Biology Letters

http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org

List of Papers (Total 1,917)

Unexpectedly low UV-sensitivity in a bird, the budgerigar

Photoreceptor adaptation ensures appropriate visual responses during changing light conditions and contributes to colour constancy. We used behavioural tests to compare UV-sensitivity of budgerigars after adaptation to UV-rich and UV-poor backgrounds. In the latter case, we found lower UV-sensitivity than expected, which could be the result of photon-shot noise corrupting cone...

Developmental stress predicts social network position

The quantity and quality of social relationships, as captured by social network analysis, can have major fitness consequences. Various studies have shown that individual differences in social behaviour can be due to variation in exposure to developmental stress. However, whether these developmental differences translate to consistent differences in social network position is not...

Reproductive niche conservatism in the isolated New Zealand flora over 23 million years

The temporal stability of plant reproductive features on islands has rarely been tested. Using flowers, fruits/cones and seeds from a well-dated (23 Ma) Miocene Lagerstätte in New Zealand, we show that across 23 families and 30 genera of forest angiosperms and conifers, reproductive features have remained constant for more than 20 Myr. Insect-, wind- and bird-pollinated flowers...

Sea otter dental enamel is highly resistant to chipping due to its microstructure

Dental enamel is prone to damage by chipping with large hard objects at forces that depend on chip size and enamel toughness. Experiments on modern human teeth have suggested that some ante-mortem chips on fossil hominin enamel were produced by bite forces near physiological maxima. Here, we show that equivalent chips in sea otter enamel require even higher forces than human...

What drives activation-dependent shifts in the force–length curve?

Skeletal muscles are rarely recruited maximally during movement. However, much of our understanding of muscle properties is based on studies using maximal activation. The effect of activation level on skeletal muscle properties remains poorly understood. Muscle optimum length increases with decreased activation; however, the mechanism responsible is unclear. Here, we attempted to...

Video demonstrations seed alternative problem-solving techniques in wild common marmosets

Studies of social learning and tradition formation under field conditions have recently gained momentum, but suffer from the limited control of socio-ecological factors thought to be responsible for transmission patterns. The use of artificial visual stimuli is a potentially powerful tool to overcome some of these problems. Here, in a field experiment, we used video images of...

How many and which ant species are being accidentally moved around the world?

Human transportation facilitates the dispersal of exotic ants, but few studies have quantified the magnitude and geography of these movements. We used several non-parametric indices to estimate the number of species successfully introduced to or established in new regions. We also compared their source biogeographic realms to assess the importance of geographical origin in...

Preterm birth is associated with an increased fundamental frequency of spontaneous crying in human infants at term-equivalent age

Human infant crying has been researched as a non-invasive tool for assessing neurophysiological states at an early developmental stage. Little is known about the acoustic features of spontaneous cries in preterm infants, although their pain-induced cries are at a higher fundamental frequency (F0) before term-equivalent age. In this study, we investigated the effects of...

Reward context determines risky choice in pigeons and humans

Whereas humans are risk averse for monetary gains, other animals can be risk seeking for food rewards, especially when faced with variable delays or under significant deprivation. A key difference between these findings is that humans are often explicitly told about the risky options, whereas non-human animals must learn about them from their own experience. We tested pigeons...

Different on the inside: extreme swimbladder sexual dimorphism in the South Asian torrent minnows

The swimbladder plays an important role in buoyancy regulation but is typically reduced or even absent in benthic freshwater fishes that inhabit fast flowing water. Here, we document, for the first time, a remarkable example of swimbladder sexual dimorphism in the highly rheophilic South Asian torrent minnows (Psilorhynchus). The male swimbladder is not only much larger than that...

Ectomycorrhizal fungi and past high CO2 atmospheres enhance mineral weathering through increased below-ground carbon-energy fluxes

Field studies indicate an intensification of mineral weathering with advancement from arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) to later-evolving ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungal partners of gymnosperm and angiosperm trees. We test the hypothesis that this intensification is driven by increasing photosynthate carbon allocation to mycorrhizal mycelial networks using 14CO2-tracer experiments with...

Ungulate saliva inhibits a grass–endophyte mutualism

Fungal endophytes modify plant–herbivore interactions by producing toxic alkaloids that deter herbivory. However, studies have neglected the direct effects herbivores may have on endophytes. Antifungal properties and signalling effectors in herbivore saliva suggest that evolutionary pressures may select for animals that mitigate the effects of endophyte-produced alkaloids. Here...

Long-term and trans-generational effects of neonatal experience on sheep behaviour

Early life experiences can have profound long-term, and sometimes trans-generational, effects on individual phenotypes. However, there is a relative paucity of knowledge about effects on pain sensitivity, even though these may impact on an individual's health and welfare, particularly in farm animals exposed to painful husbandry procedures. Here, we tested in sheep whether...

Keep the nest clean: survival advantages of corpse removal in ants

Sociality increases exposure to pathogens. Therefore, social insects have developed a wide range of behavioural defences, known as ‘social immunity’. However, the benefits of these behaviours in terms of colony survival have been scarcely investigated. We tested the survival advantage of prophylaxis, i.e. corpse removal, in ants. Over 50 days, we compared the survival of ants in...

Defectors, not norm violators, are punished by third-parties

Punishment of defectors and cooperators is prevalent when their behaviour deviates from the social norm. Why atypical behaviour is more likely to be punished than typical behaviour remains unclear. One possible proximate explanation is that individuals simply dislike norm violators. However, an alternative possibility exists: individuals may be more likely to punish atypical...

Plague epizootic cycles in Central Asia

Infection thresholds, widely used in disease epidemiology, may operate on host abundance and, if present, on vector abundance. For wildlife populations, host and vector abundances often vary greatly across years and consequently the threshold may be crossed regularly, both up- and downward. Moreover, vector and host abundances may be interdependent, which may affect the infection...

Cardiac myoglobin deficit has evolved repeatedly in teleost fishes

Myoglobin (Mb) is the classic vertebrate oxygen-binding protein present in aerobic striated muscles. It functions principally in oxygen delivery and provides muscle with its characteristic red colour. Members of the Antarctic icefish family (Channichthyidae) are widely thought to be extraordinary for lacking cardiac Mb expression, a fact that has been attributed to their low...

Sex ratio influences the motivational salience of facial attractiveness

The sex ratio of the local population influences mating-related behaviours in many species. Recent experiments show that male-biased sex ratios increase the amount of financial resources men will invest in potential mates, suggesting that sex ratios influence allocation of mating effort in humans. To investigate this issue further, we tested for effects of cues to the sex ratio...

Higher aggression towards closer relatives by soldier larvae in a polyembryonic wasp

In the polyembryonic wasp Copidosoma floridanum, females commonly lay one male and one female egg in a lepidopteran host. Both sexes proliferate clonally within the growing host larva. Distinct larval castes develop from each wasp egg, the majority being ‘reproductives’ plus some ‘soldiers’ which sacrifice reproduction and attack competitors. Maturing mixed sex broods are usually...

Beta-diversity on deep-sea wood falls reflects gradients in energy availability

Wood falls on the deep-sea floor represent a significant source of energy into the food-limited deep sea. Unique communities of primarily wood- and sulfide-obligate species form on these wood falls. However, little is known regarding patterns and drivers of variation in the composition of wood fall communities through space and time, and thus, how wood falls contribute to deep...

Genotypic variation in a foundation tree (Populus tremula L.) explains community structure of associated epiphytes

Community genetics hypothesizes that within a foundation species, the genotype of an individual significantly influences the assemblage of dependent organisms. To assess whether these intra-specific genetic effects are ecologically important, it is required to compare their impact on dependent organisms with that attributable to environmental variation experienced over relevant...

Learning multiple routes in homing pigeons

The aerial lifestyle of central-place foraging birds allows wide-ranging movements, raising fundamental questions about their remarkable navigation and memory systems. For example, we know that pigeons (Columba livia), long-standing models for avian navigation, rely on individually distinct routes when homing from familiar sites. But it remains unknown how they cope with the task...

Exposure to parasites increases promiscuity in a freshwater snail

Under the Red Queen hypothesis, outcrossing can produce genetically variable progeny, which may be more resistant, on average, to locally adapted parasites. Mating with multiple partners may enhance this resistance by further increasing the genetic variation among offspring. We exposed Potamopyrgus antipodarum to the eggs of a sterilizing, trematode parasite and tested whether...