4,014 research outputs found

    Long-term energy capture and the effects of optimizing wind turbine operating strategies

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    Methods of increasing energy capture without affecting the turbine design were investigated. The emphasis was on optimizing the wind turbine operating strategy. The operating strategy embodies the startup and shutdown algorithm as well as the algorithm for determining when to yaw (rotate) the axis of the turbine more directly into the wind. Using data collected at a number of sites, the time-dependent simulation of a MOD-2 wind turbine using various, site-dependent operating strategies provided evidence that site-specific fine tuning can produce significant increases in long-term energy capture as well as reduce the number of start-stop cycles and yawing maneuvers, which may result in reduced fatigue and subsequent maintenance

    Spatial Dynamics of Alternative Reproductive Strategies: The Role of Nieghbors

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    In territorial species, the reproductive success of a male is dependent on the quality of his territory. One important component of territory quality is spatial location. High-quality territories not only should be located in areas of high food abundance and low predation, but also should be located in areas that offer optimal amounts of social interaction. Such optima might be different for individuals according to their sex, dominance, or genotype. We studied territory quality (size, vegetation structure, and placement) in a socially monogamous, polymorphic passerine, the White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis), in order to determine how spatial attributes contribute to selection intensity on two genotypes. In this species, plumage (white and tan), behavior, and life-history characteristics have a genetic basis and are correlated with the presence or absence of a chromosomal inversion. Using remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), we found that the territories of white and tan males do not differ in size or vegetation structure, suggesting that these factors are not of primary importance to males when deciding where to establish a territory. Instead, we suggest that the placement of white and tan territories depends on the number of neighbors (particularly, white male neighbors). Tan males settle in low-density, neighbor-restrictive habitats where intruder pressure from white males seeking extra-pair copulations is reduced. In contrast, white males tend to settle in high-density areas where the probability of encountering neighboring fertile females is greatest. This segregation has led to intraspecific niche partitioning in the two disassortative pair types so that each male morph can best exploit its respective reproductive strategies. These factors may, in turn, contribute to the maintenance of this unusual mating system and, ultimately, the stability of the polymorphism in this species. Similar forces may be operating in other species without distinct morphological markers; we suggest that researchers keep social factors in mind when examining habitat selection

    Multiple Signaling Functions Of Song In A Polymorphic Species With Alternative Reproductive Strategies

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    Vocal traits can be sexually selected to reflect male quality, but may also evolve to serve additional signaling functions. We used a long-term dataset to examine the signaling potential of song in dimorphic white-throated sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis). We investigated whether song conveys multifaceted information about the vocalizing individual, including fitness, species identity, individual identity, and morph. We also evaluated whether song traits correlate differently with fitness in the two morphs, as the more promiscuous strategy of white, relative to tan, morph males might impose stronger sexual selection. Males with high song rates achieved higher lifetime reproductive success, and this pattern was driven by white morph males. In addition, males that sang songs with many notes survived longer, but this pattern was less robust. Thus, song traits reflect differences in fitness and may more strongly affect fitness in the white morph. Song frequency was unrelated to fitness, body size, or morph, but was individual specific and could signal individual identity. Songs of the two morphs displayed similar frequency ratios and bandwidths. However, tan morph males sang songs with longer first notes, fewer notes, and higher variability. Thus, song could be used in morph discrimination. Variation in frequency ratios between notes was low and could function in conspecific recognition, but pitch change dynamics did differ between four different song types observed. Our results support a multiple messages model for white-throated sparrow song, in which different song traits communicate discrete information about the vocalizing individual

    Surprisingly Little Population Genetic Structure In A Fungus-Associated Beetle Despite Its Exploitation Of Multiple Hosts

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    In heterogeneous environments, landscape features directly affect the structure of genetic variation among populations by functioning as barriers to gene flow. Resource-associated population genetic structure, in which populations that use different resources (e.g., host plants) are genetically distinct, is a well-studied example of how environmental heterogeneity structures populations. However, the pattern that emerges in a given landscape should depend on its particular combination of resources. If resources constitute barriers to gene flow, population differentiation should be lowest in homogeneous landscapes, and highest where resources exist in equal proportions. In this study, we tested whether host community diversity affects population genetic structure in a beetle (Bolitotherus cornutus) that exploits three sympatric host fungi. We collected B.cornutus from plots containing the three host fungi in different proportions and quantified population genetic structure in each plot using a panel of microsatellite loci. We found no relationship between host community diversity and population differentiation in this species; however, we also found no evidence of resource-associated differentiation, suggesting that host fungi are not substantial barriers to gene flow. Moreover, we detected no genetic differentiation among B.cornutus populations separated by several kilometers, even though a previous study demonstrated moderate genetic structure on the scale of a few hundred meters. Although we found no effect of community diversity on population genetic structure in this study, the role of host communities in the structuring of genetic variation in heterogeneous landscapes should be further explored in a species that exhibits resource-associated population genetic structure

    Actuarial Senescence In A Dimorphic Bird: Different Rates Of Ageing In Morphs With Discrete Reproductive Strategies

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    It is often hypothesized that intra-sexual competition accelerates actuarial senescence, or the increase in mortality rates with age. However, an alternative hypothesis is that parental investment is more important to determining senescence rates. We used a unique model system, the white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis), to study variation in actuarial senescence. In this species, genetically determined morphs display discrete mating strategies and disassortative pairing, providing an excellent opportunity to test the predictions of the above hypotheses. Compared to tan-striped males, white-striped males are more polygynous and aggressive, and less parental. Tan-striped females receive less parental support, and invest more into parental care than white-striped females, which are also more aggressive. Thus, higher senescence rates in males and white-striped birds would support the intra-sexual competition hypothesis, whereas higher senescence rates in females and tan-striped birds would support the parental investment hypothesis. White-striped males showed the lowest rate of actuarial senescence. Tan-striped females had the highest senescence rate, and tan-striped males and white-striped females showed intermediate, relatively equal rates. Thus, results were inconsistent with sexual selection and competitive strategies increasing senescence rates, and instead indicate that senescence may be accelerated by female-biased parental care, and lessened by sharing of parental duties

    No Effect Of Host Species On Phenoloxidase Activity In A Mycophagous Beetle

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    Ecological immunology is an interdisciplinary field that helps elucidate interactions between the environment and immune response. The host species individuals experience have profound effects on immune response in many species of insects. However, this conclusion comes from studies of herbivorous insects even though species of mycophagous insects also inhabit many different host species. The goal of this study was to determine if fungal host species as well as individual, sex, body size, and host patch predict one aspect of immune function, phenoloxidase activity (PO). We sampled a metapopulation of Bolitotherus cornutus, a mycophagous beetle in southwestern Virginia. B. cornutus live on three species of fungus that differ in nutritional quality, social environment, and density. A filter paper phenoloxidase assay was used to quantify phenoloxidase activity. Overall, PO activity was significantly repeatable among individuals (0.57) in adult B. cornutus. While there was significant variance among individuals in PO activity, there were surprisingly no significant differences in PO activity among subpopulations, beetles living on different host species, or between the sexes; there was also no effect of body size. Our results suggest that other factors such as age, genotype, disease prevalence, or natal environment may be generating variance among individuals in PO activity

    Morphological Correlates Of A Combat Performance Trait In The Forked Fungus Beetle, Bolitotherus Cornutus

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    Combat traits are thought to have arisen due to intense male-male competition for access to females. While large and elaborate weapons used in attacking other males have often been the focus of sexual selection studies, defensive traits (both morphological and performance) have received less attention. However, if defensive traits help males restrict access to females, their role in the process of sexual selection could also be important. Here we examine the morphological correlates of grip strength, a defensive combat trait involved in mate guarding, in the tenebrionid beetle Bolitotherus cornutus. We found that grip strength was repeatable and differed between the sexes. However, these differences in performance were largely explained by body size and a non-additive interaction between size and leg length that differed between males and females. Our results suggest that leg size and body size interact as part of an integrated suite of defensive combat traits

    Group And Individual Social Network Metrics Are Robust To Changes In Resource Distribution In Experimental Populations Of Forked Fungus Beetles

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    1. Social interactions drive many important ecological and evolutionary processes. It is therefore essential to understand the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that underlie social patterns. A central tenet of the field of behavioural ecology is the expectation that the distribution of resources shapes patterns of social interactions. 2. We combined experimental manipulations with social network analyses to ask how patterns of resource distribution influence complex social interactions. 3. We experimentally manipulated the distribution of an essential food and reproductive resource in semi-natural populations of forked fungus beetles Bolitotherus cornutus. We aggregated resources into discrete clumps in half of the populations and evenly dispersed resources in the other half. We then observed social interactions between individually marked beetles. Half-way through the experiment, we reversed the resource distribution in each population, allowing us to control any demographic or behavioural differences between our experimental populations. At the end of the experiment, we compared individual and group social network characteristics between the two resource distribution treatments. 4. We found a statistically significant but quantitatively small effect of resource distribution on individual social network position and detected no effect on group social network structure. Individual connectivity (individual strength) and individual cliquishness (local clustering coefficient) increased in environments with clumped resources, but this difference explained very little of the variance in individual social network position. Individual centrality (individual betweenness) and measures of overall social structure (network density, average shortest path length and global clustering coefficient) did not differ between environments with dramatically different distributions of resources. 5. Our results illustrate that the resource environment, despite being fundamental to our understanding of social systems, does not always play a central role in shaping social interactions. Instead, our results suggest that sex differences and temporally fluctuating environmental conditions may be more important in determining patterns of social interactions
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