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  1. Abstract

    Exploitation competition occurs when one group of organisms reduces the availability of a resource for another group of organisms. For instance, plants produce a certain number of fruits for seed dispersal by fruit‐eating animals (hereafter frugivores), and fruit consumption by one group of frugivores can reduce the number of fruits available for other frugivores. However, it is uncertain whether exploitation competition is common among frugivores, particularly in novel ecosystems, where food resources are generally thought to be abundant and invasive species are dietary generalists. In a novel ecosystem in Hawai‘i, we used gut passage experiments with captive birds to identify roles of introduced frugivores and found they were either distinctly seed dispersers or predators. We then experimentally tested how frugivory by seed predators influenced frugivory by seed dispersers. Specifically, we used exclosures around fruiting plants that blocked seed predator access, while permitting seed disperser access, and we had two control treatments that allowed for access by all frugivores (n = 139 plants). When seed predators were excluded from plants, there was more frugivory by dispersers compared to controls, and results varied by year and plant species. Overall, we show that introduced frugivores occupied distinct ecological roles (seed predator or seed disperser), exploitation competition occurred between these introduced frugivore groups, and seed predators had both direct (via seed destruction) and indirect (via reduction in frugivory by dispersers) effects on seed dispersal. Thus, in this novel ecosystem, multiple frugivory is subtractive, and competition for fruit between introduced seed predators and seed dispersers scales up to affect invasions and the conservation of native flora.

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  2. Abstract

    Species interactions link animal behaviour to community structure and macroecological patterns of biodiversity. One common type of trophic species interaction is disturbance foraging—the act of obtaining food at a disturbance created by another organism. Disturbance foraging is widespread across the animal kingdom, especially among birds, yet previous research has been largely anecdotal and we still lack a synthetic understanding of how this behaviour varies geographically, phylogenetically and ecologically. To address these gaps, we conducted a comprehensive literature review to test focal hypotheses about disturbance foraging behaviour in birds. We found that avian disturbance foraging was geographically ubiquitous, occurring in both aquatic and terrestrial habitats across six continents and four oceans. Consistent with predictions based on established species diversity gradients in different habitat types, the majority of terrestrial observations occurred at tropical latitudes, whereas aquatic observations took place most frequently in temperate marine waters. Although disturbance foraging was widespread across the avian phylogeny, contrary to our prediction, the behaviour was also conserved phylogenetically (Pagel'sλ = 0.7) and clustered within suboscine landbirds in terrestrial environments and seabirds in aquatic environments. Similarly, although disturbers were taxonomically diverse as we predicted, interactions were unexpectedly dominated by swarm‐raiding ants in terrestrial environments and cetaceans in aquatic environments. Diet and body mass were also important predictors of disturbance foraging associations: Responders followed disturbers with similar diets and larger body sizes. Overall, our hypothesis‐testing framework provides insight into the importance of geography, phylogeny and ecology as predictors of disturbance foraging behaviour. We anticipate that this comprehensive assessment of disturbance foraging will serve to generate additional hypotheses and spark future research and management considerations about this fascinating but poorly studied suite of species interactions, especially as biotic interactions face unprecedented risks in our rapidly changing world.

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  3. Abstract

    Studies of the phenological responses of animals to climate change typically emphasize the initiation of breeding although climatic effects on the cessation and length of the breeding period may be as or more influential of fitness. We quantified links between climate, the cessation and length of the breeding period, and individual survival and reproduction using a 34‐year study of a resident song sparrow (Melospiza melodia) population subject to dramatic variation in climate. We show that the cessation and length of the breeding period varied strongly across years, and predicted female annual fecundity but not survival. Breeding period length was more influential of fecundity than initiation or cessation of breeding alone. Warmer annual temperature and drier winters and summers predicted an earlier cessation of breeding. Population density, the date breeding was initiated, a female's history of breeding success, and the number of breeding attempts initiated previously also predicted the cessation of breeding annually, indicating that climatic, population, and individual factors may interact to affect breeding phenology. Linking climate projections to our model results suggests that females will both initiate and cease breeding earlier in the future; this will have opposite effects on individual reproductive rate because breeding earlier is expected to increase fecundity, whereas ceasing breeding earlier should reduce it. Identifying factors affecting the cessation and length of the breeding period in multiparous species may be essential to predicting individual fitness and population demography. Given a rich history of studies on the initiation of breeding in free‐living species, re‐visiting those data to estimate climatic effects on the cessation and length of breeding should improve our ability to predict the impacts of climate change on multiparous species.

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