As the British Ecological Society annual conference comes closer, Ceci, Stuart and Sam were informed they will be giving talks about their PhD projects. Great opportunities to show recent progress on cool topics! Enjoy the abstracts until the talks.
Parasite-mediated eco-evolutionary dynamics in evolving communities
Híjar-Islas, A.C, Mon Père, N.V. Huang, W, Eizaguirre, C.
The interplay of ecological and evolutionary processes shapes the population dynamics of interacting species. The role of those eco-evolutionary dynamics, however, remains largely unexplored in complex systems. Here, we developed an individual-based model of a complex predator-prey-parasite system, in which predators are infected by trophically transmitted parasites when ingesting their prey. We tested the probability of species’ coexistence and genotypic diversity by varying the reproductive costs imposed by the parasites on the different hosts. In general, we show that species coexistence happens with low reproductive costs on the predator and the prey, whereas abundance and genotypic diversity increases with intermediate reproductive costs on the predator combined with no reproductive costs on the prey. We suggest that the conditions that lead to species coexistence may be different from those that lead to intraspecific diversity in a complex system.
Next-generation tracking reveals the drivers of sea turtle movement
Shrimpton S, Yen E, Gilbert J, Alfonso I, Jesus A, Oujo C, Lopes Almeida, L.C., Medina M, Taxonera A, Rossberg A, Eizaguirre C
The spatial distribution of a population is the result of the movement patterns of its individuals. As such, determining the factors that influence individual movements will help to determine how a species distribution changes with climate change. Sea turtles, like all poikilotherms, are physiologically sensitive to changes in environmental conditions, particularly temperature. To explore the drivers of movement behaviours on sea turtles, we deployed novel, low-cost, GSM-relayed GPS trackers on loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) from the Cabo Verde nesting aggregation. We demonstrate that physiology-related traits such as body size and infectious state, as well as environmental factors such as temperature, bathymetry, and nesting island of origin correlated with turtle movement. Linking physiological (intrinsic) and environmental (extrinsic) variables to movement will help to inform whether climate change will alter conditions sufficiently to shift optimal movement patterns, and ultimately species distribution.
Aerial drones demonstrate the efficacy of a protected area network for diverse marine-megafauna
Negus S.R.B., Dickson L.C.D., Eizaguirre C., Katselidis K., Schofield G.
Evaluating whether networks of protected area (PA) are effective for multiple species requires robust monitoring approaches. Here, we investigated whether part of the European Natura 2000 PA network (western Greece) captures the habitat needs of four marine megafauna groups: sea turtles, sharks/rays, cetaceans, and pinnipeds. To do this, we combined comprehensive regional-scale aerial drone surveys inside and outside PAs (>18,000 animal records, ~1500-km coverage) with complementary monitoring approaches (stranding, sighting, and telemetry). While PAs covered ~56% of the coastline, all four groups were more likely to be detected inside PAs (64% of coastline surveyed) than outside, confirming sufficient habitat coverage. Furthermore, just 2-km needs to be added to optimise protection for all areas supporting three groups, whereas an additional 120-km is required to capture all areas supporting two groups. In conclusion, aerial drones demonstrated the efficacy of the studied PA network, facilitating a shift towards systematic monitoring and management.