632 research outputs found

    Cheetah mothers' vigilance: looking out for prey or for predators?

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    Free-living cheetah ( Acinonyx jubatus ) cubs are killed by a number of predators, thus vigilance in cheetah mothers may be a form of anti-predator behaviour as well as a means of locating prey. Mothers' vigilance during the day was closely associated with measures of hunting but not with measures of anti-predator behaviour. In contrast, mothers' vigilance at kills was not related to hunting but was related to anti-predator behaviour. Both forms of vigilance decreased as cubs grew older. Vigilance during the day increased with litter size which supports a model of ‘shared’ parental investment (Lazarus and Inglis 1986) because after prey had been located and caught by mothers, cubs shared the prey between them. Vigilance at kills did not increase with litter size when cubs were young; in these situations predators stole cheetahs' prey and rarely chased cubs so, at most, only a single cub would be taken. Mothers' anti-predator behaviour away from kills did increase with litter size at young cub ages however; more cubs are killed in these circumstances the greater is the size of the litter. When cubs were older and could outrun predators, neither vigilance at kills nor anti-predator behaviour increased with litter size. These results strongly support two models of ‘unshared’ investment (Lazarus and Inglis 1986) and demonstrate, not only that superficially similar behaviour has different functions in different contexts, but that parental investment is shaped by the type of benefits accrued from it.Peer Reviewedhttp://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/46879/1/265_2004_Article_BF00300681.pd

    Release of Lungworm Larvae from Snails in the Environment: Potential for Alternative Transmission Pathways

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    Background: Gastropod-borne parasites may cause debilitating clinical conditions in animals and humans following the consumption of infected intermediate or paratenic hosts. However, the ingestion of fresh vegetables contaminated by snail mucus and/or water has also been proposed as a source of the infection for some zoonotic metastrongyloids (e.g., Angiostrongylus cantonensis). In the meantime, the feline lungworms Aelurostrongylus abstrusus and Troglostrongylus brevior are increasingly spreading among cat populations, along with their gastropod intermediate hosts. The aim of this study was to assess the potential of alternative transmission pathways for A. abstrusus and T. brevior L3 via the mucus of infected Helix aspersa snails and the water where gastropods died. In addition, the histological examination of snail specimens provided information on the larval localization and inflammatory reactions in the intermediate host. Methodology/Principal Findings: Twenty-four specimens of H. aspersa received ~500 L1 of A. abstrusus and T. brevior, and were assigned to six study groups. Snails were subjected to different mechanical and chemical stimuli throughout 20 days in order to elicit the production of mucus. At the end of the study, gastropods were submerged in tap water and the sediment was observed for lungworm larvae for three consecutive days. Finally, snails were artificially digested and recovered larvae were counted and morphologically and molecularly identified. The anatomical localization of A. abstrusus and T. brevior larvae within snail tissues was investigated by histology. L3 were detected in the snail mucus (i.e., 37 A. abstrusus and 19 T. brevior) and in the sediment of submerged specimens (172 A. abstrusus and 39 T. brevior). Following the artificial digestion of H. aspersa snails, a mean number of 127.8 A. abstrusus and 60.3 T. brevior larvae were recovered. The number of snail sections positive for A. abstrusus was higher than those for T. brevior. Conclusions: Results of this study indicate that A. abstrusus and T. brevior infective L3 are shed in the mucus of H. aspersa or in water where infected gastropods had died submerged. Both elimination pathways may represent alternative route(s) of environmental contamination and source of the infection for these nematodes under field conditions and may significantly affect the epidemiology of feline lungworms. Considering that snails may act as intermediate hosts for other metastrongyloid species, the environmental contamination by mucus-released larvae is discussed in a broader context

    The decline of the Serengeti Thomson's gazelle population

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    The population of Thomson's gazelles in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania has declined by almost two thirds over a 13 year period. In the early 1970s, numbers stood at 0.66 million animals but had decreased to less than 0.25 million animals in 1985 as estimated by 5 different censuses using two different counting techniques. Predation, interspecific competition and disease are all factors that could have contributed to this decline, and at least one of these factors, predation, could now prevent the Thomson's gazelle population from increasing.Peer Reviewedhttp://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/47770/1/442_2004_Article_BF00376974.pd

    Spatial ecology of jaguars, pumas, and ocelots: a review of the state of knowledge

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    Knowledge of the spatial ecology of mammalian carnivores is critical for understanding species’ biology and designing effective conservation and management interventions. We reviewed the available information about the spatial ecology of jaguars Panthera onca, pumas Puma concolor, and ocelots Leopardus pardalis, and we examined how sex and extrinsic variables affect their spatial behaviour. Sixty-one articles addressing home range, home range overlap, daily net displacement (straight-line distance between two locations on consecutive days), and/or distance of dispersal of the three species were included. Meta-analysis, ANOVA, ANCOVA, and beta regression tests were run to analyse differences among species and sexes and to elucidate the influence of other variables, such as latitude and ecoregion, on spatial behaviour. Pumas had on average larger home ranges (mean ± SE: 281.87 ± 35.76 km) than jaguars (128.61 ± 49.5 km) and ocelots (12.46 ± 3.39 km). Intersexual range overlap was higher than intrasexual range overlap in jaguars and pumas. Sex affected the home range size of all three species, but only influenced daily net displacement in ocelots. Ecoregion affected the home range size of all three species but did not significantly affect either the daily net displacement or the dispersal distance of pumas. Latitude affected the home range size of jaguars and pumas. It did not affect daily net displacement or dispersal distance in jaguars and pumas, but did affect daily net displacement in ocelots. Although there was a lack of studies in most countries for the three species, information was particularly lacking in the Neotropics for jaguars and pumas and in North America for ocelots. Researchers usually presented low sample sizes and used different methods to examine the ecological issues considered here. Homogenisation of methods is needed to clarify the ecology of these species and to allow a better understanding of the threats to their populations.Peer Reviewe

    The time course of subsequent hospitalizations and associated costs in survivors of an ischemic stroke in Canada

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    BACKGROUND: Documentation of the hospitalizations rates following a stroke provides the inputs required for planning health services and to evaluate the economic efficiency of any new therapies. METHODS: Hospitalization rates by cause were examined using administrative data on 18,695 patients diagnosed with ischemic stroke (first or subsequent, excluding transient ischemic attack) in Saskatchewan, Canada between 1990 and 1995. Medical history was available retrospectively to January 1980 and follow-up was complete to March 2000. Analyses evaluated the rate and timing of all-cause and cardiovascular hospitalizations within discrete periods in the five years following the index stroke. Cardiovascular hospitalizations included patients with a primary diagnosis of ischemic stroke, transient ischemic attack, myocardial infarction, stable or unstable angina, heart failure or peripheral arterial disease. RESULTS: One-third (36%) of patients were identified by a hospitalized stroke. Mean age was 70.5 years, 48.0% were male, half had a history of stroke or a transient ischemic attack at the time of their index stroke. Three-quarters of the patients (72.7%) were hospitalized at least once during a mean follow-up of 4.6 years, accruing CAD $24 million in the first year alone. Of all hospitalizations, 20.4% were related to cardiovascular disease and 1.6% to bleeds. In the month following index stroke, 12.5% were admitted, an average of 1.04 times per patient hospitalized. Strokes accounted for 33% of all hospitalizations in the first month. The rate diminished steadily throughout the year and stabilized in the second year when approximately one-third of patients required hospitalization, at a rate of about one hospitalization for every two patient-years. Mean lengths of stay ranged from nine days to nearly 40 days. Close-fitting Weibull functions allow highly specific probability estimates. Other cardiovascular risk factors significantly increased hospitalization rates. CONCLUSION: After stroke, there are frequent hospitalizations accounting for substantial additional costs. Though these rates drop after one year, they remain high over time. The number of other cardiovascular causes of hospitalization confirms that stroke is a manifestation of disseminated atherothrombotic disease

    Spatial Guilds in the Serengeti Food Web Revealed by a Bayesian Group Model

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    Food webs, networks of feeding relationships among organisms, provide fundamental insights into mechanisms that determine ecosystem stability and persistence. Despite long-standing interest in the compartmental structure of food webs, past network analyses of food webs have been constrained by a standard definition of compartments, or modules, that requires many links within compartments and few links between them. Empirical analyses have been further limited by low-resolution data for primary producers. In this paper, we present a Bayesian computational method for identifying group structure in food webs using a flexible definition of a group that can describe both functional roles and standard compartments. The Serengeti ecosystem provides an opportunity to examine structure in a newly compiled food web that includes species-level resolution among plants, allowing us to address whether groups in the food web correspond to tightly-connected compartments or functional groups, and whether network structure reflects spatial or trophic organization, or a combination of the two. We have compiled the major mammalian and plant components of the Serengeti food web from published literature, and we infer its group structure using our method. We find that network structure corresponds to spatially distinct plant groups coupled at higher trophic levels by groups of herbivores, which are in turn coupled by carnivore groups. Thus the group structure of the Serengeti web represents a mixture of trophic guild structure and spatial patterns, in contrast to the standard compartments typically identified in ecological networks. From data consisting only of nodes and links, the group structure that emerges supports recent ideas on spatial coupling and energy channels in ecosystems that have been proposed as important for persistence.Comment: 28 pages, 6 figures (+ 3 supporting), 2 tables (+ 4 supporting

    Evidence of Combat in Triceratops

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    Background: The horns and frill of Triceratops and other ceratopsids (horned dinosaurs) are interpreted variously as display structures or as weapons against conspecifics and predators. Lesions (in the form of periosteal reactive bone, healing fractures, and alleged punctures) on Triceratops skulls have been used as anecdotal support of intraspecific combat similar to that in modern horned and antlered animals. If ceratopsids with different cranial morphologies used their horns in such combat, this should be reflected in the rates of lesion occurrence across the skull. Methodology/Principal Findings: We used a G-test of independence to compare incidence rates of lesions in Triceratops (which possesses two large brow horns and a smaller nasal horn) and the related ceratopsid Centrosaurus (with a large nasal horn and small brow horns), for the nasal, jugal, squamosal, and parietal bones of the skull. The two taxa differ significantly in the occurrence of lesions on the squamosal bone of the frill (P = 0.002), but not in other cranial bones (P.0.20). Conclusions/Significance: This pattern is consistent with Triceratops using its horns in combat and the frill being adapted as a protective structure for this taxon. Lower pathology rates in Centrosaurus may indicate visual rather than physical use o
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