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  1. Abstract

    Consumers must track and acquire resources in complex landscapes. Much discussion has focused on the concept of a ‘resource gradient’ and the mechanisms by which consumers can take advantage of such gradients as they navigate their landscapes in search of resources. However, the concept of tracking resource gradients means different things in different contexts. Here, we take a synthetic approach and consider six different definitions of what it means to search for resources based on density or gradients in density. These include scenarios where consumers change their movement behavior based on the density of conspecifics, on the density of resources, and on spatial or temporal gradients in resources. We also consider scenarios involving non-local perception and a form of memory. Using a continuous space, continuous time model that allows consumers to switch between resource-tracking and random motion, we investigate the relative performance of these six different strategies. Consumers’ success in matching the spatiotemporal distributions of their resources differs starkly across the six scenarios. Movement strategies based on perception and response to temporal (rather than spatial) resource gradients afforded consumers with the best opportunities to match resource distributions. All scenarios would allow for optimization of resource-matching in terms of themore »underlying parameters, providing opportunities for evolutionary adaptation, and links back to classical studies of foraging ecology.

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  2. Safeguarding tropical forest biodiversity requires solutions for monitoring ecosystem structure over time. In the Amazon, logging and fire reduce forest carbon stocks and alter habitat, but the long-term consequences for wildlife remain unclear, especially for lesser-known taxa. Here, we combined multiday acoustic surveys, airborne lidar, and satellite time series covering logged and burned forests ( n = 39) in the southern Brazilian Amazon to identify acoustic markers of forest degradation. Our findings contradict expectations from the Acoustic Niche Hypothesis that animal communities in more degraded habitats occupy fewer “acoustic niches” defined by time and frequency. Instead, we found that aboveground biomass was not a consistent proxy for acoustic biodiversity due to the divergent patterns of “acoustic space occupancy” between logged and burned forests. Ecosystem soundscapes highlighted a stark, and sustained reorganization in acoustic community assembly after multiple fires; animal communication networks were quieter, more homogenous, and less acoustically integrated in forests burned multiple times than in logged or once-burned forests. These findings demonstrate strong biodiversity cobenefits from protecting burned Amazon forests from recurrent fire. By contrast, soundscape changes after logging were subtle and more consistent with acoustic community recovery than reassembly. In both logged and burned forests, insects were themore »dominant acoustic markers of degradation, particularly during midday and nighttime hours, which are not typically sampled by traditional biodiversity field surveys. The acoustic fingerprints of degradation history were conserved across replicate recording locations, indicating that soundscapes may offer a robust, taxonomically inclusive solution for digitally tracking changes in acoustic community composition over time.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 3, 2023
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  4. The assembly and maintenance of microbial diversity in natural communities, despite the abundance of toxin-based antagonistic interactions, presents major challenges for biological understanding. A common framework for investigating such antagonistic interactions involves cyclic dominance games with pairwise interactions. The incorporation of higher-order interactions in such models permits increased levels of microbial diversity, especially in communities in which antibiotic-producing, sensitive, and resistant strains coexist. However, most such models involve a small number of discrete species, assume a notion of pure cyclic dominance, and focus on low mutation rate regimes, none of which well represent the highly interlinked, quickly evolving, and continuous nature of microbial phenotypic space. Here, we present an alternative vision of spatial dynamics for microbial communities based on antagonistic interactions—one in which a large number of species interact in continuous phenotypic space, are capable of rapid mutation, and engage in both direct and higher-order interactions mediated by production of and resistance to antibiotics. Focusing on toxin production, vulnerability, and inhibition among species, we observe highly divergent patterns of diversity and spatial community dynamics. We find that species interaction constraints (rather than mobility) best predict spatiotemporal disturbance regimes, whereas community formation time, mobility, and mutation size best explain patterns ofmore »diversity. We also report an intriguing relationship among community formation time, spatial disturbance regimes, and diversity dynamics. This relationship, which suggests that both higher-order interactions and rapid evolution are critical for the origin and maintenance of microbial diversity, has broad-ranging links to the maintenance of diversity in other systems.« less
  5. The ability of wild animals to navigate and survive in complex and dynamic environments depends on their ability to store relevant information and place it in a spatial context. Despite the centrality of spatial memory, and given our increasing ability to observe animal movements in the wild, it is perhaps surprising how difficult it is to demonstrate spatial memory empirically. We present a cognitive analysis of movements of several wolves ( Canis lupus ) in Finland during a summer period of intensive hunting and den-centered pup-rearing. We tracked several wolves in the field by visiting nearly all GPS locations outside the den, allowing us to identify the species, location and timing of nearly all prey killed. We then developed a model that assigns a spatially explicit value based on memory of predation success and territorial marking. The framework allows for estimation of multiple cognitive parameters, including temporal and spatial scales of memory. For most wolves, fitted memory-based models outperformed null models by 20 to 50% at predicting locations where wolves chose to forage. However, there was a high amount of individual variability among wolves in strength and even direction of responses to experiences. Some wolves tended to return to locationsmore »with recent predation success—following a strategy of foraging site fidelity—while others appeared to prefer a site switching strategy. These differences are possibly explained by variability in pack sizes, numbers of pups, and features of the territories. Our analysis points toward concrete strategies for incorporating spatial memory in the study of animal movements while providing nuanced insights into the behavioral strategies of individual predators.« less
  6. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Background Migrating birds experience weather conditions that change with time, which affect their decision to stop or resume migration. Soaring migrants are especially sensitive to changing weather conditions because they rely on the availability of environmental updrafts to subsidize flight. The timescale that local weather conditions change over is on the order of hours, while stopovers are studied at the daily scale, creating a temporal mismatch. Methods We used GPS satellite tracking data from four migratory Turkey Vulture ( Cathartes aura ) populations, paired with local weather data, to determine if the decision to stopover by migrating Turkey Vultures was in response to changing local weather conditions. We analyzed 174 migrations of 34 individuals from 2006 to 2019 and identified 589 stopovers based on variance of first passage times. We also investigated if the extent of movement activity correlated with average weather conditions experienced during a stopover, and report general patterns of stopover use by Turkey Vultures between seasons and across populations. Results Stopover duration ranged from 2 h to more than 11 days, with 51 % of stopovers lasting < 24 h. Turkey Vultures began stopovers immediately in response to changes in weather variables that did not favor thermal soaring (e.g., increasing precipitationmore »fraction and decreasing thermal updraft velocity) and their departure from stopovers was associated with improvements in weather that favored thermal development. During stopovers, proportion of activity was negatively associated with precipitation but was positively associated with temperature and thermal updraft velocity. Conclusions The rapid response of migrating Turkey Vultures to changing weather conditions indicates weather-avoidance is one of the major functions of their stopover use. During stopovers, however, the positive relationship between proportion of movement activity and conditions that promote thermal development suggests not all stopovers are used for weather-avoidance. Our results show that birds are capable of responding rapidly to their environment; therefore, for studies interested in external drivers of weather-related stopovers, it is essential that stopovers be identified at fine temporal scales.« less
  7. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  8. Seasonal migrations are a widespread and broadly successful strategy for animals to exploit periodic and localized resources over large spatial scales. It remains an open and largely case-specific question whether long-distance migrations are resilient to environmental disruptions. High levels of mobility suggest an ability to shift ranges that can confer resilience. On the other hand, a conservative, hard-wired commitment to a risky behavior can be costly if conditions change. Mechanisms that contribute to migration include identification and responsiveness to resources, sociality, and cognitive processes such as spatial memory and learning. Our goal was to explore the extent to which these factors interact not only to maintain a migratory behavior but also to provide resilience against environmental changes. We develop a diffusion-advection model of animal movement in which an endogenous migratory behavior is modified by recent experiences via a memory process, and animals have a social swarming-like behavior over a range of spatial scales. We found that this relatively simple framework was able to adapt to a stable, seasonal resource dynamic under a broad range of parameter values. Furthermore, the model was able to acquire an adaptive migration behavior with time. However, the resilience of the process depended on all themore »parameters under consideration, with many complex trade-offs. For example, the spatial scale of sociality needed to be large enough to capture changes in the resource, but not so large that the acquired collective information was overly diluted. A long-term reference memory was important for hedging against a highly stochastic process, but a higher weighting of more recent memory was needed for adapting to directional changes in resource phenology. Our model provides a general and versatile framework for exploring the interaction of memory, movement, social and resource dynamics, even as environmental conditions globally are undergoing rapid change.« less