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Seven old-growth, mostly spruce- and pine-dominated, protected forests rich in dead wood were inventoried for polypores and polypore-associated beetles in Finland in 2001-2007. A total of 198 polypore species (86% of the Finnish species list) were examined for associated Coleoptera. Of these, 116 species (59% of the studied species, or 50% of the Finnish polypore mycota) were found to host adults and/or larvae of 176 beetle species. Fifty-six polypore species were utilized by larvae of 21 beetle species. Many new fungus-beetle associations were discovered among 544 species pairs, including 421 polypore fruit body-adult Coleoptera species co-occurrences, and 123 fruit body-larva associations. Eighty-two species of fungi (41% of the studied species, or 36% of the Finnish polypores) were neither visited nor colonized by Coleoptera.
We compared morphology of Palythoa caribaeorum (number of polyps, area, diameter and height) occupying three sites located at different distances from a harbor area and with different environmental conditions, such as sedimentation. Seasonality was also considered by comparing morphology during the wet and dry seasons. GLM analyses showed significant main and first-order interaction effects between sites and seasons for each of the four morphological variables measured. Only at the site directly in front of the harbor area there was no seasonal variation. At the other two sites, no significant differences were found when the average pairwise distance of each morphological character was compared between seasons for each site. This indicates that these characters vary in a similar way and suggests growth conditions intrinsic to the species. Environmental homogeneity at the harbor area seems to promote homogeneous morphometry, which indicates different biological strategies and suggests that this species adapts to distinct environments.
Closely related species may be very difficult to distinguish morphologically, yet sometimes morphology is the only reasonable possibility for taxonomic classification. Here we present learning-vector-quantization artificial neural networks as a powerful tool to classify specimens on the basis of geometric morphometric shape measurements. As an example, we trained a neural network to distinguish between field and root voles from Procrustes transformed landmark coordinates on the dorsal side of the skull, which is so similar in these two species that the human eye cannot make this distinction. Properly trained neural networks misclassified only 3% of specimens. Therefore, we conclude that the capacity of learning vector quantization neural networks to analyse spatial coordinates is a powerful tool among the range of pattern recognition procedures that is available to employ the information content of geometric morphometrics.
Social network analysis is an increasingly popular method for analyzing relational data in animal social systems. The abstract nature of network metrics primes them for use in cross-comparisons of social systems, but more work is needed to determine how well such measures can approximate meaningful biological properties. Finding biological correlates of network metrics, and extending the existing network methods to include the analysis of ongoing dynamics of social processes, will bring us closer to standardization of the terminology used to describe animal social and interaction networks. This will allow us to use the social networks in simultaneously studying the individuals embedded in a social setting, the consequences of their interactions, and the global properties of the social system. We discuss how certain facets of the existing network methods need be further developed to fulfill this potential and provide a multi-scale systems approach to the studies of animal sociality.
Sex identification in birds through molecular methods is an important tool for the management and preservation of species. Advances in real-time PCR-based techniques overcome some limitations of the more classical molecular analysis methodologies. Here, we describe a new approach, based on high-resolution melting (HRM) curve analysis of the CHD1 gene, for avian gender identification. This method was successfully applied to carry out sexual differentiation based on melting curve patterns in common quail (Coturnix c. coturnix) and Japanese quail (Coturnix c. japonica). We clearly demonstrate the efficacy of a simple HRM assay for a rapid and efficient gender differentiation of these subspecies and propose this methodology as a valuable addition to expand the applicability of real-time PCR-based technology in avian molecular sexing.
In the pied flycatcher, singing is thought to be used mainly for attracting females, because males seem to sing very little after pairing. However, I observed a peak of high singing activity in 19 mated males — so-called dawn singing — that had never been reported for the pied flycatcher. Mated males started to sing 1 hr 15 min before sunrise, under poor-light conditions. Their singing activity lasted for 40–50 min and then decreased substantially. I compared songs before pairing and dawn songs after pairing for nine individually marked pied flycatcher males. Dawn songs had significantly higher song versatility and song rate as compared with songs performed before pairing by the same males. I propose that pied flycatcher males use dawn singing to stimulate females for extra-pair copulations, because pied flycatcher females prefer males with greater song repertoires, higher song rates and higher song versatility.