as global warming accelerates this will increase. Lowered water tables, melting permafrost, changing vegetation zones, combined with the fragmentary distribution of wilderness areas, will cause a wave of local extinctions as species fail to adapt to changing conditions in time or fail to move as climate zones advance across the face of the continents. Ecologists can predict and even model likely scenarios, but can we do anything to help safeguard valuable biodiversity or must we passively document Earth's changes and accept these losses? Studies of the extraordinary species richness of the Hengduan Mountains and the Qionglai Mountain ranges of South-West China and of the Changbaishan Mountains in North-East China give us some optimism. This paper provides an explanation for the high species richness in these ranges and identifies design principles that can be used in the selection of protected areas or in the revision of existing protected area boundaries to enhance their ecological resilience and allow them to maintain higher levels of biological diversity under conditions of climate change or other disturbance.
This research study evaluated the effect of different additives on the bait consumption by Indian crested porcupine, a serious forest and agricultural pest, under field conditions. Different additives (saccharin, common salt, bone meal, fish meal, peanut butter, egg yolk, egg shell powder, yeast powder, mineral oil and coconut oil) at 2 and 5% each were tested for their relative preference, using groundnut-maize (1:1) as basic bait. All the additives were tested under a no-choice test pattern. For control tests, no additive was mixed with the basic bait. Saccharin at 5% concentration significantly enhanced the consumption of bait over the basic bait, while 2% saccharin supplemented bait resulted in a non-significant bait consumption. All other additives did not enhance the consumption of the bait material; rather, these worked as repellents. However, the repellency was lowest with the common salt, followed by egg yolk, egg shell powder, bone meal, peanut butter, mineral oil, fish meal and yeast powder, while coconut remained the most repellent compound. The present study suggested that groundnut-maize (1:1) supplemented with 5% saccharin was the preferred bait combination, and can be used with different rodenticides for the management of Indian crested porcupine.
Food additives made of placenta tissues of healthy cattle, included in the diet of cows 23-38 days before calving and/or in different intervals of the postpartum period, stimulated the resumption of ovary activity and the manifestation of normal estrus cycles (with ovulation) in cows. The cow fertilization rates during 80 days after calving was 50-80%. These values increased more than twofold in comparison with the fertility level of cows fed a normal diet. The level of fertilization after inclusion of placenta-containing additives in the diet of cows 5 days before ovulation, in estrus cycles that took place during 6 months after calving, increased 38 % on average, in comparison with that of cows fed a normal diet.
During the summer months, Adélie penguins represent the dominant biomass of terrestrial Antarctica. Literally millions of individuals nest in ice-free areas around the coast of the continent. Hence, these modern populations of Adélie penguins have often been championed as an ideal biological indicator of ecological and environmental changes that we currently face. In addition, Adélie penguins show an extraordinary record of sub-fossil remains, dating back to the late Pleistocene. At this time, temperatures were much lower than now. Hence, this species offers unique long-term information, at both the genomic and ecological levels, about how a species has responded to climate change over more than 40 000 years.
Although information about embryonic and larval development of garpike, Belone belone (Linnaeus, 1761), is present in the published literature, the bulk of research concerns garpike from the northeastern Atlantic Ocean and the Baltic Sea. The present work describes the embryonic and larval development of garpike, Belone belone, from the Adriatic Sea, and methods used for incubation of fertilized eggs in aquarium conditions. Because garpike is, as suggested by some authors, divided into subspecies, we conclude that some differences in embryonic development could also be expected. In the present study, eggs were fertilized using the dry fertilization method and were incubated in a tank equipped with aeration and constant sea water flow. Salinity and content of dissolved oxygen were constant, and the temperature varied between 19.4 and 22.3°C. Eggs were spherical, measuring 3071.9 ± 75.73 μm in diameter. Yolk sacs were homogeneous and did not contain oil globules. The first larvae hatched 329 h and 47 min after fertilization. Absorption of the yolk sac occurred 17 h - 48 h after hatching and the total length of newly hatched larvae was 9.78 mm. The peculiarities observed in the embryonic and early larval development are evidence of an exceptional plasticity and adaptive potential, which could be considered as helpful features in extending the natural range of occurrence of this species.
Group living provides various advantages to individuals in regards to protection avoidance, intergroup competition, productive success and social information. Stable one-male units (OMUs) consist of relationships between the adult females and the resident male as well as the relationships among adult females. Based on continuous observation of a reproductive group of golden snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus roxellana) in the Qinling Mountains, we analyzed the relationships among adult individual dyads within 4 OMUs. The results indicated that in golden snub-nosed monkey societies, females not only had no strong tendency to build a relationship with the resident male in the OMU but also had no strong tendency to build relationships with other females in the OMU. In comparison with hamadryas (Papio hamadryas) and gelada baboons (Theropithecus gelada), the relationships within golden snub-nosed monkeys OMUs showed neither the star-shaped pattern observed in hamadryas baboons nor the net-shaped pattern observed in gelada baboons. We concluded that the relationships within golden snub-nosed monkey OMUs indicated a third pattern in nonhuman primate societies. Future research is required to determine the potential mechanisms for such a pattern.
Industrial animal agriculture is grounded in the concept of maximizing productivity and profit. Selective breeding for maximum productivity in one characteristic of the animal (e.g. milk yield in cows, or breast meat in broiler chickens) has resulted in genotypes and phenotypes that may predispose the animals to poor health and welfare. The conditions in which these individuals are kept may also frustrate many inherited behaviors that they are strongly motivated to perform. In order to curb the resulting harmful aberrant behaviors, such as feather-pecking in chickens, we sometimes resort to mutilating the animals. In many places chickens are routinely de-beaked by means of a hot metal guillotine. Compassion in World Farming (an international organization that promotes the humane treatment of farm animals) believes that it is unethical to treat sentient beings in such ways. We have a duty to respect farm animals' sentience by providing them with housing conditions that take their needs and wants into account, and by reverting to the use of dual-purpose, slower-growing breeds that have the potential for good welfare. Alternatives to current farming practices are available, and we owe it to the animals, and to our consciences, to pursue them.
Cone and seed insects are considered the most important predators of tree seeds during the pre-dispersal phase of development. Among them, exotic seed chalcids in the genus Megastigmus invaded Europe as a result of the rapidly-increasing and mostly unregulated seed trade for afforestation and ornamental plantations. Unlike their economic impact in seed orchards, until recently, little attention was paid to the ecological impact of these insects. In the present study, selected case studies of alien Megastigmus spp. were considered to assess their specific impact on the potential of natural regeneration of native woody plants and on the native entomofauna competing for seed resource. We re-analyzed data from former studies that did not focus on these ecological interactions and, here, present previously unpublished results. Seeds of Douglas-fir, true cedars, true firs and wild roses were sampled all over Europe, and the relative importance of the native and invasive chalcid species was assessed as well as their specific impact on seed yield. In most cases, the recent arrival of alien chalcids resulted in a significant decrease in the regeneration potential of the host trees. In the absence of competitors, alien chalcids occupied the entire seed niche in Douglas-fir, but their impact tended to decrease after the arrival of invasive seed bugs. In firs, alien chalcids tended to displace the native chalcids, but not in wild roses and cedars, where their damage was increasing. Different biological traits that might explain invasive success of alien chalcids are discussed. However, no general invasive patterns seem to exist.
Previous work exploring the interrelationships between sex steroids (e.g. androgens, testosterones and 11-ketotestosterones) and social behavior in teleosts suggest that mirror-elicited aggression in cichlid fish may not trigger a hormonal response. Using the Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) to analyze immune responses as a result of social stress, we measured levels of cortisol and melatonin using Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) assays. In this work, we demonstrated that cortisol concentrations are significantly lower yet the levels of melatonin remain unchanged in tilapia that are fighting their mirror image. Our results suggested that in tied fights, certain hormone levels remain unchanged (e.g. androgens) due to the lack of melatonin induction.
Imprecise and faulty taxonomic identification of the biological objects of many ecological and experimental studies renders these studies irreproducible. Incomplete identification to the species level and excessive use of vernacular species names are additional problems. Good science must be able to be falsified. I recommend that publications and granting agencies use and mention the names of the zoologists or botanists who identified the species. Voucher specimens should be marked and deposited in scientific museums for future checking.