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Biology Letters

Rana Al-Jaibachi, Ross N Cuthbert, Amanda Callaghan
Microplastics (MPs) are ubiquitous pollutants found in marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems. With so many MPs in aquatic systems, it is inevitable that they will be ingested by aquatic organisms and be transferred up through the food chain. However, to date, no study has considered whether MPs can be transmitted by means of ontogenic transference, i.e. between life stages that use different habitats. Here, we determine whether fluorescent polystyrene beads could transfer between Culex mosquito life stages and, particularly, could move into the flying adult stage...
September 19, 2018: Biology Letters
Emmett M Johnston, Lewis G Halsey, Nicholas L Payne, Alison A Kock, Gil Iosilevskii, Bren Whelan, Jonathan D R Houghton
The fast swimming and associated breaching behaviour of endothermic mackerel sharks is well suited to the capture of agile prey. In contrast, the observed but rarely documented breaching capability of basking sharks is incongruous to their famously languid lifestyle as filter-feeding planktivores. Indeed, by analysing video footage and an animal-instrumented data logger, we found that basking sharks exhibit the same vertical velocity (approx. 5 m s-1 ) during breach events as the famously powerful predatory great white shark...
September 12, 2018: Biology Letters
Christopher T Richards, Enrico A Eberhard, Amber J Collings
A striking feature among jumping frogs is a sharp pelvic bend about the ilio-sacral (IS) joint, unique to anurans. Although this sagittal plane hinge has been interpreted as crucial for the evolution of jumping, its mechanical contribution has not been quantified. Using a model based on Kassina maculata and animated with kinematics from prior experiments, we solved the ground contact dynamics in MuJoCo enabling inverse dynamics without force plate measurements. We altered the magnitude, speed and direction of IS extension (leaving remaining kinematics unaltered) to determine its role in jumping...
September 12, 2018: Biology Letters
Craig R McClain, Clifton Nunnally, Abbie S A Chapman, James P Barry
Mechanisms leading to variation in diversity over energetic gradients continue to challenge ecologists. Changes in diversity may reflect the environmental capacity to support species' coexistence through increased niche packing or niche space expansion. Current ecological theory predicts that increases in energy may lead to both scenarios but not their relative strengths. We use experimental deep-sea, wood-fall communities, where energy supply can be controlled, to test for the importance of niche expansion and packing in functional space over an energetic gradient...
September 12, 2018: Biology Letters
F B Oberhauser, T J Czaczkes
To make sensible decisions, both humans and other animals must compare the available options against a reference point-either other options or previous experience. Options of higher quality than the reference are considered good value. However, many perceptible attributes of options are value-neutral, such as flower scent. Nonetheless, such value-neutral differences may be part of an expectation. Can a mismatch between the expectation and experience of value-neutral attributes affect perceived value? Consumer psychology theory and results suggest it can...
September 2018: Biology Letters
C R Marshall, S Finnegan, E C Clites, P A Holroyd, N Bonuso, C Cortez, E Davis, G P Dietl, P S Druckenmiller, R C Eng, C Garcia, K Estes-Smargiassi, A Hendy, K A Hollis, H Little, E A Nesbitt, P Roopnarine, L Skibinski, J Vendetti, L D White
Large-scale analysis of the fossil record requires aggregation of palaeontological data from individual fossil localities. Prior to computers, these synoptic datasets were compiled by hand, a laborious undertaking that took years of effort and forced palaeontologists to make difficult choices about what types of data to tabulate. The advent of desktop computers ushered in palaeontology's first digital revolution-online literature-based databases, such as the Paleobiology Database (PBDB). However, the published literature represents only a small proportion of the palaeontological data housed in museum collections...
September 2018: Biology Letters
Annika W Walters, Caitlin P Mandeville, Frank J Rahel
Species vulnerability to climate change involves an interaction between the magnitude of change (exposure) and a species's tolerance to change. We evaluated fish species vulnerability to predicted stream temperature increases by examining warming tolerances across the Wyoming fish assemblage. Warming tolerance combines stream temperature with a thermal tolerance metric to estimate how much warming beyond current conditions a species can withstand. Brown trout, rainbow trout and burbot had the lowest warming tolerances and the highest proportion of currently occupied sites that will become unsuitable under predicted temperature increases...
September 2018: Biology Letters
Diego Sustaita, Margaret A Rubega, Susan M Farabaugh
Shrikes use their beaks for procuring, dispatching and processing their arthropod and vertebrate prey. However, it is not clear how the raptor-like bill of this predatory songbird functions to kill vertebrate prey that may weigh more than the shrike itself. In this paper, using high-speed videography, we observed that upon seizing prey with their beaks, shrikes performed rapid (6-17 Hz; 49-71 rad s-1 ) axial head-rolling movements. These movements accelerated the bodies of their prey about their own necks at g -forces of approximately 6 g , and may be sufficient to cause pathological damage to the cervical vertebrae and spinal cord...
September 2018: Biology Letters
M Bossley, A Steiner, P Brakes, J Shrimpton, C Foster, L Rendell
Social learning of adaptive behaviour is widespread in animal populations, but the spread of arbitrary behaviours is less common. In this paper, we describe the rise and fall of a behaviour called tail walking, where a dolphin forces the majority of its body vertically out of the water and maintains the position by vigourously pumping its tail, in a community of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins ( Tursiops aduncus ). The behaviour was introduced into the wild following the rehabilitation of a wild female individual, Billie, who was temporarily co-housed with trained dolphins in a dolphinarium...
September 2018: Biology Letters
J Boone Kauffman, Angelo F Bernardino, Tiago O Ferreira, Leila R Giovannoni, Luiz Eduardo de O Gomes, Danilo Jefferson Romero, Laís Coutinho Zayas Jimenez, Francisco Ruiz
In addition to the largest existing expanse of tropical forests, the Brazilian Amazon has among the largest area of mangroves in the world. While recognized as important global carbon sinks that, when disturbed, are significant sources of greenhouse gases, no studies have quantified the carbon stocks of these vast mangrove forests. In this paper, we quantified total ecosystem carbon stocks of mangroves and salt marshes east of the mouth of the Amazon River, Brazil. Mean ecosystem carbon stocks of the salt marshes were 257 Mg C ha-1 while those of mangroves ranged from 361 to 746 Mg C ha-1 Although aboveground mass was high relative to many other mangrove forests (145 Mg C ha-1 ), soil carbon stocks were relatively low (340 Mg C ha-1 )...
September 2018: Biology Letters
J P DeLong, G Bachman, J P Gibert, T M Luhring, K L Montooth, A Neyer, B Reed
The sensitivity of metabolic rate to temperature constrains the climate in which ectotherms can function, yet the temperature dependence of metabolic rate may evolve in response to biotic and abiotic factors. We compiled a dataset on the temperature dependence of metabolic rate for heterotrophic ectotherms from studies that show a peak in metabolic rate at an optimal temperature (i.e. that describe the thermal performance curve for metabolic rate). We found that peak metabolic rates were lower in aquatic than terrestrial habitats and increased with body mass, latitude and the optimal temperature...
August 2018: Biology Letters
Mduduzi Ndlovu, Antón Pérez-Rodríguez, Emma Devereux, Miranda Thomas, Alfredo Colina, Linford Molaba
In semi-arid protected areas, artificial waterholes ensure that water is locally available to animals for extended periods. However, artificial waterholes may limit animal movement, which contributes towards habitat deterioration. Challenges of artificial water provisioning worsen in the presence of ecosystem engineers like African elephants Loxodonta africana , capable of transforming environments. Camera traps were used to monitor elephant visitation at 21 artificial waterholes in the Kruger National Park, South Africa...
August 2018: Biology Letters
Morgane Nouvian, Nina Deisig, Judith Reinhard, Martin Giurfa
Honeybees maintain their colony throughout the cold winters, a strategy that enables them to make the most of early spring flowers. During this period, their activity is mostly limited to thermoregulation, while foraging and brood rearing are stopped. Less is known about seasonal changes to the essential task of defending the colony against intruders, which is regulated by the sting alarm pheromone. We studied the stinging responsiveness of winter bees exposed to this scent or a control (solvent). Surprisingly, winter bees, while maintaining their responsiveness in control conditions, did not increase stinging frequency in response to the alarm pheromone...
August 2018: Biology Letters
Yin Wen, De-Wen Qin, Bing Leng, Yun-Fei Zhu, Kun-Fang Cao
Plants are moving poleward and upward in response to climate warming. However, such movements lag behind the expanding warming front for many reasons, including the impediment of plant movement caused by unusual cold events. In this study, we measured the maximum photochemical efficiency of photosystem II ( F v /F m ) in 101 warm-climate angiosperm species to assess their cold tolerance at the end of a severe chilling period of 49 days in a southern subtropical region (Nanning) in China. We found that 36 of the 101 species suffered from chilling-induced physiological injury, with predawn F v /F m values of less than 0...
August 2018: Biology Letters
Alison MacPherson, Li Yun, Tania S Barrera, Aneil F Agrawal, Howard D Rundle
Mate competition provides the opportunity for sexual selection which often acts strongly on males, but also the opportunity for sexual conflict that can alter natural selection on females. Recent attention has focused on the potential of sexual conflict to weaken selection on females if male sexual attention, and hence harm, is disproportionately directed towards high- over low-quality females, thereby reducing the fitness difference between these females. However, sexual conflict could instead strengthen selection on females if low-quality females are more sensitive to male harm than high-quality females, thereby magnifying fitness differences between them...
August 2018: Biology Letters
Rachel M Germain, Margaret M Mayfield, Benjamin Gilbert
'Filtering', or the reduction in species diversity that occurs because not all species can persist in all locations, is thought to unfold hierarchically, controlled by the environment at large scales and competition at small scales. However, the ecological effects of competition and the environment are not independent, and observational approaches preclude investigation into their interplay. We use a demographic approach with 30 plant species to experimentally test: (i) the effect of competition on species persistence in two soil moisture environments, and (ii) the effect of environmental conditions on mechanisms underlying competitive coexistence...
August 2018: Biology Letters
Doko-Miles J Thorburn, Robert J Knell, Jonathan M Parrett
All Lepidoptera produce two sperm types: normal, nucleated 'eupyrene' sperm and anucleate 'apyrene' sperm. One hypothesis for the evolution of apyrene sperm suggests that they act to reduce female remating rate. Apyrene sperm require less resources to produce than do eupyrene sperm, and could delay remating by females by acting as a 'cheap filler', packing the spermatheca and thereby reducing receptivity. This would reduce the risk of sperm competition, giving a potential adaptive advantage to the male producing these sperm...
August 2018: Biology Letters
I A Kozeretska, V I Shulha, S V Serga, A I Rozhok, O V Protsenko, N C Lau
The Drosophila melanogaster P-transposable element is an example of mobile DNA transferred horizontally and known to have spread globally over the last 50-60 years. In Drosophila , the P-element causes a syndrome known as 'P-M hybrid dysgenesis' that obstructs normal ovary development in the female progeny of susceptible populations. Despite extensive research, the stability and global population dynamics of P-M dysgenic phenotypes remain poorly understood. Here, we report a recent and rapid transition in the P-M status of D...
August 2018: Biology Letters
Angela Pauliny, Emily Miller, Nicky Rollings, Erik Wapstra, Donald Blomqvist, Chris R Friesen, Mats Olsson
Standardized swim-up trials are used in in vitro fertilization clinics to select particularly motile spermatozoa in order to increase the probability of a successful fertilization. Such trials demonstrate that sperm with longer telomeres have higher motility and lower levels of DNA damage. Regardless of whether sperm motility, and successful swim-up to fertilization sites, is a direct or correlational effect of telomere length or DNA damage, covariation between telomere length and sperm performance predicts a relationship between telomere length and probability of paternity in sperm competition, a prediction that for ethical reasons cannot be tested on humans...
August 2018: Biology Letters
Bernard J Crespi
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
August 2018: Biology Letters
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