77 Works

Mixed-species herding levels the landscape of fear

Keenan Stears, Melissa Schmitt, Christopher Wilmers & Adrian Shrader
Prey antipredator behaviours are influenced by perceived predation risk in a landscape and social information gleaned from herd mates regarding predation risk. It is well documented that high-quality social information about risk can come from heterospecific herd mates. Here, we integrate social information with the landscape of fear to quantify how these landscapes are modified by mixed-species herding. To do this, we investigated zebra vigilance in single- and mixed-species herds across different levels of predation...

Data from: Nutrient availability controls the impact of mammalian herbivores on soil carbon and nitrogen pools in grasslands

Judith Sitters, E.R. Jasper Wubs, Elisabeth S. Bakker, Thomas W. Crowther, Peter B. Adler, Sumanta Bagchi, Jonathan D. Bakker, Lori Biederman, Elizabeth T. Borer, Elsa E. Cleland, Nico Eisenhauer, Jennifer Firn, Laureano Gherardi, Nicole Hagenah, Yann Hautier, Sarah E. Hobbie, Johannes M.H. Knops, Andrew S. MacDougall, Rebecca L. McCulley, Joslin L. Moore, Brent Mortensen, Pablo L. Peri, Suzanne M. Prober, Charlotte Riggs, Anita C. Risch … & Veen, G.F. (Ciska)
Grasslands have been subject to considerable alteration due to human activities globally, including widespread changes in populations and composition of large mammalian herbivores and elevated supply of nutrients. Grassland soils remain important reservoirs of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N). Herbivores may affect both C and N pools and these changes likely interact with increases in soil nutrient availability. Given the scale of grassland soil fluxes, such changes can have striking consequences for atmospheric C concentrations...

Stable flies, Stomoxys calcitrans L. (Diptera: Muscidae), improve offspring fitness by avoiding oviposition substrates with competitors or parasites

Bernard Steve Soh Baleba, Torto Baldwyn, Daniel Masiga, Merid Negash Getahun & Christopher Weldon
Oviposition site selection by gravid female insects is an important determinant in species distribution, abundance, and population dynamics. Females may assess the suitability of a potential oviposition substrate by using cues from conspecific or heterospecific individuals already present. Here, we assessed whether the presence of conspecific or heterospecific larvae and parasites influenced oviposition decisions by the stable fly, Stomoxys calcitrans (Linneaus). Using dual and multiple-choice oviposition bioassays, we found that gravid female S. calcitrans avoided...

Heat dissipation behaviour of birds in seasonally hot, arid-zones: are there global patterns?

Nicholas Pattinson, Michelle Thompson, Michael Griego, Grace Russell, Nicola Mitchell, Rowan Martin, Blair Wolf, Ben Smit, Susan Cunningham & Andrew McKechnie
Quantifying organismal sensitivity to heat stress provides one means for predicting vulnerability to climate change. Birds are ideal for investigating this approach, as they display quantifiable fitness consequences associated with behavioural and physiological responses to heat stress. We used a recently developed method that examines correlations between readily-observable behaviours and air temperature (Tair) to investigate interspecific variation in avian responses to heat stress in seasonally hot, arid regions on three continents: the southwestern United States,...

Not a melting pot: plant species aggregate in their non-native range

Gisela C. Stotz, James F. Cahill, Jonathan A. Bennett, Cameron N. Carlyle, Edward W. Bork, Diana Askarizadeh, Sandor Bartha, Carl Beierkuhnlein, Bazartseren Boldgiv, Leslie Brown, Marcelo Cabido, Giandiego Campetella, Stefano Chelli, Ofer Cohen, Sandra Díaz, Lucas Enrico, David Ensing, Batdelger Erdenetsetseg, Alessandra Fidelis, Heath W. Garris, Hugh A.L. Henry, Anke Jentsch, Mohammad Hassan Jouri, Kadri Koorem, Peter Manning … & Lauchlan H. Fraser
Aim: Plant species continue to be moved outside of their native range by human activities. Here, we aim at determining whether, once introduced, plants assimilate into native communities, or whether they aggregate, thus forming mosaics of native- and alien-rich communities. Alien species may aggregate in their non-native range due to shared habitat preferences, such as their tendency to establish in high-biomass, species-poor areas. Location: 22 herbaceous grasslands in 14 countries, mainly in the temperate zone....

Data from: Trade-offs between age-related breeding improvement and survival senescence in highly polygynous elephant seals: dominant males always do better

Kyle Lloyd, Chris Oosthuizen, Marthan Bester & Nico De Bruyn
Life history trade-off theory predicts that current reproduction can negatively affect survival and future reproduction. Few studies have assessed breeding costs for males of polygynous species compared to females, despite substantial variation in breeding success among individual males (e.g. subordinate cf. dominant breeders). Specifically, differentiating between the cost of attending breeding seasons, and the additional cost of successfully securing and mating females is lacking. We investigated whether trade-offs are present in the highly polygynous male...

Climate induced stress and mortality in vervet monkeys

Christopher Young, Tyler Bonnell, Leslie Brown, Marcus Dostie, André Ganswindt, Stefan Kienzle, Richard McFarland, Peter Henzi & Louise Barrett
As the effects of global climate change become more apparent, animal species will become increasingly affected by extreme climate and its effect on the environment. There is a pressing need to understand animal physiological and behavioural responses to climatic stressors. We used the reactive scope model as a framework to investigate the influence of drought conditions on vervet monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) behaviour, physiological stress and survival across 2.5-years in South Africa. Data were collected on...

Data from: Heaviside's dolphins (Cephalorhynchus heavisidii) relax acoustic crypsis to increase communication range

Morgan J. Martin, Tess Gridley, Simon H. Elwen & Frants H. Jensen
The costs of predation may exert significant pressure on the mode of communication used by an animal, and many species balance the benefits of communication (e.g. mate attraction) against the potential risk of predation. Four groups of toothed whales have independently evolved narrowband high-frequency (NBHF) echolocation signals. These signals help NBHF species avoid predation through acoustic crypsis by echolocating and communicating at frequencies inaudible to predators such as mammal-eating killer whales. Heaviside’s dolphins (Cephalorhynchus heavisidii)...

Data from: Using the Spatial Population Abundance Dynamics Engine for conservation management

Nicholas J. Beeton, Clive R. McMahon, Grant Williamson, Joanne Potts, Jonathan Bloomer, Marthán N. Bester, Lawrence K. Forbes, Christopher N. Johnson, Grant J. Williamson, Chris N. Johnson & Larry K. Forbes
1. An explicit spatial understanding of population dynamics is often critical for effective management of wild populations. Sophisticated approaches are available to simulate these dynamics, but are largely either spatially homogeneous or agent-based, and thus best suited to small spatial or temporal scales. These approaches also often ignore financial decisions crucial to choosing management approaches on the basis of cost-effectiveness. 2. We created a user-friendly and flexible modelling framework for simulating these population issues at...

Data from: Solar radiation during rewarming from torpor in elephant shrews: supplementation or substitution of endogenous heat production?

Michelle L. Thompson, Nomakwezi Mzilikazi, Nigel C. Bennett & Andrew E. McKechnie
Many small mammals bask in the sun during rewarming from heterothermy, but the implications of this behaviour for their energy balance remain little understood. Specifically, it remains unclear whether solar radiation supplements endogenous metabolic thermogenesis (i.e., rewarming occurs through the additive effects of internally-produced and external heat), or whether solar radiation reduces the energy required to rewarm by substituting (i.e, replacing) metabolic heat production. To address this question, we examined patterns of torpor and rewarming...

Data from: Cyanobacteria drive community composition and functionality in rock-soil interface communities

Angel Valverde, Thulani P. Makhalanyane, Mary Seely & Don A. Cowan
Most ecological research on hypoliths, significant primary producers in hyperarid deserts, has focused on the diversity of individual groups of microbes (i.e. bacteria). However, microbial communities are inherently complex, and the interactions between cyanobacteria, heterotrophic bacteria, protista and metazoa, are likely to be very important for ecosystem functioning. Cyanobacterial and heterotrophic bacterial communities were analysed by pyrosequencing, while metazoan and protistan communities were assessed by T-RFLP analysis. Microbial functionality was estimated using carbon substrate utilization....

Data from: Population genomics of the killer whale indicates ecotype evolution in sympatry involving both selection and drift

Andre E. Moura, John G. Kenny, Roy Chaudhuri, Margaret A. Hughes, Andreanna Welch, Ryan R. Reisinger, P. J. Nico De Bruyn, Marilyn E. Dahlheim, Neil Hall, A. Rus Hoelzel & Andreanna J. Welch
The evolution of diversity in the marine ecosystem is poorly understood, given the relatively high potential for connectivity, especially for highly mobile species such as whales and dolphins. The killer whale (Orcinus orca) has a worldwide distribution, and individual social groups travel over a wide geographic range. Even so, regional populations have been shown to be genetically differentiated, including among different foraging specialists (ecotypes) in sympatry. Given the strong matrifocal social structure of this species...

Data from: Data-driven discovery of the spatial scales of habitat choice by elephants

Andrew F. Mashintonio, Stuart L. Pimm, Grant M. Harris, Rudi J. Van Aarde & Gareth J. Russell
Setting conservation goals and management objectives relies on understanding animal habitat preferences. Models that predict preferences combine location data from tracked animals with environmental information, usually at a spatial resolution determined by the available data. This resolution may be biologically irrelevant for the species in question. Individuals likely integrate environmental characteristics over varying distances when evaluating their surroundings; we call this the scale of selection. Even a single characteristic might be viewed differently at different...

Data from: Ion Torrent PGM as tool for fungal community analysis: a case study of endophytes in Eucalyptus grandis reveals high taxonomic diversity

Martin Kemler, Jeff Garnas, Michael J. Wingfield, Marieka Gryzenhout, Kerry-Anne Pillay & Bernard Slippers
The Kingdom Fungi adds substantially to the diversity of life, but due to their cryptic morphology and lifestyle, tremendous diversity, paucity of formally described specimens, and the difficulty in isolating environmental strains into culture, fungal communities are difficult to characterize. This is especially true for endophytic communities of fungi living in healthy plant tissue. The developments in next generation sequencing technologies are, however, starting to reveal the true extent of fungal diversity. One of the...

Data from: Water as a resource, stress and disturbance shaping tundra vegetation

Julia Kemppinen, Pekka Niittynen, Juha Aalto, Peter C. Le Roux & Miska Luoto
Water is crucial for plant productivity and survival as a fundamental resource, but water conditions can also cause physiological stress and mechanical disturbance to vegetation. However, these different influences of water on vegetation patterns have not been evaluated simultaneously. Here, we demonstrate the importance of three water aspects (spatial and temporal variation of soil moisture and fluvial disturbance) for three ecologically and evolutionary distinct taxonomical groups (vascular plants, mosses, and lichens) in Fennoscandian mountain tundra....

Data from: Finding stories in noise: mitochondrial portraits from RAD data

C. S. Stobie, Michael J. Cunningham, Carel J. Oosthuizen & Paulette Bloomer
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has formed the backbone of phylogeographic research for many years, however, recent trends focus on genome-wide analyses. One method proposed for calibrating inferences from noisy Next-Generation data, such as RAD sequencing, is to compare these results with analyses of mitochondrial sequences. Most researchers using this approach appear to be unaware that many Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) identified from genome-wide sequence data are themselves mitochondrial, or assume that these are too few to...

Data from: Spatial heterogeneity in species composition constrains plant community responses to herbivory and fertilization

Dorothee Hodapp, Elizabeth T. Borer, W. Stanley Harpole, Eric M. Lind, Eric W. Seabloom, Peter B. Adler, Juan Alberti, Carlos A. Arnillas, Jonathan D. Bakker, Lori Biederman, Marc Cadotte, Elsa E. Cleland, Scott Collins, Philip A. Fay, Jennifer Firn, Nicole Hagenah, Yann Hautier, Oscar Iribarne, Johannes M.H. Knops, Rebecca L. McCulley, Andrew MacDougall, Joslin L. Moore, John W. Morgan, Brent Mortensen, Kimberly J. La Pierre … & Johannes M. H. Knops
Environmental change can result in substantial shifts in community composition. The associated immigration and extinction events are likely constrained by the spatial distribution of species. Still, studies on environmental change typically quantify biotic responses at single spatial (time series within a single plot) or temporal (spatial beta-diversity at single time points) scales, ignoring their potential interdependence. Here, we use data from a global network of grassland experiments to determine how turnover responses to two major...

Data from: Prediction and attenuation of seasonal spillover of parasites between wild and domestic ungulates in an arid mixed-use system

Josephine G. Walker, Kate E. Evans, Hannah Rose Vineer, Jan A. Van Wyk, Eric R. Morgan & Hannah Rose Vineer
1.Transmission of parasites between host species affects host population dynamics, interspecific competition, and ecosystem structure and function. In areas where wild and domestic herbivores share grazing land, management of parasites in livestock may affect or be affected by sympatric wildlife due to cross-species transmission. 2.We develop a novel method for simulating transmission potential based on both biotic and abiotic factors in a semi-arid system in Botswana. Optimal timing of antiparasitic treatment in livestock is then...

Data from: Diurnal body temperature patterns in free-ranging populations of two southern African arid-zone nightjars

Ryan S. O'Connor, R. Mark Brigham & Andrew E. McKechnie
Endotherms allocate large amounts of energy and water to the regulation of a precise body temperature (Tb), but can potentially reduce thermoregulatory costs by allowing Tb to deviate from normothermic levels. Many data on heterothermy at low air temperatures (Ta) exist for caprimulgids, whereas data on thermoregulation at high Ta are largely absent, despite members of this taxon frequently roosting and nesting in sites exposed to high operative temperatures. We investigated thermoregulation in free-ranging Rufous-cheeked...

Data from: The Victoria West: earliest prepared core technology in the Acheulean at Canteen Kopje and implications for the cognitive evolution of early hominids

Hao Li, Kathleen Kuman, Matt G. Lotter, George M. Leader & Ryan J. Gibbon
Prepared core technology illustrates in-depth planning and the presence of a mental template during the core reduction process. This technology is, therefore, a significant indicator in studying the evolution of abstract thought and the cognitive abilities of hominids. Here, we report on Victoria West cores excavated from the Canteen Kopje site in central South Africa, with a preliminary age estimate of approximately 1 Ma (million years ago) for these cores. Technological analysis shows that the...

Data from: Locomotor activity and body temperature patterns over a temperature gradient in the highveld mole-rat (Cryptomys hottentotus pretoriae)

Meghan Haupt, Nigel C. Bennett & Maria K. Oosthuizen
African mole-rats are strictly subterranean mammals that live in extensive burrow systems. High humidity levels in the burrows prevent mole-rats from thermoregulating using evaporative cooling. However, the relatively stable environment of the burrows promotes moderate temperatures and small daily temperature fluctuations. Mole-rats therefore display a relatively wide range of thermoregulation abilities. Some species cannot maintain their body temperatures at a constant level, whereas others employ behavioural thermoregulation. Here we test the effect of ambient temperature...

Data from: The response of bird feeding guilds to forest fragmentation reveals conservation strategies for a critically endangered African eco-region

Pieter I. Olivier & Rudi J. Van Aarde
South African coastal forests form part of two critically endangered eco-regions and harbor an extinction debt. Remaining fragments are small, isolated, and embedded within a range of human land-use types. In this study, we ask: how should we invest conservation resources if we want to restore this landscape and prevent predicted extinctions? To answer this question, we use path analyses to determine the direct and indirect effects of forest area, forest connectivity, and matrix land-use...

Data from: Exploring the phylogeography of a hexaploid freshwater fish by RAD sequencing

Connor S. Stobie, Carel J. Oosthuizen, Michael J. Cunningham, Paulette Bloomer & Connor Seamus Stobie
The KwaZulu-Natal yellowfish (Labeobarbus natalensis) is an abundant cyprinid, endemic to KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. In this study we developed a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) dataset from double-digest Restriction-site Associated DNA (ddRAD) sequencing of samples across the distribution. We addressed several hidden challenges, primarily focussing on proper filtering of RAD data and selecting optimal parameters for data processing in polyploid lineages. We used the resulting high-quality SNP dataset to investigate the population genetic structure of...

Data from: Stacking the odds: light pollution may shift the balance in an ancient predator-prey arms race

Corneile Minnaar, Justin G. Boyles, Ingrid A. Minnaar, Catherine L. Sole & Andrew E. McKechnie
1. Artificial night-lighting threatens to disrupt strongly conserved light-dependent processes in animals and may have cascading effects on ecosystems as species interactions become altered. Insectivorous bats and their prey have been involved in a nocturnal, coevolutionary arms race for millions of years. Lights may interfere with anti-bat defensive behaviours in moths, and disrupt a complex and globally ubiquitous interaction between bats and insects, ultimately leading to detrimental consequences for ecosystems on a global scale. 2....

Data from: Genetic divergence between two phenotypically distinct bottlenose dolphin ecotypes suggests separate evolutionary trajectories

Pedro F. Fruet, Eduardo R. Secchi, Juliana C. Di Tullio, Paulo C. Simões-Lopes, Fábio Daura-Jorge, Ana Paula B. Costa, Els Vermeulen, Paulo André C. Flores, Rodrigo C. Genoves, Paula Laporta, Luciano B. Beheregaray & Luciana M. Möller
Due to their worldwide distribution and occupancy of different types of environments, bottlenose dolphins display considerable morphological variation. Despite limited understanding about the taxonomic identity of such forms and connectivity among them at global scale, coastal (or inshore) and offshore (or oceanic) ecotypes have been widely recognized in several ocean regions. In the Southwest Atlantic Ocean (SWA), however, there are scarce records of bottlenose dolphins differing in external morphology according to habitat preferences that resemble...

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