72 research outputs found

    Seabird Bycatch in Pelagic Longline Fisheries Is Grossly Underestimated when Using Only Haul Data

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    Hundreds of thousands of seabirds are killed each year as bycatch in longline fisheries. Seabirds are predominantly caught during line setting but bycatch is generally recorded during line hauling, many hours after birds are caught. Bird loss during this interval may lead to inaccurate bycatch information. In this 15 year study, seabird bycatch was recorded during both line setting and line hauling from four fishing regions: Indian Ocean, Southern Ocean, Coral Sea and central Pacific Ocean. Over 43,000 albatrosses, petrels and skuas representing over 25 species were counted during line setting of which almost 6,000 seabirds attempted to take the bait. Bait-taking interactions were placed into one of four categories. (i) The majority (57%) of bait-taking attempts were “unsuccessful” involving seabirds that did not take the bait nor get caught or hooked. (ii) One-third of attempts were “successful” with seabirds removing the bait while not getting caught. (iii) One-hundred and seventy-six seabirds (3% of attempts) were observed being “caught” during line setting, with three albatross species – Laysan (Phoebastria immutabilis), black-footed (P. nigripes) and black-browed (Thalassarche melanophrys)– dominating this category. However, of these, only 85 (48%) seabird carcasses were retrieved during line hauling. Most caught seabirds were hooked through the bill. (iv) The remainder of seabird-bait interactions (7%) was not clearly observed, but likely involved more “caught” seabirds. Bait taking attempts and percentage outcome (e.g. successful, caught) varied between seabird species and was not always related to species abundance around fishing vessels. Using only haul data to calculate seabird bycatch grossly underestimates actual bycatch levels, with the level of seabird bycatch from pelagic longline fishing possibly double what was previously thought

    Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis Shows High Genetic Diversity and Ecological Niche Specificity among Haplotypes in the Maya Mountains of Belize

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    The amphibian pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has been implicated in amphibian declines around the globe. Although it has been found in most countries in Central America, its presence has never been assessed in Belize. We set out to determine the range, prevalence, and diversity of Bd using quantitative PCR (qPCR) and sequencing of a portion of the 5.8 s and ITS1-2 regions. Swabs were collected from 524 amphibians of at least 26 species in the protected areas of the Maya Mountains of Belize. We sequenced a subset of 72 samples that had tested positive for Bd by qPCR at least once; 30 samples were verified as Bd. Eight unique Bd haplotypes were identified in the Maya Mountains, five of which were previously undescribed. We identified unique ecological niches for the two most broadly distributed haplotypes. Combined with data showing differing virulence shown in different strains in other studies, the 5.8 s - ITS1-2 region diversity found in this study suggests that there may be substantial differences among populations or haplotypes. Future work should focus on whether specific haplotypes for other genomic regions and possibly pathogenicity can be associated with haplotypes at this locus, as well as the integration of molecular tools with other ecological tools to elucidate the ecology and pathogenicity of Bd

    Declining Orangutan Encounter Rates from Wallace to the Present Suggest the Species Was Once More Abundant

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    BACKGROUND: Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) currently occur at low densities and seeing a wild one is a rare event. Compared to present low encounter rates of orangutans, it is striking how many orangutan each day historic collectors like Alfred Russel Wallace were able to shoot continuously over weeks or even months. Does that indicate that some 150 years ago encounter rates with orangutans, or their densities, were higher than now? METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We test this hypothesis by quantifying encounter rates obtained from hunting accounts, museum collections, and recent field studies, and analysing whether there is a declining trend over time. Logistic regression analyses of our data support such a decline on Borneo between the mid-19th century and the present. Even when controlled for variation in the size of survey and hunting teams and the durations of expeditions, mean daily encounter rates appear to have declined about 6-fold in areas with little or no forest disturbance. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: This finding has potential consequences for our understanding of orangutans, because it suggests that Bornean orangutans once occurred at higher densities. We explore potential explanations-habitat loss and degradation, hunting, and disease-and conclude that hunting fits the observed patterns best. This suggests that hunting has been underestimated as a key causal factor of orangutan density and distribution, and that species population declines have been more severe than previously estimated based on habitat loss only. Our findings may require us to rethink the biology of orangutans, with much of our ecological understanding possibly being based on field studies of animals living at lower densities than they did historically. Our approach of quantifying species encounter rates from historic data demonstrates that this method can yield valuable information about the ecology and population density of species in the past, providing new insight into species' conservation needs

    Genetic Differentiation, Structure, and a Transition Zone among Populations of the Pitcher Plant Moth Exyra semicrocea: Implications for Conservation

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    Pitcher plant bogs, or carnivorous plant wetlands, have experienced extensive habitat loss and fragmentation throughout the southeastern United States Coastal Plain, resulting in an estimated reduction to <3% of their former range. This situation has lead to increased management attention of these habitats and their carnivorous plant species. However, conservation priorities focus primarily on the plants since little information currently exists on other community members, such as their endemic arthropod biota. Here, we investigated the population structure of one of these, the obligate pitcher plant moth Exyra semicrocea (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), using mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) gene sequences. Examination of 221 individuals from 11 populations across eight southeastern US states identified 51 unique haplotypes. These haplotypes belonged to one of two divergent (∼1.9–3.0%) lineages separated by the Mississippi alluvial plain. Populations of the West Gulf Coastal Plain exhibited significant genetic structure, contrasting with similarly distanced populations east of the Mississippi alluvial plain. In the eastern portion of the Coastal Plain, an apparent transition zone exists between two regionally distinct population groups, with a well-established genetic discontinuity for other organisms coinciding with this zone. The structure of E. semicrocea appears to have been influenced by patchy pitcher plant bog habitats in the West Gulf Coastal Plain as well as impacts of Pleistocene interglacials on the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin. These findings, along with potential extirpation of E. semicrocea at four visited, but isolated, sites highlight the need to consider other endemic or associated community members when managing and restoring pitcher plant bog habitats

    Patterns of Reproductive Isolation in Toads

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    Understanding the general features of speciation is an important goal in evolutionary biology, and despite significant progress, several unresolved questions remain. We analyzed an extensive comparative dataset consisting of more than 1900 crosses between 92 species of toads to infer patterns of reproductive isolation. This unique dataset provides an opportunity to examine the strength of reproductive isolation, the development and sex ratios of hybrid offspring, patterns of fertility and infertility, and polyploidization in hybrids all in the context of genetic divergence between parental species. We found that the strength of intrinsic postzygotic isolation increases with genetic divergence, but relatively high levels of divergence are necessary before reproductive isolation is complete in toads. Fertilization rates were not correlated to genetic divergence, but hatching success, the number of larvae produced, and the percentage of tadpoles reaching metamorphosis were all inversely related with genetic divergence. Hybrids between species with lower levels of divergence developed to metamorphosis, while hybrids with higher levels of divergence stopped developing in gastrula and larval stages. Sex ratios of hybrid offspring were biased towards males in 70% of crosses and biased towards females in 30% of crosses. Hybrid females from crosses between closely related species were completely fertile, while approximately half (53%) of hybrid males were sterile, with sterility predicted by genetic divergence. The degree of abnormal ploidy in hybrids was positively related to genetic divergence between parental species, but surprisingly, polyploidization had no effect on patterns of asymmetrical inviability. We discuss explanations for these patterns, including the role of Haldane's rule in toads and anurans in general, and suggest mechanisms generating patterns of reproductive isolation in anurans

    Search for Supersymmetry with Gauge-Mediated Breaking in Diphoton Events with Missing Transverse Energy at CDF II

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    accepted to Phys. Rev. LettWe present the results of a search for supersymmetry with gauge-mediated breaking and \NONE\to\gamma\Gravitino in the γγ\gamma\gamma+missing transverse energy final state. In 2.6±\pm0.2 \invfb of ppˉp{\bar p} collisions at s\sqrt{s}==1.96 TeV recorded by the CDF II detector we observe no candidate events, consistent with a standard model background expectation of 1.4±\pm0.4 events. We set limits on the cross section at the 95% C.L. and place the world's best limit of 149\gevc on the \none mass at τχ~10\tau_{\tilde{\chi}_1^0}$We present the results of a search for supersymmetry with gauge-mediated breaking and χ˜10→γG˜ in the γγ+missing transverse energy final state. In 2.6±0.2  fb-1 of pp̅ collisions at √s=1.96  TeV recorded by the CDF II detector we observe no candidate events, consistent with a standard model background expectation of 1.4±0.4 events. We set limits on the cross section at the 95% C.L. and place the world’s best limit of 149  GeV/c2 on the χ˜10 mass at τχ˜10≪1  ns. We also exclude regions in the χ˜10 mass-lifetime plane for τχ˜10≲2  ns.Peer reviewe

    Measurements of branching fraction ratios and CP asymmetries in B+/- ->D_CP K+/- decays in hadron collisions

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    We reconstruct B+/- -> D K+/- decays in a data sample collected by the CDF II detector at the Tevatron collider corresponding to 1 fb-1 of integrated luminosity. We select decay modes where the D meson decays to either K- pi+ (flavor eigenstate) or K- K+, pi- pi+ (CP-even eigenstates), and measure the direct CP asymmetry A_CP+ = 0.39 +/- 0.17(stat) +/- 0.04(syst), and the double ratio of CP-even to flavor eigenstate branching fractions R_CP+ = 1.30 +/- 0.24(stat) +/- 0.12(syst). These measurements will improve the determination of the CKM angle gamma. They are performed here for the first time using data from hadron collisions.We reconstruct B±→DK± decays in a data sample collected by the CDF II detector at the Tevatron collider corresponding to 1  fb-1 of integrated luminosity. We select decay modes where the D meson decays to either K-π+ (flavor eigenstate) or K-K+, π-π+ (CP-even eigenstates), and measure the direct CP asymmetry ACP+=0.39±0.17(stat)±0.04(syst), and the double ratio of CP-even to flavor eigenstate branching fractions RCP+=1.30±0.24(stat)±0.12(syst). These measurements will improve the determination of the Cabibbo-Kobayashi-Maskawa angle γ. They are performed here for the first time using data from hadron collisions.Peer reviewe
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