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We examined seasonal diets of an introduced population of Dama dama dama (European Fallow Deer) on Little St. Simons Island, GA. We analyzed rumen contents from hunter-harvested deer during fall and winter of 2004–05 and 2005–06. Fecal pellets also were collected monthly from November 2004 to December 2005 and examined microscopically for unique plant-cell characteristics. Fallow Deer utilized a variety of food items based on seasonal availability, although mast and browse were the most abundant food items in the rumens examined. Fallow Deer preferred Quercus spp. (oak) acorns, but consumed more Sabal palmetto (Cabbage Palm) fruit when acorns were less abundant. Microhistological techniques underestimated the occurrence of highly digestible items such as mast, but were more effective at identifying grasses and browse. Grasses were the most common and abundant forage class in feces, with peak grass use in the summer (67%). Fallow Deer's ability to utilize a wide variety of food items including low-quality forage has contributed to their success in this barrier island ecosystem. However, low productivity, suppressed body weights, and small antler characteristics are likely due to a low-quality diet and over-population.
Dasypus novemcinctus (Nine-banded Armadillo) produces litters of genetically identical quadruplets and, because of this, has long been considered a potential model system for the study of kin selection. However, long-term field studies have failed to reveal any obvious instances of kin-selected altruism in this species. Social interactions, such as altruism, require time and energy. The time-constraints hypothesis proposes that, because of certain aspects of their biology, Nine-banded Armadillos may have to devote most of their active time to foraging, thus precluding any opportunity for the evolution of kin-selected social behavior. To determine the potential validity of this conjecture, we recorded time budgets of wild Nine-banded Armadillos at a study site in western Mississippi during two summers. Both focal and instantaneous sampling showed armadillos allocated 77–90% of their above-ground active time to foraging. A search of the literature indicated that this is among the highest values reported for any mammal. We interpret these findings as consistent with the time-constraints hypothesis.
The trematode Alloglossidium renale was commonly observed in the freshwater shrimp Palaemonetes kadiakensis in Pike County, AL, with a prevalence of 30.2% and 12.7% at two different collection sites. Sectioned antennal glands demonstrated tissue damage near the parasite, including antennal gland tubule cell compression and destruction of host cells. Normal tubules as well as those showing cellular changes were functional and contained parasite ova. Grass shrimp outlive this infection, as evidenced by masses of ova and debris within infected antennal glands, but no viable parasite. The non-lethal nature of the parasite helps to explain the high intensity of infection observed at one of the collection sites. This study furthers our understanding of the effect of this parasite on its host, and extends the reported range of Alloglossidium renale to Alabama.
As part of an All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, an assemblage of microfungi associated in litter samples from healthy Fagus grandifolia (American Beech), Abies fraseri (Fraser Fir), and Tsuga canadensis (Eastern Hemlock) trees was determined in 2005 and 2006. Additionally, litter samples from the collection sites were assayed for pH, nutrient content, ash, crude proteins, and levels of organic matter to determine their impact on the mycobiota. Species richness, diversity, and evenness patterns were evaluated from the litter samples collected in May, July, and September of each year. A total of 6249 isolates of fungi were obtained, with greater than 90% belonging to the Deuteromycota. Over 100 species of fungi were identified from litter of the three tree species, with 55 being new records from the Park. As in previous studies, the most common fungi isolated from the three tree species were 13 species of Trichoderma during the two-year study. Other common fungi included Virgaria nigra and Penicillium spp. Species richness and diversity values pooled across sampling dates and years were significantly greater from American Beech litter, followed by Eastern Hemlock and lowest for Fraser Fir. Species richness and diversity values compared by sampling dates for each year were generally greater in May than July or September, but evenness values showed a reverse trend for each year. When species richness and diversity were compared between sampling dates per year and among or by tree species, significant differences often occurred, but no trends were determined. Data from the litter tissue assay showed that Fraser Fir, which had the lowest species richness and diversity, may have been impacted by having significantly lower pH and percent litter chemical compositions of ash, crude protein, and N than the other tree species. All other comparisons of species richness were similar.
Biologists handled Canis lupus rufus (Red Wolf) pups from 12 wild litters over 3 years to determine if den interference and handling negatively impacted neonatal survival. Litters were handled for blood collection and transponder placement on one of 2 den visits approximately 13 days apart when pups were approximately 5 days and 19 days old, respectively. No biologically important difference in the proportion of pups surviving was observed between subsequent visits, nor in comparison to historical data from dens where pups were not handled but rather documented based on autumn trapping surveys.
The Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center (CSJFTC) is a 54,315-ha National Guard training installation located in the Piney Woods subprovince of the Gulf Coastal Plain physiographic region of south-central Mississippi. A list of 108 native amphibian and reptile species possibly occurring on the CSJFTC was generated using known geographic distribution ranges and museum records. General herpetofaunal field-collecting techniques were used to survey the CSJFTC's aquatic and terrestrial habitats from April 2004-April 2007. Eighty-three native and one introduced species were identified, comprising 59% of the state's known (excluding marine species) and 77% of the CSJFTC's suspected herpetofauna. Ten species listed as needing special protection by state or federal agencies occur at the site, including Crotalus adamanteus, Gopherus polyphemus, Lampropeltis calligaster, Masticophis flagellum, Micrurus fulvius, Ophisaurus attenuatus, Pituophis melanoleucus, Pseudacris ornata, Pseudotriton ruber, and Regina rigida. This information will be useful in directing future monitoring efforts and when developing management plans on the CSJFTC.
We report the longitudinal distribution and population characteristics of Micropterus dolomieu (Smallmouth Bass), M. salmoides (Largemouth Bass), and M. punctulatus (Spotted Bass) of the lower Eleven Point River of Arkansas. Smallmouth Bass were the most abundant species collected, followed by Largemouth Bass and Spotted Bass. Abundance of Smallmouth Bass was greatest upstream and declined significantly downstream; abundance of Spotted Bass was significantly greater downstream. Largemouth Bass were evenly distributed throughout the river. Associated with these species distribution trends were a downstream decline in stream slope and velocity, and an increase in the proportion of pools relative to riffles and runs. Proportional stock structures were similar and relatively low for each species (range = 22.9–32.3). Growth rates of Smallmouth Bass and Spotted Bass were high relative to other study populations, with age-3 fish reaching ≈300 mm total length. Diets of adult Smallmouth Bass and Spotted Bass were similar. Diets of Smallmouth Bass varied by season (increased feeding on insects during the summer months) and length group (transition of feeding on insects to fishes to crayfishes). Relative weight was greater for Largemouth Bass (Wr = 96) and Spotted Bass (95) than for Smallmouth Bass (89). Based on habitat, abundance, diet and condition factors, the Arkansas portion of the Eleven Point River contains a viable and balanced population of black bass.
Microsatellite multiplexing is a useful technique that minimizes the time, reagents, and cost associated with genetic studies in fisheries biology. Striped Bass is an important sport and aquaculture species commonly stocked throughout the United States. We have developed three multiplexed panels that collectively incorporate twelve different established microsatellite loci. All loci were tested for Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, linkage disequilibrium, Mendelian inheritance, and null alleles in two populations. Loci were comparably polymorphic in two river systems with similar allele size ranges observed; therefore, these multiplexed panels should be useful for genetic population studies of Striped Bass both within and between disparate geographic distributions.
Fish assemblages within Choccolocco, Shoal, and Scarbrough creeks (Shoal Creek District, Talladega National Forest, AL) were surveyed each July from 2003–2007. Mean species diversity (Shannon Index) was 2.3 or higher for all sites except Scarbrough Creek (headwater site). Calculated IBI's for all sites scored were “good” with the exception of Scarbrough Creek which scored “poor.” At all sites except Scarbrough creek, fish communities were dominated by Cyprinella trichroistia (Tricolor Shiner), Semotilus atromaculatus (Creek Chub), Hypentelium etowanum (Alabama Hogsucker), Campostoma oligolepis (Largescale Stoneroller), and Notropis xaenocephalus (Coosa Shiner). At one site near a large lake (Shoal Creek), sunfish were also predominant. Limited numbers of the state-listed Etheostoma brevirostrum (Holiday Darter) were also observed in Shoal Creek. The Creek Chub was the only fish species observed in Scarbrough Creek at its headwaters. Although species diversity may be reduced relative to historical data, those fish populations observed in the streams currently appear stable.
Big and Cowarts creeks lie in extreme southeastern Alabama and form the headwaters of Chipola River. Qualitative and quantitative sampling for freshwater mussels in these reaches during 2006 and 2007 revealed an intact fauna, relative to historical reports. A cumulative total of 17 species, including federally protected Elliptio chipolaensis (Chipola Slabshell), Lampsilis subangulata (Shinyrayed Pocketbook), Medionidus penicillatus (Gulf Moccasinshell), and Pleurobema pyriforme (Oval Pigtoe), was encountered. A total of 3382 mussels (density 5.84 per m2) was estimated for one 65-m reach of Big Creek and 9627 mussels (density 8.09 per m2) were estimated to occur in one 170-m reach of Cowarts Creek. Tributaries had depauperate faunas, apparently due to substrate instability.
Type, level, and intensity of human activities may facilitate establishment and spread of invasive plant species. A better understanding of how human activities influence invasion can assist land managers in developing strategies for control and monitoring of invasive plants. Spread of the invasive species Imperata cylindrica (Cogongrass) has been attributed to human activities. During 2002–2004, on Camp Shelby Training Site, MS, we investigated relationships between military activity and establishment and growth of Cogongrass. In areas of soil disturbance from military equipment, vegetative linear growth rates of 7–10 m yr-1 were recorded on firing points. There was a positive relationship between military troop use and Cogongrass establishment on firing points for one of the 2 years of the study (P = 0.023). Thus, steps to minimize soil disturbance in and near Cogongrass may reduce spread. We examined frequency of Cogongrass infestation and vegetative growth rates for roadside areas along gravel roads subject to at least annual mowing and grading, and dirt tracks receiving infrequent maintenance. Cogongrass spread and establishment on roadsides did not differ for the two road types (P ≥ 0.116). These results may reflect activities already in place to reduce disturbance of Cogongrass patches.
To investigate the possible role of landscape connectivity on the genetic structure of isolated populations, we examined the effects of habitat corridors on the population genetics of a vagile butterfly species, Junonia coenia, within a large-scale, experimental system. Using allozyme electrophoresis, a total of nine loci were identified and scored, six of which exhibited polymorphism. Our data demonstrated consistently higher levels of expected (He) and observed (Ho) heterozygosity in butterflies sampled from patches connected by corridors compared to unconnected patches. A t-test comparing He and H0 in connected versus unconnected patches found a marginally significant difference in one locus, the glycolytic enzyme phosphoglucose isomerase (PGI). Connected patches exhibited overall lower FST values compared to unconnected patches, indicating potentially increased levels of gene flow due to corridors. Our results support previous investigations on dispersal and population size for J. coenia, and show that higher dispersal through corridors promotes genetic variability at a locus (PGI) implicated in dispersal and fitness in butterflies.
Milkweed bugs are aposematically colored, with orange and black on their forewings, and the degree of both colors varies among individuals. Despite the attention given to the warning nature of this color, there has been little research directed at this variation. In this study, the subtle variation in wing colors of one species of milkweed bug, Oncopeltus fasciatus (Large Milkweed Bug) was measured to determine if the color variation was related to sex or body size. Fifty-eight bugs were hand-collected at three sites in northeast Georgia, and their wings scanned using a slide scanner and measured digitally using image analysis software. Wings of females were larger than those of males in general, and the color analyses showed statistically significant differences in wing hue between males and females. Females also had darker black wing sections than males, which could be evidence of a sex-related difference in immune function. Regardless of sex, wings of larger bugs had deeper orange color and darker black, which may increase the aposematic contrast. Finally, several differences in wing color were found between sites, suggesting either site-level variation in host-plant quality or relatedness among individuals within sites. This study is the first to quantify in detail the wing colors of milkweed bugs and forms the basis for future research into this little-studied aspect of this insect.
This research compared the effectiveness of red, yellow, green, and blue chemiluminescent candles and white light from an LED source in capturing water mites and aquatic insects in a macrophyte bed of a small reservoir. We sought to compare the abundance of organisms captured and to determine whether specific taxa showed a preference for certain colors. A total of 2974 organisms in 19 taxa were collected including 7 water mite genera and 12 other invertebrate taxa. The abundance of Hydrachnida (water mites) in the traps was greater than all other taxa combined. The dominant insect taxa collected were Ephemeroptera and Odonata. No statistically significant inter-taxon preferences for color were found, but overall there was a greater attraction to yellow, green, or white light than to red and blue light. Since white light from the reusable LED source performed as well as yellow or green disposable chemiluminescent candles that are typically used in aquatic traps, submersible LED flashlights could be considered a suitable alternative.
A phylogenetic analysis of 13 species of the genus Anisota was carried out using morphological data from mature larvae. Based on quantitative traits, length, and structure of scoli, 18 characters from 3 thoracic and 4 abdominal segments were characterized and coded. The phylogenetic analysis using the larval scoli yielded results in conjunction with previously proposed taxonomic relationships. For instance, the eastern North American species A. consularis, A. fuscosa, and A. manitobensis were found to share a close relationship. Similarly, A. discolor, A. virginiensis, and A. pellucida, three other eastern North American species, were found to be most closely related. However, discrepencies between expected and actual results were also observed: A. stigma and A. leucostygma fell out as sister species to all other Anisota species. This disassociation of the two species from their nearest relatives is believed to be due to the longer branched scoli found on both species and the designated outgroup, Citheronia regalis.
When Hurricane Ike made landfall near Galveston, Texas on 13 September 2008, massive debris piles were formed onshore along coastal Louisiana and Texas. A live juvenile Alligator mississippiensis (American Alligator) was found on 28 September amongst debris on the beach at Padre Island National Seashore; this alligator had been marked (web tags and tail notches) and released in Johnson's Bayou, LA six weeks prior to the hurricane. We believe it was swept away from coastal Louisiana by the hurricane's storm surge and displaced some 489 km from its release site. To our knowledge, this is a record displacement for an American Alligator and demonstrates the resiliency of this species.
Conserving biodiversity in the southeastern United States begins with documenting the distribution and natural history of all taxa. Using pitfall traps between March 2005 and January 2006, we collected the first Sorex fumeus (Smoky Shrew) specimens (44) from Alabama on the Cumberland Plateau in the northeastern portion of the state. Body size of specimens was generally smaller than reported for other populations. We recommend additional surveys throughout the Cumberland Plateau region in Alabama to better document this species' range in the state.
A male Odocoileus virginianus (White-tailed Deer) had a 1.42-m segment of large/ small intestine entrapped in its scrotum. This report is the second documented instance of this anomaly, which is common in inbred lines of domestic animals and man.