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Biology Letters

Oona M Lönnstedt, Maud C O Ferrari, Douglas P Chivers
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
November 14, 2018: Biology Letters
Elizabeth A Murray, Silas Bossert, Bryan N Danforth
Pollinivory-the consumption of pollen rather than arthropod prey-is a defining feature of bees (Anthophila; the flower lovers). In virtually all bee species, larvae consume a diet composed of pollen mixed with nectar or floral oils. Bees arose from within a group of solitary, carnivorous, apoid wasps in the Early to Mid-Cretaceous, coincident with the rapid rise of flowering plants. It is assumed that the switch from carnivory to pollen-feeding was a key innovation that led to the rapid diversification of bees, but this has never been examined empirically...
November 14, 2018: Biology Letters
Phillip P A Staniczenko, K Blake Suttle, Richard G Pearson
Understanding the factors that determine species' geographical distributions is important for addressing a wide range of biological questions, including where species will be able to maintain populations following environmental change. New methods for modelling species distributions include the effects of biotic interactions alongside more commonly used abiotic variables such as temperature and precipitation; however, it is not clear which types of interspecific relationship contribute to shaping species distributions and should therefore be prioritized in models...
November 14, 2018: Biology Letters
Cecilia Nilsson, Kyle G Horton, Adriaan M Dokter, Benjamin M Van Doren, Andrew Farnsworth
Light cues elicit strong responses from nearly all forms of life, perhaps most notably as circadian rhythms entrained by periods of daylight and darkness. Atypical periods of darkness, like solar eclipses, provide rare opportunities to study biological responses to light cues. By using a continental scale radar network, we investigated responses of flying animals to the total solar eclipse of 21 August 2017. We quantified the number of biological targets in the atmosphere at 143 weather radar stations across the continental United States to investigate whether the decrease in light and temperature at an atypical time would initiate a response like that observed at sunset, when activity in the atmosphere usually increases...
November 14, 2018: Biology Letters
Wei Guan, Yanmei Xiong, Baowen Liao
Soil inorganic carbon (IC) is neglected in most blue carbon studies despite the globally significant role of the calcium carbonate cycle in ocean C balance and climate change. We sampled soils to 1 m depth from seven mangrove reserves in Hainan Island, China. Only 45 out of 509 samples were rich in IC (greater than 10 mg cm-3 ). Most of the IC-rich samples were found at the outer part of Qinglan Bay, which is adjacent to the largest coral reef zone of Hainan Island. Soil IC concentration ranged from 0 to 66 g kg-1 (or 0-67 mg cm-3 ), accounting for 0-92% of total C...
November 14, 2018: Biology Letters
Carolin C Wendling, Henry Goehlich, Olivia Roth
With their ability to integrate into the bacterial chromosome and thereby transfer virulence or drug-resistance genes across bacterial species, temperate phage play a key role in bacterial evolution. Thus, it is paramount to understand who infects whom to be able to predict the movement of DNA across the prokaryotic world and ultimately the emergence of novel (drug-resistant) pathogens. We empirically investigated lytic infection patterns among Vibrio spp. from distinct phylogenetic clades and their derived temperate phage...
November 14, 2018: Biology Letters
David P L Toews, Henry M Streby, Lowell Burket, Scott A Taylor
Hybridization between divergent taxa can provide insight into the breakdown of characters used in mate choice, as well as reproductive compatibility across deep evolutionary timescales. Hybridization can also occur more frequently in declining populations, as there is a smaller pool of conspecific mates from which to choose. Here, we report an unusual combination of factors that has resulted in a rare, three-species hybridization event among two genera of warblers, one of which is experiencing significant population declines...
November 7, 2018: Biology Letters
Christopher R Biggs, Susan K Lowerre-Barbieri, Brad Erisman
Spatial and temporal patterns of spawning activity are important measures of resilience in fishes that directly link environmental disturbances with reproductive success. We acoustically monitored spawning in spotted seatrout ( Cynoscion nebulosus ) from April through September 2017 at 15 sites near Port Aransas, Texas, which coincided with the landfall of a category 4 hurricane (Harvey) on 25 August. Spawning sounds were recorded every day of the study across all sites and were also confirmed during the hurricane at two sites located within the eye of the storm...
November 7, 2018: Biology Letters
Angelika Ziegelbecker, Florian Richter, Kristina M Sefc
Selection arising from social competition over non-mating resources, i.e. resources that do not directly and immediately affect mating success, offers a powerful alternative to sexual selection to explain the evolution of conspicuous ornaments, particularly in females. Here, we address the hypothesis that competition associated with the territoriality exhibited by both males and females in the cichlid fish Tropheus selects for the display of a conspicuous colour pattern in both sexes. The investigated pattern consists of a vertical carotenoid-coloured bar on a black body...
November 7, 2018: Biology Letters
David J Siveter, Derek E G Briggs, Derek J Siveter, Mark D Sutton
Ostracod crustaceans are diverse and ubiquitous in aqueous environments today but relatively few known species have gills. Ostracods are the most abundant fossil arthropods but examples of soft-part preservation, especially of gills, are exceptionally rare. A new ostracod, Spiricopia aurita (Myodocopa), from the marine Silurian Herefordshire Lagerstätte (430 Mya), UK, preserves appendages, lateral eyes and gills. The respiratory system includes five pairs of gill lamellae with hypobranchial and epibranchial canals that conveyed haemolymph...
November 7, 2018: Biology Letters
Varun Joshi, Manoj Srinivasan
Why did the London Millennium Bridge shake when there was a big enough crowd walking on it? What features of human walking dynamics when coupled to a shaky surface produce such shaking? Here, we use a simple biped model capable of walking stably in three dimensions to examine these questions. We simulate multiple such stable bipeds walking simultaneously on a bridge, showing that they naturally synchronize under certain conditions, but that synchronization is not required to shake the bridge. Under such shaking conditions, the simulated walkers increase their step widths and expend more metabolic energy than when the bridge does not shake...
October 31, 2018: Biology Letters
Rafael M Almeida, Barbara A Han, Alexander J Reisinger, Catherine Kagemann, Emma J Rosi
In the face of mosquito-borne disease outbreaks, effective mosquito control is a primary goal for public health. Insect repellents, containing active compounds such as DEET and picaridin, are a first defence against biting insects. Owing to widespread use and incomplete sewage treatment, these compounds are frequently detected in surface waters, but their effects on aquatic taxa such as mosquito larvae or their naturally occurring aquatic predators are poorly understood. We investigated the effects of environmentally realistic concentrations of commercial products containing DEET and picaridin on survivorship of mosquito larvae, and their potential indirect effects on survival of larval salamanders, a major predator of mosquito larvae...
October 31, 2018: Biology Letters
Suzanne Currie, Glenn J Tattersall
Social context can impact how animals respond to changes in their physical environment. We used an aggressive, amphibious fish, the mangrove rivulus ( Kryptolebias marmoratus ) with environmentally determined sociality to test the hypothesis that social interactions would push fish to their thermal limits. We capitalized on the propensity of rivulus to emerge from warming water and demonstrated that social stimuli, produced by their reflection, increased emersion threshold without changing the critical thermal maximum, effectively diminishing thermal safety margins...
October 31, 2018: Biology Letters
Alexander Pérez, Bruno G Libardoni, Christian J Sanders
There is growing interest in the capacity of mangrove ecosystems to sequester and store 'blue carbon'. Here, we provide a synthesis of 66 dated sediment cores with previously calculated carbon accumulation rates in mangrove ecosystems to assess the effects of environmental and anthropogenic pressures. Conserved sedimentary environments were found to be within the range of the current global average for sediment accretion (approx. 2.5 mm yr-1 ) and carbon accumulation (approx. 160 g m-2 yr-1 ). Moreover, similar sediment accretion and carbon accumulation rates were found between mixed and monotypic mangrove forests, however higher mean and median values were noted from within the forest as compared to adjacent areas such as mudflats...
October 31, 2018: Biology Letters
Vignesh Venkateswaran, Anusha L K Kumble, Renee M Borges
Communities in which species are obligately associated with a single host are ideal to test adaptive responses of community traits to host-imposed selection because such communities are often highly insulated. Fig species provide oviposition resources to co-evolved fig-wasp communities. Dispersing fig-wasp communities move from one host plant to another for oviposition. We compared the spatial dispersion of two fig species and the dispersal capacities of their multitrophic wasp communities. Dispersal capacities were assessed by measuring vital dispersal correlates, namely tethered flight durations, somatic lipid contents and resting metabolic rates...
October 31, 2018: Biology Letters
Leila Fouda, Jessica E Wingfield, Amber D Fandel, Aran Garrod, Kristin B Hodge, Aaron N Rice, Helen Bailey
Ocean noise varies spatially and temporally and is driven by natural and anthropogenic processes. Increased ambient noise levels can cause signal masking and communication impairment, affecting fitness and recruitment success. However, the effects of increasing ambient noise levels on marine species, such as marine mammals that primarily rely on sound for communication, are not well understood. We investigated the effects of concurrent ambient noise levels on social whistle calls produced by bottlenose dolphins ( Tursiops truncatus ) in the western North Atlantic...
October 24, 2018: Biology Letters
Pierre Taillardat, Daniel A Friess, Massimo Lupascu
Carbon fixed by vegetated coastal ecosystems (blue carbon) can mitigate anthropogenic CO2 emissions, though its effectiveness differs with the spatial scale of interest. A literature review compiling carbon sequestration rates within key ecosystems confirms that blue carbon ecosystems are the most efficient natural carbon sinks at the plot scale, though some overlooked biogeochemical processes may lead to overestimation. Moreover, the limited spatial extent of coastal habitats minimizes their potential at the global scale, only buffering 0...
October 24, 2018: Biology Letters
Isabel Damas-Moreira, Daniel Oliveira, Joana L Santos, Julia L Riley, D James Harris, Martin J Whiting
Species that are able to solve novel problems through social learning from either a conspecific or a heterospecific may gain a significant advantage in new environments. We tested the ability of a highly successful invasive species, the Italian wall lizard Podarcis sicula , to solve a novel foraging task when social information was available from both a conspecific and an unfamiliar heterospecific ( Podarcis bocagei ). We found that Italian wall lizards that had access to social information made fewer errors, regardless of whether the demonstrator was a conspecific or a heterospecific, compared to Italian wall lizards that individually learnt the same task...
October 17, 2018: Biology Letters
Charlotte R Nitschke, Mathew Hourston, Vinay Udyawer, Kate L Sanders
Comparative phylogeography can inform many macroevolutionary questions, such as whether species diversification is limited by rates of geographical population differentiation. We examined the link between population genetic structure and species diversification in the fully aquatic sea snakes (Hydrophiinae) by comparing mitochondrial phylogeography across northern Australia in 16 species from two closely related clades that show contrasting diversification dynamics. Contrary to expectations from theory and several empirical studies, our results show that, at the geographical scale studied here, rates of population differentiation and speciation are not positively linked in sea snakes...
October 17, 2018: Biology Letters
Penghui Sun, Natasha Mhatre, Andrew C Mason, Jayne E Yack
Insects have evolved a diversity of hearing organs specialized to detect sounds critical for survival. We report on a unique structure on butterfly wings that enhances hearing. The Satyrini are a diverse group of butterflies occurring throughout the world. One of their distinguishing features is a conspicuous swelling of their forewing vein, but the functional significance of this structure is unknown. Here, we show that wing vein inflations function in hearing. Using the common wood nymph, Cercyonis pegala , as a model, we show that (i) these butterflies have ears on their forewings that are most sensitive to low frequency sounds (less than 5 kHz); (ii) inflated wing veins are directly connected to the ears; and (iii) when vein inflations are ablated, sensitivity to low frequency sounds is impaired...
October 17, 2018: Biology Letters
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