2,150 research outputs found

    Isotopic ecology of coyotes from scat and road kill carcasses: A complementary approach to feeding experiments.

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    Scat is frequently used to study animal diets because it is easy to find and collect, but one concern is that gross fecal analysis (GFA) techniques exaggerate the importance of small-bodied prey to mammalian mesopredator diets. To capitalize on the benefits of scat, we suggest the analysis of scat carbon and nitrogen isotope values (δ13C and δ15N). This technique offers researchers a non-invasive method to gather short-term dietary information. We conducted three interrelated studies to validate the use of isotopic values from coyote scat: 1) we determined tissue-to-tissue apparent C and N isotope enrichment factors (ε13* and ε15*) for coyotes from road kill animals (n = 4); 2) we derived diet-to-scat isotope discrimination factors for coyotes; and 3) we used field collected coyote scats (n = 12) to compare estimates of coyote dietary proportions from stable isotope mixing models with estimates from two GFA techniques. Scat consistently had the lowest δ13C and δ15N values among the tissues sampled. We derived a diet-to-scat Δ13C value of -1.5‰ ± 1.6‰ and Δ15N value of 2.3‰ ± 1.3‰ for coyotes. Coyote scat δ13C and δ15N values adjusted for discrimination consistently plot within the isotopic mixing space created by known dietary items. In comparison with GFA results, we found that mixing model estimates of coyote dietary proportions de-emphasize the importance of small-bodied prey. Coyote scat δ13C and δ15N values therefore offer a relatively quick and non-invasive way to gain accurate dietary information

    Stink Bugs (Hemiptera: Heteroptera: Pentatomidae) of Minnesota: An Annotated Checklist and New State Records

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    Pentatomidae have been relatively poorly documented in Minnesota. Based on literature and museum records, an annotated checklist of the Pentatomidae of Minnesota was created. State-level and county-level records for Minnesota and the distribution of each species in North America are provided. Fifty-one species of Pentatomidae (12 Asopinae, 37 Pentatominae, and 2 Podopinae) are recorded for Minnesota. Of this total, 15 species are newly recorded for the state. Knowledge of the fauna of Pentatomidae in Minnesota will be important for providing baseline data for monitoring of potential shifts in the fauna resulting from the invasions of exotic Pentatomidae. Furthermore, a list of native Pentatomidae will be necessary for monitoring non-target impacts, if classical biological control is implemented for management of exotic Pentatomidae

    Collapse of an ecological network in Ancient Egypt

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    The dynamics of ecosystem collapse are fundamental to determining how and why biological communities change through time, as well as the potential effects of extinctions on ecosystems. Here we integrate depictions of mammals from Egyptian antiquity with direct lines of paleontological and archeological evidence to infer local extinctions and community dynamics over a 6000-year span. The unprecedented temporal resolution of this data set enables examination of how the tandem effects of human population growth and climate change can disrupt mammalian communities. We show that the extinctions of mammals in Egypt were nonrandom, and that destabilizing changes in community composition coincided with abrupt aridification events and the attendant collapses of some complex societies. We also show that the roles of species in a community can change over time, and that persistence is predicted by measures of species sensitivity, a function of local dynamic stability. Our study is the first high-resolution analysis of the ecological impacts of environmental change on predator-prey networks over millennial timescales, and sheds light on the historical events that have shaped modern animal communities

    The Great Lakes School of Turfgrass Science: A Nine-State Online Collaboration to Improve the Turfgrass Short Course

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    Increasing costs and decreasing numbers of university Extension faculty have made it difficult to provide quality turfgrass short course education. In response, faculty from nine institutions collaborated to develop the Great Lakes School of Turfgrass Science. This 12-week online course provides students with unique learning experiences through a combination of assigned readings, quizzes, lectures, and live instructor discussion. Student attendance increased and costs decreased relative to traditional in-person short courses. Additionally, student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. These results demonstrate that online courses such as this can provide an effective and flexible source of knowledge that meets the busy schedules of students and instructors

    Amino acid isotope discrimination factors for a carnivore: physiological insights from leopard sharks and their diet

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    Stable isotopes are important ecological tools, because the carbon and nitrogen isotopic composition of consumer tissue reflects the diet. Measurements of isotopes of individual amino acids can disentangle the effects of consumer physiology from spatiotemporal variation in dietary isotopic values. However, this approach requires knowledge of assimilation patterns of dietary amino acids. We reared leopard sharks (Triakis semifasciata) on diets of squid (Loligo opalescens; 1250 days; control sharks) or squid then tilapia (Oreochromis sp.; switched at 565 days; experimental sharks) to evaluate consumer-diet discrimination factors for amino acids in muscle tissue. We found that control sharks exhibited lower nitrogen isotope discrimination factors (∆15N) than most previous consumer studies, potentially because of urea recycling. Control sharks also had large carbon isotope discrimination factors (∆13C) for three essential amino acids, suggesting microbial contributions or fractionation upon assimilation. Compared to controls, experimental sharks exhibited higher ∆13C values for four amino acids and ∆15N values for seven amino acids, corresponding with differences between diets in δ13C and δ15N values. This suggests that not all amino acids in experimental sharks had reached steady state, contrary to the conclusion of a bulk isotope study of these sharks. Our results imply that (1) the magnitude of a shift in dietary δ13C and δ15N values temporarily influences the appearance of discrimination factors; (2) slow turnover of amino acid isotopes in elasmobranch muscle precludes inferences about seasonal dietary changes; (3) elasmobranch discrimination factors for amino acids may be affected by urea recycling and microbial contributions of amino acids

    Evaluating the Skeletal Chemistry of Mytilus Californianus as a Temperature Proxy: Effects of Microenvironment and Ontogeny

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    Molluscan shell chemistry may provide an important archive of mean annual temperature (MAT) and mean annual range in temperature (MART), but such direct temperature interpretations may be confounded by biologic, metabolic, or kinetic factors. To explore this potential archive, we outplanted variously sized specimens of the common mussel Mytilus californianus at relatively low and high intertidal positions in San Diego, California, for 382 days with in situ recording of ambient temperature and periodic sampling of water chemistry. The prismatic calcite layer of eight variously sized specimens from each intertidal position were then serially microsampled and geochemically analyzed. Average intraspecimen delta(18)O values significantly covaried only with temperature, whereas Mg/Ca values showed a strong and significant positive correlation with growth rate. To assess intra-annual variations in shell chemistry as proxy for MART, each specimen\u27s delta(18)O record was ordinated in the time domain and compared to the predicted isotopic equilibrium [delta]18O values from environmental data. Observed specimen values were significantly correlated with predicted equilibrium values, but show 18O enrichments of 0.2 to 0.5 parts per thousand. In contrast, Mg/Ca values were poorly correlated with temperature due to significant positive relationships with growth rate and intertidal position. Within the extrapallial fluid, pH, carbonate solution chemistry, Rayleigh fractionation and/or an undetermined source of disequilibrium may cause [delta]18O values to deviate from predicted equilibrium precipitation for ambient seawater. Despite this consistent 18O enrichment, intraskeletal variations in [delta]18O values readily characterize the instrumental MAT and 5-95% MART values, making M. californianus a valuable source of information for paleoceanographic reconstructions