• Issue
    Volume 86, Issue 5
    983-1281
    September 2017

IN FOCUS

Free Access

Stay-at-home strategy brings fitness benefits to migrants

  • Pages: 983-986
  • First Published: 10 August 2017
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Variation in migratory behaviour can be an important driver of differences in individual fitness across populations. Two studies in this issue examine how reproductive success varies in relation to migratory strategy, revealing how shorter migration (or even residence) can confer fitness benefits in migratory birds, mediated by earlier breeding initiation relative to individuals that travel further afield.

COMMENTARY

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Advancing research on animal-transported subsidies by integrating animal movement and ecosystem modelling

  • Pages: 987-997
  • First Published: 12 June 2017
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We synthesize relevant literature on active subsidies and movement ecology in order to propose a concept to predict active subsidy spatial distributions. We discuss innovative techniques to facilitate the integration of animal movement and ecosystem data.

EVOLUTIONARY ECOLOGY

Open Access

An age-dependent fitness cost of migration? Old trans-Saharan migrating spoonbills breed later than those staying in Europe, and late breeders have lower recruitment

  • Pages: 998-1009
  • First Published: 25 May 2017
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This study examines reproductive performance in relation to age and sex of spoonbills with contrasting migration strategies. Long-distance migrants bred later than short-distance migrants, being most pronounced in males and older birds. As later breeders had lower recruitment, these findings suggest an age- and sex-specific cost of long-distance migration.

Open Access

Reproductive performance of resident and migrant males, females and pairs in a partially migratory bird

  • Pages: 1010-1021
  • First Published: 14 May 2017
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The authors use breeding observations and winter resightings of a partially migratory European shag population to show that residents hatch broods earlier and fledge more chicks than migrants, and importantly that overall reproductive performance is strongly related to the combination of migratory strategies within breeding pairs.

Open Access

Contrasting drivers of reproductive ageing in albatrosses

  • Pages: 1022-1032
  • First Published: 12 June 2017
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The authors use 40 years of longitudinal data on three species of albatross breeding at Bird Island, South Georgia, to examine age-related variation in reproductive performance. They decompose population-level ageing patterns to explore within- and between-individual drivers of variation and consider these in light of the life-history differences among the species.

Free Access

Individual versus pseudo-repeatability in behaviour: Lessons from translocation experiments in a wild insect

  • Pages: 1033-1043
  • First Published: 08 May 2017
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Repeatability, a key parameter when estimating individuality in ecological and evolutionary research, can be misestimated in wild studies because of environmental bias. The authors experimentally show that environmental bias is present in their model species depending on study design: great care should be applied in interpretation of the data collected from the wild.

Free Access

The role of rare morph advantage and conspicuousness in the stable gold-dark colour polymorphism of a crater lake Midas cichlid fish

  • Pages: 1044-1053
  • First Published: 14 May 2017
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How colour polymorphisms are maintained in the wild is an open question. Differential predation upon morphs is often proposed as a mechanism. Conducting field experiments with a polychromatic cichlid fish, the authors show that predation risk depends on coloration and its interaction with prey size, habitat use and predator type.

CLIMATE ECOLOGY

Open Access

An Arctic predator–prey system in flux: climate change impacts on coastal space use by polar bears and ringed seals

  • Pages: 1054-1064
  • First Published: 17 April 2017
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This paper reports how the movement and space use of coastal polar bears in Svalbard, Norway (as well as how the predator-prey relationship between polar bears and their primary prey ringed seals) has been impacted by sea-ice declines. It also highlights the effects these changes have had on the wider ecosystem.

POPULATION ECOLOGY

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Time since disturbance affects colonization dynamics in a metapopulation

  • Pages: 1065-1073
  • First Published: 08 May 2017
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This field study investigates the effects of fire on a metapopulation of herbivorous beetles at two scales: within and between habitat patches. The authors find that characteristics of both recently disturbed “focal” and neighbouring “source” patches influence post-disturbance recolonization and suggest that such variation in colonization rates should be incorporated into existing metapopulation theory.

Free Access

Conspecific and not performance-based attraction on immigrants drives colony growth in a waterbird

  • Pages: 1074-1081
  • First Published: 14 May 2017
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The authors show that immigration, but not local recruitment, can drive the growth of a recently established waterbird colony. They also bring evidence for conspecific attraction as a factor affecting settlement decision of immigrants. The results support the need of including immigration in population analysis, using suitable analytical approaches.

Free Access

Estimating demographic contributions to effective population size in an age-structured wild population experiencing environmental and demographic stochasticity

  • Pages: 1082-1093
  • First Published: 24 May 2017
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Effective population size (Ne) is a central concept in conservation and evolutionary ecology but estimation remains challenging, particularly for populations experiencing environmental and demographic stochasticity. The authors used life-history data to estimate individual reproductive value and Ne for red-billed choughs, thereby accounting for stochasticity and identifying key demographic classes influencing Ne. Photo Credit: Gordon Yates (www.gordon-yates.com).

Free Access

Effects of breeder turnover and harvest on group composition and recruitment in a social carnivore

  • Pages: 1094-1101
  • First Published: 27 May 2017
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Breeder turnover can influence group size, composition and recruitment. Hypothetically, human harvest may further accelerate breeder turnover. The authors found breeder turnover led to shifts in group composition that were quite variable and depended on the sex of the breeder lost. However, harvest did not increase the frequency of breeder turnover.

Free Access

Life histories and conservation of long-lived reptiles, an illustration with the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus)

  • Pages: 1102-1113
  • First Published: 28 June 2017
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The authors provide evidence of unique life history for long-lived reptiles, using an extensive, empirical dataset on American crocodiles to challenge the classic view of the slow–fast continuum, and calls for conservation action targeting juvenile stages.

COMMUNITY ECOLOGY

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Resource stoichiometry and availability modulate species richness and biomass of tropical litter macro-invertebrates

  • Pages: 1114-1123
  • First Published: 15 May 2017
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While effects of resource quantity, quality and other habitat parameters on consumer species richness and biomass are often studied in isolation, the authors used a standardised model averaging framework to simultaneously investigate effects on macro-invertebrate consumer communities in tropical leaf litter. Litter mass and resource stoichiometry dominated both consumer community characteristics.

Free Access

Context-dependent colonization dynamics: Regional reward contagion drives local compression in aquatic beetles

  • Pages: 1124-1135
  • First Published: 19 May 2017
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This paper incorporates complex spatially explicit processes in a diverse group of organisms into habitat selection theory and metacommunity ecology. The authors provide novel evidence of multi-scale resource-driven processes that drive patterns of species abundances and richness, which implications for community assembly and species diversity.

Free Access

Reorganization of interaction networks modulates the persistence of species in late successional stages

  • Pages: 1136-1146
  • First Published: 29 May 2017
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Capitalizing on new quantitative tools and empirical data, this work confirms earlier predictions that the reorganization of species interaction networks can act as a community-control mechanism in the late successional stage of a community.

Open Access

Influence of predation on community resilience to disease

  • Pages: 1147-1158
  • First Published: 31 July 2017
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This paper combines several extensive datasets of detailed infection data on a generalist pathogen to create a multi-host epidemiological model. The model is applicable to management and conservation scenarios and is reliable due to its basis on experimental data. Furthermore, the authors propose mathematical links between epidemiological parameters in the model which is often very difficult to characterise for multi-host pathogens. This can help in predicting outbreaks and effects of the pathogen even in novel hosts where data are unavailable.

TROPHIC INTERACTIONS

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Mechanisms and implications of a type IV functional response for short-term intake rate of dry matter in large mammalian herbivores

  • Pages: 1159-1168
  • First Published: 19 May 2017
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The processes leading to a type IV functional response of instantaneous intake rate of dry matter in mammalian herbivores are poorly understood. Here, the authors clearly identified a direct process consisting in a modification of heifers foraging behaviour by purposely reducing the volume of their bites in tall sward.

Free Access

Diverse responses of species to landscape fragmentation in a simple food chain

  • Pages: 1169-1178
  • First Published: 24 May 2017
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The authors develop a novel model to explore the separate effects of habitat loss and configurational fragmentation on tri-trophic food web dynamics. The findings reiterate the importance of the interplay between bottom-up and top-down control in trophically linked communities, and highlight the complex responses occurring in even a simple food chain.

Free Access

Carnivore carcasses are avoided by carnivores

  • Pages: 1179-1191
  • First Published: 13 June 2017
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Are all carcasses equal from the point of view of a scavenger? The authors show that the consumption of carnivore carcasses, especially at the intraspecific level (i.e., cannibalism), is largely avoided by carnivores, likely due to reduce exposure to parasitism. This means a novel coevolutionary relation between carnivores and their parasites, and suggest that carnivore and herbivore carcasses play a very different role in food webs and ecosystems.

MACROECOLOGY

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Environmental constraints on the compositional and phylogenetic beta-diversity of tropical forest snake assemblages

  • Pages: 1192-1204
  • First Published: 22 May 2017
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Altered precipitation patterns are expected under climate change but their effects on ecological communities are largely understudied. The authors show how differences in climatological regimes can change processes mediating species coexistence, proving that tropical ectothermic assemblage structure is less predictable by climate when those assemblages are facing warm and dryer conditions.

Free Access

Shallow size–density relations within mammal clades suggest greater intra-guild ecological impact of large-bodied species

  • Pages: 1205-1213
  • First Published: 24 May 2017
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Allowing phylogenetically varying body size-population density relationships substantially improves the accuracy of density estimates in mammals and suggests that the energetic equivalence rule is flawed. Importantly, the authors finding of shallow size–density relations within clades suggest greater intra-guild ecological impact of large-bodied species.

Free Access

Niche conservatism and the invasive potential of the wild boar

  • Pages: 1214-1223
  • First Published: 28 June 2017
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Wild boars are one of the world's worst invasive species, they impact native biodiversity and cause great economic losses. In this paper, the authors found that wild boar invasion does not exhibit evidence of niche evolution. Other reproductive, dietary and morphological characteristics, coupled with behavioural thermoregulation, probably explain this species’ invasive success.

BEHAVIOURAL ECOLOGY

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Flexibility in the duration of parental care: Female leopards prioritise cub survival over reproductive output

  • Pages: 1224-1234
  • First Published: 12 June 2017
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The authors use a 40-year dataset to assess the trade-offs associated with the duration of maternal care in leopards Panthera pardus. In many species, parents put their own needs before that of their offspring. Leopard mothers appear sensitive to their offspring's demands, and adjust levels of care accordingly (photo credit: Greg Seymour).

Free Access

Pulsed food resources, but not forest cover, determine lifetime reproductive success in a forest-dwelling rodent

  • Pages: 1235-1245
  • First Published: 21 June 2017
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This paper investigates separate effects of food availability and suitable forest habitat on lifetime reproductive success (LRS) on a protected forest-dwelling rodent, the Siberian flying squirrel. The authors show that mainly food availability determines LRS indirectly through longevity and fecundity in this species. Picture copyright: Henrik Lund

Free Access

Partial diel migration: A facultative migration underpinned by long-term inter-individual variation

  • Pages: 1246-1256
  • First Published: 14 June 2017
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In this paper, the authors present an incredibly rich acoustic telemetry dataset featuring more than 300,000 observations of depth use. Accordingly, they are able to partition individual variation components in diel migration behaviour, at a scale that is unprecedented. The novel findings reveal that while diel migrations occur primarily as a proximate response to environmental heterogeneity, this behaviour is underpinned by consistent individual differences that likely occur as a function of permanent environmental effects or genetic variation.

Open Access

Boldness predicts an individual's position along an exploration–exploitation foraging trade-off

  • Pages: 1257-1268
  • First Published: 24 June 2017
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The authors show that there is a trade-off between searching for food and exploiting patches and this is driven by personality in albatrosses

PHYSIOLOGICAL ECOLOGY

Free Access

Thermal physiology: A new dimension of the pace-of-life syndrome

  • Pages: 1269-1280
  • First Published: 19 June 2017
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The author's study tests the hypothesis that the pace-of-life syndrome can be extended to include a cold–hot thermal axis. By identifying physiology as the potential driver of individual variation, we can then better understand an organism's capacity to physiologically adapt to changing thermal environments within the contexts of climate change or species invasions. Alteration of the thermal regime during these processes could impose different selection pressures, thus having the potential to cause broad-scale physiological responses and ultimately population-level shifts in behaviour.