335 Works

Data from: Testing the limits of pheromone stigmergy in spatially constrained robotic swarms

Edmund Hunt, Simon Jones & Sabine Hauert
Area coverage and collective exploration are key challenges for swarm robotics. Previous research in this field has drawn inspiration from ant colonies, with real, or more commonly virtual, pheromones deposited into a shared environment to coordinate behaviour through stigmergy. Repellent pheromones can facilitate rapid dispersal of robotic agents, yet this has been demonstrated only for relatively small swarm sizes (N<30). Here, we report findings from swarms of real robots (Kilobots) an order of magnitude larger...

Data from: Plant species roles in pollination networks: an experimental approach

Kate Pereira Maia, I.P. Vaughan & Jane Memmott
Pollination is an important ecosystem service threatened by current pollinator declines, making flower planting schemes an important strategy to recover pollination function. However, ecologists rarely test the attractiveness of chosen plants to pollinators in the field. Here, we experimentally test whether plant species roles in pollination networks can be used to identify species with the most potential to recover plant-pollinator communities. Using published pollination networks, we calculated each plant’s centrality and chose five central and...

Heliconiini butterflies can learn time-dependent reward associations

Wyatt Toure, Fletcher Young, W. McMillan & Stephen Montgomery
For many pollinators, flowers provide predictable temporal schedules of resource availability, meaning an ability to learn time-dependent information could be widely beneficial. However, this ability has only been demonstrated in a handful of species. Observational studies of Heliconius butterflies suggest that they may have an ability to form time-dependent foraging preferences. Heliconius are unique among butterflies in actively collecting pollen, a dietary behaviour linked to spatiotemporally faithful ‘trap-line’ foraging. Time-dependency of foraging preferences is hypothesised...

Bumblebee colony density on farmland is influenced by late-summer nectar supply and garden cover

Thomas Timberlake, Ian Vaughan, Mathilde Baude & Jane Memmott
1. Floral resources are important in limiting pollinator populations, but they are often highly variable across time and space and the effect of this variation on pollinator population dynamics is not well understood. The phenology (timing) of floral resources is thought to be important in structuring pollinator populations, but few studies have directly investigated this. 2. Our study quantifies the landscape composition, seasonal nectar and pollen supply, and Bombus terrestris colony density of 12 farms...

Detailed description of the new genus and speceis, Cretophengodes azari Li, Kundrata, Tihelka and Cai sp. nov.

Yan-Da Li, Robin Kundrata, Erik Tihelka, Zhenhua Liu, Diying Huang & Chenyang Cai
Bioluminescent beetles of the superfamily Elateroidea (fireflies, fire beetles, glow-worms) are the most speciose group of terrestrial light-producing animals. The evolution of bioluminescence in elateroids is associated with unusual morphological modifications, such as soft-bodiedness and neoteny, but the fragmentary nature of the fossil record discloses little about the origin of these adaptations. We report the discovery of a new bioluminescent elateroid beetle family from the mid-Cretaceous of northern Myanmar (ca. 99 Ma), Cretophengodidae fam. nov....

Supplementary data from: Decoupling of morphological disparity and taxonomic diversity during the end-Permian mass extinction

Junyu Wan, William Foster, Li Tian, Thomas Stubbs, Michael Benton, Xincheng Qiu & Aihua Yuan
An increasing number of unexpectedly diverse benthic communities are being reported from microbially-precipitated carbonate facies in shallow-marine platform settings after the end-Permian mass extinction. Ostracoda, which was one of the most diverse and abundant metazoan groups during this interval, recorded their greatest diversity and abundance associated with these facies. Previous studies, however, focused mainly on their taxonomic diversity and, therefore, left room for discussion of paleoecological significance. Here, we apply a morphometric method (semi-landmarks) to...

Data from: The effect of fossil sampling on the estimation of divergence times with the fossilised birth death process

Joseph E. O’Reilly & Philip C. J. Donoghue
Timescales are of fundamental importance to evolutionary biology as they facilitate hypothesis tests of historical evolutionary processes. Through the incorporation of fossil occurrence data, the fossilised birth-death (FBD) process provides a framework for estimating divergence times using more palaeontological data than traditional node calibration approaches have allowed. The inclusion of more data can refine evolutionary timescale estimates, but for many taxonomic groups it is computationally infeasible to include all fossil occurrence data. Here, we utilise...

Experimental investigation of insect deposition in lentic environments and implications for formation of Konservat-Lagerstätten

Qingyi Tian, Shengyu Wang, Zixiao Yang, Maria McNamara, Michael Benton & Baoyu Jiang
Terrestrial insects are often remarkably well preserved in lacustrine Konservat-Lagerstätten. However, the assumption that carcasses should sink fast through the water column seems to contradict evidence that this scenario is unlikely due to excessive buoyancy and surface tension. The mechanisms that promote rapid and permanent emplacement onto the sediment surface (RPESS) of such terrestrial animal remains are not fully understood. Here we use taphonomic experiments to show that floating in water, growth of microbial biofilms...

Quantifying the structure and dynamics of fish shoals under predation threat in three-dimensions

Maksym Romenskyy, James Herbert-Read, Christol Ioannou, Alex Szorkovszky, Ashley Ward & David Sumpter
Detailed quantifications of how predators and their grouping prey interact in three dimensions (3D) remain rare. Here we record the structure and dynamics of fish shoals (Pseudomugil signifer) in 3D both with and without live predators (Philypnodon grandiceps) under controlled laboratory conditions. Shoals adopted two distinct types of shoal structure; ‘sphere-like’ geometries at depth, and flat ‘carpet-like’ structures at the water’s surface, with shoals becoming more compact in both horizontal and vertical planes in the...

Fossil microbodies are melanosomes: evaluating and rejecting the ‘fossilised decay-associated microbes’ hypothesis

Arindam Roy, Christopher Rogers, Thomas Clements, Michael Pittman, Olivier Habimana, Martin Peter & Jakob Vinther
Melanosomes are membrane-bound organelles of varying geometry, commonly found within a range of vertebrate tissues, that contain the pigment melanin. Melanosomes have been identified in the fossil record in many exceptionally preserved fossils allowing reconstructions of the coloration of many extinct animals. However, these microstructures have also been interpreted as “microbial cells” or melanin producing bacteria based on their geometric similarities to melanosomes. Here we test these two conflicting hypotheses experimentally. Our results demonstrate multiple...

Data from: Insights into the development and evolution of exaggerated traits using de novo transcriptomes of two species of horned scarab beetles

Ian A. Warren, J. Cristobal Vera, Annika Johns, Robert Zinna, James H. Marden, Douglas J. Emlen, Ian Dworkin & Laura C. Lavine
Scarab beetles exhibit an astonishing variety of rigid exo-skeletal outgrowths, known as “horns”. These traits are often sexually dimorphic and vary dramatically across species in size, shape, location, and allometry with body size. In many species, the horn exhibits disproportionate growth resulting in an exaggerated allometric relationship with body size, as compared to other traits, such as wings, that grow proportionately with body size. Depending on the species, the smallest males either do not produce...

Data from: Moving in groups: how density and unpredictable motion affect predation risk

Nicholas E. Scott-Samuel, Gavin Holmes, Roland Baddeley & Innes C. Cuthill
One of the most widely applicable benefits of aggregation is a per capita reduction in predation risk. Many factors can contribute to this but, for moving groups, an increased difficulty in tracking and targeting one individual amongst many has received particular attention. This “confusion effect” has been proposed to result from a bottleneck in information processing, a hypothesis supported by both modelling and experiment. If the competition for limited attention is localised to the particular...

Data from: A comparison of clearfelling and gradual thinning of plantations for the restoration of insect herbivores and woodland plants

Beth Atkinson, Sallie Bailey, Ian P. Vaughan & Jane Memmott
1. Testing restoration methods is essential for the development of restoration ecology as a science. It is also important to monitor a range of taxa, not just plants which have been the traditional focus of restoration ecology. Here we compare the effects on ground flora and leaf-miners, of two restoration practices used when restoring conifer plantations. 2. Two methods of restoration were investigated: clearfelling of plantations and the gradual thinning of conifers over time. Unrestored...

Data from: Seasonality in communication and collective decision-making in ants

Nathalie Stroeymeyt, Caroline Jordan, Gregory Mayer, Sarah Hovsepian, Martin Giurfa & Nigel R. Franks
The ability of animals to adjust their behaviour according to seasonal changes in their ecology is crucial for their fitness. Eusocial insects display strong collective behavioural seasonality, yet the mechanisms underlying such changes are poorly understood. We show that nest preference by emigrating Temnothorax albipennis ant colonies is influenced by a season-specific modulatory pheromone that may help tune decision-making according to seasonal constraints. The modulatory pheromone triggers aversion towards low-quality nests and enhances colony cohesion...

Data from: Bayesian methods outperform parsimony but at the expense of precision in the estimation of phylogeny from discrete morphological data

Joseph E. O'Reilly, Mark N. Puttick, Luke Parry, Alistair R. Tanner, James E. Tarver, James Fleming, Davide Pisani, Philip C. J. Donoghue & Alastair R. Tanner
Different analytical methods can yield competing interpretations of evolutionary history and, currently, there is no definitive method for phylogenetic reconstruction using morphological data. Parsimony has been the primary method for analysing morphological data, but there has been a resurgence of interest in the likelihood-based Mk-model. Here, we test the performance of the Bayesian implementation of the Mk-model relative to both equal and implied-weight implementations of parsimony. Using simulated morphological data, we demonstrate that the Mk-model...

Data from: Cellular hypertrophy and increased susceptibility to spontaneous calcium-release of rat left atrial myocytes due to elevated afterload

Haifei Zhang, Mark Cannell, Shang Jin Kim, Judy J. Watson, Ruth Norman, Sarah C. Calaghan, Clive J. Orchard, Andrew F. James, Mark B. Cannell & Clive H. Orchard
Atrial remodeling due to elevated arterial pressure predisposes the heart to atrial fibrillation (AF). Although abnormal sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) function has been associated with AF, there is little information on the effects of elevated afterload on atrial Ca2+-handling. We investigated the effects of ascending aortic banding (AoB) on Ca2+-handling in rat isolated atrial myocytes in comparison to age-matched sham-operated animals (Sham). Myocytes were either labelled for ryanodine receptor (RyR) or loaded with fluo-3-AM and imaged...

Data from: Acoustic identification of Mexican bats based on taxonomic and ecological constraints on call design

Veronica Zamora-Gutierrez, Celia Lopez-Gonzalez, M. Cristina MacSwiney Gonzalez, Brock Fenton, Gareth Jones, Elisabeth K. V. Kalko, Sebastien J. Puechmaille, Vassilios Stathopoulos & Kate E. Jones
Monitoring global biodiversity is critical for understanding responses to anthropogenic change, but biodiversity monitoring is often biased away from tropical, megadiverse areas that are experiencing more rapid environmental change. Acoustic surveys are increasingly used to monitor biodiversity change, especially for bats as they are important indicator species and most use sound to detect, localise and classify objects. However, using bat acoustic surveys for monitoring poses several challenges, particularly in megadiverse regions. Many species lack reference...

Data from: Biostratigraphy and geometric morphometrics of conchostracans (Crustacea, Branchiopoda) from the Late Triassic fissure deposits of Cromhall Quarry, UK

Jacob D. Morton, David I. Whiteside, Manja Hethke & Michael J. Benton
The enigmatic fissure deposits of south-eastern England and southern Wales are famous for their unique assemblage of Late Triassic vertebrates, although their age is contentious. While recent studies of palynomorphs have dated some as Rhaetian, their conchostracan (Crustacea, Branchiopoda) assemblages have not been described in detail nor used in biostratigraphy. We find that species determination of British Late Triassic conchostracans requires detailed observations of size, shape and ornamentation. We provide evidence that although Euestheria brodieana...

Data from: Low fossilization potential of keratin protein revealed by experimental taphonomy

Evan T. Saitta, Chris Rogers, Richard A. Brooker, Geoffrey D. Abbott, Sumit Kumar, Shane S. O'Reilly, Paul Donohoe, Suryendu Dutta, Roger E. Summons & Jakob Vinther
Recent studies have suggested the presence of keratin in fossils dating back to the Mesozoic. However, ultrastructural studies revealing exposed melanosomes in many fossil keratinous tissues suggest that keratin should rarely, if ever, be preserved. In this study, keratin's stability through diagenesis was tested using microbial decay and maturation experiments on various keratinous structures. The residues were analysed using pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and compared to unpublished feather and hair fossils and published fresh and fossil...

Data from: Cultural evolution of military camouflage

Laszlo Talas, Roland J. Baddeley & Innes C. Cuthill
While one has evolved and the other been consciously created, animal and military camouflage are expected to show many similar design principles. Using a unique database of calibrated photographs of camouflage uniform patterns, processed using texture and colour analysis methods from computer vision, we show that the parallels with biology are deeper than design for effective concealment. Using two case studies we show that, like many animal colour patterns, military camouflage can serve multiple functions....

Data from: Neutralizing misinformation through inoculation: exposing misleading argumentation techniques reduces their influence

John Cook, Ullrich Ecker, Ullrich K.H. Lewandowsky, Stephan Lewandowsky & Ullrich K. H. Ecker
Misinformation can undermine a well-functioning democracy. For example, public misconceptions about climate change can lead to lowered acceptance of the reality of climate change and lowered support for mitigation policies. This study experimentally explored the impact of misinformation about climate change and tested several pre-emptive interventions designed to reduce the influence of misinformation. We found that false-balance media coverage (giving contrarian views equal voice with climate scientists) lowered perceived consensus overall, although the effect was...

Data from: Analysis of morphological variability in the clam shrimp Eosestheria middendorfii (Crustacea, Spinicaudata) from the Lower Cretaceous of China, and its implications for spinicaudatan taxonomy

Manja Hethke, Franz T. Fürsich, Jacob D. Morton & Baoyu Jiang
Unresolved taxonomic issues regarding spinicaudatans, clam shrimps that formed the most abundant faunal element in the lacustrine Barremian to Aptian Yixian Formation, have hampered palaeoecological and evolutionary interpretations of this key fossil group. Here, we analyse morphological variability in East Asian clam-shrimp taxa by quantifying: (1) size and shape; and (2) ornamental features (radial lirae distances). Intergeneric variability was examined using 51 specimens of various East Asian Mesozoic taxa, 16 of which were chosen for...

Data from: State-dependent judgement bias in Drosophila: evidence for evolutionarily primitive affective processes

Amanda Deakin, Michael Mendl, William J. Browne, Elizabeth S. Paul & James J. L. Hodge
Affective states influence decision-making under ambiguity in humans and other animals. Individuals in a negative state tend to interpret ambiguous cues more negatively than individuals in a positive state. We demonstrate that the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, also exhibits state-dependent changes in cue interpretation. Drosophila were trained on a Go/Go task to approach a positive (P) odour associated with a sugar reward and actively avoid a negative (N) odour associated with shock. Trained flies were...

Data from: Why does noise reduce response to alarm calls? Experimental assessment of masking, distraction and greater vigilance in wild birds

You Zhou, Andrew N. Radford & Robert D. Magrath
1. Environmental noise from anthropogenic and other sources affects many aspects of animal ecology and behaviour, including acoustic communication. Acoustic masking is often assumed in field studies to be the cause of compromised communication in noise, but other mechanisms could have similar effects. 2. We tested experimentally how background noise disrupted the response to conspecific alarm calls in wild superb fairy-wrens, Malurus cyaneus, assessing the effects of acoustic masking, distraction and changes in vigilance. We...

Data from: Phenology of farmland floral resources reveals seasonal gaps in nectar availability for bumblebees

Thomas P. Timberlake, Ian P. Vaughan & Jane Memmott
Floral resources are known to be important in regulating wild pollinator populations and are therefore an important component of agri‐environment and restoration schemes which aim to support pollinators and their associated services. However, the phenology of floral resources is often overlooked in these schemes – a factor which may be limiting their success. Our study characterises and quantifies the phenology of nectar resources at the whole‐farm scale on replicate farms in Southwestern UK throughout the...

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