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Biology Letters

Lauren M Harrison, Michael D Jennions, Megan L Head
Winning or losing a fight can have lasting effects on competitors. Controlling for inherent fighting ability and other factors, a history of winning often makes individuals more likely to win future contests, while the opposite is true for losers (the 'winner-loser effect'). But does the winner-loser effect also influence a male's mating success? We experimentally staged contests between male mosquitofish ( Gambusia holbrooki ) such that focal males either won or lost three successive encounters with stimulus males...
May 2018: Biology Letters
Kohei Tanaka, Darla K Zelenitsky, Junchang Lü, Christopher L DeBuhr, Laiping Yi, Songhai Jia, Fang Ding, Mengli Xia, Di Liu, Caizhi Shen, Rongjun Chen
Most birds sit on their eggs during incubation, a behaviour that likely evolved among non-avian dinosaurs. Several 'brooding' specimens of smaller species of oviraptorosaurs and troodontids reveal these non-avian theropods sat on their eggs, although little is known of incubation behaviour in larger theropod species. Here we examine egg clutches over a large body size range of oviraptorosaurs in order to understand the potential effect of body size on incubation behaviour. Eggshell porosity indicates that the eggs of all oviraptorosaurs were exposed in the nest, similar to brooding birds...
May 2018: Biology Letters
Yun Liu, Jesse Roll, Stephen Van Kooten, Xinyan Deng
The aerodynamic force on flying insects results from the vortical flow structures that vary both spatially and temporally throughout flight. Due to these complexities and the inherent difficulties in studying flying insects in a natural setting, a complete picture of the vortical flow has been difficult to obtain experimentally. In this paper, Schlieren , a widely used technique for highspeed flow visualization, was adapted to capture the vortex structures around freely flying hawkmoth ( Manduca ). Flow features such as leading-edge vortex, trailing-edge vortex, as well as the full vortex system in the wake were visualized directly...
May 2018: Biology Letters
James R Usherwood, Benjamin J H Smith
Many medium and large herbivores locomote forwards very slowly and intermittently when grazing. While the footfall order during grazing is the same as for walking, the relative fore-hind timing-phasing-is quite different. Extended periods of static stability are clearly required during grazing; however, stability requirements are insufficient to account for the timing. Aspects of relatively rapid rolling and pitching-toppling due to the resistance of the back to bending and twisting-can be included in a simplifying geometric model to explain the observation that, in grazing livestock, a step forward with a forefoot is consistently and immediately followed by a step forward from the hind; but not vice versa...
May 2018: Biology Letters
David A Gray, Scherezade Hormozi, Fritz R Libby, Randy W Cohen
Vestigial morphological traits are common and well known in a variety of taxa. Identification of vestigial genes has illustrated the potential for evolutionary reversals and the re-expression of atavistic traits. Here we induce expression of a behavioural sexual signal, male calling song, in a cricket species, Gryllus ovisopis, which lacks a functional calling song. We successfully used acetylcholine injections in the frontal space of the head of male crickets to activate cerebral command neurons for cricket calling, and we recorded calling songs with a temporal chirp pattern similar to that of G...
May 2018: Biology Letters
Ruth E Baker, Jose-Maria Peña, Jayaratnam Jayamohan, Antoine Jérusalem
Ninety per cent of the world's data have been generated in the last 5 years ( Machine learning: the power and promise of computers that learn by example Report no. DES4702. Issued April 2017. Royal Society). A small fraction of these data is collected with the aim of validating specific hypotheses. These studies are led by the development of mechanistic models focused on the causality of input-output relationships. However, the vast majority is aimed at supporting statistical or correlation studies that bypass the need for causality and focus exclusively on prediction...
May 2018: Biology Letters
Marc Macias-Fauria, Eric Post
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
May 2018: Biology Letters
Marjolaine Rousselle, Maeva Mollion, Benoit Nabholz, Thomas Bataillon, Nicolas Galtier
Estimating the proportion of adaptive substitutions ( α ) is of primary importance to uncover the determinants of adaptation in comparative genomic studies. Several methods have been proposed to estimate α from patterns polymorphism and divergence in coding sequences. However, estimators of α can be biased when the underlying assumptions are not met. Here we focus on a potential source of bias, i.e. variation through time in the long-term population size ( N ) of the considered species. We show via simulations that ancient demographic fluctuations can generate severe overestimations of α , and this is irrespective of the recent population history...
May 2018: Biology Letters
Misha Leong, Robert R Dunn, Michelle D Trautwein
The ecological dynamics of cities are influenced not only by geophysical and biological factors, but also by aspects of human society. In cities around the world, a pattern of higher biodiversity in affluent neighbourhoods has been termed 'the luxury effect'. The luxury effect has been found globally regarding plant diversity and canopy or vegetative cover. Fewer studies have considered the luxury effect and animals, yet it has been recognized in the distributions of birds, bats, lizards and indoor arthropods...
May 2018: Biology Letters
Niels M Schmidt, Jesper B Mosbacher, Bernhard Eitzinger, Eero J Vesterinen, Tomas Roslin
Mammal herbivores may exert strong impacts on plant communities, and are often key drivers of vegetation composition and diversity. We tested whether such mammal-induced changes to a high Arctic plant community are reflected in the structure of other trophic levels. Specifically, we tested whether substantial vegetation changes following the experimental exclusion of muskoxen ( Ovibos moschatus ) altered the composition of the arthropod community and the predator-prey interactions therein. Overall, we found no impact of muskox exclusion on the arthropod community: the diversity and abundance of both arthropod predators (spiders) and of their prey were unaffected by muskox presence, and so was the qualitative and quantitative structure of predator-prey interactions...
May 2018: Biology Letters
Andrew K Davis, Hayley Schroeder, Ian Yeager, Jana Pearce
Developed countries around the world are criss-crossed with vast networks of roadways. Conservationists have recently focused attention on roadsides as possible locations for establishing pollinator habitat, with the monarch butterfly ( Danaus plexippus ) featuring prominently in such discussions. However, roadsides are inherently loud, which could negatively affect developing larvae. We conducted a series of experiments testing if simulated highway noise stresses monarch larvae, which we gauged by non-destructive monitoring of heart rates...
May 2018: Biology Letters
Angel M Segura, Florencia Sarthou, Carla Kruk
The thermal response of maximum growth rate in morphology-based functional groups (MBFG) of freshwater phytoplankton is analysed. Contrasting an exponential Boltzmann-Arrhenius with a unimodal model, three main features were evaluated: (i) the activation energy of the rise ( E r ), (ii) the presence of a break in the thermal response and (iii) the activation energy of the fall ( E f ). The whole dataset ( N = 563) showed an exponential increase ( E r ∼ 0.5), a break around 24°C and no temperature dependence after the breakpoint ( E f = 0)...
May 2018: Biology Letters
Marta A Skowron Volponi, Donald James McLean, Paolo Volponi, Robert Dudley
Clearwing moths are known for their physical resemblance to hymenopterans, but the extent of their behavioural mimicry is unknown. We describe zigzag flights of sesiid bee mimics that are nearly indistinguishable from those of sympatric bees, whereas sesiid wasp mimics display faster, straighter flights more akin to those of wasps. In particular, the flight of the sesiids Heterosphecia pahangensis , Aschistophleps argentifasciata and Pyrophleps cruentata resembles both Tetragonilla collina and T. atripes stingless bees and, to a lesser extent, dwarf honeybees Apis andreniformis , whereas the sesiid Pyrophleps sp...
May 2018: Biology Letters
Pedro Aurélio Costa Lima Pequeno, Elizabeth Franklin, Roy A Norton, José W de Morais
In most ectotherms, adult body size decreases with warming, the so-called 'temperature-size rule' (TSR). However, the extent to which the strength of the TSR varies naturally within species is little known, and the significance of this phenomenon for tropical biota has been largely neglected. Here, we show that the adult body mass of the soil mite Rostrozetes ovulum declined as maximum temperature increased over seasons in a central Amazonian rainforest. Further, per cent decline per °C was fourfold higher in riparian than in upland forests, possibly reflecting differences in oxygen and/or resource supply...
May 2018: Biology Letters
Nedim Tüzün, Lin Op de Beeck, Ranalison Oliarinony, Marie Van Dievel, Robby Stoks
Laboratory studies indicate global warming may cause changes in locomotor performance directly relevant for fitness and dispersal. Yet, this remains to be tested under seminatural settings, and the connection with warming-induced alterations in the underlying traits has been rarely studied. In an outdoor mesocosm experiment with the damselfly Ischnura elegans , 4°C warming in the larval stage decreased the flight muscle mass, which correlated with a lower flight endurance. Warming did not affect body mass, size or wing morphology...
May 2018: Biology Letters
Luke C Strotz, Marianna Simões, Matthew G Girard, Laura Breitkreuz, Julien Kimmig, Bruce S Lieberman
The Red Queen hypothesis (RQH) is both familiar and murky, with a scope and range that has broadened beyond its original focus. Although originally developed in the palaeontological arena, it now encompasses many evolutionary theories that champion biotic interactions as significant mechanisms for evolutionary change. As such it de-emphasizes the important role of abiotic drivers in evolution, even though such a role is frequently posited to be pivotal. Concomitant with this shift in focus, several studies challenged the validity of the RQH and downplayed its propriety...
May 2018: Biology Letters
Anja Guenther
Life-history trade-offs are predicted to contribute to the maintenance of personality variation. Individuals with 'fast' lifestyles should develop faster, reproduce earlier and exhibit more risky behaviours. Evidence for such predicted links, however, remains equivocal. Here, I test how growth rate, timing of maturation, litter size and maternal effort correlate with exploration, boldness, fearlessness, docility and escape latency. I found several links that were predicted by recent theory while others were against theoretical predictions, e...
April 2018: Biology Letters
Elena Frederika Kappers, Christiaan de Vries, Anneke Alberda, Wolfgang Forstmeier, Christiaan Both, Bart Kempenaers
Balancing selection is a major mechanism to maintain colour polymorphisms over evolutionary time. In common buzzards, variation in plumage colour was reportedly maintained by a heterozygote advantage: heterozygote intermediates had higher fitness than homozygote light and dark morphs. Here, we challenge one of the basic premises of the heterozygote advantage hypothesis, by testing whether plumage colour variation in common buzzards follows a one-locus two-allele inheritance model. Using a long-term population study with 202 families, we show that colour variation in buzzards is highly heritable...
April 2018: Biology Letters
Adele Bordoni, Leonardo Dapporto, Irene Tatini, Martina Celli, Manuel Bercigli, Serena Ressurrección Barrufet, Brunella Perito, Stefano Turillazzi
Trans-generational immunization is defined as the transmission of an enhanced resistance to a pathogen from parents to offspring. By using the host-parasite system of the ant Crematogaster scutellaris and the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae , we describe this phenomenon for the first time in ants. We exposed four groups of hibernating queens to different treatments (i) a non-lethal dose of live conidiospores in Triton, (ii) a dose of heat-killed conidiospores in Triton, (iii) a control Triton solution, and (iv) a naive control...
April 2018: Biology Letters
J F Duque, W Leichner, H Ahmann, J R Stevens
Many species exhibit prosocial behaviour, in which one individual's actions benefit another individual, often without an immediate benefit to itself. The neuropeptide oxytocin is an important hormonal mechanism influencing prosociality in mammals, but it is unclear whether the avian homologue mesotocin plays a similar functional role in birds. Here, we experimentally tested prosociality in pinyon jays ( Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus ), a highly social corvid species that spontaneously shares food with others. First, we measured prosocial preferences in a prosocial choice task with two different pay-off distributions: Prosocial trials delivered food to both the subject and either an empty cage or a partner bird, whereas Altruism trials delivered food only to an empty cage or a partner bird (none to subject)...
April 2018: Biology Letters
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