Browsing by Subject "PREY"

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  • Vesterinen, Eero J.; Kaunisto, Kari M.; Lilley, Thomas M. (2020)
    We report a detection of a surprising similarity in the diet of predators across distant phyla. Though just a first glimpse into the subject, our discovery contradicts traditional aspects of biology, as the earliest notions in ecology have linked the most severe competition of resources with evolutionary relatedness. We argue that our finding deserves more research, and propose a plan to reveal more information on the current biodiversity loss around the world. While doing so, we expand the recently proposed conservation roadmaps into a parallel study of global interaction networks.
  • Lehikoinen, Aleksi (2011)
    Predation affects life history traits of nearly all organisms and the population consequences of predator avoidance are often larger than predation itself. Climate change has been shown to cause phenological changes. These changes are not necessarily similar between species and may cause mismatches between prey and predator. Eurasian sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus, the main predator of passerines, has advanced its autumn phenology by about ten days in 30 years due to climate change. However, we do not know if sparrowhawk migrate earlier in response to earlier migration by its prey or if earlier sparrowhawk migration results in changes to predation risk on its prey. By using the median departure date of 41 passerine species I was able to show that early migrating passerines tend to advance, and late migrating species delay their departure, but none of the species have advanced their departure times as much as the sparrowhawk. This has lead to a situation of increased predation risk on early migrating long-distance migrants (LDM) and decreased the overlap of migration season with later departing short-distance migrants (SDM). Findings highlight the growing list of problems of declining LDM populations caused by climate change. On the other hand it seems that the autumn migration may become safer for SDM whose populations are growing. Results demonstrate that passerines show very conservative response in autumn phenology to climate change, and thus phenological mismatches caused by global warming are not necessarily increasing towards the higher trophic levels.
  • Tolvanen, Jere; Pakanen, Veli-Matti; Valkama, Jari; Tornberg, Risto (2017)
    Capsule: Mark-recapture data suggest low apparent survival and sex- and population-specific site fidelity and territory turnover in adult Northern Goshawks Accipiter gentilis breeding in northern Europe.Aims: To understand how species cope with global environmental change requires knowledge of variation in population demographic rates, especially from populations close to the species' northern range limit and from keystone species such as raptors. We analyse apparent survival and breeding dispersal propensity of adult Northern Goshawks breeding in northern Europe.Methods: We used long-term mark-recapture data from two populations in Finland, northern Europe, and Cormack-Jolly-Seber models and binomial generalized linear models to investigate sex- and population-specific variation in apparent survival, territory turnover and site fidelity.Results: We report low apparent survival (53-72%) of breeding adult Goshawks. Breeding dispersal propensity was higher in females than males, especially in northern Finland, contrasting with previous studies that suggest high site fidelity in both sexes.Conclusion: Low apparent survival in females may be mainly due to permanent emigration outside the study areas, whereas in males the survival rate may truly be low. Both demographic aspects may be driven by the combination of sex-specific roles related to breeding and difficult environmental conditions prevailing in northern latitudes during the non-breeding season.
  • Kikuchi, David W.; Waldron, Samuel J.; Valkonen, Janne K.; Dobler, Susanne; Mappes, Johanna (2020)
    Mullerian mimicry is a classic example of adaptation, yet Muller's original theory does not account for the diversity often observed in mimicry rings. Here, we aimed to assess how well classical Mullerian mimicry can account for the colour polymorphism found in chemically defended Oreina leaf beetles by using field data and laboratory assays of predator behaviour. We also evaluated the hypothesis that thermoregulation can explain diversity between Oreina mimicry rings. We found that frequencies of each colour morph were positively correlated among species, a critical prediction of Mullerian mimicry. Predators learned to associate colour with chemical defences. Learned avoidance of the green morph of one species protected green morphs of another species. Avoidance of blue morphs was completely generalized to green morphs, but surprisingly, avoidance of green morphs was less generalized to blue morphs. This asymmetrical generalization should favour green morphs: indeed, green morphs persist in blue communities, whereas blue morphs are entirely excluded from green communities. We did not find a correlation between elevation and coloration, rejecting thermoregulation as an explanation for diversity between mimicry rings. Biased predation could explain within-community diversity in warning coloration, providing a solution to a long-standing puzzle. We propose testable hypotheses for why asymmetric generalization occurs, and how predators maintain the predominance of blue morphs in a community, despite asymmetric generalization.
  • Mattila, Anniina L. K.; Jiggins, Chris D.; Saastamoinen, Marjo (2022)
    Aposematic animals advertise their toxicity or unpalatability with bright warning coloration. However, acquiring and maintaining chemical defenses can be energetically costly, and consequent associations with other important traits could shape chemical defense evolution. Here, we have tested whether chemical defenses are involved in energetic trade-offs with other traits, or whether the levels of chemical defenses are condition dependent, by studying associations between biosynthesized cyanogenic toxicity and a suite of key life-history and fitness traits in a Heliconius butterfly under a controlled laboratory setting. Heliconius butterflies are well known for the diversity of their warning color patterns and widespread mimicry and can both sequester the cyanogenic glucosides of their Passiflora host plants and biosynthesize these toxins de novo. We find energetically costly life-history traits to be either unassociated or to show a general positive association with biosynthesized cyanogenic toxicity. More toxic individuals developed faster and had higher mass as adults and a tendency for increased lifespan and fecundity. These results thus indicate that toxicity level of adult butterflies may be dependent on individual condition, influenced by genetic background or earlier conditions, with maternal effects as one strong candidate mechanism. Additionally, toxicity was higher in older individuals, consistent with previous studies indicating accumulation of toxins with age. As toxicity level at death was independent of lifespan, cyanogenic glucoside compounds may have been recycled to release resources relevant for longevity in these long-living butterflies. Understanding the origins and maintenance of variation in defenses is necessary in building a more complete picture of factors shaping the evolution of aposematic and mimetic systems.
  • Lever, D.; Rush, L.V.; Thorogood, R.; Gotanda, K. M. (2022)
    Urbanization is rapidly changing ecological niches. On the inhabited Galapagos Islands, Darwin's finches consume human-introduced foods preferentially; however, it remains unclear why. Here, we presented pastry with flavour profiles typical of human foods (oily, salty and sweet) to small ground finches (Geospiza fuliginosa) and medium ground finches (Geospiza fortis) to test if latent taste preferences might drive the selection of human foods. If human food flavours were consumed more than a neutral or bitter control only at sites with human foods, then we predicted tastes were acquired after urbanization; however, if no site differences were found then this would indicate latent taste preferences. Contrary to both predictions, we found little evidence that human food flavours were preferred compared with control flavours at any site. Instead, finches showed a weak aversion to oily foods, but only at remote (no human foods present) sites. This was further supported by behavioural responses, with beak-wiping occurring more often at remote sites after finches tasted flavours associated with human foods. Our results suggest, therefore, that while Darwin's finches regularly exposed to human foods might have acquired a tolerance to human food flavours, latent taste preferences are unlikely to have played a major role in their dietary response to increased urbanization.
  • Kahilainen, Kimmo K.; Thomas, Stephen M.; Nystedt, Elina K. M.; Keva, Ossi; Malinen, Tommi; Hayden, Brian (2017)
    Resource polymorphism, whereby ancestral trophic generalists undergo divergence into multiple specialist morphs, is common in salmonid fish populations inhabiting subarctic lakes. However, the extent to which such resource specialization into the three principal lake habitats (littoral, profundal, and pelagic) affects patterns of contaminant bioaccumulation remains largely unexplored. We assessed total mercury concentrations (THg) of European whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus (L)) and their invertebrate prey in relation to potential explanatory variables across 6 subarctic lakes, of which three are inhabited by polymorphic (comprised of four morphs) and three by monomorphic populations. Among invertebrate prey, the highest THg concentrations were observed in profundal benthic macroinvertebrates, followed by pelagic zooplankton, with concentrations lowest in littoral benthic macroinvertebrates in both lake types. Broadly similar patterns were apparent in whitefish in polymorphic systems, where average age-corrected THg concentrations and bioaccumulation rates were the highest in pelagic morphs, intermediate in the profundal morph, and the lowest in the littoral morph. In monomorphic systems, age-corrected THg concentrations were generally lower, and showed pronounced lake-specific variation. In the polymorphic systems, we found significant relationships between whitefish muscle tissue THg concentration and gill raker count, resource use, lipid content and maximum length, whilst no such relationships were apparent in the monomorphic systems. Across all polymorphic lakes, the major variables explaining THg in whitefish were gill raker count and age, whereas in monomorphic systems, the factors were lake-specific. Whitefish resource polymorphism across the three main lake habitats therefore appears to have profound impacts on THg concentration and bioaccumulation rate. This highlights the importance of recognizing such intraspecific diversity in both future scientific studies and mercury monitoring programs. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
  • Penteriani, Vincenzo; Delgado, Maria del Mar; Campioni, Letizia; Lourenço , Rui (2010)
  • Winters, Anne E.; Lommi, Jenna; Kirvesoja, Jimi; Nokelainen, Ossi; Mappes, Johanna (2021)
    Aposematic organisms warn predators of their unprofitability using a combination of defenses, including visual warning signals, startling sounds, noxious odors, or aversive tastes. Using multiple lines of defense can help prey avoid predators by stimulating multiple senses and/or by acting at different stages of predation. We tested the efficacy of three lines of defense (color, smell, taste) during the predation sequence of aposematic wood tiger moths (Arctia plantaginis) using blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) predators. Moths with two hindwing phenotypes (genotypes: WW/Wy = white, yy = yellow) were manipulated to have defense fluid with aversive smell (methoxypyrazines), body tissues with aversive taste (pyrrolizidine alkaloids) or both. In early predation stages, moth color and smell had additive effects on bird approach latency and dropping the prey, with the strongest effect for moths of the white morph with defense fluids. Pyrrolizidine alkaloid sequestration was detrimental in early attack stages, suggesting a trade-off between pyrrolizidine alkaloid sequestration and investment in other defenses. In addition, pyrrolizidine alkaloid taste alone did not deter bird predators. Birds could only effectively discriminate toxic moths from non-toxic moths when neck fluids containing methoxypyrazines were present, at which point they abandoned attack at the consumption stage. As a result, moths of the white morph with an aversive methoxypyrazine smell and moths in the treatment with both chemical defenses had the greatest chance of survival. We suggest that methoxypyrazines act as context setting signals for warning colors and as attention alerting or "go-slow" signals for distasteful toxins, thereby mediating the relationship between warning signal and toxicity. Furthermore, we found that moths that were heterozygous for hindwing coloration had more effective defense fluids compared to other genotypes in terms of delaying approach and reducing the latency to drop the moth, suggesting a genetic link between coloration and defense that could help to explain the color polymorphism. Conclusively, these results indicate that color, smell, and taste constitute a multimodal warning signal that impedes predator attack and improves prey survival. This work highlights the importance of understanding the separate roles of color, smell and taste through the predation sequence and also within-species variation in chemical defenses.
  • Hedlund, Johanna; Ehrnsten, Eva; Hayward, Christina; Lehmann, Philipp; Hayward, Alex (2020)
    Tropical America is currently experiencing the establishment of a new apex insect predator, the Paleotropical dragonfly Hemianax ephippiger (Odonata: Aeshnidae). H. ephippiger is migratory and is suggested to have colonised the eastern Neotropics by chance Trans-Atlantic displacement. We report the discovery of H. ephippiger at three new locations in the Caribbean, the islands of Bonaire, Isla de Coche (Venezuela), and Martinique, and we review its reported distribution across the Neotropics. We discuss the establishment of H. ephippiger as a new apex insect predator in the Americas, both in terms of ecological implications and the possible provision of ecosystem services. We also provide an additional new species record for Bonaire, Pantala hymenaea (Odonata: Libellulidae).
  • Pekkarinen, Antti; Tahvonen, Olli; Kumpula, Jouko (2020)
    Conflicts often arise when large predators and free-ranging livestock share a common area. Various compensation schemes arc used to attempt solving these conflicts, but the costs of predation to suffering stakeholders arc often unknown. Semi-domesticated reindeer husbandry and large carnivores form one such system, where conflicts between predator conservation and the traditional livelihood are common. We apply an age- and sex-structured reindeer-lichen model to examine the effects of predation on reindeer management. Based on the previous studies we specify age- and sex-class-specific mortalities due to various predators, and study optimal reindeer husbandry under predation pressure and the costs of predation. We show that the costs of predation highly depend on the age-class-specific killing rates of reindeer by various predator species, but not on interest rate or pasture conditions. Regarding species that are more likely to kill adult reindeer in addition to calves, the total predation costs are clearly higher than the net slaughtering value of the predated animals. The decrease in steady-state yearly net income is highest for the gray wolf and lower for other predator species. Adapting to predation pressure includes increasing the size of the reindeer population in winter and changing the slaughtering age of males towards young adults, thus reducing the importance of calf harvesting. This result contrasts with the previous results from stage-structured models that do not fully include time lags related to long-living ungulate species. The costs of predation appear to be much higher in an ex post system than in a territorial compensation system, as in an cx post system herders have not adapted to the predation pressure and must search for the predated reindeer to gain compensations. Our results suggest that co-existence of a viable gray wolf population and profitable reindeer husbandry in the same area is not possible in most cases.
  • Jokinen, Maarit; Hanski, Ilpo; Numminen, Elina; Valkama, Jari; Selonen, Vesa (2019)
    Species distribution models (SDMs) can be used to predict species occurrence and to seek insight into the factors behind observed spatial patterns in occurrence, and thus can be a valuable tool in species conservation. In this study, we used MaxEnt software to explain the occurrence of a protected forest-dwelling species, the Siberian flying squirrel. We produce occurrence maps covering the main distribution area for the species in the European Union. Using an exceptionally extensive presence-absence dataset collected with a standardized method, we evaluated the relative role of predation pressure, climate, and amount of habitat affecting flying squirrel occurrence. We found that regional variation in mean winter temperature had relatively large predictive power for flying squirrel occurrence. In addition, the regional abundance of flying squirrels was partly explained by differences in predation pressure. The results also support the conclusion that areas with older forests and nearby agricultural areas are optimal for the species. Our study shows that multiple factors affect the species' occurrence in large spatial scales. We also conclude that climate is having a large effect on species occurrence, and thus the changing climate has to be taken into account in conservation planning. Our results help conservation managers in targeting surveys and protection measures on various spatial scales, and decision makers in focusing on the factors that drive the species' occurrence. Our results also indicate that we would need additional tools and measures in the EU for achieving a favourable conservation status of those species that occur in commercial forests.
  • Örmälä-Odegrip, Anni-Maria; Ojala, Ville; Hiltunen, Teppo; Zhang, Ji; Bamford, Jaana K. H.; Laakso, Jouni (2015)
    Background: Consumer-resource interactions constitute one of the most common types of interspecific antagonistic interaction. In natural communities, complex species interactions are likely to affect the outcomes of reciprocal co-evolution between consumers and their resource species. Individuals face multiple enemies simultaneously, and consequently they need to adapt to several different types of enemy pressures. In this study, we assessed how protist predation affects the susceptibility of bacterial populations to infection by viral parasites, and whether there is an associated cost of defence on the competitive ability of the bacteria. As a study system we used Serratia marcescens and its lytic bacteriophage, along with two bacteriovorous protists with distinct feeding modes: Tetrahymena thermophila (particle feeder) and Acanthamoeba castellanii (surface feeder). The results were further confirmed with another study system with Pseudomonas and Tetrahymena thermophila. Results: We found that selection by protist predators lowered the susceptibility to infections by lytic phages in Serratia and Pseudomonas. In Serratia, concurrent selection by phages and protists led to lowered susceptibility to phage infections and this effect was independent from whether the bacteria shared a co-evolutionary history with the phage population or not. Bacteria that had evolved with phages were overall more susceptible to phage infection (compared to bacteria with history with multiple enemies) but they were less vulnerable to the phages they had co-evolved with than ancestral phages. Selection by bacterial enemies was costly in general and was seen as a lowered fitness in absence of phages, measured as a biomass yield. Conclusions: Our results show the significance of multiple species interactions on pairwise consumer-resource interaction, and suggest potential overlap in defending against predatory and parasitic enemies in microbial consumer-resource communities. Ultimately, our results could have larger scale effects on eco-evolutionary community dynamics.
  • Gordon, Swanne P.; Burdfield-Steel, Emily; Kirvesoja, Jimi; Mappes, Riitta Johanna (2021)
    Polymorphic warning signals in aposematic systems are enigmatic because predator learning should favor the most common form, creating positive frequency-dependent survival. However, many populations exhibit variation in warning signals. There are various selective mechanisms that can counter positive frequency-dependent selection and lead to temporal or spatial warning signal diversification. Examining these mechanisms and their effects requires first confirming whether the most common morphs are favored at both local and regional scales. Empirical examples of this are uncommon and often include potentially confounding factors, such as a lack of knowledge of predator identity and behavior. We tested how bird behavior influences the survival of three coexisting morphs of the aposematic wood tiger moth Arctia plantaginis offered to a sympatric predator (great tit Parus major) at different frequencies. We found that although positive frequency-dependent selection is present, its strength is affected by predator characteristics and varying prey profitability. These results highlight the need to understand predator foraging in natural communities with variable prey defenses in order to better examine how behavioral interactions shape evolutionary outcomes.
  • McLeod, Anne; Leroux, Shawn J.; Gravel, Dominique; Chu, Cindy; Cirtwill, Alyssa R.; Fortin, Marie-Josee; Galiana, Nuria; Poisot, Timothee; Wood, Spencer A. (2021)
    Collecting well-resolved empirical trophic networks requires significant time, money and expertise, yet we are still lacking knowledge on how sampling effort and bias impact the estimation of network structure. Filling this gap is a critical first step towards creating accurate representations of ecological networks and for teasing apart the impact of sampling compared to ecological and evolutionary processes that are known to create spatio-temporal variation in network structure. We use a well-sampled spatial dataset of lake food webs to examine how sample effort influences network structure. Specifically, we predict asymptotic network properties (ANPs) for our dataset by comparing lake-specific network metrics with increasing sampling effort. We then contrast three sampling strategies - random, smallest lake to largest lake or largest lake to smallest lake - to assess which strategy best captures the regional metaweb (i.e. network of all potential interactions) network properties. We demonstrate metric-specific relationships between sample effort and network metrics, often diverging from the ANPs. For example, low sample effort can contribute to much lower and poorer estimates of closeness centralization, as compared to approximations of modularity with similar sample efforts. In fact, many network metrics (e.g. connectance) have a quadratic relationship with sample effort indicating a sampling 'sweet spot', which represents optimal sample effort for a close approximation of the ANP. Further, we find that sampling larger lakes followed by smaller lakes is a more optimal sampling strategy for capturing metaweb properties in this lentic ecosystem. Overall, we provide clear ways to better understand the impacts of sampling bias in food-web studies which may be particularly critical given the rapid increase in studies comparing food webs across space and time.
  • Ekblad, Camilla; Eulaers, Igor; Schulz, Ralf; Stjernberg, Torsten; Søndergaard, Jens; Zubrod, Jochen; Laaksonen, Toni (2021)
    Human-induced mercury (Hg) contamination is of global concern and its effects on wildlife remain of high concern, especially in environmental hotspots such as inland aquatic ecosystems. Mercury biomagnifies through the food web resulting in high exposure in apex predators, such as the white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), making them excellent sentinel species for environmental Hg contamination. An expanding population of white-tailed eagles is inhabiting a sparsely populated inland area in Lapland, northern Finland, mainly around two large reservoirs flooded 50 years ago. As previous preliminary work revealed elevated Hg levels in this population, we measured Hg exposure along with dietary proxies (delta C-13 and delta N-15) in body feathers collected from white-tailed eagle nestlings in this area between 2007 and 2018. Mercury concentrations were investigated in relation to territory characteristics, proximity to the reservoirs and dietary ecology as potential driving factors of Hg contamination. Mercury concentrations in the nestlings (4.97-31.02 mu g g(-1) dw) were elevated, compared to earlier reported values in nestlings from the Finnish Baltic coast, and exceeded normal background levels (40.00 mu g g(-1)). The main drivers of Hg contamination were trophic position (proxied by delta N-15), the dietary proportion of the predatory fish pike (Esox Lucius), and the vicinity to the Porttipahta reservoir. We also identified a potential evolutionary trap, as increased intake of the preferred prey, pike, increases exposure. All in all, we present results for poorly understood freshwater lake environments and show that more efforts should be dedicated to further unravel potentially complex pathways of Hg exposure to wildlife.
  • Gurarie, Eliezer; Bracis, Chloe; Brilliantova, Angelina; Kojola, Ilpo; Suutarinen, Johanna; Ovaskainen, Otso; Potluri, Sriya; Fagan, William F. (2022)
    The ability of wild animals to navigate and survive in complex and dynamic environments depends on their ability to store relevant information and place it in a spatial context. Despite the centrality of spatial memory, and given our increasing ability to observe animal movements in the wild, it is perhaps surprising how difficult it is to demonstrate spatial memory empirically. We present a cognitive analysis of movements of several wolves (Canis lupus) in Finland during a summer period of intensive hunting and den-centered pup-rearing. We tracked several wolves in the field by visiting nearly all GPS locations outside the den, allowing us to identify the species, location and timing of nearly all prey killed. We then developed a model that assigns a spatially explicit value based on memory of predation success and territorial marking. The framework allows for estimation of multiple cognitive parameters, including temporal and spatial scales of memory. For most wolves, fitted memory-based models outperformed null models by 20 to 50% at predicting locations where wolves chose to forage. However, there was a high amount of individual variability among wolves in strength and even direction of responses to experiences. Some wolves tended to return to locations with recent predation success-following a strategy of foraging site fidelity-while others appeared to prefer a site switching strategy. These differences are possibly explained by variability in pack sizes, numbers of pups, and features of the territories. Our analysis points toward concrete strategies for incorporating spatial memory in the study of animal movements while providing nuanced insights into the behavioral strategies of individual predators.
  • Vesterinen, Eero Juhani; Puisto, Anna; Blomberg, Anna; Lilley, Thomas Mikael (2018)
    Differences in diet can explain resource partitioning in apparently similar, sympatric species. Here, we analyzed 1,252 fecal droppings from five species (Eptesicus nilssonii, Myotis brandtii, M. daubentonii, M. mystacinus, and Plecotus auritus) to reveal their dietary niches using fecal DNA metabarcoding. We identified nearly 550 prey species in 13 arthropod orders. Two main orders (Diptera and Lepidoptera) formed the majority of the diet for all species, constituting roughly 80%–90% of the diet. All five species had different dietary assemblages. We also found significant differences in the size of prey species between the bat species. Our results on diet composition remain mostly unchanged when using either read counts as a proxy for quantitative diet or presence–absence data, indicating a strong biological pattern. We conclude that although bats share major components in their ecology (nocturnal life style, insectivory, and echolocation), species differ in feeding behavior, suggesting bats may have distinctive evolutionary strategies. Diet analysis helps illuminate life history traits of various species, adding to sparse ecological knowledge, which can be utilized in conservation planning.
  • Cai, Yuhua; Geritz, Stefanus (2021)
    To better understand the environmental factors and ecological processes underlying the evolution of the irreversible transition from a free-swimming state to an immobile sessile state as seen in many aquatic invertebrates, we study the adaptive dynamics of the settling rate of a hypothetical microorganism onto the wall of a chemostat. The two states, floating or settled, differ in their nutrient ingestion, reproduction and death rate. We consider three different settling mechanisms involving competition for space on the wall: (i) purely exploitative competition where free-swimming individuals settle in vacant space only, (ii) mixed exploitative and interference competition where individuals attempt to settle in any place but fail and die if the space is already occupied, and (iii) mixed exploitative and interference competition, but now settling in occupied space is successful and the former occupant dies. In the simplified environment of the chemostat, the input concentration of nutrients and the dilution rate of the tank are the main environmental control variables. Using the theory of adaptive dynamics, we find that the settling mechanisms and environmental control variables have qualitatively different effects on the evolution of the settling rate in terms of the direction of evolution as well as on species diversity. In the case of purely exploitative competition a small change in the settings of the environmental control variables can lead to an abrupt reversal of the direction of evolution, while in the case of mixed exploitative and interference competition the effect is gradual. For all three settling mechanisms, periodic fluctuations in the nutrient input open the possibility of evolutionary branching leading to the long-term coexistence of an intermediate and an infinitely high settling rates (in the case of low-frequency fluctuations), and an intermediate and a zero settling rates (in the case of high-frequency fluctuations). (C) 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.