29 research outputs found

    Massive Consumption of Gelatinous Plankton by Mediterranean Apex Predators

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    Stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen were used to test the hypothesis that stomach content analysis has systematically overlooked the consumption of gelatinous zooplankton by pelagic mesopredators and apex predators. The results strongly supported a major role of gelatinous plankton in the diet of bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus), little tunny (Euthynnus alletteratus), spearfish (Tetrapturus belone) and swordfish (Xiphias gladius). Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) in the oceanic stage and ocean sunfish (Mola mola) also primarily relied on gelatinous zooplankton. In contrast, stable isotope ratios ruled out any relevant consumption of gelatinous plankton by bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), blue shark (Prionace glauca), leerfish (Lichia amia), bonito (Sarda sarda), striped dolphin (Stenella caerueloalba) and loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) in the neritic stage, all of which primarily relied on fish and squid. Fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) were confirmed as crustacean consumers. The ratios of stable isotopes in albacore (Thunnus alalunga), amberjack (Seriola dumerili), blue butterfish (Stromaeus fiatola), bullet tuna (Auxis rochei), dolphinfish (Coryphaena hyppurus), horse mackerel (Trachurus trachurus), mackerel (Scomber scombrus) and pompano (Trachinotus ovatus) were consistent with mixed diets revealed by stomach content analysis, including nekton and crustaceans, but the consumption of gelatinous plankton could not be ruled out completely. In conclusion, the jellyvorous guild in the Mediterranean integrates two specialists (ocean sunfish and loggerhead sea turtles in the oceanic stage) and several opportunists (bluefin tuna, little tunny, spearfish, swordfish and, perhaps, blue butterfish), most of them with shrinking populations due to overfishing

    Ontogeny of worker body size distribution in bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) colonies

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    1. Bumble bees exhibit worker size polymorphisms; highly related workers within a colony may vary up to 10-fold in body mass. As size variation is an important life history feature in bumble bees, the distribution of body sizes within the colony and how it fluctuates over the colony cycle were analysed. 2. Ten commercially purchased colonies of Bombus impatiens (Cresson) were reared in ad libitum conditions. The size of all workers present and newly emerging workers (callows) was recorded each week. 3. The average size of bumble bee workers did not change with colony age, but variation in body size tended to decrease over time. The average size of callows did not change with population size, but did tend to decrease with colony age. In all measures, there was considerable variation among colonies. 4. Colonies of B. impatiens usually produced workers with normally distributed body sizes throughout the colony life cycle. Unlike most polymorphic ants, there was no increase in worker body size with colony age or colony size. This provides the first, quantitative data on the ontogeny of bumble bee worker size distribution. The potential adaptive significance of this size variation is discussed
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