Few mammals—cetaceans, domestic cats and select bats and rodents—can send and receive vocal signals contained within the ultrasonic domain, or pure ultrasound (greater than 20 kHz). Here, we use the auditory brainstem response (ABR) method to demonstrate that a species of nocturnal primate, the Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta), has a high-frequency limit of auditory sensitivity of ca 91 kHz. We also recorded a vocalization with a dominant frequency of 70 kHz. Such values are among the highest recorded for any terrestrial mammal, and a relatively extreme example of ultrasonic communication. For Philippine tarsiers, ultrasonic vocalizations might represent a private channel of communication that subverts detection by predators, prey and competitors, enhances energetic efficiency, or improves detection against low-frequency background noise.
ultrasound; sensory ecology; bioacoustics; auditory brainstem response; evoked potential audiogram
As alarm calls indicate the presence of predators, the correct interpretation of alarm calls, including those of other species, is essential for predator avoidance. Conversely, communication calls of other species might indicate the perceived absence of a predator and hence allow a reduction in vigilance. This “eavesdropping” was demonstrated in birds and mammals, including lemur species. Interspecific communication between taxonomic groups has so far been reported in some reptiles and mammals, including three primate species. So far, neither semantic nor interspecific communication has been tested in a solitary and nocturnal lemur species. The aim of this study was to investigate if the nocturnal and solitary Sahamalaza sportive lemur, Lepilemur sahamalazensis, is able to access semantic information of sympatric species. During the day, this species faces the risk of falling prey to aerial and terrestrial predators and therefore shows high levels of vigilance. We presented alarm calls of the crested coua, the Madagascar magpie-robin and aerial, terrestrial and agitation alarm calls of the blue-eyed black lemur to 19 individual Sahamalaza sportive lemurs resting in tree holes. Songs of both bird species’ and contact calls of the blue-eyed black lemur were used as a control. After alarm calls of crested coua, Madagascar magpie-robin and aerial alarm of the blue-eyed black lemur, the lemurs scanned up and their vigilance increased significantly. After presentation of terrestrial alarm and agitation calls of the blue-eyed black lemur, the animals did not show significant changes in scanning direction or in the duration of vigilance. Sportive lemur vigilance decreased after playbacks of songs of the bird species and contact calls of blue-eyed black lemurs. Our results indicate that the Sahamalaza sportive lemur is capable of using information on predator presence as well as predator type of different sympatric species, using their referential signals to detect predators early, and that the lemurs’ reactions are based on experience and learning.
Life history variables such as the age at first reproduction and the interval between consecutive births are measures of investment in growth and reproduction in a particular population or species. As such they allow for meaningful comparisons of the speed of growth and reproduction between species and between larger taxa. Especially in primates such life history research has far reaching implications and has led for instance to the “grandmother hypothesis”. Other links have been proposed with respect to dietary adaptations: Because protein is essential for growth and one of the primary sources of protein, leaves, occurs much less seasonally than fruits, it has been predicted that folivorous primates should grow faster compared to frugivorous ones. However, when comparing folivorous Asian colobines with frugivorous Asian macaques we recently documented a longer, instead of a shorter gestation length in folivores while age at first reproduction and interbirth interval did not differ. This supports earlier findings for Malagasy lemurs in which all life history variables tested were significantly longer in folivores compared to frugivores. Wondering why these trends were not apparent sooner, we tried to reconstruct our results for Asian primates with data from four popular life history compilations. However, this attempt failed; even the basic, allometric relationship with adult female body mass that is typical for life history variables could not be recovered. This negative result hints at severe problems with data quality. Here we show that data quality can be improved significantly by standardizing the variables and by controlling for factors such as nutritional conditions or infant mortality. Ideally, in the future, revised primate life history data should be collated in a central database accessible to everybody. In the long run such an initiative should be expanded to include all mammalian species.
Social animals have to coordinate activities and collective movements to benefit from the advantages of group living. Animals in large groups maintain cohesion by self-organization processes whereas in smaller groups consensus decisions can be reached. Where consensus decisions are relevant leadership may emerge. Variation in the organization of collective movements has been linked to variation in female social tolerance among macaque species ranging from despotic to egalitarian. Here we investigated the processes underlying group movements in a wild macaque species characterized by a degree of social tolerance intermediate to previously studied congeneric species. We focused on processes before, during and after the departure of the first individual. To this end, we observed one group of wild Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus) in the Middle Atlas, Morocco using all-occurrence behaviour sampling of 199 collective movements. We found that initiators of a collective movement usually chose the direction in which more individuals displayed pre-departure behavior. Dominant individuals contributed to group movements more than subordinates, especially juveniles, measured as frequencies of successful initiations and pre-departure behaviour. Joining was determined by affiliative relationships and the number of individuals that already joined the movement (mimetism). Thus, in our study group partially shared consensus decisions mediated by selective mimetism seemed to be prevalent, overall supporting the suggestion that a species’ social style affects the organization of group movements. As only the most tolerant species show equally shared consensus decisions whereas in others the decision is partially shared with a bias to dominant individuals the type of consensus decisions seems to follow a stepwise relation. Joining order may also follow a stepwise, however opposite, relationship, because dominance only determined joining in highly despotic, but not in intermediate and tolerant species.
Animal home ranges may vary little in their size and location in the short term but nevertheless show more variability in the long term. We evaluated the degree of site fidelity of two groups of spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) over a 10- and 13-year period, respectively, in the northeastern Yucatan peninsula, Mexico. We used the Local Convex Hull method to estimate yearly home ranges and core areas (defined as the 60% probability contour) for the two groups. Home ranges varied from 7.7 to 49.6 ha and core areas varied from 3.1 to 9.2 ha. We evaluated the degree of site fidelity by quantifying the number of years in which different areas were used as either home ranges or core areas. Large tracts were used only as home ranges and only for a few years, whereas small areas were used as either core area or home range for the duration of the study. The sum of the yearly core areas coincided partially with the yearly home ranges, indicating that home ranges contain areas used intermittently. Home ranges, and especially core areas, contained a higher proportion of mature forest than the larger study site as a whole. Across years and only in one group, the size of core areas was positively correlated with the proportion of adult males in the group, while the size of home ranges was positively correlated with both the proportion of males and the number of tree species included in the diet. Our findings suggest that spider monkey home ranges are the result of a combination of long-term site fidelity and year-to-year use variation to enable exploration of new resources.
Camera trapping has greatly enhanced population monitoring of often cryptic and low abundance apex carnivores. Effectiveness of passive infrared camera trapping, and ultimately population monitoring, relies on temperature mediated differences between the animal and its ambient environment to ensure good camera detection. In ectothermic predators such as large varanid lizards, this criterion is presumed less certain. Here we evaluated the effectiveness of camera trapping to potentially monitor the population status of the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), an apex predator, using site occupancy approaches. We compared site-specific estimates of site occupancy and detection derived using camera traps and cage traps at 181 trapping locations established across six sites on four islands within Komodo National Park, Eastern Indonesia. Detection and site occupancy at each site were estimated using eight competing models that considered site-specific variation in occupancy (ψ)and varied detection probabilities (p) according to detection method, site and survey number using a single season site occupancy modelling approach. The most parsimonious model [ψ (site), p (site*survey); ω = 0.74] suggested that site occupancy estimates differed among sites. Detection probability varied as an interaction between site and survey number. Our results indicate that overall camera traps produced similar estimates of detection and site occupancy to cage traps, irrespective of being paired, or unpaired, with cage traps. Whilst one site showed some evidence detection was affected by trapping method detection was too low to produce an accurate occupancy estimate. Overall, as camera trapping is logistically more feasible it may provide, with further validation, an alternative method for evaluating long-term site occupancy patterns in Komodo dragons, and potentially other large reptiles, aiding conservation of this species.
The Malagarasi River has long been thought to be a barrier to chimpanzee movements in western Tanzania. This potential geographic boundary could affect chimpanzee ranging behavior, population connectivity and pathogen transmission, and thus has implications for conservation strategies and government policy. Indeed, based on mitochondrial DNA sequence comparisons it was recently argued that chimpanzees from communities to the north and to the south of the Malagarasi are surprisingly distantly related, suggesting that the river prevents gene flow. To investigate this, we conducted a survey along the Malagarasi River. We found a ford comprised of rocks that researchers could cross on foot. On a trail leading to this ford, we collected 13 fresh fecal samples containing chimpanzee DNA, two of which tested positive for SIVcpz. We also found chimpanzee feces within the riverbed. Taken together, this evidence suggests that the Malagarasi River is not an absolute barrier to chimpanzee movements and communities from the areas to the north and south should be considered a single population. These results have important consequences for our understanding of gene flow, disease dynamics and conservation management.
Polygynous animals are often highly dimorphic, and show large sex-differences in the degree of intra-sexual competition and aggression, which is associated with biased operational sex ratios (OSR). For socially monogamous, sexually monomorphic species, this relationship is less clear. Among mammals, pair-living has sometimes been assumed to imply equal OSR and low frequency, low intensity intra-sexual competition; even when high rates of intra-sexual competition and selection, in both sexes, have been theoretically predicted and described for various taxa. Owl monkeys are one of a few socially monogamous primates. Using long-term demographic and morphological data from 18 groups, we show that male and female owl monkeys experience intense intra-sexual competition and aggression from solitary floaters. Pair-mates are regularly replaced by intruding floaters (27 female and 23 male replacements in 149 group-years), with negative effects on the reproductive success of both partners. Individuals with only one partner during their life produced 25% more offspring per decade of tenure than those with two or more partners. The termination of the pair-bond is initiated by the floater, and sometimes has fatal consequences for the expelled adult. The existence of floaters and the sporadic, but intense aggression between them and residents suggest that it can be misleading to assume an equal OSR in socially monogamous species based solely on group composition. Instead, we suggest that sexual selection models must assume not equal, but flexible, context-specific, OSR in monogamous species.
The geographic distribution of Bornean orang-utans and its overlap with existing land-use categories (protected areas, logging and plantation concessions) is a necessary foundation to prioritize conservation planning. Based on an extensive orang-utan survey dataset and a number of environmental variables, we modelled an orang-utan distribution map. The modelled orang-utan distribution map covers 155,106 km2 (21% of Borneo's landmass) and reveals four distinct distribution areas. The most important environmental predictors are annual rainfall and land cover. The overlap of the orang-utan distribution with land-use categories reveals that only 22% of the distribution lies in protected areas, but that 29% lies in natural forest concessions. A further 19% and 6% occurs in largely undeveloped oil palm and tree plantation concessions, respectively. The remaining 24% of the orang-utan distribution range occurs outside of protected areas and outside of concessions. An estimated 49% of the orang-utan distribution will be lost if all forest outside of protected areas and logging concessions is lost. To avoid this potential decline plantation development in orang-utan habitats must be halted because it infringes on national laws of species protection. Further growth of the plantation sector should be achieved through increasing yields in existing plantations and expansion of new plantations into areas that have already been deforested. To reach this goal a large scale island-wide land-use masterplan is needed that clarifies which possible land uses and managements are allowed in the landscape and provides new standardized strategic conservation policies. Such a process should make much better use of non-market values of ecosystem services of forests such as water provision, flood control, carbon sequestration, and sources of livelihood for rural communities. Presently land use planning is more driven by vested interests and direct and immediate economic gains, rather than by approaches that take into consideration social equity and environmental sustainability.
A fundamental challenge of morphology is to identify the underlying evolutionary and developmental mechanisms leading to correlated phenotypic characters. Patterns and magnitudes of morphological integration and their association with environmental variables are essential for understanding the evolution of complex phenotypes, yet the nature of the relevant selective pressures remains poorly understood. In this study, the adaptive significance of morphological integration was evaluated through the association between feeding mechanics, ingestive behavior and craniofacial variation. Five capuchin species were examined, Cebus apella sensu stricto, Cebus libidinosus, Cebus nigritus, Cebus olivaceus and Cebus albifrons. Twenty three-dimensional landmarks were chosen to sample facial regions experiencing high strains during feeding, characteristics affecting muscular mechanical advantage and basicranial regions. Integration structure and magnitude between and within the oral and zygomatic subunits, between and within blocks maximizing modularity and within the face, the basicranium and the cranium were examined using partial-least squares, eigenvalue variance, integration indices compared inter-specifically at a common level of sampled population variance and cluster analyses. Results are consistent with previous findings reporting a relative constancy of facial and cranial correlation patterns across mammals, while covariance magnitudes vary. Results further suggest that food material properties structure integration among functionally-linked facial elements and possibly integration between the face and the basicranium. Hard-object-feeding capuchins, especially C.apella s.s., whose faces experience particularly high biomechanical loads are characterized by higher facial and cranial integration especially compared to C.albifrons, likely because morphotypes compromising feeding performance are selected against in species relying on obdurate fallback foods. This is the first study to report a link between food material properties and facial and cranial integration. Furthermore, results do not identify the consistent presence of cranial modules yielding support to suggestions that despite the distinct embryological imprints of its elements the cranium of placental mammals is not characterized by a modular architecture.
Conservation investment, particularly for charismatic and wide-ranging large mammal species, needs to be evidence-based. Despite the prevalence of this theme within the literature, examples of robust data being generated to guide conservation policy and funding decisions are rare. We present the first published case-study of tiger conservation in Indochina, from a site where an evidence-based approach has been implemented for this iconic predator and its prey. Despite the persistence of extensive areas of habitat, Indochina's tiger and ungulate prey populations are widely supposed to have precipitously declined in recent decades. The Seima Protection Forest (SPF), and broader Eastern Plains Landscape, was identified in 2000 as representing Cambodia's best hope for tiger recovery; reflected in its designation as a Global Priority Tiger Conservation Landscape. Since 2005 distance sampling, camera-trapping and detection-dog surveys have been employed to assess the recovery potential of ungulate and tiger populations in SPF. Our results show that while conservation efforts have ensured that small but regionally significant populations of larger ungulates persist, and density trends in smaller ungulates are stable, overall ungulate populations remain well below theoretical carrying capacity. Extensive field surveys failed to yield any evidence of tiger, and we contend that there is no longer a resident population within the SPF. This local extirpation is believed to be primarily attributable to two decades of intensive hunting; but importantly, prey densities are also currently below the level necessary to support a viable tiger population. Based on these results and similar findings from neighbouring sites, Eastern Cambodia does not currently constitute a Tiger Source Site nor meet the criteria of a Global Priority Tiger Landscape. However, SPF retains global importance for many other elements of biodiversity. It retains high regional importance for ungulate populations and potentially in the future for Indochinese tigers, given adequate prey and protection.
Predation shapes many fundamental aspects of ecology. Uncertainty remains, however, about whether predators can influence patterns of temporal niche construction at ecologically relevant timescales. Partitioning of time is an important mechanism by which prey avoid interactions with predators. However, the traits that control a prey organism's capacity to operate during a particular portion of the diel cycle are diverse and complex. Thus, diel prey niches are often assumed to be relatively unlikely to respond to changes in predation risk at short timescales. Here we present evidence to the contrary. We report results that suggest that the anthropogenic depletion of daytime active predators (species that are either diurnal or cathemeral) in a coral reef ecosystem is associated with rapid temporal niche expansions in a multi-species assemblage of nocturnal prey fishes. Diurnal comparisons of nocturnal prey fish abundance in predator rich and predator depleted reefs at two atolls revealed that nocturnal fish were approximately six (biomass) and eight (density) times more common during the day on predator depleted reefs. Amongst these, the prey species that likely were the most specialized for nocturnal living, and thus the most vulnerable to predation (i.e. those with greatest eye size to body length ratio), showed the strongest diurnal increases at sites where daytime active predators were rare. While we were unable to determine whether these observed increases in diurnal abundance by nocturnal prey were the result of a numerical or behavioral response, either effect could be ecologically significant. These results raise the possibility that predation may play an important role in regulating the partitioning of time by prey and that anthropogenic depletions of predators may be capable of causing rapid changes to key properties of temporal community architecture.
Despite not knowing the exact age of individuals, humans can estimate their rough age using age-related physical features. Nonhuman primates show some age-related physical features; however, the cognitive traits underlying their recognition of age class have not been revealed. Here, we tested the ability of two species of Old World monkey, Japanese macaques (JM) and Campbell's monkeys (CM), to spontaneously discriminate age classes using visual paired comparison (VPC) tasks based on the two distinct categories of infant and adult images. First, VPCs were conducted in JM subjects using conspecific JM stimuli. When analyzing the side of the first look, JM subjects significantly looked more often at novel images. Based on analyses of total looking durations, JM subjects looked at a novel infant image longer than they looked at a familiar adult image, suggesting the ability to spontaneously discriminate between the two age classes and a preference for infant over adult images. Next, VPCs were tested in CM subjects using heterospecific JM stimuli. CM subjects showed no difference in the side of their first look, but looked at infant JM images longer than they looked at adult images; the fact that CMs were totally naïve to JMs suggested that the attractiveness of infant images transcends species differences. This is the first report of visual age class recognition and a preference for infant over adult images in nonhuman primates. Our results suggest not only species-specific processing for age class recognition but also the evolutionary origins of the instinctive human perception of baby cuteness schema, proposed by the ethologist Konrad Lorenz.
Seyfarth's model assumes that female primates derive rank-related benefits from higher-ranking females in exchange for grooming. As a consequence, the model predicts females prefer high-ranking females as grooming partners and compete for the opportunity to groom them. Therefore, allogrooming is expected to be directed up the dominance hierarchy and to occur more often between females with adjacent ranks. Although data from Old World primates generally support the model, studies on the relation between grooming and dominance rank in the New World genus Cebus have found conflicting results, showing considerable variability across groups and species. In this study, we investigated the pattern of grooming in wild tufted capuchin females (Cebus apella nigritus) in Iguazú National Park, Argentina by testing both the assumption (i.e., that females gain rank-related return benefits from grooming) and predictions (i.e., that females direct grooming up the dominance hierarchy and the majority of grooming occurs between females with adjacent ranks) of Seyfarth's model. Study subjects were 9 adult females belonging to a single group. Results showed that grooming was given in return for tolerance during naturally occurring feeding, a benefit that higher-ranking females can more easily grant. Female grooming was directed up the hierarchy and was given more often to partners with similar rank. These findings provide supporting evidence for both the assumption and predictions of Seyfarth's model and represent, more generally, the first evidence of reciprocal behavioural interchanges driven by rank-related benefits in New World female primates.
The effect of moonlight and temperature on activity of slow lorises was previously little known and this knowledge might be useful for understanding many aspects of their behavioural ecology, and developing strategies to monitor and protect populations. In this study we aimed to determine if the activity of the pygmy loris (Nycticebus pygmaeus) is affected by ambient temperature and/or moonlight in a mixed deciduous forest. We radio-collared five females and five males in the Seima Protection Forest, Cambodia, in February to May, 2008 and January to March, 2009 and recorded their behaviour at 5 minutes intervals, totalling 2736 observations. We classified each observation as either inactive (sleeping or alert) or active behaviour (travel, feeding, grooming, or others). Moon luminosity (bright/dark) and ambient temperature were recorded for each observation. The response variable, activity, was binary (active or inactive), and a logit link function was used. Ambient temperature alone did not significantly affect mean activity. Although mean activity was significantly affected by moonlight, the interaction between moonlight and temperature was also significant: on bright nights, studied animals were increasingly more active with higher temperature; and on dark nights they were consistently active regardless of temperature. The most plausible explanation is that on bright cold nights the combined risk of being seen and attacked by predators and heat loss outweigh the benefit of active behaviours.
It is often suggested that psychosocial factors, such as stress, or one's social position, may play an important role in producing social gradients in human disease. Evidence in favour of this model of health inequalities has relied, in part, on studies of the health effects of the natural social hierarchies found among non-human primates. This study aimed to assess the strength of this evidence.
A systematic review was carried out to identify all studies of psychosocial factors and coronary artery disease (CAD) in non-human primates. We searched databases (MEDLINE, PsycInfo, EMBASE, and Primatelit from inception to November 2010) to identify experimental and observational studies of the impact of social reorganisation, social instability, and disruption of dominance hierarchies on primate CAD outcomes. We also handsearched bibliographies and examined the citations to those studies in public health articles. Fourteen studies were found which presented evidence on CAD and social status and/or psychosocial stress. These suggested that the association between social status and disease may be sex-specific: in female monkeys dominant status may be protective, with subordinate females having a greater extent of atherosclerosis. In male monkeys the reverse may be the case.
Overall, non-human primate studies present only limited evidence for an association between social status and CAD, Despite this, there is selective citation of individual non-human primate studies in reviews and commentaries relating to human disease aetiology. Such generalisation of data from monkey studies to human societies does not appear warranted.
Nature-based tourism can generate important revenue to support conservation of biodiversity. However, constant exposure to tourists and subsequent chronic activation of stress responses can produce pathological effects, including impaired cognition, growth, reproduction, and immunity in the same animals we are interested in protecting. Utilizing fecal samples (N = 53) from 2 wild habituated orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus morio) (in addition to 26 fecal samples from 4 wild unhabituated orangutans) in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, we predicted that i) fecal glucocorticoid metabolite concentrations would be elevated on the day after tourist visitation (indicative of normal stress response to exposure to tourists on the previous day) compared to samples taken before or during tourist visitation in wild, habituated orangutans, and ii) that samples collected from habituated animals would have lower fecal glucocorticoid metabolites than unhabituated animals not used for tourism. Among the habituated animals used for tourism, fecal glucocorticoid metabolite levels were significantly elevated in samples collected the day after tourist visitation (indicative of elevated cortisol production on the previous day during tourist visitation). Fecal glucocorticoid metabolite levels were also lower in the habituated animals compared to their age-matched unhabituated counterparts. We conclude that the habituated animals used for this singular ecotourism project are not chronically stressed, unlike other species/populations with documented permanent alterations in stress responses. Animal temperament, species, the presence of coping/escape mechanisms, social confounders, and variation in amount of tourism may explain differences among previous experiments. Acute alterations in glucocorticoid measures in wildlife exposed to tourism must be interpreted conservatively. While permanently altered stress responses can be detrimental, preliminary results in these wild habituated orangutans suggest that low levels of predictable disturbance can likely result in low physiological impact on these animals.
Interactions between animal behaviour and the environment are both shaping observed habitat use. Despite the importance of inter-specific interactions on the habitat use performed by individuals, most previous analyses have focused on case studies of single species. By focusing on two sympatric populations of large herbivores with contrasting body size, we went one step beyond by studying variation in home range size and identifying the factors involved in such variation, to define how habitat features such as resource heterogeneity, resource quality, and openness created by hurricane or forest managers, and constraints may influence habitat use at the individual level. We found a large variability among individual's home range size in both species, particularly in summer. Season appeared as the most important factor accounting for observed variation in home range size. Regarding habitat features, we found that (i) the proportion of area damaged by the hurricane was the only habitat component that inversely influenced roe deer home range size, (ii) this habitat type also influenced both diurnal and nocturnal red deer home range sizes, (iii) home range size of red deer during the day was inversely influenced by the biomass of their preferred plants, as were both diurnal and nocturnal core areas of the red deer home range, and (iv) we do not find any effect of resource heterogeneity on home range size in any case. Our results suggest that a particular habitat type (i.e. areas damaged by hurricane) can be used by individuals of sympatric species because it brings both protected and dietary resources. Thus, it is necessary to maintain the openness of these areas and to keep animal density quite low as observed in these hunted populations to limit competition between these sympatric populations of herbivores.
Infectious disease has recently joined poaching and habitat loss as a major threat to African apes. Both “naturally” occurring pathogens, such as Ebola and Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV), and respiratory pathogens transmitted from humans, have been confirmed as important sources of mortality in wild gorillas and chimpanzees. While awareness of the threat has increased, interventions such as vaccination and treatment remain controversial. Here we explore both the risk of disease to African apes, and the status of potential responses. Through synthesis of published data, we summarize prior disease impact on African apes. We then use a simple demographic model to illustrate the resilience of a well-known gorilla population to disease, modeled on prior documented outbreaks. We found that the predicted recovery time for this specific gorilla population from a single outbreak ranged from 5 years for a low mortality (4%) respiratory outbreak, to 131 years for an Ebola outbreak that killed 96% of the population. This shows that mortality rates comparable to those recently reported for disease outbreaks in wild populations are not sustainable. This is particularly troubling given the rising pathogen risk created by increasing habituation of wild apes for tourism, and the growth of human populations surrounding protected areas. We assess potential future disease spillover risk in terms of vaccination rates amongst humans that may come into contact with wild apes, and the availability of vaccines against potentially threatening diseases. We discuss and evaluate non-interventionist responses such as limiting tourist access to apes, community health programs, and safety, logistic, and cost issues that constrain the potential of vaccination.
Explaining species range size pattern is a central issue in biogeography and macroecology. Although several hypotheses have been proposed, the causes and processes underlying range size patterns are still not clearly understood. In this study, we documented the latitudinal mean range size patterns of terrestrial mammals in China, and evaluated whether that pattern conformed to the predictions of the Rapoport's rule several analytical methods. We also assessed the influence of the mid-domain effect (MDE) and environmental factors on the documented range size gradient.
Distributions of 515 terrestrial mammals and data on nine environmental variables were compiled. We calculated mean range size of the species in each 5° latitudinal band, and created a range size map on a 100 km×100 km quadrat system. We evaluated Rapoport's rule according to Steven's, mid-point, Pagel's and cross-species methods. The effect of the MDE was tested based on a Monte Carlo simulation and linear regression. We used stepwise generalized linear models and correlation analyses to detect the impacts of mean climate condition, climate variability, ambient energy and topography on range size. The results of the Steven's, Pagel's and cross-species methods supported Rapoport's rule, whereas the mid-point method resulted in a hump-shaped pattern. Our range size map showed that larger mean latitudinal extents emerged in the mid-latitudes. We found that the MDE explained 80.2% of the range size variation, whereas, environmental factors accounted for <30% of that variation.
Latitudinal range size pattern of terrestrial mammals in China supported Rapoport's rule, though the extent of that support was strongly influenced by methodology. The critical factor underlying the observed gradient was the MDE, and the effects of climate, energy and topography were limited. The mean climate condition hypothesis, climate variability hypothesis, ambient energy hypotheses and topographical heterogeneity hypotheses were not supported.
The total amount of native vegetation is an important property of fragmented landscapes and is known to exert a strong influence on population and metapopulation dynamics. As the relationship between habitat loss and local patch and gap characteristics is strongly non-linear, theoretical models predict that immigration rates should decrease dramatically at low levels of remaining native vegetation cover, leading to patch-area effects and the existence of species extinction thresholds across fragmented landscapes with different proportions of remaining native vegetation. Although empirical patterns of species distribution and richness give support to these models, direct measurements of immigration rates across fragmented landscapes are still lacking.
Using the Brazilian Atlantic forest marsupial Gray Slender Mouse Opossum (Marmosops incanus) as a model species and estimating demographic parameters of populations in patches situated in three landscapes differing in the total amount of remaining forest, we tested the hypotheses that patch-area effects on population density are apparent only at intermediate levels of forest cover, and that immigration rates into forest patches are defined primarily by landscape context surrounding patches. As expected, we observed a positive patch-area effect on M. incanus density only within the landscape with intermediate forest cover. Density was independent of patch size in the most forested landscape and the species was absent from the most deforested landscape. Specifically, the mean estimated numbers of immigrants into small patches were lower in the landscape with intermediate forest cover compared to the most forested landscape.
Our results reveal the crucial importance of the total amount of remaining native vegetation for species persistence in fragmented landscapes, and specifically as to the role of variable immigration rates in providing the underlying mechanism that drives both patch-area effects and species extinction thresholds.
Animals adapt their movement patterns to their environment in order to maximize their efficiency when searching for food. The Lévy walk and the Brownian walk are two types of random movement found in different species. Studies have shown that these random movements can switch from a Brownian to a Lévy walk according to the size distribution of food patches. However no study to date has analysed how characteristics such as sex, age, dominance or body mass affect the movement patterns of an individual. In this study we used the maximum likelihood method to examine the nature of the distribution of step lengths and waiting times and assessed how these distributions are influenced by the age and the sex of group members in a semi free-ranging group of ten Tonkean macaques. Individuals highly differed in their activity budget and in their movement patterns. We found an effect of age and sex of individuals on the power distribution of their step lengths and of their waiting times. The males and old individuals displayed a higher proportion of longer trajectories than females and young ones. As regards waiting times, females and old individuals displayed higher rates of long stationary periods than males and young individuals. These movement patterns resembling random walks can probably be explained by the animals moving from one location to other known locations. The power distribution of step lengths might be due to a power distribution of food patches in the enclosure while the power distribution of waiting times might be due to the power distribution of the patch sizes.
Efficient, practical and accurate estimates of population parameters are a necessary basis for effective conservation action to meet biodiversity targets. The brown hare is representative of many European farmland species: historically widespread and abundant but having undergone rapid declines as a result of agricultural intensification. As a priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, it has national targets for population increase that are part of wider national environmental indicators. Previous research has indicated that brown hare declines have been greatest in pastural landscapes and that gains might be made by focussing conservation effort there. We therefore used hares in pastural landscapes to examine how basic changes in survey methodology can affect the precision of population density estimates and related these to national targets for biodiversity conservation in the UK. Line transects for hares carried out at night resulted in higher numbers of detections, had better-fitting detection functions and provided more robust density estimates with lower effort than those during the day, due primarily to the increased probability of detection of hares at night and the nature of hare responses to the observer. Hare spring densities varied widely within a single region, with a pooled mean of 20.6 hares km−2, significantly higher than the reported national average of hares in pastures of 3.3 hares km−2. The high number of encounters allowed us to resolve hare densities at site, season and year scales. We demonstrate how survey conduct can impact on data quantity and quality with implications for setting and monitoring biodiversity targets. Our case study of the brown hare provides evidence that for wildlife species with low detectability, large scale volunteer-based monitoring programmes, either species specific or generalist, might be more successfully and efficiently carried out by a small number of trained personnel able to employ methods that maximise detectability.
Lactation is the most energy demanding part of parental care in mammals, so parent-offspring conflict arises over milk provided by the mother. In some species females commonly become pregnant shortly after parturition of previous young. This further intensifies mother-offspring conflict due to concurrent pregnancy and lactation. In equids it has been well established that pregnant females wean their foals earlier than non-pregnant ones. Intensified mother-offspring conflict was presumed to associate with pregnancy also during the period of intensive lactation, i.e., before the weaning process starts. We investigated the effect of pregnancy on suckling behaviour characteristics as indicators of mother-offspring conflict in domestic horses. Contrary to expectation, here we provide evidence of a decreased mother-offspring conflict related to pregnancy in lactating females during first two trimesters of pregnancy. Pregnant mares provided longer suckling bouts and did not reject or terminate suckling of their foals more often than non-pregnant mares. Our results suggest that pregnant mares cope with parallel investment into a nursed foal and a foetus through enhancing nursing behaviour in early stages of pregnancy before the initially low requirements of the foetus increase. They compensate their suckling foal with the perspective of its early weaning due to ongoing pregnancy.
Relatedness between group members is central to understanding the causes of animal dispersal. In many group-living mammals this can be complicated as extra-pair copulations result in offspring having varying levels of relatedness to the dominant animals, leading to a potential conflict between male and female dominants over offspring dispersal strategies. To avoid resource competition and inbreeding, dominant males might be expected to evict unrelated males and related females, whereas the reverse strategy would be expected for dominant females.
We used microsatellites and long-term data from an urban fox (Vulpes vulpes) population to compare dispersal strategies between offspring with intra- and extra-group fathers and mothers of differing social status in red foxes. Relatedness to the dominant male had no effect on dispersal in offspring of either sex, whereas there was a strong effect of relatedness to resident females on offspring dispersal independent of population density. Males with dominant mothers dispersed significantly more often than males with subordinate mothers, whereas dispersing females were significantly more likely to have subordinate mothers compared to philopatric females.
This is the first study to demonstrate that relatedness to resident females is important in juvenile dispersal in group-living mammals. Male dispersal may be driven by inbreeding avoidance, whereas female dispersal appears to be influenced by the fitness advantages associated with residing with the same-sex dominant parent. Selection pressure for paternal influence on offspring dispersal is low due to the limited costs associated with retaining unrelated males and the need for alternative inbreeding avoidance mechanisms between the dominant male and his female offspring. These findings have important implications for the evolution of dispersal and group living in social mammals, and our understanding of a key biological process.