Tag Archives: arid

On The Path Of The Prey Of The Pangolin

Image Credit: US Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, CC BY 2.0, Image Cropped

Do seasonal dietary shifts by Temminck’s pangolins compensate for winter resource scarcity in a semi-arid environment? (2022) Panaino et al., Journal of Arid Environments, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaridenv.2021.104676

The Crux

Climate change and habitat destruction are never positives for any species, but if that species is adaptable, they might be able to tolerate such hazards. Finding food in changing environments is one of the big challenges for a species, and there are a few things that species can do to adapt their diets when new conditions emerge. They can try and find more energy-rich food, or they could spend more time foraging to increase their energy intake (though this could also cost them more energy as well).

This is a particular problem for species which live in dry, arid environments, where food can already be scarce. In many environments vegetation and all the animal life that comes with it will often increase with temperature, but in an area that is already hot, at a certain point an increase in temperature will result in lots of vegetation dying off.

Today’s researchers selected a particularly charismatic species, the Temminck’s pangolin, and through some truly admirable fieldwork, monitored whether or not their foraging activities changed as the environment varied.

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Resuscitating Australia’s Floodplains: Environmental Water

On the left, a thriving wetland. The right, an arid forest.

On the left, a thriving wetland. The right, an arid forest. (Image Credit: Sam Perrin, CC BY 2.0)

I’m standing on the dry side of the Murrumbidgee floodplain in country Australia. I say dry side, because whilst I’m standing on the harsh, dusty platform of soil and desiccated leaves that is pretty standard for this area, 15 metres away there’s a thriving wetland environment. It boasts waterbirds, a flock of emus, thirsty kangaroos, and fish. All that’s separating the wetland and dry land on which I stand is a road, only about half a metre above water level.

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Fortune Favors the Bold Spider

Leadership can play an important role of a population dynamics, but is it the strength of the leaders or the willingness of the followers that has more influence?

EDIT: This paper is one of many papers by Jonathan Pruitt which is currently under investigation for suspected data manipulation. More on that at the link below.

#PruittData and the Ethics of Data in Science

Leadership can play an important role of a population dynamics, but is it the strength of the leaders or the willingness of the followers that has more influence? (Image Credit: Bernard Dupont, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Selection for Collective Aggressiveness Favors Social Susceptibility in Social Spiders (2018) Pruitt et al., Current Biology, doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.11.038.

The Crux

Socially-influential leaders can have a large effect on the actions of any group. Think of that one person in your life that everyone looks to when it’s time to make a decision; whether it’s something trivial like where to go for dinner, or something more important like whether or not to take that job on the other side of the country, these individuals make a large impact in their social circles. This can also be seen in the natural world, like the alpha of a wolf pack, or the matriarchs of an elephant troop or an orca pod. These focal individuals greatly influence the actions and success of their groups.

In order to determine not only how important these influential individuals are, but also how much the “social susceptibility” of the followers matters, the researchers in this paper used a species of social spider in two different habitat types. By using both arid and wet environments and analyzing both sides of the influence coin, this study was able to accurately determine the importance of both influencing and being influenced in different ecosystems.

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